Poznań and My Bodyguards

The trip to Poznan was rather relaxing. There was no plan. Normally when I travel, there is a rough plan as to where I want to go, what I want to see and workout the most efficient way to see the top priority places and restaurants. This time, I left it open to be free and easy partly because I will be the only girl, with 6 other guys. So I did not even research on restaurants for the best local cuisine. I thought it is better not to know so I will never know what I missed. But I did have a backup. I downloaded a PDF document on to my iPhone in case they all decided to sit in the flat drinking beers and not do anything else other than play Diablo or something. Lucky, that did not happen.
The train to Poznan was an interesting ride. I have never sat on an old school train with separate cabins before. It was perfect cause all 6 of us had a cabin to ourselves throughout the journey, as if we reserved a private cabin.

On our arrival, our very competent host brought us to his flat to leave our bags and chill a little while before we head out for lunch. I was very intrigued when he brought us to some alley way in the old town, away from the main square, to a really cool Mexican restaurant. I love restaurants or cafes that are tucked away from the tourists which are quaint and unique. We all ordered the fajitas but I was the only one who ordered the hot version. The rest either had mild or medium. It was the real Mexican stuff, freakishly hot but I loved it since my tongue is pretty tuned to hot and spicy food. So beware when you order. Also, remember to order the Sernik (cheese cake) for dessert. It comes with a pretty entertaining surprise!!

The interior of The Mexican. I like their creative use of beer bottles.

Wasn't keeping up with my bodyguards (far left). Pictures come first ;)

Poznań Old Town (Stary Rynek). The colourful facades of the Merchant's houses are beautiful.

The Town Hall  

We had some beer at the Brovaria on Stary Rynek. It is a hotel, restaurant and a brewery. These beers are brewed at the onsite microbrewery. The above are taster beers with three varieties; the Pils, Honey Beer and Wheat Beer.


That night, we met up with one of M's friend at Ratuszova Restaurant (above). I can positively comment that it is the most romantic and beautiful restaurant I have been to, also the oldest in Poznan where the King stayed for over a year. I highly recommend this restaurant, especially those of you celebrating anniversaries. If any of you boys are planning to propose to a girl in a conventional way, this restaurant will definitely set both of you in the mood. Just please, try not pop the ring in her food or drinks!

Isn't this space romantic.. ~ This picture is from the Restauracja Ratuszova gallery page.

Veal Shank with dumpling and salad

Wild Boar with blueberry sauce. This came with a big portion of sides.

After an good dinner and an amazing night out, we woke up to breakfast of homemade rice salad. It was my first time having rice salad and I was pleasantly surprised at how it tasted. It was very tasty. The best of all, our dear host even heat up the bread in the oven so we all had crispy warm bread with ham, sausages, cheese and tomatoes. How amazing is that!

Later, we visited Malta, a recreation area for families. Too bad it was cold that day cause we could have done kayaking in the lake. That would have been so fun. Instead, we had a chilled out walk around the the area, had some hot tea to warm ourselves up and headed off to the Old Town again where we went to the Fara Church.

The very impressive Fara Church and a very valuable organ made by Fryderyk Ladegast from Weissenfels, Saxony between 1872 and 1875

Our final lunch in Poznan. We were at Fenix Restaurant that is located at the Old Town Square. The interior was interesting with many decorations from around the world. That hot chocolate on the right is so thick and sinful, it reminds me of the hot chocolate in Spain. It was not on the menu so it was probably specially made for me. 

Szczecin and the Surprise Birthday

For those of you who read the earlier post about ‘The Well Travelled Brownie’, this is a follow up about my trip to Szczecin and Poznan. This trip was just a long weekend away and my stop to Szczecin was more to meet up with M and his mates before we all head to Poznan. And those brownies I made was my way of thanking and appreciating M and the people around him.

Getting back to the trip, I like that the Szczecin airport is small. It is so convenient that it literally took me 15 minutes to go through passport check plus 20 steps to the arrival hall! It was even better that M was already there, waiting for my arrival. When we got to his home, his mum already had food cooked and ready to be served. How lovely it is to be welcomed with home cooked food! I must say she makes one of the best Polish foods I have had so far. The highlight for me was the goulash. It was top notch! I was desperate for some cooking tips only mums will know but looks like I had no luck. I could not speak Polish except for the very basic and M’s not about to be caught in the middle of a girlie exchange of cooking tips. Maybe it is about time I learn some Polish! Will definitely start with food vocabulary. “Dzik” was the first. That means wild boar.
The specially decorated cake. The icing melted on its way to the restaurant.

