This cake is a very famous cake. I reckon nearly everyone who likes baking knows of the recipe, and a good many who simply like eating cake too. I have heard and read people singing its praises for many, many years and yet, we’d never got round to making it at home.

Given that clementines are one of my very favourite fruits, this is an outrageous oversight that needed to be put right. A gift of a box of organic clementines, when the fruit bowl was already overflowing with them, gave us the perfect excuse.

Nigellas Clementine Cake on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle (title overlay)

Nigella Lawson’s Clementine Cake

Original recipe

Ingredients
400 grams clementines (approximately 3 medium-sized ones)
6 large eggs
225 grams white sugar
250 grams ground almonds
1 teaspoon baking powder

Method

  • Put the whole clementines in a pan with some cold water, bring to the boil and cook for 2 hours. We used a small pan so the water was reasonably deep.
  • Drain and allow to cool, then cut each clementine open and remove the pips.
  • Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F).
  • Butter the rim of a 21 cm diameter spring form tin and cover the base with greaseproof paper.
  • In a food processor or power blender, blitz the clementines (skins, pith and fruit). Then add eggs, sugar, ground almonds and baking powder and blend again until smooth.
  • Pour the cake batter into the tin and bake for an hour or until a skewer comes out clean. In Nigella’s recipe she suggests covering the surface with foil or greaseproof paper after the first 40 minutes to stop the top browning; we didn’t put our foil on soon enough so the surface browned more than Nigella’s. I think it looks pretty though!

Nigellas Clementine Cake on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7864

  • Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin, on a wire rack.
  • When cold, remove from the tin.

Serve as it is or with some yuzu ice cream. My friend recommends lemon curd mixed into fresh cream.

This cake lasts very well in a sealed container for several days, indeed it’s even better a day or two after it’s made.

 Nigellas Clementine Cake on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7888

 

Sometimes the best ideas are spur of the moment, driven by the ingredients you happen to have on hand. So it was with this banana, turmeric and maple syrup smoothie which I liked so much I made it three days in a row.

Banana Turmeric and Maple Syrup Smoothie on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle (title overlay)

Banana is my staple base for a smoothie – I love the flavour and the thick creamy texture it gives, whether as the star ingredient or as a base for other fruits. I like to use natural sweeteners – usually honey, dates or maple syrup.  I first made this smoothie in a snatched 5 minutes before leaving for work early on a dark January morning and it gave me a burst of energy as I headed out into the cold.

A recent fruit and vegetable box gift from Abel & Cole included fresh turmeric root and I was keen to try it raw. Turmeric is the spice that gives many Asian dishes their vivid yellow colour and has a distinct, earthy flavour; strong, a little bitter and quite unlike any other ingredient that I can think of.

I’ve been taking the powdered form, on and off, as a natural anti-inflammatory – recommended by Ayurveda for thousands of years, but only recently being researched by Western medicine. It is said to help with digestive complaints and poor circulation too. My daily dose is mixed with ginger and fenugreek, a combination that tastes pretty vile so I stir half a teaspoon into a few tablespoons of cold water and swallow fast, chasing it down with a long glass of cold water and quickly brushing my teeth! Does it work? Hard to tell, since I also rely on a range of more conventional treatments. Right now, I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt.

That said, I’m not making any health claims for turmeric; I’m not qualified medically or scientifically, and I’m not a fan of the current crop of health gurus that make pronouncements about excluding various food groups based on the flimsiest of anecdotal, purportedly personal, evidence.

In this recipe, the turmeric is far more palatable, adding a vibrant colour and distinctive flavour to this quick-to-make, energy-boosting smoothie.

Banana Turmeric and Maple Syrup Smoothie on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7899 Banana Turmeric and Maple Syrup Smoothie on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7902

Golden Banana, Turmeric & Maple Syrup Smoothie

Serves 1

Ingredients
1-2 bananas, peeled
1 small piece of fresh turmeric root*
Maple syrup to taste, I use about 2 tablespoons
120 ml water ^
Optional: 1 teaspoon cinnamon~

* I used a piece of turmeric root about the size of the top joint of my forefinger. I didn’t bother peeling as the skin was soft and thin, but if yours is tough, peel first. If you don’t have fresh, by all means substitute ground turmeric instead; half a teaspoon of dried will be sufficient here.
^ I like a thick but pourable smoothie. Adjust amount of water up or down if you prefer a thinner or extra thick smoothie.
~ Cinnamon is such a natural bedfellow for maple syrup and banana that I added a teaspoon of freshly ground cinnamon to the last batch. It’s not that strong against the turmeric but adds a lovely dimension to the scent.

Method

  • Place ingredients into a well-powered blender and blitz until smooth. If you like your smoothies with less sweetness, use half the maple syrup to start and add more to taste if you need it. Likewise, adjust volume of water to your preference.
  • The banana will start to oxidise and brown after a while, so this smoothie is best enjoyed as soon as it’s made.

As you may have spotted, I used my much-loved Froothie Optimum blender to make my smoothie. We’ve been using the Optimum 9400 for over a year now and it’s one of the best appliances in our kitchen. It’s enormously powerful – enough to blend solid frozen chunks of fruit easily or ice cubes if you want some instant slushie base. In fact the motor whips those blades to an impressive 44,000 rpm which generates enough friction heat to make piping hot soup or one-step custard. You can use it to make your own nut butters and nut milks too. See the affiliate box in my sidebar for information on how to claim an extra 2 year warranty on any Froothie appliance.

Other Recipes Featuring Fresh Turmeric

 

During the last few weeks we’ve been enjoying some very quick and tasty dinners at home, thanks to Simply Cook – one of the many recipe-by-post subscription services now available in the UK.

Unlike many of the competitors, Simply Cook’s offering is a little different. Instead of sending a full set of ingredients including fresh items with limited shelf-life, they provide letter-box friendly packs containing the flavourings and cooking instructions for 4 dishes, all of which can be stored for a few months, often more.

Each recipe needs only a handful of fresh ingredients to be purchased and takes only 20 minutes to cook. The range of dishes available is wide and appealing, with lots of globally-inspired dishes packed with flavour.

Inside the box you’ll find four recipe cards and the three flavour pots needed to make each one. These pots might contain flavoured oils, herb and spice blends, marinades and pastes, dressings and sauces, and even garnishes to top the finished dish. Each recipe is sized to feed 2-3 people.

One of the key attractions for us is to bring a wider range of cuisine into our weekday repertoire – it’s so easy to fall into a rut, especially at this time of year when the excesses and meal-planning extravaganzas of December are just behind us.

Scroll down for our review and giveaway and to find our special discount code to try a box for yourself for just £1.

Simply Cook on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7755 Simply Cook on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7766

There are three ranges to choose from – the original Discovery Box, a Gluten Free Box and a Light Box with all meals less than 600 calories (based on 2 people sharing the recipe as written).

Simply Cook’s resident chef Anisa Jamal sent us four of her favourite recipes to give us a taste of the range.

Each recipe card has a handy tear-off slip at the top to use as a shopping list when buying fresh ingredients, just 4 or 5 per recipe.

Goan Fish Curry - Simply Cook on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7770 Goan Fish Curry - Simply Cook on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7773

Goan Fish Curry comes with Goan paste, coconut paste and a spice blend and you’ll need to buy an onion, tomatoes, rice, coconut milk and some cod fillet.

Malay Laksa - Simply Cook on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7785 Malay Laksa - Simply Cook on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7789

Malay Laksa comes with laksa paste, chicken stock and Malay garnish and you’ll need to buy butternut squash, chicken, coconut milk, rice noodles and asparagus spears.

