This month for Our Growing Edge, which is being hosted by Jules from The Kiwi Diaries, I thought I would share my first world problems with you readers. Jules is a bilingual traveling graphic designer that cooks every now and then. Bear with me Jules, I am not actually going to complain and vent, but rather share an amusing experiment I took on.
For my move to Abu Dhabi to take part in the Andiamo project, I was promised an apartment, when the housing search yielded no results, I was put up in various hotels over the span of several months. While this might seem like a neat situation, it is less than ideal for a working cook. Laundry expenses are sky-high, hotel locations are generally not in the same vicinity as office areas and hotel hopping involves a lot of packing, unpacking and repacking. Obviously there are some nice perks like daily maid service, complimentary coffee supplies and reliable internet services.
Management at Andiamo was unable to secure a hotel room with a proper kitchenette so I was faced with an electric kettle and mini fridge. My first days involved many sandwiches, chips and fresh fruit. I challenged myself to figure out how to create actual meals with the only real tools I had: the electric kettle and my chef knives. A few people laughed at my endeavor as rather silly, but I honestly found it very interesting. Hopefully you can all forgive some of the photos; on some days I was very hungry and did not put in as much effort as I could have with presentation and photography. Some of the dishes never even made it to being photographed!
For those of you interested in attempting to cook in your hotel room I have a few suggestions:
- Silverware or plates can be requested from the hotel restaurant, just give them a call.
- If the hotel supplies complimentary water bottles, ask for a few extra ones.
- Reconsider tossing the containers your food comes in as they can be used as mixing bowls, storage or as measuring equipment.
- Research online the cups provided for you to find out how much they hold and use them to measure liquids.
- The hotel restaurant will usually supply salt, pepper, sugar or condiment packages free of charge if you ask.
My hotel cooking menu included:
- Mushroom Couscous with Mustard Cream, Spinach, Carrots and Hard Boiled Eggs
- Nectarine and Spinach stuffed Crepes with a Mustard Cream, Orange Zest and Bottarga
- Deviled Eggs with Whole Grain Mustard and Crushed Peanuts
- Cheddar Chicken Noodle Alfredo
- Quick Poached Asparagus over Couscous with Dried Apples, Sunflower Seeds, Peanuts and Carrots
- Raspberry Cranberry Ice Tea
- Ramen Bowl with Quick Poached Vegetables
- Beer Scented Couscous with Thick Cut Beef Bresaola
- Egg Salad with Baby Asparagus and Whole Grain Mustard
- Ramen Bowl with Grilled Chicken a Hard Boiled Egg
For the ramen bowls, I tossed the seasoning packets, cooked the noodles and put an array of hand-picked toppings on them. I used two different techniques for quick poached veggies. Placing them in a freezer ziploc back and letting them sit in the electric kettle with heated water and also covering the vegetables with heated water in a coffee cup and using my bowl as a lid. The grilled chicken was bought at the grocery store. The bresaola was cut to order from the store as well. The mustard cream was as simple as mixing whole grain mustard with natural yogurt.
My personal victory through all of this was the hard-boiled eggs. I have included video footage of the process even though it is quite simple. Place the eggs in a single layer in the bottom of the electric kettle, pour in enough water to cover about a thumb above the eggs, turn on the kettle. This is where it is tricky… if the kettle is automatic and shuts off then you are golden; if not let the water reaching a rolling boil and keep it that way for 30 seconds, then switch it off. Let the eggs sit in the kettle for 10 minutes. Remove the eggs, let cool to room temperature then peel and use or chill until needed.
All in all the experience was fun and I will probably do this again the next time I stay at a hotel. Next on the hotel room cooking menu will be poached shrimp, smoked salmon and perhaps a new pasta dish. Thanks for stopping by. Happy Edge Growing!
Until next time…