Fried Eggs in Bell Pepper Rings

Simple, easy, healthy breakfast

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 4 eggs
  • Salt & Pepper

Cut the bell pepper into rings about 1/2 inch thick depending on the diameter of the ring. It should be able to hold the egg. The ends of the peppers, cut into thin sheets and place aside. Using your fingers, get rid of the seeds inside so that there is only the outside of the ring remaining.  Heat EVOO on medium heat, and sauté the pepper rings for several minutes on each side. If there is room in the pan, saute the pepper sheets/scraps as well. Crack an egg into each of the rings.  Fry for a few minutes on one side and then fry on the other side as desired.

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Serve over toast and enjoy!

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Berlin: Thai Market

So, this market is a little unusual.  It started around 1990.  It is located near a large Thai population and people would gather on the weekends in the park, bring picnics, and eat thai food.  People started trading and selling goods and foods until eventually, it grew into what it is today.

It is located in Pressen Park, near the U7 U-bahn Konstanzer Strasse.  Upon entry to the park, you can see this sign. It says it is illegal to have coolers that have more food than a family can eat, one is not allowed to sell food and that several other things.  The text on this sign is written in English, German and Thai.  You can read the text if you open up the full sized version.  You see, the local counsel is trying to shut the market down.

Now, why would they want to shut this down?  Well, the answer can be seen below.  If you can read German, you will see why.  The counsel has been paying 20,000 euros per year to clean up the trash in the park.  The counsel is no longer willing to pay this, so they hope that you will carry your own trash out.  Hopefully, people will carry their trash out and the market will not be shut down.

If you do visit, please bring a plastic bag to put your trash in.  If you want to be really good, then carry it with you until you get to the nearest non-park garbage can.  If you are going home via the U-bahn station, you have to carry it only a tenth of a mile.

This thai market is every Saturday and Sunday, although there are more vendors and people on Sunday.  About half of the people are there by noon and by two o’clock, the last of the vendors are setting up.

They tend to form a horseshoe shape, but there are outliers here and there.  Each vendor sits in approximately the same place every time.

The vendors tend to be little old Thai ladies.  They set up on mats on the ground, put umbrellas up for shade, but their coolers beside them and have portable burners to cook stuff on.  A lot of the vendors sell fried food that they will fry up in front of you.  Some of the most common fried foods are thai chicken wings, spring rolls, chicken, pork or fish skewers served with cucumber and peanut satay sauce, fried potato patties, fried whole fish, etc.

Other vendors sell drinks.  One vendor sold mojitos.  Now, mojitos are not thai in origin.  But honestly, with the mint and the lime in them, I can only imagine that it would be a good combo.  They also sell thai iced coffee, thai iced tea and other thai drinks.  You can find several vendors that sell cans of soda, sugary drinks, water and beer.

You see, this would not be allowed to exist in the United States.   It would violate too many food safety regulations.  You see, some of the women do not wear gloves, while others wear a glove on just one hand.  Often times, there is only one person working, while other people are sitting and chatting on mats close by to take over should the worker need to run to the bathroom or trade off shifts.  This means that the same person handles and the food.

I should have been nervous eating here the first time, and I was.  I had read up on it, and knew that people went here on a frequent basis, it was well established and it was on many lists of things to do in Berlin.  So I figured, of one vendor made people sick, then no one would buy from them.  Also, my first trip, I ate a fried spring roll and soup that had been boiling when it left the pot.  I figured that any bacteria would have died when the food was being fried or boiled.

Another great thing about this market is the clientele.  This is why I believe it is authentic Thai food.   Lots of Thai people purchase and eat the food from the vendors. Families go to this market and eat the food.  They spread their mats out and spend the day eating, socializing, napping and playing.  Plenty of non-Thai locals do this too.   It is a perfect thing to do on a Saturday or Sunday.

The adults can socialize while the children play.

The first and second time I visited, I had soup.  It was a clear broth with vermicelli (rice noodles), greens, pork and these meat balls, bean sprouts and peanuts.  It came in reusable bowls with the chinese spoon and chopsticks.  You could help yourself to the condiments including sugar, pickled peppers, fish sauce (nước mắm in Vietnamese, nam pla in Thai), chili powder and ground chilies in oil.

The second time I came, I had the same soup above and I tried a spring roll.  I accidentally dropped my first one, but the lady saw and was nice enough to replace it for free.  The spring roll had some corn in it.  It was very good and still tasted traditional.

