Pete and I have quickly become regular visitors to Yijo Restaurant since our first visit just a couple of months ago. Head chef Jun Pyo Kwon serves up a delicious, authentic and very reasonably priced menu in this unassuming neighbourhood restaurant, just by Central Finchley tube station. You may have tried Jun Pyo’s cooking before, as he developed the menu and launched Kimchee restaurant in Holborn; of course, its location dictated the need to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. During one of our many chats, Jun Pyo explained his desire to open up his own place, where he could offer customers his personal insight into Korean cooking.

The restaurant specialises in Korean barbecue – which I mentally think of as yakiniku even though that’s a Japanese term – but there is also a range of other delicious dishes, with more to come soon – Jun Pyo and restaurant manager Cindy Roberts are finalising a new menu which will be available shortly.

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first image from Google

Of course, the Korean barbecue is excellent. It’s such a sociable (not to mention delicious) dining experience cooking, talking, eating, cooking, talking, eating…

You can choose individual plates of meat or go for one of the mixed platters, which are excellent value and generous too.

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We’ve also tried several other dishes including jap chae (sweet potato glass noodles and vegetables stir fried), tteokbokki (squidgy rice cakes in a fiery sauce), chicken mari (rice paper chicken and vegetable wrapped rolls), bokkeumbap (stir fried rice) and of course, a variety of pickles and salads.

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Yijo Cooking Classes

We’ve also had great fun attending Yijo’s recently launched cooking classes, learning how to make kimchi in the first and making our own tofu (and several dishes using it) in the second. Both the classes we attended were held in the restaurant over a Saturday long lunch but Yijo are also offering classes in a central London cooking school.

In the kimchi class, Jun Pyo shares a wealth of information about the different varieties of kimchi enjoyed in Korea, and lots of tips about variations we can make to the recipe he shares with us. Each student makes their own kimchi to take home – one to ferment and age, the other to enjoy fresh. At the end of the class, we are served a traditional meal of tofu, kimchi and pork.

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In the tofu class, as the process is more time consuming, Jun Pyo explains how to soak the beans and then demonstrates how to grind and strain them to make soy milk. Then we work in pairs to cook pots of soy milk, which Cindy and Jun Pyo made earlier in the morning, adding coagulant and straining into tofu presses when ready. Again, Jun Pyo shares tips on how to achieve a richer almondy flavour and ideas on how to create flavoured tofu. This time, we go on to make three dishes using our fresh tofu – a stew made from the leftover ground soy beans, a simple salad of fresh tofu and dressing and a fried kimchi and tofu dish. We sit down to enjoy these together after the class.

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Each student is able to take a block of home made tofu away with them, plus a pot of the leftover ground beans. Pete and I coat ours in panko breadcrumbs and deep fry them for a quick and tasty lunch the next day.

These classes are a really wonderful way to learn more about Korean cuisine and the practical nature of the classes will give you the confidence to recreate the dishes at home. Check out all Yijo’s classes and events here.

 

Kavey Eats attended the cooking classes as guests of Yijo restaurant.
Yijo on Urbanspoon

 

I don’t usually make Halloween dishes.

But I had a crate full of home-grown butternut squash in my kitchen when a friend of mine gave me a block of his home-made black garlic cheese. The handover, in a central London coffee shop, probably looked like an illicit drug tryst – the cheese resembled a very large block of resin – but cheese is my drug of choice these days!

Immediately, the orange and black colours of Halloween popped into my mind and I decided to adapt the recipe for ever popular Pete’s Cheesey Potato Bake into a Butternut Squash, Black Garlic & Blue Cheese Bake. (I added blue cheese to the black garlic cheese to give a more salty kick).

Of course, few of us make cheese from scratch at home but there are many recipes on the web that show you how to make American processed cheese slices from a combination of regular cheese, dry milk powder, milk and gelatin. I can’t give away my friend’s confidential recipe for his black garlic cheese, but you could experiment with the addition of black garlic to one of these recipes.

Because I liked the idea of the orange and black appearance, we layered the blue cheese below and the butternut squash and black garlic cheese on top, but if you use regular cheeses, you can mix all the ingredients together in the dish.

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Butternut Squash, Black Garlic & Blue Cheese Bake

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 medium butternut squash
100 grams black garlic cheese
200 grams strong blue cheese (we used Stilton)

Method

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  • Peel the butternut squash, halve and scrape out the seeds and pulp from the centre. Cube the flesh and add to a pan.

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  • Parboil the squash by bringing the water to the boil and let the squash cook for a further five minutes, remove from the heat and set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 180 C (fan).
  • Chop the blue cheese into small pieces and scatter along the bottom of two individual baking dishes (or one larger dish).

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  • Spread the squash over the top.
  • Cube the black garlic cheese, and scatter over the squash.

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  • Bake for about 40 minutes, until the squash is cooked through and the cheese on top has melted.
  • Serve hot.

Of course, if you don’t have black garlic cheese (and don’t fancy making your own) you can enjoy the delicious combination of sweet butternut squash and salty cheese with any combination of cheeses you like.

