Great ways to learn new skills – classes, books and demonstrations.

 

My name is Kavey and I’m a recovering magazine addict.

You might laugh, but fellow addicts know that this particular affliction can be a hard habit to break. Of course, as addictions go it’s by no means the worse to have, not by a long shot. But still, it can be pretty expensive. And if you like to keep titles for future reference, it’s a storage nightmare too.

When Pete and I bought our house 21 years ago, I got hooked on Home decorating magazines. Not a huge surprise to start with, given the unreconstructed 60s and 70s interiors we inherited – not so much retro as hideous, and dilapidated too. More of a surprise a few years later, given how little of the magazines’ ideas I’d put into use – though at least the swirly carpets, melamine kitchen and metal-framed louvre windows were quickly replaced. I never did get my stencilling, stippling or sponging on – which I’m very glad about in retrospect.

I weaned myself off those after a few years but as my interest in that topic waned, so my hunger for travel magazines and photography titles grew and there were just as many subscriptions dropping through the letterbox as ever before. Food magazines tended to be adhoc purchases, especially supermarket inhouse ones. But I was easily buying 8 or more, per month. Plus Pete’s computer ones on top of that!

It wasn’t until piles of magazines started taking over the house that I cancelled virtually all of them and went somewhat cold turkey. That was around ten years ago…

Magazine Addict - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-151110

… but I didn’t entirely get rid of all the back issues, as this photo (taken today) proves all too well.

Actually, you know what? I’m going to take an action point right now to get rid of most of them within the next few weeks!

Around the time I cancelled most of the subs, I started reading a lot more blogs – I was an avid blog reader for years before I launched Kavey Eats.

I loved (and still love) the world of blogs, and there’s a lot of content I enjoy that simply wouldn’t be published by commercial magazine titles. But there’s still a strong place for traditional magazines, still quite distinct from blogs – certainly the single-author type like this. The forecasters and fortune tellers have been predicting the end of print media for many years now, and while I think they are no doubt right, I am also certain it’s a long way off yet.

So I do miss reading magazines.

Only my memory of how quickly magazine mountains can build up stops me from falling back into my old addiction.

Introducing Readly

This is where Readly comes in.

Clever, clever Readly is an absolute godsend for people like me – providing access to over 1,300 magazine titles in digital format for one single subscription price of £9.99 a month. Given that most of the titles I enjoy reading cost around £4 or £5 per issue, that’s pretty good value.

Once you have signed up, you can access Readly on multiple devices – your desktop PC or Mac, your laptop, your tablet, your phone… and when you switch devices, you can resume reading a given title where you left off on a different device, making it a seamless experience. All the screenshots below are from the PC Desktop app. I have also been accessing Readly via my Android phone, and via our Nexus tablet. All work perfectly well, though obviously there’s an advantage to devices with larger screens!

You can share the service with your family too – a single Readly account supports up to 5 profiles, allowing you to save different magazines into your profile Favourites lists, save personal bookmarks individually and so on. Note that you will all sign in using the same login and password, and have access to all available profiles so if privacy of content is an issue, this may not be suitable for you. For Pete and I it’s perfect, as he can save beer and brewing, science and tech content into his profile and I can save food, travel and photography content into mine. If you do have multiple profiles set up, Readly will ask who is reading each time you login, so you don’t need to worry about accidentally messing up each others’ profiles.

You don’t have be online to read a magazine on Readly, though if you just want to browse and flick through a bunch of magazines that is certainly easiest. Readly also allows you to download magazines to your device when you are connected, and they will remain available for you to read when offline. The number you can save depends on the space available on your device, so you may need to housekeep and delete downloaded titles you’ve finished with now and again.

This means I can catch up on magazines during my Tube commute – a very handy feature!

In More Detail!

The Settings box allows you to ensure that magazines are only downloaded to the device if you are on an unmetered internet connection.

You can also limit the maximum number of downloaded items.

If you prefer to see only newer content, you can hide publications according to how old they are.

Parental Control allows you to apply a password to access Readly, however I believe this across the entire account, not per profile.

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Setting up additional profiles is very straightforward.

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Before starting to browse, I suggest you access the language settings and restrict to those you can read. I have mine set to English only, but like that I could add French titles in to my mix if I choose.

You can filter the country of publication too, if you wish, but I am happy to view magazines published elsewhere, as long as they are English-language.

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Go to Magazines to browse the entire list (of titles available in your specified language) or filter by subject matter.

There are plenty of categories – Animals & Pets, Comics, Health and Fitness, Fashion & Beauty, History, Music, Sport, TV & Film & Cinema and many more.

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Of my areas of interest…

Food & Drink is very well represented with 46 English-language titles currently listed. Of those, I have added several to my Favourites list including Good Things (which I wrote for from launch until late last year), Lucky Peach (a fantastic US title which would cost me a whopping £8 an issue to buy in print form), Saveur, Olive, Delicious and BBC Good Food.

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Photography is similarly well represented with 25 English-language titles currently listed including Practical Photography (which I used to subscribe to), Photoshop Creative and Shutterbug.

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Travel is the weakest category for me. Despite having 66 English-language titles currently listed, most of these are region-specific – Sussex Life, Kent Life, Best of Bavaria. Of those remaining, only Wanderlust and Lonely Planet are titles I want to read, though I appreciate special interest travellers will enjoy Practical Caravan, Cruising World, Canal Boat, Yachts International, Skiing, and Climbing!

The ones I’m really missing are Food & Travel (the UK title, not the Californian one listed), National Geographic Traveller UK, Sunday Times Travel, Conde Nast Traveller, Travel Africa.

If you’re not sure whether Readly will cover the titles that interest you, do check out their full titles list via their website. For me, even with the gaps that I’d love to see plugged, the list of titles available is pretty appealing.

Of course, once you’re subscribed, you can search for and read any available title – not only the latest issue but several back issues too. The number of back issues varies by title, so for Olive I can go back to October 2014, whereas only the latest 4 issues of Lucky Peach are listed.

For titles you want to read regularly, adding them to your Favourites list makes it quick to access them without searching. When viewing the Magazines list, select one or more titles, then Add to Favourites.

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You can then access them without searching, via your Favourites list. You can also choose to be notified when a new issue of any of your Favourites is available.