Cajun Chicken - Simply Cook on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7812 Cajun Chicken - Simply Cook on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7813
Cajun Chicken - Simply Cook on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7819

Jerk Chicken comes with jerk seasoning, jerk paste and chicken stock and you’ll need to buy chicken, basmati rice, coconut milk, black-eyed peas and an onion.

Jerk Chicken - Simply Cook on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7775 Jerk Chicken - Simply Cook on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7776
Jerk Chicken - Simply Cook on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7780

Cajun Chicken comes with garlic oil, cajun seasoning and red pepper stock and you’ll need to buy sweet potatoes, chicken, bacon and either okra or courgettes.

What We Thought

All four recipes were delicious and we particularly loved the Jerk chicken and Cajun chicken meals. All four were packed with flavour.

Additional ingredients, because there are only a handful for each recipe, are not hugely expensive and you are free to buy from your preferred shop or market. We spent £4-5 on each of these four recipes, but did have rice and onions already in the store cupboard. With some of the recipes, we had some ingredients left over, which we easily used in our cooking over the next couple of days. Add this to the £2.25 per-recipe cost of Simply Cook flavourings and that’s around £6-7 per recipe, £3-3.50 per portion (based on splitting each meal between 2). That compares very favourably with the £6.50 per portion from HelloFresh (based on 3 meals for 2) and £5.75 per portion from Gousto (based on 4 meals for 2).

Recipes were generous and certainly could have stretched to feed 3, especially the Jerk chicken. In fact, the flavour pots are pretty generous, so you could easily scale up the main ingredients a touch and feed four without compromising on taste.

None of the ingredients were difficult to find – all should be readily available across the UK in season; Simply Cook switch the recipes offered according to time of year, so you shouldn’t find yourself asked to buy butternut squash in the height of summer.

Pete, who did the shopping, cooking and prep, found all four recipes very accurate. He also really appreciated the little tear-off shopping list.

The recipes really did only take 20 minutes each to make; perfect for weekday dinners.

Any Negatives?

If you’re looking for the most authentic version of international dishes, Simply Cook doesn’t always provide that. The Malay Laksa was very enjoyable but didn’t much resemble the Malaysian versions I’ve tried, particularly in terms of fresh ingredients suggested – butternut squash and asparagus spears – rather than the flavourings. I don’t know Jerk or Cajun well enough to comment knowledgably on authenticity but we absolutely loved both. The Goan curry was pretty good and the flavours seemed right to me.

You won’t learn to cook new recipes from this subscription; because all the key flavours are in the secret-recipe flavour pots, you can’t keep the cards and use them again as you can with some subscription meal services, for example – we’ve made variations of a pasta dish we learned from a long-ago Gousto review a few times since.

Other Points Of Note

Simply Cook don’t currently offer the option of buying one-off boxes unless you are already signed up for a subscription. However this is very easy to cancel at any time, so you can certainly sign up for a discounted trial box and cancel your subscription before it rolls over to a full priced box if you decide it’s not for you.

Once you’ve set up an account the first box you get is selected by Simply Cook to introduce you to their boxes. After that you can swap one, two or even all four proposed dishes out for any of the recipes currently listed. When I played around with this feature, I had 51 recipes to choose from!

GIVEAWAY

Simply Cook are offering two lucky readers of Kavey Eats a 3-month subscription (of one box per month) each, worth £26.95. Winners can choose between the Discovery, Light and Gluten Free options. Delivery to UK addresses is included.

HOW TO ENTER

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

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
Leave a comment telling me about your favourite international recipe – what is it and why do you love it?

Entry 2 – Twitter
Follow both @Kavey and @SimplyCookCom on Twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter! Then tweet the exact sentence (shown in italics) below.
I’d love to win a 3-month subscription to @SimplyCookCom from Kavey Eats! http://bit.ly/KaveyEatsSimplyCook #KaveyEatsSimplyCook
(Do not add my twitter handle or any other twitter handle at 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

  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 26th February 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 prizes are offered and provided by Simply Cook.
  • Each prize is a 3-month subscription (one box per month) to Simply Cook. Winners can choose between the Discovery, Light and Gluten Free options. Delivery to UK addresses is included.
  • The prizes 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, winners must be following both @Kavey and @SimplyCookCom 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.

TRY A BOX FOR JUST £1

If you’re still not sure whether Simply Cook is for you, here’s a fantastic offer – Kavey Eats readers are invited to try a box for just £1 using discount code KAVEY1, valid through to the end of March 2016.

Note that you will need to sign up for a subscription with future boxes priced at £8.99 but you are free to cancel after your first (discounted) box if you wish, though you may be hooked, as we now are! I signed up a new account and used the discount code myself to check, and it’s very easy to pause deliveries for a month at a time or to cancel indefinitely – in which case your account remains active but you receive no further deliveries until you go back in and kick them off again.

Kavey Eats received a review subscription from Simply Cook.

 

For the last couple of years I’ve been writing the cookery book review slot for Good Things magazine (amongst other series and one off pieces as well). That means I’ve been reviewing lots of wonderful newly published titles, but not always sharing them here on Kavey Eats. So my picks for 2016 include my favourites from those commissioned pieces, plus others I’ve reviewed at home.

I’ve included an Amazon link for each book, but of course you can pop into your local bookshop to pick these up for Christmas presents.

homemade memories (sized)

Undoubtedly, this has been one of my top two books of the year.

I’ve long followed author Kate Doran in the guise of Little Loaf, her popular food blog full of recipes that often make me salivate. The title comes from an old family nickname given to toddler Kate ‘by a great aunt who noticed [her] appetite for bread was bigger than [she] was’. Over time, Kate noticed that the recipes which resonated most strongly with readers were the ones ‘which evoked powerful food memories’. Reading her reminisces about things she loved to eat as a child, readers were reminded of their own childhood memories as they followed the recipes she created. In Homemade Memories Kate distils that nostalgia factor into a truly captivating collection that includes a handful of favourites from The Little Loaf plus over 80 new recipes. Her inspiration comes from two key sources – classic comfort puddings her mum and granny used to make – cakes, crumbles, buns and jellies, and homemade versions of shop bought favourites – Angel Delight, Fruit Pastilles, Jaffa Cakes, Milky Way Bars and many more. Recipes are ordered into chapters covering Crumbs (biscuits), Sticky fingers (handheld treats that will surely leave your fingers covered in sugar, chocolate, icing or syrup), Cakes, Puddings, Ice Creams, Midnight Feasts (chocolates and sweets worth staying up late for) and Drinks. The last chapter is where Kate shares her favourite bread recipe and some handy extras including homemade peanut butter, lemon curd, fruity jam, hot chocolate fudge sauce and vanilla extract. Nearly every recipe has a gorgeous photograph and it’s hard not to bookmark virtually every page. Recipes are accurate and delicious; the Real Bourbon Biscuits – given a grown-up twist by the injection of bourbon whiskey into the filling – were even better than we expected and straightforward and fun to make. This book brings a bit of childhood magic back into your kitchen and is definitely one of my must buys.

Homemade Memories: Childhood Treats With A Twist by Kate Doran is currently available for £15.90 (RRP £18.99). Published by Orion.