Other winter squash / pumpkin ideas:

 

For this week’s Meet The Blogger, I’m happy to introduce Laura, the author behind How To Cook Good Food. Based in Surrey, Laura is a very seasonal cook, and she enjoys growing her own fruit and vegetables, as we do.

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Hello and welcome, please introduce yourself and tell us a little about the kind of content you share.

Hello, I’m Laura. My blog has a tag line, recipes for food lovers. It is for fellow food fans and cooks who appreciate good food. I write recipes using the influence of the growing season. I also like to create recipes that are influenced by different food cultures and I love to use spices and fresh herbs. I also attend the occasional chef masterclass or food event/show and I review these along with food related products. I will only mention these products if I genuinely think my readers will want to hear about them and they are of good quality.

Is there a story behind your blog’s name?

The blog’s name came from an idea by my husband of combining “How to Cook” by Delia and “Good Food” magazine by the BBC.

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Tell us the story of your most spectacular kitchen failure!

I once had some friends over to dinner and forgot I had brownies baking in the oven. I blame the wine! When I spotted them, completely burned I decided to knock up another batch whilst the guests were sitting happily drinking lots more wine in the sitting room. The next batch turned out perfectly and we were able to eat them warm. I never admitted this was because I burnt the first batch.

Which food or ingredients could you not live without?

I could not live without sea salt, garlic or chillies.

Which food writers / chefs do you find most inspirational and in the same spirit, are there any particular cookery books you cherish above the rest of the shelf?

My favourite cook books are by female chefs. One in particular is “The Cook’s Companion” by Stephanie Alexander. It is a huge tome which I bought years ago when I lived near Books for Cooks and I refer to it regularly more for personal use than for the blog.

If I were coming for dinner, what would you cook for me?

As I know you are a huge fan of Japanese food, as am I, I would cook you a Japanese feast. Gyoza, tempura, sushi, okonomiyaki and some teryaki and yakitori meats with pickled vegetables.

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What is the hardest aspect of blogging for you?

The hardest aspect of blogging is the time it takes to put a post together. Even when I keep them short and sweet, there is still the lengthy process of editing photos and naming them. Then there is the time spent promoting the posts on social media and checking comments. Not to mention the shopping for ingredients and composing half decent photographs, a skill I am always trying to improve on. Also, the proof reading takes quite a bit of concentration.

What inspires you to keep blogging regularly?

For me it is about CPD (Continual professional development). As a cookery tutor, I am always striving to learn and improve my skills both as a cook and as a teacher. I find that blogging helps me keep up to date with trends, developing my cookery skills and techniques as well as learning from others by attending cookery masterclasses and reading a huge amount of food blogs plus the odd cook book.

I aim to blog a recipe once a week but on a good week I can stretch to two as long as one of them is short on words and pictures. I do struggle to fit in the reviews I must say and have been pretty poor with hosting blog challenges. These are things I will try to rectify next year.

In reality, there is always something I could be doing more of for my blog but life, 3 kids and a ridiculous amount of after school activities not to mention cooking every day for the family tends to get in the way. And my teaching work too!

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What are you absolutely loving cooking, eating, doing right now?

There are two types of influence that I have when cooking and eating. One is seasonal and the other is cultural.

Seasonally, I am loving pumpkin, butternut squash, apples, pears, chard and kale.

My seasonal cooking includes loads of soups and bakes. I have been making pumpkin soup and bread, roasted butternut squash enjoyed with gran Luchito chilli honey, Kale in my superfood salad or stir fried with garlic & chilli and crumbles aplenty with the fruits.

Culturally, I am obsessed by both Japanese and Korean food. I have a cupboard full of ingredients that I come back to using regularly. I bought a mammoth selection of seaweeds, vinegars, noodles and sauces and I have a new found love of tofu and an ongoing love of anything chilli’ed and pickled.

I have been making lots of Japanese pancakes (okonomiyaki) and miso noodle soups but also some Bibimbap and Korean fried chicken. I find Japanese food subtle and light whereas Korean food satisfies my chilli habit.

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What’s the single most popular post on your blog?

Roasted Mediterranean vegetables – This never ceases to amaze me. Every day it is top of the most viewed pages. The weird thing is, it has absolutely no comments on it!

Can we give a little extra love and attention to a post you love but didn’t catch the attention of your readers in the way you hoped?

My tagliatelle with flower sprouts & chorizo. This is such a tasty dish, and if you haven’t tried flower sprouts you really should, They are so much better than regular sprouts and are a perfect partner for chorizo. The post also happens to have one of my better photos from the early days of blogging. There is still one shocker on there which I keep meaning to replace but I won’t draw your attention to it!

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Spread the love

Blog URL – http://www.howtocookgoodfood.co.uk
Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/Howtocookgoodfood
Twitter handle – https://twitter.com/laura_howtocook
Pinterest profile – http://www.pinterest.com/laura_howtocook/
Instagram handle – http://instagram.com/laura_howtocook

 

I’m conscious that nearly a year has passed since our last trip to Japan and I still have so much about the trip that I haven’t shared yet.

One of my favourite mornings was a visit to Kyoto’s Toji Temple for the monthly Kōbō-san flea market that’s held in the grounds on the 21st of each month. It was surprisingly busy, with a food-to-eat-now and produce market alongside the stalls selling both second hand goods and new products. I loved it! I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

Click on any image to view a larger version.

