While I Was Away


It has been a little over a month now since returning to Scotland.  Here is what I have cooked/ate whilst I have been AWOL from Bendi Benri.

Feeling a lot more settled in now I am ready to embark on my new life as a student AGAIN and get back into creating more yum.

Enjoy!

First up, home-coming welcome dinner, beautifully and deliciously prepared by my wonderful mother.  It is very clear to me now that my mum is the source for my desire to cook.  She effortlessly manages to put on amazing wholesome spreads.  What a mum.

Nutty Chocolate Brownies (heaven in your mouth) & Scones with Home made Jam

Victoria Sponge

prawn & avocado cocktail

Home Made Steak Pie

Home Made traditional Scottish Oatcakes

What I forgot to capture was the Ultimate Chocolate cake smothered in Ganache! I am gaining pounds just thinking about it! I swear that cake was to die for! Here’s a link to the recipe.

A flying visit home then back to Edinburgh to meet Izumi and Sofie, friends we met in Japan.  They had never tasted Haggis before, so Andy and I decided to take them to Urban Angel to give it a try.  I love the concept of this Restaurant, stylish and delicious, “using the best local, organic, free-range and fairly traded produce available.”

To follow I visited a three-day foodies festival, filled with freebies of scrumptious organically prepared fresh food from all over the country.  Some healthy and some just down right naughty!  I was in my element.

Salmon and potato pie!

Tiger Prawn Paella

Feeling inspired from my weekend boozing and munching, I bought a nice big bunch of fresh beetroot and put together a yummy beetroot cake smothered in cream cheese icing.  Here’s the recipe I used.  Yep, I AM growing by the day! Twice the size I was a month ago. Oops!

No time to break just yet.  The Edinburgh festival brought my folks and brother up to Edinburgh.  The weekend consisted mainly of indulgence and laughter. Good times!

Below we eat at Amore Dogs another very trendy restaurant serving Italian scrum.

tuna nicoise salad on the side of a grilled sea bass on a bed of baked tomatoes.

Goats Cheese & Sun dried tomato Risotto

Wow what a month.  Loved every minute!

I really miss Japan and crave a lot of the food we ate whilst we lived there, especially Soba noodles, so I treated us to a yummy crispy tofu soba dish.   Satisfying beyond expectation! Go me!

Ingredients; serves 2 if you really have to share.

2 portions of soba noodles

150g Tofu (drained and cut into cubes)

1 small red onion (sliced into half moons)

1 stick of celery

around 12 sugar snap peas (halved)

2 cloves garlic

Juice from 1/2 a lemon

1 T light soy sauce

1 tsp pure honey

1 T chopped fresh basil

1/2 teaspoon chilli (from the jar or fresh)

2 T olive oil

2 tsp vegetable powdered bullion

2 T corn flour

Directions:

1.  prepare all ingredients

2. evenly coat the tofu in the corn flour

3.  heat up the olive oil in a wok or frying pan then add the tofu.  When coloured a reddish brown remove from the pan and place on some absorbing kitchen paper

4. In the same pan add the onions and garlic and cook until translucent

5. add the all of the other ingredients except the soba and basil and lemon then stir through on a medium heat.

6. In the mean time boil the soba until just tender then rinse quickly under cold water to avoid over cooking.

stir through the noodles, tofu, basil and lemon juice to the vegetable mixture then serve in warm bowls.

To finish, here is yesterdays lunch…

Chilli Squash Soup accompanied with rice crackers topped with cheddar cheese (hello my long-lost naughty friend) and cranberry sauce. yummmm…..

Ingredients; serves 4-6

I small butternut squash

4 sticks of celery

1 yellow onion

3 cloves of garlic

50g low fat soft cheese

2 tsp vegetable bullion

Directions:

1.  Saute the onion and garlic until translucent

2.  In the mean time bring a med/large pot of water (2 litre) the boil

3. cut the squash into cubes then allow to boil until tender

4.  when the squash is ready add all other ingredients except the cream cheese, then mix through

5. Turn off the heat then use a hand held blender to pulse the mixture until smooth(ish) stir though the cream cheese then serve in warm bowls

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Easy Chilled Cucumber Soup


The supermarket was offering fresh cucumbers by the case load for an amazing price that I’d be silly to pass up.

