Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Lakeland Giveaway - Christmas Cakes and Cookies [CLOSED]


When I was at college, one of the most exciting things to happen to me apart from bumping into Craig Charles was the opening of a Lakeland store.

Because Lakeland really is the closest thing to a real-life Innovations catalogue, and you know how much I loved those. Of course, like an Innovations catalogue, 50% of the stuff is brilliant, inspired and useful, and 50% is utter bobbins.

Bobbins, however, is in the eye of the beholder and whilst it's hard to dispute that this has no earthly point, I'm sure some of you will adore the gadgets which make me squint and say, "Really? I mean, really?".

Take these two items. Literally take them from me.

Because the lovely folk at Lakeland have sent me stuff that implies they think I like baking and I don't. I really don't.


Kransekake Cake Pan Set (rrp £9.99)

A kransekake is a traditional Norwegian dessert made of stacking concentric rings of marzipan cake that's eaten at weddings, Christmas, or New Year's Eve. Many, many layers of cake. Many.

I did toy with the idea of making the Dark Tower of Barad-dûr for a Lord of the Rings extended Blu-Ray marathon, but then realised that this would never, ever happen. The tower, not the marathon.


Christmas Tree Trinket Cookie Cutters (rrp £9.99)

I went through a phase of really wanting some stained-glass window biscuits (with the coloured bit made of jam or melted boiled sweets), but despite this yen, such was my laziness that I just kept hoping one of my colleagues who claimed to "love baking" would make some for me. She never did and we don't work together any more. These things aren't connected though.

Anyway, I now have the means to make them myself with these cute cookie cutters. I could even thread a ribbon through the biscuits and turn them into Christmas tree decorations. Am I going to? Am I hell.



The Cookie Cutters and the Cake Pans count as separate prizes.

If you would like to win either, please leave a comment saying which one you want and your contact details ie your email address or twitter name.

Closing date is midnight on Monday 28th November - the winners will be picked at random. UK readers only - sorry!

EDITED TO ADD: The winners are Miss Whiplash (kransekake pan) and @cj56 (cookie cutters)

Friday, 18 November 2011

Tonkatsu Recipe (Japanese Schnitzel) and Home-Made Panko

Tonkatsu close-up

A lot of people think Japanese food is just raw fish. Whilst sashimi is one of my favourite things to eat, this notion couldn't be further from the truth.

My husband's favourite food from Japan is tonkatsu. A pork cutlet which has been dredged in flour, egg and panko breadcrumbs before being deep-fried till it's crisp and golden yet still juicy and without a whisper of grease.

Like tempura, Japan's more famous fried food, tonkatsu actually came from Portuguese traders in the 19th century, and was originally considered to be yoshoku - or Western food - but it has now been firmly adopted as washoku - Japanese cuisine.

Tonkatsu is made with boneless pork loin steaks or chops (with a ribbon of fat if possible), though I sometimes go left-field and use pork loin slices cut for shabu-shabu which makes for a daintier dish.

With a tussock of thinly-shredded cabbage, a dab of yellow mustard, a drizzle of fruity tonkatsu sauce, some pickles and some hot sesame rice, a meal of fresh-fried tonkatsu is irresistible.

Tonkatsu meal


Serves 2

  • 2 pork loin chops or steaks (~200g each)
  • 1 egg
  • Panko breadcrumbs
  • Plain flour
  • Flavourless oil for deep-frying
  • Quarter of a white or tenderheart cabbage
  • Yellow mustard
  • Tonkatsu sauce
  • Black or white sesame seeds
  • Rice to serve
  1. Shred the cabbage as finely as possible and then soak in cold water.
  2. Wrap the steaks in clingfilm and bash them with a rolling pin, but you're not trying to tenderise - just thin them out a bit.
  3. Lay out one plate of flour, one plate of breadcrumbs and a bowl of beaten egg.
  4. Season one steak generously with salt and pepper. Then dredge it in flour, dip it in the beaten egg, then flour again, then egg again. Lastly coat the steak evenly in the panko breadcrumbs and place on some greaseproof paper. Prepare the other steak in the same way.
  5. Drain the shredded cabbage and put to one side to dry.
  6. Heat three inches of oil in a deep frying pan or wok - check if it's ready by throwing a couple of panko crumbs in and if it goes brown, it's ready.
  7. Place one steak in the oil gently and, turning a couple of times, fry until it goes golden brown - this should take about 6 minutes. Drain on a wire rack or paper towels while you cook the other.
  8. Then serve the tonkatsu immediately with the shredded cabbage, pickles, mustard, tonkatsu sauce for drizzling and rice sprinkled with sesame and salt (gomashio).
Tonkatsu Sando

A tonkatsu sandwich (or sando) is a thing of beauty.

Simply place the fried tonkatsu in between two thick slices of buttered white bread with the shredded cabbage, plenty of tonkatsu sauce, a squeeze of mustard and a squirt of Kewpie mayonnaise.

