Aug 282013
 

I’d never made a potato salad before this one.

Well… actually I had made warm salads that include potatoes… but never the dish we traditionally call by that name – new potatoes bound together in a mayonnaise-based dressing.

Several years ago, the American Head of IT where I worked shared his potato salad tips with me, after he hosted the IT summer party in his back garden and I raved about his magnificent potato salad. He’d been a professional chef in his previous career; yes I was surprised at the job change too – for the record, he was very good at both. I wrote his recipe down at the time but mislaid it and by the time I realised, he’d retired and moved back to the States.

But a few tips stuck in my mind.

  • Use lots of fatty bacon and make sure you include all the bacon fat that renders as you cook it.
  • Don’t stint on the mayonnaise.
  • Add chopped capers or gherkins for acidity and crunch.
  • Toss the potatoes in the dressing while they’re still warm.

So one of the dishes I was determined to try with our home grown new potatoes this year was a classic bacon-laced, mayonnaise-heavy potato salad. Of the two early potatoes we’ve grown, Home Guard seems better suited to this dish than Red Duke of York, as it holds it shape better when cooked, so that’s what I’ve used here.

And, of course, the potato salad had to live up to my memories of that magnificent lost recipe.

BaconPotatoSalad-1586

In the end, I made up the recipe on the spot, and by very good fortune, it came out perfectly.

The photos really don’t do this justice at all, which is totally my fault as I decided to make my first ever potato salad less than an hour before we headed out to the annual summer barbecue at our allotments and I only grabbed a couple of snap shots of the finished dish, in the box I mixed (and transported) it in. I should have spooned a neat pile into a small clean bowl to show it off better but instead you’ll just have to take my word for it that this recipe is worth trying.

I’m calling it Heart Attack Potato Salad because of the ratio of dressing to potatoes and the amount of fat in the dressing!

 

Heart Attack Potato Salad

Ingredients
Optional: 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
500 grams firm new potatoes, scrubbed but skins on
100 grams streaky bacon, chopped
125 ml Kewpie Japanese mayonnaise
2 medium pickled gherkins, finely diced

BaconPotatoSalad-1577

Note: Kewpie mayonnaise is made with egg yolks rather than whole eggs, which makes it much richer than typical European commercial mayonnaise brands. The apple and malt vinegars give it a slight sweetness and the MSG creates an umami richness. If you can’t get it, either make a rich home-made mayonnaise or substitute with regular and add a small pinch of sugar.

Note: I like the sweet style pickled gherkins rather than the very sour type or the dill pickle ones, so that’s what I used here.

Note: Bacon doesn’t need any additional oil to fry, but adding a touch of extra oil at the beginning lets it take on lots of bacon flavour, to add to the dressing if your bacon doesn’t render much out. For a very slightly healthier version, omit the vegetable oil.

Method

BaconPotatoSalad-1582

  • Chop your new potatoes in half or quarters, depending on size, and put them on to boil. My preference is for bite size pieces in a potato salad, though some people prefer much smaller dice.

BaconPotatoSalad-1578 BaconPotatoSalad-1579

  • Add a tablespoon of oil to a frying pan (if using) and gently fry the chopped bacon. I don’t like bacon fried until it’s crunchy, so I fried mine until it showed a little browning but was still soft.

BaconPotatoSalad-1583 BaconPotatoSalad-1584

  • Allow the bacon to cool a little, then combine bacon, bacon fat / cooking oil and mayonnaise and mix well. You’re adding a lot of extra fat to the mayonnaise emulsion so it may take a bit of effort to mix it into a smooth dressing.

BaconPotatoSalad-1585

  • Once the potatoes are cooked through, drain and leave in the pan to steam and dry a little further.

BaconPotatoSalad-1591

  • While the potatoes are still warm, mix thoroughly with the dressing. If you like, you can do this by putting potatoes and dressing into a sealed container and gently shaking and turning.
  • Serve warm or cold.

As a potato salad novice, I’d really like to hear about your favourite potato salad recipes or tips. I was utterly delighted with the tastiness of my first attempt, which I’ve shared here, but now I’ve dipped my toe in, I’m keen to discover more excellent home-made potato salad recipes. All advice welcome!

Aug 252013
 

Do you remember shandy ice lollies from the ice cream van? I only ordered them occasionally, flitting between my love for cornettos, those lollies with a thick fruit shell around a vanilla ice cream core and of course, the amazing screwball with bubblegum balls at the bottom of an inverted dalek of soft white ice cream.

I decided to make a grown up version – a slightly stronger flavour of beer mixed into traditional lemonade with less sugar and more sharpness.