 

G64 PLCJ 10.5 spine

Milkshakes just got drunk.’ So says Boozy Shakes author Victoria Glass as she tells us why we should give the milkshakes of our childhood an adult makeover. This books is all about harking back to childhood, getting your retro on and bringing it back to the future! Adding ‘a hearty measure of hard liquor’ to a milkshake offers the best of both worlds and Victoria shares 27 tempting recipes based on sweets, cocktails, desserts, even on music! At the beginning are a set of basic recipes – here you’ll learn how to make ice cream, sorbet, sauces such as chocolate fudge, whisky butterscotch and cherry, Swiss meringue, fruit compote and flavouring syrups. Then it’s on to the shakes themselves, divided into chapters The Candy Bar (based on sweet shop favourites), The Cake Shop, The Cocktail Shaker and Shake Rattle and Roll (where ideas are inspired by classic song titles).

Boozy Shakes by Victoria Glass is currently available for £9.99. Published by Ryland Peters & Small.

 

Anatolia book jacket (sized)

Turkish-Australian restaurateur Somer Sivrioğlu and food and travel writer David Dale combined forces to create a book that would help readers understand the food of Turkey and show them how to create classic dishes at home. The result, Anatolia, is a hefty tome bound in beautiful blue fabric and full of vibrant, eye-catching images of Turkey, its people and its food. The generous introduction includes the history of the region, dating back 5 millennia, as a key to understanding the culture and cuisine, familiarisation with core ingredients and equipment and a range of cooking techniques. Then come more thn 150 recipes, each one prefaced by an engaging tale – the origins of the dish and its place in folklore, an anecdote from the authors, a passage about a traditional producer. Incor uyatmasi (sleeping figs) is introduced with a delightful poem that provides the backstory to this simple pudding. Recipes are organised by time of day, from breakfast and lunch through afternoon tea and sweets to dinner. This book is particularly appealing as an insight into the culinary traditions, culture, ingredients and techniques of Turkish cuisine.

Anatolia by Somer Sivrioğlu and David Dale is currently available for £20.40 (RRP £30). Published by Murdoch Books.

 

Cooking for Geeks Jeff Potter

A revised edition of the 2010 original, Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Cooks, and Good Food by Jeff Potter is part cookbook, part science primer as the author investigates the science of food and why ingredients and recipes work the way they do. It’s not only informative to read but educational in a practical sense too though I’d say it’s geared most strongly to those who want to understand the how and why of a recipe or technique more than those who simply want to cook. Don’t expect to find lush colour photographs of delectable recipes – instead most illustrations are appealing hand-drawn sketches, a range of graphs and diagrams and small (and frankly amateurish) black and white photographs but don’t let that put you off; this book is enormously fun and genuinely a joy to read. I am only a couple of chapters in but have particularly enjoyed the passages on the history of recipe writing, medieval cooking and even an interview with Myth Busters’ Adam Savage. One amazon reviewer postulates that “Jeff Potter must be the love child of Julia Child and Albert Einstein” and that’s right on the nose. A great gift for the curious and geeky cook.

Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Cooks, and Good Food by Jeff Porter is currently available for £18.02. Published by  O’Reilly Media.

 

chinatownkitchen

Another book from a blogger I’ve been following for many years, Chinatown Kitchen is written by Lizzie Mabbott, also known as Hollowlegs. For her first cookbook, Lizzie draws upon her amazing heritage; she is Anglo-Chinese, born in Hong Kong where she spent her formative years growing up not only on Chinese food but also exposed to the many cuisines of South East Asia. At 13 she was transplanted to England, where she has been ever since – albeit with some judicious globetrotting to feed those hollow legs! To describe the book as simply another tome on South East Asian cooking is to put it into a box that it doesn’t neatly fit into. It’s much more than Chinese – or even South East Asian – food made easy; rather it’s a very personal collection of recipes that represent Lizzie’s personal food story. There are classic Chinese and South East Asian dishes, sure, but there are also a fair few of Lizzie’s own inventions including some excellent mashups such as this Chinese Spag Bol recipe and an Udon Carbonara. At the heart of the book is the idea of seeking out ingredients in the food shops of your nearest Chinatown – or indeed any oriental supermarkets or groceries you can find – and putting them to delicious use. To that end, the book is not just a set of recipes but also a shopping and ingredient guide. Add to that an introduction to key equipment and techniques and you are all set to get cooking. Both recipes we’ve made so far have ended up on the repeat list – her Chinese Spag Bol is a simple pork mince dish that is absolutely full of flavour. The Roast Rice-Stuffed Chicken is marinated and basted in an incredible paste which is utterly delicious and we now use this for a quick Sunday roast, without bothering with the more time-consuming rice-stuffing. Also on the wishlist to make are Grilled Aubergines with Nuoc Cham, Chinese Chive Breads, Banana Rotis, Spicy Peanut and Tofu Puff Salad, Mu Shu Pork, Steamed Egg Custard with Century and Salted Eggs, Xinjiang Lamb Skewers and Red Bean Ice Lollies!

Chinatown Kitchen: From Noodles to Nuoc Cham by Lizzie Mabbot is currently available on Amazon UK for £10 (RRP £20). Published by Mitchell Beazley.

 

Spice at Home jacket (sized)

One of Britain’s most celebrated Indian chefs, Vivek Singh has been executive chef at the Cinnamon Club since it opened and also oversees sister restaurants Cinnamon Kitchen and Cinnamon Soho. He’s also a regular face on the TV cookery show circuit and has published several popular cookbooks about his contemporary Indian restaurant cooking and exploring ‘curry’ from India, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. In Spice At Home, he changes tack and shares the kind of cooking he enjoys at home. Weaving together ingredients, flavours and techniques from around the world, these recipes are a modern global approach to cooking, predominantly Indian but with many fusion influences. He is inspired by the global larder available in London, ‘a melting pot of different cultures’. At the core of this book is Vivek’s grouping of spices into three clusters, the basics, the aromatics and the rare and he shares good advice on storing and using spices effectively. Recipes are divided by when they are best enjoyed, breakfast, lunch, dinner or for entertaining and there are chapters on sides and sweets plus a final section on basics, additional spice blends and core ingredients and techniques. There are plenty of authentic Indian recipes here but the ones that catch my eye are the fusion ideas – chorizo and cumin potatoes, bangla scotch eggs, pasta moily or lamg rogan josh pithivier.

Spice At Home by Vivek Singh is currently available for £18.00 (RRP £25). Published by Absolute Press.

 

chinese unchopped cover

Coming from three generations of chefs, Jeremy Pang didn’t initially plan to work in the industry; first studying biochemical engineering and then working in marketing. But the pull of cooking was strong, and after studying at Le Cordon Blue Institute he worked and travelled across South East Asia to learn everything he could about the cooking of this vast region. I first met Jeremy Pang at School of Wok, the popular and successful cookery school he launched on his return, initially out of his home and then in a dedicated location in the heart of London. Years of developing classes for the school, working out just how to unravel recipes and present them to students in an easy-to-learn way whilst retaining the authenticity and essence of the dishes, provided the perfect material for his first cookbook, Chinese Unchopped. First are Chinese Kitchen Essentials, selecting and caring for equipment and techniques for preparing ingredients. Then comes an introduction to the Chinese Pantry; level 1 ingredients are those that are essential to Chinese cooking (most of which are readily available in British supermarkets); level 2 items are those suggested for cooks ready to delve further into the cuisine (and which may require a visit to specialist oriental grocery stores). The recipes themselves are presented by technique, with chapters on stir-frying, deep-drying, steaming, poaching and braising, roasting and double cooking. Last is a collection of salads, pickles and sides. The dishes come from across China, and there are a few that show influences from Thailand and Malaysia too. Chinese takeaway staples such as Cantonese duck and sweet and sour pork sit side by side with more adventurous (and less familiar) recipes such as lionhead meatballs, five spice lotus leaf chicken and yam with hoisin. There is a tendency for books on specific cuisines to end up as a somewhat daunting encyclopaedic tome, but Chinese Unchopped is a refreshing change, imparting the essentials by showcasing cooking methods, each with an edited selection of recipes. As you’d expect from a teacher, the recipes are really well written, clear and easy to follow. A nice feature is the ‘swapsies’ provided in many recipes, letting you know when an alternative for one or more ingredients would work well.

