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Monthly Archives: January 2010
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“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
from Boswell’s Life of Johnson
This is the sort of pudding that had me falling in love with British baking traditions: Simple, heart-warming and bursting with flavours. Perfect after a bracing walk round the Wetland Center in Barnes – where I took this reeds picture.
3 tbsp of golden syrup (or marmelade)
Self-raising flour 175g
Bicarbonate or baking powder 1 small spoonful
3 large eggs
Demerara sugar 175g
(optional : 5 dates soaked in warm water with a drop of vanilla extract or a tbsp of ground ginger)
Crème fraîche or double cream
Butter 1 tbsp
Prepare a pan of boiling water or an electric steamer.
Mix in the food processor: The flour, raising powder, soft butter, whole eggs, sugar and treacle. Scooping out the treacle with a hot spoon, dipped in boiling water, makes it very easy. Add the dates and vanilla or the ginger, if you choose.
Take a ceramic pudding bowl and smear generously with butter. Pour the golden syrup in the bottom. Add the mix. Level with a spoon and cover tightly with foil.
Put in your steamer or in a pan one third full of boiling water for at least two hours- not omitting to check the water level regularly!
Make the sauce by adding all the sauce ingredients to a small pan and heating through. Keep an eye on it until it achieves a nice golden toffee colour.
Take the pudding out and serve hot with a scoop of ice-cream – if you must…
My love affair with Japanese food started when I was a student in Paris, going to Japanese language evening classes after the Sorbonne and popping into Ozu films afterwards with a long-haired philosophy student who shared a love of Spinoza… Then, I learned how to deftly roll out sushis or fry tempura but today I am experimenting with pasta. The very same type of pasta early italian explorers like Marco Polo might have brought back in their luggage !
2 tbsp japanese soy sauce
pinch of white pepper
1 tbsp of mirin (sweet japanese vinegar)
2tbsp sesame oil
Finely shredded cabbage (a big handful)
3 or 4 shiitake mushrooms (soaked in hot water)
A few shredded spring onions
Minced pork 150 g (optional)
A few drops of oyster sauce
A packet of gyoza wrappers
All of the ingredients can in found in the Japanese Centre in Regent Street, London. This is also where I found a cunning spring onion shredder that I now use all the time and the lovely raviolis press featured in my photo! It makes the whole job so much more enjoyable- but you can press the raviolis by hand with a fork just as easily.
Mix the shredded vegetables, the seasoning and the pork in a bowl then refrigerate for 1/2 hour. You can decide to forget the pork and do a vegetable version as in the photo above.
Take a wrapper and put a little mix in the middle. Wet the edge with a pastry brush then close one half over the other and press to stick between your fingers.
Store them on an oiled plate as you make them. Do not overfill or they won’t look good!
Then put some rapeseed oil in a cast iron pan and drop the raviolis one by one when the oil is hot. Quickly fry both side. When you have a good batch of them in and looking golden, with almost no oil left, pour a small glass of water in the pan, put the lid on and let it stem for 3 or 4 minutes. Serve hot with some stir-fried cabbage and soya shoots and a dash of tamari (japanese sweet soya sauce) or oyster sauce.
This went down particularly well with hungry children tonight – and they did not even notice the vegetable content!
PS. There is an Ozu film festival at the BFI South Bank this week! I’ll try not to miss it…
For the broth:
1 tamarind broth cube by Knorr
1 Maggi cube
1 celery stem in chunks
1 carrot chopped in sticks
Small chunk of fresh ginger
1/2 litre of water
1 serving of soaked rice vermicelli
For the dumplings:
Lean pork loin 150g
1 handful of frozen cooked prawns
1 spring onion (shredded)
3 or 4 dry shiitake mushrooms
1 or 2 dry porcini mushrooms
Thai fish sauce
Soya sauce or Tamari
1 tbsp of cumin
1 pinch of chilli powder
1 garlic clove
Chopped coriander to decorate
First soak the dry shiitake and porcinis in boiling water for a few minutes. Put all the dumplings ingredients in a food processor , then take out spoonfuls at a time and roll them into oiled hands to make small dumplings of about 2 cm thickness.
Heat the stock made out of the stock cubes and water, add the celery, carrot and grated ginger. Let to simmer for 10 mn. Check the level of seasoning and add chilli or fish sauce if required. The broth needs to have a nice zing to it and not be bland!
Keeping it at a slow boil, lower the meatballs in with a large spoon, and let them cook for 3 or 4 mn. In a bowl, put the vermicelli and cover with boiling water. Drain them out and add to the broth just before the end. Serve immediately with a scatter of spring onions and a squeeze of lemon, if you wish.
This was a surprisingly quick recipe: the longest task being the gathering of all the different ingredients! I don’t tend to do recipes that demand a long list of shopping BUT for this one I actually enjoyed my trip to Loon Moon supermarket in Soho. I loved looking at stacks of strange packets in exotic colours, all labelled in tantalising and mysterious signs that escaped my understanding! It was like being a child again and having to guess the content of boxes relying on colours and shapes rather than words. I picked some weird and wonderful packets to try out for fun and I let the ingredients dictate the above recipe rather than the other way round! I found it a very liberating way of cooking. This is how you usually have to cook on holiday in a new place, scouring market stalls and discovering new items; the best way to enjoy exotic London flavours! And where would London cooking be without those?!