Later that night, his friends organized dinner at Christopher Columbus Restaurant and Pub. I was partially suspicious that it is the very early surprise birthday celebration I was trying to arrange from London. I did not do much, really. All I did was suggested to his friend that we surprise M with a birthday cake with candles sometime during the trip. They tried to tell me that everything was sorted but I was not on data roaming and M was with me all the time so there was no way they could talk to me about it. But in the end, everything went according to plan. I was glad that M was very surprised and couldn’t stop laughing that night. I could not thank everyone enough who made that surprise happen. I was even surprised myself that one of his friend even decorated the cake with *Eduranto logo. He even took step-by-step photos of the making process! It was a great night.

*Eduranto is a side project they have been working very hard on.

I forgot to mention, they even printed T-shirts with the logo! I admit it is pretty geeky, but who cares. I think it was great idea.


The blank canvas. Photo courtesy of MB.

Work in progress and Voila!! Mission accomplished! Photo courtesy of MB.

The biggest plate of food that night!! Pork knuckle for me!

Yes, lots of Vodka. Got to do it the Polish way :)

Interior of the restaurant

A picture of the restaurant after a few bottles of vodka - shared amongst ourselves of course ;) Therefore the blurred vision.

Happy Birthday, Mum

Happy Birthday, Mum!! I wish I could see you again, I wish I could talk to you like my friend again, I wish you could warm my cold hands like you used to, I wish I could see you smile again, I wish I could hug you again. I wish I could make you an ice cream cake for your birthday and see you smile. But I know this will only be memories I cherish most dearly.

Mum cutting my birthday cake


I have not spoken to you in months and I miss you. You are the most sincere and kindest person I know. It proves how much of a loving and caring person you are when everyone you know only have nice things to say about you and all of them came to care for you when you needed them most. And you are no doubt the strongest person I know, having gone through the toughest times in your life the last thirteen years, and probably the worst in your final months.  No one could bare even a fraction of the pain you went through but you still continue to live on with a smile on your face until the last moment. I am glad I was there with you until the very last moment. Please forgive me for all those times I made you angry and for all those years you put up with our tantrums. You are the best mum and I miss you so much.




On the phone with dad who was missing her


Wherever you are right now, I hope you are still the happy person you always have been and that you have a wonderful birthday. Love you lots.


There were still smiles on her face even when she needed tanks of oxygen to help her breathe

Well Travelled Brownie

This was the brownie that has been to three different cities. This was the brownie made for smiles. So this brownie had to be MARVELLOUS!




The Brownie with its papery crust and moist body



Like all things marvellous, there is a secret. Use the best ingredients, carefully folded into thick chocolatey mixture, baked at the right temperature and for the right amount of time. This tender loving care gives birth to the best brownie; papery crust on the outside, soft and moist on the inside, with added texture from the white chocolate and walnut chunks. The very unique ingredient here is the salt. Salt has a very special capability of enhancing the taste and sweetness of chocolate. So try not to omit the salt even though it is not a vital ingredient.

The amazing thing about baking brownie is that it fills the entire flat with its chocolatey, heart warming, and very fulfilling scent. It makes everyone in the flat smile. It is also the perfect dessert to travel with as it does not need to be kept in the refrigerator and does not break into crumbly bits too easily. I packed as many as I was able to carry, in the largest container I have, letting it cool over night so it will be ready on time to travel with me to the airport early in the morning. I wanted M, his family and friends try this brownie at its freshest and to see a big fat brownie smile on their faces. Those are the simple things that give me pure satisfaction; food that makes people happy.
Brownie in the plane with a lovely view from the sky.

So I left in the morning with the brownie in hand, along with my luggage. The brownie made it through journey on the coach to the airport, tight security, flight delays, sat through bumpy ride and finally to its destination! It even lasted till the next day when we took the train to Poznan. It was proven popular.


The cities this brownie has been to; London to Szczecin and Poznan.

Below is the recipe for the very delicious brownie that will definitely wow your friends. Beware! Very irresistible! Make sure to give them away. If not, you will end up finishing it all by yourself in two days and end up being Miss Chubby Brownie. Enjoy and stay tuned for a full post about this Poland trip!