Chinese Unchopped by Jeremy Pang is currently available for £16.59 (RRP £20). Published by Quadrille.

 

Layout 4

Back in 2009 I was still an avid watcher of Masterchef, the cooking challenge for amateur chefs dreaming of a career in food. From early days, I cheered on cheerful kiwi Mat Follas also known as Ming and was thrilled to see him win the series. (Since then, I confess, I’ve grown steadily less of a fan of our two UK judges not to mention the formulaic format of studio kitchen, pro restaurant, mass catering and round and round again, so I’ve switched allegiance to Aussie Masterchef which is so much better – and the three judges are amazing too!) Anyway, back to Ming: Winning the competition gave Mat the confidence and publicity to launch his own restaurant, making the permanent switch from corporate IT to food and hospitality. Wild Garlic in Beaminster received rave reviews and it was a sad day when it closed its doors a few years later, but Mat is now feeding happy diners at The Casterbridge Hotel in Dorchester on Friday and Saturday nights. From the start, Mat has had a strong affinity with seafood, and is a strong proponent of making good use of the local catch. In his first cookbook, Fish, he shares recipes adapted from his time on Masterchef, plus customer favourites from The Wild Garlic and a summer seafood restaurant he ran on Chesil Beach for a few months before opening at The Casterbridge. Every recipe is modified for a domestic kitchena and uses only ingredients that are readily available to home cooks. Aware that ‘many people are scared of seafood because of bones or the complexity of filleting fish’ Mat has included guidance on both, but reminds us that, in the same way we expect our butchers to prepare and portion our meat, we can ask fishmongers to prepare fish too. Organising chapters by types of fish makes it simple to find a recipe to suit the catch (or purchase) of the day, and makes it easier too to work out which fish can successfully be substituted for each other. A few recipes need time and are best suited to a leisurely weekend of cooking but many are perfect for a quick midweek supper – 25 can be made in half an hour or less.

Fish: Delicious recipes for fish and shellfish by Mat Follas is currently available for £8.94 (RRP £19.99). Published by Ryland Peters & Small.

 

A-bird-in-the-hand

My other top cookbook this year is Diana Henry’s A Bird In The Hand, which I reviewed in June.

We eat a lot of chicken in the UK – it’s such a versatile meat; good roasted, grilled or barbequed, fried (pan or deep), poached, cooked in a stew or casserole… and so adaptable in terms of flavours and cuisines. Diana Henry shares over 100 chicken recipes that range from quick and casual to impressive and celebratory. And as is my wont when flicking through books that are destined to become favourites, the first time I read it I bookmarked so many recipes I may just have well have opened the book at random to find one! Some, like Baked Chicken with Tarragon and Dijon Mustard, Chicken Forestière, Thai Chicken Burgers, Soothing North Indian Curry and Japanese Negima Yakitori are similar to recipes we have made and enjoyed before; a good reminder to make them again soon. But others are ideas we’ve not tried before – Spanish Chicken with Morcilla and Sherry, Vietnamese Lemongrass and Chilli Chicken, Bourbon and Marmalade-glazed Drumsticks, Chicken with Shaoxing Wine, Crisp Radishes and Pickled Ginger, Tagine of Chicken, Caramelised Onion and Pears, Chicken Legs in Pinot Noir with Sour Cherries and Parsnip Purée, Roast chicken stuffed with black pudding and apple and mustard sauce, Ginger beer can chicken, Chicken Pot-Roasted in Milk, Bay and Nutmeg, Pot-Roast Chicken with Figs. I mean, that’s a long list and it was hard to narrow down to just that! The dish that’s quickly become our favourite is Chicken with Pumpkin, Cream and Gruyère and we make this at least once a month, usually with butternut squash. This is a great reference book to have on your shelf and a good prod to try something different instead of the usual rut.

A Bird in the Hand by Diana Henry is currently available from Amazon for £6.99 (RRP £20). Published by Mitchell Beazley.

 

NIKKEI_JACKET Wild Drinks & Cocktails

You may also like to read my recent reviews of Nikkei Cuisine by Luiz Hara and Wild Drinks & Cocktails by Emily Han, both of which include recipes extracted from the books.

Nikkei Cuisine is currently available from Amazon UK for £19.99 (RRP £25). Published by Jacqui Small.

Wild Drinks and Cocktails is currently available from Amazon for  £14.99. Published by Fair Winds Press, a member of the Quarto Publishing Group

 

For more food book suggestions, check last year’s recommended books guide.

 

Prices correct at time of publication. The Amazon links above are affiliate links (please see sidebar for more information), which means that I will receive a small commission for any purchases made. Kavey Eats received review copies of most of these titles.

 

Wayfair collage

From Brazilian brigadeiros to beetroot truffles, from candied orange peel to vanilla marshmallows, from fudge, to caramels to chocolate bark, my round up of 10 fantastic recipes for homemade gifts is featured on Wayfair’s Inspiration blog.

10 Edible Homemade Gifts to Make the Holidays Sweeter

Check it out for some delicious ideas for home made gifts this year!

 

Once upon a time, the Old Man of the Moon decided to visit the Earth. Disguised as a beggar, he came across three friends who lived together in the forest – Fox (Kitsune), Monkey (Saru) and Rabbit (Usagi) and asked them for something to eat. Monkey leapt up into the trees to gather fruit and nuts; Fox ran to a stream to catch a fish; these they presented to the old man. Rabbit raced around the forest grassland finding nothing but grass and returned forlorn to the teasing of his two friends. Desperate to help their visitor, Rabbit asked him to build a fire. Leaping into the flames, he offered himself to the old man to eat. Quickly the beggar changed back to his true form and pulled Rabbit from the fire, restoring him to life. He thanked each of the forest friends for their generous kindness but to Rabbit he said, “Your selfless sacrifice was the kindest of all. I will take you to the moon with me!” To this day, if you look up at the moon, you can see Rabbit there, pounding mochi in his mortar and pestle.

This is the story of Tsuki no Usagi (Moon Rabbit), told to me recently by a Japanese friend.

The myth originated 2400 years ago in the Indian Buddhist Jātaka tales, stories about the previous lives of Buddha in both human and animal form. One such tale tells the story of a monkey, an otter, a jackal and a rabbit, similarly called upon to find food for a beggar. When the rabbit offered himself in the fire, the beggar revealed himself as a god and drew the likeness of the rabbit on the Moon for all to see.

As is often the case, the details of the story changed as it spread. In China, the rabbit pounds medicinal herbs to make an elixir of life for Chang’e, the Moon Goddess.

Only in Japan is Rabbit thought to pound rice for the creation of delicious mochi (rice cakes).

Short-grain japonica glutinous rice (known in Japan as mochigome) has a higher protein concentration and less amylose in its starch than other types of rice, which results in a soft but firm consistency – it is delightfully chewy, the gummy elasticity a highly prized texture.

Traditional mochi are made by pounding soaked and steamed mochigome into a smooth paste. The paste is formed into a variety of shapes, often with a filling of sweet azuki bean paste. In other variations, flavourings are mixed into the paste itself, and these days there are many different fillings to choose from. Mochi is enjoyed in many dishes, savoury and sweet; one of my personal favourites is mitarashi dango – solid balls of mochi served on a stick with a sweet-savoury soy sauce glaze.

