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

 

If any one nation excels at skilfully enhancing an area of natural beauty to make it even more beautiful, it must surely be Japan?

Certainly, we couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful setting than Hoshinoya Karuizawa, located in an area known colloquially as the Japanese Alps.

Hoshinoya Karuizawa is not only one of the flagships of the Hoshino Resorts portfolio, it is also where the family business started over 100 years ago. As I mentioned in my post about an incredible dinner we enjoyed at Hoshinoya Kyoto, this family hospitality business was founded over a 100 years ago. After first setting up a forestry business in the area, Kuniji Hoshino decided to take advantage of the area’s increased popularity as a holiday resort by opening a ryokan and hot spring on his property in 1914. Today, fourth-generation family member Yoshiharu Hoshino is CEO of the company and has lead the business through two decades of transformation and expansion, modernising existing properties and purchasing several new ones.

Hoshinoya Karuizawa has been hugely updated since Kuniji’s era. In 2005 the resort was completely rebuilt with all-new accommodation, absolutely stunning landscaping and a new meditation bath and spa building to match.

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Hoshinoya Karuizawa Resort

The residential area of the resort is laid out in a series of low rise buildings arranged around a lake and streams fed by the Yukawa River. The water twists and turns its way through the resort grounds – in slow languid loops paddled by contented ducks, racing over weirs in a bubbling rush, or tumbling delicately over a series of mini terraces in graceful waterfalls.

A few of the residences, like our Mizunami villa, house just one large guest suite but most rooms are grouped together in larger villas – these rooms can be booked individually or by groups of families, friends or colleagues. Many of the rooms have a view of the lake or streams. Some, slightly higher up the hillside enjoy views towards the mountains and a few have garden spaces that back onto the bird-rich forest below.

Our room (below) was airy and open with high ceilings, pretty pale green walls, and muted fabrics. Utterly gorgeous! The natural wood and stones are a nod to the more traditional Japanese inns but the design is very much a modern aesthetic. We loved the sense of space and calm, not to mention luxurious comfort – underfloor heating in the bathroom!

Every evening, shortly before dusk falls, two staff take a row boat out onto the lake and light, one by one, the tethered candles floating on the surface.

We watched them from our balcony, whilst enjoying hot tea and a delicious local delicacy – walnut-flavoured gyuhu mochi, a softer style of mochi sweets made by a local wagashi specialist to a traditional local recipe – served to us in our room shortly after we arrived by Mei, one of the Hoshino guest services team.

Looking out onto the lake as darkness fell and the candles twinkled and bobbed on the waters is one of the most peaceful and magical of memories.

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Our room, 110.

But sitting looking out at the view was not our only way to relax.

Within the resort area is a modern spa building which is open all night, closed for just a few hours in the middle of the day. At its heart are the gender-separated Meditation Baths. Each features a deeper-than-usual hot bath that opens out from a waterfall entrance area into Hikari – a bright high-ceilinged space where you can soak within the warm water and light. Hikari is connected by a passage way to Yami – a dark, low ceilinged bathing area, recommended for quiet meditation.

What we really appreciated was being able to use these whenever we wanted – early morning, afternoon, before dinner, after dinner… Dressed in our in-room yukata (robes) and outer jackets, with clog-like geta on our feet, we clip-clopped along paths lit with nightlights and across the modern suspension bridge to arrive at the spa building.

There are also a range of treatments available, from traditional health and beauty treatments to more unusual options such as facial acupressure, warming eye care and moxibustion workshops; never heard of moxibustion? No, neither had we but we spent a wonderful hour learning all about it, more of which below!

Also worth visiting is the original onsen (hot spring), Tombo-no-yu – a short walk from the residential area. Open to both residents and general visitors, but allowing exclusive access to Hoshino guests at certain times of the day, Tombo-no-yu offers a more traditional onsen experience with gender-separated bathing areas offering indoor and outdoor pools of the usual shallower proportions.

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These 4 images provided by Hoshino Resorts – Left: Meditation Spa; Right: Tombo-no-yu onsen

Another place we enjoyed is the Tsudoi building, overlooking a hillside landscaped into gentle terraces over which streams gently cascade. It houses the main reception, a small shop, a lounge library area and the Kasuke Japanese restaurant.

We watched in rapt delight as a male and female duck gingerly followed each other downwards over a couple of the little waterfalls, swimming along a length of stream before paddling out onto a patch of grass. Not long afterwards another young male tried to play the gooseberry and join the party but eventually realised he wasn’t welcome. He paddled away, playing it cool until he slipped accidentally over the lip of another waterfall, looking rather undignified as he landed clumsily before quickly swimming away!

The lounge is a lovely place to while away a little time, with a range of teas, coffee and chocolates available to help yourself. During the afternoon, guests are invited to try a more traditional confectionary served by Hoshino staff. Most of the books in the library are in Japanese, though we did enjoy a bilingual guide to Sushi that we spotted on one of the shelves.

At reception (or via phone from your room if you prefer), you can request one of the resorts cars to transfer you to any of the locations outside of the residential resort area. These include the restaurants of sister-hotel Bleston Court, local sites such as the Stone Church, the Kogen Church, the Picchio Visitors Centre (more on which later) or Hoshino’s Harunire Terrace (where you’ll find a range of restaurants and shops). Any of these will also call a car to collect you, when you are ready to head back to the resort.

Of course, you are welcome to walk if you like and there are also local walking paths in the area which Reception staff can tell you more about.

The Stone Church, also known as the Hoshino Chapel, was designed by American architect Kendrick Bangs Kellogg. Built in 1988 to commemorate Uchimura Kanzo (a Japanese journalist, author, Christian evangelist and leader of the Non-Church Movement) the church is strikingly modern in design yet integrates beautifully into the landscape. Built of stark concrete and grey stone, the church is surprisingly warm and beautiful, especially the inside chapel with a living wall of green plants and beautifully carved wooden pews beneath soaring curved arches and windows above. I wish we’d given ourselves more time to explore and enjoy the avant-garde architecture and serene vibe; it’s really an incredible and quite unexpected place.

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The Stone Church

Nearby is the much older Kogen Church and this too traces its roots back to Uchimura Kanzo. Originally, it was not a church but a lecture hall, designated as a place of learning and enjoyment by Kanzo in 1921. After the second world war, it was renamed as the Karuizawa Kogen Church and is today both a place of worship and a venue for concerts and events. In the summer, a candle light festival is hugely popular, with the entire approach and church itself lit by many hundreds of candles. What a sight that must be!

What I most loved about Kogen was the display next door of wedding photos of couples who have married here, hundreds and hundreds of them displayed in frames or tucked into albums. Staff told us that many couples come back to celebrate their anniversaries and to show their children where they were wed.

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The Kogen Church

Guests at both Hoshinoya Karuizawa and Hotel Bleston Court have plenty of choice for dinner, both formal and casual.

Yukawatan, in Bleston Court, is a renowned French restaurant headed by Chef Noriyuki Hamada, the only Japanese chef to secure a coveted Bocuse d’Or medal. I would very much like to dine at Yukawatan on our next visit as Hamada’s cooking is reputed to be of an incredibly high level.

Nearby Harunire Terrace is the home to Il Sogno (Italian), Kisurin (Chinese), Kawakami-an (Soba noodle) and Cercle (French) restaurants plus a bakery, a gelateria and a traditional Japanese confectionery shop. There are other cafes and restaurants also in the vicinity.

Kasuke Japanese restaurant is a beautiful space, located in the Tsudoi building. The ceiling is high, high, high above the traditional foot-well tables that look out through floor to ceiling windows across the beautiful landscaped gardens. Breakfast can also be taken here but we visited for a traditional kaiseki dinner (images below), an excellent choice which we felt it was very reasonably priced at just 12,000 Yen per person (excluding tax and service), much less than meals of this calibre and style that we enjoyed elsewhere.

The feast of over ten courses – appetiser, soup, sashimi, a fried dish, charcoal-grilled vegetables, assorted small bites, a steak and salmon course, rice (with pickles and miso soup), fresh fruit, and finally tea and a Japanese sweet – were served by Mie. Mie was like a personal butler during our visit, she took us to our room on arrival, served us tea and wagashi to welcome us as she told us more about the resort and our itinerary and escorted us to many of our activities during our stay.