ShandyLolly-1378 ShandyLolly-1381

Grown Up Shandy Ice Lollies

Makes approximately 3 lollies

Ingredients
200 ml beer of your choice, not overly hoppy
200 ml traditional lemonade

Note: I used one of Pete’s home brew beers, a dark mild ale. Don’t use one that is too strongly hopped as the bitterness will be increased by the reduction process. For the lemonade, I used Ben Shaws cloudy lemonade, which has a sharp real lemon flavour.

Method

  • Over a low heat, reduce the beer by three quarters (till you’re left with 50 ml of liquid).
  • Add the beer reduction to your cloudly lemonade bit by bit until you’re happy with the balance. I added 30 ml to 200 ml of lemonade.
  • Mix well and freeze. I used my Zoku to freeze the liquid quickly but these would work perfectly well poured into traditional lolly moulds and popped into the freezer for a few hours. If you haven’t got lolly moulds, use small plastic cups!

The result was definitely more grown up than the shandy lollies of my childhood, with a decent lemon tang and real beer flavour.

 

This is my entry into the current BSFIC challenge – the theme is Chasing The Ice Cream Van.

IceCreamChallenge

All are welcome to enter, so please join in and have a go!

 

I remember very clearly when the all new Sainsbury’s magazine was launched back in May 1993. Back then, supermarket magazines were pretty wretched; thin and cheaply produced with a dearth of compelling content.

The Sainsbury’s magazine pumped oxygen into a stagnant pond and I loved it from the get go! Delia Smith and husband Michael Wynn-Jones were at its helm and commissioned great content, assembling a team of talented food writers, cooks and chefs. Some were at the start of their careers and others already well established; together they produced a rich collection of material for every single issue. And for just £1 it was excellent value, even in those days!

One of the strengths of the magazine was the reliability of the recipes featured. They were always properly tested and clearly written so those of us who made them did so with confidence.

Fast forward 20 years and while the quality of the field has definitely improved (and dropped again, as in the case of Waitrose Food Illustrated when it changed to Waitrose Kitchen), Sainsbury’s magazine is still going strong.

To mark its 20th anniversary, Sainsbury’s has produced a celebratory cookbook featuring over 100 recipes chosen from an extensive archive.

Unlike some glossier and trendier recipe books I’ve flicked through lately, what I love about this collection is how many of them I want to make (and feel confident that I can make).

SainsburysMag

The good news is that I have one copy of the book to give away to a lucky reader.

But first, let me share the first recipe we made from the book, Brian Glover’s pea, new potato and feta frittata.

Frittata-1420

Frittata is such a versatile dish – it can be enjoyed both hot and cold, it’s ideal for lunch or dinner, for picnics or packed lunch boxes and it’s very simple to make.

We took Brian’s suggestion to substitute the feta for goat’s cheese, as we much prefer it.

Frittata-1392

 

Pea, New Potato & Goat’s Cheese Frittata

Serves 4

Ingredients
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
500 grams new potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme chopped or 0.5 teaspoon dried
200 grams frozen peas*
a good knob of butter
6 large eggs, beaten
100 grams goat’s cheese (or feta), crumbled
optional: a handful of peashoots

*The original recipe specifies podded peas, but we bought fresh pods and discovered enormous, tough-skinned, tasteless peas within so we substituted with sweet little frozen peas instead. We weighed them frozen, then left them in a bowl of tepid water for a few minutes before draining and using. The recipe calls for boiling the podded fresh peas for 4 minutes before adding to the frittata pan.

Frittata-1397 Frittata-1400 Frittata-1403

Method

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a 23-25 cm non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and 2-3 pinches of salt, and stir. Cover, turn down the heat and sweat the onions for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Frittata-1394

  • Add the potatoes and thyme to the pan and cook, still covered, for 10-12 minutes until the potatoes are just tender, adding the extra oil if they are drying out.

Frittata-1398

  • Uncover the pan and turn up the heat until the potatoes start to colour.

Frittata-1404

  • Add the butter and, when melted, add the peas, Season the eggs and pour into the pan, stirring in the cheese and pea shoots. Preheat the grill.

Frittata-1408
Frittata-1410
Frittata-1412

  • Cook the frittata over a medium heat, drawing in the edge with a spatula until the base sets. After 4-5 minutes, when the underside has browned, put the pan under the grill for 2-3 minutes to just set the top.

Frittata-1416

  • Place a large plate over the pan and turn over plate and pan together, to remove the frittata from the pan.

Frittata-1419

We really enjoyed the frittata, both hot out of the pan for dinner and cold for lunch the next day.

Frittata-1425 Frittata-1428

COMPETITION

Sainsbury’s have offered a copy of their 20th anniversary Sainsbury’s Magazine Cookbook to one of my readers. The prize includes free delivery within the UK.

