Arros de Favas – Fava Bean Rice and Douro, Portugal

” he tried the chicken soup, which smelled divine. He tasted it and with surprised shining eyes looked up at me, … ‘It’s good!’ It was delicious, made from chicken liver and giblets; … on the table a dish overflowing with rice and broad beans. … He took another larger forkful. … Then he cried: ‘Excellent! … What a bean! So delicious!’ … Faced by the golden chicken roasted on the spit and by the lettuce … drizzled with a little mountain olive oil…, he finally roared: ‘It’s utterly divine!’ ”

 José Maria de Eça de Queirós, The City and the Mountains

When I travel, I often read books and/or watch films of which stories are set in the destination in order to prepare for the trip and to boost my mood for the upcoming adventure. As for the Portugal trip in 2018, I had rewatched Night Train to Lisbon, and read The Sin of Father Amaro and  The City and the Mountains by Eça de Queirós.

view down to the River Douro from “Casa de Tormes”

After three days in Porto, I got off a train at Ermida by the River Douro, en route to Peso da Régua, and took a taxi up to Fundação Eça De Queiroz. The foundation opens the estate, which inspired Eça de Queirósas to write The City and the Mountains, to the public as a museum.

Actually, Eça de Queiroz didn’t live in the estate, Quinta de Vila Nova, i.e. Quinta de Tormes in the novel. The exhibits in Casa de Tormes, such as the library with full of books, writing desk etc. which had belonged to Eça de Queiroz, were shipped from his last resident in Paris after his death.

source: Fundação Eça De Queiroz

There is a restaurant in the premises, which is a must if you visit the museum.  Restaurante de Tormes serves ‘the first meal’ Eça de Queirósas or Jacinto, the main character of the novel, had when he arrived at the estate for the first time.

Of course, I ordered ‘the first meal’ menu – how could I have not? 🙂
It was a wonderful surprise that broa de milho was accompanied. Broa de milho, which I had sought in vain in Porto, is typical bread from northern Portugal made with cornmeal, wheat and/or rye flour.

broa de milho
chicken soup

The arros de favas was literally excellent and delicious!

arroz de favas com frango alourado (and vinho verde)

Having another appointment, I called the taxi back; then, a 10-minute drive took me to a small boutique winery.

Quinta de Covela

One of the significant elements that make Quinta de Covela wines unique is its terroir: It is located in the southern edge of the Vinho Verde wine region, just close to the beginning of the Douro wine region, Baixo Corgo. The ‘Douro Verde’, as they call it, region has mix of continental climate and maritime influence; cold in winter, hot and dry in summer, and unlike in the typical Vinho Verde DOC, much less rainy.

The wine which impressed and attracted me most was their Avesso. Avesso is a white Portuguese native wine grape variety primarily planted in Minho, northern Portugal; however, you would not say it Vinho Verde when you sip their COVELA Edição Nacional Avesso.

Tasting Notes:
Colour: Silver with hints of straw.
Nose: Intense, yet delicate and complex. Citric fruit (grapefruit), floral,
herbal, tree fruit and dried fruit (sweet almonds). Marked minerality and elegance.
Palate: Dry, fresh acidity, excellent mouthfeel, elegant and long finish
that makes the mouth water. (Source: Qinta de Covela)

Tasting Notes:
Bright, citric color. Intensely fresh with subtle mineral character. Notes of zesty, citric fruits and meadow flowers. Dry and elegant. Nicely-balanced acidity and fruity, yet with a strength typical of the sun-soaked “Douro Verde” region. (source: Portugal Vineyards)

the arros de favas recipe isn’t from the book

Ingredients

(for 2 servings)

600 g water
¾ tsp fine sea salt
170 g fava bean, without pods

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp garlic, minced
50 g onion, finely chopped
150 g risotto rice (I used Carnaroli.)
2 tbsp dry white wine
90 g chouriço* or salami, sliced
salt and pepper

(optional)
fresh coriander or Italian parsley to garnish

NOTE: * not Spanish chorizo but chouriço with less paprika and spice

Quinta de Covela also produces wine for Quinta de Tormes

 Method

  1. Bring a pot of the water to the boil. Add the salt and put in the fava beans and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes. Take the beans out of the water (retain the liquid to cook the rice) and immediately put into cold water to stop them cooking. Drain and peel the beans. Set aside.
  2. In a pan, place the olive oil with the garlic and slowly heat on medium low. Put in the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the rice and stir constantly until the oil gets onto every grain, but don’t let the rice turn brown. Add the wine and stir until absorbed.
  3. Pour in the 200 cc fava bean water, put in the chouriço/salami, and bring it to the boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and gently simmer stirring occasionally. When the rice appears almost dry, add 100 cc of the liquid and repeat the process until the stock gets thick and creamy, and the grains become tender, with a little bite but no chalkiness. If the stock is running very low, add extra water.
  4. Stir in the beans and mix well. Taste the rice and season with salt and pepper. Cook for another minute to heat through.
  5. Garnish with the coriander or Italian parsley.

 

Pink Tonic and Pinhão, Portugal

The summer is still here (fed up with the heat though), so I made a summer cocktail to cool off. The cocktail is called Pink Tonic, which I came across after hiking in Pinhão, Douro Valley.

Three best viewpoints in Pinhão:

Miradouro de Casal de Loivos
Miradouro Torguiano de São Cristovão do Douro
Miradouro Vale do Pinhão

As for me personally, the view over Pinhão Valley was the best. My pictures can’t show enough, but the valley is like a doodlebug’s pit and the views of vineyards in steep slopes are amazingly spectacular!!

Miradouro Vale do Pinhão

After tough hiking trails, walked through vineyards in gentle slope to cool down…

Quinta da Roêda vineyards

and ended up with a refreshing cocktail 🙂

writing postcards with Pink Tonic @ Quinta da Roêda, Pinhão

 

The base ingredient is Croft Pink produced by Croft, one of the original Port houses in the Douro Valley.

source: Croft Pink

Croft Pink is rosé style of Port wine ‘made by a new technique which extracts fresh, fruity flavours and a subtle and delicate pink colour from limited contact with the skins of classic Port grape varieties, grown in top quality vineyards of the Douro Valley. The result is wonderfully fresh and vibrant, full of the rich fruit flavours of Port but with a unique and distinctive appeal. It has created the perfect opportunity for Port to be consumed in the warmer months of the year when Port may not otherwise be the drink of choice.’ – Croft product page

 Ingredients

(for one tall glass)

70 ml Croft Pink
200 ml  tonic water
ice cubes
lemon peel
2 mint leaves
lemon zest

the recipe from Croft

Method

  1. Pour tonic water and Croft Pink into a tall glass with ice cubes.
  2. Add lemon peel and garnish with mint  leaves and lemon zest.

Kurumi Inari – Walnut Inarizushi / Inari Sushi

my aprons purchased on Etsy

Yes, I keep calm and carry on baking 🙂

my baking: Florantan

 

Today, however, I am posing an Inarizushi recipe  – one of my favourite rice dishes.

Inarizushi is seasoned rice wrapped in abura-age (thin deep-fried tofu) pouch simmered in sweet soy sauce. ‘The rice filling can be as it is, or mixed with other ingredients such as sesame, carrots, shiitake mushrooms and others. Although Isarizushi is a type of sushi, you will probably not find it at high-class sushi restaurants. It is normally sold at small local stores or specialized take-out stores. One of the charms of inari-zushi is that it can be easily eaten with one hand.’ (source: MATCHA)

The rice filling normally comes with some ingredients, but this one is very simple – just walnuts!

