Diana PinguichaHere’s my Cod with Cream recipe because many, MANY people have asked for it ~ Diana Pinguicha

 

 

cod-filletsOk, so, you need:

- 2 very generous slices of cod

- eggs (ideally, 1 per person, but more if you want to make extra for lunch/whenever — I’ve seen this eaten at 10 a.m.)

- Potatoes (ideally of this type. If you don’t have them, regular fries will do)

- onion & garlic (it IS a Portuguese dish)

- bay laurel (2 or 3 leaves)

- salt & pepper

- parsley

- cream (if it’s heavy, dilute it!)

- milk

- flour

 

How You Do It!

1. Boil the cod with the eggs until cooked. Turn the over on at around 150ºC or 200ºC.

2. Meanwhile, fry onion, chopped parsley, bay laurel, pepper and garlic in olive oil. Once the cod is done, slice it and put it with the onions/parsley/etc mix. Wait a bit then throw in the chips and the sliced eggs. Salt it to your taste, but I usually just use two pinches.

 

cream and codThe Béchamel Sauce!

This tricked me for a while, getting all lumpy and stuff — but no longer! You can buy pre-made béchamel sauce, but I’d rather do my own.

1. Put 3 spoons of flour in a bowl with a bit of cold milk (enough to dissolve).

2. Heat 3 spoons of olive oil; once it’s hot, put in the flour with the milk. Now, add more milk while stirring, stopping when the sauce is creamy and consistent. Around half a litre of milk should be enough for the sauce, but I never measure it. I just add until I feel it’s right.

 

The Finale!

Now, all you have to do is add the béchamel sauce to the cod/chips/eggs /etc. Add some cream (not too much). Put it in an ovenproof dish and cover it with cream.

Put it in the oven until the top is brown.

Ta-daaa! You’re done! If you want, add some bread crumbs or cheese on top. Bread crumbs can make the top crunchier, but the cheese will change the flavor significantly. Try with and without to see how you prefer it.

Some notes to consider:

- If you buy salted cod, do not forget to de-salt it! Put it in water for a day or two while changing the water 2-3 times a day!

- You can accompany the cod with tomato salad! I season mine with olive oil, fleur du sal, balsamic vinegar and soy sauce.

It’s delicious!



Diana PinguichaDiana Pinguicha reviews period drama Downton Abbey.

 

 

Downton-AbbeyOk, so there I was, lying down on my bed, my two kitties nearby, hacking away at C++ code and failing miserably to load textures properly onto OpenGL. Then, because my boyfriend always leaves the TV on for background noise, I hear this beautiful piano melody from a series opening.

Let’s face it: I’m a big sucker for beautiful piano pieces. It comes with having playing the instrument for so long. So, the next day, during class, I asked my friend Joana if she had watched it (being that she’s a lover of all things properly British). She had, and told me I needed to as well. I, being the TV drama junkie that I am, decided to obey.

I had all the episodes on DVR thanks to the wonderful auto-save technology of my cable provider. Plus, they were all in HD, so I had extra-pretty details to look at. Without anything to complain about, I lay down in bed, Jubas sleeping next to me and Sushi peering down from her perch atop the piano, and I start watching.

I ended up finishing the entire first season in a day.

downton-abbey1First of all, the cast is gigantic. There’s the aristocratic family that runs the house and is composed of Lord and Lady Grantham, their three daughters, the Dowager Countess (portrayed flawlessly by the wonderful Maggie Smith), their cousin, his mother and a whole lot of people.

Then, you have the servants and oh God almighty, there’s so many of them! From butler to second footman to lady’s maid to housekeeper to kitchen helper – I kid not! I cannot tell you for certain how many there are. It’s crazy. I was often lost in the first episodes and had to go to Wikipedia to know who’s who and “Oh , so that’s what a footman’s supposed to do!” Still, it’s an accurate portrayal of a noble family and its needless amounts of staff.

As for the plot itself: the first season starts with the infamous Titanic disaster and how Lord Grantham lost his heir to the sea. You ask, “But can’t his daughters inherit the gigantic estate?” Nope. This is 1912. Women couldn’t inherit anything but a dowry once they got married – and that was to their husband, a sort of a “thank you for ridding me of a daughter” gift. It’s not that Lord Grantham doesn’t love his daughters, because he does. But be prepared for a lot of your typical early 20th century sexism and misogyny in the series.

Downton-Abbey-Tour_1So, what happens when you lose your male heir? You find one and get to know him, because an estate like Downton deserves to be in good hands. But oh, tragedy of tragedies! The next living heir is a lawyer! What a common-man profession, is it not?

I kid! I kid! Still, the outrage of the family when they find Matthew, the heir in question, works for a living is hilarious and so perfectly done! It’s a joy to see, really!