HOW TO ENTER

You can enter the competition in 3 ways:

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
Leave a comment below, telling me about one of your family’s favourite recipes.

Entry 2 – Facebook
Like the Kavey Eats Facebook page and leave a (separate) comment on this blog post with your Facebook user name.

Entry 3 – Twitter
Follow @Kavey on Twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter! Then tweet the (exact) sentence below.
I’d love to win the 20th anniversary @sainsburysPR Magazine Cookbook from Kavey Eats! http://goo.gl/im02D9 #KaveyEatsSainsburysCookbook
(Please do not add my twitter handle into the tweet; I track entries using the competition hashtag. And you don’t need to leave a blog comment about your tweet either, thanks!)

RULES & DETAILS

  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 6th September 2013.
  • Kavey Eats reserves the right to alter the closing date of the competition. Changes to the closing date, if they occur, will be shown on this page.
  • The winner will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator.
  • Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
  • Where prizes are to be provided by a third party, Kavey Eats accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
  • The prize is a copy of the 20th Anniversary Sainsbury’s Magazine Cookbook, with free delivery within the UK.
  • The prize cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • The prize is offered and provided by Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd.
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. One Facebook entry per person only. You do not have to enter all three ways for your entries to be valid.
  • For Twitter entries, winners must be following @Kavey at the time of notification. For Facebook entries, winners must Like the Kavey Eats Facebook page at time of notification.
  • Blog comment entries must provide a valid email address for contacting the winner.
  • The winners will be notified by email, Twitter or Facebook. If no response is received within 7 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

 

Kavey Eats was sent a review copy of the Sainsbury’s Magazine Cookbook.

This competition is closed. The randomly selected winner was Tracy Nixon.

 

I adore flat peaches.

As I’ve written before, they’re also known as doughnut peaches, saturn peaches and even UFO peaches, because of their flattened disc-like shape. Usually they’re superbly sweet and impossible to eat without dribbling copious sticky juice down chin and arms. In recent years, I’ve found them easier than ever to find; my local grocery shops usually sell them very cheaply throughout their season. I also buy flat nectarines, which are the same fruit but with smooth rather than furry skins.

PeachTarteTatin-1370

I’ve been wanting to make a Tarte Tatin for years. Traditionally made with apples, this French sweet is an upside down caramelised fruit tart made by making caramel in a heavy based pan, adding the fruit over the caramel, covering with pastry and then transferring to the oven to bake. It’s flipped back over to serve.

I finally decided to give the technique a go after buying a large bowl of giant flat nectarines that were so ripe I knew they wouldn’t last long. As is my usual won’t, I read a frankly ridiculous number of recipes on the web, decided on the general approach I liked best and then winged it to make my own version. Even traditionalists seem undecided between shortcrust and flaky pastry. I went for the latter.

The result was so good I made it again the weekend after, using smaller flat peaches the second time around. On the second occasion, I decided to see what happened if I made more caramel but found the result too liquidy – I think it essentially poached the peaches rather than baking them and didn’t allow the butter and sugar to thicken further during baking. So I’m giving you the recipe with the amounts I used the first time, which created a thicker, stickier caramel.

PeachTarteTatin-1364

 

Upside Down Caramelised Flat Peach Tart aka Flat Peach Tarte Tatin

Serves 4-6

Ingredients
3-6 ripe flat peaches or nectarines, depending on size
60 grams salted butter
100 grams sugar
1 roll ready made puff pastry
Optional: 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Method

  • Preheat oven to 180 C (fan).
  • Wash the peaches, half them horizontally and carefully scoop or cut out the stone.

PeachTart2-1442 PeachTarteTatin-1353

  • If you’re adding the cinnamon, mix it thoroughly into the sugar.
  • In a large, heavy-based, oven-proof frying pan melt the butter, then sprinkle the sugar evenly across the pan.

PeachTarteTatin-1352

  • Once the sugar has melted and the mixture starts to brown a little, add the flat peaches, cut-side down.

PeachTarteTatin-1356 PeachTart2-1451

  • If your peaches are a little hard, you may want to cook them in the caramel for a few minutes; I bought mine soft and ripe, so they cooked only as long as it took me to get the pastry out of the fridge and cut it.
  • Cut a square from the puff pastry sheet and lay it over the peaches. Use a knife to cut the pastry corners away and tuck the edges down around the fruit.

PeachTarteTatin-1357 PeachTarteTatin-1358
PeachTart2-1456 PeachTart2-1460

  • Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until pastry is golden brown.