 

 

 Ingredients

(for 12 inarizushi)

[for dashi stock]
5 cm x 5 cm dashi kombu (dried kelp)
10 g katsuobushi (bonito flakes)
500 ml water

300 g Japanese short grain rice (or 2 rice cooker cups – 1 cup = 180 ml )
340 ml water, ideally soft water
5 cm x 5 cm dashi kombu 

12 square abura-age (or 6 rectangle, cut into half to make 12 )

4 tbsp caster sugar
3 tbsp usukuchi shoyu (Japanese light soy sauce)

60 ml rice vinegar
2  tbsp caster sugar
¼ tsp sea salt

60 g walnut (less bitter ones preferable. I used Howard variety), lightly roasted

optional: mitsuba, boiled (to garnish)

 

 

Method

  1. Soak the dashi kombu in the water for overnight.
  2. Put the rice in a large bowl with some water and wash gently in a circular motion for about 10 seconds, then discard the water. Repeat 3-4 times and drain with a sieve or strainer. Soak the rice in the 340 ml water for 60 min (30 min in summer). Then cook in rice cooker with another dried kelp. If you don’t have a cooker, click here and follow 6 in Method.
  3. Meanwhile, roll the abura-age with a rolling pin to flatten and to make them open easily. Cut one side of each and open carefully to make a pouch (no need for rectangle ones). Put the abura-age in boiling water for a minute and drain well and pat dry.
  4. To make dashi stock, put the kombu and water (Method 1) along with the katsuobushi in a pot and slowly bring just below boiling point. Turn off the heat and remove kombu, but leave katsuobushi for 5 minutes and strain.
  5. In a large pot, pour in the dashi stock, 4 tbsp sugar and soy sauce, and bring to the boil. Put in the abura-age and place a drop lid or cover with foil on top of the liquid and abura-age. Simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes or until the liquid has almost gone (but not all), and gets absorbed into the abura-age. Let them cool in the liquid.
  6. Meanwhile, mix the rice vinegar, 2 tbsp sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Place the cooked rice in a large bowl while hot and slowly pour the mixed vinegar evenly onto the rice by dripping it onto a spatula. Quickly mix using a cut and fold motion. Scatter in the walnuts and fold the rice over from the bottom 3 to 4 times.
  7. Squeeze (but not to much) the abura-age but reserve the liquid. Moisten hands with the liquid and make 12 small cylindrical rice balls so as to fit in the abura-age pouch. Open the pouch and stuff the rice ball in.

    cylindrical rice balls

If you are not sure how to make, watch the below as a reference:

 

For white ones, turn abura-age pouch inside out

 

This post made me hungry – almost midnight though!! 

 

Bucatini con Broccoli Arriminati – Broccoli Pasta and B&B in Palermo

Today, I am reposting the Bucatini con Broccoli Arriminati recipe because it is one of the most popular one in my blog, and some come to see almost every day – so far, more than 1,600 views in total.

 

Finally, found Sicilian broccoli in Japan!

 

And also, I’d like to introduce a brand-new breakfast in Palermo. B&B Bandiera 77 located near the Teatro Massimo is their second B&B that my Sicilian friends have opened up recently. Here is the review on Tripadvisor. I must stay next time in Palermo!! Oh yes, the Bucatini recipe is originally from them!

B&B Bandiera77

——————–

I always stay at the same bed and breakfast in Palermo. It is located in a convenient area, spotless and comfortable to stay at, but these are not only the reason. I like the Sicilian couple who runs the B&B, so I go back to see them.

I had asked them for a Sicilian recipe to post here, and upon arrival, they gave me a typical one in Palermo: Bucatini con Broccoli Arriminati.

 

Broccoli Pasta 1

 

Arriminato means ‘stirred’, and broccoli arriminati is literally translated to ‘stirred broccoli’. This is a pasta dish with broccoli sauce made by stirring well.

Hang on! Cauliflower is called broccoli in Sicily! This is confusing…. The bright green colour of the vegetable confuses us, too!  It’s not ‘broccoli’ but greenish cauliflower what we call! To say precisely, it is cauliflower pasta!

 

Broccoli
Sicilian broccoli at Ballarò Market in Palermo

 

So I made it with white cauliflower, and with broccoli (not Sicilian one!) to colour the sauce as green cauliflower and Romanesco broccoli or broccoflower are not easily found here. Now it can be properly called ‘broccoli’ pasta 😀

Bucatini is traditionally used for this dish. It is served with toasted breadcrumbs on top, which is so called ‘poor man’s Parmesan’. Raisin and pine nut are typical ingredients used in Sicilian dishes, where we can see Arabic influence over the island.

I made some alterations, but basically followed the ingredients and instructions they gave me. I’m sure this is going to be one of my rotation recipes when cauliflowers are in season!

 

ingredients
Tried once with ‘broccoli’ while in Sicily

 

Ingredients

(for 2 servings)

50 g bugget (leftover or stale bread is ideal), finely grated
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 liters water
2 tsp salt
180 g cauliflower (about 1/2 head)
80 g broccoli (about 1/4 head)
200 g bucatini (I used no.6)

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
100 g onion, finely chopped
2 fillets of anchovy
20 g raisins
20 g pine nuts
blackpepper (to taste)
a pinch (1/16 tsp) of saffron powder

 

Broccoli Pasta 2

 

 Method

  1. For toasted breadcrumbs: Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the breadcrumbs to toast on low heat, stirring consistently for 5 minutes or until crisp and brown.
  2. Bring a pot of the salted water to the boil. Put in the cauliflower and broccoli and cook over medium heat until easily broken apart (about 10 min for broccoli, 15 min for cauliflower). Remove from the water and set aside. Retain the cooking liquid to cook the sauce and pasta.
  3. For the sauce: In a pan, heat the olive oil and sauté the onion over medium heat until translucent. Put in the anchovy, and break with wooden spoon or such. Add the raisins and pine nuts to fry for a few minutes. Put in the boiled cauliflower and broccoli, then mash and mix by stirring. Season with the pepper, add the saffron and 100 cc cauliflower/broccoli water, and cook gently on lower heat for 5 min stirring occasionally. Make sure it doesn’t get too dry – add some more cooking liquid if required.
  4. Meanwhile, add some water to the cauliflower/broccoli water and bring back to the boil, then cook the pasta until just before ‘al dente’ (bucatini no.6 for about 6 min).
  5. Transfer the pasta into the sauce. Mix well all together while cooking for 1-2 min. Taste it and add salt if required.
  6. Sprinkle with the toasted breadcrumbs on the top when serve.

 

Broccoli Pasta

baked version
Baked version with short pasta (baked at 170C for 15 min)
Pasta con Broccoli, Scampi e Gamberi
Also made seafood pasta with broccoli (Pasta con Broccoli, Scampi e Gamberi ) – without raisins, pine nuts, breadcrumbs – while in Sicily

 

Bed &Breakfast in Palermo

La Via Delle Biciclette – You will find where the name comes from. 

 

 

Bolo Rei and Porto, Portugal

Happy New Year everyone! Hope you all have a great year!!
Here is my first post in 2019 with the revised Bolo Rei recipe for Epiphany. Now I’m  writing this eating the cake – too good to stop!


Upon arrival in Porto after Lisbon and Coimbra, I launched another eating project.

Porto by the River Douro

The first target was Pastel de Nata as I wrote last October, and Bolo Rei was the next. I had always wanted to have the authentic one since I tried the recipe and posted it here two years ago.

