Shakshuka Boats | Tomato & Red Pepper Baked Eggs in Tortilla Cups

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My first thought on seeing these new bite-size versions of Old El Paso’s Stand ‘N’ Stuff tortillas was to bake eggs in them, with a rich tomato sauce bubbling underneath. Given Old El Paso’s Mexican flavours, such an idea might put you in mind of huevos rancheros – fried eggs laid onto round corn tortillas and smothered in a fiery cooked salsa – but actually, my inspiration was shakshuka – eggs poached or baked in a spiced tomato sauce. This Middle Eastern dish is becoming really popular around the world, especially for breakfast and brunch.

I decided to use a punchy chipotle paste to add a smoky chilli heat to the tomato and red pepper sauce, my little nod to huevos rancheros.

Shakshuka Boats on Kavey Eats 1

My Shakshuka Boats are pretty quick to make – the sauce takes no more than ten minutes, assembly of the boats is very quick and the eggs take just 5-8 minutes under a medium grill. However, if you want to make it even quicker, substitute a jar of ready made chilli con carne sauce (that you would usually add to minced beef) or spiced tomato salsa and cook for a few minutes in a pan to thicken up a little.

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Hens eggs, quails eggs

I tried this recipe with both quails eggs and hens eggs. Both worked very well so it’s completely up to how much egg to sauce you fancy! On balance, I preferred the large yolks of the hens eggs.

Shakshuka Boats | Individual Tomato & Red Pepper Baked Eggs in Tortilla Cups

Makes 12 (serve 2 to 3 per person)
Total time: 20-25 minutes

Ingredients
For the tomato and red pepper sauce
400 grams tinned tomatoes
100 grams roasted red peppers
Generous pinch of salt
Half teaspoon sugar
2-3 tablespoons of chipotle paste, to taste
For the shakshuka boats
12 Old El Paso’s Stand ‘N’ Stuff mini tortillas (see note)
12 small hens eggs or quail eggs (see note)
25-30 grams of Parmesan or similar hard cheese, finely grated
Optional: parsley or coriander to garnish

Note: I bought a jar of roasted red piquillo peppers for this recipe but any roasted red peppers will do.
Note: If you can’t find chipotle paste, substitute one to two teaspoons of a spice mix such as fajita seasoning, cajun spice rub or chilli con carne seasoning. Alternatively, keep it simple with some sweet smoked paprika and a little chilli powder.
Note: If you can’t find quails eggs or small hens eggs, buy medium or large hens eggs. Before adding the eggs to the boats, break each one into a small bowl and scoop out one to two tablespoons (depending on whether the egg is medium or large) of the egg white, taking care not to break the yolk. Leftover egg whites can be used to make meringues or frozen to use later.

Method

  • If the red peppers are not already skinned, carefully peel or scrape the skin off, and then chop into small pieces.

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  • Place all the tomato and red pepper sauce ingredients into a large frying pan and cook over a medium heat, stirring regularly, until the sauce has thickened. This should take around 8-10 minutes, depending on your pan and the heat.

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  • Lower the grill tray so that it’s not right up under the elements, then preheat the grill on a low-to-medium setting.
  • Lay the twelve tortilla boats out on a baking tray. Add about one tablespoon of the sauce to each one, spreading it out across the bottom. If using quails eggs you can use a touch more.

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  • Break the eggs one at a time into a small bowl, remove excess egg white if necessary, and slip the egg gently over the tomato sauce in a tortilla boat. Repeat with all the eggs and boats.
  • Top the eggs with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan and transfer to the grill.

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Hens eggs, quails eggs, under the grill

  • Grill until the egg whites are cooked, with no translucent areas remaining. This will take 5-8 minutes depending on whether you are using quails eggs or hens eggs, the heat of your grill and the distance between the grill element and the eggs. These cooking times result in cooked whites and soft yolks. Check regularly throughout the cooking time and give a little longer if needed.

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  • Garnish with parsley or coriander leaves, if using. Serve immediately.

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Hens egg yolk, quails egg yolk

I hope you love these cute little shakshuka boats and are inspired to try your own.

Here’s a Pinterest-friendly collage to save the recipe for later.

Shakshuka Boats on Kavey Eats

My shakshuka boats are perfect for breakfast and brunch or a light lunch or dinner and a great option when you need to cook eggs for several people at once; if you’ve ever tried doing twelve fried eggs at the same time, you’ll know what I mean!

Here are some more ideas for the new Mini Stand’n’Stuffs:

Kavey Eats was commissioned by Old El Paso for the development and publication of this recipe.

Old El Paso Mini Stand ‘n’ Stuff Tortillas are available from major supermarkets (RRP £2.29).

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A Taste For… Garam Masala

When cooks from the Indian subcontinent talk of garam masala, they talk of whole or ground.