Matthew comes to the Abbey and the drama unfolds. He and Lord Gantham’s eldest daughter Mary (the beautiful Michelle Dockery) are attracted to each other, but she’s a snob, and so on and so forth.

Then you have your downstairs drama, with Thomas, the first footman, conspiring with the lady’s maid to bring down the newly appointed valet, John Bates. There’s a myriad of plots and sub-plots unravelling and I cannot get into most of them, but they’re all brilliantly acted and cleverly put together.

You’ll find yourself at the edge of your seat, wanting to know what comes next. You’ll be rooting for the good people, wishing the villains to die, and then finding yourself having some sympathy for those more misguided people. You’ll laugh at the Dowager Countesses’ indignity over the most trivial things, at Carson’s properly British mannerisms; you’ll rage at how homosexuals are treated and at how women had little rights but to get married. Downton is very well-written and no one’s truly good or truly evil. Everyone has flaws – it’s just that some are more despicable than others.

Last, but not the least: the set. The series is filmed on Highclere Castle and Bampton, and the scenery is breathtaking. Everything is meticulously done to match the era in which the series it’s set and it’s gorgeous to look at. From Mary’s clothes to the Abbey’s decoration to the town nearby… everything is so well-done and pretty that I just want to go back in time and live there.

Downton Abbey will melt your heart and have your teeth grinding within minutes, always with impeccable style and, more importantly: always thoroughly British. A definite must see if you love British history, a plot full of drama and incredible acting. Trust me. You won’t be disappointed.

 



Diana PinguichaDiana Pinguicha review the first two PS3 releases in the Uncharted franchise and give us the thumbs up.

 

 

uncharted-ps3-video-game1Last week, I had some spare time with my boyfriend’s PS3 (I do not have one, unfortunately). Since I had started Uncharted a year ago and never had finished it due to time constraints, I decided to give it another go.

To me, the first Uncharted is, and always will be, the first Tomb Raider with better combat, prettier graphics and an Indiana Jones wannabe as a protagonist who goes by the name of Nathan Drake. You have the sceptical sidekick Sully (my favourite thing in the game) and the mandatory love interest in an action flick, Elena.

The story’s your standard treasure hunt with a snarky Nathan for comic relief, but I won’t lie, compared to most games you get nowadays, it’s more entertaining. Combat is the unfortunately common cover-shoot-cover, with the added frustration of using the sixaxis (Sony’s first attempt at imitating the Wiimote) to throw grenades. Also, Sully’s pretty awesome and Elena is not a completely hopeless damsel in distress, which is good.

uncharted2amongthieves-01I finished the first game in a couple of days (playing around 3 hours a day) and it went smoothly. The puzzles were a bit too easy for me, but newcomers to these types of games will probably find them slightly challenging (I know my boyfriend did). It’s a good enough game, with decent action and an OK story – but nothing over the top. My biggest disappointment, really, was that the writers decided to throw all realism down the drain in some curse-mojo stuff that was completely unnecessary.

Then came Uncharted 2 and by all that’s holy in games, it’s, thankfully, so much better than its predecessor. Nathan and Elena broke up for some reason which I never cared to know and wasn’t explained to me, so we get Chloe for most of the game. Chloe is everything Elena should’ve been as a love interest: feisty, fearless, kick-ass and with a dose of understandable survival instinct. Really, I adored her and was so glad she stuck with me throughout most of the game. That woman’s fierce.

Uncharted-2-Gets-Game-of-the-Year-Award-2Uncharted 2 has better combat, too. Grenades no longer require the sixaxis, so you can actually use them properly. Enemies are smarter too, so you have that extra challenge, and more varied, with riot shields and all. You can also be a ninja, which I absolutely loved and did whenever I could. Weapons respond better and more differently than in the first and hand-to-hand combat was fixed to something far superior. Truly, the combat was so much fun! Not to mention you have helicopter chases, car chases and train-hopping! Uncharted 2 plays like an action movie, but it does so incredibly well. There’s tension in the right moments and it never drags out for too long. The chases are filled with adrenaline and a joy to go through. It’s pure uncomplicated fun and while I do enjoy drama and complex stories, Uncharted 2 was a very welcome break of all that.

Another big difference between the two games is that Uncharted 2 looks impossibly more gorgeous than the first instalment. The different settings are lush and vibrant or subdued and messy when they need to be. In a war-torn city, you get the sense of conflict and destruction; in Tibet, you get the cold and the loneliness and in a certain mythical place, you get lush trees and blue fire. The graphics are a work of art and I can’t praise them enough. Uncharted 2 is worth playing just for the scenery alone.

Finally – and yes, I do have to mention this. The puzzles are still easy for me, but Nathan’s little notebook now has added humour. I found myself selecting it on purpose just so I could see his “SKELZOR!”, the different expressions of Sully and, of course, the famous “Skully”. It had the most hilarious trophy ever, too. I won’t spoil it, but it’s related to a swimming pool and a famous game and it had me laughing out loud.