We also ordered chicken satay with a peanut satay sauce and cucumber.  After that, I tried some meat on a stick and some Thai iced tea.

On my third visit, I was more adventurous.  Well, maybe it was because the people I was with were more adventurous that I was.  When I was in Greece, I had octopus and squid, and it was fabulous.  I had been craving it ever since.  I pointed the squid out to the people I was with and told them I had not had the guts to get it. Their response was, well, lets try it now.  Okay.

After we ordered it, she put the squid back in the pan to cook it some more and make sure it was nice and hot.  After that, she asked me in German if I wanted sauce on it (at least I think she did) and I said yes.  The sauce she poured over it was a hot chili sauce with a flavorful but liquidy base.  It was served with some thinly sliced lettuce and a lime wedge.  I had it in hand and was ready to eat it!

It was fabulous.  After that, we moved on to other foods.  One lady was selling food wrapped in leaves.  She said that one was banana and the other was taro.   When we opened them, we found that they were sticky coconut rice balls filled with banana and taro that had been fired.  The taro one was a triangle, and the banana one was in the shape of a cylinder.  You can see the toothpick that was used to hold the thing together when firing.  The charred edges seem to indicate that very high temperatures were used.

The banana one had beans in it as well.  You can see them below.

They were so good.  After that, we purchased a tray of 4 summer rolls and sat down to ate them.  One of them was shrimp, another was tofu and then there was a chicken one and a pork one.

From them on, one person would get up, buy the group some food and then bring it back.

The first round of that, we had fried vegetable patties, fried, breaded shrimp, and fried breaded sardines, all smothered in sweet thai chili sauce.   The photo below shows the sardines and the shrimp.  We had already eaten the patties when this photo was taken.

The next round of food was brought to us and it was more of the sardines, shrimp, and patties.  In addition to that, we each had a skewer of chicken and pork, smothered in peanut satay sauce, and served with cucumber.  After we ate that, we were almost full, but it was my turn to get the food.  I got one big pork bun, some fried bananas with sesame seeds and a Thai iced tea and a thai iced coffee.  I figured if we were getting full, we should finish up with dessert.

After that, we walked around the park for a while and then headed home.

So, on my fourth visit, I went alone.  I had just finished my run, and had not eaten that day.  I decided to boost my sugar quickly and get some more of those fired coconut rice balls with banana and taro wrapped in leaves.  Because I did not find the other vendor I we bought them from before, I tried out a new vendor.

Since they were a euro each, I got one of each.  The first one I ate I honestly have no idea of what it is.  It was coconut something surrounding something that was amazing, but nonetheless a mystery.  I think it was a type of fruit, but other than that, I have no idea.

The second one however, was exactly like I thought it would be.  Rice made sticky with coconut milk with a banana in the center.  I think I prefered the banana and taro rice things that I had the previous visit.  The taro and the mystery thing above were the best.

After that lovely start, I decided to try another place for the main course.  I found this vendor who cooked whatever you want to order.  The meal was 5 euros.

I watched her make what looked like Pad Thai.  Then she made a stir fry with chicken and bamboo shoots and served it over rice.

Then she made Pad See Ew.

It looked so good, I decided to order it for myself.  I could have had any meat I wanted to, but I decided to stick with tofu.

Viola! The final product.  See that red stuff in the bottom?  That is chili powder to make it very spicy.  I mixed all of it in and ate it.  It was really good and really hot.

Cooking Inexpensively

I have never been good at it.  The most inexpensive meals I really do are chicken, cut up into very small pieces to “stretch” the meat, with a sauce that I make, over jasmine rice.  I buy the cheapest fresh boneless-skinless chicken breasts I can find, and 5 pound bag of rice that keeps indefinitely.  I then use a decent, but moderately priced bottle of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), and the cheapest per volume pure peanut oil.  And also cook with fresh vegetables, garlic, ginger, shallots.  All the herbs, spices and random ingredients like fish sauce, sesame oil, tamarind, etc. , and that is it.  In the UK, cooking like this comes out to 2 pounds per person per dinner.

If I spend 10 less pounds a week than I have to for food, but the end of the term, I will have saved 180 pounds.  For that amount of money, I could travel to and from Bath, pay for a week of hostel lodging, and have money to spare.