My Bolo Rei baked in 2016

Bolo Rei, or King Cake (or King’s Cake, Kings’ Cake), is a traditional Portuguese cake typically eaten during Christmas time until 6th of January. My visit being in September, I had done lots of research in advance – as usual – if it is obtainable even in summer.

Pastelaria Itaipú

I explored the town, finding five bakeries/pastry shops with Bolo Rei. Can you imagine how much I got excited when came across the cake for the fist in my life? 😀

Pastelaria Cristo Rei
Confeitaria do Bolhão

I had assumed that Petúlia might sell Bolo Rei all year round, and I was right! It has a tea room attached, so I enjoyed a slice along with proper English black tea – they have Tetley’s. Yay!

Confeitaria Petúlia

Their cake was so scrumptious that I couldn’t resist to bring a whole – about 2 kilos – back to Japan with me. I am sure the fragrant smell, especially of Port wine, filled in the train carriage and aircraft cabin tempted the passengers 🙂

@ Confeitaria Petúlia

I had another ‘things to do’ in Porto: to do Portuguese traditional grocery store hopping, and also to purchase marmelada, or quince jelly/paste, and some stuff for Bolo Rei.

Portuguese traditional grocery stores are a wonder! You will be fascinated by the wide variety of products: deli, traditional Portuguese foods, products from the local, ex-colonies including Brazil etc. I wish I had had more time to examine each item!

The names of some stores, as well as the commodity such as spices, teas, etc., are reminiscent of Portuguese discoveries derived from their maritime exploration.

A Pérola do Bolhão with an impressive art nouveau style façade

Pérola means pearl, which was one of the luxury goods through the trade with the Orient and South America in those days.

Casa Chinesa

Chinesa means Chinese.

Japão is Japan.

O Pretinho do Japão sells good selection of tinned fish, Port wines, teas and coffees, and I bought a herbal tea. They have a cafe with a lovely garden at the back.
Comer e Chorar Por Mais – The hams, sausages, cheeses etc. looked good.
Comer e Chorar Por Mais didn’t have Broa, Portuguese cornbread, but the rye bread was really tasty.

My favourite was Casa Natal. The interior space is beautifully organised – the walls are covered by wooden cabinets and shelves filled neatly with goods. One of the shopkeeper was really friendly and helped me to choose the proper ingredients for Bolo Rei, which were in good quality and I liked the dried figs from Douro Valley most. Oh, marmelada was nice as well.

Love Portugal tin packaging design
bacalhau
spices

 

Talking of Porto and Bolo Rei, Port wine is a must! I bought a bottle of Dow’s 10 Year Old Tawny not only for the cake but also for Stilton cheese 🙂

3 Port wine tasting @ Quinta do Bomfim in PinhãoDouro Valley
Dow’s 10 Year Old Tawny @ Quinta do Bomfim

 

Thank you for waiting. Here is the recipe, which needed to be revised because I had experienced the genuine taste!

Ingredients

For the dough
70 g assorted crystallised fruits (incl. 20 g orange), to chop if necessary
35 g raisin
30 g dried fig, roughly chopped
4 tbsp Port wine*
1 tbsp dark rum*

80 g full fat milk, lukewarmed
5 g honey
3 g instant yeast**
125 g strong white flour

50 g unsalted butter, room temperature
30 g caster sugar
15 g honey
2 g sea salt
2 egg yolk, whisked and room temperature

100 g plain wholemeal flour
25 g strong white flour
3 g instant yeast**
½ tsp lemon zest
½ tsp orange zest
20 g sliced almond, lightly toasted
20 g walnut, roughly chopped
20 g pine nuts
(optional: a dried broad/fava bean)

For the topping
egg white
crystallised fruits of your choice

For the glaze
20 g honey
15 g water

For the decoration
icing sugar

*  If you use good quality Port wine, add 5 tbsp without rum.
** Use yeast for doughs high in sugar/sweet breads (I used SAF Golden Instant Yeast).

Method

  1. Soak the crystallised fruits, figs and raisins in the Port wine and rum for 1-2 hours. Drain well and set aside.
  2. Dissolve the honey in the lukewarm milk, scatter in the 3 g yeast and allow to sit for 7 minutes. Stir well and leave another 8 minutes.
  3. Tip the 125 g strong flour into a bowl, and pour in the yeasty milk to mix. Knead by hand for 15 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Pour in some more lukewarmed milk a little at a time if required. Shape the dough into a ball, place in a bowl, and cover with a damp tea towel or clingfilm. Allow to rise in a warm place for 45-60 minutes or until it has doubled in size. Punch down the dough gently to degas.  Shape into a ball, place back in the bowl and cover again and sit for 10 minutes.
  4. Mix well with the wholemeal flour, the rest of strong white flour and the instant dried yeast, and set aside. In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, honey and salt until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in the flours to combine. Then tear the dough ball into small pieces and add in the batter making sure it is evenly blended together, using your hand and create a sticky dough. Knead by hand for 20-30 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Put in the zests and soaked fruits, and knead for another 5 minutes or so. Add the nuts (and a fava bean) and lightly mix until all the fruits and nuts are evenly covered by the dough.
  5. Line a baking tray with baking paper and scatter over some strong flour. Scrape the dough on to the tray, shape into a round loaf (about 20 cm in diameter), and make a hole in the centre. Place a cup or something in the middle so that the dough maintains its wreath shape. Cover with a damp tea towel or clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place for about 90-105 minutes or until it has 1.5 times in size.
  6. Preheat oven to 190. Brush it all with the egg white and decorate with cristallised fruits. Covered again and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake for 25-30 minutes in the oven. Cover with aluminium foil if the surface becomes too brown (Do not burn the fruits!).
  7. Meanwhile, to make the glaze, put the honey and water in a small pan over low heat. Stir until completely melted and slightly thickened. Remove the cake from the oven, and carefully lift out and place on a wire rack. Immediately brush the honey over the cake. Cool completely and dust with the icing sugar.
  8. Store in an airtight container any leftovers, but finish in a couple of days. (To revive leftover or slightly stale Bolo Rei, toast lightly.)

 

Hope you like my Bolo Rei!

My experimental Bolo Rei

For the people who is going to Porto at Christmas time, here is ‘Where to buy Bolo Rei in Porto‘ tips.

 

Ichijiku no Kanroni Cake – Japanese Fig Compote Cake

 

The loaf cake baked with the Ichijiku no Kanroni, Japanese Fig Compote, is sooooo good.

 

Ichijiku no Kanroni

 

The recipe was adapted from the Roasted Fig and Almond Cake.

 

 

Method – based on the Roasted Fig and Almond Cake:

  1. Omit the 12 figs, honey and icing sugar from the ingredients and skip Process 1.
  2. Add in 300 g ichijiku no kanroni (roughly chopped) after Process 4, and mix evenly.
  3. Spoon the mixture into a lined loaf tin and bake as instructed.

 

 

Octopus Salad and Croatia

I was going to post this recipe earlier – before the summer holiday season started – and to write about my trip to Croatia in 2017, esp. about Croatian wine…. Oh well, the summer is still going on and the salad is perfect for hot days. As for the wine, which shall follow later on, the information would be of help to the future visitors, anyway.

Dubrovnik, July 2017

Last year on Hvar Island, I had scrumptious salad as I mentioned on Sardine Escabeche and Croatia.

Hvar, July 2017

This is the Salata od Hobotnice, or Dalmatian octopus salad.

