Welcome to my world!

The reflections and comments of a resident in Southsea, Portsmouth, England.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Quick coq au vin

This is a recipe find that's great for cooking when you have had a long day at work, but you want something fancy and tasty. this takes 30 minutes to cook.

Ingredients (to serve 4)
6 boneless chicken thighs quartered
6 rashers, smoked streaky bacon cut into short strips
1 tbsp oil
2 onions roughly chopped
2 tbsp flour
150 ml red wine
A sprig or two of rosemary or thyme - I prefer rosemary for this myself
250g white cup mushrooms
200 ml hot chicken stock
a pinch of parsley chopped - as a garnish, but hey you're short of time!

Heat the oil in a pan and cook the onion and bacon for 2-3 minutes. Dust the chicken with flour, shake off any excess, add to the pan and cook for 5 minutes until golden brown. Add the wine and herb and bubble vigorously for 5 minutes, then add the mushrooms and the hot stock. Cover and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes, or until the mushrooms are tender and the chicken cooked through (no pink meat). Sprinkle with parsley and serve with steamed carrots and potato Dauphinoise.

I usually serve the dish on a plate of fluffy white rice, which takes me 25 minutes to cook. If you're doing the same, start the rice with boiling water and cook it at the same time you're cooking the main dish.

My rice recipe is simple and perfect all the time:
1 mug of rice for 2 people (on a measuring beaker I normally use 180ml), twice the amount of water (so 2 mugs or, hey, twice 180ml). Simmer uncovered for 5 minutes (set the timer), then simmer covered for 5 minute, watch out for overboil. Turn off the cooker and let the pan stand covered for 15 minute (no peeping!) Fluff with a fork, and if it's still a bit wet when you open the lid, leave it to let off steam for a while

Thank you Waitrose for this recipe from one of its recipe cards!

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Classical series with world renowned musicians

I'm most excited about today because we will have world renowned pianist Melvyn Tan performing on the Portsmouth Guildhall stage as part of the Portsmouth Chamber Music Series.

You don't get to hear Melvyn Tan in concert normally unless you go to London, in concert halls like the Wigmore Hall. We're fortunate to be able to listen to him in Portsmouth!

Melvyn Tan at the Wigmore Hall, 5 October 2014
Tan’s easy asides to the audience matched by his ingratiating engagement with the music, the beautiful sound that he produces, and the moments (…) of visionary grandeur – he is quite the shaman-showman. This exceptional recital cooled down with a dip into Debussy’s ‘Poissons d’or.’
Peter Reed / Classical Source

The Portsmouth Guildhall puts on some exciting musicians for their concert series, whether classical or the popular kind. Only last week we had a foot-tapping concert by the National Youth Jazz Orchestra. It was smashing to see so many people interested in jazz were able to go to a performance of that calibre.

Don't miss Melvyn Tan today and in June we will have clarinettist Emma Johnson perform in the same series. I'll tell you more about that later!

Melvyn Tan's concert:
Date: Monday 27 April 2015
Time: 7.30pm
Venue: Portsmouth Guildhall, Guildhall Square, Portsmouth PO1 2AB
Tickets: £16 and £14 concessions. Please note that seating is unreserved.
Box Office: 0844 453 9028 or order tickets online from Ticketmaster

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Feature on Bubble&

Southsea has a monthly farmers market which I really love because Palmerston precinct where it's held becomes even more alive and buzzing. It is also a perfect opportunity to find some fresh or unusual local produce, that's not available in the local supermarkets.

I also love meeting the vendors and chatting with them online, anticipating the next market. So I decided that I should really feature some of them on this page.

Before the last market, I received a sweet tweet from @BubbleandMarita which prompted a conversation about bubble and squeaks, suitable toppings and the idea of this posting. So let me introduce you...

Bubble& is a local street food phenomenon that has redefined bubble and squeak as we know it. They have created gourmet, gluten-free bubble and squeak cakes in a range of flavours that you can eat hot on their market stall with a soft poached egg, bacon and hollandaise sauce.

They are so good, you may also want to take them home. So they have designed ‘bubbles’ for you to take home and pop in the oven.

They trade regularly in Southsea through the Hampshire Farmers’ Markets and Love Southsea Markets. Yes, so you can have them more than just once a month!

Should you wish to feast on their renowned menu creations more often (greedy!), you can find them at street food events and festivals around London and the South East, where they serve their bubbles with creative, sumptuous toppings. What's more, they also all gluten free.

Bubble&’s first seed was planted by Rupert Smith – or Mr Bubble, as he’s known around these parts. An idea that sprung to life after 20 years’ dedication to fine restaurant and pub kitchens from London to Melbourne (with some European stops along the way), the tweaking of bubble and squeak into a delectable concept has become Rupert’s higher calling. You will normally find him on the market stall, poaching eggs faster than anyone you know.

Associate Numero Uno to the Bubble& movement is Marita Lietz – or Mrs Bubble, as she’s known around these parts. A melting pot of cultures and skills, Marita’s global professional experience cements her at the forefront of nurturing and spreading the Bubble& word. You will normally find her on the market stall, describing Bubble& dishes at the rate of 501 words per minute!
So make sure you say hello to Rupert and Marita the next time you see them in Southsea!
Got any questions for them? You can contact them
by email info@bubbleand.co.uk
check their website www.bubbleand.co.uk
or give them a ring on 07717370226


Saturday, 18 April 2015

Activities to help you relax

Article as it appears in the April 2015 edition of Portsmouth View:
April showers bring May flowers so the saying goes. The next two months are the best time of the year for gardeners.

Have you tried gardening? It is a good activity for any age. It can be rigorous or gentle, depending on what you want to do and it gives much pleasure, especially when all the plants are blooming or bearing fruits. It is a relaxing activity that is probably good for your health.

I recently attended a mental health networking meeting at the Central Library. Those who were there agreed that it is important to maintain good mental health much as we maintain our physical health.

Hobbies such as gardening, cooking or singing, may help you relax and give the mind a rest from thinking of stressful things. The long Easter weekend was also a good chance to rest and refresh.

At the university we also have an Easter break for three weeks. While the students are away, members of staff try to likewise take some time off.

I took the opportunity to see friends and their children, taking part in egg hunting and spring walks.  
Many attractions begin opening their doors in April. Places like the National Trust properties or English Heritage begin their busy season in the spring.

I visited Charlecote Park just outside Warwick. There are many places nearer to Southsea such as Portchester Castle that are fun to visit.

As we welcome the warmer weather, take a look around you and start filling your calendar with fun things to do.
There are a whole host of talks, craft workshops, theatre shows or music concerts available to attend.

Visit a gallery more often and see beautiful or thought provoking art. Let your mind learn something new. There is a new gallery opening in Old Portsmouth.

At the end of the month, the summer series of events at the university will restart. Professor Shabbar Jaffry who has worked with the Navy is going to tell us about how best to plan staffing for a military operation at his professorial inaugural lecture. 

We have a full programme of free talks, including an exciting one about the Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar in June.

The World Music Series launched last month continues with three more concerts. We will hear music from Jewish, Parsi and Sri Lankan’s culture in the free concerts at the Guildhall.

Hope to see you around Southsea!