Highlights of the meal included many local woodland vegetables that we had not encountered before; the simple but utterly perfect grilled onion and udo (mountain asparagus) course served to our table by one of the chefs who carefully peeled the charred skins off the vegetables before portioning and serving them to us with a homemade sesame miso, salt and olive oil – their flesh was silky soft and sweet and with a hint of smokiness; the tokun strawberry (so named because it smells like a peach, and it really does!) and hyuganatsu citrus served for dessert alongside a Japanese version of affogato – kuromoji (a medicinal tea made from a native shrub) poured over a ball of fuki (giant butterbur) ice cream.

Another aspect that really wowed us was the matching drinks flight – a very clever mix of European red and white wines and traditional Japanese sakes, extremely well matched to the diverse ingredients, flavours and textures of all our courses – one of the best we’ve encountered.

Our only disappointments when it came to dining at the resort, were room-service dining, which we tried for both a breakfast and a dinner – really overpriced for what was served in both cases – and the breakfast we ate at Bleston Court’s No One’s Recipe – alternatively described as French and American, it wasn’t really either, offering a bizarre selection of no-choice galette plus a buffet of soups, lasagne, patés, salads and desserts. I would have preferred a typical French, American or traditional Japanese breakfast over this rather random and not very well-balanced offering.

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Traditional kaiseki dinner in Kasuke restaurant

Although we could happily have whiled away our time lazing in our room, soaking in the Meditation Baths and onsen hot springs, and exploring the resort and local area, we also took advantage of some of the activities on offer at Hoshinoya Karuizawa.

Knowing my interest in Japanese food, the resort suggeested a wonderful lesson in making Oyaki (sweet, bean-filled dumplings). One of the resort’s chefs, Chef Yamamoto Hidemasa was on hand to show us how these are made, though I let Pete do all the hard work!

Because of the time available, chef Yamamoto had already made the three different fillings for our dumplings – one of mashed roasted pumpkin, one of aubergine and miso and the last a simple azuki (red bean) paste – but gave me instructions on how to make these simple fillings at home.

Oyaki dough can be made with buckwheat or regular wheat flour, we used the latter. The first step was for Pete to make the dough, for which he combined flour, baking powder, cold water, sugar and a little salt  and knead it well. Needing to sit and rise overnight, chef Yamamoto switched the dough for one he’d made the previous day and showed Pete how to form and fill the dumplings and the two of them went ahead and made a few with each of the three fillings.

After the lesson, we headed to Kasuke where Mie served hot tea and a few minutes later, chef Yamamoto served the freshly cooked dumplings Pete had helped to make. He had steamed them for ten minutes before briefly frying to give them little golden caps.

The soft steamed texture of the dough and delicious fillings were utterly delicious and this is definitely a recipe we’re going to try and recreate at home!

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Oyaki lesson

Another activity the resort arranged for us was a Moxbustion workshop.

Moxibustion is a traditional Chinese medicinal treatment that involves placing pieces of dried mugwort – an aromatic plant often used as a herb – on meridian points of the body and burning. Today, it is common for the mugwort to be processed into small stick-on moxa (named for the Japanese word for mugwort, mugosa) which can be easily attached to the skin and lit. A small padded disc protects the skin from any burn damage as the mugwort burns down.

The meridian points, also known as chi, are the same ones used for acupuncture and acupressure, so it may simply be the application of heat to those locations is what has an effect, rather than the properties of the mugwort itself.

Practitioners believe that moxibustion can improve blood circulation and metabolism, boost the immune system and reduce stress. As with acupuncture and acupressure, specific meridian points are also associated with different aspects of health.

Our tutor Mr Funada, with the aid of his colleague and a member of Hoshino’s staff to translate for us, introduced us to the treatment and applied several moxa to our wrist and feet meridians. He explained which points to use for stress relief and good sleep, for reduction of eyestrain and neck pain, for healing gastrointestinal and gynaelogical symptoms and more. I also asked for points specific to shoulder and back pain.

I used to be very cynical about alternative medicines, lumping ancient practices such as acupuncture and Ayurvedic remedies in with homeopathy and crystals (both of which I think are pure hokum). But I have come to realise through experience that many of the ancient Asian medicine techniques are effective and many are now being researched and recognised by Western medicine. Certainly acupuncture, applied by a professional physiotherapist, has relieved severe back and neck pain for me in the past and some of the (rather foul-tasting) Indian herb and spice remedies have also been helpful with joint pain.

Whether or not moxibustion works because of properties within the burning mugwort or via the application of heat to the body’s meridian points, I can’t tell but certainly the neck, shoulder and back pain I’d been suffering with for the previous few days eased following the workshop. Of course, that could also have been courtesy of the long soaks in the hot soothing waters of the Meditation Baths!

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Moxibustion workshop

One of the things that excited us about visiting Karuizawa was the chance to see local wildlife. Pete and I have spent many happy holidays travelling to watch wildlife in its native habitat, from East and Southern African safaris where we thrilled at the sightings of lions, elephants, cheetahs and more to Galapagos Island bird and reptile viewing all the way down to Antarctica for penguins, seals and albatrosses.

The Japanese Giant Flying Squirrel, known in Japan as musasabi, may not sound like a very exciting wildlife encounter but for us, it was thrilling!

Our tour was provided by Picchio, an ecotourism organisation established by Hoshino in 1992. Picchio offers a variety of nature tours in the local area and is also active in local conservation activities including the protection of Asian Wild Bears, found in the region.

Before we left the visitors’ centre, located just opposite the Tombo-no-yu onsen buildings, our guide Motoi Inoue gave us an introductory presentation about the animal we were hoping to see. Luckily for us, Inoue spoke fluent English, so he kindly repeated everything in both Japanese and English, allowing us to fully appreciate these fascinating little creatures. His enthusiasm was infectious! We learned about their physiology (including size – much bigger than most of us guessed), what they naturally eat and the variation in the size of their territories depending on the density of their chosen food source in a given area.

Best of all, we learned that our chances of seeing them on the evening’s tour were extremely high. Giant flying squirrels sleep in nests during the day, coming out at night to feed. Two things make Picchio’s squirrel observation tours so successful. Firstly, research has found that musasabi come out of their nest approximately 30 minutes after sunset, sticking to a pretty tight + /- 15 minutes of that time. Secondly, Picchio have created 14 nest boxes for the local musasabi to use, each of which have a camera inside. Unlike many animals, musasabi switch from nest to nest, often on a nightly basis and also show no qualms about using a nest that a different squirrel used the previous night. The video cameras allow Picchio staff to check during the day which of the boxes are in use allowing the guides to direct enthusiastic visitors to one of the boxes shortly ahead of the approximate exit time, based on the time of sunset that evening. There are no absolute guarantees, but their success rate is very high.

Fortune was smiling on us in many ways that evening. The box Inoue had selected was easily accessible, within 10 minutes walk of the visitors’ centre and nailed to a tree within a tarmacked parking area that had just two or three cars in a distant corner. Better still, Inoue carried with him a laptop screen and cables which allowed him to plug into a socket at the base of the tree and show us on screen the camera feed from inside. We quickly discovered that our nest box contained several bundles of squirming fur which Inoue identified as a mother, two very young pups and an older sibling from a previous litter.

Standing a respectful distance away from the nest, each of us furnished with loan binoculars, we watched the nest eagerly, the exit lit by red torchlight that neither disturbs the animals nor damages their night vision or eyesight.

Inoue warned us that it was unlikely the mother would leave the nest as the pups were still very young; she had not left during the previous nights since their birth. However it was almost certain that the older sibling to the pups would come out for a night feed. As the time approached, we saw him peek his head out of the nest a few times, and then, suddenly, he came all the way out, looked around him at the nearby trees around the car park, and scampered up to the top of the tree. Moments later he launched, all four limbs akimbo to create the wings that allow him to glide swiftly to another tree. Once landed, he scampered up to the top once again.