PeachTarteTatin-1359

  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  • Shake the pan to see if the tart will come away from the base. If not, heat the pan for 10 seconds on the hob to melt the surface of the caramel and try again.
  • Place a large plate over the pan, grasp both together and flip over. My tarts (and all the fruit pieces) came away cleanly from the pan both times.

PeachTarteTatin-1365 PeachTart2-1465

  • Serve hot or cold with vanilla ice cream, custard or cream.

PeachTart2-212327 PeachTarteTatin-1369

I also want to tell you about a new business that got in touch with me recently to ask if I’d like to try their products. Cinnamon Hill import fresh cinnamon from Sri Lanka and Vietnam; true cinnamon from the former and cassia bark from the latter. They also sell a cinnamon grater with a specially designed metal grate and gorgeous oak handle; it comes with a pretty hand-made ceramic cup in which to store it. The grater worked very well indeed and the cinnamon was certainly intensely fragrant and had a lovely flavour. It does come at a price though, at £12 and £8 respectively for just 5 sticks of Sri Lankan or Vietnamese cinnamon and £50 for the grater (which includes £20 of cinnamon).

CinnamonHill-1437 CinnamonHill-1429

Kavey Eats received product samples from Cinnamon Hill.

 

I am inexorably drawn to kitchen gadgets and have always had to fight my tendency to collect electrical white elephants. Of the new gadgets I’ve encountered since I started writing Kavey Eats I adored the Thermomix, the jug blender and the mandoline slicer, was pretty pleased with the deep fat fryer and the spice and nut grinder and not very impressed at all by the soup maker, to name just a few.

But I’d not even heard of the Masha until I saw it featured on my spudtastic friend Gary’s blog, recently.

As many of you will know, using a food processer makes for horribly gluey mashed potatoes. Using a hand  blender is enormously messy and, if you can make it work for you, creates a similarly elastic puree. A potato ricer is slow and faffy but it does produce beautifully fluffy mash. An old fashioned potato masher obviously works well too, but again, takes a little time and elbow grease.

Masha-1299 Masha-1301

The Masha looks a lot like a hand blender but the way it works is closer to an electric potato ricer: blunt plastic blades push the potato through holes. The fibres aren’t hacked apart so they don’t release too much starch, hence the potato doesn’t turn into gluey wallpaper paste. It doesn’t splash the content of the pan everywhere as can happen (to me) when using a hand blender. And it’s quick and very low effort.

Of course, it can be used to mash any root vegetable and I am sure it would work similarly well on anything in the squash family too. I have a soft spot for Swede and Carrot mash, which it handles easily. It can also be used to puree fruit and vegetables for young children. Here’s a link to the manufacturer’s video showing it in action.

Masha-1302 Masha-1303

We probably wouldn’t have bought this gadget at this point, not because we don’t like it – we actually think it’s great – but because Pete is fit and strong and doesn’t mind spending a few minutes mashing our spuds the old-fashioned way (and because, frankly, our kitchen cupboards are actually overflowing, with boxes now sat in piles on the floor). However, we do think it’s a great tool and would be a particular boon for fluffy-mashed-veg-lovers with reduced arm strength. Retailing at around £32, we think the price is fair too.

 

COMPETITION

MPL Home is offering a Masha to one Kavey Eats reader. The prize includes free delivery within the UK.

HOW TO ENTER

You can enter the competition in 3 ways:

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
Leave a comment below, telling me about your favourite meal featuring mashed vegetables.

Entry 2 – Facebook
Like the
Kavey Eats Facebook page and leave a (separate) comment on this blog post with your Facebook user name.

Entry 3 – Twitter
Follow
@Kavey on Twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter! Then tweet the (exact) sentence below.
I’d love to win a Masha from Kavey Eats and MPL Home! http://goo.gl/3HNm7A
#KaveyEatsMasha
(Please do not add my twitter handle into the tweet; I track entries using the competition hashtag. And you don’t need to leave a blog comment about your tweet either, thanks!)

RULES & DETAILS

  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 30th August 2013.
  • Kavey Eats reserves the right to alter the closing date of the competition. Changes to the closing date, if they occur, will be shown on this page.
  • The winners will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator.
  • Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
  • Where prizes are to be provided by a third party, Kavey Eats accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
  • The prize is a Masha, with free delivery within the UK.
  • The prize cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • The prize is offered and provided by MPL Home.
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. One Facebook entry per person only. You do not have to enter all three ways for your entries to be valid.
  • For Twitter entries, winners must be following @Kavey at the time of notification. For Facebook entries, winners must Like the Kavey Eats Facebook page at time of notification.
  • Blog comment entries must provide a valid email address for contacting the winner.
  • The winners will be notified by email, Twitter or Facebook. If no response is received within 7 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

 

Kavey Eats was sent a review sample Masha by MPL Home. All opinions are my own.