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Approaching the entrance; entering; within the temple grounds

 

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An area of prayer by a statue of Kōbō Daishi, the founder of Shingon Buddhism in Japan and the head priest of the temple about 30 years after its establishment

 

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Random market wares

 

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Food vendors, to eat on site and to takeaway; I was surprised to recognise the man in the yellow apron and headgear from our trip the previous year, I remembered him being at Takayama Miyagawa morning market!

 

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There were peaceful corners even amid the bustle of flea market day

Find more of my Japan content, here.

 

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Icelanders love their hot dogs! Who knew?

Well, anyone who’s spent any time in Iceland, that’s who; recommendations to seek out Icelandic pylsa abound and I’m adding one more to the pile!

An Icelandic pylsa is much like a hot dog anywhere in the world… with a few little touches that make it a little different. Firstly, if you order your hot dog með öllu (with everything) you’ll get crispy fried onions – usually the kind you can buy ready made from the supermarket – and finely diced crunchy raw onions, both spread along the roll underneath the frankfurter. You can skip the raw onions if you must by ordering með öllu nema hráum (with everything except raw) but why would you? On top you’ll get ketchup and mustard, as you might expect, plus another condiment you might not; remúlaði. Remoulade is a mayonnaise-based sauce most commonly served with fish but in Iceland (and Denmark too) it’s become a key hot dog condiment as well.

The most famous hot dog vendor in Iceland is probably Baejarins Beztu Pylsur, sold out of two mobile vans in Reykjavik. Their sausages are made by Sláturfélag Suðurlands, a food-producing cooperative owned by farmers from southern and western regions of Iceland. I’m curious as to why these are named vinarpylsa, which I think translates to ’friend sausages’. Anyone?

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I liked my Baejarins Beztu Pylsur hot dog a lot but personally I was just as happy with the hot dogs I ate elsewhere in Iceland at tourist sites and in petrol station restaurants. My favourite was the bacon-wrapped example from an Olis petrol station’s Grill 66 fast food restaurant.

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The remoulade served with hot dogs in Iceland is pale yellow but my recipe (below) is green as I’ve upped the quantity of parsley. I’ve also skipped the mustard since mustard is one of the other condiments to be squirted on anyway. By all means, adjust your remoulade recipe to better match the Icelandic style.

Icelandic Bacon-Wrapped Hot Dog

Ingredients per hot dog
1 frankfurter sausage
1 rasher of streaky bacon, smoked or unsmoked
1 hot dog bun
(Optional) 1-2 tablespoons finely diced raw white onion
1-2 tablespoons crispy fried onions
Squirt of ketchup
Squirt of sweet mustard
Squirt of remoulade sauce (see below)

  • Wrap a rasher of streaky bacon around each frankfurter. Fry gently in a pan until the bacon is cooked and has taken on a little colour.
  • Slice the hotdog bun from the top, without cutting all the way through.
  • Open the bun and add a layer of raw onion (if using) and a layer of crispy onion.
  • Top with the bacon-wrapped frankfurter.
  • Add ketchup, sweet mustard and remoulade over the top and serve immediately.
    Tip: I spooned some remoulade into a freezer bag and snipped off a tiny corner, in an attempt to make it easier to pipe, but I still made quite a mess. If you have an empty nozzled squeezy bottle, that would be perfect.

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Icelandic Remoulade Sauce

Makes a small jar, can be stored in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

Ingredients
120 ml mayo
2-3 tablespoons flat parsley leaves
2 medium spring onions
2 medium pickled gherkins
1 tablespoon pickled gherkin brine or cider vinegar
Optional: 1 tablespoon anchovy paste
Optional: 1 teaspoon mustard

  • Place all the ingredients in a food processor or a grinder that can handle wet ingredients.
  • Blend until smooth.

Of course, there’s more to Icelandic cuisine than hot dogs. I’ll be sharing more from our trip soon!

 

For this week’s Meet The Blogger, I talk to Sally Prosser, author of My Custard Pie. Based in Dubai, Sally shares a mix of British and local cuisine and recommendations for visitors to her adopted home.

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Hello and welcome, plea­se introduce yourself and tell us a little about the kind of content you share.

My Custard Pie is about food at the centre my everyday family life as an expat in Dubai. It includes recipes which I try to base on the seasonal local produce that’s available here – I’d sum this up as British influenced comfort food with a twist. Visitors to Dubai usually have an idea of a modern, blingy place – I try to offer an alternative view through food stories and reviews (although I did try an £800 cocktail with gold in it once). Travel is also viewed through a food lens…. or wine (a life-long journey to learn and taste more). My motivation…? I’m a keen eater

Is there a story behind your blog’s name?

It’s metaphor for life: delicious, inviting but unexpectedly might hit you in the face. It reminds me of childhood squabbles with my sister over the skin of the custard (Birds) and the Phantom Flan Flinger. I do have a bit of a custard obsession.

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What are your earliest memories of cooking? Who or what inspired you to cook?