Salata od Hobotnice @ Konoba Menego

The restaurant staff wouldn’t tell me the recipe (of course!), so I imitated it adding my own taste.

 

Ingredients

(for 3-4 servings as appetiser)

200 g boiled octopus*, cut into pieces
200 g tinned chickpea, drained and rinsed
160 g cherry tomato, halved or quartered
100 g cucumber, diced
100 g red onion, thinly sliced
1-1½ tbsp caper (preserved in vinegar), drained well and patted dry
1 tsp garlic clove, minced
3 tbsp white wine vinegar (I used acidity 6%)
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1-1½ tbsp flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 dried bay leaf, crushed into small pieces
¼ tsp dried mint flakes
salt and pepper, to taste

½-1 lemon, cut into wedges
(optional: extra-virgin oil and flat-leaf parsley, to garnish)

Note: * See the bottom of this blog post.

 

Method

  1. In a bowl, combine all the ingredients (First, add 1 tbsp of the capers and the parsley, and add more if necessary.) except the lemon, and mix well.
  2. Chill in fridge for 30-60 minutes.
  3. Drain well and put in plates with the lemon wedges, and garnish with the parsley. At table, squeeze lemon juice over the salad, and drizzle olive oil over if desired. Bon appétit!

 

my cooking whilst in Dubrovnik: mussels from Gruž Market cooked in Pošip (Croatian white grape variety) wine

I should have paired Pošip wine with the Salata od Hobotnice!

 


How to prepare and cook octopus

How to prepare and make boiled octopus

How to cook a tender octopus

If you preder to make it tender like tako for sushi, massage fresh raw octopus with handfuls of natural sea salt as Jiro mentions in Jiro Dreams of Sushi (c. 1:10-2:00).

 

How to prepare and cook tako sashimi on You Tube

Maybe massaging for 15-30 minutes should be fine, and then rinse well under running water. Boil water in a medium pan, add the octopus with some salt and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Stick skewer through thickest part of a tentacle. When the point goes through without finding rubbery resistance, it’s done. Put the octopus into a bowl of ice-cold water and drain once cool.

 


Cherry and Coconut Cake

On 29th of June 2018, Tokyo saw the earliest end to the rainy season on record. The official announced that it had come 22 days earlier than the average and lasted only 23 days although it normally does 40 – 45 days…. How could we survive in the heat for the next three months and avoid shortage of water?

The cherry season here is almost ending, sadly. I guess the shorter rainy season has hastened it! Fortunately, I could manage to complete the recipe in time. On the other hand, apricot one is unlikely to be successful…. Oh well, probably in the next year! Anyway, here is the cherry one. Hope you will like it.

 

 

Ingredients

(for 21 cm round cake tin )

 

100 g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
80 g caster sugar
20 g coconut sugar
1 egg, whisked
50 g coconut cream  (I used 25.6% fat cream)
50 g Greek yoghurt
120 g plain flour
1½ tsp baking powder
50 g fine desiccated coconut
200 g cherries

 

 

Gluten-Free Carrot Cupcakes

I’m in good health; however, I’m afraid I have taken too much gluten and sugar because of my baking experiments…. You know, I don’t want to throw them away…, so now I am trying to cut down on some.

 

 

Ingredients

(for about 10 servings/5 cm diameter cups)

[for the cake]
80 g white rice flour
30 g chickpea flour
20 g buckwheat flour
20 g ground almond
1½ tsp gluten free baking powder
⅛ tsp gluten free bicarbonate of soda
a smidgen of salt (I used finely powdered salt)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground mace
½ tsp ground allspice
¼ ground ginger powder
¼ tsp ground coriander powder
a pinch of clove

2 eggs
4 tbsp rice bran oil (or sunflower oil)
4 tbsp date syrup
4 tbsp maple syrup (I used Grade A: amber/rich flavour)
1 tbsp Cointreau
½ tsp vanilla extract

200 g coarsely grated carrot
40 g raisin, finely chopped
30 g walnut, chopped

[for the frosting]
140 g cream cheese
30 g sour cream
2 tbsp maple syrup
⅛ tsp vanilla extract
a little cinnamon
a little salt (possibly finely powdered salt)

[for the topping, optional]
chervil or chopped pistachio
candied orange peel or marmalade

 

 

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Mix the dry ingredients and set aside.
  2. In a bowl, whisk the eggs. Add in the oil, syrups, Cointreau and vanilla, and beat well. Spoon in the flour mixture, then stir in the carrot, raisins and walnuts. Mix until well combined.
  3. Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases. Bake for 25 minutes or until skewer comes out clean. Sit at least 24 hours at room temperature but don’t let them dry.
  4. For the frosting,  beat the cheese, soured cream, syrup, vanilla, cinnamon and salt until smooth, then chill until required. Spread the cream on top of the cakes with a cutlery knife or pipe swirls. Decorate with the orange and chervil or pistachio.

 

Lemon Scones

Still playing around with lemons….

 

Ingredients

80 g whole fat milk, luke warmed
60 g Greek yoghurt
2 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed

40 g caster sugar
grated zest 1 lemon

250 g plain flour
20 g wholemeal flour
strong white flour, a little for rolling out
3 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda

50 g salted butter, chilled and diced
20 g lard, chilled and diced

2 tbsp lemon jam (sugarless is preferable)
30 g candied lemon peel, finely chopped

50 g icing sugar
little lemon juice, freshly squeezed

 

 

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a baking tray with baking sheet.
  2. Put the caster sugar in a small bowl  and work the lemon zest into the sugar with the back of a spoon until the sugar is moist and fragrant.
  3. Put the warmed milk, yoghurt and lemon juice into a jug and mix well. Set aside for a moment.
  4. Sift the flours, baking powder and baking soda into a bowl. Using fingertips, rub the butter and lard into the dry mix until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.
  5. Make a well in the centre of the mixture and spoon in the jam, peel and the two-thirds of the liquid. Combine quickly until a sticky dough forms with a flat-bladed knife, adding more liquid little by little as necessary. Don’t overwork or you will toughen the dough.
  6. Flour onto the work surface and tip the ball of dough out. Fold the dough 3-4 times until it’s a little smoother, then pat out to a 2.5 cm thickness and stamp out the scones using a cutter.
  7. Place the scones on the baking tray and bake for 10 – 12 minutes until well risen and golden. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.
  8. Mix the icing sugar with enough lemon juice to make a thick but runny icing. Drizzle over the scones.

 

Lemon & Coconut Posset

It’s been a while since I last posted the recipe…. It’s been so hectic that no time to post here. Besides, I have been in a kind of the winter blues – probably because Tokyo experienced the coldest winter in 40 years – and weary to complete my cooking/baking experiments. However, Sakura, or cherry blossoms here came out earlier than usual  and it’s high to wake up from hibernation. Sorry guys, I will catch up with your blog posts soon!

Sakura in bloom – nearby cherry blossom viewing spot
different variety of Sakura

The UK switched to the summer time earlier today,  and what I am posting here is a chilled dessert recipe developed from English lemon posset which is perfect for spring and summer days.

Ingredients

(for 4  servings)

400 ml coconut cream (I used 25.6% fat cream)
200 ml water
80 g caster sugar
agar-agar powder*
2 grated lemon zest
80 ml lemon juice (about 2 lemons), freshly squeezed
2 cardamom pods, crushed
fresh mint leaves (optional)

*Adjust according to the package instructions. I made it softer like thick yoghurt.