Another popular sweet is mochi ice cream – a ball of smooth, delicious ice cream wrapped in a thin layer of chewy mochi. These are a relatively recent phenomenon, appearing for the first time in the early eighties but they have quickly gained popularity across Japan.

Little Moons Tsuki Mochi on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7671 Little Moons Tsuki Mochi on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7684

I first encountered Little Moons mochi ice creams two years ago, at a pop up dinner by United Ramen. Asking afterwards about the utterly gorgeous ice cream mochi dessert, I learned they were made by Little Moons, a fledgling company launched by entrepreneur siblings Howard and Vivien Wong. Several months later, I came across them again when I visited Kanada-ya ramenya just after they opened. Today, Little Moons are served by several Japanese restaurants across London including Bone Daddies, Tonkotsu and Shoryu Ramen. Ramenandmochitastic!

Howard and Vivien worked with Nobu’s head patisserie chef, Regis Cursan to develop their range, and have updated the new Japanese classic by using artisan gelato fillings in six flavours – currently Vanilla, Toasted Sesame, Coconut, Matcha Green Tea, Mango and Raspberry. Little Moons mochi are hand-rolled in London to the traditional Japanese method, and the range is free from artificial flavourings, colours or preservatives. The mochi are also gluten free and less than 100 calories per ball.

The Wongs have also created a second brand, Tsuki Mochi under which they sell mochi truffles. The Dark Chocolate ones are filled with Belgian chocolate ganache and dusted with cocoa. Tsuki Mochi also make a Yuzu Lemon Cheesecake edition which I must, as a yuzu addict, try soon!

Little Moons Tsuki Mochi on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7674 Little Moons Tsuki Mochi on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7681
Little Moons Tsuki Mochi on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7676 Little Moons Tsuki Mochi on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7683

Last weekend I hosted a lovely afternoon tea featuring all six Little Moons mochi ice creams and the Tsuki Mochi dark chocolate ganache mochi. We enjoyed these with some delicious Adagio Teas served in an absolutely beautiful Japanese teaware set with an elegant metallic grey finish.

The mochi ice cream were as good as I remembered (though I do miss the wonderful pineapple flavour I first fell in love with at the ramen pop up dinner). My favourites were the mango and the matcha, though I loved them all. Pete’s favourite was the toasted sesame – he also loved the flavour of the raspberry gelato but wasn’t sure it worked so well in a mochi wrapping. Our guests both favoured the rich vanilla, flecked with vanilla seeds, with the coconut and mango also winning high praise.

All four of us adored the mochi truffles – these had a superbly rich, dark chocolate flavour and a light mousse-like texture within.

On the tea front, we started with Adagio’s kukicha, a blend of green tea leaves and stems. The tea had a powerful aroma as it brewed, but was light and refreshing to drink. Later we switched to genmai cha, the nutty flavours of toasted popped rice were particularly satisfying on a cold November day.

Of course, mochi are far more than a sweet treat to enjoy with afternoon tea – they make superb desserts after a meal, particularly the mochi ice cream which are stored in the freezer and need just a few minutes to soften before serving. Although small, they are surprisingly filling and just one or two balls would be perfect after a meal.

Little Moons come in a box of six and are currently stocked by Whole Foods (£5.99) and Partridges (£6.95). Tsuki Mochi truffles come in a box of four and are available from Selfridges (£4.50).

Kavey Eats received product samples from Little Moons / Tsuki Mochi plus a Japanese teaware set and Adagio teas, to host a Japanese afternoon tea.

 

Luiz Hara aka The London Foodie was one of the first fellow bloggers I met shortly after launching Kavey Eats in spring 2009. I can no longer remember how we met but I do know that we built a friendship on that most important of bases – food!

Born in Brazil to Brazilian-Japanese parents, Luiz moved to London at the age of 19, fully intending to return to Brazil once his studies were completed. But fate intervened, he met his partner and settled down in the UK instead. His family background gives him an amazing range of cuisines to draw from in his cooking. I went to some of his earliest Japanese supperclubs which were a delight, and also loved his Cooking Club, during which each guest took a turn to cook a dish to the evening’s theme, creating a multi-course extravaganza.

I remember when Luiz decided to leave behind the world of finance and dedicate himself wholeheartedly to food, kicking off with a diploma course at the Cordon Bleu cooking school and including a stint learning more about traditional Japanese cooking in Tokyo.

His supperclub has continued apace to become one of London’s best; places are highly sought after and sell out within moments of going on sale. Although the food is predominantly home-style Japanese, Luiz regularly adds touches of South American influence, not to mention techniques from classic French cuisine, providing a feast of dishes you would be hard-pushed to find anywhere else in London.

NIKKEI_JACKET

The good news is that his first cookbook, Nikkei Cuisine: Japanese Food the South American Way, shares many of the recipes he has developed and perfected over the last few years.

In Luiz’ own words:

At its simplest, Nikkei cuisine is the cooking of the Japanese diaspora. When my family and millions of other Japanese people migrated to South America at the start of the 20th century, they recreated their native cuisine using local ingredients. This style of Japanese cooking is known today as Nikkei Cuisine. For historical reasons, Nikkei cuisine is mostly associated with Peru and Brazil (where I was born).

The book is his personal collection of over 100 recipes and includes family favourites and contributions from Japanese and Nikkei chefs he met during research trips, as well as the many recipes Luiz has developed himself.

Recipes are divided into chapters for Small Eats; Sushi, Tiraditos & Ceviches (a chapter which really brings home the parallels between the South American and Japanese approach to raw fish); Rice & Noodles; Soups & Hotpots; Mains; Vegetables, Salads and Tofu and Desserts. There is also a chapter on mastering the basics of Sauces, Marinades & Condiments.

Photographs are colourful and appealing, with handy step-by-step illustrations for trickier techniques such as Japanese rolled omelette and Maki (sushi) rolls.

The good news is that I have two copies of Nikkei to give away. Scroll down for the chance to win this beautiful book.

In the meantime, enjoy Luiz’ delicious recipe for Nikkei Sea Bream with Yuzu & Green Jalapeño Rice.

Seabream 1

Nikkei Sea Bream with Yuzu & Green Jalapeño Rice

Tai gohan (sea-bream rice) is a classic of Japanese home cooking and is a dish I have always loved. It can be made in a rice cooker or in a clay pot or elegant pan to be served at the table for added wow. The fish is cooked over the rice, imparting a delicious flavour to the dish. Here I give my Nikkei interpretation, by adding a dressing of olive oil, yuzu juice and jalapeño green chillies, mixed into the rice just before serving. It’s like traditional Japan embracing the spice of South America.