Rolling out bits of pastry with my Mum on the kitchen table… and she inspired me to cook, although she’d be astonished to hear that. It was basic food on a budget but all cooked from scratch, a lot of produce from the garden. She taught me to value good ingredients, for instance we ate bread from the baker rather than ‘rubber bread’ (white-sliced) which was the norm for the rest of our street.

What are the biggest influences on your cooking at the moment?

The changing dynamics of our family. My daughter has just gone to University so the vegetarian vote in our house (my younger daughter) has increased to one-third! I’ve acquired a slow-cooker so expect lots of gently-cooked but spicy pulse-based recipes. I also love the flavours and ingredients I experienced in Georgia and I’m learning about the cuisines which spread from the Caspian sea to the Black Sea and down to Iran.

Tell us the story of your most spectacular kitchen failure!

Probably when hot fat from some pork rind dripped onto my oven floor and caught fire while I was cooking for 10 people. A friend threw water on it, which sparked off huge flames – I thought the house would burn down. It didn’t and we still ate the roast potatoes that had been in there… outside in the garden.

Which food or ingredients could you not live without?

Garlic – my Polish grandma ate a raw clove every day which may account for my high tolerance levels and love of the stuff. Lemon, I would choose lemon over chocolate any day.

Which food writers / chefs do you find most inspirational and in the same spirit, are there any particular cookery books you cherish above the rest of the shelf?

Tamasin Day-Lewis is the cookbook author I turn to most. She is so in tune with the seasons, good simple food and great produce that’s available locally. One of the absolute highlights of my blogging journey was being invited to Diana Henry’s home. Her writing style is warm, inviting and her recipes meticulous. She manages to have her finger on the foodie pulse without succumbing to fashion or transience. Claudia Roden shaped the way I cook Middle Eastern food, was my companion in Saudi Arabia and I still refer to her New Book of Middle Eastern Food regularly. Dubai-life has meant I’ve been lucky enough to meet many celebrity chefs including Giorgio Locatelli several times. His dedication to achieving the best flavours with simple ingredients is impressive, and his genuine concern for the environment and his enthusiasm for great produce sets him way apart from so many who pay lip service. Oh, and his truffle risotto is sublime.

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If I were coming for dinner, what would you cook for me?

Usually something I’d never cooked before. I love having people round as it gives me carte blanche to try things out. Probably quite a high risk strategy. Perhaps a full-blown Georgian feast, or an Iranian rice dish…although I might change my mind. We’d have good wine and great cheese at the end and I always over-cater…

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If we were meeting for a meal out, which restaurant would you choose?

In the UK I would return to the Riverford Field Kitchen in the middle of their Devon Farm. Huge sharing platters of delicious simple dishes which are very veg heavy (and picked outside that day) and traditional puds with loads of custard of course. In Dubai it would be a tiny Morrocan restaurant in an obscure part of the city where the chefs sing and ululate from the kitchen to welcome you, and the waiters slice the enormous sugar-coated pastilla with a ceremonial dagger.

What’s been your favourite destination thus far, from a foodie perspective? Can you share a favourite memory from the trip?

Definitely Georgia in the Caucasus – a beautiful country with five micro-climates, stunning scenery and warm, kind people with a unique culture and heritage which has survived almost miraculously. Opening a qvevri (a clay vessel) which is buried in the ground and tasting the new wine with the people who had picked the grapes and made the wine was really special… as well as many banquets with heart-felt speeches, myriad courses and haunting polyphonic singing.

Which destination is at the top of your foodie travel wish list?

The Caucasus beckon again with Armenia and Azerbaijan tied in top place.

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If we were to take a trip together, where would we go?

We’d drive from Dubai to the Mussandam coast in Oman. A dhow (wooden boat) trip would show us the splendour of the coast line which is like Norways fjords but barren and rocky. We’d eat freshly caught fish smothered in herbs hot from the barbecue.

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What inspires you to keep blogging regularly?

Endless subject matter (I have over 150 draft posts) and the wonderful online community. Fooderati Arabia in the UAE and many, many friends I’ve met online and off from all over the world… all with a passion for food.

What are you absolutely loving cooking, eating, doing right now?

I’m on a preserved lemon kick right now, the vibrant, sharp, saltiness enhances so many things. It’s peak pomegranate season now and I bought some wild, organic fruit picked in Oman. Such a fresh and delicate flavour.

What’s the single most popular post on your blog?

Where to take visitors to eat out in Dubai on a budget – based on the reactions of a stream of friends and family visiting for over 14 years.

Can we give a little extra love and attention to a post you love but didn’t catch the attention of your readers in the way you hoped?

I spent a year researching my Desert Island Dishes post and it includes Georgio Locatelli, Antonio Carluccio, Clovis Tattinger (all interviewed personally) and many of my very favourite bloggers. This courgette cluster bread deserves some more love too.

courgette-cluster-bread

What’s the one question you wish I’d asked you but didn’t?

What’s my biggest concern about food?

Please go ahead and answer it!

The control of our food chain and supply system by ‘Big Food’, Chemical companies and those solely motivated by the bottom-line and share-holder value.