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On larger devices, Readly displays a double-page spread – on smaller devices, a single page is shown at a time. You can easily access a quick navigation scroll bar which shows small versions of all the pages, making it quick to skip through without reading every page.

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Once you’re viewing a page (or double page spread), you can zoom in easily to read small text or view the images in more detail.

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Here is some of my own content in Good Things magazine, issues 7 and 8.

If, as you’re reading, there’s an article you want to come back to, you can create a bookmark. This allows you to return to a specific page in a specific issue of a specific title with a single click.

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Giveaway

Readly UK are offering one reader of Kavey Eats a 6 month subscription to their service, worth £59.94.

The subscription will be provided via a gift card which can be redeemed anywhere in the world (see Rules, Terms & Conditions).

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 what you love reading about in your favourite magazines.

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 6 month subscription to @ReadlyUK from Kavey Eats! http://bit.ly/KaveyEatsReadly #KaveyEatsReadly
(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 5th 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 prize is offered and provided by Readly UK.
  • The prize is a 6 month subscription to the Readly UK service. The gift certificate can be redeemed anywhere in the world, but the winner must select UK as country when redeeming it. This will provide access to all Readly UK content (including international titles covered by Readly UK).
  • The prize 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 @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.

Discount Code

Kavey Eats readers are invited to join Readly UK for just £1 for the first month.

The winner of the giveaway is @LindyHine, via twitter.

Kavey Eats received a review subscription from Readly UK.

 

When I was a child back in the Seventies, the only terms I knew for the aboriginal peoples of North America were Red Indians and Native Americans. As a child, I understood that the former was considered offensive, a relic clinging to the clichéd coattails of Hollywood Westerns. It also surprised me that early European travellers had confused the indigenous people of the North America continent with my own ancestors in India, or indeed with any of the various distinct peoples of East Asia. After all, their appearance and behaviour were completely different, each tribe with its own rich history, culture and traditions.

As a member of a minority ethnic group myself – albeit a large one – I was keen to give others the respect of addressing them as they preferred, rather than use terms associated with exploitation, marginalisation, derogation and prejudice. Of course, it’s never that simple – I’ve since discovered that there are some who still choose to identify as American Indians while others use Native American and others who ask for their tribal identity to be used, rather than a generic term that groups all tribes together.

The best way of finding out how someone prefers to be labelled, if such a label is even relevant to the conversation, is to ask them!

The reason it became relevant for me recently was my desire to find out more about the food of Canada’s indigenous peoples during my recent trip.

Until I started researching the trip, I didn’t realise the term Native American is not commonly used in Canada, indeed it’s pretty much only used in the United States.

In Canada, the collective term for the country’s indigenous peoples is First Nations, with an individual referred to as a First Nations person, man or woman. Generally this covers all the nations except the Inuit of the Arctic regions and the Métis, a formally recognised cultural group that was born of mixed-race unions between First Nations people and Europeans and between those of different First Nations.

Just as Native Americans has (somewhat) replaced American Indians in the United States, so First Nations has replaced Indian bands in Canada. There are more than 850,000 Canadians who are officially recognised as First Nations people on Canada’s Indians Register. As well as protection from discrimination (under the Employment Equity Act), Indian status also confers a range of additional benefits including property rights and tax exemptions related to Reserve lands, carefully controlled traditional hunting rights and access to a range of social programmes.

HuronWendat First Nations Hotel and Nuseum collage
Hôtel-Musée Premières Nations, artwork in the museum and hotel lobbies

For those interested in learning more, Tourisme Wendake operates the Hôtel-Musée Premières Nations in Wendake, less than half an hour’s drive from Quebec City. Established in 2006 by the Council of the Huron-Wendat Nation, Tourisme Wendake is a non-profit organisation created to promote aboriginal culture and tourism. Their website is a mess – the navigation will make you weep; I recommend navigating directly from the Sitemap.

Visiting in person, however, is a pleasure and the site is a Must-See for anyone seeking an insight into First Nations history and culture.

At the heart of the museum and hotel complex, located on the banks of the Akiawenrahk river, is the Huron-Wendat Museum. Named for the Wendat people – also known as Huron and Wyandot – the museum opened in 2008 with the aim of protecting and promoting the nation’s heritage through permanent and temporary exhibits, activities and workshops. The museum also serves as a gateway for visitors keen to explore Wendake’s numerous heritage sites.

The complex is decorated with traditional and modern arts and crafts created by artists from many of Canada’s First Nations; indeed some of these items are available to purchase from the onsite shop.

I am shown around the museum, hotel and longhouse by Jason Picard-Binet, Marketing and Tourism Development Coordinator for Tourisme Wendake. Jason is part of the Huron-Wendat nation and takes enormous pride in sharing his culture with visitors. Indeed he says that many of the staff working in the complex are First Nations people.

As we stand in the entrance lobby to the museum, Jason points out colourful paintings on floor and ceiling, and tells me the story they represent. The creationist saga of the Huron-Wendat people relates how Aataentsic was banished from the sky world for breaking the rules. As she fell through the sky towards the world of water below, the water birds flew up to help her and gently held her above the water with their wings. As they tired, Great Turtle arrived to relieve them and held her on his back instead. Toad arrived, and dived into the water to retrieve earth from the ocean bed, giving it to Aataentsic to sprinkle over Great Turtle’s back. Soon after, Aataentsic gave birth to twin sons and they created all the elements of the earth and sky. Where one created light and human life, the other created darkness and destruction. The twins fought, and when the good brother won, the other was banished into the underworld where he remains.

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Chef Martin Gagné, La Traite Restaurant, some of the dishes served during my Autumn visit

One of my key interests is to find out more about First Nation cuisine, including some of the unique ingredients traditionally farmed and foraged from the local landscape.

Jason introduces me to Martin Gagné, the Executive Chef at Restaurant La Traite, an elegant restaurant at the museum-hotel. In summer months, tables on the peaceful outdoor terrace are particularly sough-after.