Method

  1. Put 10 g sugar in a small bowl  and work the lemon zest into the sugar with the back of a spoon until the sugar is moist and fragrant. In another bowl, mix the agar-agar and the rest of sugar. Set aside.
  2.  Pour the coconut cream with the water in a pan, add cardamom and gently heat. Scatter in the agar-agar mixture a little at a time stirring continuously and bring slowly to the boil. Add the lemon infused sugar and simmer for 1-2 minutes mixing well. Just before taking off the heat, add the lemon juice and whisk well.
  3. Remove the cardamom and pour into ramekins of the sort and refrigerate for 3-4 hours.
  4. Garnish with mint leaves when serve.
Ghraiba baked with a recipe I found on the web (click here for the recipe)

Posset is usually served with shortbread or biscuits, so I baked Ghraiba, Tunisian chickpea biscuits to accompany.

Kabocha & Caramel Biscuit Cheesecake

 

Just yum… 💛

 

 

Ingredients

(for 18 cm cake tin)

150 g Belgian caramel biscuits, bashed to crumbs*
40 g salted butter, melted

200 g cream cheese, at room temperature
50 g maple sugar
10 g coconut sugar
100 g soured cream
100 g Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp cornstarch
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp ground cinnamon
a pinch of ground clove
1 egg, lightly whisked **
1 egg yolk
150 g mashed kabocha ***

(optional for garnish)
whipped cream
caramel syrup or sauce

 

 

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 240°C.  Grease a loose-bottomed or springform round tin or line with a baking parchment. For the crust, mix the biscuit crumbs and melted butter until evenly moist, then press into the bottom of the tin. Set aside.
  2. To make the filling, cream the cheese in a bowl, put in the sugar and beat until smooth. Add the soured cream, yoghurt, cornstarch, vanilla, cinnamon and clove mixing well between each addition. Beat in the eggs one at a time rather than whisk not to incorporate too much air as this will affect the smooth surface of the cake. Finally, add the mashed kabocha, blend well and strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve. Pour the batter over the crust in the tin.
  3. Bake for 5 mins (Do not open during this period!), then turn down the oven to 100°C, bake further for 40-50 mins****.  Turn off and leave the cake inside to cool down slowly. When cool, chill in refrigerator overnight.

Notes
*       Belgian caramel biscuits such as Lotus Biscoff
**     Just stir white and yolk not to aerate.
***   Ideally Kuri Kabocha.  Steam or microwave, remove green skins and mash well.
**** If not sure, measure the temperature of the cake an inch from the edge, turn off when it reaches 75°C.

 

Sardine Escabeche and Croatia

The Nanbanzuke recipe I posted earlier this month intended to allude this Sardine Escabeche recipe.

I came across savur, a.k.a. ‘savor’ or ‘saor’, Croatian escabeche when I was making  my ‘To-Eat in Croatia’ list picking out the local dishes from Taste of Croatia. It describes savur that ‘Traditional way of preparing and preserving fish, usually sardines and anchovies, that is very popular in regions where ancient Venetian republic ruled but very similar recipe can be found even in distant Japan’, which attracted my interest on the propagation: the Portuguese  or Spanish dish was passed on eastward – e.g. to the Mediterranean regions, Philippines, Japan etc. as I mentioned on the Nanbanzuke  post (also spread westward to their colonies in the new continent as well, though).

Unfortunately, I had no opportunity to try escabeche in Croatia, so I made it myself referencing a recipe on the web and adding some changes.

Ingredients

(for 2 servings)

6 butterflied sardine fillet
salt and pepper
15 g plain flour
15 g  cornstarch
50 ml olive oil, to shallow fry

[Marinade]
100 ml water
75 ml white wine vinegar (acidity 6%)
60 ml white wine (I used medium bodied Riesling)
½ tsp caster sugar
60 g red onion, finely sliced
30 g carrot, julienned
30 g celery, julienned
3 small sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed and chopped
½ tbsp salted capers, rinsed
1 garlic clove, crushed
¼ tsp fennel seeds
1 dried bay leaf
fresh rosemary springs
fresh sage leaves
1 tbsp juice of fresh lemon

extra virgin olive oil, to garnish
sweet paprika, to garnish (optional)
celery leaf or flat leaf parsley, to garnish (optional)

Method

  1. Season the fish with salt and pepper, and lightly dust with a mix of the flour and starch. Heat the olive oil in a pan and fry over medium heat, skin-side down until lightly brown and drain excess oil. Set them aside in a wide non-reactive tray.
  2. Place the celery, carrot, onion, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, bay leaf, rosemary, sage, fennel seeds, sugar, vinegar, water and wine in a non-reactive saucepan, bring to the boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat and leave to simmer gently for a few minutes. Remove from the heat, allow to cool slightly, and pour over the fish. Set aside to cool completely, and scatter the lemon juice before place in a fridge. Leave for at least 2 hours or overnight to marinate.
  3. On a platter, top with sardines, garnish with the paprika and green leaves, then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil when serve.

I tried as many dishes as I listed whilst in Croatia this summer and learnt that Croatian cuisine has received influences from neibouring cultures and the countries ruled the territory of Croatia throughout history. It has similarities with Italian, Austrian, Hungarian, Turkish etc., but each region has its own distinct culinary traditions. I stayed mostly in Split and Dubrovnik, the coastal Croatia, and enjoyed lots of seafood cooked in traditional Dalmatian way.

Seafood Dishes

Brudet: fish soup served with polenta
Gulaš od Hobotnice: octopus stew
Škampi na Buzaru or ‘Skampi Buzara‘ @ Villa Spiza in Split – this place is getting very popular and takes no reservations. Go earlier to avoid the long queue, prob. by 7.00 pm at latest.
Crni Rižoto: black cuttlefish risotto @ Amfora near Gruž Port in Dubrovnik – loved the wild fennel adittion! Their Miso Fish Soup and Chilled Fennel Cream Soup looked nice.

Meat Dishes

Pašticada, so called ‘Queen of Dalmatian Cuisine’, served with potato gnocchi – meat dish but one of the most popular Dalmatian dishes.

I tried Ćevapčići in Bosnia Herzegovina where it is considered a national dish. Ćevapi or Ćevapčići is well known and eaten in all parts of the former Yugoslavia once under the Ottoman Empire. Next time Dubrovnik, I will try Taj Mahal (funny, it’s not an Indian restaurant!) near Lapad, not in the Old Town, to explore more about Bosnian food. Sofra in Zagreb was pretty good.

‘National Plate’ @ Sadrvan in Mostar – dolma, japrak, ćevapčići, lepinja, ajvar, đuveč, Bosanski Kolacic

Those I mentioned above were all nice, however, what I enjoyed more was the food cooked with bare minimum of seasoning and really brings out the full original flavour of ingredients.

grilled trout @ Plitvice Lakes

The octopus salad at Konoba Menego on Hvar Island is highly recommended. All the ingredients were fresh and tasty, especially the caper! They don’t sell their homemade capers, unfortunately…. Instead, they advised me to find ones preserved in vinegar at farmers’ market. Their cheese and dry-cured ham platter looked yum.

octopus salad @ Konoba Menego

In Dalmatia, fresh seafood grilled over open flame is superb. It is simple, but tastes different as it is cooked with fresh olive oil and Mediterranean herbs over olive tree or grapevine wood fire, which gives it deep flavour. So the grilled meat and vegetables are flavourful, too.

grilled sea bass @ Miličić Winery

Lady Pi-Pi, one of MUST places in Dubronik, offers delicious BBQ food at reasonable price considering to the location (within the Wall), a great view over the Old Town and good atmosphere under the grape trellis. They don’t accept reservations, so I avoided dinner time and dropped in just before lunch time (breakfast is served until 11:00). I had to wait a bit for a table to be ready, but there wasn’t a queue.

left: my lunch – grilled squid @ Lady Pi-Pi

You absolutely must try peka while in Dalmatia! Peka is a slowly baked dish with meat or seafood along with vegetables in a pot or tray, but it is actually a method of cooking, and also a dome or bell-shaped ceramic or metal lid. The dish is also called ispod čripnje, or ‘under the bell’ – food cooked under the bell-shaped lid in fireplace.

dome-shaped peka -(souce: Travels with Tricia)

The lid is covered with hot coals while the ingredients are being slowly cooked in their own juices under the ‘bell’. That is why they are moist and flavoursome. It is said that it probably is the oldest way of food preparation in the Adriatic, even Mediterranean area – according to some archaeological researches, the artifacts of peka was found in the layers of Bronze Age.

