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One Heartbreaking Failure (maybe 6) and a Cracking Caramel Recipe (Candied Bacon Salted Caramel to be precise)

Golden chocolate eggs filled with candied bacon salted caramel

Golden chocolate eggs filled with candied bacon salted caramel

What exactly is that? A slightly odd looking chocolate egg in the foreground with just a touch of bling (to cover its issues), some really odd looking hens eggs covered in chocolate behind, and a jar of goo?

That, dear readers, is one day of my life, the next morning very early, and a ridiculous eggy photoshoot before I journeyed to Heathrow to get my morning flight yesterday am. My annoyance is conveyed perfectly through the crap photo, I think.

I know. I need to get a grip sometimes.

Worth it though, these are like a pimped and slightly filthy version of Paul A Youngs amazing salted caramel filled chocolate egg, which I had for Easter last year. I have been playing around with bacon A LOT. You know this. This was one of the recipes that I had fun with, then hated, then abandoned, and then gave in. Being a perfectionist leads to a path littered with imperfection as you strive to reach your final goal. It is painful and tortuous, but when you hit it, it is worth it every time.

This wasn’t that.

Let me tell you what I did though. I painfully pierced both ends of eight hens eggs. Then made the hole larger in the broader end before piercing the yolk with a skewer and blowing the content out into a bowl. Then I cleaned and sterilised the eggs by boiling in water and vinegar before drying them for ten further minutes in the oven.

So far so good.

Next I tempered some chocolate the cheats way by melting 800g of dark chocolate, then adding another 250g of unmelted chocolate, and letting it mingle in until the temperature got down to 31 / 32 deg C. Then I filled the eggs with it. After 10 minutes I teased some of the chocolate out and left them cool. What I was left with was a couple of perfect chocolate egg shaped shells, and six mucky deformed ones. I also rammed some egg shell right under my fingernail. Yikes, even I cringe when I remember. It still stings.

But the candied bacon salted caramel that I filled them with? The first time I didn’t quite bring it to temperature. I was lazily using a light brown sugar and misjudged the point where it became caramel, so that the results where a chalky grainy sauce when it cooled down. My second attempt was much more successful, I used white sugar and my thermapen and when the caramel hit over 160 deg C I knew I was home safe. Butter and cream rounded it out, and I used this to fill my perfect egg.

So, have a lovely Easter, and here is my candied bacon salted caramel recipe for you, should you fancy porking it up a bit.

Enjoy!

Golden chocolate eggs filled with candied bacon salted caramel

Golden chocolate eggs filled with candied bacon salted caramel

Recipe: Candied Bacon Salted Caramel

Ingredients

8 slices of streaky bacon
8 heaped tbsp light brown sugar
500g white sugar
200ml water
225ml cream
175g butter
1 heaped tsp sea salt

a thermometer for perfect results

Method

Start by candying your bacon. Preheat your oven to 200 deg C and put one heaped tbsp of sugar on each bacon slice rubbing it in on each side with your fingers. Lay out flat and cook for 10 minutes, turn and lay flat and cook for 10 more minutes. Take each slice out and lay on a buttered plate or greaseproof paper and allow to cool. Chop finely when cold. It is important that you remove it from the oven tray, or it will stick there.

Get cracking on your caramel. Add the white sugar and the water to a pan. Bring to the boil and watch for when the sugar begins to turn golden. You want it when it becomes amber, just before it goes too far. The easiest most painless way is to watch the temperature with a precise thermometer like a thermapen. Once it gets over 160 deg C, you are done.

Whisk in the butter quickly and when assimilated add the cream, the chopped bacon and one heaped teaspoon of sea salt. The bacon will be salty already but depending on how salty it is, you may want to add more (or less).

Store in a sterilised jar in the fridge. I love it on toast or in my Easter egg.

Enjoy!

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Recipe: Bourbon Bacon Chocolate Truffles

Bourbon bacon chocolate truffles

Bourbon bacon chocolate truffles

I have been withholding most of my bacon recipes from you, and for a very good reason which will be revealed in a bit. I am sharing one today though, it was published on Stylist recently for Bacon Connoisseurs Week, and I am sharing it here now so that you can do something delicious for Easter. Here you go: Bourbon Bacon Chocolate Truffles.

