Sunday, 9 June 2013

Out and About: Jamie Oliver's Recipease

Some readers might remember my birthday treat at Jamie Oliver's Recipease last year and how much I enjoyed it. Well, it's taken me longer than I would have liked, but I recently made a visit back to Recipease, this time to celebrate my mum's birthday with a Japanese cooking class. The experience was just as lovely as last year, the staff there really are so incredibly nice and friendly. Mum and I also completely lucked out and it ended up just being the two of us in our session so it felt like our own private class. Swish!

Here's what we made:

Prawn and vegetable tempura with ponzu dipping sauce
Chicken teriyaki
Green vegetables with toasted sesame seed sauce


250mls iced water
1 egg - whisked
150g plain flour
45g corn flour
Prawns, long stemmed broccoli, carrot, capsicum
Sunflower or vegetable oil for fying

Ponzu dipping sauce:
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon mirin
5 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons castor sugar
1 teaspoon dashi powder

Chicken Teriyaki:
400mls soy sauce
100mls sake
100mls mirin
3-4 tablespoons golden castor sugar
Chicken thigh meat

Green vegetables with toasted sesame seed sauce:
6 tablespoons tahini paste
5 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin
3 teaspoons castor sugar
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
12 dessert spoons of sesame seeds
Green vegetables such as blanched long stemmed broccoli,
green beans or cooked spinach

Now you could have any each of these dishes as an individual meal, but if you're planning on eating them all together then I would start off by preparing the teriyaki sauce so that the chicken has a while to sit in the marinade. Ideally, you would do that overnight, but we obviously didn't do that for our class and the chicken was still delicious. All the the sauces can be made in advanced and kept covered in the fridge so that's another good way of making the preparation of this meal a whole lot simpler! Also, if you haven't got a deep fryer (and let's face it, how many of us do?) then you can just cook the tempura by shallow frying in a saucepan. 

Chicken Teriyaki

1. Put the soy sauce, sake, mirin and castor sugar into a saucepan and bring to the boil.
2. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the sauce thickens. This should take approximately 5 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
4. Gently flatten the chicken thigh meat.
5. Take half the teriyaki sauce and add 2 tablespoons of cold water.
6. Rub this mixture into the chicken and set aside to marinate.

While the chicken is soaking in the marinade you can begin preparing the two other sauces. 

Sesame Seed Sauce

1. Lightly toast sesame seeds over low heat then leave to cool.
2. Add seeds to a pestle and mortar and grind into a paste.
3. Add the tahini paste, soy sauce, mirin and rice vinegar. 
4. Add two of the teaspoons of castor sugar and add more according to taste. 

Ponzu Sauce

1. Put all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
2. Reduce the heat and leave to simmer for approximately 5 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and set aside. Sauce can be use either hot or cold. 

Once the sauces are ready, you can begin preparing the batter for the tempura. 

Tempura Batter

1. In a medium bowl, mix the ice cold water with the whisked egg. 
2. In another bowl, mix the flour and corn flour together.
3. Gradually add the liquid to the flour, gently mixing as you go. The batter should have a consistency of thick double cream.
4. Don't over mix the batter, it should be slightly lumpy and not too smooth.

From this point on you're going to be multi-tasking putting this meal together! 

1. Put some water on to boil in a saucepan for blanching the green vegetables.
2. Pour about two inches of oil into a deep pan or pot for frying the tempura. Turn the heat on medium. 
3. In another frying pan, drizzle a little olive oil and turn the heat on medium.
4. Place the chicken in the pan, and grill for about 1 minute then turn and baste with the teriyaki sauce. Continue turning and basting the chicken until the chicken is cooked and slightly golden.  
5. Meanwhile, if you have a thermometer, wait until the oil for the tempura has reached 190°C. If you don't (and I don't) add a little drop of the batter into the oil and see if it starts to bubble. If it does, then you're right to go. 
6. Dip the prawns and vegetables in the batter and carefully lower into the oil. Turn carefully to ensure that they are evenly cooked and don't stick together. 
7. Once golden and crispy remove from oil and drain on some kitchen paper.
8. When the water in the pot comes to the boil, place your green veggies in for around 30 seconds, you want them to still be nice and crisp. 
9. Strain the vegetables into a colander and then immediately run them under cold water to stop them from cooking further. 