In his seminal and encyclopaedic book, McGee on Food and Cooking, Harold McGee explains that a greater surface area (from cracking or grinding spices) allows flavour molecules to escape more rapidly into the dish. This is why whole spices can be added at early stages of cooking, giving them plenty of time to release their flavours slowly, whereas supplemental spicing, added at the end of cooking, is best ground.

Chef proprietor of successful restaurant Café Spice Namasté, author of several Indian cookery books and celebrity television presenter, Cyrus Todiwala OBE DL shares his thoughts, ‘whole garam masala should always be delicate and fragrant; ground garam masala, if used incorrectly, can alter the flavour and taste profile of a dish beyond repair’. He adds that garam masala is not a ‘fix for all seasons’, in a gentle admonishment to those who add it where it doesn’t belong.

My mum Mamta Gupta, the home cook behind mamtaskitchen.com, has been sharing Indian recipes and cooking tips online for 15 years. She explains ‘although garam means hot, this masala (spice mixture) doesn’t include chilli; the warmth comes from black peppercorns’.

Her standard garam masala recipe consists of black peppercorns, cloves, cardamoms, cinnamon or cassia bark and bay leaves. Although she will occasionally add cumin, nutmeg, or mace, she prefers not to include too many spices in her basic blend; ‘some people add star anise and fennel – I’ve even seen pomegranate seeds added. But I prefer to store them separately and add them individually to specific dishes.

Both Cyrus and Mamta warn that cheaper ready-made garam masalas are often bulked up with cumin and coriander seeds, as both are less expensive than the core spices both recommend. Yet another reason to make your own, and in small quantities so that the flavours don’t fade before use.

Indeed, Cyrus is keen to remind us ‘we all have different palates’ and that all of us smell and taste differently – ‘you make your own recipe as you go along, with trial and error – use your imagination!’ Although he talks through his most common garam masala ingredients (green cardamom, black cardamom, cloves, cinnamon or cassia bark, star anise, nutmeg or mace, black peppercorns and cumin), he also advises you to skip an ingredient if you can’t get hold of it and ‘don’t waste your time thinking you will not get a good masala’.

The biggest debate concerning garam masala is whether or not to roast the spices before grinding – as with much of Indian cooking, there is no one right or wrong answer. As Cyrus points out, ‘ground garam masala has a million recipes I should think, and a million thoughts towards it.

Like her mother and grandmother before her, Mamta seldom roasts her garam masala spices prior to grinding as she feels that ‘the flavour is released and then lost before using’. She likes to make garam masala in small batches, so it’s still fresh when used and then ‘sprinkle it on top of the cooked dish while still hot, close the lid and let the flavours infuse’.

Cyrus, on the other hand, advocates careful roasting in a clean oven, free of smelly fat deposits. He bakes his whole spices on a tray for 20 to 30 minutes at gradually decreasing temperatures from 160°C down to 120°C. Once they are completely cooled, he grinds and sieves before storing the finished garam masala in a clean jar. To use, he suggests adding just half a teaspoon at a time, tasting and adding more if desired.

At the end of the day’ says Mamta, ‘there are no rigid rules for garam masala. Do what suits you and the recipe best.’

Mamtas Garam Masala Recipe on Kavey Eats (text)-1

Mamta’s Ground Garam Masala

Reproduced from MamtasKitchen.com, with permission

Garam masala is used to add flavour to many Indian dishes. Mum’s recipe is based on how she saw her mother making it; the choice of spices and amounts of each spice vary from family to family. This version is quite strong so use only a little at a time; mum’s recipes usually specify less garam masala than is generally recommended because hers is quite intense and fresh. As spices lose some of their most volatile flavour molecules on grinding, it is better to make small amounts at a time, use within a few weeks, and make more as needed. As it is often cheaper to buy larger bags of whole spices, these can be stored in the freezer to retain freshness.

Ingredients
1 tbsp black pepper corns
1 tsp whole cloves
4-5 large, whole, brown cardamoms
4-5 dry bay leaves
3 inch cinnamon stick or equivalent amount of cassia bark
Optional
4-5 whole green cardamoms
Half a nutmeg, freshly grated or 2 tsp ground mace
1-2 tbsp cumin seeds

Method

  • Grind all ingredients together.
  • Sieve to remove coarse particles, fibres and husks.
  • Store in a clean airtight jar.

Mamtas Garam Masala Recipe on Kavey Eats (text)-2

 

This piece was written in 2014 and first published in Good Things magazine. ©Kavita Favelle.

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The Ninth by Jun Tanaka

I like Jun Tanaka. I like his food, I like his approach and style of cooking, and on the occasions I’ve met him at a food event or cookery demonstration, I’ve liked his gentle and warm demeanour.