What madness is this? What deliciousness lies within? Let me tell you people, these little truffles, balls of intense flavourful delight, will win you friends and appease your enemies.

Candied bacon

Candied bacon

When thinking of bacon in sweets, remember how you first felt when you heard about salted caramel. Right? This is just as good, I say even better.

Bacon and sugar love each other and so they should. Combined in an oven and candied, bacon becomes arnished with a sugar toffee that will snap, and that is the secret ingredient in these truffles.

Bacon bourbon chocolate truffles

Bacon bourbon chocolate truffles

Bourbon has to be invited to the party, mainly because it will be upset if not, its rumbly alcoholic tones complete the trinity.

Have fun, try to share and don’t eat them all at once.

RECIPE: Bourbon Bacon Chocolate Truffles

Ingredients

6 slices of streaky bacon
6 heaped tbsp brown sugar
250 ml cream
250g dark chocolate
25ml bourbon
100g cocoa

Method

Start by candying your bacon. Preheat your oven to 200 deg C and put one heaped tbsp of sugar on each bacon slice rubbing it in on each side with your fingers. Lay out flat and cook for 10 minutes, turn and lay flat and cook for 10 more minutes. Take each slice out and lay on a buttered plate or greaseproof paper and allow to cool. Chop finely when cold. It is important that you remove it from the oven tray, or it will stick there.

Heat the cream until it just shivers, if you boil it it will change the taste and be too hot for the chocolate. Add the chocolate off the heat and stir in to melt until it becomes all glossy, then and add the bourbon and the finely chopped candied bacon. Stir in and leave to chill in the fridge for 2 hours until solid.

Put the cocoa on a plate and scoop out your truffles with a teaspoon, or for a perfect round with a melon baller. I like them to be rough and ready as a bacon truffle would demand. Roll them in the cocoa and then they are ready.

Time to eat them!

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Flavour Bombs: Garlic Confit [Recipe]

Confit Garlic

Confit Garlic

So, here goes a new mini series, with recipes or tips on how to add some ooomph to your food with flavour bombs. I always have lots on hand, basically umami rich jars of goodness that will give a tired or quick dish a new life. It is the path to eating very well on very little time, and often little money. I will add to it here and there when I can.

I have been thinking about this for a bit but started it accidentally on Sunday night. I had bought 8 extra bulbs of garlic for bacon masterclass and was looking at them wondering what I would do with them.

I wasn’t short of ideas, it was basically a fight between whether I had the energy to trot to the butchers to make Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic (I didn’t but will soon and will blog it) or whether I would confit the lot of them.

On a sleepy snowy Sunday, confit won. Confit is basically cooking in fat as a way of preserving food. It isn’t remotely complicated and has delicious results. Confit duck is probably the most well known, duck legs are cooked and preserved in duck fat, you can buy them like this or make them at home to store. It is what a squirrel would do to get through the winter, if only they could be bothered to cook, or had the manual dexterity.

I could have declared Sunday, confit Sunday. Confit duck formed part of the meal too, I roasted some delicious tinned confit duck legs that I had from my last trip to Paris, and made a butter out of the confit garlic. Tucked into some fresh homemade blaas (recipe from Comfort & Spice) and eaten while watching The Godfather, Sunday evening was complete and delicious.

You might be wondering why I didn’t just roast it? Confit garlic is different to roast garlic. The cloves are seperated and submerged in the oil resulting in a tender mellow nutty bite. Roast garlic, which is also delicious, is a little bolshier as the cloves roast directly in the oven heat, and they aren’t preserved either.

The oil you choose is up to you. I went for something light and flavourless, groundnut oil, this way you get a direct hit of garlic. You can also use an extra virgin olive oil and create a delicious flavoured olive oil as a by product of your confit process. I prefer the direct garlic hit that results from using a relatively unflavoured oil.

Note: use whatever you have to hand to flavour the confit, don’t stress about getting whole mace for example.