This competition is closed. The randomly selected winner was Kieran Walsh.

 

I am in the minority; I never warmed to Hakkasan, underwhelmed by all three of the holy trinity of food, service and setting. Sitting in nightclub-like gloom, eating overpriced food served by poorly trained staff just doesn’t appeal and I’ve been at a loss to understand either the Michelin star or the multitude of fans. As for Wagamama, I credit it with popularising Japanese-inspired ramen more widely across the UK, and have certainly grabbed a quick meal there on occasion, but it’s not a restaurant I seek out. "Acceptable" is the best I can say of it, though at least it’s far cheaper than Hakkasan.

So Naamyaa, also from Alan Yau, was not a restaurant I made any particular effort to visit when it launched last year. (Yauatcha remains on my list, I have always assumed I’d like it but simply never managed to visit. Busaba Eathai I hear is decent, offering authentic Thai in sleek surrounds at high prices).

Indeed, I only came to visit Naamyaa at all after a seriously misguided visit to GBK. (I know, I know, I’ve said often enough that any restaurant that needs to put ‘gourmet’, ‘fine’ or ‘ultimate’ in its name clearly isn’t; in my defence a brewery we really like wanted to celebrate making it onto the GBK drinks menu and asked us to come along). Ten minutes was all we could endure of the appallingly awful "burgers", the too-close tables and the chest-vibrating music rendered into unrecognisable thumpy white noise by too many hard surfaces and a poor quality sound system. Social media came to the rescue when we asked for recommendations within the immediate area. Naamyaa was suggested three times within the first several responses!

Naamyaa is described as a "Bangkok Cafe", (in which Thai dishes are routinely served alongside food from neighbouring countries and a few from the West) and its menu, like that of Busaba Eathai, is a collaboration between restaurateur Alan Yau and chef David Thompson. Indeed, it’s owned by the same business and positioned as a sister brand to Busaba Eathai.

Naamyaa’s look and feel is much lighter and more informal than Busaba Eathai’s, which in turn is not as dingy as Hakkasan. For me, that’s definitely a good thing.

Naamyaa-181416

Stepping inside was an immediate balm after our nails-on-a-chalkboard reaction to GBK.  A colourful, luxurious interior which beautifully balanced traditional Asian design motifs with modern (but not minimalist) interior design was warm and inviting, vibrant yet relaxing. Instantly soothed, we were welcomed in and offered a choice of where to sit – in the main area or in the small, intimate space by the window. We chose a comfortable low corner sofa and coffee table flooded with light from the floor to ceiling windows.

The menu sections were a little confusing, we found. Dishes in one mains section came only with rice and those in the other section only with noodles, which felt a little prescriptive. And we didn’t spot the much-written-about Western dishes such as burgers or eggs on toast – I’ve since noticed they seem to be restricted to the breakfast and brunch menu.

Staff were ready to step in with advice about the various dishes, though once I explained my preference for mild to medium chilli heat rather than very hot, we were firmly steered away from large swathes of the menu with dire warnings about the heat levels. The specials board was also explained, though it would have been great to have printed sheets slipped into the menus as we couldn’t see the board from where we sat and it was hard to remember the full list we’d been talked through.

I’m always happy to see an appealing range of soft drinks, as these are so often after thoughts to the wines, beer, spirits and alcoholic cocktails list. My Watermelon Bangkok (£3.80) was wonderfully refreshing in the heat. Pete was happy to see Asahi beer on draft (brewed on license in the UK by Shepherd Neame) but £5.90 a pint is a little steep.

Naamyaa-183525

I remember having the Jasmine Tea Smoked Ribs (£8.50) at Hakkasan. I liked them there but couldn’t detect the smoking, making them pleasant but nothing out of the ordinary compared to much cheaper local neighbourhood chinese takeaways. These were much better with a mild but clear smokiness to the flavour, wonderfully soft and tender meat and a delicious sticky sauce coating.

From the specials board, Fried Eggs with Chilli Jam (£5) were incredible. The eggs cooked perfectly so that the yolk was a viscuous pool of golden liquid, the white was set but not rubbery, with a lovely crisp "skin" from being briefly deep fried. The chilli jam was a deeply savoury mush with a welcome fishy umami  note; so intense and so good I would order it on its own.

Naamyaa-184749

Naamyaa Chicken (£9.50) came with (a tiny portion of) noodles and beansprouts, and half a plain boiled egg and dragonfruit slices that seemed more for show than an integral element of the dish. Oh-my-goodness was this hot! One of the dishes our waitress deemed less hot than most of the rest, this was not only way too hot for me, it was also too hot for Pete who has a much higher chilli tolerance. A shame as we both thought it was delicious, but had to admit defeat as our mouths couldn’t take any more burning.