Initially, the plan had been to walk quietly towards the landing tree in the hopes of seeing a second flight, but Inoue quickly asked us to stay still, noticing that the mother had poked her head out of the nest to have a look around – we didn’t want to risk disturbing her. To our enormous delight and surprise, the mother chose this night to leave her pups for the first time, and we watched her speed up the tree before launching and gliding across to another. Not only were we elated to see a second flight from a second animal, we were also able to get a clearer camera view of the pups now that they were alone inside the nest.

Just as we thought our tour complete, Inoue’s assistant alerted us to the distinctive call of another musasabi – an adult male in a tree nearby. Using the red torchlight, the newcomer was located atop one of the tallest trees in the vicinity. Giddy with excitement, we watched him glide to a tree very close to where we stood and then onwards again right over our heads to a tree deeper in the forest!

As you can probably tell, we were utterly captivated by this experience, even more so given its location within the heart of the resort.

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Picchio Flying Squirrel Observation Tour

For us, the charm of Hoshinoya Karuizawa lies in its offering of natural beauty and wildlife skilfully enhanced by delightful landscaping, the chance to immerse oneself in cultural activities and to explore the local area and sights, the opportunities to relax and recuperate and of course, the absolute joy of eating well.

Prices start at around 30,000 Yen per person for a twin or double room (without meals) though there are significant savings available for booking more than three months in advance (with prices dropping to 18,000 Yen per person). Our kaiseki dinner at Kasune was 12,000 Yen per person plus tax and service; menus and prices for other dining options are available online. Activities such as the moxibustion workshop we attended, and beauty treatments such as facial acupressure and onsen body work are priced at 2,000 Yen per person. The oyaki making activity is 8,000 Yen per group.

Kavey Eats were guests of Hoshino Resorts for one night of our two night stay at Hoshinoya Karuizawa, the other night was paid by us at the full standard rate. We were also invited to review the kaiseki dinner at Kasuke restaurant and breakfast at No Ones Recipes. All other meals and drinks were covered by us. Our activities during the stay were organised by Hoshino Resorts.

Hoshinoya Karuizawa in Japan on Kavey Eats
 

From its name you might think it’s a type of tomato. It certainly looks a lot like one, once its husk is peeled away.

In fact, although the tomatillo is a member of the expansive nightshade family (which includes tomatoes as well as potatoes, aubergines, chillis and peppers), it actually falls within the physalis genus, making it more closely related to the cape gooseberry.

Like the cape gooseberry, the tomatillo is a smooth-skinned round fruit enveloped in a delicate, paper-thin, lantern-shaped husk. Green and pliant on the plant, once picked the husk starts to dry out, turning brown and brittle; the greener the husk, the more freshly picked the tomatillo.

Both cape gooseberries and tomatillos hark originally from Central and South America and, indeed, tomatillos are a staple ingredient in Mexican cuisine. They are eaten fried, grilled or boiled in many different preparations and are a core ingredient of salsa verde.

Ripe tomatillo fruits can range from yellow to red and purple but green is the most common colour, making them look even more like unripe tomatoes.

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The similarity of their names is no coincidence; both words come from Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs, with tomatillos originally being known as tomātl (fat water) and tomatoes as xitomatl (fat water with navel). When the Spaniards exported the tomato to the rest of the world, they took with them the name tomate.

But unlike the tomato, the tomatillo has not yet become a common global ingredient. Although imported Mexican fresh tomatillos are sometimes available in Europe, it has often been easier to find the fruit in tinned form.

However, in recent years, specialist farmers have started to grow tomatillos here in the UK. Edible Ornamentals, a chilli specialist in Bedfordshire, is the largest tomatillo grower in the UK and sells the fruit commercially. Owners Shawn and Joanna Plumb once lived in San Antonio, Texas, where they became very familiar with tomatillos along with many varieties of chilli. Mexican cooking is very popular in Texas.

Joanna is an enormous fan of tomatillos, explaining that “the flavour is like nothing I have ever tasted. It is a cross between a tomato, a cucumber and a water melon. Very refreshing.” Although she loves eating the fruits straight off the plant, she also enjoys them in a traditional green salsa.

Of course, one sure-fireway of getting your hands on fresh tomatillos is to grow them yourself. “Tomatillos grow like triffids,” warns Joanna, and recommends training them up a vertical support so they don’t take over your garden. You will need at least two plants as they pollinate each other.

Keen gardeners can buy tomatillo plants directly from Edible Ornamentals’ nursery in Chawston, Bedfordshire and visiting the farm also offers the opportunity of a chilli tour and Pick Your Own. You can also grow from seed – available from a number of seed catalogue companies. Tomatillos usually start fruiting in July or August and, if you grow them in a greenhouse or polytunnel, continue until the frost comes along.

If you are able to find fresh tomatillos, the good news is that they last for a couple of weeks in the fridge; up to twice that if the husks are removed. They can also be frozen, whole or chopped. And, of course, you can cook them and preserve in jars. It’s worth noting that tomatillos have a high pectin content, making them a great ingredient to add to jams and chutneys.

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Homegrown tomatillos, fresh tomatillos in the kitchen of a London-based Mexican restaurant chain

Tomatillo Salsa Recipe

by Joanna Plumb of Edible Ornamentals

Ingredients
10 tomatillos with husk removed, finely diced
Half a finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 serrano chile pepper, minced
2 tablespoons chopped coriander
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
0.5 teaspoon ground cumin
0.5 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Method

  • Place tomatillos, onion, garlic, and Serrano chilli into a bowl.
  • Season with coriander, oregano, cumin and salt.
  • Leave for about 30 minutes and then serve.
  • Can be used as a side dish, in fajitas or as a dip for tortilla chips.

You may also be interested in Joanna’s chilli growing tips, which she shared with us during our visit.

Tomatillo Salsa and an introduction to tomatillos

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

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With three trips to Japan under my belt, yet still dreaming about the next one, my interest in Japanese food shows no signs of fading. One of my favourite books on my cookbook shelf is Everyday Harumi by Harumi Kurihara, first published in 2009. A new paperback edition ahs just been released, so to celebrate, here’s a review I wrote a couple of years ago and your chance to win a copy for yourself.

everyday harumi hardback cover everyday harumi 2016 paperback cover

Harumi Kurihara is to Japan what Martha Stewart is to Americans, Donna Hay is to Australians and Nigella and Delia are to us Brits – that is to say she’s a hugely successful cookery writer with over 20 bestselling cookbooks, a quarterly recipe magazine, popular television shows, a line of kitchenware and even a chain of shops, restaurants and cafés under her belt.

Despite her immense success, Kurihara, known affectionately by her fans as Harumi K, still sees herself first and foremost as a housewife – indeed she is fêted in Japan as a karisuma shufu (charisma housewife) – and is committed to cooking at home for her husband every day. Her cookery books are aimed squarely at helping others to prepare tasty and enjoyable food in the home.

Everyday Harumi is the third of Kurihara’s books to be published in English but it’s the first book she has researched and written in England; she wanted to understand the British way of shopping, eating and cooking to ensure that her recipes were realistic and accessible for non-Japanese cooks.

After a foreword in which Kurihara talks a little about her background, how she came to write the book and how healthy and enjoyable a Japanese diet can be, the book begins with a list of store cupboard essentials. These are the ingredients Kurihara deems to be at the heart of Japanese home cooking and each one appears in many of the recipes in the book. This chapter introduces each ingredient in detail and includes instructions on cooking rice and making dashi stock; it also provides recipes for sauces and pastes such as ponzu, mentsuyu, sesame paste and miso paste that are referenced later in the book.

Recipes are grouped by key ingredient, such as; type of meat or fish, rice, noodles, eggs, tofu, miso, ginger, sesame and various vegetables.

Although her recipes are clearly Japanese, Kurihara is not a slave to authenticity for the sake of it; many of her dishes simplify ingredients and techniques and some blend washoku (traditional Japanese cooking) with yōshoku (Western cuisine). This is not a sop to her foreign audiences, however – in fact it reflects the reality of how many Japanese now cook at home, eagerly incorporating ingredients and influences from around the world. Above all, these dishes are very well suited to tasty mid-week evening meals, when speed and simplicity are a priority.

Flicking through the book between recipes such as Steak in a Miso Marinade, Tsukune with Teriyaki Sauce, Scallops with Nori Seaweed, Udon Noodles with a Minced Meat Miso Sauce, Tofu Salad with a Sesame Dressing, Egg Drop Soup, Lightly Cooked Spinach with Soy Sauce, Japanese Coleslaw Salad and Aubergine in Spicy Sauce it becomes clear how much variety can be achieved by combining the essential ingredients in different ways.