So, if you own a Playstation 3 and somehow haven’t played the Uncharted series, you definitely should. They’re short, fun games, filled with entertainment. If you have to decide between one or the other, you should definitely go for the second, as it’s above the first in every sense. As for me… I can’t wait to get another break with a PS3 and finish the trilogy!



Diana PinguichaDiana Pinguicha reviews Parks and Recreation!

 

 


parks and recreation“I have been developing the Swanson Pyramid of Greatness for years. It’s a perfectly calibrated recipe for maximum personal achievement. Categories include: Capitalism, God’s way of determining who is smart, and who is poor. Crying, acceptable at funerals and the Grand Canyon. Rage. Poise. Property rights. Fish, for sport only, not for meat. Fish meat is practically a vegetable.”

- from The Wisdom of Ron Swanson

parks-and-recreation 2It’s no secret I watch a ton of TV shows. True, the number has dwindled these last six months due to heavy coursework (I’ll get back to you someday on Pretty Little Liars and Vampire Diaries!), but some shows I just couldn’t give up. Parks and Recreation was one of them.

So… what’s Parks & Rec all about? The Parks department of Pawnee, Indiana, and all its employees – especially in the Deputy Director, Leslie Knope.

I started watching because I love Amy Poehler. She’s one of the best female role models out there (if you don’t believe me, go to youtube and search for Ask Amy) and she’s funny and sweet and overall, my second favorite Amy in the world (first one goes to former BB staff Amy Parker, of course).

At first, I wasn’t very impressed with the show. The first season is sort of lackluster and Leslie seems sort of a dummy. However, it’s only six episodes long and the supporting cast more than makes up for the still-developing Leslie. I mean… Ron Swanson (played flawlessly by Nick Offerman) is a jewel in terms of smart writing and perfect delivery.

After season one, I was hooked. Season two is funny and Leslie is now more empowered and smart and you’ll wish all government workers were like her. Ron’s even more stoically aggressive – he seriously has some of the best quotes and gifs out there – and he balances Leslie optimism perfectly. April grows beyond her deadpan face and overall “I don’t care about anything” attitude. Andy is still a goofball, but he’s so sweet and you can’t help but root for him. Donna and Jerry – they become more important as the seasons go by – are also excellent cast members. Donna because she completely owns everything and Jerry because, well… he’s always the butt of the joke. Then, we have Ann, Leslie’s best friend and, in Leslie’s words, “beautiful nurse”, who also brings Leslie to be more down-to-earth and Tom, a complete metrosexual with crazy entrepreneurism spirit.

ParksAndRec-490x328At the end of season 2, one of my favorite characters is introduced: Ben Wyatt, who’s a complete geek but dedicated government worker. And Chris, the ever-optimistic, always-exercising, “I’m going to live to a 150” Chris.

From there on out, Parks & Rec is perfect. From Ron’s anti-government attitudes and ex-wives (both named Tammy, and Tammy 2 is played brilliantly by Megan Mullally, Nick Offerman’s wife in real life), the blossoming relationships between April and Andy and Leslie and Ben (not a spoiler, really… you’ll see that one coming from miles away) and the struggle of someone who cares about her town, see every step she takes to better it constantly made difficult by a very stupid population.

In short, Parks and Recreation is one of the best comedies on TV and hands down and one of the best satires on American Government. If you’re like me, you’ll be in love with it fast and gobble down all episodes like the government gobbles up tax-payers’ money. And remember:

Why do I want to build this park so bad? Maybe because a pit filled with garbage isn’t the best that we can do in America. You know, in Russia they could pretend that pit was a park. Bring their kids down there,’Hey Vlad, uh, look at these rocks. Let’s pretend they’re potatoes. Nikolai, do you want to swim in the dirt?’ but not here. Okay? Cause we’re a nation of dreamers and it is my dream to build a park that I one day visit with my White House staff on my birthday. And they say, ‘President Knope, this park is awesome. Now we understand why you are the first female President of the United States.

– Leslie Knope, on why she wants to build a park on an abandoned lot behind Ann’s house



Diana’s Top 5

1. The Fault In Our Stars – Heartbreaking, funny, tragic and beautifully written.

2. Shadowfell – A wonderful tale of love and self-discovery. Juliet Marillier is amazing yet again.

3. The Girl of Fire and Thorns – Daringly different, with one of the best heroines ever!

4. Bitterblue - Complex plot, great characters and a book I did not want to end.

5. Pandemonium – Love is a disease and Lena is infected. Her growth in this book is remarkable and the romance was lovely. Also, great twist at the end!

Most Anticipated in 2013

1. Raven Flight by Juliet Marillier

2. Requiem by Lauren Oliver

3. Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi

4. Asunder by Jodi Meadows

5. Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger



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