Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Kosheri, butternut squash, aubergines & sweet potato gratin

So Ottolenghi have a new book out- 'Plenty' 
I desperately want to buy it but just can't justify it until I've made enough recipes from the original book. So  I bought a massive steak, seared and sliced over a green salad with a pomegranate molasses dressing (homage to Yotam) and then made the following.

Kosheri - rice, vermicelli noodles, puy lentils, fried onions, cinnamon and nutmeg

Roasted Butternut squash, basil and seeds

Roasted Aubergine, with saffron & lemon yogurt dressing

Sweet potato gratin with sage and garlic (oops forgot the after shot)

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Who would have known? Sweet, sweet, Tokyo

So I went to Japan and all I was thinking about was fish. Fresh, raw, dried, oh and heaps of rice and all sorts of odd things that I wouldn't be able to identify but would try anyway. 
I was not expecting (and neither were my hips) the amount of pastries and cakes, the abundance of cafes, and food halls selling everything from frozen marshmallow treats to green tea cakes filled with sweet bean paste. 
After a long day out I ran into the shops for a few cakes to take back to the hotel for the most decadent sugar hit. 

Monday, 26 April 2010

Kobe beef- What's all the fuss about?

I couldn't go to Japan and not try Kobe beef - that would be silly. There are plenty of fine dining restaurants that serve it but they were so expensive and stuffy. We heard of somewhere called Satou which is a small restaurant at the top of a butchers in a market out of town. It only sits about 14 people and there are queues down the stairs and out the door. The queues for their butchers downstairs even crosses the street to the other side. 

The restaurant upstairs is basic, there are about 4 chefs standing behind the grill you can choose the weight of your steak and grade but it would seem it is always accompanied by bean sprouts, miso and a small salad. We were proudly shown our steaks before they were cooked and I was amazed at how much fat was marbled through the meat. 

The chef slices up the steak (would be bit tricky to eat with chopsticks otherwise!) and the first taste was beautiful. I've got to say though, although it really is 'melt in your mouth' type steak, at almost £70 each I was expecting something magical to happen. Three or four bites in, you're looking for something to contrast the texture and soak up a bit of the fatty taste. Truth be told, I preferred the steaks in Argentina, whose cattle hadn't been played music, massaged or fed beer to increase their appetite! 

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Steamed "buns"

Thought I might spice up my blog with some "steamed buns", very popular in Japan. 

An onsen in Japan is the name for a hot spring. There are thousands of them all over Japan and often incorporated into Ryokans. It is perfectly normal for you to wash and then relax in an onsen with other guests. I had this down as a bit of a big no no but actually when you realise that it's just the norm and that your room doesn't have a bath or shower you just get on with it and it really is wonderful!

The second picture really is of a steamed bun with beef. They are so good when you're hungry and good hot street food when it's cold and drizzly too. 

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Bento box

I think some of my favourite lunches have been on the trains here in Japan. On the journey from Kyoto to Hakone two special things happened. The first was opening my bento box which cost about £4.50 and was the cutest thing I've ever unwrapped and the second was running alongside Mount Fuji and seeing it unexpectedly through the window, that was breathtaking.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Mariko's Kitchen

We went to the loveliest little cookery class tonight in Mariko's home down a quiet little road in Kyoto. 
The ingredients were fresh and wonderful, some I have never cooked with before let alone could recognise like in one of those Masterchef challenges! Mariko was so welcoming and the food was delicious. If you are ever in Kyoto you must go, she takes groups up to 4 people for 4,000 yen each which is great value when you eat it all for dinner afterwards! 

Miso soup of Daikon and thin deep-fried tofu

You start off by making the Dashi (stock) for the Miso, which is also the base stock used in most soups and ramen and even used for flavouring rice. You place kombu (not pictured, oops) which is a firm, dried seaweed into a saucepan of cold water, then you heat until just boiled. Lift the kombu from the pan and add katsuobushi (bonita flakes, a smaller but similar fish to tuna) Once strained through a sieve and kitchen paper your stock is ready. 

We then added daikon (japanese radish), shredded aburaage (deep fried tofu), aonegi (green onion) and the when all is cooked through, the miso paste just at the end. 

Octopus and Sliced cucumber salad dressed with sweetened vinegar

This salad is simple but delicious, the really tasty bit was the dressing made by grinding toasted sesame seeds and adding rice vinegar, dashi, sugar and usukuchi soy sauce. Then finished off with minced ginger and shiso leaf.

Tempura - pumpkin, shiso herb, mushroom

We made the batter from an egg yolk, water and wheat flour sifted, didn't realise it would be so easy.

Flavoured rice with bamboo shoots

We steamed the rice in a little dashi and topped with bamboo shoots and thin deep fried tofu with some shiso leaf, soy sauce, sake and mirin. The bamboo shoot was harvested only this morning and it was incredible. 

Mariko on the left with my sister, brother and Anna

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Nishiki Market - Kyoto

I have never been to a market quite like this! It's been a busy day (the market and all of downtown Kyoto is a bit mental) so I am off for a swim to loosen my aching shopped out muscles! Will write more later..but here are some photos.