BROWNIE WITH WHITE CHOCOLATE CHUNKS AND WALNUT RECIPE
adapted from BBC’s Good Food's Best Ever Brownie

Ingredients:

  • 175g unsalted butter

  • 200g dark chocolate

  • 85g plain flour

  • 40g cocoa powder

  • 50g white chocolate (chopped into rough square chunks)

  • 50g walnut (roughly chopped)

  • 3 medium eggs

  • 250g light brown sugar

  • 1/4 tsp of sea salt




Method:

  1. But butter and dark chocolate into cubes and place them in a heatproof bowl. Melt the butter, dark chocolate and salt in a Bain-Marie or in a microwave (covered for 2 minutes).

  2. Leave the melted chocolate to cool.

  3. Preheat the oven at 160oC.

  4. Line a 20cm square cake tin with parchment paper.

  5. Sieve the plain flour and cocoa powder to get rid of any lumps.

  6. Whisk the 3 eggs and sugar until thick and creamy. Mixture is ready when it becomes pale and doubles its original volume and leaves a trail in the beater.

  7. Fold the cooled chocolate mixture into the egg mixture gently.

  8. Sieve the flour and cocoa powder over the chocolate egg mixture and gently fold until it looks fudgy. Make sure to not over mix it.

  9. Stir in the white chocolate chunks and chopped walnuts.

  10. Pour the mixture into the lined cake tin and bake for about 25 minutes. If the brownie wobbles, it is not ready and let it bake for another 5 minutes until the top layer has a shiny papery crust. Another way to check is to use a toothpick or something sharp. Prick through the brownie and if the mixture sticks on the toothpick, the brownie still needs more time in the oven.

  11. When ready, take the brownie out of the oven and let cool.

  12. Cut them into generous size and serve. I suggest having it with vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped double cream. A few raspberries on the side will lift up the presentation and give it a fresher taste.

  13. Of course, it tastes absolutely delicious on its own. It can be kept in the refrigerator in an air tight container for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to a month. I doubt you will have any left after a day or two.



Seafood Stick Tortilla Cup

There must a time when you are left with too many tortilla wraps and not sure what to do with it. Well, I have found a way to use them! Instead of the usual tortilla chips, make them into little tortilla cups instead! You can always fill the cups with whatever filling you fancy. The recipe below is for fillings made with seafood stick. I know it is processed food and will not be very healthy but that was what I had in the fridge as my backup food and it's tasty. So when you are out of ingredients and have too many tortilla wraps, this could be a lovely option. Seafood stick is also handy for a quick addition into Tom Yum Soup or anything for that matter. Get creative!

Below is a step by step compilation of images and further down are the ingredients and methods.

Quarter the tortilla wraps and push each quarter into ramekins or muffin tray, whichever you have handy. Make sure the edges are pushed through but be careful not to break it.


Once all the ramekins or muffin tray is filled with tortilla wrap, fill each of them with some shallots and bake.


Fill the crispy tortilla cups with the mixed fillings and top with basil leaves.




Recipe: Seafood Stick Tortilla Cup

Ingredients:


  • 2 tortilla wrap

  • 2 shallots (sliced)

  • 1 ripe avocado (sliced)

  • 1/2 long sweet pepper (chopped)

  • 200g seafood stick

  • 4 tbs mayonnaise

  • 10 basil leaves (tear)

  • juice of 1 small lime

  • sea salt & black pepper to taste

  • extra virgin olive oil



Method:



  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.

  2. Cut the tortilla wraps into quarters. Push each quarter into the ramekins / muffin tray.

  3. Slice the shallots and place them in the tortilla cups.

  4. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until tortilla cups are brown and crispy.

  5. When the tortilla cups are ready, leave it to cool.

  6. While waiting for the cups to bake, fork or tear the seafood sticks into long strips. You can also cut them with a knife, whichever way you prefer.

  7. Mix the seafood stick strips, chopped peppers, basil leaves, lime juice and mayonnaise in a bowl and mix well.

  8. Add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil then season with salt and pepper to taste. Give it a quick stir.

  9. Slice the avocados and arrange them in the tortilla cups. Top it up with a generous amount of the crab stick mix.

  10. Decorate it with basil leaves and they are ready to serve.


Note:



  1. You can substitute the seafood stick with crab meat, tuna, pieces of chicken or even minced pork. Be creative, cooking is suppose to be fun.

  2. This is also a quick and pretty party food.