30 Mar 2010

Relocated!! www.bendibenri.wordpress.com

Hello friends,

I have been on the look out for a better place to blog after having a few too many frustrating moments with putting this blog together.

I have moved along with all my previous posts to;

www.bendibenri.wordpress.com

I intend to write more frequently offering all those in need of some inspiration as well as myself to cook up some delightfully delicious yet super bendi dishes.

Hope to see you there.

If you have any questions or want to leave comments, feel free to do so.

27 Mar 2010

Red Thai Curry

Andy and I have been living the life on the road, eating in Izakaya and convenience stores as we complete the 88 temple pilgrimage here on Shikoku island.   Moving from hostel to hostel, temple to temple and izakaya to izakaya my body is craving fresh foooood or anything that's not convini onigiri. 
We have finally finished the pilgrimage, which has taken a year on an off to complete.  It has been a wonderful and memorable journey,  but happy to have finished.  
We are now relaxing at home filling our vacation with Japanese study, yoga, painting, cooking and eating of course.  
I wanted a wee break from Japanese food for a night so decided to throw together a yummy red Thai curry. 

This dish never fails to please and  extremely easy to make.  All I need now is a decent camera to do the dish justice.  Thankfully I have an excuse to splash out for the camera of my dreams in a month, however a little unfortunate that it has to be because I turn th***y.
Until then here is an idea of what it looked like: 


I usually serve this curry with soba noodles or brown rice and barley, however anything works. 

Ingredients (sauce): (serves 2)

tbls Olive Oil
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
1/2 onion (red is best)
1 inch fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic
1 desert spoon of brown or palm sugar
1/2 can coconut milk
1/4 cup water
1 dessert spoon fish sauce.
2 white fish stakes (chopped into bite size chunks)
1 desert spoon red Thai paste (reduce or increase to your desired spiciness)
a handful of chopped fresh coriander 
1 chopped scallion(thin green onion) to garnish

Directions:

1. sweat the onion in a wok or deep pan in the olive oil
2. add the pepper, ginger and garlic then the fish sauce
3. Shake the jar of coconut milk before opening then add half to the wok
4. add the water then the Thai paste and the sugar bring to the boil then reduce the heat
5. Add the fish and cook for 1 to 2 mins
6. Finally add the coriander then serve with noodles or rice and garnish with the scallion. 


Yuzu Chocolate Cake

It feels great to be free from 9 to 5 for a fortnight, especially when spring arrives.  My most favourite season here in Japan.  

The end of term is always the busiest and most exciting.  Everyone is in good spirits to later indulge in more with all the celebrations and good bye parties.  
There is always an abundance of amazingly delicious food for the season, from sashimi, salad, noodles, to cakes and home made confectionary.  It's so exciting.
Most of my students in a private class I teach, own small farms or have friends who do, meaning I am continually indulged with any fruit or vegetable in season.   I love it!

This time I was gifted with a jar of home made yuzu marmalade.   Something which is enjoyed here as a hot or cold drink, spread on toast or used as a marinade/dressing for meat, fish, tofu and salad.  

Yuzu is a citrus fruit with a flavour not too dissimilar to orange and lemon combined.  This fruit has a really distinct flavour but refreshing.  Difficult to find in the west as a fresh fruit, but you can find it dry or in bottles from asian markets or stores.

Yesterday I had a very empty fridge, but really wanted to bake something.  I was craving banana cake (surprise surprise), but had no bananas. 
I knew I needed a vegetable or fruit to moisten my cake, but the only thing I had close was the Yuzu marmalade.  
Here is what I came up with: 



It looks like a big cookie, ehe?

Cakes are far too easy to make, but even easier in the rice cooker.  No need to feel compromised in the kitchen ever again. 

Ingredients:

2 cups Flour
2 tablespoons coco powder
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs (separated and COLD)
100g butter (softened but not oily)
1/2 cup soy milk
1/4 -1/2 cup brown sugar
100g Chocolate bar or choc chips. 