We sit down for a chat over tea. Martin offers me a choice of teas and infusions, highlighting those made with herbs and berries that have long been a part of the First Nations diet. Arctic Blend features juniper and other local berries and herbs. Cloudberry and crowberry teas are both fruit infusions. I follow Martin’s lead and choose Labrador tea, an infusion of a flowering plant in the Rhododendron genus which has a refreshing, mildly minty and rosemary-like flavour. Some of the traditional First Nations ingredients are becoming more popular of late, says Martin. Labrador tea is one such ingredient; traditionally used to cure headaches, to relax and to help mothers through childbirth, it is now being investigated by Western Pharma and has tripled in price in the last few years.

Although Martin is not registered Indian, he is part Algonquin and has always had an interest in First Nations culture. I ask him how he came to work at the Huron-Wendat Museum and Hotel.

After studying catering Martin worked at a number of prestigious restaurants, eventually taking up the head chef position at Manoir St-Castin, not far from Quebec City. It was here that he became more inspired by First Nations food traditions, and began to incorporate them more regularly into his cooking. Indeed it was during a visit to Wendake to purchase a teepee in which to host events at Manoir St-Castin that he first met the Grand Chief of the Huron-Wendat nation. Later that year, he was invited to cook at the community’s Harvest Festival. There, the Grand Chief told him of the nation’s plans to set up a new museum and asked Martin to head up the restaurant.

Other First Nations restaurants in the area tend to serve traditional First Nations food, but Martin wanted to take things further – to take the traditional and bring it up to date. At La Traite, he uses local products to create a modern, nature-focused menu with strong influence from First Nations traditions, but not bound by them. The cooking is informed by his classical French training, the wider Canadian-Quebecois food culture and some international references. These he skilfully fuses with a larder of wild game, seafood and many vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices foraged from boreal forests that still cover much of Canada. It is a celebration of the abundance of nature, seasonality and the ethos of sustainability.

As much of the restaurant’s customer base is repeat diners and corporate clientele, Martin is keen to offer a menu that not only changes seasonally but introduces diners to new ideas and dishes each time they visit. Alongside traditional game meats of the region, he also assimilates ingredients and ideas from aboriginal traditions elsewhere in the world – hence the menu has also seen dishes using Australian kangaroo and Mayan shrimps (from modern day Belize) over the years.

When it comes to adding flavour, Martin uses herbs and spices favoured by First Nations cooking to complement his main ingredients, but often looks to use them in new ways. Gathered when in season, some are are dried and preserved for use throughout the year.

We want our customers to discover new flavours in our forest’, he says, ‘but we also want to show them that with our local products, we can produce similar tastes as the spices of the Orient’.

Dune pepper (poivre des dunes), for example – the small buds from the green alder tree – is traditionally used with game meat such as buffalo; Martin describes its aroma as the perfume of the forest, adding that it has a peppery flavour but not the heat of peppercorns; it is good in a creamy sauce, much as one might use peppercorns.

Balsam fir (sapin baumier) is similar to pine; Martin uses it to smoke fish, imbuing the fish with a citrusy woodland flavour.

Coltsfoot (tussilage) flowers are found all over Quebec and traditionally used in medicinal infusions; with a flavour resminiscent of chamomile, Martin likes to pair them with fresh fish.

Myrical gale (myrique baumier) is also known as bog-myrtle, sweetgale and royal piment (pepper); the leaves and buds have a nutmeg-like aroma and taste and can be used in similar recipes.

Horsetail (prêle des champs), also called sweet grass, is a sacred medicinal plant for the Nation and has a very particular scent. Martin grinds it to make a marinade for prawns.

There are over forty such herbs and spices in Martin’s kitchen, each of which brings a unique flavour to his cooking.

As restaurant service starts, Martin heads back to the kitchen and Jason and I take a table in the restaurant, to enjoy some of the flavours I’ve recently learned about.

With traditional bannock cornbread rolls, we have a refreshing ‘rhubarb water’ – I’m not usually a fan of rhubarb but the perfect balance between sweet and sharp, and the gentle flavour, is delightful. Our first course is a traditional Sagamité Soup featuring the three sisters, red beans, squash and corn, in an elk broth – the ingredients are so known because of the way they are traditionally grown together – the tall stalks of the corn provide a frame for the beans to climb, and these in turn provide shade to the squash plants growing beneath; an early and enduring example of companion planting.

Next comes a beautiful tasting board with several perfectly-presented little dishes including smoked salmon, lemon ‘caviar’, salicornia (a beach or marsh-growing succulent) and capers; foie gras with a spiced apple butter; a fresh vegetable salad; venison with parmesan and cheddar cheeses, confit onion and wild blueberry jam; crab rillettes with sweet peppers and gherkins and a smoked L’Algonquin Cheese, grilled with pear.

To finish, we enjoy fresh fruit with maple syrup mousse and maple syrup – of course the First Nations people harvested and used sap from the maple tree long before the Europeans arrived in North America!

As I’d hoped, the cooking is accomplished and delicious; the way Martin and his kitchen team weave together ingredients, techniques and dishes I already know with those I’ve not previously encountered is a special experience indeed.

I’m reminded that there are many such ingredients available in Europe – foraged for centuries, perhaps even millenia, but somehow forgotten by modern cooking, yet readily available in our local woodlands, verges and untended grounds. First Nations food is above all about that link to the local environment, and making best use of the produce it offers; surely a good lesson to take home.

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The Ekionkiestha’ longhouse at Huron-Wendat

After lunch, Jason shows me more of the site.

The main hotel is within the same complex of buildings as the museum and rooms are gorgeous. Spacious, attractive, decorated with traditional and modern First Nation art and crafts, they are really delightful and of course, staying one or more nights gives you more time to learn about the First Nations as whole and the Huron-Wendat nation in particular. It’s also a great base for outdoor activities in the region such as hiking, boating, fishing and more.

Just outside the hotel and museum buildings is the traditionally constructed Ekionkiestha’ longhouse. Here, guests can learn traditional First Nation myths and legends over a cup of Labrador tea and some bannock bread. Guides are also available to teach interested visitors about First Nation cooking, hunting and craft-making. For a more immersive experience, guests can book to spend a night in the longhouse, under the supervision of the firekeeper.

My visit this time is too short to stay overnight. I’d like very much to come back and spend longer next time, learning more about Huron-Wendat culture and traditions.