His latest restaurant has been on my To Eat list for several months.

Located on Charlotte Street in the heart of Fitzrovia – a neighbourhood full of restaurants, bars and food stores – this is The Ninth restaurant kitchen in which Tanaka has worked, giving rise to the minimalist name. The menu is all small plates, ideal for sharing but one or two dishes work equally well for a solo visit. The food is broadly French Mediterranean in style.

My visit coincided with one of the sunniest days of summer so the folding glass doors were pulled fully open to the breeze. Our table just inside the terrace afforded the perfect balance of blessed shade, fresh air and sunlight.

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Crisp red mullet, pickled carrots, fennel and shallots: a beautifully cooked piece of fish in a light, crisp batter, balanced nicely by the light pickled vegetables.

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Crisp lamb shoulder, tomato, watermelon and feta salad: I’ve come across watermelon and feta but wasn’t sure how well it would work with lamb shoulder and tomatoes, but of course it was excellent. Lovely crunch from little gem and cucumber and lots of flavour from softened red onions and a thick herby dressing.

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Pan-fried herb gnocchi, girolles and peas: Wish this dish had been a little more generous as it was superbly good. Soft, light, gnocchi packed with herb flavour, perfect coated in the thick garlicky sauce. The addition of girolle mushrooms and fresh peas was just the right choice.

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Salted beef cheeks, oxtail consomme, peas, broad beans and girolles: Another delicious dish, far more generous than the gnocchi so if you’re only ordering one or two, it may be worth asking staff about portion sizes. The salted ox cheek was soft, mildly salty, beefy and delicious with the vegetables of summer, shiny from the rich broth.

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Sorbet: the flavours of the day were strawberry and coconut, both packing a punch and both silky smooth with not an ice crystal in sight. We loved the extra touch of serving these in a freezer-chilled cast-iron serving dish, which kept them cool while we ate. The strawberry had that wonderful flavour of fully ripened fresh berries. Likewise the coconut was impressively intense, the sweeter of the two flavours.

The set lunch menu here is an absolute steal with two plates priced at £17 and three at £21. My friend and I ordered four savoury dishes and shared a dessert, making our food bill just £38 plus service. For cooking of this calibre, that must surely be one of the best deals in London right now?

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Blueberry Custard Ice Cream

One of the most joyous things about summer for me is the abundance of fresh fruit. Seasonal British-grown fruits are a particular joy – that pleasure that comes from missing them when they are gone and anticipating them just before they are back once again… and then, here they are!

Blueberries are one such fruit but I only came to love them in recent years – their taste is much more subtle than many of the sweet bright berries I favoured as a child, not to mention the wonderfully perfumed and intense tropical fruit imported from warmer climes.

Over the years I’ve become such a fan of these unassuming blue pearls. They’re lovely eaten straight from the punnet – that little squirt of juice as they pop in your mouth followed by their mild grapey taste. They’re also perfect scattered over yoghurt or muesli for breakfast, cooked into pancakes drenched in maple syrup or dropped like jewels into a baked tart or cake.

Blueberry Custard Ice Cream on Kavey Eats (3)

Calling this recipe Blueberry Custard Ice Cream is probably a tautology, since custard is the classic base for many traditional ice cream recipes, I don’t really need to mention it… But the flavour of the custard base really comes through – the marriage of egg-enriched dairy and sweet tart blueberries making a frozen treat that puts me in mind of eating blueberries bobbing about in a bowl of custard. So there you are – Blueberry Custard Ice Cream!

Some of the recipes I’ve seen online are illustrated with photos of vivid purple ice cream – I have no idea how they achieve so bright a colour since the recipes I’ve checked include neither food colouring nor freeze-dried blueberry powder. Fresh whole blueberries have a gorgeous purple-blue skin but the flesh inside is pale green; when blended, the resulting fruit puree is a pretty purple-burgundy but that colour is quickly muted when combined with cream or custard. The higher the ratio of fruit to cream or custard, the more intense the colour will be but if you use fresh blueberries, don’t expect really colourful ice cream.

Another alternative is to substitute bilberries, a closely related berry which looks very similar to a blueberry on the outside but has purple-red flesh inside – indeed I wonder if bilberries have been used in many of the ‘blueberry’ recipes I see online?

Blueberry Custard Ice Cream on Kavey Eats (1)

Blueberry Custard Ice Cream

Makes approximately 1 litre

Ingredients
– Custard base
225 ml milk (I used semi-skimmed but full fat is fine)
225 ml double cream
4 large eggs
60 grams sugar
– Blueberry puree
240 grams fresh blueberries
120 grams sugar
– Blueberry stir-in
120 grams fresh blueberries
2 tablespoons vodka

Note: I often add a little alcohol to my ice creams to make the finished ice cream a little softer. You can omit the vodka if you prefer; in that case, add plain chopped blueberries to the ice cream when churning.
Note: I used my wonderful Froothie Optimum power blender to make the custard ice cream base so the recipe method is based on using a power blender. An alternative stove top method for making the custard is provided below.