How to make microwave custard - My Custard Pie-1 How to make microwave custard - My Custard Pie-2

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I left the decision of where to eat on my birthday till a few days before. Twitter friends kindly helped me create a shortlist of fabulous options but in the end I remembered my longstanding desire to visit Scott Hallsworth’s Kurobuta Izakaya to try his small plate menu of inventive, modern Japanese food.

True to the nature of an izakaya (most commonly loosely translated as a pub), Kurobuta (which itself is the name for prized black pig breeds in Japan) is a casual environment with a relaxed and friendly vibe and friendly service.

The food is a step above casual, however; it shows enormous attention to detail, creative flavour and texture combinations, beautiful presentations and an appealingly wide range of choices.

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Fresh ginger-ade was punchy and balanced. My sake choice matched the menu description exactly and was light and delicate.

Guided by the cheerful Sam, we initially chose 6 dishes between two of us, adding one more savoury and a dessert to our meal later.

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Baby Shrimp Tempura with Spicy Mayo and Warm Ponzu Dipping Sauces (£10)

Superb quality prawns in a perfectly crisp batter – albeit a thicker one that I’d usually describe as tempura – these were served hot out of the fryer, with a simple spiced mayonnaise and thin ribbons of onion. Pete usually refuses to eat prawns but was persuaded by the unusually soft texture. An excellent start!

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Miso Grilled Baby Chicken with Spicy Lemon Garlic Sauce (£12)

Moist pieces of chicken. A good balance between sweet sticky marinade and a little acidity from the lemony sauce.

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Roasted Scallop with Yuzu Truffle Egg sauce and Yuzu Tobiko (£12)

A lovely combination of tastes and textures; large plum scallops, very fresh and cooked just right, with a beautifully rich sauce – essentially a Hollandaise made with yuzu in place of lemon; garnishes carefully chosen to add more complexity of texture.

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Beer Grilled Beef Fillet with Wasabi Salsa (£17)

This was the most expensive dish we ordered; I would probably have hesitated had it not been a celebratory occasion. But I’m so glad we did – a generous pile of very tender and perfectly cooked beef with enoki mushrooms and a real kick to the sauce and salsa.

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Nasu Dengaku; Sticky Miso Grilled Aubergine with Candied Walnuts (£8.50)

I adore nasu dengaku and this rendition didn’t disappoint. I missed the added texture of the skin, though that was cleverly replaced with the sweet, sticky, crunchy candied walnuts atop each cube of aubergine. The flesh was beautifully cooked to bring out the natural flavour, and enhanced by a beautiful miso marinade.

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Spicy Tuna Maki Rolled in Tempura Crunchies (£8.50)

There was nothing wrong with this dish; I enjoyed it well enough and particularly liked the subtle added crunch of the tempura batter stuck to the surfaces. But it was far more ordinary than everything else we ordered, and was the one dish I wouldn’t order again.

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Japanese Mushrooms Grilled on Hoba Leaf with Gorgonzola, Miso and Pinenuts (£9.75)

If you’re an umami addict, this dish cannot be beaten. The combination of mushrooms, miso, creamy melted blue cheese and pinenuts was a revelation and I have been dreaming about this one dish more than any other, in the week since we visited. Magical!

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Spiced kombu compressed pineapple, coconut & lemongrass sorbet, caramel, lemon sponge, crumble (£8.50)

A new dessert on the menu, designed by Filip Gemzell, Kurobuta’s executive pastry chef, this is another highly unusual but beautifully balanced dish with lots of flavours and textures to explore. Gemzell kindly gave me additional information about the amazing pineapple – he compresses it in kombu, green chilli, red pepper, lemongrass, Szechuan pepper, vanilla, salt and sugar. About the other wow element on the plate, the coconut and lemon grass sorbet, he was more cagey but it’s such a light, refreshing and delightful combination, I’m going to have a go at recreating it myself. And yes, that’s a birthday candle they snuck on for me too!

The key word that pervades the entire menu is ’balance’ of elements, flavours, textures. Ingredients are consistently high quality, the menu is imaginative, each dish is exciting to eye and palate and service is friendly, smooth and focused on ensuring that all customers enjoy a wonderful meal.

Kurobuta on Urbanspoon

Kurobuta is one of six Japanese restaurants participating in Japanese Journey, an experience organised by Suntory Whisky and the 2014 London Restaurant Festival, whereby diners make their way between the six restaurants and enjoy a Suntory whisky highball and a dish or selection plate at each. Pete and I were invited to preview half the journey at Sticks n Sushi, Shoryu and Chisou Mayfair. Check out photos from our evening on my Instagram page.

 

This ice cream is very much inspired by a recipe from The Bojon Gourmet, a blog I discovered via Pinterest. It caught my eye when I was looking for ideas on new ways to put some of our enormous apple harvest to good use. I replaced Alanna’s cream base with a rich and very sweet custard base and roasted my apples until the sugars not only caramelised, but the edges caught and blackened to add texture and a touch of bitterness. I didn’t include a crumble as it tends not to stay crisp for long and our ice creams usually last at least a few weeks in the freezer. That said, this one’s disappearing fast!