 

Kavey Eats visited Wendake courtesy of Destination Canada, with the assistance of Tourisme Quebec. Huge thanks to Jason and Martin for their time and all that they taught me.

 

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.

 

Food and drink books written by an American authors don’t always translate well for a UK audience but Wild Drinks & Cocktails  by Emily Han is one of the exceptions; the recipes list ingredients in both Imperial and metric units, and the vast majority of ingredients are familiar and available across both sides of the pond.

Wild Drinks & Cocktails: Handcrafted Squashes, Shrubs, Switchels, Tonics, and Infusions to Mix at Home is packed full of recipes for drinks you can make using ingredients that can be grown in your garden or readily foraged – in the countryside or even in the urban landscape. Of course, you can buy many of the fruits, herbs and spices in shops and markets.

Wild Drinks & Cocktails

Before sharing recipes, Han runs through some key introductory topics: First, a guide to foraging, which stresses the importance of absolute certainty in plant identification, and provides a gentle reminder to consider the ethics of harvesting rare species or plants that local wildlife rely on for food or shelter; Next, how to harvest, with techniques for leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds and roots and suggestions of harvesting tools you may find useful; After that, an ingredients primer which covers herbs, spices and a comprehensive list of sweeteners from processed sugars and molasses to honey, agave nectar and maple syrup; and last, a list of kitchen equipment for making the recipes, including a guide on sanitising and sterilising tools and containers.

Recipes are divided into six chapters:

  • Teas, Juices and Lemonades
  • Syrups, Squashes and Cordials
  • Oxymels, Shrubs and Switchels
  • Infusions, Bitters and Liqueurs
  • Wines and Punches
  • Fizzy Fermentations

At the start of each chapter, Han explains the origins and methods for each type of drink it covers, so if you don’t know your infusion from your dedoction or your shrub from your switchel, you will soon! Likewise, many of the recipe introductions are enormously informative about ingredients and recipe history. In many cases, there is guidance too about health benefits of certain ingredients or concoctions, though there’s a wise reminder in Han’s introduction that the contents of the book should not be taken as medical advice. On a personal note, it’s good to see the world of western medicine waking up to the claims of traditional medicinal systems such as Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese about a variety of natural ingredients, many of which are now being investigated scientifically and several of which have been found to have beneficial effects.

Interspersed in the recipes for teas, cordials, vinegars, wines and so on are suggested cocktails – a great way to use some of your home made items.

Not every recipe has an accompanying photograph, but most do, and these are bright and appealing.

The recipes also provide an indication of how long you can keep the finished product. Although the liqueurs have a long shelf life, my only disappointment with the book is that many of the other recipes have surprisingly short one – for me, one of the key reasons to make cordials, vinegars and syrups is to preserve the season’s bounty to a time of the year when that ingredient is no longer available. I would have thought that cordials and syrups with a high sugar content – if made in clean equipment and stored in sterilised bottles – would surely last much longer than 2 weeks.

What I do like is that these are not just the run-of-the-mill recipes we’ve all encountered time and time again – instead Han brings an inventiveness not just in terms of some of the ingredients she uses but also in the combinations she suggests for well-known ingredients.

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

In the meantime, enjoy Emily Han’s delightful recipe for Vin D’Orange.

Wild Drinks and Cocktails Vin dOrange crp

Homemade Vin D’Orange

Here’s a vital bit of kitchen (and wildcrafting) wisdom: some recipes are meant to be enjoyed right away, while others are lovingly prepared for future pleasure. Vin d’orange falls into the latter category. Infused with winter citrus fruits, it reaches its prime in spring or summer—and that’s when you’ll thank yourself for having such foresight. (It’s also when you’ll lament that you didn’t put up more!) Served as an aperitif, vin d’orange is traditionally made from bitter oranges and dry white or French-style rosé wine. Depending on where you live, bitter oranges may be hard to locate, so this version calls for more readily available navel oranges plus grapefruit. The result is a wine that’s pleasantly bittersweet—delicious on its own over ice, or mixed with a little sparkling water.

Makes: about 940 ml / 1 quart

Ingredients
2 large navel oranges (preferably Cara Cara)
1 small grapefruit (preferably white)
1⁄2 vanilla bean, split
1⁄2 cup (100 g) sugar
1⁄2 cup (120 ml) vodka
1⁄4 cup (60 ml) brandy
1 bottle (750 ml, or 31⁄4 cups) dry white or dry rosé wine

Variation: To use bitter oranges, replace the oranges and grapefruit with 3 Seville oranges.

Method

  • Rinse and dry the oranges and grapefruit. Trim and discard the stem ends. Cut each orange into 1/4-inch-thick (6 mm) rounds. Cut the grapefruit in half and then cut each half into 1/4-inch-thick (6 mm) half-circles.
  • Combine the oranges, grapefruit, vanilla, and sugar in a sterilized quart (1 L) jar. Pour the vodka, brandy, and wine into the jar and push the fruit down with a wooden spoon to submerge it as much as possible (it will insist on floating up). Cover the jar tightly.
  • Store the jar in a cool, dark place for 1 month, shaking it daily to moisten the floating pieces of fruit with the alcohol mixture.
  • Strain through a fine-mesh strainer. Discard the solids.
  • Bottle and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
  • Age for at least 1 month before drinking: the Vin d’Orange will continue to improve with age. Serve chilled.

Recipe extract from Wild Drink and Cocktails by Emily Han, published with permission from Fair Wind Press.

GIVEAWAY

Fair Winds Press are offering a copy of Wild Drinks and Cocktails by Emily Han to two lucky readers of Kavey Eats! Each 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 drink made from fruits, vegetables, herbs or spices.

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 Wild Drinks & Cocktails by Emily Han from Kavey Eats! http://bit.ly/KaveyEatsWildDrinks #KaveyEatsWildDrinks
(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 winners will be selected from all valid entries (across blog and twitter) 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 Emily Han’s Wild Drinks and Cocktails published by Fair Winds Press, and includes delivery within the UK. We cannot guarantee a pre-Christmas delivery date.
  • The prizes cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • The prizes are offered and provided by Fair Winds Press.
  • 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 of Wild Drinks and Cocktails. Published by Fair Winds Press, a member of the Quarto Publishing Group, this title is currently available for £14.99 (RRP).