Photographer Jason Lowe illustrates every recipe with bright and beautiful colour images. In each, the food is shown off in a wonderfully varied selection of crockery – Kurihara has a particular love of collecting unmatched pieces in which to serve her food. There are several cheery photographs of Kurihara cooking too. Recipe instructions are straightforward and easy to follow and it’s particularly gratifying that my own attempts turn out just like the pictures in the book.

Whether you are new to Japanese cooking or are looking for further inspiration, Everyday Harumi offers an immensely approachable and appealing range of simple Japanese dishes to enjoy with your family and friends.

 

I have two copies of the newly released paperback edition of Everyday Harumi to giveaway to readers; click here to enter.

Everyday Harumi by Harumi Kurihara is published by Conran Octopus. The hardback version, published in 2009, is currently available on Amazon for £16.59 (RRP £20). The newly published paperback version is available on Amazon for £13.48 (RRP £14.99).

The original book review above was written in 2014 and first published in Good Things magazine. ©Kavita Favelle.

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Isn’t it strange that sometimes those who are the most passionate and knowledgeable about a particular country or region’s food are not actually from that culture themselves?

The person I know who knows most about the food, food culture and cooking of the Indian subcontinent is, surprisingly, not Indian. Other than the normal smattering of Indian friends that is the norm for any Londoner in our multicultural city, Zoe has no personal connection that fuels her interest and yet her fascination with Indian food has been a constant, as opposed to briefer dabbles with other cuisines. Long, long before she’d even set foot on the subcontinent, she developed an enduring obsession which fuelled an on-going learning curve which has lead to real expertise in the subject matter.

So it is with Regula Ysewijn. Born and raised in Flanders (the Dutch speaking part of Belgium), she is a professional graphic designer, photographer and writer as well as a self-taught cook and a successful food blogger. Regula has been obsessed with Britain since she was a young child, after hearing a British nursery rhyme which caught her imagination. A few years later – her infatuation showing no signs of abating – her parents arranged a family holiday to Britain for her ninth birthday; she describes it as ‘to this day still the best gift my parents ever gave me’.

She began to read extensively about British history and culture, and her family spent many more holidays in Britain over the next few years. During a period when further travel wasn’t possible, Regula so missed the British food she’d come to love that she decided to make it herself. With no cookery books to hand, she came across Jamie’s Naked Chef series on TV, and by watching him cook and making notes, she learned to cook. She still cooks that way today, ‘on pure fingerspitzengefühl’; literally ‘fingertips feeling’, figuratively it means by instinct or intuition.

Her blog Miss Food Wise was initially intended as a personal database of where she went, what she saw, what she was reading and of course, what she cooked. Naturally, with her interest in British food and culture, this soon came to feature heavily. She explains that people often asked her ‘why [she] was so fond of Britain since the food was so crap. [She] decided it was [her] mission to show it wasn’t and to dedicate the blog to it.

Her blog soon won a loyal following of readers all around the world. It also became a learning curve for her writing and photography – indeed the design agency for whom she worked made her their in-house photographer on the back of her blog photography – and work from many agencies and magazines followed. When she was offered her book deal in 2013, Regula made the decision to leave her job to go freelance.

Pride and Pudding (mini)

Pride and Pudding: The History of British Puddings is not a cookbook. Regula describes it as ‘a book about a part of British food culture/ history with recipes. The recipes are all historical, and many are not to modern taste, but that doesn’t make them less important.’

From the start, her publisher Murdoch Books was completely on board with Regula’s vision. I ask her about the process and she happily recalls how they told her ‘the book has to be “you” so only you can create that 100%’ for which she is hugely grateful. They gave her free rein on what the book would be. More unusually but perfectly logical given her unique skillset, Regula not only wrote the book but designed it and did all the food styling and photography herself too.

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As well as Regula’s distinctive food photography, Pride and Pudding features gorgeous hand-drawn illustrations (on the cover and to introduce each chapter). These were created by Regula’s husband, Bruno Vergauwen; ‘He knew my vision and spent months creating the illustrations that tell part of the story. He had to understand the history of pudding to be able to create these images. He had to see the antique equipment and evolution in how pudding was made, he had to see the dishes to give him inspiration. I’m really in awe about what he has created.

P&Pbk.Baked

She may be in awe of Bruno’s illustrations (and they are very beautiful) but I am in awe of the book in its entirety. This rigorously researched culinary history of sweet and savoury puddings is a fascinating insight into many of the dishes we still eat today and how they evolved. I don’t use the word ‘rigorous’ lightly – I asked Regula how she approached such in-depth academic research.

To accurately understand the evolution of each pudding, Regula referenced her own collection of old books, accessed content from many specialist and online libraries and for rarer titles, contacted directly the great houses where she knew an original copy was available.

I didn’t take anything for granted, if a translation of Latin or Anglo Norman was given, I would check if the translation was correct. For Latin translations I had someone who could read the original as translations in the 17th century were often wrong. I tried to use as many primary sources as I could and when a more recent book mentioned a source, I would not copy that entry but look for that source and check it myself. There are mistakes which have been around for decades because authors sometimes don’t go back to check the source the book is mentioning.

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Her collection of vintage cookware also played its part, giving her an insight into the methods of cooking and the vessels and equipment used. She also mentions how the characteristics of some the ingredients themselves have changed over time.

There were many challenges in recreating historical recipes using the equipment available in a modern kitchen, but without changing the nature of the recipe itself. But when her countless rounds of testing resulted in success, ‘it filled [her] heart with joy to see it.

To see how a medieval blancmange looked like and tasted, how blackpudding tasted in the 16th century. That’s just so bloody amazing. A taste of history.

The book is divided into chapters for Boiled and steamed Puddings; Baked puddings; Batter puddings; Bread puddings; Milk puddings, jellies and ices and Sauces, pastry etc.

These chapters are proceeded with a comprehensive and fascinating 20 page history of food in Britain, starting in prehistoric times and walking us through to modern times via the eras of the Romans, Saxons, Vikings and Normans, the Medieval centuries, the Reformation and on to Elizabethan, Georgian and Victorian times before bringing us into the 20th and 21st centuries.

Each chapter tells its story by way of several carefully chosen puddings, some of which will be familiar to readers and some of which have virtually been lost in the mists of time. Flipping through the book, I recognise plum pudding, haggis, black and white blood puddings, jam roly poly, spotted dick, treacle sponge, bakewell pudding, toad-in-the-hole, apple charlotte, blancmange, trifle, fruit fools and posset. But I’d never before come across rice pudding in skins (rather like sausages), sambocada (a cheese curd tart flavoured with elderflowers), daryols (custard tarts in deep hand-raised pastry cups), tort de moy (a bone marrow egg tart), black caps (apples baked until the skin on top turned black) or almond flummery (an almond and apricot-kernel flavoured jelly).

Food history books can sometimes be dry and academic but Regula has a delightful way of writing that brings the culinary stories of each of these puddings to life without unnecessary stuffiness.

It’s a fascinating book and certainly the most beautifully written and produced book of its genre that I’ve ever seen.

 

Murdoch Books have given me three copies of this fabulous book to give away to readers of Kavey Eats. Click here to enter the giveaway.

I also have permission to share Regula’s Bakewell pudding recipe with you too; coming soon.

Kavey Eats received a review copy of this title from publisher Murdoch Books. Pride and Pudding: The History of British Puddings by Regula Ysewijn is currently available from Amazon for £16.59 (RRP £20).

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A few weeks ago, I shared my review of Mat Follas’ new Bramble Cafe & Deli in Dorchester’s elegant Poundbury estate. Today I want to talk about Mat’s latest cookbook, Vegetable Perfection.