Recipe: Confit Garlic

Ingredients

3 bulbs of garlic, papery outer removed, and seperated into cloves (unpeeled)
enough oil to cover, with the roasting dish I used, I needed 200ml and I used groundnut oil
flavour bits: I used 3 bay leaves, a tsp of whole black peppercorns, and some whole mace

Method

Preheat your oven to 150 deg C.

Arrange your garlic cloves on a single layer in a suitable roasting dish (I used the one in the photo), add your flavouring bits and cover with oil until completely submerged.

Roast in the heated oven for 1 hour.

And that is that! Confit garlic. Easy, isn’t it?

Enjoy!

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A Postcard from Berlin & Amsterdam

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Bicycle & canals in Amsterdam

I have been back in London for a few days now, but have been silent here, as it was Bacon Connoisseurs Week. I was teaching two of my bacon masterclasses, which are great fun to teach but they zap all of my time and energy with prep, organisation and the actual teaching. Worth it, but for this reason, I will be holding them less frequently from now on.

Another busy week lies ahead full of recipe testing, writing, checking out some London restaurants and reviewing. Before it begins, I thought I would steal a few minutes to share some photos from my trips to Berlin & Amsterdam.

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Heaven & Earth at Lutter & Wegner, Berlin (black pudding, apples, caramelised onions and potatoes). This was a starter!

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Enormous veal schnitzel at Lutter & Wegner, Berlin

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Nurembergers with potato salad and mustard at Literaturhaus Café, Berlin – simple and very good, a great lunch washed down with some German riesling

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Marzipan pig at Wald Königsberger Marzipan, Berlin – family owned shop, they have been making marzipan for generations and used to supply the Tsar of Russia

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Konnopke’s Imbiss – one of the best locations for currywurst (and I loved the bratwurst too) in Berlin – tucked in under the railway station, this mid week morning queue was full of locals and an occasional tourist like me

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Tucking into currywurst in Berlin at Konnopke’s Imbiss

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One of the remnants of the Berlin Wall

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Tyrolean charcuterie in Berlin

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Great cheesecake at Café Finovo, a little Berlin café on a cemetery – very eclectic, great lemonade too

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Café Finovo – this is what a cemetery café looks like :)

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No food trip to Berlin is complete without a trip to KadeWe – I wish I had bought one of these

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Currywurst Special at KaDeWe



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Poffertjes, tiny puffy pancajes, in Amsterdam

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Obligatory (and delicious) brined herring in Amsterdam

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Delicious drinks at Wynand Fockink, Amsterdam

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Vlaamse Frites with Satesaus

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Fantastic Rijsttafel at Indonesian restaurant Blauw (and this is only a third of it or so), Amsterdam

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Recipe: Tagliatelle with Squash, Spinach, Goat’s Cheese & Pul Biber

Tagliatelle

Tagliatelle with Squash, Spinach, Goat’s Cheese & Pul Biber

It is St Patrick’s Day and I know I should be blogging something *Irish* but here you go, there is some green in here at least. I really should be showing you a proper Irish stew, bacon and cabbage or crubeens (Irish for trotters) but when I arrived in Amsterdam, I was shattered, covered in mosquito bites and craving comfort. So, I made this.

Pasta is one of my favourite quick fixes. Once you buy a good one, or take the time to make some yourself, the rest is easy, and soon after you can find yourself eating something soothing and delicious. This is a mixture of the random ingredients that I have been collecting on my trips: some speck from Berlin, some pul biber from Istanbul (a fantastic firey, rich and deep flaked pepper) and the rest from the local shop in Amsterdam, around the corner from my apartment.

The result was perfect, almost medicinal. The soft goat’s cheese with some pasta cooking water serves as the soothing part of the sauce, the sweet squash was tender and spiked with pul biber, all wrapped in spinach sheets. Pine nuts provide an extra layer of flavour and a nice textural contrast.

Check Turkish shops for pul biber, or look online. It is worth the effort. Omit the speck if you want to do a vegetarian version, the pul biber will provide enough depth.

Enjoy! Let me know how you like it.