Serendipity struck when making the custard ice cream base: I decided to use up 75 grams of sugar mix leftover from a recent apple pie making session. The leftover sugar had a little cinnamon and plain flour mixed into it (for thickening the pie filling) and I topped it up with an additional 25 grams of plain sugar. I blended and cooked my custard using my wonderful Froothie Optimum 9400 power blender, and found that the inclusion of the flour resulted in a beautifully smooth and thick custard.

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Burnt Apple & Bourbon Ice Cream

Ingredients
For the roasted apple

2 medium apples, peeled, cored and diced
2 tablespoons bourbon whiskey
100 grams light brown sugar (I use Billington’s sugars)
0.5 teaspoon cinnamon
0.5 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of allspice
For the ice cream base
250 ml double cream
150 ml full fat milk
100 grams sugar
1 pinch salt
3 large egg yolks
0.5 teaspoon cinnamon
Optional: 1 tablespoon plain white flour
To make the ice cream
Custard
2 tablespoons bourbon
Roasted apple mixture

Method

For the roasted apple:

  • Preheat the oven to 200 °C.
  • Toss all the ingredients together to combine and transfer to a small roasting dish. Roast for about 45 minutes, checking on progress once or twice during the cooking time. If the apples are not yet caramelised, with a little charring on some edges, roast for longer until they’re ready.
  • Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. These can be made the day before churning the ice cream and stored in the fridge until needed.

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For the ice cream base:

  • I combined all the ingredients and used my power blender to both mix and cook the custard for several minutes. The speed of the powerful blades generates enough heat to cook the custard while continuing to mix it so that nothing catches. No burnt bits, no lumps and very quick.
  • Alternatively, you can make your custard the traditional way by gently heating cream, milk and half the sugar in a pan until it reaches boiling, then removing from the heat. Meanwhile beat the remaining sugar and egg yolks together in a large bowl. Slowly pour the hot cream and milk over the eggs, whisking continuously, and then pour the combined mixture back into the pan and cook until it thickens. Make sure you stir continuously so that the custard doesn’t catch and burn.
  • Once cooked, set aside to cool. The custard can be made the day before churning the ice cream and stored in the fridge until needed.

To make the ice cream:

  • Add two tablespoons of bourbon to the custard base and mix well.
  • Add the roasted apple mixture. Alanna puréed some of hers and adds the rest whole, but I decided to leave all of it whole. I added only three quarters of the mixture as I thought it would be too much but in retrospect I could certainly have all of it.
  • Churn in an ice cream machine until ready.

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With the fruit, bourbon and spices this ice cream is very reminiscent of mince pies and Christmas pudding.

The Smart Scoop: Sage by Heston Blumenthal

For the last couple of years I’ve been using a Gaggia ice cream machine. I’ve been happy enough with the results, but have sometimes wished it would churn the ice cream till it was just a little more solid. I have worked around this by transferring the finished ice cream to a freezer container and popping into the freezer to solidify further.

When I heard that the Sage by Heston Blumenthal range of appliances included an ice cream machine, called the Smart Scoop, I was intrigued by some of the extra features it offers over my Gaggia. It’s also a good looking machine with its handsome brushed stainless steel surface.

Instead of just having a timer function that switches off when the time is up, the Smart Scoop offers a range of settings from sorbet through frozen yogurt and gelato to ice cream. Once you’ve chosen the texture you’re aiming for the ice cream maker starts freezing and churning. It automatically senses how hard the mixture is so it can alert you when it’s ready. Alterrnatively, you can use manual mode to freeze and churn for a set time according to your own recipes.

There’s an alarm to alert me when the ice cream is ready. I can adjust the volume (or set it to mute) and I can choose between a regular beeper and an ice cream van-style musical tune.

The Smart Scoop also has a function to keep the finished ice cream (or sorbet) at your chosen consistency for up to three hours so I don’t need to come running the moment the alarm goes off.

With our Gaggia, I always have to stay close, especially as the machine comes to the end of it’s timer run. Sometimes the ice cream isn’t finished and I have to turn the dial again to give it more time. Sometimes the motor starts to strain as the ice cream becomes too solid for the machine to churn any further and the paddle stops rotating; then it’s a case of having to switch the machine off quickly and transfer the ice cream into another container to pop into the freezer. The Smart Scoop solves both of these problems.

Niggles?

I wish the Smart Scoop ice cream bowl was dishwasher safe; this seems to me to be an oversight for the modern kitchen.

And of course, like most ice cream machines with integrated freezing unit, it’s large and very heavy. This, of course, is the same for all the models that I’ve come across.

Overall?

I’m really happy with it and shall be sharing many more sorbet, froyo and ice cream recipes to come.

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Other ideas to make the most of apple season:

And if you’re interested in the history of apples, read my post about a Visit to the National Fruit Collections at Brogdale.

This ice cream is my entry into the September / October #BSFIC challenge, Anything Goes.

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Kavey Eats received a review machine from Sage by Heston Blumenthal and an Optimum 9400 blender from Froothie. All opinions are my own. Please see the right side bar for a special offer on buying the Froothie Optimum 9400 with an extended warranty via my affiliate link.

 

Sarah started her blog Maison Cupcake just a few months after I started Kavey Eats and we met pretty soon after that, via blogger events we both attended. We’ve been friends ever since and Sarah’s blog is a wonderful source of inspiration for tasty,family-friendly cooking.

maisoncupcake

Hello and welcome, plea­se introduce yourself and tell us a little about the kind of content you share. Is there a story behind your blog’s name?