Method

  • Combine all the custard ingredients (milk, cream, eggs and 60 grams sugar) in a high spec power blender, increase the speed to high and blend for several minutes. The speed of the powerful blades generates enough heat to cook the custard while continuing to mix it. Nothing catches and burns, there are no lumps and it’s very straightforward.
  • Once the custard is cooked, transfer to a jug or bowl and set aside.
  • Use a blender or food processor to blitz 240 grams of blueberries with 120 grams of sugar. Once blended into a smooth liquid puree, combine with the custard base and mix thoroughly. (You can either pour the custard back into the blender and blitz for a few seconds or scrape the blueberry puree into the custard and mix with a spoon).
  • Finely chop 120 grams of blueberries and place in a small bowl. Pour two tablespoons of vodka over the chopped blueberries and set aside.
  • Pour the blueberry custard mix into an ice cream machine – I use and recommend the Sage by Heston Blumenthal Smart Scoop – and add the chopped blueberries in vodka. They will quickly be stirred into the mixture by the churning blades.
  • Most ice cream machines produce a fairly soft ice cream, so either serve immediately or transfer into a box and freeze until firm.

Alternate method for making custard base on the stove top

  • Gently heat the cream, milk and half the sugar in a saucepan until it reaches boiling, then remove from the heat. Meanwhile beat the remaining sugar and egg yolks together in a large bowl. Slowly pour the hot mixture over the eggs, whisking continuously. Then pour the combined mixture back into the pan and cook gently until it thickens. Make sure you stir continuously so that the custard doesn’t catch and burn. [Now revert to step two of the instructions above].

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Blueberry Custard Ice Cream on Kavey Eats (2)

This is my recipe for August’s Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream Fruit challenge. BSFIC is open to all bloggers around the world. Whether your blog is all about food or only occasionally about food, if you publish an ice cream, sorbet, ice lolly (popsicle) or slushy recipe featuring fruit this month, click on the link and follow the instructions to join in.

IceCreamChallenge

Other delicious blueberry recipes from fellow bloggers:

Special Offer: For an additional 2 years warranty free of charge on any Optimum appliance purchased, follow this link, choose your Optimum product and enter coupon code “Special Ambassador Offer” on checkout. Please see my sidebar for more information about affiliate links.

Save for later on Pinterest using this handy collage pin.

Blueberry Custard Ice Cream on Kavey Eats (tallpin)

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Raise a Glass to Tipple Box | Review Giveaway

This decade is the decade that food and drink subscription services took off. Whether it’s British charcuterie, recipe meal kits or cheese toasties through the post, the selection of fantastic treats now available to buy online for delivery direct to your door has never been so wide and it continues to proliferate with new ideas and brands popping up every month.

Tipple Box is one such service, sending monthly craft cocktail boxes featuring spirits, mixers, extras and recipes for you to make two delicious cocktails each month.

Launched by Sonny Charles in December 2014, I first tried Tipple Box at the beginning of 2015. Back then, I thought it was promising but needed a few tweaks. I wanted to see small batch spirits by indies (rather than the big brands I could readily find in my supermarket) plus higher quality mixers and custom-made extras such as flavoured syrups, bitters or salts. I also suggested dropping the jam jar to focus solely on ingredients, and making sure the recipes worked flawlessly and deliciously every time.

All these suggestions have been taken on board, and Sonny’s latest box is a far more professional and appealing proposition.

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There is more focus on smaller brands now – the kind I may not readily find in my local supermarket – and Tipple Box also work directly with small producers to provide own brand ingredients.

All cocktail boxes include at least four 5cl bottles of spirits plus any other ingredients you will need. Recipe cards are clear and easy to follow.

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French Martini

My box contains two recipes – a French Martini and a Bloody Mary. For the French Martini, pictured above, I have Ruby Blue Vodka, Tipple Box Raspberry Vodka Liqueur, Strawberry Sugar Syrup and Frobishers Pineapple Juice. Egg white is listed as an optional extra, though I made my cocktail without it. The Bloody Mary ingredients are the same Ruby Blue Vodka plus a Chilli Pepper Vodka and a bottle of Isle of Wight Tomato Juice.

The cocktails are delicious, and there’s enough to make at least two of each, with some ingredients left over to experiment with further.

Tipple Box also offer a Batch Spirits subscription of three 5cl bottles from a different producer each month.