Recipe: Tagliatelle with Squash, Spinach, Goat’s Cheese & Pul Biber
[Read more]

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A Postcard from Istanbul

Istanbul Sunset

Istanbul Sunset

The keen eyed, the twitter followers and the instagram followers, and those waiting for my posts on Berlin will no doubt go – HEY – what happened to Berlin? Well, here is the deal, I can’t write about Berlin while in Istanbul?

Why? Because I am so absorbed in this right now that it is all that I can think of, and because Berlin was so (and in its own wonderful way) different. It will make more sense to write about Berlin when I am back in northern Europe (Amsterdam), at the weekend. (If you are curious though, you can take a peek at instagram where I post everything as it happens, it is best used as an app on your phone, I love it).

I am working on a 6 city commission for Housetrip, writing recipes and content for their site, and some content for here too. It is wonderful hopping from city to city and exploring vastly different cultures back to back. I have had to split the trip in three to accommodate my bacon masterclasses next week and a few other things, but that extends the pleasure.

The only things I have arranged in each city are some tours to help me dive right in, everything else I am discovering as I go and planning when I arrive. I like to travel like that sometimes, when I have time to be a bit more relaxed. I love fine dining but don’t always feel the need to do it, these trips are more about uncovering the local flavour, the markets and how to cook it yourself in your own kitchen.

Istanbul? Charming, gorgeous and full of flavour. I am still discovering so will save the detail for a bit. But here is my postcard, enjoy it.

Lamb chops at Asmali Cavit

Lamb chops at Asmali Cavit

All calm after sunset on the Bosphorus

All calm after sunset on the Bosphorus

Istanbul roof tops (from my roof terrace)

Istanbul roof tops (from my roof terrace)

Playing football by Galata tower

Playing football by Galata tower

Borek Café (haven't eaten here but like the look of it)

Borek Café (haven’t eaten here but like the look of it)

Love the street food carts in Istanbul

Love the street food carts in Istanbul

Ottoman Pit Roast Lamb at Siirt Şeref Büryan Kebap Salonu

Ottoman Pit Roast Lamb at Siirt Şeref Büryan Kebap Salonu – part of the highly recommended Istanbul Eats food tour

Galata Tower, Istanbul - my apartment is right next to it

Galata Tower, Istanbul – my apartment is right next to it

Fishing on the Bosphorus, Istanbul

Fishing on the Bosphorus, Istanbul

Istanbul bread seller- delicious it was too

Istanbul bread seller- delicious bread he was selling too, just by the blue mosque

Turkish coffee, some of the best in the city, still roasted over wood (part of the Istanbul Eats tour)

Turkish coffee, some of the best in the city, still roasted over wood (part of the Istanbul Eats tour)

Time for tea! This guy has been growing his moustache for 4 years. Isn't it awesome?!

Time for tea! This guy has been growing his moustache for 4 years. Isn’t it awesome?!

Street shoe shining in Istanbul

Street shoe shining in Istanbul

Uber food guide, Angelis, hanging out with some locals drinking tea

Uber food guide, Angelis, hanging out with some locals drinking tea

… lots more soon!

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A Postcard from Hong Kong

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A shrine in Soho, Hong Kong

This is like the postcard that you find in the bottom of your handbag, when you have already been back for a bit and your memories have faded. You want to send it anyway, but never do. Sometimes you may even find some in your storage unit. I found some letters that I wrote on a ferry in Corsica when I was 19 last week.

Well, this is the internet, and so I can send it, and I really want to. The letters, well they were actually lovely to read and will remain mine, never seeing a post box or another pair of eyes. Even if they were written in silver pen.

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The view of Hong Kong from Tim Lung Heen at The Ritz Carlton

Hong Kong buzzes. Like one of those joke buzzers that kids use, it catches you by surprise, sometimes you are not sure, but it always makes you smile. Hong Kong has a brilliant energy, people seem very positive and everyone is very busy doing lots of stuff, all the time. It never seems to stop. There is fantastic food too, from super cheap and fabulous to 3* michelin. I love it. When I was booking my flight back from Tokyo, I made sure that I had a Hong Kong stopover too.