I’m Sarah from Maison Cupcake my blog started as only baking but has morphed into other things along the way.. I’d have put much more thought into the name of my site if I’d realised I’d be using it five years later.

Why did you choose to blog about baking?

I started the blog in a month when I had volunteered to make cupcakes for a street party. My first efforts were pretty terrible but I logged photos of my progress and then blogged about the party itself. After that I didn’t want to stop and wanted to improve my baking skills, possibly to launch a local cake making business if I got good enough. At the time there were only about six proper baking blogs in the UK and I got my inspiration from American baking sites. After much consideration I didn’t sell baked goods commercially as I found brand collaborations on the blog were more lucrative and were less of a drain on time with my family. I would find supplying cafés with the same old brownies week after week very tedious. With the blog you rarely do the same thing twice.

Does blogging about baking present any particular challenges?

It can be hard to keep up a conveyor belt of posts when you don’t feel like eating baked stuff yourself. Often I seriously don’t want any sweet stuff in the house whatsoever because it’s too much of a temptation. I should blog more breads but I find it’s the naughty stuff that’s more popular! The ingredients can work out expensive – which is annoying if it’s not naturally what you’d have been having for dinner. The advantage though is that baked items are often ok to photograph the next day when you’ve got better light and you can take your time with photo shoots because your dinner isn’t going cold.

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What are your earliest memories of cooking? Who or what inspired you to cook?

My grandmother was a very traditional cook and turned out amazing meals from a tiny kitchen. I had also adored home economics lessons at school and nearly went to catering college but was put off by the prospect of unsocial hours working in hotel or restaurant trade. No one ever suggested I might get trained up and then work for myself, there wasn’t the same sense of entrepreneurial spirit that there is today.

What are the biggest influences on your cooking at the moment?

I am very keen on making as many things as I can from scratch. I get very disheartened in supermarkets seeing how they profit from getting us to cut corners in the kitchen. It’s great to see kit for old fashioned skills such as making your own cheeses or sausages being sold in Lakeland and such places but I’d sooner see people confidently knocking up everyday sauces and pesto without relying on gloop in jars.

Tell us the story of your most spectacular kitchen failure!

I made some chocolate brioche once that looked like dog turds. Had I wanted to invent a recipe for edible chocolate dog turds I couldn’t have done it any better. A Japanese Buzzfeed style site once picked them up saying it was a recipe for edible dog turds and the post suddenly got about 3000 hits 3 years after publication.

Which food or ingredients could you not live without?

On a practical level, flour, eggs, butter and sugar. But personal favourite must-have ingredients are chickpeas, sweet red chilli peppers, rocket, dill mustard and gherkins from IKEA.

Which food writers / chefs do you find most inspirational and in the same spirit, are there any particular cookery books you cherish above the rest of the shelf?

I enjoy Rose Prince’s books very much. They’re like Nigella’s first book How to Eat in that they’re very conversational about real home cooking and all words and no pictures. My guilty pleasure is collecting tiny hardback cookbooks on niche topics/brands from French supermarkets. I own about 25 of them and they’re fabulous as food styling reference for different dish types.

dog-turd-brioche

If I were coming for dinner, what would you cook for me?

Oh blimey I think I would feel too flustered and show off the fine eateries of Walthamstow Village to you instead!

What’s the single piece of equipment you wouldn’t be without?

I always take my Heston vegetable knife and OXO potato peeler on holiday. We go self catering a lot and there’s nothing worse than an ineffective knife or peeler.

What’s your kitchen white elephant?

I don’t really have any white elephants as I’m meticulous about decluttering stuff I don’t use but the Morphy Intellisteamer was something I couldn’t justify countertop space for.

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What are the biggest turn offs for you, when eating out?

A plate being cleared before you’ve finished chewing the last mouthful. That makes me really mad!

If we were meeting for a meal out, which restaurant would you choose?

I am dying to try the new branch of Eat17 in Hackney. It’s a brasserie style restaurant above a Spar convenience store. The original one is near my home in Walthamstow and the Spar won a national convenience store award. It’s like having a mini Selfridge’s food hall on the doorstep. The owners are very finger on the pulse with new trends and small producers so anything new and interesting tends to show up in there. Next door in the Eat17 restaurant, their burgers in brioche buns (and yes with Eat17 bacon jam) are the best I’ve ever had. GBK and Byron just don’t cut it for me now I’ve been spoiled.

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If we were to take a trip together, where would we go?

Let’s hop over to Bruges and tour chocolate shops followed by glasses of red cherry Kriek beer. And I could show you my favourite ever homewares shop – it’s a Dutch/Belgian chain called Dille & Kamille and is fabulous for food styling props!

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Since you started blogging, has your style and content changed over time, and if so, in what ways?

I have varied the mix of content over time… it started as mostly baking and then become more a journal of places we’d been as a family or blog events I’d attended. I attend far fewer events now as my motivation had mainly been to make friends with other bloggers and now we don’t need an event to get together! I used to worry it was all too random but so long as I put my personality into everything I don’t think it matters if you deviate onto other subjects.