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The craft cocktail box is priced at £24 (including delivery) for a one off, with the price per box dropping for 3, 6 and 12 month subscriptions. For the batch spirits box, it’s £15 for a one off, with similar discounting for subscriptions. There are also a range of tasting sets and cocktail boxes available to select and buy from the site’s online shop.

GIVEAWAY

Sonny is giving away one Kavey Eats reader a three month subscription to the Tipple Box monthly craft cocktail box (RRP £69). The prize includes delivery to a UK address.

HOW TO ENTER

You can enter the giveaway in 2 ways – entering both ways increases your chances of winning:

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
What is your favourite cocktail and what do you love most about it?

Entry 2 – Twitter
Follow @Kavey on Twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter! Then tweet the exact sentence (shown in italics) below.
I’d love to win @TippleBoxUK craft cocktail boxes by mail from Kavey Eats! http://bit.ly/KaveyEatsTippleBox16 #KaveyEatsTippleBox
(Do not add my twitter handle or any other twitter handle to the beginning of the tweet or your entry will be considered invalid. Please don’t leave a blog comment about your tweet either; I track twitter entries using the competition hash tag.)

RULES, TERMS & CONDITIONS

  • You must be over 18 to enter this giveaway.
  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 2nd September 2016.
  • 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 three month subscription to Tipple Box’s craft cocktail box, one box per month. Delivery to a UK address is included.
  • The prize is offered by Tipple Box UK and cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. You may enter both ways but you do not have to do so for each individual entry to be valid.
  • For Twitter entries, entrants must be following @Kavey at the time of notification.
  • Blog comment entries must provide a valid email address for contact.
  • The winners will be notified by email or Twitter so please make sure you check relevant accounts for the notification message.
  • If no response is received from a winner within 10 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

Kavey Eats received a review sample from Tipple Box.

Tipple Box (2016) on Kavey Eats (tall)

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Snapshots from Japan | Kinubiki Noodles in Moto-Hakone

Hakone is one of Japan’s most popular tourist destinations, famous for its onsen (hot spring) resorts and natural beauty, not least the views of Lake Ashinoko and Mount Fuji. This mountainous town sits within the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park; only 50 miles or so from central Tokyo the area is visited by national and international tourists alike.

There are many small towns – villages really – within Hakone, high up in the mountains and serviced by one of the stations of the Hakone Tozan railway line between Odawara and Gora. We stayed in an elegant, high-end ryokan in Miyanoshita but there are many other places to stay such as Hakone-Yumoto, Tonosawa and Gora. The Tozan railway journey between Hakone-Yumoto and Gora is particularly scenic.

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The pirate ship tourist boats

Alternatively, you can stay down by the lake. Moto-Hakone sits on the southern edge of Lake Ashinoko, from where you can catch tourist boats and ferries to Hakone-machi (fairly close by) or to Togendai and Kojiri at the lake’s northern end.

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Moto-Hakone

On our free day in Hakone we took the Tozan line from Miyanoshita to Gora, then the steep little funicular from Gora to Sounzan. Usually we’d have taken the ropeway from there but part of it was not operation because of volcanic activity in the area, so we took a bus down to Owakudani where we were able to use the ropeway for the rest of the journey down to the lake. There we boarded one of the pirate ships and crossed over to Moto-Hakone for a little light sightseeing. Later, we hopped on a local bus back to our base in Miyanoshita.

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Hopping aboard the local bus in Moto-Hakone

The main attraction of Moto-Hakone, other than the lake views themselves, is Hakone Shrine which sits in the forest just at the outskirts of the small urban area and port. The stone steps up the main shrine and down to the torii gate that sits out on the water are very steep, making access difficult for those with limited mobility.

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Hakone Shrine

After our walk in the forest, we picked our lunch spot Kinubiki-no-Sato based on its menu – I’d never encountered their kinubiki noodles before and wanted to try them.

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Kinubiki noodles in broth

The restaurant specialises in noodles and offers three types – udon (wheat noodles), soba (buckwheat noodles) and the special kinubuki (noodles made from wheat mixed with sesame). You can have these with various combinations of other items such as tempura, and as with soba, they can be served hot or cold.

My best guess is that the name of the noodles refers to their beautiful silkiness, but I can’t find much reference to them at all, so I think they may be a dish created and named by this restaurant.

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Katsudon with small bowl of kinubiki

Pete ordered kinubiki in broth. I went for katsudon (breaded and fried pork and egg over rice with onions and a savoury sauce mixed through) with a small side of kinubiki. We both enjoyed the kinubiki noodles though we didn’t feel the taste of sesame came through much at all. Their texture, and the two broths they were served in, were simple and delicious.

Have you come across kinubiki noodles before? Was it at the same little restaurant in Moto-Hakone or somewhere else? What did you think?

