Pizza at the Lucy’s!

Some photos of homemade pizza at my parents house where they have their own (father made) pizza oven in the garden. These pizzas were made extra special with the addition of salami from @cannonandcannon and mozzarella from @boroughmarket.

There is not much else I need to say about these…they were DELICIOUS and my last meal at home for the summer!

Borough Market

So before returning home to England for the summer, I have been reading a lot about charcuterie trends and particularly those British charcuterie companies using British meat and locally techniques. I came across a company called Cannon & Cannon (www.cannonandcannon.com, @cannonandcannon) that use British meat to make cured and dried meats. They also run a ‘meat school’ that runs classes on sausage making, bacon curing etc. I was very sad to learn however that the school does not run courses during the summer holidays.

The more I delved into these companies, the more I realised that charcuterie in Britain is returning to our tables and with quite an impact. I was desperate to taste some of their exciting products.

So, one of the first stops once we returned to England was Borough Market (boroughmarket.org.uk, @boroughmarket), “As London’s oldest food market, it has been serving the people of Southwark for 1,000 years, and that extraordinary heritage is an important part of its appeal.”. The market describes itself as “First and foremost a source of genuinely exceptional produce. Many of the Market’s stallholders are themselves producers: the farmer who reared the animal, the fisherman who caught the fish, the baker who baked the bread. Other traders have built their reputations on seeking out small-scale artisan producers and bringing their wares to Borough” (boroughmarket.org.uk)

As you can imagine I was very excited when we first headed over there. It was a whirlwind experience, having never been before. The market traders sell cheese, meat, fish and produce from around the world, some of interesting and curious description – particularly the ostrich burger and crocodile steaks. It has kept its historic image, which adds to the whole experience. We arrived around 10am which gave us the chance to walk around before it became uncomfortably busy.

I really enjoyed wandering around the different stalls and finding out about the origin of the produce and the stories behind the products. Some stalls I recognised from reading about them before hand and from my Twitter explorations, others were nice surprises.

Here are a couple of the photos I took, more to follow shortly.

Food stall at Borough Market
Food stall at Borough Market
Borough Market
Borough Market
Cider stall at Borough Market
Cider stall at Borough Market

Early on in our visit, we came across the Cannon & Cannon stall. I was very excited to taste a variety of their different dried sausages and particularly the less common flavours and meats including duck and venison. As you can see from the photo below we bought a selection of sausages and I couldn’t wait to get home and try them out. We ate them with cheese and bread, and also added them to some cooked dishes. The flavours were delicious and were great on their own and in other foods. We also found a stall selling the freshest and most delicious buffalo mozzarella that arrives from Italy on a regular basis. That was one of our favourite purchases and one you will see in another post soon.

I did return to Borough Market before the end of the summer and definitely will do again in the future. It was a fun trip all round.

Dried sausages from Cannon & Cannon British charcuterie.
Dried sausages from Cannon & Cannon British charcuterie.

Making ghee at home

I love cooking curries and try to get as authentic a flavour as I can, well when cooking British Indian food anyway. I have been on the look out for ghee for a while and found it very expensive to buy here in China. I had heard of people making their own but it always seemed quite difficult. 

One day, much to the despair of my husband, I thought I would give it a go. He has a phrase that always seems to come out at these moments of determination ‘why make things if you can buy them’. Well, I like to find out if I can make it myself and if it tastes as good. I also like to know what is in my food. The latter can sometimes be more important living away from home. 

I found a couple of good food blogs that gave a good description of the process and set off. The process involved boiling or simmering butter until it separated and left the clarified butter underneath. You need to scoop out and sieve the froth and curds that rise to the top. After which you should have a lovely clear caramel coloured liquid. It did actually work and I was quite happy with the final result. I think the butter was left a little too long in the pan and it has started to colour and caramelise, it has a lovely nutty sweet smell to it now though. 

I have since, used the ghee in many Indian dishes and it seems to work quite well. I’m sure I could improve on the process but for the cost of a couple of bars of butter I think it has done the job.

  

  

Stuffed tenderloin roast

While looking for something different for our roast dinner one Sunday,  I came across this recipe in the Hairy Bikers new Meat Feast cook book. I changed the stuffing slightly as we had a pack of sage and onion stuffing from England. 

To make the roast, I laid out the streaky bacon on a large sheet of cling film. I had to bash the pork tenderloins to flatten them out. I then laid them over the bacon on the cling film. The stuffing then lies over the pork.

