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

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.

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Koyasan


I mentioned in a previous post that Andy and I took on the ascetic training to complete the 88 temples on Shikoku Island.   It took us a year exactly to complete, so this post marks the anniversary to when we embarked on such a beautiful and spiritual journey.

Koyasan is known as a meeting place for pilgrims to join before they start and after they finish their journey.  Sharing stories and experiences alike.   It is the home of Kobu Daishi where he decided to go into eternal meditation over one thousand years ago.  Many believe , to this day, he is still in meditation. Throughout the year Buddhists and tourists regularly visit his mausoleum chanting his mantra “namu daishi henjo kongo”.  (this is a kind of Buddhist Hallelujah).

For us, we fall under the category of tourist.  Loving the beauty of this island, we intend to see as much of it as we can, join in with the locals and learn more about this fascinating country.

I have never know of such a place, a town built so high, over 900 ft from the ground.

Home to over 100 temples.  We wanted to make this visit to Koyasan as special as possible, so booked ourselves a room in a temple for the night.

When we lived in Korea, we took the opportunity to do a temple stay, where we took part in the daily rituals of the monks.  We ate with them, prayed with them and meditated from early morning until mid afternoon.  We were surrounded by nothing but nature.  It was a truly magical experience.

I expected something quite similar in our trip to Koyasan, but to my surprise we were treated like royalty.  A five-star experience.  Refreshing ourselves in a beautiful on site onsen looking out to the cedar trees and gardens before being escorted down to the dining room for a 10 course vegan dinner.  Our room was beautifully furnished and spacious in the style of  the traditional Japanese Ryokan with tatami mats and futons.  This part of our trip really made it for us.  Great bonding time with our friends.  Simply relaxing.

Sorry guys, I just couldn’t resist posting this one 😀

Through the day we joined in a buddhist ceremony where we chanted the mantra as I mentioned earlier following some other buddhist rituals.  Even if you are not religious or if you follow a different religion, you can still enjoy the unique cultural experience.

This break was exactly what we needed.   The perfect wind down from such a chaotic working life.

Osaka was next, nothing but indulgence… I love it!   Just take a look at the deliciousness, it speaks volumes of what happened during the rest of our trip;

Food porn at it’s best 😉

on the left is a macha (powdered green) tea ice cream float

on the right is a coconut ice cream black tea float.

My belly is feeling rather jelly like now.  Not surprising considering…hmmm…must do something about that.

In that case… posts to follow will consist of purely summer foods low in calories and naughty fats, but high in nutrition and deliciousness.   I promise!   Well give or take a birthday cake or two 😉