That should be it! You should be all done and all that remains is to assemble the meal together with the various sauces! If you want to go to a little more trouble you could also serve some steamed rice and a little cup of miso soup. 

Sorry if that all sounds a little hectic, but really it's not so difficult to put it all together. I mean, mum and I did it and we don't look too exhausted by the end of it do we? 

Happy cooking!

Sunday, 26 May 2013

A visit to Rosing's Park

Here is a little warning: if I mention Pride and Prejudice and your first response is how much you love the movie with Keira Knightly, I will judge you. It's not that I think the movie is completely terrible, the set design, for example, is excellent, and I know it's hard to faithfully re-create a book in an hour and a half film etc etc etc. BUT, the fact remains that when the topic of Pride and Prejudice comes up, that movie should not be your go to response! If, after further discussion, it becomes apparent that you have never heard of or seen the BBC adaptation with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle I will continue to judge you, but my judgement will be laced with pity, because you my friend are missing out and you should rectify this massive oversight in your life immediately. 

And now let me make this clear to the die-hard Austen fans out there, yes I have also read the book, multiple times so there is no need to get your knickers in a twist about that, but I simply adore the BBC adaptation. It is glorious, and I've always thought it was a shame that Jennifer Ehle's career didn't sky rocket like Colin Firth's did afterwards because she is simply perfection as Elizabeth Bennet. 

So, given my love for this series, you might imagine how delighted I was to take a day trip to Rosings Park the home of Lady Catherine de Bourgh! 

'As the weather was fine, they had a pleasant walk of about half a mile across the park. - Every park has its beauty and its prospects; and Elizabeth saw much to be pleased with, though she could not be in such raptures as Mr Collins expected the scene to inspire, and was but slightly affected by his enumeration of the windows in front of the house, and his relation of what the glazing altogether had originally cost Sir Lewis de Bourgh.' 

So ok, I know that technically this place is actually called Belton House, but that is a triviality I am willing to overlook. It will always be Rosings Park to me! It's very easy to get to from London, taking just over an hour by train to Grantham and then a short taxi ride. Even though the day mum and visited was your typical English Spring day (read: it absolutely pissed with rain), and even though Lady Catherine didn't grace us with her presence, we had such a lovely time wandering the grounds and inspecting the room where Mr Darcy writes his anguished letter to Elizabeth.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Spring is coming...

Hello readers!

Sorry I have been AWOL recently, but I'll confess that between the miserable weather we've been having in London, tying up the loose ends of our March sale, and getting ready for K to head back to Oz to get his visa processed things in my life have been oscillating between hectic and glum.

BUT... look what I saw on my walk through Hyde Park today!

It seems that London might have finally realised that it is supposed to be Spring! Oh happy day! Now I don't want to get over excited, because, let's be honest, the weather in London is likely to go balls up at any moment, but the sunshine and spring blossoms have inspired me a little...

1. Shirt, Zara £29.99
2. Chocolate from Mast Brothers
3. Liberty Tennis Shoes, Bensimon, €45
4. Spring Bloom Skirt, French Connection, £65
5. Anthropologie Floral Watercolour Dinner Plate, £18
6. Floral Wood Coaster Set, Leif, $38 USD

Here's hoping there is more good weather on the way! And let's also hope that K's visa get's processed asap!

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Today I'm Loving: Bunnies!

I'll admit I feel a little unpatriotic for this post. Rabbits are not only a menace for farmer McGregor, they have also caused incalculable damage to Australian flora and fauna. I should really be celebrating the Easter Bilby this weekend rather than the Easter Bunny... but aren't these bunny themed things super cute?