When I first interviewed Mat back in 2009, shortly after he launched his first restaurant The Wild Garlic, I think it’s fair to say his attitude to vegetarian diets and recipes was in a state of evolution. During the planning phase and just ahead of opening the restaurant, Mat had many conversations with fellow foodlovers online, many of whom urged him to provide several veggie options on his menu. He said then that he understood their point of view but that, frankly, he didn’t agree with it. The previous evening, he’d had just one vegetarian customer in the restaurant, with the rest firmly focused on his fish and meat dishes. His aim, therefore, was to offer one great veggie dish on the menu, the kind of dish he as an omnivore would also enjoy eating; that day’s veggie choice was an enthusiastically described umami-rich fennel thyme gratin. He was also busy exploring ways to encourage children to eat more vegetables, by first converting their parents, something he talked about at the Dorset County Show that year; and his interest in foraging leaves and vegetables was already well-established, with foraged ingredients featuring regularly in his cooking.

Just 6 years later, Mat has learned to love vegetables so much that he has released a cookbook of over 100 delicious vegetarian recipes, many of which are vegan or have vegan substitutes provided. In the introduction, Mat talks about overcoming the preconceptions of his upbringing in an era of a meal being ‘meat and two veg’. Indeed his initial plan for the cookbook was to make it vegetable-based but not ‘restricted by only using vegetable products’ and it was only when he started developing and testing recipes that he realised how little the recipes benefited from the use of meat, and that he ‘could always find vegetarian alternatives that were just as good to use, if not better’.

Writing the book has been ‘a journey of discovery to the amazing flavour combinations available when [he] stopped being mentally limited by the requirement of a meat product on every dish’ and the book is filled with vegetarian recipes Mat personally loves; vegetarian dishes he would choose to eat over a meat dish.

A bugbear of Mat’s, as it is for many vegetarians I know, is the prevalence of vegetable dishes that simply imitate meat; so instead of sharing a boring bean burger recipe he developed a crispy smoked potato rösti-like patty that he layers with grilled halloumi, mushroom and tomato for the ultimate vegetarian burger. Where he does use vegetables in place of meat, like the Mushroom Toad-in-the-hole recipe, he makes ‘the vegetable the star of the show – it’s not hidden or trying to imitate the flavour of meat’. Incidentally, that’s one of the recipes Pete and I made recently and to my surprise, the intensity of flavour of the juicy portobello mushroom really was just as delicious as sausages, even though it was an entirely different beast.

Vegetable Perfection Mat Follas

Vegetable Perfection: 100 tasty recipes for roots, bulbs, shoots and stems is divided into recipes according to which part of the vegetable is used or botanical groupings such as members of the Solanaceae family. After his Introduction, there’s a guide to vegetarian and vegan substitutions (helpful for those used to cooking with meat and fish ingredients), followed by chapters covering Vegetable juices; Roots; Brassicas and greens; Tomatoes, peppers and aubergines; Bulbs and alliums; Potatoes, squash and corn; Peas, beans and pulses; Stalks, stems and soft leaves and Fungi. At the end, a Store cupboard chapter covering sauces, dressings, ketchups, chutneys, pickles and oils.

Most recipes have photographs accompanying them, though where there are two short recipes to a page, only one is usually pictured. Styling is simple, homely and appealing – much like the recipes themselves – and plating is not at all faffy or cheffy. These dishes really are the kind of food you want to eat at home, making this a great cookbook to have on the shelf.

So far, we’ve made Mat’s (four cheese) Cauliflower cheese, Mushroom Toad-in-the-hole and Homemade baked beans, all of which have been delicious.

Bookmarked to make soon are Sprouting broccoli, hazelnuts and fondant potatoes, Red onion tarte tatin with goat’s cheese and dandelion sauce, Coddled eggs with creamed leeks, Courgette and gruyere soufflé and Sweet potato chips (which are tossed in a miso oil before baking).

Unlike some restaurant chef cookbooks, this one is firmly written for a domestic cook, using domestic kitchen equipment and as such, the instructions are easy to understand and to follow.

And if you fancy the sound of Mat’s four cheese cauliflower cheese recipe, here it is.

GIVEAWAY

Publisher Ryland Peters & Small are giving away two copies of Vegetable Perfection to readers of Kavey Eats. Each prize includes delivery to a UK address.

HOW TO ENTER

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

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
What is your favourite vegetarian or vegan dish, and what do you love most about it?

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

RULES, TERMS & CONDITIONS

  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 22nd July 2016.
  • The two winners will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator.
  • Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
  • Where prizes are to be provided by a third party, Kavey Eats accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
  • Each prize is a copy of Vegetable Perfection by Mat Follas, published by Ryland Peters & Small. Delivery to a UK address is included.
  • The prizes are offered by Ryland Peters & Small and cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. You may enter both ways but you do not have to do so for each individual entry to be valid.
  • For Twitter entries, entrants must be following @Kavey at the time of notification.
  • Blog comment entries must provide a valid email address for contact.
  • The winners will be notified by email or Twitter so please make sure you check relevant accounts for the notification message.
  • If no response is received from a winner within 10 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

The winners of the giveaway are Maxine G (blog entry) and @KeepCalmFannyOn (twitter entry).

Kavey Eats received a review copy of Vegetable Perfection from Ryland Peters & Small
Vegetable Perfection by Mat Follas (photography by Steve Painter) is currently available from Amazon for £14.88 (RRP £16.99).

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One of the most picturesque cities in Europe, Lübeck is the perfect destination for a Northern European city break. During my recent March visit the wind chilled to the bone but the end-of-winter sunshine showcased the Old City in glorious golden light.

Situated on the River Trave, Lübeck is the second-largest city in Germany’s Schleswig-Holstein region, and a major port in the area. For several centuries it was the leading city of the Hanseatic League, a commercial confederation of merchant guilds and market downs that dominated trade in Northern Europe, stretching along the coast from the Baltic to the North Sea. Lübeck Old Town, on a small island entirely enclosed by the Trave, is much admired for its extensive brick gothic architecture and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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A Rich Mediaeval History

If you enjoy learning about Europe’s history, you’ll certainly appreciate a visit to the European Hansemuseum which opened in Lübeck last year.

Even though I love history, I’m not always a fan of museums; far too many of them present information in such dull and unimaginative ways. That absolutely cannot be said of the Hansemuseum which is one of the best museums I’ve visited! Housed in a purpose-built modern structure adjacent to Lübeck’s Castle Monastery, the museum focuses on the rich history of the Hanseatic League (which South East England was very much a part of) over six hundred years. The museum makes excellent use of modern technology to bring history to life; not only are there informative interactive visual displays and audio content, but every other room recreates a scene that immerses you in an aspect of the tale – a lively bazaar, a traditional wooden merchant ship or the league’s council chambers during a session. As in any museum there are also a range of historical artefacts on display, and best of all, an excavation of ancient constructions down at basement level.

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Of course, you can also see much of this history in the many beautifully preserved old buildings; Lübeck is a veritable jewel of Gothic and Renaissance architecture.

 

An Enormously Walkable Old Town

A great way to appreciate some of that is simply to walk around Lübeck’s delightful Altstadt (Old Town), designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site with very good reason.

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A local guide can really bring the history alive for you, pointing out details you might otherwise miss, and relating the history and stories associated with each place. We were shown some of Lubeck’s treasures by Mr Colossus, a real character with the most wonderfully bushy handlebar moustache; hugely knowledgable and an entertaining narrator, he really enhanced our visit. Certainly, you can explore on your own though it’s well worth picking up a guide book or Tourist Information map to ensure you don’t miss the highlights.

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Holstentor

The iconic Holstentor – a fifteenth century brick-built Gothic two-tower city gate that formed part of the city’s mediaeval fortifications and sits at the Western entrance to the Old Town – is today considered the symbol of the city, and indeed you can buy hand-moulded marzipan models of the gate in Niederegger’s shop (see below).

Burgtor, also built during the fifteenth century, is located to the North of Old Town.

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The St. Mary’s devil; St. Jacob’s church

Lübeck was once known as the City of the Seven Spires, these being visible from quite a distance from the city.

St. Mary’s Church shows the Gothic stone cathedral designs prevalent in France adapted to be built in local brick. Do check out the bronze sculpture of a devil that commemorates a charming fairytale about the construction of the church – as the townspeople were building St Mary’s, the devil paid a visit and asked what they were building. Keen not to anger him, they told him they were building a tavern. Delighted with this idea, since many souls had found him in just such a place, he leant a hand and the church grew quickly. Only when it was nearing completion did the devil realise he had been tricked. Furious, he picked up a huge stone boulder, intending to demolish the new place of worship. Thinking quickly, the townspeople promised to build a tavern directly next to the church and this they did, the Ratskeller. Appeased, the devil dropped the boulder where it lies today next to the walls of the church – the devil’s claw marks are clearly visible. The bronze sculpture of the devil was created in 1999 by artist Rolf Goerler.