Some photos for now, as is my postcard way, with lots of detail soon.

Hong Kong, February 2013

Random splashes of colour and delight on a footbridge over a motorway in Hong Kong

Hong Kong, February 2013

The chef at michelin * dim sum Tim Ho Wan – spotted my camera and insisted on a photograph :)

Hong Kong, February 2013

Dim Sum at Tim Ho Wan

Hong Kong, February 2013

Late Night Eating in Hong Kong

Hong Kong, February 2013

Street food in Hong Kong

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A slightly blurry star ferry, taken from another star ferry that I was on

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Through a Soho window in Hong Kong

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The private rooms and wine storage at Tin Lung Heen, Hong Kong

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Yardbird, yakitori bar in Hong Kong, now on Asia’s 50 Best list too

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Yardbird, Hong Kong

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Chicken meatballs with egg yolk and sauce at Yardbird, Hong Kong

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This is a malteser martini from a random bar in Hong Kong. It was wrong, but I had to show you it.

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Gorgeous stuffed crab at 2* Tin Lung Heen at The Ritz Carlton

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… and terrific desserts at 2* Tin Lung Heen at The Ritz Carlton


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Breakfast dim sum at The Ritz Carlton

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Giant teddy bar in Hong Kong

I visited Hong Kong under my own steam on the way back from Tokyo, but stayed at The Ritz Carlton as a guest.

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Recipe: The Perfect Egg and Chilli Chorizo and Pork Sauce

Perfect Egg

Perfect Egg

Why sous vide an egg? Is it really worth it? Yes, yes it is.

Sous videing them? Isn’t that just ridiculous? (Is that even a word?). Maybe, but ponder this. You can make a yolk that is custard rich and spreads like mayonnaise – my favourite way, or that is elastic enough to roll to fill something else. You can also create your ideal breakfast egg bringing the yolk to the texture you desire and never beyond, a perfect egg.

Delicious, no,and a perfect egg? Yes, but also consider this, you never have to eat an undercooked bit of egg white again. Now call me precious, and wonder how exactly I write about food, and eat duck webs in Beijing and all of the other randomness that I do, yet bawk at an egg white. Well, I do.

So much so that my mother brought me to the doctor when I refused to eat egg whites as a child. In my head I was thinking, there is no way they can make me eat them, I will starve first (I was very stubborn)! But, the doctor just said: that is fine, the yolk is the best bit anyway. Ain’t that the truth? I do eat egg whites now, but I need them cooked just so. Or in meringue or marshmallow, even better.

I received a Sous Vide Supreme to review and the first thing that I did was dump 6 eggs in it. I knew the temperature that the white set at and that the yolk set at, so I played with temperature ranges around this, achieving the perfect egg yolk but with a ghostly slippery white.

Good, but not perfect. What to do? I tried dipping it in boiling water, ok but not perfect. I tried popping the egg in the oven for a couple of minutes at a high temperature. Finally, I discovered that the perfect egg is cooked sous vide at 64 deg C for 45 minutes, and then cracked into salted simmering water. The white tightens up and the ghostly bits leave, the yolk is still custard rich and gooey.

The perfect egg, indeed.

The perfect egg requires a delicious sauce. I made this rich, sticky and hot pork and chorizo sauce to go with it. I liked it so much I made it the next day too.

The sauce is pork heavy with bacon, chorizo and minced pork shoulder but hey, it is the perfect egg, it demands a porky sauce to go with it.

Enjoy!

(ps – those with keen eyes and I KNOW YOU ARE READING! :) I forgot the coriander in the photo but it was in the recipe, promise)

Recipe: The Perfect Egg and Chilli Chorizo and Pork Sauce

feeds 4 as a light lunch

Ingredients

4 large eggs, at room temperature
500g minced pork shoulder (or minced pork generally, I just like this cut)
200g chorizo, diced small
4 slices streaky bacon, chopped to the same size as the chorizo
2 tbsp Chinese chilli oil (I like this as it has such richness but substitute fresh chilli if you can’t find it)
3 sticks celery
3 shallots
4 carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic
handful of fresh coriander
500ml good chicken stock
oil for frying (I used chicken fat because I had it but it is hard to come by unless you render it yourself – worth the bother)

Method

Sauté the celery, shallots and carrots over a low heat for 10 minutes until starting to soften. Add the bacon, chorizo and minced pork and cook, stirring, until the mince is browned. Add the garlic and chilli oil for a final minute.