1. Martha Stewart Cake Stand, $26.60 USD
2. Hop and Peck, Bunny Ears Chopping Board, £20
3. Bunny Jumper from Joy, £45
4. Boby's Your Uncle, Thomaspaul Rose Bunny Dining Set, $34 USD
5. Thornback and Peel, Rabbit and Cabbage Apron, £16
6. Rabbit Night Light, from I Love Retro, £9
7. Graduate Collection, Rabbit Print Cushion, £40
8. White Rabbit Drawer Knob, from Monty's Vintage Shop, £15

I hope you're all enjoying your Easter break and indulging in lots of chocolate treats!

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Today I'm Loving: Able and Game

Hey lovers! 
via Able and Game
'If you've read Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre then you will be familiar with the Byronic hero. A man who is a touch arrogant with a strong distaste for social institutions he will swoon you with his sophistication and arrogance but also worry you with his self-destructive nature.' 

As some of you might have picked up from my last post, I am not in love with the concept of Valentine's Day. But I am in love with these amazing card designs by Able and Game. If you are going to embrace this cheesy love-fest of a day, the very least you can do is temper it with a little hipster irony. Or should that be Byron-y? Get it? Because of the card above? Ah ha ha... never mind... 

But I bet you're saying, 'Gee thanks Maggie, Valentine's Day is today so now it is too late for me to get one of these cards for the Byronic lover in my life.' Well, yes I know, and I'm sorry about my poor planning, BUT, here's a thought, maybe you could give one of these cards to someone you love on another day of the year, you know, as in a spontaneous show of affection? That could be nice! Here are some of my favourites:
via Able and Game
'Has someone stolen your heart recently? Do you need to hire a PI to find out who? Maybe just look at who is sharing your bed for the answer!'
via Able and Game 
'So I got your mix tape, it kinda rocked my world. The fact that you included The Smiths, The Cure makes me all warm inside, however this may not show on my sullen, depressed face. Oh and I also love Kate Bush by the way; just don't tell any of my friends.'

via Able and Game
'This is another of Gareth's cards. I was keen to do it just because drawing pirates is fun. Give it to that person you're been stalking online for a while now. But remember, when you talk to them, you have to pretend you don't know they like watching Glee, eating out at Mexican restaurants and have a cute niece call Safran, because if you let it drop, they will know you've been facebook stalking them. Then you will just be creepy and they will change their privacy settings.' - Or do you mean piracy settings? Ah ha, I am on a roll today! 
via Able and Game
'It is hard trying to let someone know you like them these days. It just isn't so straightforward, who knows if a friendly wink is really something stuck in your eye? With dust storms and lazy eye lids, this card lets you know what you really mean.'

I think if we can take one thing away from the vast consumerism that is Valentine's Day, it's that it is a nice and special gesture to let someone know that you're thinking of them whatever the occasion.
via Able and Game
'When people organise something and do it well it really is something you should thank them for, otherwise they might not know they did a good job and not bother organising it the next time. This isn't good, because then you might have to do it. Save yourself the trouble and give them this card, it might save you a lot of time and effort down the track!' 
via Able and Game
'Oh it is so hard to be cool. You have to pretend to pretend you don't like stuff including birthdays. Once a year, wow I like celebrate my birthday like once. When I was born and stuff. Yeah, that totally makes sense, now let's go listen to that band you said doesn't exist yet.

via Able and Game
'I am sure there are university students out there who spend their money on fancy dinners, but they must be skimping on something else. When I was at university my favourite was putting noodles inside a white bread roll, just in case I thought I needed some more low quality carbs! This card is a graduation card that will remind the recipient that they don't have to live on ramen anymore!'

So, next time you'd like to celebrate the achievements of a friend, or thank a host or even apologise, rather than sending a text, facebook message or tweet, show someone you really care with some satirical love from Able and Game

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