You may like to check out my other posts about my travels to Japan.Save

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MotoHakone Tall

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Gatti’s Italian Restaurant | City Point

Last week I was invited to a blogger dinner at Gatti’s, an Italian restaurant that’s recently moved to a new City Point location close to Moorgate station. The restaurant, which opened in Broadgate in 1989, is believed to have been named in honour of Luigi Gatti, a successful London front of house restaurant manager who was appointed by White Star Lines to run their exclusive Ritz Restaurant for first class passengers of the Titanic. Only 3 of nearly 70 staff working for the restaurant survived the sinking of the great ship.

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Owner Jenny Carpenter took over the restaurant in 2013 but learned shortly afterwards that the building was earmarked for destruction. So she decided to move the restaurant to a new location just half a kilometer away, that move being completed earlier this year. In honour of the move, she has launched new and old set menus, one to celebrate the traditional classic dishes and the other to showcase more contemporary twists on Italian cuisine.

The restaurant has a partnership with Veuve Cliquot which features on both menus so we started the evening with a tasting of the famous champagne house’s new Veuve Cliquot Rich, a sweeter offering developed for use in cocktails. Most of my dining companions found it too sweet on its own but enjoyed it in cocktails. With my sweet tooth, I preferred it plain. That said I’d not pay the high price point for it myself.

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An amuse bouche of parmesan sabayon with black truffle and a parmesan shaving was a deliciously rich start to our meal and I appreciated having the fresh truffles shown to the table as we ate.

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My friend and I split two starters so we didn’t have to choose between them. Grilled scallops, asparagus, ginger, garlic and fresh chilli dressing with crispy Parma ham was a large plate of three generously-sized fat scallops with the coral still attached – this makes me happy as it’s so rarely served and so full of flavour. The asparagus was a touch overcooked for me, very soft with no vegetable bite remaining. The dressing was delicious though the ginger rather subtle, and no sign of the chilli whatsoever; I don’t think that’s a bad thing, it worked well as it was.

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Tempura di Mare was enormous for a starter, a dinner plate piled high with battered prawns, scampi and calamari. Served with a tartar sauce, I’m not sure why this was labelled tempura rather than fritto but it was a good dish, either way. My only complaint here was the inclusion of unshelled butterflied king prawns, the shells far too thick to be edible and quite a pain to extract from the batter and shell.

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A palate cleanser of lemon and prosseco sorbet was superb, well balanced between sweet and sharp, and a good antidote to the buttery dressing on the scallops and the tempura batter.

Linguine All’ Aragosta (linguine with lobster and fresh tomatoes) proved true to the pattern, an enormous serving – more pasta than we cook for two of us at home. Once again, a generous amount of lobster meat made this very classic dish feel rather decadent .

Other mains on the table included ravioli of confit duck leg and porcini mushrooms with grated foie gras – this was not a success with clumsily thick pasta and a dense and dry filling dominated by the porcini rather than the duck. Scottata di Tonno, a large fried tuna steak with sesame seeds and pistachio pesto looked wonderful, and perfectly cooked tuna too. The Scottish beef fillet was also cooked beautifully and the port wine reduction looked right up my street, though the person who ordered it found it a touch sweet.

Gattis London on Kavey Eats-211138 Gattis London on Kavey Eats-211910

One of the things I really loved seeing was the Gatti’s old-fashioned meat trolley – with a different roast served every day, this is fabulously retro! We tried small tasters of the day’s roast beef and it was superb, very good flavour and cooked perfectly rare with an outrageously beefy gravy generously poured over the plate. However, my Yorkshire pudding was really overcooked; burnt rather than pleasantly browned. I left it uneaten.

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We were given a taster of three desserts, though if I go again I’ll choose from the desserts trolley – a wonderful throwback to a bygone era. The passion fruit panna cotta was OK, a little too much gelatin gave it a hard and bouncy set rather than the lovely light wobble of a good example. Chocolate mousse was a disaster, the pleasant chocolate orange flavour altogether cancelled out by a very grainy texture – perhaps the chocolate seized or the eggs cooked and curdled – whatever caused it, it’s a shame the kitchen didn’t notice and make a fresh batch. Best of the three was the tiramisu, light, full of flavour and a satisfying finish.

Overall, Gatti’s is a mixed bag. Some superb dishes, made with good quality ingredients, cooked well and full of flavour. Others that missed the mark and let the side down. A generosity of spirit in the portions, including the more expensive ingredients such as truffle and lobster, certainly make for a feeling of goodwill and hospitality; this is echoed by enthusiastic kitchen and front of house teams. Value is very good, with both set menus priced at just £34.99 for three courses plus a glass of Veuve Cliquot champagne. This would be a fun place to come with a group, especially for fussy eaters – I think Italian is one of those cuisines that nearly everyone enjoys.

Kavey Eats dined as a guest of Gatti’s restaurant.