Add the chicken stock, raise the heat until it is bubbling, and reduce the heat until low. Leave to cook slowly while you prepare your eggs.

Raise the heat of your sous vide to 64 deg C. Add your eggs for 45 minutes. When the eggs are almost done, bring a pan of water to a gentle simmer. Crack the eggs in for thirty seconds until the egg white tightens, no longer or you will over cook the yolk.

Serve on top of the pork with some coriander. Eat.

Enjoy!

monjayaki
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Eating Tokyo: Monjayaki on Monja Street, Nishinaka Dori, Tsukishima

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Nishinaka Dori in Tsukishima, also called Monja Street

Let’s talk about monjayaki.

What is it? It is often compared to okonomiyaki, I thought this too the first time that I had it in Tokyo 6 years ago, but it quickly became clear as it was cooked that it was a different beast.

Monjayaki, I was told, translates as snack cooking, and okonomiyaki, favourite style of cooking. Japanese readers, please feel free to correct if I am wrong. I tried to make myself understood but the language barrier can be brutal.

They are separated by geography too. Monjayaki comes from the Kantō region (greater Tokyo and around it) and okonomiyaki from Kansai (Kyoto, Osaka etc.). That is not to to say that okonomiyaki from Kyoto or Osaka are the same, they have their own styles, which can be very different (Hiroshima is most famous for okonomiyaki incidentally, but I didn’t get there on this trip).

The centre of monjayaki activity in Tokyo is Tsukishima. There is one particular street, Nishinaka Dori, with 75 monjayaki restaurants on it and the alleys off of it. There is even a Monjayaki Information Office on this street established by local restaurateurs.

Monjayaki started out as a snack that kids primarily would have. It is a lot wetter than okonomayaki and cooks very flat, and only on one side on a teppan grill, whereas okonomiyaki is drier, firmer and thicker. The ingredients also differ.

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After a very clumsy conversation at the Monjayaki Infortmation Office (clumsy on my part, they were very helpful), I wandered down Nishinaka Dori looking for one of the 75 that would grab me. It was impossible to choose. As I walked a lady from the office gestured that I should go into one that turned out to be hers, and her daughter spoke English. Result.

IMG_9604 Inside were several teppan tables and a bunch of Japanese school girls in for a snack after school. There were many choices, but I chose the traditional mentaiko mochi monjayaki, with primary ingredients of mentaiko (cod roe), mochi (bouncy rice cakes) with flour (a very light powdery flour), dashi (a stock made with bonito & kombu), worcester sauce, cabbage, noodles and agedama (bits of tempura batter).

IMG_9628 All of the ingredients are presented to you in a bowl, and the mentaiko, mochi, cabbage, noodles etc are poured onto the oiled hot teppan. They are fried for a couple of minutes, and then formed into a circle with a large hole in the middle. The wet portion is poured in here, and stirred about to cook it, before the other ingredients are drawn in. Everything is very well mixed in at this point and small bits of mentaiko mingle with the mochi etc.

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IMG_9685 IMG_9690 The monjayaki is allowed to cook for a bit, only on one side which crisps and caramelises beautifully. At this point, you really should get some cheese (you order it with your monjayaki). I added mine about half way through as I wanted to try it with and without. A generous amount of a simple melting cheese is scattered on top, and allowed to melt into it. It is finished with  rich dark brown monjayaki sauce and some seaweed, toasted and fine.

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The result? Heaven. A large kinda pancake with lovely savoury bits of cod roe, bouncy bites of mochi and other bits, all crisp and caramelised underneath with lots of melted cheese on top.

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Now, what can be wrong with that? Nothing. It is a comforting and rich slice of Tokyo life.

You eat it with a little spatula, leaving it on the teppan (which is turned off but still warm).