It may be a primitive way of cooking, but the result is more than satisfying!! Even the potatoes accompanied by were moreish!

fireplace for peka @ Miličić Winery

I wish I could have joined sunset tuk tuk tour followed by dinner at Konoba Dubrava, one of the most popular peka places in Dubrovnik! Unfortunately, it was not available for just one person…. Anyway, I had a chance to try some, which was divine!

peka @ Miličić Winery

Some locals I met while in Dubrovnik dreamily said octopus peka is scrumptious and much tastier than meat one. It was too late to notice some restaurants near Polače Port in Mljet serve octopus peka – little time was left until departure back to Dubrovnik…. Peka usually needs to be ordered in advance and takes some time to be prepared. Stop by and ask restaurant staff before you visit the Mljet National Park if you make a day trip to the island.

octopus peka (source: Croatia Travel Guide & Blog)

In Dubrovnik, I rented a holiday apartment halfway between the Old Town and Gruž Port – less expensive and much quieter than staying inside the Wall. There are very frequent bus services to/from the centre until late, however, it was just about 20 minute walk and very safe even at night. I sometimes walked down for a glass of wine or a scoop of ice cream enjoying cool evening air after dinner at the apartment.

There are fish and green markets near the port, where I popped in almost every day to get some fresh fruits for breakfast, and vegetables etc. for my cooking. I cannot recall well, but I think the mussels were about 15-20 kunas per 1kg.

my cooking: mussels cooked in Pošip (Croatian white grape variety) wine
Also made my lemony pasta with ricotta filled raviori instead of adding the cheese (click here for the recipe)

Dalmatian cheese and dry-cured ham also are a must, which I shall mention when I write about Croatian wines.

Nanbanzuke – Japanese Escabeche

Nanban is a Sino-Japanese word, originally referred to the inhabitants of Southeast Asia, particularly the islands of modern-day Philippines and Indonesia. After Portuguese first made contact with Japan in the 16th Century followed by Spaniard, the trades based in their colonies in Southeast Asia were carried out. Consequently, ‘Nanban’ became to designate Portugal and Spain (mainly the former), the people and things from the countries and trades.

As the name indicates, nanbanzuke (tsuke or zuke means ‘marinade’, ‘pickled’, ‘soaked’, ‘dipped’), a Japanese dish which is principally deep-fried fish soaked in vinegar based marinade flavoured with soy sauce, dried red chili pepper, onion or Japanese leek etc., is Portuguese origin and derives from the escabesche.

… in Portugal, escabeche (eesh-kah-besh) is a way of preserving food in vinegar and aromatics. It is commonly served cold as a petisco (Portuguese tapas) with some bread to soak up the sauce. Recipes vary but the basics consist of fried sardines or mackerel marinated in a sauce made with vinegar, olive oil, onions and herbs. Its origins go back to the Romans who used vinegar to preserve both fish and meat though the word comes from the Arab iskbê.

(source: Portugal on a Plate)

 

Sardinha de escabeche (source: Pinterest)

 

When it comes to the main ingredient of nanbanzuke, it usually refers to aji, Japanese horse/jack mackerel, but there are many varieties: wakasagi Japanese smelt, mackerel, sardine or salmon, meats like chicken nanban, or even vegetables. The Nanban-style marinade and the history of influence to Japanese cuisine reminds me of Filipino Adobo originated in Spain.

 

Click here for my Chicken Adobo recipe

 

Red chili pepper and deep-frying cooking method you can recognise in nanbanzuke dishes, were also introduced to Japan through Nanban. That is the reason why the pepper is also known as ‘nanban kosho’, or nanban pepper.

At soba or udon noodle places, you might come across kamo nanban (soba/udon) and/or curry nanban (soba/udon). In this case, ‘nanban‘ designates red chili and onion or Japanese leek (as substitute of onion), which is  plausibly said that Nanban-jin were eating a lot of Japanese leek to prevent cholera at the time when kamo (duck) nanban was invented in the middle of the Edo period (1603-1867). Onion was also brought to Japan by Nanban trade during the period, but remained as an ornamental plant until the turn of the last century.

Oops! Sorry, too many trivia. It’s already September, but summer is still here. Enjoy this refreshing nanbanzuke dish in hot weather!

 

 

 

Ingredients

(for 2 servings)

[Marinade]
5 cm x 5 cm dashi kombu (dried kelp)
60 ml water
50 ml rice vinegar (acidity 4.5%)
2 tbsp usukuchi shoyu (Japanese light soy sauce)
2 tsp caster sugar
½ dried takanotsume red pepper or dried red chili pepper (small-sized)

60 g onion, finely sliced
20 g carrot, julienned
6 small fillet of aji, mackerel, salmon or sardine
10 g plain flour
10 g katakuriko or cornstarch
vegetable oil, to deep fry

optional as garnish:
shishito pepper or okura,  prick each to avoid explosion
kabocha, sliced

 

 

Method

  1. Leave the akatogarashi in water for a while. Drain, seed and cut into thin slices.
  2. Put the water, vinegar, soy sauce and sugar in a non-reactive tray, and mix well until sugar dissolved. Add in the kombu and akatogarashi, then onion and carrot to marinate. Set aside.
  3. Heat the oil over medium heat to 180℃. Lightly dust the fish with a mix of the flour and starch. Fry shishito and kabocha (without flour/batter coating) first, both sides until slightly brown and drain excess oil. Fry the fish in the same way.
  4. After frying, immediately marinate: remove the vegetables from the marinade, put the fries into the liquid and cover with the onion and carrot. Stand for at least 30 minutes or refrigerate overnight.

 

 

On more trivium:

 

You may already know, but tempura is one of the Nanban cuisine as well.

Portuguese merchants introduced tempura to Japan. They were in the habit of eating fried fish during the religious seasons (“tempora“) of abstinence from meat.

The word “tempura“, or the technique of dipping fish and vegetables into a batter and frying them, comes from the word “tempora“, a Latin word meaning “times”, “time period” used by both Spanish and Portuguese missionaries to refer to the Lenten period or Ember Days (ad tempora quadragesimae), Fridays, and other Christian holy days. Ember Days or quattuor tempora refer to holy days when Catholics avoid red meat and instead eat fish or vegetables. The idea that the word “tempura” may have been derived from the Portuguese noun tempero, meaning a condiment or seasoning of any kind, or from the verb temperar, meaning “to season” is also possible as the Japanese language could easily have assumed the word “tempero” as is, without changing any vowels as the Portuguese pronunciation in this case is similar to the Japanese.