Directions:

1. Grease rice cooker bowl, set to 50mins and press start. 

2. Sift the flour 3x to lighten. On the 3rd sift add the baking powder, soda      powder, salt, cinnamon and coco powder. 

3. In a separate bowl cream together the butter and sugar then mix in the lightly mixed egg YOLKS finally adding YUZU and SOY MILK. 

4. Mix the creamy mixture into the flour etc. When combined, whisk the egg WHITES to a soft peak then fold into the batter.

5. Transfer the batter to the rice cooker bowl, by this time the setting will probably be down to 40 mins. 

6. break the chocolate into smallish pieces and sprinkle/place on top of the cake batter. 

7. Close the cooker and check for doneness when the timer goes. If the chopstick doesn't come out clean set the cooker for a further 5 - 10 mins. 

8. When done allow to cool, cut then stuff the faces of the ones you want to fatten up with your love. 






20 Feb 2010

Tofu and Blueberry Scones






Toasted Scone Variation 2



Wow it's almost March and it has taken me till now to write my first post of the year. Oh dear! However, my lack of posting hasn't meant lack of cooking. Quite the opposite actually, although I do seem to return to the same dishes over and again. I can't seem to part with tofu. This ingredient is my partner in crime. I'm just so excited by its versatility and lack of naughtiness. There's no looking back it's here to stay and I'm gonna make you love it as much as I do.
From looking back at recipes I have been using, I really need to start pushing the boat a bit more in terms of experimenting with different flavours, methods and styles. That doesn't mean that I am going to try or even think of attempting more complex recipes or gourmet style. Convenience and nutrition is always going to be key in my collection of recipes. The recipes here will always be easy, always delicious and always healthy. If you are into that too, then perfect!

Just the other day Andy was telling me how much he is bored of his usual egg in the mornings. One a day for almost 2 years straight I'm surprised he hasn't become allergic to them.

After browsing the Internet for ideas I stumbled upon yogurt scones. They are easy to make and freezable, they are the perfect choice for convenience. But, would they work in the rice cooker? Only one way to find out.
At that time I didn't have any yogurt in my fridge, Only half a block of tofu a dribble of soy milk and about 60 g cooking marg. Hmmm...blended tofu it is then.

I made one big scone in the cooker, which rose beautifully. The taste test was next and OMG... ridiculous!! Maaaaan this stuff is amazing! Stays moist and fresh in the fridge for a whole week.
We toasted it under the grill to eat plain with green tea, beautiful, not too sweet, just a hint. Sooooo moist and melt in the mouth that you wouldn't want to ruin it by smothering it with jam or butter. In saying that it would probably taste amazing with a runny poached egg!! :)

Toasted Scone Variation 2


Right, here's the recipe.    I made them twice changing the recipe the second time around.   Both recipes are equally as delicious.

Scone variation 1:(apologies for lack of image for this variation)

- 1/2 a block of blended firm/silken tofu 150 g (3/4 cup)
- 2 cups of plain or whole grain sieved flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 60 g marg. /butter at room temp.
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup blueberries

Directions:

- Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt together with the sugar in a large bowl.
- Add the margarine in pieces then rub into the flour with your fingertips making bread crumbs.
- Make a weld in the centre of the bread crumbs and pour in the blended tofu (if you are blending firm tofu, you'll need to add a little water or soy milk to thin it).
- Fold in the tofu with a knife forming a dough.
- Transfer the dough to a clean floured surface and form into a round.
- Pierce a few holes in the dough with your knife and insert the blueberries.
- Grease the rice cooker pan and drop in the dough and close the lid.
- Set the cooker to 60 min and let the magic happen.
- When cooking time is over, cool on a wire rack before cutting and storing in the fridge or freezer.

When your ready to eat it, for best results toast it under the grill to crisp it up a bit. nomnomnom...


Tofu and Blueberry Scones Variation 2:


Ingredients:


1 cup oatmeal
1 cup plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
60g butter/margarine at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup blended silken/firm tofu
1/4 cup blueberries
handful of raisins

Use the same methods as in variation 1 except with the oat meal, break it down in the blender to more of a powder then mix into the flour.