Happy monjayaki cooks, mother and daughter

Happy monjayaki cooks, mother and daughter

(I have a card from the restaurant somewhere but am struggling to locate it, I will do my best to find the name for you).

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New Zealand: A Day in Wanaka Cooking with Annabel Langbein

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One of the problems with doing what you love and writing about it – and believe me there are a few – is that sometimes you are so consumed doing things, it is difficult to find the time to write about it.

Take my trip to New Zealand this time last year. Only 8 days, too brief, but packed with brilliant and inspiring things. So many, that while I was there, I was so busy *doing* that there was very little time to write. I did manage two postcards, here and here, before moving on to Hong Kong (and doing so much doing there too, that I have yet to write about that also, which is ridiculous, as I booked a stopover in Hong Kong so that I could relax and slow down for a bit).

I was watching Saturday Kitchen this morning through jet lag goggles, when I spied lovely Annabel Langbein cooking, and was immediately transported to cooking with her in her kitchen in Wanaka, New Zealand, last year.

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Annabel Langbein is a food writer, cook and tv chef from New Zealand. She has been writing (and publishing her own) cookbooks for years. She is an advert for self publishing. When she decided that it was time to pursue TV, she also did that herself, putting together a TV crew with her husband, and in the process ensuring that everything she did was exactly as she intended. She has been hugely successful and is a household name there.

Inspiring.

I can see why. Annabel’s food is packed with flavour and beautifully simple. The hallmark of Annabel’s food is the bright and fresh flavours, food that is healthy and light, that is easy to recreate at home. She combines ingredients in ways that you might not have thought of, in the process inspiring her readers to eat better at home.

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Annabel is interested in real food, so much so that when we ate lunch we had her own homemade halloumi cheese with New Zealand lamb and beetroot. This was right up my alley, my own book has a few recipes for homemade cheese, and I am forever trying new ones at home. It was terrific.

We picked vegetables from her beautiful garden overlooking Lake Wanaka and sunflowers for the table. She grows a beautiful variety of vegetables, herbs and flowers, it is magical, which you can see from the photos.

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To my relief,  she said that when she first started in the food writing business, she put on a lot of weight. I was surprised, she is so trim and healthy now, and I thought, phew, it isn’t just me! I was a (UK) size 10 when I started, and I have climbed a bit since. I am working on it, it is amazing how far it can go before you even notice, and I am getting back to normal now with exercise. Dieting isn’t for me, although I am being more sensible.

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Annabel’s books are wonderful. She isn’t well known in the UK yet, but I think it is only a matter of time before that changes. You can get her book The Free Range Cook on Amazon. Check out her website too.

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If you love to cook at home, and if you are reading my blog you probably do, I would recommend that you get it. Also keep an eye out for her new book which is out soon.

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Tickets Now on Sale: Bacon Masterclasses on Wednesday 20th & Friday 22nd March

Bacon Cookery Class - Bacon Jam Fudge

Bacon Cookery Class – Bacon Jam Fudge

I am woefully late announcing these, but here you go! New bacon masterclasses on Wednesday 20th and Friday 22nd March, in just over two weeks time.

These are a new format and in association with Bacon Connoisseurs Week. They will be held at Food at 53,  gorgeous cookery school between Old St and Islington. As always, they will be really fun, and very sociable. Come on your own, or with friends, I promise you will be comfortable.

We will kick off with a Bacon Bloody Mary, then get into the cooking three recipes.

Chipotle Bacon Jam – better than any you have tasted with only the best ingredients. Chipotle fuelled, smoky and sticky.
Bacon Jam Fudge – it takes time but it is fantastic, and it is amazing with a single malt
Bourbon Bacon Chocolate Truffles – smoky, rich and fabulous

Then we will finish with a bacon curry. You will go home with a goody bag of everything you have made with all of the recipes.

I have kept the prices as they were, £75 for 3.5 hours. If you book through eventbrite, there is a processing  fee of £5.15. If you want to avoid this, you can pay me directly, just email me at niamh@eatlikeagirl.com.

Book tickets here: http://eatlikeagirlbaconclass.eventbrite.co.uk/