Madhur Jaffrey my new Hero!!


What better way to end a day full of application filling and a well needed session of swimming than to make a curry!  For a long time I have followed only very basic curry recipes, thinking they were ok, but wondered why they didn’t taste the same as the ones you’re served in Indian restaurants.

I’d heard a few good reviews about Madhur Jaffrey’s curry’s before but never had the opportunity or ingredients to make any of her dishes.  A trip to the local library returned good results and I found her essential reference book on Indian cookery, ‘Madhur Jaffrey Indian Cookery’. It was this book that has changed my mind about cooking or being able to achieve, in my opinion and skills, the unachievable.  Hmmm…perhaps that statement was a little hyperbolic, but I just want to explain how good this following recipe is.   Unfortunately my image doesn’t show it any justice, but the taste is a different story!

Mixed Vegetables in a Mustard and Cumin Sauce

Ingredients: Serves 6

  1. 450g potatoes, boiled and cooled
  2. Vegetable oil for shallow frying
  3. 1 medium sized cauliflower, broken into fairly chunky florets
  4. 7.5com (3inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
  5. 4 T plus 600 ml (1 pint) water
  6. 1 t black mustard seeds
  7. 1 t cumin seads
  8. 1/4 t kalonji
  9. 1/4 t fennel seeds
  10. 1/2 t ground turmeric
  11. 1 t ground cumin
  12. 2 tsp ground coriander
  13. 1 t cayenne pepper
  14. 1 1/2 t salt
  15. 1/2 t garam masala
  16. 450ml finely chopped tomatoes
  17. 2 medium sized carrots (I forgot to put them in the basket) cut into 1/2 inch thick rounds
  18. 150g peas (I used edamame)

Directions:

Cut the potatoes into thick ‘chips’.  Put the oil in a wok or frying pan and set over a medium-high heat.   When very hot, put in the potatoes and fry them until they are golden-red.   Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with kitchen paper. put the cauliflower into the same oil and fry until golden-red.  Remove with a slotted a slotted spoon and put on a plate lined with kitchen paper.   Turn heat off and reserve the oil.

Put the ginger and garlic into the container of an electric blender or food processor along with 4 T of water and blend until you have a smooth paste, pushing down with a spatula when necessary.

Put 4 tablespoons of the oil used for frying into a large, preferably non-stick,frying-pan and setover a medium-high heat.  When very hot, put in the mustard seeds and cumin seeds – put in the kalonji and, 2 seconds later, the fennel seeds.   Give one quick stir and put in the paste from the blender. Stir and fry for 2 minutes.

Put in the turmeric, ground cumin, ground coriander, and cayenne.  Stir once or twice and put in the salt and tomatoes.  Stir and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and the tomatoes are soft.

Add 600ml (1 pint) of water and bring to a simmer. Cover, turn to low and simmer for about 7 minutes.   Put in the carrots, cover again and simmer for a further 3 minutes.  Now put in the gharam masala, peas, fried potatoes and cauliflower.   Mix gently and bring to a simmer. Cover and continue to simmer on a low heat for 6-7 minutes, stirring gently now and then.

Blueberry Porridge


It’s porridge time!!   Today brings delicious Quaker oats filled with bubble bursting blueberries.  Little bubbles of joy, just popping away in your mouth accompanied with fresh crunch from seeds and nuts.  My tummy loves me 😉

Ingredients:  2-3 portions

  1. 1/2 cup Quakers oatmeal
  2. 1 cup soy milk
  3. 1 cup spring water
  4. 100g fresh blueberries
  5. 2 tsp ground cinnamon (I love the strong cinnamon taste, so start with 1 then increase as desired)
  6. 1 banana
  7. sprinkle of seeds and nuts and raisins (I used a pre-mixed selection from the co-op)
  8. drizzle of honey (optional)

Directions:

  1. Warm 2-3 bowls in your oven at 100°C
  2. Then in a medium-sized saucepan on a med-high head, add the first 5 ingredients and stir continuously scraping the mixture from the bottle as you stir to avoid burning
  3. When it comes to the boil the mixture should begin to thicken
  4. when it has reached a soupy, but thick consistency transfer to the warmed bowls
  5. Sprinkle your seeds,nuts,dried fruit mixture and banana then serve and eat immediately.

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

Stuffing my Face with Deliciousness


Some deliciousness from my last few days in beautiful Japan!!

After a wonderful 3 years it’s time to go home.  The clock was working faster than usual so I was determined to enjoy as many yum times as I could!

Below was a set lunch in a beautiful old Japanese style house/restaurant.  Kimchi dressed chicken (drowned in mayo) on a bed of salad accompanied with a kabocha salad, miso soup, fresh steamed rice and some tsukemono followed by a refreshing and revitalising yet slightly naughty ice coffee.

Regardless of the mayo overload the sugar and cream, the meal was a memorable one.  Time spent with wonderful friends always justifies the excess calorie intake.

Next up are photos from my very first experience of a Japanese tea ceremony.  I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to enjoy such a cultural experience.

One thing about the ceremony, which surprised me the most, was the attention to the detail of every movement you make during the ceremony and the many meanings behind every process from the tools used, the decor which surrounds you, the clothes you should wear right down to the words you should speak.

Our ceremony was a more relaxed one.  Hosted by Irino sensei, who has practised the art of the tea ceremony for over 30 years.  She explained her every move in such finesse. Also, her modesty in her abilities only added to the charm of the experience.

First served was a light meal which consisted of somen noodles and miso soup, onigri, grilled ebi, tsukemono and an egg wrapped processed fish (I have forgotten the Japanese name)

It is believed that eating a small meal such as this before drinking the tea layers the stomach from the harsh properties in the tea and also aids in absorbing its powerful qualities.