Naamyaa-184823

Braised Tofu, Aubergine and Shimeji (£9.40) was in the Rice Set section of the menu, which meant it came with a bowl of rice and a pot of broth soup. This was the second standout dish of the meal for me. Much like a Chinese black bean dish but with far more complexity of flavour to the thick sauce, I struggled to identify what ingredients added to the richness – fish sauce, shrimp paste, something else entirely? And I absolutely loved how tofu, aubergine and mushrooms all had a lovely silkiness in common and yet each had their own texture and taste.

Naamyaa-192333

My Lemongrass Panna Cotta with Fruit (£6.50) was let down for me by the fruit which wasn’t as fresh or flavoursome as it should have been, featuring underripe strawberries and tinned peaches. Next time, I’ll skip dessert and focus on the starters and mains.

Naamyaa-193030

We were surprised that two out of three filter coffees (£3) listed in the menu were not available (poor stock management) but what was available was a good coffee. It took an inordinately long time coming though.

We really enjoyed our evening at Naamyaa. Although we’d have to be careful with choosing dishes given the chilli heat, we’d definitely go again. A big thank you to those who suggested it!

Naamyaa Cafe on Urbanspoon
Square Meal

Aug 072013
 

Guest post by Diana Chan.

Chinese Seal MINI

This evening I had dinner by myself and made a dish the way my grandmother would have done – simple, nourishing and delicious.

We are Cantonese, from the south of China.  After living many years in Europe I have observed that the Cantonese and Italians share a common approach to good food – take the best quality, freshest ingredients and do as little to them as possible. This time I made stir fried breast of duck with onion.

123StirFry-8

Stir frying is easy – the 3 things to get right are cutting, seasoning and timing.

And you don’t need a wok – unless, of course, you happen to already have one or want a reason to get one.

First, cutting.  Duck and chicken breast, skinned and boned, and pork fillet are the easiest to cut into even-sized pieces for stir frying because they come in relatively neat blocks that you can just slice across.

  • Slice your meat into large bite-sized pieces.

123StirFry- 123StirFry-1

Second, seasoning.  To make a delicious marinade for the sliced duck (or chicken, pork, etc.) you need only add 3 ingredients to the duck and mix everything together well:  two swirls of soy sauce, a little sugar and some corn flour.

  • For those who prefer more precision, I suggest you use for each 150 grams of duck 2 teaspoons soy sauce, a pinch of sugar, and a half teaspoon of corn flour.  Let the duck marinate for 10 to 15 minutes while you are busy with another part of the meal – but if you are really in a hurry, then marinate for as long as the time you have.

123StirFry-2

Soy sauce, sugar and corn flour make the perfect foundation for stir fried meat. I always use Kikkoman soy sauce – it tastes good, is naturally brewed and is widely available.  Cantonese cooks add a little sugar to enhance the flavour of savoury dishes, while other cuisines could achieve a similar effect with the sweetness of chopped onions cooked with the main ingredients.  Corn flour absorbs some of the meat juices and clings to the meat, making it feel more succulent to the bite.

Third, timing.  A meat stir fry needs the addition of a vegetable or something else to become interesting, and an onion is the best companion.  In the context of timing, an onion is the perfect stir fry vegetable:  it cooks quickly, but even for someone without any sense of timing it is difficult to really overcook.

  • While the duck is marinating, cook a sliced onion in a frying pan over medium heat with a little oil and some salt until it is translucent or becomes as coloured as you like, then put it onto a serving dish.  By this time the frying pan has become nice and hot.

123StirFry-3 123StirFry-4 123StirFry-5

  • Add a bit of oil, then the sliced duck, and immediately toss and turn the duck about in the pan until most of it has lost the raw appearance.  Use for this task a spatula, wooden spoon or any tool you are most comfortable with – for me, it is a pair of bamboo chopsticks.
  • Then return the onion to the pan and stir around the mixture over medium heat until the duck is cooked to your liking.

123StirFry-6 123StirFry-7

That’s it – done!

  • Put the mixture onto the serving dish, including any tasty bits sticking to the pan, and garnish as you like – scatter over a few sprigs of coriander, chopped parsley, or some crushed chilli flakes.

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To garnish my dinner – since we had been away for a long weekend and there was nothing much in the fridge – while the onion was cooking I microwaved some frozen spinach, plopped it onto a plate and placed the duck in the middle.  I thought adding the spinach would make a better photograph, although I would have been perfectly content eating just duck and onion with some steamed rice.