Having never made something like this before, it took a bit of coordination to roll the bacon, pork and stuffing. I was quite proud of the final product.

The final wrapped pork.
  
It went in the oven after sitting in the fridge for a bit. It took an hour or so to roast and the final product is below. 

It was very delicious and I had a very happy husband. 

 

Stone Bowl Bibimbap

So my quest to make my Korean food more authentic continues with my purchase of traditional stone bowls for bibimbap. I originally wanted to buy these just as a present for my parents for when we travel home next week, but I had to get us two also. I have shared photos of our Korean food with my parents – BBQ, bibimbap, kimchi etc and they were interested to try it themselves. There are still only a few Korean restaurants in England so they want to have a go at cooking it themselves.

Anyway, I tried out the stone bowls last night. I heated them on the hob and added the rice. It sizzled away for a few minutes. I probably could have left them a bit longer but didn’t want to burn the rice the first time. I added all the vegetables and beef as normal and finally the gochujung sauce. 

I have to say the crunchy bits of rice from the bottom of the hot, sizzling bowl did add a great new texture to the dish. It was no more effort than normal so I think I would use the bowls again for bibimbap. And to be honest, I quite like he bit of theatre it adds!

Here are the photos:

   
 

Teddy Bento Cooking Course

While in Japan a couple of weeks ago I joined a cooking school for a session of cute bento making. It was run by Tokyo Kitchen, Asakusa. It was a great class and I really enjoyed making the different parts of the lunch box.

Here are some photos of the class:

The egg roll was the most difficult part.
The view!
Stirring and fanning at the same time is quite a challenge!
Teriyaki Scallops
Nori cheese roll and ham flower
Teddy tofu sushi

Homemade Bibimbap

So this is not really a travel post but it is influenced by my recent trip to South Korea.

I have wanted to try cooking Korean food for a while and today I did.

I attempted my own bibimbap, as its one of my favourite Korean dishes. I used thinly sliced beef marinated in soy sauce and seasame oil as the main part. I then sautéed spinach, carrots, mushrooms and bean sprouts. 

Luckily, where we live there is a large korean population so getting hold of Korean ingredients such as the chilli sauce (gochujong) and the kimchi needed for this recipe is easy.

As a final touch I added a fried egg on top. Here is my first attempt at bibimbap.

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Hida Beef

Everywhere you go in Takayama there is the delicious smell of grilled beef. This is not surprising as it is the home of Japan’s Hida Beef.

“Hida-gyu” (Hida Beef) is the specific name given to beef from a black-haired Japanese cattle breed, that has been raised in Gifu Prefecture for at least 14 months. Hida-gyu is required to have been confirmed and certified as Yield Score of Grade A or B by the Hida Beef Brand Promotion Conference, and have a Firmness and Texture Grade of 5, 4 or 3 as graded by the Japan Meat Grading Association. (http://www.hida.jp)

After tasting some beef on a skewer this afternoon, we had to try it for real. We found this amazing restaurant that rates 6 in the whole of Takayama on TripAdvisor. The restaurant is called Maruaki. 

The idea is you chose your meat and then grill it on the hot plate in front of you (similar to Korean BBQ, but with much better quality meat). 

We choose a mixed plate of meat and vegetables, a bowl of bibimbap type rice and beef cooked on a magnolia leaf. The rice dish and the magnolia leaf came on their own separate burners while we were required to cook the beef and vegetable plate ourselves. 



Our Meat Plate


Beef on Magnolia Leaf



Bibimbap Rice



Finished, cooked rice


The meat is absolutely beautiful with the really nice marbeling and gorgeous red colour.



A close up of the Hida beef

We grilled the meat with a sprinkling of salt.



Grilling our meat and vegetables


Everyone describes the meat as melt-in-the-mouth and truly there is no better description. It cut like butter and just seemed to dissolve on your tongue.



Cooked Hida Beef



John eating the Hida beef and the magnolia leaf beef

We decided we had not had enough beef between these three dishes so after they were gone we ordered another plate of lean, Hida beef.



Our dessert

We were rather sad when the meal was finished but so glad we had opted for this tonight, also nicely enough the bill wasn’t as crazy as we had anticipated! 

If you find yourself in Takayama or Hida beef country, this restaurant is definitely recommeded.