Cooked in a Clay Pot

Serves 8–10

Ingredients
600g (1lb 5oz/2 ¾ cups) short-grain white rice
550ml (19fl oz/2 ½ cups) dashi (Japanese fish and seaweed stock) or water
100ml (3.fl oz/ ½ cup) mirin
100ml (3.fl oz/ ½ cup) light soy sauce
2.5cm (1in) piece of root ginger, peeled and cut into fine julienne strips
4 sea bream fillets, scaled and pin-boned
a sprinkle of sansho pepper
For the yuzu & green jalapeño dressing
1 green jalapeño chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
4 tbsp finely chopped spring onions (scallions)
4 tbsp yuzu juice
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Method

  • Wash the rice in a bowl with plenty of fresh water using a circular motion with your hand.
  • Drain the water and repeat this rinsing three or four times until the water runs clear. Let the rice drain in a colander for at least 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the soaking and cooking broth. Combine the dashi or water, mirin and light soy sauce and set aside. Soak the drained rice in the cooking broth in a clay pot or a rice cooker (see below) for 30 minutes.
  • Rice cooker method: After the soaking and before cooking, scatter half of the ginger strips over the rice, lay the sea bream fillets on top and turn the rice cooker on. It should take about 15–20 minutes to cook. Once the rice cooker’s alarm beeps indicating that the rice is cooked, let the rice rest for at least 15 minutes before opening the rice cooker.
  • Clay pot method: Tightly wrap a tea-towel (dish towel) over the lid of a Japanese clay pot (known as donabe) or if you do not have one you can use a heavy casserole pan (Dutch oven). After the soaking and before cooking, scatter half of the ginger strips over the rice, lay the sea bream fillets on the top (I like to arrange the fillets to look like an open flower), place the lid on top and bring to the boil. Once boiling, bring the temperature down to the lowest setting and cook for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, and without opening the lid (don’t open the lid at any stage of the cooking process), rest for a further 15 minutes.
  • Up to this stage, this rice is a traditional Japanese tai gohan or Japanese sea bream rice and can be served as it is – it will taste delicious. But for added va-va-voom, I like serving this with a yuzu and green jalapeño dressing, which I pour over the fish and rice just before serving. To make the dressing just put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix together well.
  • Take the unopened clay pot to the table, open it in front of your guests and, if desired, carefully remove the skin of the fish. Pour the dressing over the fish and rice then using a wide wooden spoon, fluff the rice well, breaking the fish into tiny pieces and mixing it together with the dressing into the rice. Mix thoroughly. If you are using a rice cooker, follow all the above steps but do not take the rice cooker to the table! Make all the necessary preparations and serve the rice in individual bowls at the table.
  • To serve, place the rice in individual rice bowls, top with the remaining julienned ginger in the centre of each bowl followed by a sprinkle of sansho pepper and serve immediately.

Seabream 2

Recipe and images extracted from Nikkei Cuisine: Japanese Food the South American Way by Luiz Hara. Photography by Lisa Linder. Published by Jacqui Small (£25).

GIVEAWAY

Jacqui Small are offering a copy of Nikkei Cuisine: Japanese Food the South American Way by Luiz Hara to two lucky readers of Kavey Eats! The prize includes free delivery within the UK.

HOW TO ENTER

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

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
Leave a comment telling me about your favourite Japanese or South American dish.

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 a copy of Nikkei Cuisine: Japanese Food the South American Way from Kavey Eats! http://bit.ly/KaveyEatsNikkei #KaveyEatsNikkei
(Do not add my twitter handle or any other twitter handle at 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

  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 4th December 2015.
  • 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.
  • Each (of two) prizes is a copy of Nikkei Cuisine: Japanese Food the South American Way by Luiz Hara, published by Jacqui Small. The prize includes delivery within in the UK. We cannot guarantee a pre-Christmas delivery date.
  • The prize cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • The prize is offered and provided by Jacqui Small.
  • 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, winners 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 your 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 copy from Jacqui Small . Nikkei Cuisine is currently available from Amazon UK for £19.99 (RRP £25) (at time of posting).

Nov 082015
 

I can’t believe two months have flown by since my last In & Out Of My Kitchen post!

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In early September we celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary with a lovely lunch at Hutong in the Shard. Marvellous views, good food and friendly service.

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One of my favourite lunch options near my office was Ju Mak, I always ordered lunch bowl number 1 – with sweet fried belly pork slices, kimchi, spring onions and a fried egg over rice. Sadly, when I went last week, the place was closed and I can’t tell whether it’s being refurbished and will reopen as the same restaurant, or whether Ju Mak is gone and a new place will open. Keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll be able to enjoy this tasty lunch again soon.

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Schwartz’ Deli, Timbits from Tim Hortons, Notre Dame Basilica, Restaurant Lemeac

In early September I headed to Canada for a really fantastic press trip. I’ve started sharing some of that with you already, but there are many, many more posts to come. My first stop was Montreal, a fantastically foodie city with a delightful mix of old and new districts, a really varied food scene and an incredible food market I fell head-over-aubergines for!

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Next stop was Quebec City which started with a driving tour around the gorgeous Île d’Orléans. Much of the island is farmland and I loved the farmgate shops selling fresh fruit and vegetables.

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Quebec City was a French food lover’s delight – had the best sweetbreads there I’ve eaten for a long time. And it’s also where I had my first real poutine, in the very place that is said to have invented them!

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One of the most fascinating experiences for me was my visit to the Huron-Wendat Museum – a museum, hotel and restaurant dedicated to sharing first nation tradition with visitors. I loved chatting to executive chef Martin Gagné about the traditional ingredients he uses in the modern restaurant.

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After my time in Quebec I flew down to Ontario and made my way to Niagara-on-the-Lake for an incredible few days hosted by Michael and Anna Olson. Not only did they take us to their favourite local vineyards, restaurants, delis and farms, they also invited us into their home for dinner and breakfast, teaching us some of their delicious recipes before we sat down to eat.

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I adored the farmgate shops, especially the large one at Whitty Farms, where our group tasted our first Canadian Butter Tarts – an utter delight!

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I was particularly excited about this segment of my trip because it included visits to several local vineyards that make (amongst other types of wine) the famous local ice wine. This stunning dessert wine is a regional speciality and as a lover of dessert wines, I was absolutely in my element! I bought two bottles home with me but wish I could have carried back an entire suitcase!

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No visit to this beautiful region would be complete without a visit to the Niagara Falls and we enjoyed both a boat cruise and a spectacular helicopter ride over the falls, before being flown straight to our next destination – another wonderful vineyard for a very delicious lunch!

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I think what made the biggest impression on me about this area of Ontario was the locally grown produce. The variety was amazing (thanks to a very varied local geography that gives rise to a wide range of microclimates) and the quality absolutely superb. Of course, I bought some maple syrup (from both Quebec and Ontario) back home with me! Recipes featuring this gorgeous ingredient to come soon!

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My last stop was Toronto, a world class city that I absolutely loved exploring. After a zip around the eclectic wares of Tap Phong in China Town, and a phenomenal dim sum lunch at Luckee’s, we said goodbye to our hosts and to the lovely Diane, the tour manager who had looked after us so well for the preceding days. I stayed on in Toronto, returning first to China Town for a more in depth wander – the red bean bun I had in Hong Kong Island Bakery was one of the best such buns I’ve ever tasted!

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I also loved Kensington Market, a small but hip area with another fruit and vegetable market, and lots of small hip restaurants, cafes and ethnic groceries full of tempting ingredients and speciality foods.

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Once again, there were wonderful historical buildings and areas amongst more modern Toronto. And oh my goodness, just look at that view from my hotel room!

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When I got home, autumn had kicked in, though weather was still warmer than expected. We harvested lots of delicious plums from our allotment, and a handful of very tart but pretty red apples from our two youngest apple trees.

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Missing Canada, the first thing I cooked on the weekend following my return home was an adaptation of Anna Olson’s sticky buns, a recipe she taught us during our visit to her home. You can find the original recipe, and my variations, here.

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One late September weekend I visited Food Blogger Connect, grateful that the rain stayed away given the unexpectedly outdoor nature of the venue. The street food stalls included treats from The Athenian (fantastic, delicious and generously sized wraps), Crazy for Pasta (who not only cooked but made their pasta fresh for every customer), The Pandan Bakery (who kindly introduced us to a variety of Malaysian treats) and Churros Garcia (which I confess I visited three times!)

