31 January 2014

Soboro Don

Last week I had the great pleasure of discovering the Just One Cookbook Japanese cooking blog. My goodness. I also bought Nami's ebook. If you're interested in trying Japanese cooking, head on over to her blog. Seriously. I'll still be here when you pull yourself out of Japanese Cooking World ... "Was I gone long? Where am I? Who are you? ... "

So on the weekend I made Tori Soboro Don. The online recipe has extensive step-by-step photos, and is very clear. It's a chicken donburi recipe — donburi means 'rice bowl dish', and refers to any Japanese meat /veg sort of stew, served over rice. Donburi is often shortened to 'don'.

This recipe is basically fried chicken mince, and scrambled eggs, with peas, over rice.

I couldn't get a hold of chicken mince, so used chicken breasts and diced them finely. Worked quite well, actually! The chicken is cooked with ginger, sake, sugar, mirin, and soy sauce. I actually cut back on the sugar a bit, and the result was still quite sweet. The whole mixture gets cooked down slowly until it's all gooey and delicious.

Then you beat together eggs with more sugar, and fry it, breaking it up with (ideally) a bunch of chopsticks. Having a severe chopstick shortage in the house at the time (now remedied, you'll be relieved to hear!), I used a mini whisk instead.

Wooo, action shot!

Yummo, who knew that sweet scrambled eggs could be so delicious! 

Lastly you defrost some frozen peas, and get creative in the bowl ... rice first, then the chicken and egg, and a sweet line of peas. I wasn't as tidy with my line of peas as Nami, but it still looks appealing. Top with pickled ginger.

Goddammit Blogger, why you no align things properly! Excuse the derpy layout ... what Blogger says is 'centered' clearly isn't what a human would think is centred.

Verdict? Huge hit with the whole family. The meat is sweet, caramelised, and salty, and the ginger gives the perfect contrast. The egg and peas are tasty too, with the chicken and rice. Very very nommy! And so pretty too! Despite the aforementioned lack of chopsticks. Now remedied.

12 January 2014

Haricots savoyard

My grandmother had seven recipes in her repertoire, repeated ad nauseum. I'm kinda the opposite ...

I'm very aware that this blog has rather fallen by the wayside in the last year, so it's time for some rejuvenation. Seeing as I love cooking, and have added quite a few cookbooks to my collection over the past year, I thought it would be interesting (I hope!) to showcase the new recipes I try, and show how they turned out.

I'm not going to commit myself to anything like making every recipe from a book in a year, or posting every few days, or anything mad like that. But I will try to post more often, and from a wide variety of cookbooks.

For Christmas I received the adorable Rachel Khoo's My Little French Kitchen and The Little Paris Kitchen books. So, lots more French meals in our future! Yum.
I really loved Rachel's TV series for The Little Paris Kitchen ... and her minuscule kitchen, with the bare minimum of equipment appeals to my inner minimalist, too.

Tonight I made Haricots savoyard avec lentilles aux herbes ... In other words: Green bean bundles with herb lentil salad. This recipe is from My Little French Kitchen, and is from the Lyon region. 

First of all you blanch nice long fresh green beans, for about 4 minutes in boiling salted water. Slice the cheese into bean-long sticks. Then wrap bundles of beans with a few sticks of Beaufort or Gruyere cheese (my local grocer had neither, so I used St Claire cheese, which I think was a fair replacement).

Then wrap the bundle with a nice slice of smoked or Parma ham. I got very thinly sliced ham, at the deli, and it really was a bit too thin. So regular thickness would be better.

Pop these cute little bundles into a shallow casserole dish, and into a 180º oven for about 30 min, until the ham is nice and crispy. 

While these are baking, you cook the French Puy lentils in boiling water, and pop in a bay leaf. They take about 20 min to cook. 

Gently sauté an onion in butter with some fresh thyme. Then add the lentils and some grainy mustard. 

I've not had Puy lentils before; I'm not a huge fan of lentils, but these were very tasty, I must say. I gather they're called poor man's caviar. They don't break down into mush like red lentils do in Indian dhal, for example. 

The beans with melty cheese and crisp ham were wonderful, and the lentil salad complimented them well.  Definitely making this one again.

If you search on the French title of the recipe, you will find it on Google Books.

The baking dish I used is a French ceramic dish I've had for as long as I can remember, possibly even a wedding present ... 

Aren't they cute in cross-section?!

Ingredients List

  • 400g green beans
  • 100g Beaufort cheese (or Gruyere, Emmenthal, Fontina, Tomme, or Rebleochon)
  • 8 slices smoked or Parma ham
  • 200g Puy lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 heaped tablespoon butter
  • leaves from 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 heaped tablespoon grainy mustard