This month we are getting to know a bit about Maria, our Rental Manager and resident practical joker!  Maria deals with drawing up tenancy contracts, renewals and rental arrears.
With her bag of tricks up her sleeve the team is aware to be extra cautious when arriving each morning in fear of finding staples on your chair or a sabotaged desk.

Although Maria may sound scary she does have a soft spot. She absolutely treasures her cats and is currently fundraising and helping the Cats Protection League by looking after abandoned cats before they find a new home. 

Having begun her career as a qualified culinary arts chef and wine coinsurer, Maria enjoys cooking and eating out in fine restaurants, along with a glass or two of red wine!
So with her love for food and drink, Maria has rustled up a some simple and delicious recipes to help you add that extra touch this Valentines Day? And also get you flipping those pancakes on the Shrove Tuesday!

For the main course:
Chicken Stir Fry for Two
Stir fry noodles
2 chicken breasts
Sesame oil
Light soy sauce
Dark soy sauce
Garlic clove
Mangetout (snow peas)
White wine 
1. Cook some noodles by boiling them for 3-5 minutes in a pan of boiling water. Drain and plunge into cold water, drain again then toss with a very little amount of sesame oil.
2. Slice 2 chicken breasts into fine shreds approximately 5cm (2 in) long.
3. To marinate the chicken, combine the chicken with the light soy sauce, a tiny amount of sesame oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
4. Mix well and leave to marinate for 20 minutes.
5. Heat a wok until it is very hot. Add one tablespoon of any cooking oil and, when it is very hot and slightly smoking, add chicken shreds.
6. Stir-fry the mixture for about two minutes, then transfer to a plate.
7. Reheat the wok, and add another tablespoon of oil. Add a finely chopped clove of garlic and stir-fry for 10 seconds. Add some mangetout and fry for one minute.
8. Add the noodles to the wok mixture. Add a few splashes of light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, white wine and a pinch salt and pepper. Add some finely chopped spring onions, continue to stir-fry for two minutes.
9. Add the marinated chicken to the wok mixture.
10. Continue to fry for 3-4 minutes, until chicken is cooked.
11. Stir in some sesame oil and give a few final stirs.
12. Turn onto warm serving platter and serve at once.
For vegetarians, remove the chicken to make an excellent stir fry veggie option

As it Shrove Tuesday on the 12th February, here is a great recipe for yummy pancakes:

Makes about 8 pancakes

4oz (100g) of plain flour
Half a pint of milk (250ml)
1 egg
And toppings of your choice

1. Sieve flour into a bowl, add the egg and mix and gradually add in the milk slowly whilst whisking. If its a bit too thick just add a little water
2. Pour the batter into a jug
3. Heat the frying pan, and place a small piece of butter/fat into the pan. Allow this to melt and spread over the pan.
4. Get the pan nice and hot pour in some of the batter (approx 2 tablespoons) enough to thinly cover the bottom of the pan.
5. Cook until golden brown (1 minute) and then carefully flip the pancake to cook the other side until nicely golden brown
6. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of sugar and lemon ( or alternatively top with maple syrup or any other sauces, foods that you like!)
For a valentines special, add freshly cut strawberries on top, some melted chocolate and a dusting of icing sugar...mmm


* These receipes have also taken into consideration the cooking facilities within some of our flats.