Category Archives: Food

Marks and Spencer

I have always been opposed to investing directly in Marks & Spencer. My view was simple. M&S sat in no man’s land. You had John Lewis that provided high-end goods. On the other end, there was Primark. If M&S made a few wrong calls on fashion then they would have a major slump. This did happen quite a few times. Yesterday’s news that M&S is to close down more stores came as no surprise. I strongly believe that M&S food is the ventilator that has kept the company alive. It will continue to do so. As always all you have to do is have a walk through the stores of M&S. In general, M&S Food will have the largest percentage of people. This trend will change unless M&S can appeal to the people who are inclined towards healthy but quick food but their older base that would like their traditional British meals. Will M&S be able to balance their traditional Cottage Pie with their Thai green curry? In light of Brexit, I hope they do as they are one of the iconic British brands. If one has to gain exposure to the UK today then possibly the best way to do it is through  VGK.  The Vanguard European Fund has about a 29% exposure to the UK. The exposure to the European markets would act as a hedge. I believe we are going through an extremely interesting time right now. I do not like making predictions but there will be a winner and a loser in the whole Brexit process. Either way, the financial markets will get affected. Overall the European markets will go up.

 

Disclaimer: I do not hold any shares of Marks & Spencer or VGK right now.

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Filed under Brexit, England, Europe, Food, FTSE, Indices, Investments, Market Outlook, Market Timing, United Kingdom, Vanguard

Scramlette

I love experimenting with food. I very rarely follow recipes to the T. I have had a few accidents and a few interesting experiences. I have had made some really good dishes along the way. Today I was bested my the humble egg. My wife loves the Indian/Masala omelette. It basically is onions and green chilly (Birds eye) whisked with egg and then cooked. I don’t mind it but I prefer the western omelette. I tried to blend both the styles today. It did not work as well as it appeared in my head. It tasted good. It had the texture of the omelette but it did not hold its shape.

There is something special about simple food. Plain rice or bread with egg. Plain rice with rasam (which is a kind of light soup). Rice with dhal (lentils). Tasty simple wholesome food.

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Filed under Cooking, Food, India, Indian Cuisine

Farmer’s Market

We went to a farmer’s market today. It was bright and sunny but there was a slight nip in the air. Out of nowhere a huge gust of wind blew in and nearly swept me away. For a moment I was glad that I put on that extra weight. There was genuine panic among the farmers there. For them their livelihood was literally nearly blown away by the wind. My wife grew some vegetables recently and I saw the love and care she put into it and those veggies were some of the best I have ever had. I can only imagine what trouble they would have gone through. Our farmers need our support. This should be done directly as much as possible. There are things there that are really good and is a great value for money. There are others that are more expensive but you can taste the difference. Among other things we bought some pumpkins. I have never liked pumpkins but she says that she can prepare it in such a way that I will like it. I am keeping at open mind. I hope the quality of the produce combined with the skill of wife’s culinary abilities will make me a convert.

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Filed under Agriculture, Farmer, Food, Pumpkin, United Kingdom

Prawn and Chorizo Paella

There are a few things that I have learnt from my career so far in investments. Firstly there is no magic formula. Secondly research your investments thoroughly. Thirdly adapt your strategies and investments to suit your needs. Finally trust your gut.

I am allergic to crustaceans. However my wife loves prawns. From time to time I make a particular Malabar inspired prawn curry for her. I know it is really good even though I have never tasted it. I will post that recipe some other time. This is my take on a Spanish prawn and chorizo paella. Once again this dish came out well. The quantity below is for four people.

Ingredients

Prawns: 360 grams

Chorizo: 400 grams

Red Peppers (Capsicum): 2

Onions: 2

Bomba Paella Rice: 250 grams

Saffron: A few strands

Cava or dry white wine: 200 ml

Chicken stock: 500 grams.

Lemon: 2

Dried Thyme: One tablespoon

Dried Bay leaf: 2

Olive Oil

Coarse sea salt

Black pepper powder

Paprika

1) Marinate the prawns using half a tablespoon of Paprika, half a tablespoon of dried thyme, the juice of half a lemon, two tablespoons of cold stock and half a a tablespoon of garlic paste. You can vary this quantity based on your taste. I used cooked prawns with the whole shells on it. My guess is that unshelled raw prawns will give the most flavour. If you don’t like messing up your fingers while eating then please do shell the prawns. If you are using raw prawns then make sure that they are clean and their digestive tract is removed. I used hot paprika but smoked or sweet can be used too. It will of course change the taste. I would say leave it for at least 15 minutes but the more time you can keep it then the better it will be.

2)Use a wide flat pan with a lid that sits firmly. Drizzle olive oil on a medium heat. The olive oil is used to lubricate the pan. Do not add too much oil as the chorizo will release its own oils.

3) Heat the stock. Do not boil. Take it off the heat just before it boils. Pour half of the stock in a separate container and put the saffron in it so that it can infuse with the stock.

4) As the oil is heating delink and slice the chorizo. My preference is raw cooking chorizo. If you cannot get your hands on cooking chorizo then any other chorizo will work too.

5)Once the oil is hot then add the chorizo. Let it cook until it starts to release a golden oil. Make sure that the chorizo is spread evenly across the pan. Close the pan with the lid. This should take between 3-5 minutes. Stir the chorizo once or twice in between so that it does not get burnt.

6) You can either do this step before you start cooking or at this stage. Deseed the red peppers (in certain places they are known as capsicum) and slice them into strips. Finely chop the onions. Finely chop the garlic.

7) Once the chorizo has released its oils then mix the peppers, onions and garlic into the pan. Stir until they are well coated in the oil. This will be more visible on the onions. You will know that it is well mixed when all of the onions have a nice yellow colour to it. Close the lid and let it cook until the onions soften or gets caramelised. Add a big pinch of coarse sea salt. This should take about 10-12 minutes. Stir once or twice after six minutes so that the onions do not burn. Keep the lid firmly closed. This will help it to cook better.

8) Add half a tablespoon of paprika. You can add more if you want a stronger flavour or richer colour. Add the remaining thyme. Stir and cook for a minute. Add olive oil if the pan is too dry.

9)Add the paella rice and fry for about two minutes until it is coated in oil. You can use white basmati rice if you do not have access to paella rice.

10) Add 200 ml of Cava to the rice and reduce by half. Stir so that the rice is mixed with the cava and is not stuck onto the pan. Any dry white wine will also do.

11) Add the plain and the infused stock and stir properly. Ensure that the rice is not sticking to the pan. Taste and see if you need more flavours. You can add salt and pepper at this stage. Do note that it is fine if the salt is a little less as the stock and the prawns will add more salt during the cooking process.

12) Add the prawns and mix nicely. Place two Bay leaves on top and close the lid. Increase to high heat. This will take about 15 minutes. You will know that it is starting to get ready when you get the beautiful aroma of prawns. Cook until the rice has soaked up most of the liquid.

13) Chop the parsley finely. You can use the stalks too.

14) Add most of the parsley and squeeze the juice of the remaining lemon. Taste and add salt,pepper and lemon if required.

15) Garnish with parsley and serve with a lemon or lime wedge.

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Filed under Food