(source: Wikipedia)

Sicily and Lemony Ricotta Fettuccine with Tomato & Pistachio

This Fettuccine recipe is adopted from the Raviolini al Limone I enjoyed whilst in Enna for the Holy Monday last year.

 

Raviolini al Limone @ Centrale

 

Instead of ricotta filled ravioli, I used fettuccine and added the cheese into the sauce. Also scattered with ground pistachios to make it Sicilian!!

 

 

Ingredients

(for 2 servings)

200 g dried fettuccine
2 liter water
2 tsp salt

2 tbsp olive oil
400 g fully ripe tomato, finely chopped
200 ml water from boiled fettuccine
100 ml heavy cream (whipping cream, fat 35%)
2 tbsp ground pistachio (pistachio powder/flour)
100 g ricotta cheese
2 tbsp juice of lemon, freshly squeezed
a few pinches of lemon zest (organic unwaxed), freshly grated
ground white pepper (to taste)

flat leaf parsley  (to sprinkle)
unsalted pistachio, roughly chopped  (to sprinkle)

 

 

 Method

  1. Bring a large pot of the water to the boil. Salt the water and cook fettuccine until 2-3 min short of ‘al dente’. Reserve the cooking liquid for the sauce.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Put in the tomato and fry for a few minutes stirring consistently.
  3. Transfer the fettuccine into the pan and add the cooking liquid. Increase the heat to high and mix well by stirring consistently for 1-2 min or until the liquid thickened. Make sure it doesn’t get dry. Add some more cooking water if required.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium. Pour in the heavy cream and pistachio stirring constantly as it thickens. Add the ricotta, lemon juice and zest, season with the white pepper and toss it well. Once mixed, turn off the heat immediately. Taste it and add salt or some more lemon juice if required.
  5. Plate the pasta, and sprinkle with the chopped pistachio and parsley.

     

    Calascibetta – view from Enna

MUST VISIT whilst in ENNA

 Villa Romana del Casalea large and elaborate Roman villa or palace located about 3 km from the town of Piazza Armerina, Sicily. Excavations have revealed one of the richest, largest and varied collections of Roman mosaics in the world, for which the site has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The villa and artwork contained within date to the early 4th century AD. (source: Wikipedia)

the Great Hunt

the ‘Bikini Girls’
the Giants

The Villa is famous for so-called ‘Bikini Girls’ mosaic, but for me, the most impressive one was the Giants.

The mosaic with the Giants shot by the arrows of Hercules is one of the most expressive in the entire residence. The figures are isolated and emerge clearly from the white background, heightening the drama of their poses.

The dying Giants have powerful bodies with reddish brown skin and are called serpent-footed because their lower limbs end in the form of sinuous snakes.

As in the central field, Hercules is not shown in the scene, which instead depicts the result of his vanquishing of enemies who dared challenge Olympus.

 

 

How to get to Villa Romana del Casale

1. to Piazza Armerina 

  • by Pullman (intercity bus) – arrives at Piazza Marescalchi
    from Enna and Palermo – by SAIS
    from Catania, Catania AP, Caltagirone – by Interbus

2. from Piazza Armerina to Villa Romana del Casale

  • by local bus: Villabus (1st May – 30th Sept. only)
  • by taxi: leaves from Piazza Marescalchi (main bus station)
    If you cannot find any taxies, try the bar at the piazza/near the bus station. They have the phone numbers and will probably call for you if you don’t speak Italian (so I could manage to take a taxi!!). Make sure to book for return. The return fare (both ways) costed about 20 euros as of March 2013.

Click here for more access tips

 

MUST STAY in ENNA

This newly opened B&B, P&G Design is run by the same owner of Bianko & Bianko I mentioned on my post, Chickpea & Almond Biscuits and Sicily. She kindly sent me the information for my future visit to Enna.

P&G Design (source: Booking.com)
breakfast (source: Booking.com)


MUST EAT in ENNA

Centrale was recommended by the owner, whose restaurant tips never disappoint me 🙂
Antipast al Buffet is a MUST as well as Raviolini al Limone!!

Antipast al Buffet @ Centrale

 

Croatian foods will follow later on….

Strawberry & Cream Polenta Muffins

 

Sadly, the strawberry season has been over here… but I have been playing around with  my strawberry confiture – scones, Victoria sponge, strawberry choc brownies etc. Today, I am posting the best result from those experiments I have made so far: Strawberry & Cream Polenta Muffins.

 

 

Ingredients

(makes 6 jumbo muffins)

130 g plain flour
60 g polenta or cornmeal
10 g almond flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
a dash (18 tsp) of sea salt
80 g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
65 g caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
½ tsp vanilla extract
70 ml whipping cream (heavy cream, fat 35%), whipped
120 g strawberry confiture

 

 

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190° C. Into a bowl, sift the flours, baking powder, bicarbonate and salt.
  2. In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg a quarter at a time, beating well after each, then add the vanilla extract.
  3. Fold in half of the flour mixture, the whipped cream and finally the rest of the flours gently until evenly combined. Add the confiture, stirring just to roughly mix.
  4. Spoon the batter into a greased or lined muffin tin. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce to 180° C and bake for about 15 minutes more or until well risen, golden and a skewer poked in comes out clean. Leave in the tin for 5 minutes, and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

 

Strawberry Confiture

 

Here in Japan, the strawberry season is coming towards the end 😦

 

 

So I have been cooking strawberries almost every night 😀
This strawberry confiture tastes sooooo good that I’m going to make it until the last minute!!

 

Ingredients

(makes about 280 – 300 g)

500 g ripe strawberry,  hulled and large ones halved
100 g golden caster sugar
juice of ½ – 1 lemon (about 2 tbsp)

 

Perfect with vanilla ice cream!

Method

  1. Put the strawberries into a non-reactive pan along with the lemon juice and sugar. Simmer on lower heat , stirring from time to time and skimming off scum.
  2. Roughly mash the berries with a wooden spoon or fork, and leave to simmer until thickened. In all, it will take about 45 – 60 minutes to make.
  3. Cool completely. Keep refrigerated and finish in 1 week. (Alternatively, bottle or freeze)

 

Sunday cream tea 🙂

 

I shall post a baking recipe with this strawberry confiture.

 

 

 

Lemon Lentil Soup and London

We have reached May already…. April has gone without any posts – things have been too hectic here to do blog hopping (sorry guys!) and posts.

This lentil soup is a copycat from Gaby’s Deli, a Jewish restaurant at Leicester Square, London. Not sure if I could succeed in copying it…. Or rather I should say I just tried to imitate their recipe, however, I like mine very much.

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ginger root, freshly grated
¼ tsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh coriander stalk, finely chopped
100 g onion, finely chopped
70 g carrot, finely chopped
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
650 and 150 ml water
4 tsp no sodium vegetable bouillon (adjust according to the package instructions)
200 g dried red or yellow lentil, rinsed
1 tsp dried mint leaves
½ – ¾ tsp fine sea salt (adjust according to the package instructions)
1 juice of fresh lemon

fresh coriander leaves, to garnish
slices of lemon, to garnish

Method

 ( For 3 -4 servings)

  1. In a large saucepan, put in the olive oil, ginger, garlic and coriander, then fry over low heat stirring consistently until fragrant. Add the onion and sauté for a few minutes but not brown. Spoon in the turmeric and cumin powder, and carry on until fragrant. Add the carrot and fry for further one minute.
  2. Pour the 650 ml water into the pan, stir in the lentil, bouillon, salt  and mint, and increase the heat to bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and cover to simmer for about 20 minutes or until tender.
  3. Purée the soup in a food processor or a blender until completely smooth. Let it sit for overnight if possible.
  4. Return the purée to the pan with 150 ml water and reheat over low heat. Pour in some more water if too thick. When boiled, add the lemon juice and simmer for a few minutes. Taste it and add more salt and/or juice of lemon if needed. Remove from the heat.
  5. Serve the soup in bowls and garnish with a slice of lemon and coriander leaves on top.