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August BSFIC | Fruit

For this month’s Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream, it’s all about making use of fresh fruit. Whatever’s in season or readily available to you, used as the main flavour or as an accent. All frozen treats are welcome – ice creams, sorbets, ice lollies, granitas, shaved ice…

I’m pondering an old-fashioned raspberry ripple though watermelon ice lollies also appeal, or maybe some peach ice cream?

BSFIC Fruit
Collage by Kavey Eats, images via shutterstock.com

How To Take Part In BSFIC

  • Create and blog a suitable recipe, published between August 1st and 29th 2016.
  • In your post, link to this Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream post.
  • If you like, include the Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream badge (below). Just right click and save the image, and insert into your post as a regular image. Feel free to resize as needed.
  • Email me (by the 29th of August) with the link to your post, your name and a photograph for the roundup sized to a maximum of 600 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.

I publish a dedicated roundup post showcasing all the entries, featuring an image and introduction to each. I also pin your posts on Pinterest and save to Yummly too. If you tweet your post using the hashtag #BSFIC, I’ll retweet it and I’ll share all entries via Facebook and twitter at the end of the month.

IceCreamChallenge_thumb1For more ideas, check out my Pinterest ice cream board and past BSFIC Entries board.

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BSFIC July Roundup | Dairy Free

A quiet month this month, but I still have some delicious dairy free frozen treats to share with you for Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream.

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First up are these whimsical Finding Nemo Popsicles from Jessica at The Healthy Mouse. The Nemo pops are orange creamsicle flavoured and the Dory ones are blueberry lemonade flavoured. Jessica has used both coconut milk and dairy free yoghurt in these recipes, a healthy homemade alternative to ready-made popsicles.

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Claire at Foodie Quine is a girl after my own heart with these adult-only Pimm’s O’Clock Ice Lollies featuring Pimm’s and lemonade with strawberries, cucumbers and lemonade. Can I put in an order for a big bowl of these, please?

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I really love the idea for these Summer Pudding Ice Lollies by Janice at Farmersgirl Kitchen. Having made a summer compote with freshly picked summer berries, a moment of inspiration lead her to transfer it into lolly moulds for a cooling summery alternative.

Nectarine Maple & Bourbon Mini Ice Pops on Kavey Eats (Landscape Text Over)

For my own dairy free challenge, I too went for an adult-only option – creating these Nectarine, Maple & Bourbon Mini Ice Pops in a large ice cube tray. Very quick to make using my Froothie Optimum power blender, and deliciously decadent and cooling.

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Our last entry for the month is another gorgeous ice lolly idea – these Four-ingredient Oreo and Strawberry Popsicles by Lucy at Supergolden Bakes. I love her vintage moulds, the wooden spoon lolly sticks, the flavour combination itself and the way the biscuits poke out of the bottom!

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I hope you’ve enjoyed these summer frozen treats as much as we have!

Do look out for August’s BSFIC, where I’ll be calling for your fruit-based concoctions – ice creams, sorbets, ice lollies, granitas, you name it!

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Hatchetts Restaurant & Bar

Hatchetts Restaurant in Shepherd Market has quite the back story and to make a nice change, it’s a real one rather than a marketing fairy tale (albeit with no direct link to the new business). Built in 1703, Hatchett’s Hotel (with the White Horse Cellar pub in the basement below) was a popular stopover for cross-country travellers catching a horse-drawn coach to or from the West Country. Dickens mentioned it in his Pickwick Papers and the traffic jams caused by the flurry of mail and passenger coaches earned it the local nickname of Piccadilly Nuisance. For well over two centuries it ran as a hotel and pub, but the business failed in the 1950s. A few years later it was bought by an entrepreneur who turned it into a glitzy nightclub, music venue and restaurant (known as Hatchetts without the apostrophe); a glamorous hub for celebrities and party animals in the sixties and seventies.

This month, Hatchetts Restaurant and Bar has opened at nearby 5 White Horse Street (the street name no doubt being the tie in to the historic hotel and bar). It offers a small ground floor bar serving cocktails and small plates and an 80-seat downstairs restaurant offering modern British cooking. Owned, designed and run by Duncan Watson-Steward, an experienced pub restaurateur, the kitchen is run by Chef Andrew Evans who’s worked alongside many of the UK’s top chefs including Hix, Ramsay, Wareing, Hartnett and Henderson.

On a warm summer evening, with windows and doors flung open, the upstairs bar was full of boisterous customers but the basement restaurant was very quiet with just the two of us, and later one more couple. I imagine the too-loud music was an attempt to provide some ambience but I’d have been happier without it; I’m sure that will improve as the restaurant becomes better known and more popular.

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The menu is enormously appealing, making it really hard to choose – we skipped the small plates and salads and ordered from the more traditional starters, mains and desserts.