Shortly after the meal, we were then ushered to a waiting area whilst Irino Sensei prepared the next part of  the ceremony.

Below the ceremony is in process.  Irino Sensei skipped many parts of the tea ceremony  as it can take up to 5 or 6 hours to fully complete every step.  I wont describe every detail, but if you are interest please take a look here.  This website gives you a great insight into the traditional art form of the Japanese tea ceremony.

We enjoyed a thin macha in beautiful chawan (green tea cups).  Thin macha is apparently better drunk during the summer, due to its light texture and taste.

Wonderful 🙂

And now for the last lunch.  I couldn’t leave without spending one last afternoon in my favourite café.   The lunch there never fails to please.  From all the stresses of packing this café is my perfect place to relax.  We didn’t have a car or bike, so we walked for 45mins in the 36 degree humid heat to get there.   It was worth every minute and every cup of sweat which poured from us.

Satisfied!

What followed was a sad farewell and a 53 hour Journey back to Scotland.  Many long waits for busses, flights, connecting flights, delayed planes, planes missed, plastic plane food and numerous teas and cakes later, we are finally home.  Here is how we celebrated,

Goats Cheeeeeeeeeese 🙂 Ohisashiburi!

Yummy succulent and melt in the mouth Scottish salmon…mmm…

An Almond Obsession


An empty kitchen = empty blog posts.  I am literally living in a shell.  I’m sitting on the floor with my laptop on a tray on my knees surrounded by nothing but bags of recycling and boxed up clothes and goodies all ready to go!  This will possibly be my last post in Japan 😦

Only 8 days till I fly back to bonny Scotland and already I am having nostalgia for my Nippon loves.

The list is a long one.  I’ll probably come back to that sometime soon, but today feeling a little rough after too many good-bye drinks.  Right now, I have a huge craving for almonds!!  I want the, lovely, delicious, raw, naturally sweet fresh crunchy ones. I could eat a bucket of them just as they are…mmmm…

(image taken from planetbeauty.com)

While I fantasize over the little beauties here is what I haven’t made yet.  My mouth is watering at the thought of it.

All thanks to Joy the baker she has made the process look so easy…perfect!

What’s more, this delicious treat remains completely guilt free.  Some even say almonds are the king of nuts 😉

They ooze goodness, a one-ounce, 160 calorie serving of almonds (about a handful) stuffed with vitamin E and Magnesium, monounsaturated fat, protein, potassium, calcium, phosphorous and iron.

No need to limit yourself to only eating this power food, they contain a nourishing beautiful skin food, vitamin E, so after making the milk, you will be left with almond remains which you can use to make a body scrub.

  1. Fill a sealable container about 2/3 full of the left over almonds
  2. add enough olive oil to make a thick paste
  3. add 1-2 tablespoons of pure honey and stir well
  4. This scrub will work fine on its own, but if you would like to add a little fragrance add your desired essential oil, just enough to meet your desired strength.
  5. Until you are ready to use it, seal the lid of the jar and store in a cool dry place.

No more time to waste, I’m off to get some supplies and get to work on this now.

Kappa Cafe + My New Camera


It was a sad day last saturday when I boxed up Benri (my side kick in the Kitchen, my rice cooker).

I shipped her home with most of my dishes, books, clothes and about a kg of the best green tea in Japan.

I have been lost without her.  I haven’t been motivated to cook and when I do, my dishes seem to miss something.    Only 3 months until I see her and we can share wonderful cooking times together again.

Safe journey little one 🙂

The rainy season is here in full force and the sun is struggling to shine in my direction.  After the departure of Benri a new baby arrived.  One in the form of a DSLR.  I have been dying to take her out and show her some beautiful sights and create great memories with her.  Sadly, it has rained every day, cloudy and grey.

What I did do is take her to my favourite Cafe.   Here are some memories we made there.

Naoshima♥


I have been meaning to post these photos on my blog for a while now to share with you the wonderfulness of Naoshima, an Island dedicated to art found between southern Honshu and northern Shikoku.

This trip was one of the most memorable and special times I have experienced whilst living in Japan.  If only I knew of this island years ago, I’d have visited more often.    If you ever get the chance to visit Japan, forget all the touristy cities and head straight for Naoshima.  Even if you lack interest in art, I’m certain you will feel the islands magical powers.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Tomato & Basil Brown Rice Salad


To accompany the chilled cucumber soup, I prepared a refreshing brown rice salad.

Both of these dishes could be made ahead of time, saving you valuable relaxing evening time.

Cold dishes like these really do offer you more interesting lunches as well.

What you don’t see in the image is a side dish I also served,  pan-fried tofu stakes seasoned in curry salt and pepper mix.  A nice tip for crispy tofu steaks is after draining and marinade (30 min),  dust the steaks with a little corn flour around the edges, top and bottom right before cooking them in your hot pan for 2 minutes each side and seal around the edges.  Serve immediately with the dish/salad of your choice.

Here is the salad I made.  It’s super easy to make as you don’t need to cook anything except the rice and egg, of course 🙂 (The egg is optional)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup cooked brown rice (1 1/2 cups when uncooked)
  • 1 cup of chopped fresh herbs (I use coriander and sweet basil and fresh mint)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 8 (cut into 1/8s) cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber diced
  • 1 red bell pepper (chopped roughly)
  • sprinkle of Konbu dashi powder or bullion powder to taste
  • 1 small onion finely diced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. When the rice has finished cooking, allow it to cool.
  2. In the mean time combine all other ingredients in a large salad bowl
  3. Mix in the cooled rice then chill until ready to serve.