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Quarantine cooking success stories

Written by Food

Meg Howe and Em Richardson tell us about some of their quarantine cooking successes, recreating some of their favourite restaurant eats.

Beautiful burritos

One of my favourite take-out-foods in Newcastle is a Burrito, from Zapp’s, Taco Bell or anywhere else, and lockdown meant that I had to live without my beloved Mexican delicacy.

There was only one solution to fill my burrito needs – to make my own!

My first attempt: the worst. I wanted the authentic ‘pulled chicken’, so doing a simple google search gave me an equally simple recipe. After putting the chicken breasts in the oven, with chopped tomatoes, peppers, and a-load-of herbs and spices, I drained away the  liquid from the bottom of the dish to start pulling the chicken. However, little did I know, that liquid contained all of the spices that would make the chicken taste super yummy, resulting in the chicken tasting bland and spice-less.

My second and third attempts, however: marvellous! Rather than attempting a classic ‘pulled chicken’ and using the oven, I cut the chicken breast into chunks and threw it in a frying-pan. Putting some ‘five beans’, chopped peppers and some herbs and spices gave the full Mexican taste.

I used four breasts for four people, and set the table as self-serve with the chicken mix, tortilla wraps, rice, salsa, guacamole, sour cream and cheese.

It wasn’t exactly a take-out burrito, but while I’m not in the Toon it will have to do – and it adds one more meal to my future Come Dine With Me menu!

Tantalising tapas

Tapas has always been one of my favourite things to order in a restaurant. As someone who is both a foodie who loves to try everything on the menu, and an indecisive mess who can never choose what to order, I love the way it allows you to sample a little bit of everything.

After a month of lockdown, I found myself craving Revolucion de Cuba… which gave me an idea.

I suggested to my Mum that we jump onto the ‘fake-away’ bandwagon, and try to recreate some of our favourite tapas dishes. As a pair of keen cooks, this seemed like both a fun way to occupy our time, and a tasty way to satisfy our cravings.

In the end, we made the following from scratch: a mini bowl of paella, garlic mushrooms, breaded chicken, fried chorizo and halloumi, and patatas bravas. We also bought some stuffed olives, cod bites, and mozarella sticks, and washed the whole thing down with home-made sangria. We arranged the dishes so that everyone could help themselves to a dish of their choosing, and let the tasting commence.

Just as Meg stated above, our first attempt was far from perfect. This was mainly due to the (much cursed!) patatas bravas, which we managed to leave in the oven for far too long. Instead of the spicy little roasties one usually sees in a Spanish restaurant, we essentially made slightly burned, tomato flavoured mashed potato…

However, I’m pleased to report that our subsequent attempts have been much more successful. Our patatas bravas are now recognisable as potatoes, and tempers are definitely running less high in the kitchen. We’re more adventurous too, serving up cheesy quasedillas and loaded nachos as well as our previous success stories.

We’ve now made tapas a further three times, with my grandma visiting for a very successful socially distant tapas night. We won rave reviews from her, and have decided that this is a tradition we want to continue, even when we are able to return to restaurants.

Last modified: 6th August 2020

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