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While we were enjoying the fresh bread (with Netherend Farm butter), a lovely amuse bouche was served. Described as Modern Greek Salad, this sounded deceptively simple but delivered such intensity of flavours, it was quite a revelation. The fresh ripe tomatoes were, as expected, each distinct in flavour but it was the combination of whipped feta (with a texture like yoghurt), little cubes of pickled cucumber and powerful black olive tapenade that really made this dish shine – each one balancing so beautifully with the star-of-the-show tomatoes.

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My starter of Devonshire Crab & Nectarine Salad, Brown Crab Mayo, Cucumber, Samphire & Borage (£11.5) was another winner. I couldn’t imagine in my head quite how the combination of very thinly nectarine and crab mayonnaise would work but it did – the sweetness and texture of the ripe fruit complementing rather than disguising white crab meat mixed into a brown crab meat mayonnaise. On the side, a pretty salad of samphire, cubes of pickled cucumber, tiny rolls of fresh cucumber and lovely borage flowers and leaves. I sometimes find that unusual cheffy pairings of ingredients don’t work – there’s damn good reason they aren’t a classic combo – but this peachy crab duo was spectacularly successful.

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Pete’s Scorched Mackerel, Apple & Fennel Purée, Mackerel Tartare (£7) was quickly polished off too. The scorch-blackened  fillet was nicely cooked – crispy skin and silky soft flesh in every bite. Apple and fennel puree balanced the oily fish and the tartare on top added a welcome freshness.

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When ordering my starter I dithered between the crab and the Spiced Lamb Sweetbreads, Minted Peas & Beans, Lamb Jus (£8.5) so the chef kindly sent out a little sample of the sweetbreads for me to try. Sweetbreads, when cooked well, are a thing of beauty and these were sublime, meltingly soft with a deep rich flavour further enhanced by a rich gravy. Peas and pea shoots were a great foil, the slightly woolly broad beans less so.

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I could not resist the 12oz Shorthorn Ribeye on the Bone, Lyonaisse Potatoes & Bone Marrow Gravy (£24) and wasn’t disappointed. Shorthorn beef, dry-aged for 35 days, the steak was full of flavour and perfectly cooked to my requested medium despite the thin cut – I go medium rare for most cuts but prefer the extra cooking to melt the fat in a rib-eye. The Lyonnaise potatoes were delicious, finished in butter and mixed with properly caramelised onions, I ate far too many! A deep, rich chicken stock gravy and a pile of watercress finished the dish. When you serve a simple classic, it must be done flawlessly and for me, this was.

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The first thing I want to applaud about the Caramelised Onion Tart, Roasted Baby Beets, Braised Courgette & Watercress, Rosary Ash Goats Cheese (£11) is the price – how often are vegetarian dishes ludicrously overpriced to be in line with the meat and fish? Very refreshing to see prices reflective of the cost of ingredients! As for the dish itself – crisp and crumbly shortcrust pastry filled with caramelised onion and rich cream and cheese, though the filling was far sloppier in texture than expected. In the side salad, salty Ash goats cheese balanced sweet roastd baby beets, tossed together with braised courgettes and mixed green leaves. A really lovely summery dish with lots of flavour.

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Desserts were too much of a temptation, even though we were fairly full. My Dark Chocolate Marquis, Milk Chocolate Mousse, Cherry Glaze & Cherry Sorbet (£7) was decent – rich dense dark chocolate base, light milk chocolate mousse and a really punchy morello cherry sorbet – a new take on the flavours of black forest cake.

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Pete’s Buttermilk Pudding & Poached Rhubarb, Rhubarb & Hisbiscus Sorbet (£7) put a smile on his face. The wibbly-wobbly rectangular buttermilk pudding layered with poached rhubarb was panna cotta-like in texture, and nicely complemented by a ball of rhubarb and hibiscus sorbet. Also on the plate, little blocks of gin and tonic jelly, wild hibiscus flowers poached in rose tea syrup and some freeze dried yuzu. Attractive and unusual without being outlandish, this was a pretty and well balanced pudd.

Through all of the dishes we tried, the combination of flavours and textures and the skilful way everything was cooked were a delight. I’m certainly keen to go again in a few months and see what chef Evans does with autumn and winter seasonal ingredients.

I’m not a fan of noisy shouting-filled restaurants, but the ambiance and low-level buzz of more customers will certainly improve the experience, and that shouldn’t take long. I am sure it’ll be busier a few more weeks into business.

Be aware that, like many basement restaurants in historical buildings, there is no disabled access, nor would any but the narrowest of wheelchairs be able to access the ground floor facilities. There are (long term) plans to install a lift, but no ETA on that for the moment.

Kavey Eats dined as guests of Hatchetts Restaurant.

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