The first dishes that came to mind were an Indian raita and a cold cucumber soup.

First up is the soup.

You could drink this as a savoury smoothie (after my first taste I instantly thought of gin.  I reckon this soup would work as an amazing mixer for Hendricks) in a glass, topped up with ice, or enjoyed simply in a bowl as a soup.

What better way to celebrate summer than with a cold soup and salad.

Here’s what I came up with:

Ingredients:

  • 4 large cucumbers (peeled and de-seeded) or 5 Japanese cucumbers (peeled)
  • 1 small/half clove of garlic (minced) (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups Low fat plain/Greek yoghurt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Konbu dashi (or vegetable bullion powder)
  • 2 green onions (chopped)
  • 1 tbsp fresh mint (chopped)
  • The Juice of one lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste (optional)

Directions:

  1. Simply add all ingredients to a blender
  2. Blend until smooth
  3. Chill in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve
  4. serve in a glass filled with Ice or in a bowl as desired.

Thai Mushroom Soup with basil & olive bread


Benri is back! At last a dish I feel is more than worthy of a post.

As I mentioned in a previous reply to a comment, Andy gave me a cookbook (one by the Weightwatchers team) as part of a birthday gift. I don’t think it was because he thinks I need to lose weight (I hope not) or I need more practice (which I do) or thinks my style of cooking doesn’t meet his expectations (his mmms & ahhhs confirms he’s satisfied). We have always enjoyed the recipes from the weightwatchers books as they are usually full of variety, so perhaps he is worrying I run out of ideas and stop cooking for him, so this gesture may be a gentle nudge to keep on doing what I’m doing.

I have been dying to get back into the kitchen for weeks. I was beginning to feel like I was going to burst if I didn’t get a post out there soon. Is that sad? Do I yearn for the life of blogging more than I do the outside world? I’m pretty new to this world of blogging, which I have found can be quite addictive. I’m quite happy to make it become a part of my life. However, not my life. What I love about blogging is the thought of other people loving and talking about the same interests I have. I just want to share what I love. One thing I do need to do is post more often. I’m thinking perhaps twice a week will be more doable.

Being so far away from close friends really does influence more activity on the net. If I can’t feed them, I feel the next best thing is to share what I feed myself in this blog and talk about it.

I love this hobby and it’s here to stay.

Anyway, before I run off the point, which is my last nights dinner; a creamy Thai mushroom soup served with basil and olive yeast free buns and a tomato side salad.

This one wasn’t taken from the book. It was only inspired by a recipe title in the book. I suppose you can say the ingredients share a similarity, but the taste is on a different level. A lot more to my liking. I also just wanted to use up what I had in the fridge. I’m terrible at following recipes actually. I always seem to be missing then substituting ingredients.

Due to the coconut milk this version isn’t as low in calories as the weight watchers recipe, but it still oozed fresh delicious nutritiousness (is that even a word? Well it works for me).

This one is a keeper. I hope you like it. If you’d like to check out the original recipe which caught my attention, I’ll post it in a comment below this recipe.