 

Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookery books are amongst the titles I hear most frequently recommended to others by those who own them, with particular praise for his way with vegetables; although his cooking is not vegetarian, he has a much-lauded knack for making vegetables the star of the show.

nopi-book Plenty More Ottolenghi Cover

His most recently published title, NOPI: The Cookbook, is written with Ramael Scully, the head chef at Yotam’s Nopi restaurant – it’s a real all-rounder with dishes featuring vegetables, fruits, fish and meat and the recipes are a heady mix of Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Asian flavours with additional influences from all over the world. The book is full of temptations such as Roasted aubergine with black garlic, pine nuts and basil, Butternut squash with ginger tomatoes and lime yoghurt, Seared scallops with pickled daikon and chilli jam, Tomatoes with wasabi mascarpone and pine nuts, Sticky sesame rice, Lemon sole with burnt butter, nori and fried capers, White pepper-crusted lamb sweetbreads with pea purée and miso, Venison fillet with date labneh, blackberries and peanut crumble, Chicken supremes with roast garlic and tarragon brioche pudding, Persian love rice with burnt butter tzatziki, Black rice with mango and coconut cream, Caramel peanut ice cream with chocolate sauce and peanut brittle and Coffee and pecan financiers. That’s just the list that leapt out at me on the first look, but there are so many more recipes that intrigue me. Read my guest poster’s review of Nopi: The Cookbook, here.

Plenty More, published last year, is a vegetarian cookery book in which recipes are grouped by cooking method – tossed, steamed, blanched, simmered, braised, grilled, roasted, fried, mashed, cracked, baked and sweetened. After the enormous success of Plenty back in 2010, fans old and new were delighted to discover another 150 vegetarian recipes to enjoy at home.

The good news is that I have a copy of each to give away. Scroll down for the chance to win both books.

In the meantime, enjoy this delicious recipe for Courgette and Manouri Fritters with Lime and cardamom Soured Cream from NOPI: The Cookbook.

NOPI Courgette and Manouri Fritters

NOPI’s Courgette & Manouri Fritters with Lime & Cardamom Soured Cream

Makes 12 fritters, to serve 4, or 24 smaller fritters, to serve 8 as a snack

Ingredients
3 medium courgettes, trimmed
and coarsely grated (580g)
2 small shallots, finely chopped (50g)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
finely grated zest of 2 limes
60g self-raising flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
21/2 tsp ground coriander
11/2 tsp ground cardamom
150g manouri (or halloumi or feta), roughly broken into 1–2cm chunks
about 150ml sunflower oil, for frying
coarse sea salt and black pepper
For the Lime and cardamom soured cream
200ml soured cream
5g coriander, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime

Method

  • Mix together all the ingredients for the soured cream sauce in a small bowl, along with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a grind of black pepper. Set aside in the fridge until ready to serve.
  • Place the grated courgettes in a colander and sprinkle over 1 teaspoon salt. Set aside for 10minutes, then squeeze them to remove most of the liquid: you want the courgettes to keep a little bit of moisture, so don’t squeeze them completely dry.
  • Transfer to a large bowl and add the shallots, garlic, lime zest, flour, eggs, ground coriander, cardamom and a grind of black pepper. Mix well to form a uniform batter, then fold in the manouri cheese gently so it doesn’t break up much.
  • Pour enough oil into a large frying pan so it rises 2–3mm up the sides and place on a medium heat. Once hot, add 4 separate heaped dessertspoons of mixture to the pan, spacing them well apart and flattening each fritter slightly with the flat side of a slotted spoon as they cook. Cook for 6 minutes, turning once halfway through, until golden and crisp on both sides. Transfer to a kitchen paper-lined plate and keep somewhere warm while you continue with the remaining two batches.
  • Place 3 fritters on each plate and serve at once, with the sauce alongside or in a bowl on the side.

Recipe extracted from NOPI: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully. (Ebury Press, £28). Photography by Jonathan Lovekin.

GIVEAWAY

Ebury Press are offering a copy of NOPI: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully plus a copy of Plenty More  by Yotam Ottolenghi to one lucky reader 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 recipe for showcasing vegetables.

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 copies of NOPI: The cookbook and Plenty More from Kavey Eats! http://bit.ly/KaveyEatsNopi #KaveyEatsNopi
(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.
  • The prize is one copy of NOPI: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully and one copy of Plenty More  by Yotam Ottolenghi, both published by Ebury Press. 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 Ebury Press.
  • 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 review copies of both titles from Ebury Press. NOPI: The Cookbook is currently available for £12.99 (RRP £28). Plenty More is currently available for £12 (RRP £27). (At time of posting).

 

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.

IMG_20151017_162758 IMG_20151017_165432

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.

IMG_20151017_140720 20151017_175304

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).

 

Lizzie Mabbott is a prodigious cook and a prodigious eater!

I’ve been following her cooking and eating exploits on the web for many years, first on the now-defunct BBC food discussion boards and since 2008 on her well-known blog, Hollowlegs. If she isn’t eating she may well be cooking, if she isn’t cooking she might be shopping for ingredients, and if she isn’t doing either of those things, there’s a good chance she’s pondering on what to eat or cook next!

When I learned that she had secured a book deal I was not surprised in the slightest as her delicious personal twists on classic British, European, Chinese and other South East Asian dishes have long made many readers salivate, myself included.

154155-Lizzie Mabbott Chinese Spagbol - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle

In Chinatown Kitchen she draws upon her amazing heritage; Lizzie 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.

Most recipes are illustrated with colourful and appealing photographs, styled but not overly fussy and with the focus firmly on the food.

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.