When in London, I pretty much enjoy Middle Eastern food. Below are the restaurants and shops I have tried:

Gaby’s Deli
Once it was forced to close, but fortunately still there! It’s no-frills but I enjoy their food and atmosphere. I pop in for a quick meal or when I’m away from home for a while and eager for vegetables.

Lentil soup (source: Yelp)

 

Honey & Co.
Very popular restaurant at Warren St. Booking is a must.

 

Mr Falafel

 

Hummus Bros

 

And I tried my blogger friend Kay’s recommendations last year. Thank you Kay for the posts, Yalla Yalla and the Barbary !

Yalla Yalla

At the corner of Green’s Court, found a nice Italian deli, Lina Stores and took away a cannolo.

I’ll definitely go back for their fresh pasta!

 

The Barbary

Halva ice cream

 

Restaurants and shops on my list:

Ottolenghi
Honey & Smoke  – Thank you Kay for sharing the review
Berber & Q – Shawarma Bar
Maroush
Karma Bread Bakery
Pilpel
The Good Egg

Let me know if you have any recommendations! Also if you happen to know where I can purchase a bottle of Arak, Israeli anis liqueur.

 

If you badly want tons of Halva…

It’s a Greek restaurant, but try the Greek Larder at King’s Cross when Whole Foods Market’s tiny package cannot satisfy you! They would happily slice some for you  – I bought about 500 g 😀

Bubur Cha Cha

Burbu Cha Cha is a coconut milk based dessert from Malaysia or Singapore. Usually cooked with yam, taro, sweet potatoes, black eyed beans, pandan leaf etc., but I made it simpler with just sweet potato, banana and tapioca.

 

 

Ingredients

(for 2-3 servings)

800-1000 ml water
35 g tapioca pearls

500 ml water
1 tbsp salt

450 ml water
240 g sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
110 g coconut cream (thicker and richer than coconut milk)
½ tsp coconut sugar
2-2½ tsp caster sugar (to adjust)
½ banana, cut into small pieces
(optional: fresh mint)

 

 

Method

  1. Pour the 800-1000 ml water in a pan and bring to the boil. Add in the tapioca and simmer over low heat for 1-1.5 hours or until transparent, stirring occasionally. Rinse in running water and drain.
  2. Meanwhile, leave the sweet potato pieces in 500 ml water with salt for about 1 hour and drain. Put the potato chunks in a pan with 450 ml water and bring to the boil. Cook on medium heat until tender.
  3. Reduce to low heat, add the sugars, ladle in the coconut cream and simmer for about a few minutes. Add in the tapioca and banana, then cook for further 2-3 minutes. Taste and add more caster sugar if needed. Serve hot. Or let it cool and chill in fridge to serve cold.

NOTE: Change water before adding coconut cream if use purple sweet potato.

 

Pâine de Casă & Khachapuri

The recipes that I’m posting here today are Romanian and Georgian origin.

I’ve never been to Romania, but the Pâine de Casă, Romanian bread, from my favourite bakery in Japan has attracted me for many years. (It should probably be called pâine de cartofi, or potato bread, rather than homemade bread.) I had always wanted to try to bake the bread with soft, moist and chewy texture, and finally did it recently. After a few baking attempts, it came out sooooo good!!

The pâine de casă along with khachapuri wasn’t photogenic at all, so baked another one 😀

Another recipe is of khachapuri (Adjaruli type), Georgian cheese bread. I didn’t know anything about Georgian food, but a meal photo that one of my blogger friends posted grabbed my heart – my ‘stomach’, I mean ‘appetite’, to be precise – and I had been hoping to make the cheese bread since I had tasty one in London. When my pâine de casă experiment went well, I wondered what if… and I was right! The pâine de casă filled with melted cheeses topped with a runny egg and butter turned out to be a perfect match – much better than the one I had in London 😀  Trust me! My khachapuri would never disappoint you!!

Ingredients

for the dough 

180 g floury potato (for 150 g mashed potato)
150 ml lukewarm water
1 tsp instant dry yeast
150 g strong white flour

60 ml lukewarm water
1 tsp salt (for khachapuri bread; add ¼ tsp more for pâine de casă)
200 g strong white flour (plus some for dusting)
100 g strong wholemeal flour

for the filling (for 2 khachapuri)

100 g grated fresh mozzarella
80 g grated Samsø cheese
80 g crumbled feta cheese (I used milder)
1 tbsp Greek yoghurt
2 egg yolk
20 g butter

Method

Pâine de Casă

  1. Place the potatoes in a pan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and cook until tender but not falling apart. Drain well, peel the potatoes and mash thoroughly.
  2.  Dissolve the yeast in the 150 ml lukewarm water, and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Put the 150 g mashed potato in a bowl, pour in the yeasty water, and stir with a wooden spoon. Gradually add the 150 g strong white flour and mix well to form a sticky dough. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave the dough sit overnight.
  3.  The following day, dissolve the salt in the 60 ml lukewarm water, pour in the dough and stir well. Spoon in the remaining flours and knead into the dough. The dough should be too sticky to work with, but do not add any more flour. Cover again with a damp tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for about 1 – 2 hours until doubled in size.
  4.  Preheat oven to 220°C. Punch down and knead the dough for a few minutes in the bowl. With floured hands, shape into a round loaf and place it on a floured baking sheet. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until well risen and crusty on top. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack.

Khachapuri 

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C. Combine the cheeses with the yoghurt and set aside.
  2. On a floured surface, divide the pâine de casă dough into two equal pieces, and shape both into a ball. Spread each piece into a circle about 25 cm in diameter. Roll two opposite sides of the circle towards the centre so it ends up have a boat like shape. Then pinch the corners together.
  3. Put half of the cheese mixture in the middle and repeat with remaining dough and cheese. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until the crust becomes golden brown. Make a well in the centre of each khachapuri with a spoon and drop one egg yolk into each well. Return to the oven and bake for another few minutes. Cooking time may vary depending on your oven, but the egg yolk should still be bright yellow and runny. Remove from the oven, place 10 g butter on each bread and serve immediately. When eating, mix the cheese and egg with a fork.

Little Georgia in London

 I learnt khachapuri from the Wife of Bath’s travel story in Georgia. Unfortunately, there is not a Georgian restaurant in Tokyo – some Russian ones serve ‘the sort of’ dishes though – so I had decided to try a Georgian restaurant in London.

Then popped in Little Georgia in Islington – walked up from King’s Cross Road, about a 20 min walk, not from Angel, the nearest tube station. It was Thursday night and the place was 80% full, so I reckon the restaurant is quite popular. It was a bit pricey for me, but it is normal in London and costs more for one person. Anyway, the food was good and satisfactory.

(source: TripAdvisor)
(source: Time Out London)
khachapuri with Georgian wine
Ask for khinkali (Georgian dumpling ) – it’s not on the menu.

Next time in London, I will try breakfast or lunch at the original Little Georgia Cafe in Hackney, a cafe with BYO policy.

Little Georgia Cafe (source: Miranda’s Notebook)
mezze platter of salads (source: Miranda’s Notebook)

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