A stir fry is best made with not more than about 300 grams of meat, enough to serve two people with some vegetables and rice.  Once you have mastered the basics of this stir fry with soy sauce, sugar and corn flour, you could use other vegetables and add all sorts of aromatics at various stages of cooking and other seasonings as well.  The combinations are endless.

 

With thanks to Diana Chan for her first guest post. Please leave a comment to welcome her to the world of blogging!

 

Back in June I spent a lovely weekend attending the Oxford Food Symposium, held in St Catherine’s College, Oxford. It’s very remiss of me not to share the experience here on the blog, as I had a wonderful time attending delightfully diverse lectures, meeting fellow delegates and appreciating the excellent catering. But I made few notes and took no photographs, so it’s unlikely to make it onto the blog…

One of the best things about the weekend was making new friends. Diana and I discovered we had a huge amount in common: not only our interest in food, which was a given for all those attending the symposium, but our style of eating and cooking and much about how we view life and choose to live it.

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When we meet again in London, the week after the symposium, we exchange home made preserves. I am very taken by the beautiful hand-printed card Diane has slipped inside the cellophane around her kumquat marmalade.

I ask her to explain the design. She tells me about a well known proverb in Chinese that goes, “eating a small amount of something increases the enjoyment of its taste”. Diana adapted this to create her own motto, “knowing how to eat increases the enjoyment of tasty food”. When she talks about it, it’s clear how well it encapsulates her passion for food and the way that learning more about the history, traditions, techniques and recipes of the world enhances her enjoyment of food.

Chinese Seal

As for the stamp itself, that’s another lovely story: During the years she and husband Tack lived in Brussels (where they met), the Imperial Palace Museum of Beijing was invited to show an exhibition of cultural items at the Belgian Royal Museums for Art and History, which lasted for 6 months. One of the staff accompanying the exhibition from China was a master in traditional seal carving. Tack persuaded the master to take him on as a student and attended lessons with him every day until he, and the exhibition, returned to China. In the years since then, Tack has designed and carved many beautiful seals including this stunning one for Diana.

During some of our many rambling chats at the symposium, Diana mentioned how she loved the idea of sharing some of her own recipes and cooking tips but didn’t want to start a blog of her own. So I cheekily asked if she’d be interested in being a guest writer for Kavey Eats.

Tomorrow’s post is her first contribution and I hope there will be many more. Please take a moment to leave an encouraging comment for her and if you give her stir fry recipe a go, let us know how you get on!

 

Hyper. Adjective: Obsessively concerned; fanatical; rabid (about a given item, idea or activity). Prefix: a loanword from Greek, usually implying excess or exaggeration. Noun (American, informal): a person who promotes or publicizes events, especially one who uses flamboyant methods.

Japan: An island nation in East Asia. An archipelago of 6,582 islands of which the four largest are are Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, and Shikoku. The characters that make up Japan’s name mean “sun-origin”, hence Japan is sometimes referred to as the “Land of the Rising Sun”. A country with a long and rich history, a unique culture and cuisine and one of the world’s strongest economies.

HyperJapan: Self styled as the “UK’s biggest J-culture event“, “dedicated to bringing you cute, cool and contemporary about today’s Japan.” Aimed at those who are hyper about Japan, obviously!

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Pete and I went along to this year’s summer event. Our interests are more towards the traditional cultural exhibitors and the food and drink, though we enjoyed sharing the event with eager otaku – cosplay, anime, manga, karaoke and gaming geeks obsessed with various elements of Japanese pop culture. As expected from the event’s publicity materials, much of the event was given over to these pop culture themes with huge areas for karaoke and gaming and large numbers of stalls selling an enormous variety of merchandise – costumes, jewellery, toys, models, artwork, swords, books, specialist food and drink and much more. There were also cookery demonstrations on one stage and singing, dancing and other performance entertainment on others.

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There were lots of people in great costumes – entertainers, stall-holders and many of the visitors themselves.

A major highlight for us was the Sake Awards, in which we made our way round stalls manned by 11 Japanese sake breweries, each one of which told us about their business and products and guided us through tastings of 2-3 sakes each. The quality and variety was amazing.

I was also ridiculously thrilled to make my own pair of chopsticks using a small plane and fine sandpaper, at the Kyoto Nantan City stand.

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We had planned to taste sushi made by the finalists in the Sushi Awards but queues were slow moving for the all-too-brief first session and we left before the afternoon one started.

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The general food stalls were a bit of a let-down; several served food that had been cooked in advance to handle the volumes of customers; the downside to that was that the food was often tepid and a little soggy. Of course, I didn’t try all of the stalls by any stretch (though I did take tasters where offered) and there were no doubt several gems I missed. I had wanted to get some takoyaki (octopus and batter balls) but queues were just too long. I did enjoy my roast oolong bubble tea very much.