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I was treated to some delicious foie gras products courtesy of Foie Gras Gourmet, an online mail order service specialising in high quality products from the Perigord.

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A lovely lunch at what I am certain is the best Lebanese in London reminded us that we should go much, much more often.

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Lunch is nearly always a mad rush out for a local takeaway and back to eat it within my half hour lunch break. Recent lunches include pork katsu don and a sushi box from Ohaio (affectionately known as the hole in the wall, located in New Malden Station), chicken katsu curry from Noodle Express, a mixed box of beef, rice and sweet and sour chicken from Do Bento, a huge jacket potato with bolognese and cheese from Village Cafe and a lamb wrap from somewhere at the other end of the high street, that one of my colleagues kindly collected on behalf of several of us for Shawarma Day!

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I will never ever get bored of eggs and toast!

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I went into China Town with a friend to review Viet Food, during which we popped into Cinnabon for some weekend treats and enjoyed the lanterns left up after the Moon Festival.

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A dear friend visited London and we caught up over a lovely lunch at Portrait Restaurant in the National Portrait Gallery. Lovely views, good food and warm and attentive service. Would go again!

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Absolutely loved reviewing the latest food subscription service – Cheese Posties. Each delivery contains everything you need to make a delicious cheese toastie, with innovative flavour and ingredient combinations that make it lots of fun.

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What greater way to spend a weekend lunch than with friends over dim sum at Pearl Liang?

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Another recipe I really must share with you soon is the quick beef rendang we learned to make on a cookery class we attended earlier this year. This delicious recipe is a one pot meal (everything goes in together) and takes just a few hours rather than the traditional 12-18!

Quick Golden Baked Peri Peri Chicken Yoghurt and Rice Cake - Kavey Eats (text1) Rostizza - Potato Rosti Pizza Base on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle (2)

Lastly, please let me share some work I’m really proud of: It’s not unusual these days for food bloggers to take beautifully styled and photographed images of their recipes that are every bit as professional as tempting as those you find in glossy food magazines. But I’ve very rarely styled the food I post on Kavey Eats, snapping a few super quick grabshots before we tuck in to dinner; my ability to produce a planned and styled shot has remained pretty much untested. So I was really, really pleased with the recipes and photos I created for two recent commissioned posts, one for Quick Golden-Baked Peri Peri Chicken, Yoghurt & Rice Cake and the other for my Potato Rösti Pizza Base – I call it the Röstizza!

That’s an exhausting (but by no means exhaustive) meander through some of my food experiences during the last two months.

Thanks for reading!

And a warm wave at fellow In My Kitchen posters this month.

I’m submitting this post to Celia’s In My Kitchen series. Cheers, Celia!

 

PARTNEREDPOSTPotatoes have been getting a bit of a bad rap lately. The last couple of decades have witnessed a vilification of carbs; the noughties in particular saw a surge in uptake of diets advocating a severe reduction of carb intake. Even for those not following a low-carb diet, potatoes often lose out to pasta and rice, perceived as quicker and easier options.

But actually, potatoes are a versatile and very healthy ingredient – they’re inexpensive, 100% natural and unprocessed; they are low in fat and sugar and an excellent source of fibre and potassium; and they store very well – when we’ve had a particularly generous crop of home grown, we’ve been able to enjoy them for several months after harvesting by keeping them in a cool, dark cupboard.

Of course, they are also available to buy throughout the year – whether you shop at your local supermarket, independent grocer’s or food market. I like to buy by variety, experimenting to make up my own mind – do King Edwards or Maris Pipers make the best roasties? Are Charlottes or Red Duke of Yorks best for potato salad?

These days most retailers also label potatoes to indicate whether they are suitable for baking, boiling, mashing, frying and so on – the rule of thumb is that waxy varieties and new potatoes are great for potato salads because they hold their shape and texture well when boiled. Fluffier varieties are best for baking and roasting, and make fabulous chips. There are also many potatoes that can be considered good all-rounder varieties; find out more from the AHDB’s Potato Variety Database.

But the question remains – can you create a quick and delicious weekday supper using potatoes in the same time as it might take you to rustle up a pasta dinner or stir fried rice?

Of course, the answer is yes!

Rostizza - Potato Rosti Pizza Base on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle (4)

We were challenged to create and share a new potato recipe, something quick, easy and suitable for a weekday lunch or dinner and a little adventurous and different to boot. I hope you’ll agree that our Röstizza – using a potato rösti as a gluten free pizza base – is just that!

Rostizza - Potato Rosti Pizza Base on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle (2)

The Röstizza: Potato Rösti Pizza Base

Serves 2
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes

#glutenfree #quick #easy #recipe

Ingredients
400 grams potatoes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
15-20 grams butter
2 teaspoons finely grated parmesan
1 teaspoon salt
75 grams grated mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons pizza sauce
Optional: Very thinly sliced salami or chorizo sausage or other toppings of your choice

Equipment
28 cm frying pan
Electric or gas hob
Grill

Note: We use a food processor to grate the potatoes and buy ready-grated mozzarella cheese for this recipe. Add a little more prep time if you grate both by hand.

Method

  • Peel and grate the potatoes.
  • Microwave the grated potatoes in a bowl for approximately 1 minute on full power, until piping hot.
  • In the meantime, heat butter and oil in a frying pan on a medium heat.
  • Retrieve grated potatoes from the microwave, add grated parmesan and salt and mix thoroughly.
  • Add potato mixture to the pan, toss briefly to coat well in butter and oil, then spread out to create a flat and even rösti, pressing down firmly.

Rostizza - Potato Rosti Pizza Base on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7606

  • Fry the rösti pizza base for about 12-15 minutes until golden brown beneath, checking by lifting an edge very carefully with a spatula towards the end of the cooking time. The time will vary depending on your frying pan and the exact level of heat.
  • Once the bottom edge is golden brown, use two plates to help flip the rösti over: Place the first plate upside down over the pan, use oven gloves to grip both plate and pan firmly together and flip over to transfer the rösti onto the plate. Now use a second plate to flip the rösti over again. Pour out any remaining oil from the pan if need be, before placing it upside down over the second plate, and flipping both over one last time. The rösti should now be upside down within the frying pan. This isn’t as complicated as it sounds, and much less risky than trying to flip the fragile rösti directly in the pan.

Rostizza - Potato Rosti Pizza Base on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7609 Rostizza - Potato Rosti Pizza Base on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7613

  • Preheat the grill to high.
  • Turn the heat on the hob up to high and add the toppings over the golden brown surface. First spread the pizza sauce, then the grated cheddar and then add any additional toppings such as salami slices, mushrooms or other vegetables. This should take no more than 4-5 minutes, allowing the second side of the rösti to crisp up.

Rostizza - Potato Rosti Pizza Base on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7616 Rostizza - Potato Rosti Pizza Base on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7623

  • Transfer the pan to the grill for about 2 minutes, until the cheese is melted and starting to colour.
  • Serve immediately.

Rostizza - Potato Rosti Pizza Base on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle (1)

Rostizza - Potato Rosti Pizza Base on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle (3)

As you can imagine, it’s easy to ring the changes by switching what you put on top.

Try pesto instead of a tomato-based pizza sauce or skip the sauce entirely for a pizza bianco.

Use a mixture of cheeses to create your own quattro formaggi (four cheeses).

As for toppings, you could opt for ham and cheese, pepperoni and jalapeno or a wonderful vegetarian medley of mushrooms, onions or peppers.