Lübeck Cathedral is the oldest place of worship in the city; construction of the brick cathedral began in the 12th Century, but before that a wooden church stood on the same spot.

St. Peters, a Roman church built between 1227 and 1250, is no longer a church but an exhibition and events centre. At Christmas, a large arts and crafts market is hosted here.

You may also like to visit St. Giles, St. Jacob’s and St. Catherine’s churches.

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The Rathaus

The Rathaus, Lübeck’s Town Hall, is still the city’s seat of administration, so you can’t wander around inside on your own. However guided tours are available regularly throughout the day to allow visitors to see the lavish interiors and architecture more closely.

The Heiligen Geist (Holy Spirit) Hospital is one of the oldest social institutions in the world – any sick or elderly townspeople were guaranteed care here, regardless of their financial means. During advent, the city’s largest and best known arts and crafts market is hosted here.

If you do get tired and want to rest your legs, you can hop on a boat for a leisurely view of Lübeck Old Town from the water.

 

A World Centre of Marzipan

Lübeck is famous for marzipan. The most celebrated manufacturer is Niederegger, founded over 200 years ago.

Once upon a time there were many hundreds of marzipan makers within the old town alone. A local legend suggests that marzipan was first made in the city in response to either a military siege or a local famine. The story goes that the town ran out of all foodstuffs except stored almonds and sugar, and these were combined to make loaves of marzipan “bread”. In reality, marzipan is believed to have been invented far earlier, most likely in Persia though historians are undecided between a Persian and an Iberian origin.

At its core, marzipan consists of nothing more than ground almonds mixed with either sugar or honey. These days, a wide range of marzipan is available; many commercial versions contain a comparatively low volume of almonds; instead they contain a great deal of sugar with the flavour boosted by almond oils and extracts or even cheaper synthetic almond flavourings and are often sickly sweet. In Germany there are clear labels that describe the various levels of marzipan, from marzipanrohmasse (raw marzipan) at the top to gewöhnliches marzipan (ordinary or consumer marzipan) at the bottom.

Niederegger marzipan products are all marzipanrohmasse, which means they contains 65% ground almonds and 35% sugar; the flavour is subtle and natural and the sweetness is not overwhelming. In consumer marzipan, only a third of the total content is almond, with the rest made up of sugar and flavourings.

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Niederegger Cafe (external photo courtesy of Niederegger)

The best place to visit to indulge to the fullest is Café Niederegger, located in the heart of Old Lübeck. Not only will you find the most impressive range of Niederegger products in the extensive ground floor shop – at far lower prices than you’ll find in the UK – there’s also a charming café on the first floor where you can have a light savoury lunch before indulging in one of the fabulous cakes on offer. And I can personally recommend ordering a marzipan hot chocolate, alongside! Also worth a quick visit is the top floor museum where you learn a little more about the history of marzipan in Lübeck and see twelve life-size statues made entirely of marzipan.

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Dinner in the Seafarer’s Guild

The Schiffergesellschaft is a modern restaurant offering both traditional German classics and newer dishes. The restaurant is proud of its history as part of the city’s historical shipping guild.

The Skt. Nicolaus Schiffergesellschaft (seafarers’ guild) established in 1401 was tasked with supporting those who worked in the shipping trade, and caring for their families. By the end of the thirteenth century there were multiple such guilds, including St. Anne, established in 1495. In 1530 these two guilds merged, forming a single professional body for Lübeck’s shipping industry. The new guild purchased the property across from St. Jacob’s church in 1535 and shortly thereafter, a new headquarters was built there. Over time the guild’s responsibilities expanded to include matters of navigation, taxes, mediation, guarding the harbour and more. All those working in shipping had to be members of the guild but in 1866 the compulsory nature of the guild was abolished and it lost many members and much-needed revenue. In order to counter some of its debt it leased an area of the building in which a restaurant was established. This lease assured the financial security of the guild and helped it to settle its debts. In 1933 the Schiffergesellschaft became a non-profit organisation and in the 1970s, extensive restoration of the building was carried out. Today the restaurant lease is operated by Engel & Höhne.

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The wood-panelled restaurant features wooden tables and ornately carved high-backed bench seating that divides the room into rows of diners. Hanging from the high ceiling are model ships, and lanterns and chandeliers throw a warm and welcoming light.

The menu offers a wide range of starters, fish and meat mains, and desserts.

After malty brown bread served with pig fat, my Roast Duck Lübsch – roasted duck served with gravy and a savoury-sweet stuffing of red cabbage, prunes and marzipan – was hearty and delicious, and desserts were indulgent.

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This isn’t the highest level of fine dining but it’s good, tasty food in an unusual setting and the extensive menu gives plenty of choice.

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I liked our table up on a raised platform by the front window which allowed us to look down into the main dining area; book this if you can.

I spent just over 24 hours in Lübeck and am keen to go back for a longer, more leisurely visit. Have you been? What sights, activities and restaurants do you recommend I check out on my next trip?

Kavey Eats visited Lübeck as a guest of Niederegger who organised transport, accommodation, a guided tour and our meals. We were also given an exclusive tour of their factory, not usually open to visitors.

 

The premise of using vegetables in cakes is nothing new – carrot cake has been a well known favourite as long as I can remember, chocolate and beetroot cakes and brownies have gained popularity in the last decade and more recently courgette cakes are stretching peoples’ definitions of what a cake can be made with.

For me, it goes much further than that, as I’ve long been a huge fan of fellow blogger Kate Hackworthy who writes the much-loved and respected blog Veggie Desserts. As the blog name and tagline suggest, the recipes Kate develops and shares are all about using vegetables in ‘cakes, bakes, breakfasts and meals’ and Kate has won much recognition for the innovation of her recipes, and the stunning photographs with which she illustrates them. You’ll find everything from cookies featuring romanesco cauliflower, cupcakes featuring cucumber, peas or spinach, and cakes full of celeriac, kale and swede! So when I first heard about a cookery book focusing on vegetable- and fruit-based cakes I was already primed for these kind of recipes!

growyourowncake

However, publisher Frances Lincoln have taken a different slant for this new title and teamed up with established gardening author Holly Farrell (who has written multiple books on kitchen gardening and contributed to a range of gardening magazines) and Jason Ingram (a garden and food photographer). Holly is also a keen baker, and in Grow Your Own Cake, she treats the garden as a larder for her baking, providing not only recipes but advice on how to grow the main crop featured in each one.

The recipes range from savoury to sweet, using both fruit and vegetables from the plot, with detailed and well-illustrated guidance for the novice gardener looking to grow some of their own produce in their garden or allotment.

There are fifty recipes in the book; some are already classics, such as the carrot cake and beetroot brownies I mention above. Others such as fennel cake and pea cheesecake are more unusual. Recipes are organised somewhat seasonally, with the first chapter covering spring and summer cakes and the second autumn and winter ones. Next come afternoon tea ideas, puddings and savoury bakes.

Many of the recipes are appealing and I’m waiting eagerly for the main ingredients to come into season in our allotment, rather than buying from the supermarket out of season. I’d like to try the rose cake (featuring home made rose water), the parsnip winter cake (ours didn’t survive the slugs so none for us this winter) and the tomato cupcakes, to name a few.

Photography is lovely – pretty and practical without being overly fussy in the styling, a little old school but comfortingly so. My only complaint on this front is that while there are plenty of photographs of the gardening element of the book, there aren’t as many food images as I’d like to see – it’s frustrating not to have a picture of the finished dish for many of the recipes, especially when they are unfamiliar – what kind of colour do the tomato cupcakes have, for example and how should the icing for the sweet potato and marshmallow cake look? A few more images on the food side would be a huge help.