This one is my healthier option.  You'll find it's a little heavier and dense in comparison to the variation 1 and perhaps a little less bready and more cakey.  Still, it is still worth trying out.   This one will definitely be the one I return to.  Enjoy!

If you have any other suggestions to improve these, please leave a comment.

Also, I understand not everyone owns a rice cooker so if you are using a regular oven preheat it to 250 degrees. 
Dust a baking sheet with flour and lay out your scones.  They should only take about 15 - 20 min at the most. 





11 Dec 2009

No1 Hummus



Over the past 2 weeks Andy has kindly taken charge in the kitchen and cooked up a storm, making the most healthy and yummiest of meals. His need to cook gave me time to work on my stock for the crafts fair in Akaoka town, Kochi last Saturday. I was so lucky to be apart of this fair. It only takes place once a year in the first week of December. The atmosphere was dream like, with smells of fresh multicultural inspired cooking and stalls packed with handmade beautiful crafts. Street performances were ongoing throughout the day with live music and authentically dressed locals. Homes and stores were opened up to sell vintage goods and home cooking. kotatsu (small tables with built in heaters and covered with a quilt for you to snuggle into) were set up with hand made traditional Japanese board games for passers by to play whilst absorbing the atmosphere and enjoy the festival food.
As things were drawing to a close and sellers were beginning to pack up their goods, the local Kabuki theatre opened for the annual Kochi film festival. This film festival is a competition for film makers, amateurs and skilled alike, to submit their works on the theme of Kochi. Unfortunately though we couldn't make it. Hopefully next year if we are still here.
Saturday was a big one, crafts fair from 7.30am to 5pm then potluck birthday party at ours (thanks for all the amazing food guys, especially the left over soup Jenya :) maaaan that stuff is to die for) for Chisako until...well... ??:?? o'clock. That part was erased by the sake. All for a good cause though.
Monday came too quickly followed by a nasty cold...sniff sniff...:(. This didn't stop me from experimenting in the kitchen though. The 2 day hangover gave me huge cravings for hummus. I hadn't eaten it since leaving Scotland almost 2 years ago. Something I've never tried to make, but had all the ingredients for it. I also never had high hopes for this one as I've never been fond of home made hummus. However, my mind has been changed for good now...I found a super simple recipe on www.jamieoliver.com and...OMG...this stuff is mecha oishii!!! (just too delicious)





Basic Hummus Recipe

2 cups dried chick peas (also called Garbanzo Beans), soaked overnight
1 T sea salt
3 garlic cloves, peeled
3/4 cup tahini (also called sesame seed paste) - I didn't use so much tahini as it contains too many calories.
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 t cayenne pepper, more to taste
1/2 c filtered water, plus 1/2 cup or more as needed
sea salt to taste

Rinse the soaked chickpeas well, put in saucepan with 9 cups filtered water, plus 1 T of sea salt. Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat, uncovered, for 2 hours or until the chick peas are soft. As foam rises to the top, skim this off and discard. The foam contains the impurities of the beans (supposedly!) and is best to remove. You may need to add more water as it cooks down.

In a food processor, chop the garlic cloves. Add tahini, lemon juice and 1/2 c water, process until smooth and well combined.

Add cooked and drained chickpeas and cayenne to the bowl of the food processor with the tahini mixture. Process until well blended while adding additional 1/2 cup or more of water, as needed. Add sea salt to taste, as needed. Once blended, process another minute or so. The extra processing adds air to the hummus which gives the recipe a light, pleasing texture

Hummus is great with nearly any chopped vegetable. Add to sandwiches. Serve topped with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil or chopped parsley. Experiment with adding chopped olives or sun-dried tomatoes to the basic recipe for additional flavor. Enjoy!

Here is a short slide show of the crafts fair for you all to enjoy whilst munching on some yum.
The music is "Colleen" by Joanna Newsom.


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