If I spend 15 pounds less a week, then by the end of the trip I will have saves 270 pounds.  This is enough for one person to travel with 2 of her friends to Greece, share a 3 person private room with them on an ocean front property just outside of a small town for a week, and have 30 pounds left over (yay all inclusive packaged deals).

You get the point.  Saving money on food means more wonderful travel in Europe.  But where should I start?

Serving size.   A serving of meat is 2-3 ounces, or the size of a deck of cards.  Eating one serving of meat at dinner, instead of 3+ like most Americans will do a fair amount.  A chicken breast is now 3 means instead of 1.   So if I use 2 chicken breasts a week instead of 6, I am saving about 4 pounds.

I can save 10+ pounds a week easily if I pack my own lunch instead of buy it on school days.  Buying a lunch is 3-4 pounds, so 15-20 pounds a week.  Cooking my own lunch is anywhere from 50-100 pence.  So 2.5 to 5 pounds a week.   I save anywhere from 10 to 17.5 pounds a week.

The problems?

(1) Getting up early enough to do it.

(2) Keeping lunch prices down.

(3) Finding places to eat with friends so that I can eat my home cooked lunch and they can eat their purchased lunch.

(4) Packing enough so that I do not get hungry.

So, let’s see if I can do it.

Moroccan M’Rouzia

I spent the last week in Florida with my grandparents. I love eating new foods and exploring new cultures so I made sure to spend a day at Epcot’s world showcase. We ended up having dinner at Marrakesh, the Moroccan restaurant. I ordered the Couscous M’Rouzia. The description read, “Braised beef served with prunes, balsamic vinegar, honey, sesame seeds and eggs.” When the dish came, there was a bed of couscous, the M’Rouzia with a hardboiled egg on top. It was wonderful, absolutely superb.

So now, let’s try to cook something just as good. I modified recipes that I found online, tweaked them a fair amount and came up with this one. It was amazing.

Moroccan M’Rouzia

(6 servings)

2 lbs chicken, in 1 1/2” cubes

2 tablespoon Ras El Hanout (make a half recipe and toss it all in) (recipe shown below)

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled

1 1/4 cup prunes

3/4 cup sultana raisins

2 medium onions, grated

3 cloves of garlic, pressed or finely chopped

2 cinnamon sticks

3 star anise stars

1/4 cup unsalted butter or Olive Oil

1 cup water

1/4 to 1/2 cup honey to taste

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup almonds

  1. Combine the Ras El Hanout, ground ginger, salt, pepper, turmeric and saffron to make a dry rub.  Coat chicken in this dry rub. Set for several hours, or overnight.
  2. Soak sultana raisins and prunes in water to let them plump up.
  3. Add the onions, garlic, cinnamon sticks, star anise and butter to a heavy bottom pan. Then add the chicken. Cover and cook on medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Stir occasionally, letting the chicken brown all over.
  4. Add the water to the pot as needed. Let simmer until tender. (Chicken will already be tender, so do about 5 min.  If using beef or lamb, will take up to two hours depending on the size of the pieces.)
  5. Drain the prunes and sultanas. Add them along with the honey, cinnamon and almonds to the pot. Make sure the water covers the prunes and sultanas.
  6. Continue to cook uncovered until sauce is thick and syrupy. Stir occasionally.  Fish out the star anise and cinnamon sticks or leave it in, keep it authentic, but warn the guests.

Serve over couscous, steamed potatoes or a flat bread like naan. If you try to eat low carb, serve it over coarsely chopped steamed cauliflower (filling but not calorically dense).

Possible modifications to the recipe above:

  • Sauté some onions until crispy and caramelized, serve on top for texture.
  • You can change the ratios, quantity and type or the dried fruit.  It calls for 2 cups of golden raisins and prunes.  You can include apricots into the mixture as well if you like.
  • Instead of or addition to adding almonds in to cook, sauté them or brown them in the oven and sprinkle on top.
  • Make it vegetarian with sweet potatoes instead of meat.
  • Beef, lamb or goat instead of chicken.  I much prefer lamb. Note my notes above in step 4.
  • Use ground meat.  It provides a different texture and is really good.

 

Ras El Hanout (Spice Mix)

(makes a 1/4 cup)

2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons ground cardamom

2 teaspoons ground mace

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground anise seeds

1. Mix all spices together.

All who ate it loved it. A little salty, sweet and spicy.