Thus far, Pete and I have made two recipes from the book, the Upside-down Pear Cake and the Sweet Potato and Marshmallow Cake; both have worked well, though the lack of photographs has made it feel a little more of a shot in the dark, even with Holly’s fairly clear instructions. Most importantly, both were delicious, and I’d happily make and eat both again.

I have permission to share the Sweet Potato and Marshmallow Cake recipe with you, so keep your eyes peeled for that in an upcoming post.

Sweet Potato and Marshmallow Cake on Kavey Eats (1)

In the meantime, here’s an opportunity for you to win your own copy of this lovely book:

GIVEAWAY

Frances Lincoln are offering two copies of Grow Your Own Cake for a Kavey Eats reader giveaway. Each prize includes delivery to UK addresses.

HOW TO ENTER

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

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
What kind of fruit or vegetable have your tried in cakes and what did you think?

Entry 2 – Twitter
Follow both @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 Grow Your Own Cake published by @Frances_Lincoln from Kavey Eats! http://bit.ly/KaveyEatsGYOC #KaveyEatsGYOC
(Do not add my twitter handle or any other twitter handle to the beginning of the tweet or your entry will be considered invalid.
Please don’t leave a blog comment about your tweet either; I track twitter entries using the competition hash tag.)

RULES, TERMS & CONDITIONS

  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 6th May 2016.
  • The two winners will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator.
  • Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
  • Where prizes are to be provided by a third party, Kavey Eats accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
  • Each prize is a copy of Grow Your Own Cake by Holly Farrell and Jason Ingram, published by Frances Lincoln. Delivery to UK addresses is included.
  • The prizes are offered by Frances Lincoln and cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. You may enter both ways but you do not have to do so for each individual entry to be valid.
  • For Twitter entries, entrants must be following @Kavey at the time of notification.
  • Blog comment entries must provide a valid email address for contact.
  • The winners will be notified by email or Twitter so please make sure you check relevant accounts for the notification message.
  • If no response is received from a winner within 10 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

Kavey Eats received a review copy of Grow Your Own Cake from Frances Lincoln, part of Quarto Publishing Group UK.
Grow Your Own Cake by Holly Farrell, photographs by Jason Ingram is currently available from Amazon for £14.88 (RRP £16.99).

The two winners of the giveaway are Patricia Whittaker and Emily Knight.

 

On the weekend I shared my review of Maori Murota’s Tokyo Cult Recipes, published by Murdoch Books. Click through to read more and to enter my giveaway to win your own copy of the book.

This beautiful hard back cookery book features over 100 recipes loved by Tokyoites, covering breakfast, lunch, sweet snacks and dinner, both foods that are typically cooked at home as well as those most often eaten out in cafes, restaurants and izakaya (pubs).

When it comes to sweets, the Japanese embrace both wagashi (Japanese traditional sweets) and yougashi (Western-inspired cakes and pastries, often with a Japanese twist such as the addition of matcha or sesame). Pete and I visited many wonderful tea and coffee shops during our previous visits to Japan, often treating ourselves to a slice of beautiful freshly-baked cake alongside.

Tokyo Cult Recipes Matcha and White Chocolate Cake

Matcha & White Chocolate Cake

Recipe extracted with permission from Tokyo Cult Recipes by Maori Murota

Makes 1 loaf cake
15 mins preparation time
40 mins cooking time

Ingredients
3 eggs
softened butter – the same weight as the eggs
caster (superfine) sugar – the same weight as the eggs
plain (all-purpose) flour – the same weight as the eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon matcha (green tea powder)
70 g (2½ oz) white chocolate chips

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F), and butter and flour a 19 x 19 x 8 cm (7½ x 7½ x 3¼ in) loaf tin.
  • Weigh the eggs, then weigh out the same amount of butter, sugar and flour.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar and butter together for 5 minutes, or until light and creamy.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing each one in well before adding the next. Sift in the flour, baking powder and matcha.
  • Combine using a spatula. Stir through the white chocolate chips, then pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 40 minutes.
  • The cake is cooked when a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

 

Kavey Eats received a review copy from Murdoch Books. Published by Murdoch Books, photography by Akiko Ida and Pierre Javelle. Tokyo Cult Recipes by Maori Murota is currently available on Amazon for £13.60 (RRP £20).

 

Yesterday I shared my review of Maori Murota’s Tokyo Cult Recipes, published by Murdoch Books. Click through to read more and to enter my giveaway to win your own copy of the book.

This beautiful hard back cookery book features over 100 recipes loved by Tokyoites, covering breakfast, lunch, sweet snacks and dinner, both foods that are typically cooked at home as well as those most often eaten out in cafes, restaurants and izakaya (pubs).

Sukiyaki is one of my favourite hotpots; I absolutely love the sweetness of the cooking broth – it gives such a lovely flavour to the meat, tofu, vegetables and mushrooms cooked in it.

Tokyo Cult Recipes Beef Hot Pot (Sukiyaki)

Sukiyaki (Japanese Beef Hotpot)

Recipe extracted with permission from Tokyo Cult Recipes by Maori Murota

Serves 4
15 mins preparation time
15 mins cooking time

Ingredients
1 packet shirataki* (about 400 g/14 oz)
1 pack shimeji mushrooms 1 leek (white part)
½ bunch shungiku* or rocket (arugula)
¼ Chinese cabbage
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) tofu
600 g (1 lb 5 oz) sliced beef
4 extra-fresh organic eggs
100–200 ml (3½–7 fl oz) dashi (see below for recipe)
2 packets pre-cooked udon noodles
Sukiyaki broth
100 ml (3½ fl oz) soy sauce
100 ml (3½ fl oz) sake
3 tablespoons raw sugar

Method

  • Rinse the shirataki well and drain. Cut into 3 lengths.
  • Wash the shimeji and roughly separate them. Cut the leek into 2 cm (¾ in) slices on the diagonal. Wash the shungiku, then cut across into 2 sections. Wash the Chinese cabbage and cut into 3 pieces. Cut the tofu into 3 cm (1¼ in) cubes.
  • Place half of the prepared ingredients in a pot, ideally side by side. (If necessary, use a frying pan that doesn’t leave too much space around the ingredients.) Pour over the sukiyaki broth, then cover and cook on a medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add half of the beef.
  • Once the vegetables are cooked, bring the pot to the table on a burner. Break the eggs into individual bowls and lightly beat with chopsticks. Let guests serve themselves, dipping the different foods in the beaten egg in their bowl. Gradually add more foods to the pot as they run out and repeat the cooking process as you go, according to the appetites of your guests. If there is not enough liquid, add some dashi. Right at the end of cooking (when there are no more ingredients in the sauce), add the cooked udon noodles.

* Kavey Eats’ Notes on Sukiyaki Ingredients
Shirataki
noodles are thin vermicelli made from konnyaku, a type of yam also known as konjac. The translucent and gelatinous noodles are also popular in the West for their zero (or very low) calorie value. They also have no carbs or gluten, so are a good option for low-carb and low-gluten diets.
Shinguku are edible chrysanthemums which are widely eaten in Japan, especially during winter.

Dashi Recipe

40 mins preparation time – 17 mins cooking time

Ingredients and quantities
1 litre (35 fl oz/4 cups) water
10 g (¼ oz) kombu seaweed
10 g (¼ oz) katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)

It is easy to remember the quantities of katsuobushi and kombu: 1% of the quantity of water.

Preparation

  • Soaking in water – Place the water in a saucepan. Cut the kombu into 2 pieces and add to the water, then leave to soak for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator. You can do this the night before or a few hours ahead of time.
  • Cooking the dashi – Heat the water on a low heat until it just comes to a simmer, about 15 minutes. Don’t let it boil, or the seaweed flavour will be too strong. Take out the kombu just before the stock comes to the boil and add the katsuobushi all at once. Bring to the boil on a medium heat, then turn off the heat immediately. Let it infuse for 10 minutes.
  • Straining – Strain the dashi into a bowl. Let the dashi drip through, pressing lightly.

Kavey Eats received a review copy from Murdoch Books. Published by Murdoch Books, photography by Akiko Ida and Pierre Javelle. Tokyo Cult Recipes by Maori Murota is currently available on Amazon for £13.60 (RRP £20).

 

It’s probably no secret to friends and readers that I have a strong interest in Japan; most especially when it comes to the food. Some might even (and do) call it an obsession.