I tried hard not to bookmark every single recipe on my first pass, when trying to narrow down the list of what to make first. I ended up with 23 recipes bookmarked: Deep-Fried Whole Fish in Chilli, Bean Sauce, Japanese Spinach and Cucumber Salad, Grilled Aubergines with Nuoc Cham, Korean Rice Cakes with Chorizo and Greens, Sesame and Peanut Noodle Salad, Cabbage in Vinegar Sauce, Chinese Chive Breads, Griddled Teriyaki King Oyster Mushrooms, Banana Rotis, Poached Pears in Lemon Grass Syrup, Braised Egg Tofu with Pork and Aubergine, Spicy Peanut and Tofu Puff Salad, Fish Paste-Stuffed Aubergine, Mu Shu Pork, Steamed Egg Custard with Century and Salted Eggs, Cola Chicken Wings, Red-Braised Ox Cheek, Xinjiang Lamb Skewers, Red Bean Ice Lollies and Black Sesame Ice Cream with Black and White Sesame Honeycomb, plus the two I’ve already mentioned!

So far, we’ve made two recipes, Chinese Spag Bol and Roast Rice-Stuffed Chicken. We’ve loved both and will certainly be working out way through the rest of my “short” list over coming weeks and months.

Lizzie Mabbott Chinese Spagbol - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle overlay

Lizzie Mabbott’s Chinese Spag Bol

As Lizzie explains, this recipe has little in common with the bastardised ragu we call Spag Bol in Britain – there are no tomatoes, nor red wine for a start – but it is made by simmering minced meat in a sauce and dressing noodles with the results. The predominant flavour comes from yellow bean sauce, with additional notes from soy sauce, hoisin and Shaoxing wine. Lizzie servies it with fresh vegetables and finely sliced omelette.

Serves 4

Ingredients
2 free range eggs
2 tbsp cooking oil
2 spring onions, white parts finely chopped, green parts sliced into rings
5 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
2 tsp peeled and very finely chopped fresh root ginger
400 g (14 ox) fatty minced pork
3 tbsp yellow bean paste
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
100 ml (3.5 fl oz) water
2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
1 carrot, peeled
Half cucumber
300 g fresh Shanghai noodles

Method

  • Firstly, beat the eggs. Heat 1 tablespoon of the cooking oil in a wok, or a nonstick frying pan, until shimmering, add the beaten eggs and cook them over a medium heat until set to make a thin omelette. Remove to a plate and set to one side.
  • Heat up the rest of the oil in the wok over a medium heat, add the spring onion whites, garlic and ginger and stir-fry until fragrant. Then add the minced pork, breaking up any clumps with your hands, and cook until browned. Add the yellow bean paste, soy sauces and hoi sin sauce with the water and Shaoxing rice wine and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If it’s looking a little dry, add a touch more water.
  • Meanwhile, julienne the carrot and cucumber and set aside. Roll the omelette up and slice finely.
  • Cook the noodles in a large saucepan of boiling water for a minute, then drain and place in a big serving bowl. Pour the meat sauce on top, then add the vegetables and omelette and stir to combine. Garnish with the greens of the spring onion and serve.

191929-Lizzie Mabbott Chinese Spag Bol - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle

 

Lizzie Mabbott’s Roast Rice-Stuffed Chicken

9332-Lizzie Mabbott Chinese Roast Chicken with Sticky Rice Stuffing - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle overlay 9339-Lizzie Mabbott Chinese Roast Chicken with Sticky Rice Stuffing - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle notext

The Roast Rice-Stuffed Chicken is a slightly more involved dish requiring the chicken to be marinated overnight (in a marinade that includes red fermented tofu and oyster sauce, amongst other ingredients) and the sticky rice filling to be made ahead ready to stuff inside the chicken before roasting. I made the wrong call to substitute a black sticky rice I had in my larder for the white sticky rice Lizzie’s recipe stipulates, and I’m sure that was the reason my mandarin peel and Chinese sausage-studded rice wasn’t sufficiently cooked through, but I do want try again with the right rice, as the flavours were fabulous. What’s more, the marinade on its own was super easy and amazingly delicious; even if we don’t have time to do the rice stuffing every time, I know the marinade will be used again and again.

 

Chinatown Kitchen: From Noodles to Nuoc Cham is currently available on Amazon UK for £10 (RRP £20). Kavey Eats received a review copy from publisher Mitchell Beazley. Recipe text reproduced with permission from Mitchell Beazley.

 

One of my food and drink goals in recent years (and certainly for the next few too) is to learn more about sake. Not just how it’s made (which I understand pretty well now) and the different categories of sake (which I finally have downpat) but – most importantly of all – working out what I like best in the hope of reliably being able to buy sake that I love.

Here, I share what I’ve learned over the last few years plus some of my favourites at this year’s HyperJapan Sake Experience.

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Images from shutterstock.com

What is Sake?

Sake is a Japanese alcohol made from rice.

Although it is referred to in English as rice wine, it is often pointed out that the process is more akin to brewing beer, where one converts the starch to sugar and the resulting sugar to alcohol. In wine making, it is a simpler process of converting the sugars that are already present in the fruit. Of course, it’s not entirely like beer making either as the sake production process is quite distinct.

Wine is typically around 10-15% ABV. Beer is usually lower, with most beers coming in between 3-8%, though there’s been a trend towards ever stronger beers lately. Sake is brewed to around 18-20%, but often diluted to around 15% for bottling.

Until a few years ago I’d only ever encountered cheap sake served warm and was not a huge fan. However, since trying higher quality sakes served chilled, I’m an absolute convert.

In terms of typical flavours, my vocabulary is woefully lacking, but for me the core flavour is a subtly floral one – perhaps this is intrinsic to the rice and rice mould? The balance of sweetness and acidity varies though classic sake is not super sweet. Sometimes it is fruity and sometimes it has a more umami (savoury) taste. I am often able to detect clear differences on the palate but unable to define these in words – clearly I need to drink more sake!

 

How is Sake made?

Sake is made from rice, but usually from varieties with a larger, stronger grain with lower levels of protein than the rice varieties that are typically eaten.

The starch sits within the centre of the rice grain, surrounded by a layer of bran, so rice is usually polished to remove the outer layer before being made into sake. The more the rice is polished, the higher the percentage of starchy centre remains, but of course this is more expensive as it needs far more rice to produce the same volume of alcohol.

After polishing and being set aside to rest, the rice is washed, soaked and steamed. kōji rice mould (Aspergillus oryzae) is sprinkled over the rice which is left to ferment for several days. This mould helps to develop the amylase enzyme necessary to convert starch to sugar. Next, water and yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) are added and the mixture allowed to incubate. Water and yeast are added multiple times during the process. The resulting mash then ferments at 15-20 °C for a few weeks.