For more quick and easy potato recipes, check out:

This recipe was commissioned by Love Potatoes, as part of their ‘Potatoes: More than a bit on the side’ campaign. Visit their website for more great potato recipes and detailed nutritional information.

 

The food at NOPI restaurant is a heady mix of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavours with additional influences from around the world – just the kind of cooking my friend and fellow blogger Lisa aka Cookwitch adores, so I asked her to review this new cookbook written by Yotam Ottolenghi and NOPI’s head chef Ramael Scully on my behalf. I am sure you will enjoy her guest post below; to learn more about Lisa read my recent Meet The Blogger interview with her, here.

nopi-book

Most people have heard of Yotam Ottolenghi, the gently spoken Israeli of the big brown eyes and welcoming smile, wandering around the world in search of beautiful food. Many may not have heard of Scully.

No, this is not a foray into X-Files alien food, this is a wonderful partnership – sometimes more of a tug o’ war – between the more familiar Mediterranean influences of Yotam and the still slightly mysterious Eastern zing of Scully, a chef raised between Australia and Malaysia.

They say:

“The Mediterranean influence is still strong in our cooking but we are as likely, these days, to be reaching for the mirin and miso as we are towards the pomegranate molasses, olive oil and date syrup. The cupboard is wide, the menu ever-changing and the experiments ever-underway. We continue on with both a boundless enthusiasm and an unswerving dedication to detail. The result is some very merry-making food.”

Merry-making food? Bring it on, I say.

The book is an utter joy right from the start. The voice of it is extremely loving, and slightly teasing, telling of the differences in approach between Scully and Yotam, plus properly highlighting the brilliance and dedication of the rest of the staff. To paraphrase;

Scully: How about we put a chilli/salt/pickle garnish there?

Yotam: Do we even need a garnish?

It is a restaurant cookbook, yes, with the most popular dishes from NOPI, but everything in it seems achievable. If extra time is needed, it tells you. If an ingredient is hard to source, it tells you what you can use instead.

It also doesn’t talk down to, or over you, or assumes that you already know everything. For me, it gave me that bit more confidence in making some of the recipes.

Every photo almost glows on the page. There are simple dishes, with just a few ingredients, and there are long and involved ones, but you never get the sense that the author is telling you not to attempt them because you’re not a chef.

There are some I wouldn’t do unless I had a week off, and some I could probably do in an evening, if I was organised (or motivated) enough, but in the main I would put them down as being Weekend with Nothing To Do cooking. (Other people count a weekend spent cooking as relaxation too, don’t they? Not just me? Anyone?)

Having spent a week buried in the book, I finally decided on the courgette fritter recipe.

I’ve been on a real vegetable kick lately, and though the Mixed Cauliflowers with Golden Raisins, Ricotta and Capers called to me, I had overdosed on cauliflower the week before, so I felt a nice, green change was needed. Plus it has cheese in it, so that was a done deal.

I admit that I am NOT a recipe book cook. I am a recipe book reader. I honestly find cooking from someone else’s recipes quite tiring, as I think I get nervous that I’m going to do it wrong, or miss a step. If I try a recipe that I know I will want to make again, I write it down in a small notebook, and list the steps in the order that I would cook them. Once I’ve done that, it makes it easier. I know, I’m weird.

I really did want to give this a try though, so I persevered. Even though I read the recipe countless times, I still managed to forget things when I went shopping. I also changed some ingredients. One out of necessity and another because I loathe the original.

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Courgette and Feta Fritters

Adapted by Lisa from Nopi: The Cookbook

Ingredients
For the fritters
3 courgettes, coarsely grated, then popped in a colander with 1 tsp salt to drain
2 eggs, lightly beaten
60 g self raising flour (might use chickpea flour next time, lower the carb count and make it GF friendly)
2.5 tsp ground coriander
1.5 tsp ground cumin (original was ground cardamom, but I really dislike it, and 1.5 tsp is a LOT)
2 small shallots very finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, grated (I used a garlic press)
Finely grated zest of two limes
150g feta, crumbled into 1cm bits (original recipe calls for manouri cheese which is hard to find unless you have a Greek grocer near you)
For the sauce
200ml sour cream
5g chopped coriander (I had none, so I used chopped celery leaves that I had in the freezer)
1/2 tsp ground cardamom (nope, not me!)
grated zest and juice of 1 lime. (I totally forgot the juice)

Method

  • When the courgettes have sat for 10 minutes, squeeze all of the water out and put into a large bowl.
  • Add in the spices, flour, shallots and zest, then mix in the egg.
  • Gently mix in the crumbled feta so that it doesn’t disperse too much.
  • (The book says to put oil in a frying pan to a depth of 2-3mm but with a good non-stick pan, you probably won’t need that much.)
  • When the oil is hot, drop in dessertspoonfuls of the mixture, 4 at a time spaced well apart. Flatten them a bit with the spoon.
  • (I formed mine into loose and slightly lumpy quenelles, to see if I could, but that is really not necessary.)
  • Cook for 6 minutes, until they are browned and crispy on one side, then turn them over and cook the other side.
  • For the sauce, mix together all the ingredients.
  • Drain the fritters on paper towels, and serve hot with the dip, though they are equally good when lukewarm. I would reheat them in the oven, they should crisp up again.

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The second recipe of the day was the result of misreading another recipe further into the book. There’s a recipe in the book for lamb rump with vanilla braised chicory. I parsed it as vanilla braised lamb. When I realised I thought, well, why not? So this happened.

My Brain:

“Ooh, lamb with vanilla. No, wait, that’s lamb with CHICORY braised with vanilla.
Although…[goes to shops]
What would you braise it in? I’ve got red wine, but would rosé be better? Marsala perhaps? Nobody’s got that. No, I’ll have to stick with red. Maybe the butcher has venison! That would work.
[goes to butcher]
No, the lamb leg looks nicer. Still not sure about this cooking liquid though.
Hang on…[mentally catalogues shelves]
Tea. I have vanilla tea. And cinnamon sticks. Ok…this might work. ”
What was actually said out loud:
“Tea!”

Vanilla & Red Wine Lamb

Inspired by Nopi: The Cookbook’s Lamb Rump with Vanilla Braised Chicory

Ingredients
1/2 small leg of lamb, bone in, FAT ON, in a covered casserole dish
2 small bottles red wine (18.7cl)
2 small bottle’s worth of water
1/2 cup Vanilla Ceylon Tea
5 dried rosehips
1 shallot, cut in half (not peeled)
1 small stick cinnamon, snapped in half
1 vanilla pod, split in half lengthways
2 tbs honey
1 tbs date/carob/fig molasses – or blackstrap molasses

Method

  • Put all the above in a pan, bring to the boil, then lower the heat right down and simmer for an hour.
  • Take off the heat, leave to cool, then pour it all over the lamb. Place the vanilla pod on top of the lamb joint.
  • Cover, place in a hot oven (200C) for 1/2 an hour, then turn the heat down to 150C and let it cook for a good 3 hours. Test it for tenderness at the 3-4 hour mark, and if it’s tender (it fell off the bone for me) then keep the meat warm and reduce the sauce down in a pan on the stove top until it is thick and jammy.
  • Serve it with roasted squash or mashed parsnips, or perhaps a puree of white beans because that sauce, oh that sauce, needs a transportation vehicle. Or maybe just a loaf of good bread…

I am still reading through the book.

Venison fillet with Date Labneh, Blackberries and Peanut Crumble anyone?

 

NOPI: The Cookbook is published by Ebury Press, who provided a review copy to Kavey Eats. Currently available from Amazon for just £12.99 (RRP £28).

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