Archives for category: Snacks

Such a treat to find plantains in my local supermarket! In Tokyo you have to travel to find products that aren’t usually used in Japanese cooking and these were 100 yen so was really happy to see them. Plantains are from the same family as bananas but lower in sugar and more starchy. Fried in olive oil they are the great little side or snack and with some lime salt they were magic. Very easy to make so do try next time you see some.

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Poaching Chicken is a very healthy way to cook chicken and gives tender moist chicken that is perfect for sandwiches, wraps, salads, pastas.. anything really. I love a good sandwich and poached chicken breast ensures the meat stays succulent and doesn’t dry out. An excellent source of protein and versatile so total winner. You can poach the chicken in boiling water in a pan for 10-15 mins however I like to poach in water in the oven. Just enough to cover the chicken, with a couple of bay leaves, sea salt and pepper for about 30 mins at 350°C. Adding different herbs, lemon slices and poaching in chicken or vegetable stock are some ways you can play around with flavours. Once the chicken has finished cooking, you can tear, slice, and use how you like.

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Such a wonderfully simple dish is hummus and great to have in the fridge for when you want a healthy snack. I made some pita last week and wanted  something I could throw together a quick lunch with. This was perfect. I cheated and used a tin of chickpeas which gave good results but if you have the time and the dried beans, do soak, boil them up and use them. Dried beans taste better, have less salt and preservatives and are cheaper so much better to use. Tinned on the other hand are great when you are short of time or just can’t wait as was the case with me. Rinsing the beans before use can help get rid of some of the salt. Roasting peppers is a real treat for some reason, I love the smell as you wait for them to blacken and actually even enjoying peeling them. In a blender with some lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, dill and homemade Tahini gave good results. Roasting sesame seeds until the nutty aroma is released and then grinding to a paste with some olive oil gives real depth to the hummus and is worth making. I think it’s OK to take shortcuts sometimes with one or two ingredients, just as long as there are some bold natural flavours also used.

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Yes! Another birthday treat for one of my best friends.. this time a homemade focaccia B.L.T. birthday extravagnaza for Rachel. The bread is such a simple one to make and can be left overnight to rise making it even easier. This special treat paying homage to Rachel was made with Rosemary and had Happy Birthday spelt on on top in sun-dried tomatos and olives. Focaccia is great as a side dish and I like making it to use in sandwiches. The best thing is how easy it is to make, requiring few ingredients and effort, sprinkled with a a topping of choice before it is baked in the oven. Freshly chopped Rosemary or some dry herbs kneaded into the dough and a simple brushing of olive oil and some sea salt thrown over are tasty enough. Olives, sun-dried tomatos, finely chopped garlic and Parmasan are great to play around with too and this recipe is very versatile so do try kneading in ingredients in for more flavour in the focaccia as well sprinkling on top. They work well frozen too so if you have a nice afternoon baking and have any extra you can freeze in little batches for a little snack next time you’re peckish.

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Happy New year! Hope you all had a lovely break if you managed to get one and are now starting 2011 on a positive note. I was thinking about making a little something for New Year’s Eve and Dhokla seemed to be the perfect treat. Dhokla/Dhokra are a Gujarati snack made from fermented Chickpea flour, yoghurt, a few spices in and steamed for about 15 minutes. I have the best memories of eating them on a weekend afternoon. Mountains of coriander thrown over, soft and spongy and so easy to munch on. Served with fresh coriander, grated coconut, fresh green chillis, mustard seeds and sesame seeds they taste best when freshly made. Although possible to make the gram flour mix yourself, a very good alternative for people who don’t have any of the ingredients is to use a GITs packet. These ready mixes make dhokra unbelieveably easy to make and are easy to buy from most Indian groceries or online here in Japan. Don’t be put off by the name. Unlike trying to ferment and make the batter yourself which can have mixed results,  GITs make perfect Dhokla everytime. All you need is 2 tablespoons of oil, some water a very gentle stir, and cooked in a hot steamer. The way to serve them is to first cut the dhokla and sprinkle with grated coconut and freshly chopped coriander. Heat oil, and let the mustard seeds pop with the sesame seeds and fresh green chillis and pour this over the dhokla. I made a coriander chutney which mixed with yoghurt made a refreshing dip and the recipe for a Tamarind chutney will be up soon which is also a winner.

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An easy 10 minute recipe my mum said. And after about half an hour not disimilar to a GCSE maths problem the scones were ready to start on and yes they turned out perfectly. The trouble started and usually does for myself and baking with how much of everything I needed. I much prefer cooking to baking, tasting as I go and using my palette to guide what I think should and shouldn’t be added. Baking is more of a science and unless it’s an ‘easy’ recipe I tend to shy away from any complex baking. Two reasons really. The weighing and preparing of ingredients, especially when working with recipes that involves ounces or cups, and all I have is a scale that uses grams, and the amount of butter of sugar that goes into some recipes can freak me out. With cups, a Japanese ‘go’ is slightly smaller than an American ‘cup’ and although I get it doesn’t matter as you just vary the ratio, it does matter when they don’t sell self-raising flour in Japan (except National Azabu apparently) and I have to mix baking powder and regular flour explained in cups! Anyway, thanks to technology and having my unit converter on the iPhone, together with my dashboard widget and a useful Wikipedia guide on cups I was ready to start. Pleas don’t be put off by my complicated intro. These really are easy and turn out perfect. I had some cranberries, blueberries and raisins so thought I would go for a mixed berry version and they even passed the ultimate scone test of being able to be broken in two perfect pieces. Lovely with a cup of tea and next time think I’ll grate some orange rind and with just the cranberries think they’ll make a very festive treat.

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A real favourite this and being able to eat it straight away is a total bonus. There are lots of different ways to make this, some recipes call for peanuts, ginger, cumin and other ingredients to be included. I personally make mine with a bunch of coriander, fresh garlic, fresh green chilli, lemon juice, salt and a touch of turmeric powder. I’m sure with all the added extras it tastes good and sometimes experiment with extras but always prefer the original version. I think when you eat it with food that already has plenty of spices, like the Aloo Tikki or a Biryani, it’s nice to keep chutney flavours bold and simple. The green chutney is is bright wonder after you’ve blended it and it’s good to taste as you make it, tweaking it with more lemon, salt, or green chili as you prefer. It’s best eaten freshly made but can keep up to a week or two in the fridge and don’t worry if the color darkens by a couple of shades.

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