After fermentation, the mixture is filtered to extract the liquid, and the solids are often pressed to extract a fuller range of flavours.

In cheaper sakes, varying amounts of brewer’s alcohol are added to increase the volume.

Sake is usually filtered again and then pasteurised before resting and maturing, then dilution with water before being bottled.

These days you can also find unpasteurised sake and sake in which the finer lees (sediment) are left in. I’ve even had some very thick and cloudy sakes where more of the solids have been pureed and mixed in to the final drink.

 

What are the different categories of Sake?

Because the most desirable bit of the rice is the core of the grain, the amount of polishing is highly relevant. Labels must indicate the seimai-buai (remaining percentage) of the original grain.

Daiginjo means that at least 50% of the original rice grain must be polished away (so that 50% or less remains) and that the ginjo-tsukuri method – fermenting at cooler temperatures – has been used. There are additional regulations on which varieties of rice and types of yeast may be used and other production method restrictions.

Ginjo is pretty much the same but stipulates that only 40% of the original rice is removed by polishing (so that up to 60% remains).

Pure sake – that is sake made only from rice, rice mould and water – is labelled as Junmai. If it doesn’t state junmai on the label, it is likely that additional alcohol has been added.

So Junmai daiginjo is the highest grade in terms of percentage of rice polished and being pure sake with no brewer’s alcohol added.

Coming down the scale a little quality wise, Tokubetsu means that the sake is still classed as ‘special quality’. Tokebetsu junmai means it’s pure rice, rice mould and water whereas Tokebetsu honjozu means the sake has had alcohol added, but is still considered a decent quality. In both cases, up to 60% of the original rice grain may remain after milling.

Honjozo on its own means that the sake is still rated above ordinary sake – ordinary sake can be considered the equivalent of ‘table wine’ in France.

Other terms that are useful to know:

Namazake is unpasteurised sake.

Genshu is undiluted sake; I have not come across this yet.

Muroka has been pressed and separated from the lees as usual but has not been carbon filtered. It is clear in appearance.

Nigorizake is cloudy rather than clear – the sake is passed only through a loose mesh to separate the liquid from the mash and is not filtered. There is usually a lot of sediment remaining and it is normal to shake the bottle to mix it back into the liquid before serving.

Taruzake is aged in wooden barrels or casks made from sugi, sometimes called Japanese cedar. The wood imparts quite a strong flavour so premium sake is not commonly used for taruzake.

Kuroshu is made from completely unpolished brown rice grains. I’ve not tried it but apparently it’s more like Chinese rice wine than Japanese sake.

I wrote about Amazake in this post, after we enjoyed trying some in Kyoto during our first visit to Japan. Amazake can be low- or no-alcohol depending on the recipe. It is often made by adding rice mould to whole cooked rice, allowing the mould to break down the rice starch into sugars and mixing with water. Another method is to mix the sake solids left over from sake production with water – additional sugar can be added to enhance the sweetness. Amazake is served hot or cold; the hot version with a little grated ginger to mix in to taste.

 

HyperJapan’s Sake Experience

Last month I tasted a great range of sake products in the space of an hour’s focused drinking as I made my way around Sake Experience in which 11 Japanese sake breweries shared 30 classic sakes and other sake products.

Once again, this was my personal highlight of HyperJapan show.

For an extra £15 on top of the show entrance ticket, one can visit stalls of 11 Japanese sake breweries, each of whom will offer tastings of 2 or 3 of their product range. You can learn about the background of their brewery, listen to them tell you about the characteristics of their product and of course, make up your own mind about each one.

One reason I love this is because tasting a wide range of sakes side by side really helps me notice the enormous differences between them and get a better understanding of what I like best.

A large leaflet is provided as you enter, which lists every sake being offered by the breweries. A shop at the exit (also open to those not doing the Sake Experience) allows you to purchase favourites, though not every single sake in the Sake Experience is available for sale.

HyperJapan 2015 - Kavey Eats - © Kavita Favelle-110415

 

Kavey’s Sake Experience 2015 Picks

My Favourite Regular Sakes

Umenoyado’s Junmai Daiginjo is made using yamadanishiki rice and bottled at 16% ABV. The natural sweetness is much to my taste and the flavour is wonderfully rich with fruity overtones, and a spicy sharp piquancy that provides balance.

Ichiniokura’s Junmai Daiginjo Kuranohana is made with kuranohana rice and bottled at 15-16% ABV. This one is super fruity; the brewery team explained that they use a different yeast whch creates a different kind of flavour. There is less acidity than usual, which emphasises the sweetness.

Nihonsakari’s Junmai Ginjo Cho-Tokusen Souhana is made with yamadanishiki rice and bottled at 15-16% ABV. To me, this Junmai Ginjo represents the absolutely classic style of sake; it has a hint of dairy to the aroma and a typical sake flavour, subtly floral and very crisp.

My Favourite Barrel-Aged Sake

Sho Chiku Bai Shirakabegura’s Taruzake is barrel-aged and bottled at 15% ABV. The wood flavour comes through clearly, though it’s not overpowering – this is a clean, dry style of sake with a hint of greenery. Although it’s not hugely complex, it’s well worth a try.

My Favourite Sparkling Sakes

Ichinokura’s Premium Sparkling Sake Suzune Wabi is made with Toyonishiki and Shunyo rice varieties and bottled at 5% ABV. Unlike some sparkling sakes on the market that are carbonated artificially, the gas is 100% natural, produced during a second fermentation. This sake is sweet but not super sweet, with a fruity aroma balanced by gentle acidity. If I understood them correctly, the brewery team claimed that they were the first to develop sparkling sake, 8 years ago. Certainly, it’s a very recent development but one that’s become hugely popular, a way for breweries to reconnect with younger markets who had been turning away from sake as their drink of choice.

Shirataki Shuzo’s Jozen Mizuno Gotoshi Sparkling Sake is made with Gohyakumangoku rice and bottled at 11-12% ABV. Although most sparkling sakes are sweet, this one breaks the kōji (mould, kōji, get it?) as it’s a much dryer style, though not brut by any means. I can see this working very well with food.