As is always the way at Earl’s Court, there was far too little seating for the visitor numbers. Many squatted on the floor right around the walls of the event space.

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And speaking of visitor numbers, my lasting impression is that HyperJapan sold far more tickets than the venue could accommodate. When we left in the early afternoon (after nearly 4 hours inside), an enormously long queue snaked away from the entrance and I later spoke to ticket holders who waited two hours without gaining entry, before giving up and going home. When I put this to HyperJapan’s organisers, they responded as follows: “we can assure you that we didn’t oversell the advance tickets and what you heard about overselling should have been a rumour. We have warned on the HYPER JAPAN website that you should plan ahead and allow enough time as it may be necessary to wait to gain entry during busy time even though you have purchased advanced tickets. On the day, as we feel for the people waiting on the queue under the sun, we offered free water to those people then. We are currently investigating the real cause of the queue issue.” But I’m not convinced by their answer. Once the venue reached capacity, a ‘one out one in’ policy was in operation and since those inside showed no inclination to leave, those outside were stuck outside. For some shows, organisers can safely sell far more tickets than the venue’s capacity, secure in the knowledge that most visitors will stay just a couple of hours before making way for others. For pop culture events like this, it’s obvious that a large number of visitors will stay a lot longer, so ticket sales need to be proportionately lower.

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With a second trip to Japan in the planning in the offing (and easy access to Japanese groceries from my neighbourhood branch of Atari-ya or from Japan Centre) I didn’t bother buying specialist ingredients or trinkets but I indulged in some dorayaki from Wagashi Bakery and bought a lovely calligraphy T-shirt for Pete, designed by artist Yasunobu Shidami. And I drooled over the latest range from ceramics specialists Doki, but resisted as I already have some of their lovely pieces at home.

Although I’ve always wanted to visit Japan, it’s only since our first visit that I have become more focused on learning more about the country, cuisine and culture. HyperJapan was a fun way to gain an insight into the pop culture side of Japan.

Kavey Eats attended HyperJapan courtesy of organisers, Cross Media.

 

Many of us have an almost Pavlovian response to the music of the ice cream van; a collective memory leading to a shared reaction…

First we catch the distinctive trill far in the distance. Suddenly alert, our ears strain to work out the direction of travel. Each time the music stops, we enviously envisage kids – other kids in some other street – jostling at the van’s window. Eventually, the music’s increasing volume announces the van’s approach; our turn has come. It’s time to beg money from parents and race out into the street to wait the last few moments… expectantly, eagerly, impatiently. Finally, the ice cream van trundles into sight, greeted by excited whoops and shouted exclamations about which ice creams we want. When our turn at the window comes, we must urgently narrow down our potential choices and settle on just one. Flake 99, Screwball, Orange Split, Funny Feet, Cornetto, Twister, Rocket, Mini Milk, Fab, Calippo, Lemonade Lolly or, in later years, Solero, Feast, Magnum… Order placed, money handed over, we grasp our frozen treasure and walk carefully away, mindful of the time we dropped our bounty and watched it melt forlornly on the pavement. In minutes, we wolf it down and, satiated, return to our play.

IceCreamVan Creative Commons attribute Kenjonbro
Image by Kenjonbro, used under Creative Commons license (attribution, non commercial)

So here’s the challenge – take inspiration from your favourite ice cream van treats for your BSFIC entry this month. Whether you choose to recreate the original faithfully or simply use ice cream van staples  as a starting point for your own creative twists is completely up to you.

Of course, I’ve listed British favourites in my nostalgic prose above, but I want you to draw on your own experiences and memories. Tell me what ice cream vans (or trucks or bikes or carts) were like where you grew up. What did you love to order? How do your memories play into what you have chosen to make?

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How To Take Part In BSFIC

  • Create and blog a recipe that fits the challenge by the 28th of September.
  • In your post, mention and link to this Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream post.
  • In your post, include the Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream badge.
  • Email me (by the 28th of September) with your first name or nickname (as you prefer), the link to your post and an image for my roundup, sized to no larger than 500 pixels on the longest side.

You are welcome to submit your post to as many blogger challenge events as you like.

If the recipe is not your own, please be aware of copyright issues. Email me if you would like to discuss this.

If you like, tweet about your post using the hashtag #BSFIC. I’ll retweet any I see. You are also welcome to share the links to your posts on the Kavey Eats Facebook page.

I’ll post a round up of all the entries at the end of the month.

IceCreamChallenge

For more ideas, check out my my BSFIC Pinterest board and my Pinterest BSFIC Entries board.

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