In fact, Pete and I are heading back there in a few weeks for trip number three, and I’m really, really, really excited!

So when new cookery books on the cuisine are released, I’m always keen to take a look. This one has been out a few months and already has some excellent reviews.

Tokyo Cult Recipes cover

The title of Tokyo Cult Recipes threw me at first – to me it implied that the content would focus only on dishes that had achieved some kind of cult status; the coolest kids on the block, so to speak. In fact, author Maori Murota (who now lives in France) covers a wide range of everyday dishes covering both home-cooking and the kind of food more commonly eaten out, basing her recipes on memories of growing up in Tokyo and also her mother’s cooking.

Although there is certainly a lot of regionally specific cooking in Japan, the majority of these recipes will be familiar to anyone who has travelled in Japan, both to Tokyo and beyond.

The ‘Cult Recipes’ title identifies the book as part of a series; it’s third in the list after New York Cult Recipes and Venice Cult Recipes, also published by Murdoch Books.

Recipes are divided into six chapters, based on the type of meal a dish is most commonly associated with.

A traditional Japanese breakfast usually includes rice, miso soup, tsukemono (pickles), fish and eggs. The Asa Teishoku (breakfast) chapter starts with lessons on some of the cornerstones of the Japanese diet – rice, dashi (stock), miso – before sharing recipes for simple tsukemono, tamago yaki (the densely rolled omelette that is also often served at the end of a sushi meal), salted fish, fresh tofu with two different sauces, and for the brave amongst us, the preparation of natto – magnificently pungent fermented soy beans.

Lunch at home is usually dishes that are ‘simple to make and quick to eat’. The Ohiru (lunch) chapter includes donburi (different toppings over a bowl of rice) and noodle dishes. Recipes for zaru soba (cold buckwheat noodles with a dipping sauce), curry udon (noodles in a curry soup), tempura don (a selection of tempura over on rice) and maguro avocado don (marinated tuna and avocado with rice) are straightforward but adventurous cooks may be drawn to the recipe for making soba noodles from scratch, with step-by-step photographs provided. Some dishes, such as ramen (with broths that can take hours to make) and yakisoba (fried noodles) may more commonly be eaten out, but of course they are made at home too. Modern Tokyo has embraced washoku (western cuisine); spaghetti napolitan the Japanese way is a well-loved example as is tonkatsu (panko-breaded and fried pork cutlets), here shared in popular sando (sandwich) form.

Oyakodon Chicken and Omelette on Rice - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7867 Oyakodon Chicken and Omelette on Rice - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7871
Oyakodon Chicken and Omelette on Rice - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7875

My favourite recipe in this chapter is oyako don (rice with chicken and omelette). Murota doesn’t mention that the Japanese name translates as parent-and-child – a reference to the use of both chicken and egg. Chicken and leeks are cooked with dashi, soy, mirin and eggs and transferred hot from the pan over bowls of rice. This recipe transported me straight to Japan on the first mouthful and is one we’ll certainly make again and again.

Bento boxes have become well known across the world; the simple box-packed lunch transformed almost into an art form by Japanese creativity and presentation. As Murota explains, a typical bento contains some protein, fresh or pickled vegetables and rice. bento are enjoyed by workers, children and travellers – indeed each major train station offers its own speciality ekiben (station bento) that are perfect to enjoy during the journey. Of course, the recipes in this chapter can be made for bento boxes or a regular meal at the table. Hourenso no goma-ae (spinach with sesame sauce), ebi no kousai-ae (prawns with coriander), tsukune (chicken meatballs, also popular on skewers, as yakitori), saba no tatsuga-age (deep-fried marinated mackerel), pickled cucumber and a variety of side vegetables and salads are followed by a selection of onigiri (rice balls, often with stuffing inside).

Oyatsu (snacks) are predominantly sweet, with both yougashi (Western-inspired cakes) and wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets) very popular. Wagashi shared in this chapter include another personal favourite, mitarashi dango (chewy balls made of rice flour served in a sweet salty soy sauce syrup), sweet potato cakes and dorayaki (pancakes filled with adzuki red bean paste). Yougashi infuse European cakes and desserts with Japanese flavours; matcha and white chocolate cake, purin (crème caramel), coffee roll cake, strawberry short cake and ice creams flavoured with black sesame, matcha or adzuki.

Izakaya are best described as Japanese pubs that serve a range of small dishes alongside drinks. Here, Murota shares some well known items such as edamame (fresh soy beans), agedashi tofu (deep fried cubes of tofu served in a thin sauce), a couple of chazuke dishes (rice with hot tea), kara-age (fried chicken), and some less well known ideas like asari no sakamushi (sake-steamed clams), furofuki daikon (simmered white radish), oden (a Japanese winter stew in which a selection of foods are simmered in a simple stock) and lotus root fritters.

The last chapter in the book is Uchishoku; home cooking. This includes a wide range of different dishes; a range of gyoza (dumplings) with different fillings, nibuta chashu (anise simmered pork) and stir fried pork, omuraisu (an omelette filled with rice and often served with either ketchup or another condiment over the top), roll kyabetsu (Japanese stuffed cabbage). This chapter also includes a wide range of simmered dishes such as sukiyaki (beef and other ingredients simmered in a slightly sweet stock), tonyu nabe (a soy milk hotpot) and the very homely nikujaga (simmered beef and potatoes), which we made recently – although our sauce didn’t reduce as much as expected, the flavours once again transported us to Japan. Sushi and sashimi plates are also included here.

The book is interspersed not only with beautiful photographs of the recipes, but also evocative images of Tokyo – people and places, specialist food producers and shop and restaurant owners. At the end of the first chapter is a photo-essay on Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji Market, home to the largest fish market in the world. The second chapter closes with an introduction to sampuru, the super-expensive plastic food replicas that are displayed by many restaurants – did you know that the term comes from the English word sample? The bento chapter gives us photos of a traditional senbei (rice cracker) shop, with images showing how they are made as well as displayed for sale. Within the snacks chapter you’ll find one photo-essay on confectionary plus another on crèpe stalls, a popular Tokyo street snack. The izakaya chapter showcases a lovely selection of traditional ceramics as well as some charming photographs of Tokyo izakaya; indeed several of the recipe images look to be taken in such establishments. The final recipe chapter takes us to Kappabashi Dori, a street famous for its many kitchenware shops.

This is appropriate, as the last section of the book is the Appendices, where Murota shares advice on utensils and ingredients, plus a final few recipes for sauces, dressings and pickling liquids.

I have permission to share two recipes with you, so keep your eyes peeled for Murota’s Sukiyaki (beef hot pot) and her Matcha & White Chocolate Cake, both coming soon now published on Kavey Eats.

In the meantime, here’s an opportunity for you to win your own copy of this lovely book:

GIVEAWAY

In the meantime, Murdoch Books are offering two copies of Tokyo Cult Recipes for a Kavey Eats reader giveaway. Each prize includes delivery to UK addresses.

HOW TO ENTER

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

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
What’s your favourite Japanese food and which recipe from Murota’s book (see review above) would you most like to make?

Entry 2 – Twitter
Follow both @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 Tokyo Cult Recipes published by @murdochbooksuk from Kavey Eats! http://bit.ly/KaveyEatsTCR #KaveyEatsTCR
(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 18th March 2016.
  • The two winners will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator.
  • Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
  • Where prizes are to be provided by a third party, Kavey Eats accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
  • Each prize is a copy of Tokyo Cult Recipes by Maori Murota, published by Murdoch Books. Delivery to UK addresses is included.
  • The prizes cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. You may enter both ways but you do not have to do so for each individual entry to be valid.
  • For Twitter entries, entrants must be following both @Kavey at the time of notification.
  • Blog comment entries must provide a valid email address for contact.
  • The winners will be notified by email or Twitter so please make sure you check relevant accounts for the notification message.
  • If no response is received from a winner within 10 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

Kavey Eats received a review copy from Murdoch Books. Tokyo Cult Recipes by Maori Murota is currently available on Amazon for £13.60 (RRP £20). Published by Murdoch Books, photography by Akiko Ida and Pierre Javelle.

The winners of the giveaway copies were Urvashi and Janie, both blog comment entries.

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