For the sweeter sparkling sakes (which are usually marketed almost exclusively to women by the breweries), Sho Chiku Bai Shirakabegura’s Mio and Ozeki’s Jana Awaka are
sweet, tasty and affordable.

My Favourite Yuzu Sake

Some of the yuzu sakes I tried were perfectly tasty but very one dimensional, just a blast of yuzu and nothing else. One was a yuzu honey concoction and the honey totally overwhelmed the citrus.

Nihonsakari’s Yuzu Liqueur is bottled at 8-9%. The yuzu flavour is exceptional, yet beautifully rounded and in harmony with the sake itself. It’s not as viscous as some of the yuzu liqueurs certainly but has some creaminess to the texture. Be warned, this is one for the sweet-toothed!

My Favourite Umeshus

Learn more here about umeshu, a fruit liqueur made from Japanese stone fruits. Umeshu can be made from sake or shochu, but those at the Sake Experience were, of course, sake-based.

Urakasumi’s Umeshu is bottled at 12% ABV. Made with fruit and sake only, no added sugar, it’s a far lighter texture than many umeshu and has an absolutely beautiful flavour, well balanced between the sweetness and sharpness of the ume fruit. Because it’s so light, I think this would work well with food, whereas traditional thicker umeshu is better enjoyed on its own.

Umenoyado’s Aragoshi Umeshu is bottled at 12% ABV. A complete contrast from the previous one, this umeshu is super thick, in large part because the ume fruit, after steeping in sake and sugar, are grated and blended and mixed back in to the liqueur. The flavour is terrific and I couldn’t resist buying a bottle of this one to bring home.

My Favourite Surprise Sake

Ozeki’s Sparkling Jelly Sake Peach comes in a can and is 5% ABV. The lightly carbonated fruity liqueur has had jelly added, and the staff recommended chilling for a few hours, shaking really hard before opening and pouring the jellied drink out to serve. The flavour is lovely and I’d serve this as a grown up but fun dessert, especially as it’s not very expensive at £3 a can. I bought a few of these home with me!

 

HyperJapan in Images

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Kavey Eats attended the event as a guest of HyperJapan.

 

I don’t often gravitate towards cookery books focusing on a single ingredient as they so often have a core of fabulous recipes padded out with a bunch of weak page fillers.

But Diana Henry’s A Bird In The Hand is a wonderful exception, chock – or should that be chook? – full of appealing recipes for simple, tasty chicken dinners.

A-bird-in-the-hand Diana Henry's Chicken with Pumpkin Cream and Gruyere - KaveyEats (c)KavitaFavelle-withtext

In the UK we purchase and eat a lot of chicken. It’s so good roasted, grilled or barbequed, fried (pan or deep), poached, cooked in a stew or casserole… and well-suited to flavours from all around the world – a wonderfully versatile meat.

In this book Diana Henry shares a collection of over 100 chicken recipes that range from quick and casual to impressive and celebratory. I am tempted by nearly all of them! 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.

Others are dishes we’ve not thought to try ourselves. My copy of the book is frilled along the top edge with little scraps of paper bookmarking those I want to try soon – Spanish Chicken, 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.

They all sound so good, don’t they?

Diana Henry's Crusted Chicken and Chorizo Paella - KaveyEats (c)KavitaFavelle-1 Diana Henry's Crusted Chicken and Chorizo Paella - KaveyEats (c)KavitaFavelle-3

Both dishes we have made so far have been enormously comforting, delicious and likely to be repeated again and again. Though there are only two of us, we felt the Crusted Chicken and Chorizo Paella was best made in a large quantity; we scaled it down to make two thirds and that served us both for two meals, plus a generous portion for my lunchbox one day too. Warm, comforting, tasty and not complicated to make.

The Chicken with Pumpkin, Cream and Gruyère actually blew me away. As you can see, it’s such a simple recipe and yet I would never have thought to combine chicken and pumpkin, nor to cook the combination so simply in cream flavoured with garlic and grated cheese. Be warned, this is a rich dish, so small portions will be plenty. A crisp vinaigrette-dressed green salad is my perfect accompaniment.

Again, we scaled the recipe down by half. We used chicken thighs (which I much prefer to breasts) and butternut squash and switched the two hard cheeses for close cousins we had on hand. We also decided to cut the thighs into three pieces before frying, rather than after as in the recipe.

Full, original recipe provided below.

Diana Henry's Chicken with Pumpkin Cream and Gruyere - KaveyEats (c)KavitaFavelle-1

Diana Henry’s Chicken with Pumpkin, Cream and Gruyère

Serves 6

Ingredients
1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) pumpkin or butternut squash (unprepared weight)
3 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
8 skinless boneless chicken thighs or breasts
400 ml (14 fl oz) double cream
1 garlic clove, crushed
25 g (scant 1 oz) grated Gruyère
25 g (scant 1 oz) grated Parmesan

Method

Preheat the oven to 200 C / 400 F. Peel and deseed the pumpkin and cut it into wedges. Put the wedges into a roasting tin, brush with olive oil, season and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until completely tender (and even slightly caramelised). Now put the squash into a gratin or other ovenproof dish, one that is big enough to accommodate the chicken too.

Meanwhile, cook the chicken. Simply season it all over, heat one and a half tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan and sauté the chicken on both sides until golden and cooked through, eight to ten minutes. Cut each piece into three. Add the chicken to the pumpkin.

Heat the cream with the garlic until it’s boiling, take off the heat, season and pour over the chicken and pumpkin. Sprinkle on both cheeses and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. The dish should be bubbling and golden. Serve. You need something to cut the richness so a salad of bitter leaves is good. Children like it with pasta, but I prefer brown rice or another nutty whole grain.

Diana Henry's Chicken with Pumpkin Cream and Gruyere - KaveyEats (c)KavitaFavelle-1 Diana Henry's Chicken with Pumpkin Cream and Gruyere - KaveyEats (c)KavitaFavelle-2 Diana Henry's Chicken with Pumpkin Cream and Gruyere - KaveyEats (c)KavitaFavelle-3

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A Bird in the Hand by Diana Henry is available from Amazon for £9.99 (RRP £20). Published by Mitchell Beazley. Kavey Eats received a review copy from the publisher.

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