A couple of years ago, on a lazy morning, my boyfriend at the time and me were spooning when I told him I was in the mood for something. The poor guy got his hopes up, until I told him I was desperately craving that succulent tender and crispy fried chicken from the night market in Taipei that we had many, many times the summer before.
Of all the amazing things I’ve eaten in my life (needless to say.. I’ve eaten a lot), that fried chicken is one of my favorites. Not only the chicken itself was perfect, but also the ambiance couldn’t get any better. On some of the steamy, tropical summer nights I would get a big piece of chicken, a super sweet drink and devour it all sitting on some stairs outside while loud R&B music and advertisements were blasting from the speakers, and afterwards I would get a massage. Life doesn’t get any better than this.
That chicken in Taipei (and later in Shanghai) is my favorite, but I’m a sucker for any kind of fried chicken. These little babies also really get me going. First they’re marinated in buttermilk for six hours, later they’re covered in a mixture of flour and all the necessary spices and finally they’re deep fried till the meat is tender and the outside is incredibly crispy.
After eating ridiculous amounts of almond croissants, chocolate croissants, pastries and French fries that aren’t even French for 10 days straight, it was time to get my ass back to the gym and eat healthy, wholesome food again. On the contrary of what you might think when you take a look at the latest recipes on this blog – ice cream, meatloaf grilled cheese sandwich and brownie cookies – I try to eat fairly healthy. It doesn’t necessarily have to be super lean and I’m not able to cut out sugar completely, but I do like to know what is in my food, I like my food to be nutritious and I like to eat whatever I’m craving at that moment mindfully.
This was the first time I had quinoa – I’m way behind on trying out the hip health foods, at least I’ve been eating chia seeds daily since months already – and I really liked it. It was also the first time that I cooked duck and even though I cooked it a little bit too long, the meat was still very tender and the skin was as crispy as it should. Two foods I had never cooked before in one recipe.. living on the edge.
Last Monday I had dinner with a friend in one of the canteens on campus. It was freezing cold, outside and inside, and while we were having dinner we could see the steam from our breaths coming from our mouths. I don’t know how much longer I could’ve kept it up with the numbing cold and the depressing, smoggy skies, but luckily not even one week later spring has unofficially began. I’m talking about blue skies, sunshine and walking outside without a coat.
So here it is, the last winter dish of the season. After having had to endure my fiercest winter so far for the last 4 months – since the first snow fell in the first week of November it has been one long depressing period. So I’m in full right to gloat about the lovely weather I’m experiencing right now, even though you might still have to wear a thick coat when you go outside.
If you are in that position, I do not envy you. Hang in there for a couple more weeks and spring will make you smile again as well (unless you live in the Southern Hemisphere). And until then you can make this warming and soothing chickpea stew. Not only is the stew on its own the perfect dish for a crappy weather day, but you can pair it with crusty bread (coming soon) and dip this is in garlicy yoghurt.
For the last couple of months, Beijing has been trying really hard to make me feel sick. There is food filled with whatever flavor enhancers/antibiotics/growing hormones etc. which wouldn’t be legal to sell anywhere in in Europe, fake alcohol (it makes you feel so good when you drink it, but oh so bad the morning after), people spitting and blowing their noses on the street and making those bullets of gunk drop down right in front of you, the hygiene in restaurants and food stalls leave much to be desired and of course days in January when the air quality due to the smog wasn’t “hazardous” can be counted on one hand.
So I think it’s quite interesting, but mostly just really annoying, that I didn’t get sick under these circumstances, but after staying for three days in a country with fresh and clean air, good cooking (I’m so humble) and loads of vitamines, I got sick.
But I will not let my stuffed nose (maybe I should try blowing it on the street) or headache get me down and I will continue my cooking marathon. Hopefully the dishes I’m cooking in the next couple of days will turn out just as a good as this chicken pot pie and will make me feel better, so I’m healthy again when I return to the unhealthy city.
If you’re going full in for this pot pie, which I totally recommend, it takes quite some time and effort, but you’re ensured to end up with a highly comforting chicken pot pie with the most flavorful and appetizing filling and flaky and buttery crust possible. In case of lack of time, there are some shortcuts you can take and I’m sure you’ll also end up with something really good.
Before I left I had all these expectations – which can also be called worries – of what my life would be like here in Beijing. I worried about my classes being too difficult, about my lacking Chinese language skills, about making new friends and about everything else you can possibly worry about – luckily non of these worries keep me up at night any more. The only thing that I didn’t worry about was the food: I knew I would be in the luxurious position of having multiple delicious meals a day. This became reality and every time I’m about to eat something I get really excited cause I know it will be sooo good. Another thing I expected was that I would be eating a lot of Peking Duck 北京烤鸭 and that might be the only food-expectation that, unfortunately, didn’t happen, yet. I’ve been here for one and a half months and I haven’t had the dish where Beijing is so famous for. So for next week I think I’ll be focussing on getting myself some Peking Duck.
Even though I didn’t have the Peking Duck dish, I did eat some duck. We’ve made this incredibly delicious and succulent braised duck in one of the cooking classes. It’s not al all difficult to make, the only thing you’ll need is patience to let the duck braise for an hour (or more) and the result will be all worth it.
If everything goes according to plan, I’ll be studying in Beijing for the next two years. In the beginning of June I received a phone call that I’m enrolled in university in the master program I applied for and I will receive a scholarship, but that’s all the information I have right now. I’m still waiting for further details and although there isn’t a lot of time left till the end of the summer, I keep telling myself that the lack of any details regarding my whereabouts of the couple of years keeps it interesting and exciting. Last week I’ve booked my plane ticket from Amsterdam to Beijing for the end of August and everything starts slowly kicking in. I’ll be leaving my fantastic student house, my amazing friends and family, my new job that I love and the one that I’ll be missing the most, my boyfriend.
I still have to hand in some papers, but with all the exciting things going on right now, I find it very hard to focus. Yesterday I couldn’t concentrate anymore and I suddenly felt a bit sad at the thought of having to miss my housemates. Therefore I got some chicken at the supermarket, cooked it and then we sat on our small balcony and ate some chicken together. I hope we’ll still have some of these moments in the next one and a half month.
*Maybe it doesn’t come over very strongly, but I’m really excited about moving to Beijing, enjoying the food and culture, meeting new people and having new experiences.
I love love love fried or roast chicken and I love love love garlic. So naturally these two combined make an incredible dish. In the traditional roast chicken with 40 cloves of garlic the cloves are kept whole, which results in sweet garlic flavour which isn’t too overpowering. If you’re looking for that kind of sweet, soft, garlic flavour: don’t make this dish. This roast chicken is punch-you-in-the-face-garlic-overpowering. I totally loved the chicken cause of its garlicyness, but if you want to pair it with other dishes, don’t put too much effort in making the other ones, cause everything that you’ll taste in the hours after you take your first bite will taste like garlic. Not only you will have the amazing experience of enjoying the taste of garlic, your boy/girlfriend, your colleagues, friends and everyone within a few feet away from you also get to enjoy the lovely garlic breath that will come out of your mouth for the next couple of days. This chicken with 20 cloves of garlic is one big feast.