Creamy Thai Mushroom Soup

Ingredients;

  • 1/2 a tin of coconut milk topped up with water making one pint
  • 1 cup soy beans (or any white bean)
  • 200g mushrooms (a mixture of your choice)
  • 1 tbsp red Thai curry paste
  • The juice of one lemon/lime/1tbsp rice vinegar/1tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 plump cloves of garlic
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 sachet of konbu dashi/ 1 1/2 tsp

Directions:

  1. In a medium sized sauce pan, saute the chopped onion and garlic in the olive oil until the onion is translucent
  2. add a little water to avoid sticking
  3. add the beans
  4. add the chopped mushrooms stir the contents together.
  5. mix the Thai paste, coconut milk, water & Konbu together
  6. pour into the sauce pan
  7. bring to the boil then turn to low and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
  8. In the mean time prepare your side salad
  9. I used 2 chopped tomatoes, 2 cup of chopped spinach and salad leaves, 3 chopped umeboshi (pickled plums) and 2 green onions, chopped.
  10. The bread recipe is below
  11. When the soup is ready stir through the lemon juice
  12. blend the soup in batches then return to the sauce pan and heat through before serving in warm bowls.

Yeast Free Bread Buns

Ingredients: (serves 4)

  • 2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1tsp salt
  • 5 chopped green olives
  • 4 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 -3/4 cup water

Directions:

  1. sieve the flour, baking powder,soda,salt together in a medium sized mixing bowl.
  2. add the basil
  3. make a well in the center of the flour and mix in the water little by little until it forms a dough and the texture is a little gluey.
  4. transfer the dough onto a floured surface then separate into 4 equal parts and form into small bun shapes.
  5. grease the rice cooker pan with some of the olive oil
  6. insert the buns
  7. brush the buns with the rest of the olive oil
  8. close the rice cooker lid and set on cake for 45mins.
  9. When they are done, crisp them up a little under the grill before serving. (best served hot)

Red Thai Curry Paste ~krung Kaeng Phed on FoodistaRed Thai Curry Paste ~krung Kaeng Phed

Pumpkin & Coconut Soup


This soup is one I picked up from working in a bistro a few years ago. It is an absolute favourite of mine. It’s deliciousness is 5 star. You have to try it to see what I mean.

Ingredients
Half a Kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) or 1 squash
1 onion
2 pints of vegetable stock (I used 2 sachets of Konbu dashi)
200 ml Coconut milk (1/2 tin)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp Chinese 5 spice
1 scallion (garnish)
Directions
1. Cut up the Kabocha/squash and cook it in the stock until the pumpkin becomes soft.
2. In the meantime chop up the onion and sauté in a pan with a little olive oil.
3. When the pumpkin is cooked add the onion, spice, and coconut milk.
4. Spoon half of the soup into a blender and blend until smooth then transfer back to the pot and reheat.
5. Quarter the lemon then squeeze the juice into the soup and stir.
6. Serve with your garnish.
Day 2 soup = Pasta sauce!!
Brown pasta mixed with pumpkin soup, 1 small eggplant, a cup of spinach, 2 scallions, 1 big juicy tomato, 1 tub of firm tofu(diced)…. basically all the leftovers in my fridge
Nice, quick and very satisfying : )

Pea n’ Sweet Potato Soup


This soup is an adaption from Jamie Oliver’s 20 min recipes iPod application. Quite a funky little application actually, with vids and pics and tips. Some nice recipes and this is the first one I tried out.
The problem with western cooking when living in Japan is the severe lack of ingredients, so for this wee dish I had to make a few adjustments.
Here are the results.
Ingredients:
250 g frozen peas
1 large sweet potato
1 small onion
0.5L vegetable stock (Miso paste and 2 sachets of Konbu Dashi)
1 stick celery
150 g pureed silken tofu
6 tsp cottage cheese (or feta cheese preferably)
drizzle olive oil
Directions:
1. Set and start your rice cooker to quick cook.
2. Add a splash of olive oil and leave to heat up.
3. Meanwhile peel and chop the onion. Trim and chop the celery stick.
4. Add to the rice cooker with a splash of water and allow to cook until the onion and celery become soft.
When a little soft add the stock and grated potato. Bring to a simmer.
5. Add the peas, stir ingredients together close the rice cooker lid and set to porridge setting and leave to cook until the timer sounds.
6. When cooked stir in the pureed tofu.
7. Serve in warm bowls and garnish with the cheese and sprinkle with cracked pepper and salt.