What is the hardest aspect of blogging for you?

Not having enough hours in the day. There are so many ideas I’d love to get off the ground but never enough time to do them especially with family commitments. There’s only so much blog related work they’ll let me get away with in evenings and at weekends.

What inspires you to keep blogging regularly?

I hate to say it but money. Not everything I blog is done to earn money through brands but enough of it to justify me being self employed publishing brand content or blogging for commercial sites. The perks that come with working with brands keep things interesting although one does quickly tire of yet another free apron / hessian bag / kitchen timer. I prefer it when brands provide a good spread of their products in an adequate quantity to experiment properly – rather than “goodies” that are invariably branded cheap spoons/pens/mugs. And if they want you to meet their latest brand campaign deadline or provide them with content for their own websites and social media they should pay you too.

shrink-mummy-shake-pinterest3 Gluten-free-plum-cake

What are you absolutely loving cooking, eating, doing right now?

I am in love with fregola since having some served at Britmums in a macaroni cheese style sauce topped with shin of beef in gravy. It was the best meal I ate out of a cardboard box with disposable cutlery ever. After struggling to track fregola down, my trusty Walthamstow Spar started to stock it but unfortunately my husband has a horror of small round things and refuses to eat it.

What’s the single most popular post on your blog?

Bizarrely enough it’s a terrible photo of a chocolate smoothie that I tagged The Shrink Mummy Shake. It regularly goes crazy on Pinterest.

Can we give a little extra love and attention to a post you love but didn’t catch the attention of your readers in the way you hoped?

This is very old post about a ramshackle market in Montenegro where my in-laws have a holiday home followed by recipe for an Eastern European pepper sauce called ajvar. I always wish I published more travel posts, certainly I have a massive backlog of unblogged pictures taken abroad. There’s so much well researched travel content out there I worry that my holiday snaps would be too facile in comparison!

Market-montenegro

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You’d think, wouldn’t you that, for people who’ve grown their own fruit and veg for over 15 years, the thrill of harvesting home grown produce would not quite as shiny as it once was?

But you’d be wrong.

I still get excited every time Pete brings in a bowl of fresh raspberries or tomatoes from the back garden, I make him pose for pictures with many of the fruits and vegetables and I practically skip with delight when I harvest our crop myself. Pulling back the enormous leaves of a courgette or the smaller ones of strawberry plants to reach hidden fruits, gently twisting plums and apples to see if they are ripe enough to come away easily, braving scratches galore to pick juicy blackberries and gooseberries… and then grinning in wonderment at a bounty that is, quite literally, the fruits of our own labour!

When it comes to harvesting the first fruit or vegetable of a variety we’ve not grown before, I have a tendency to sing or squeal (both of which can be mistaken for each other, truth be told).

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I mean, just look at this beautiful winter squash. Doesn’t it make you joyous? It has a classic pumpkin shape and colour, but I’m not sure which variety it is… You can see that it’s actually still a little under ripe in the centre – we weren’t sure how to tell when it was ready and it could clearly have done with a little longer on the plant. But there was plenty of ripe orange flesh to enjoy.

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With all orange-fleshed winter squashes, I really like the way that roasting concentrates their sweetness.

I’m also a fan of simple salads with just a handful of ingredients and a simple dressing. The cooler weather we had in early September lead me towards a warm salad featuring giant couscous as the base. Chorizo for it’s wonderful warmth and smokiness and I love wilted baby spinach leaves for colour, texture and taste. The dressing is made using oil flavoured when frying the chorizo.

Chorizo, Squash & Spinach Giant Couscous Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients:
600 grams pumpkin aka winter squash (peeled weight)
2 tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
150 grams giant couscous (dried weight; I used Sainsbury’s)
150 grams cooking chorizo, diced
2 tbs vegetable oil
600 grams winter squash (peeled weight)
2 tbs olive oil
100 grams baby spinach
For the dressing:
3 tbs chorizo oil (see Method)
3 tbs cider vinegar
1 tbs molasses (very dark) sugar
Optional: salt and pepper

Method

  • Preheat your oven to 180 °C (fan).
  • Peel and cube the pumpkin . Toss in the olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Roast for approximately half an hour, until soft all the way through. Exact time will depend on your pumpkin and how large you cut the pieces.
  • While the pumpkin is cooking, fry the chorizo in vegetable oil – chorizo doesn’t need oil to fry but we want to create excess chorizo-flavoured oil to use in the salad dressing. Once cooked, set the chorizo aside in a bowl and drain the oil into a separate bowl or jam jar.
  • While the pumpkin is cooking, cook the giant couscous according to the packet instructions. Once it’s ready, drain and set aside.
  • Make the salad dressing by combining 3 tablespoons of drained chorizo oil, the same of cider vinegar and a tablespoon of dark sugar. Shake or whisk to combine, taste and adjust balance as you prefer. Add salt and pepper if desired.
  • Once the squash is ready, remove from the oven and while still hot, stir the spinach leaves through, to wilt them.
  • Combine with the couscous, chorizo and dressing.
  • Serve warm.

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Kavey Eats received giant couscous product samples from Sainsbury’s.

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