Or go get one from Tsuru Sushi.

Tonkatsu in Kyoto

Home-made Panko Breadcrumbs

If you can get panko breadcrumbs, perfect, but if not, you can make your own as follows:
  1. Shred four slices of stale white bread in a blender so the crumbs are larger, flaky and more ragged than normal breadcrumbs,
  2. Spread the crumbs across a baking tray and bake at 150 C till dry but not brown - then leave to cool.
  3. Use for tonkatsu or store in a sealed sandwich bag - will keep a few weeks.
Home-Made Tonkatsu Sauce

Tonkatsu sauce is a fruity brown sauce similar to barbecue sauce which adds an essential tangy dimension to the dish.

The brand that everyone uses is Bulldog and you can get this from the Japan Centre and certain other Asian stores, but here's my recipe for home-made tonkatsu sauce.
  • 6 tbsp ketchup
  • 4 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground garlic
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate syrup or apple sauce (optional)
Mix all the ingredients and dilute with enough cold water to get a consistency like thin maple syrup.

Tonkatsu meal tilted

Monday, 14 November 2011

Roast Pig Cheeks / Char Siu Pig Cheeks

Roast Pig Cheeks 1

A friend of mine who runs my favourite pub* recently told someone that I had some brilliant stir-fry recipes right here on my blog.

I was forced to admit that there weren't any (save Burmese Pork and Beans), partly because I figured most of you lovely readers would know how to make them, but mainly because most of my recipes burble around in my brain and only occasionally make it on-line.

This is one of the recipes that I've been meaning to share for ever, but then I get distracted by a moth or a giant panda.

Pig cheeks. Vaguely fashionable, still cheap as chips, available at canny butchers, Waitrose and Morrisons.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that pig cheeks, like ox cheeks, need to be slow-cooked to be tender and delicious. And though I have been known to braise or stew them, god knows I wasn't blessed with a lot of patience, and so I experimented with cooking them in various ways (even one of those stir-fry jobs) before discovering that they're staggeringly good roasted - and it takes barely any time at all.

Roast Pig Cheeks 2

  • 4 large or 6 small pig cheeks
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar or cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • Glug of Worcestershire sauce
  • Glass of white wine or cider
Marinade the pig cheeks in the rest of the ingredients except the wine or cider for at least an hour - preferably overnight. Preheat oven to 180 C.

Place pig cheeks on a grill rack with a tray underneath and pour any excess marinade all over. Chuck the glass of booze and a glass of water in the tray, and then place the lot in the top of the oven.

After 15 minutes, check the pig cheeks - they should be starting to go brown and even singe a little, but that’s what you want to see. Turn them over and turn the oven up to 200 C.

10 minutes more and the cheeks should be perfectly tender and roasted with a deep glaze. Cover the cheeks with some foil and leave to rest.

Add some water to the saucy roasted bits left in the tray and reduce into a gravy for the cheeks.

Slice up the cheeks and serve with the reduced sauce, taters, a bit of pickle and some wilted spinach or broccoli.

Roast Pig Cheeks 3

(it's a 2 for 1)
  • 4 large or 6 small pig cheeks
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp mirin, sherry vinegar or rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic (optional)
  • Glass of sake, sherry or rice wine

Same cooking instructions as above, but serve with rice, couscous or bulghur wheat and some greens flash-fried with minced garlic and ginger.

I love my Chroma knife, I do

*The Ship in Wandsworth

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Morphy Richards One Cup Review


So you may remember that Morphy Richards asked me to be one of their Home of the Houseproud reviewers. The way it works is they ask me if I'm interested in the gadget of the month and I say yea or nay depending on caprice.

Most recently, they offered to send me the One Cup. Now, I have the brain of a guttersnipe and clearly spend too much time on the internet, so of course I accepted this offer with glee.

In fact, I was this close to getting my sister-in-law to pose with me and the machine, purely so I could post a photo with an appropriate caption, but then I thought that might be going too far for a family-friendly site.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, that's a good thing.


In direct contrast to the beast they sent me last time, the Morphy Richards One Cup is relatively petite and rather curvaceous.

Its concept is simple - it heats and dispenses one cup of water for you in about 30 seconds - so a bit like the long-lost Tefal Quick Cup which I nearly bought before I saw the decidedly mixed reviews.

From the colourful Accents range, the One Cup comes in two parts - the machine proper, and a drip tray which for some unearthly reason doesn't actually slot into the main part. This bugs me.

So you get your mug of water (I don't have a cup), and you chuck it into the reservoir at the top. If you're cack-handed like me, you chuck half the water over the machine and then freak out about short-circuits.


Then you put your teabag etc in the same mug, place it on the stupid drip tray and you press the button.

30 seconds later, after a noise like the one they used to make in the Brook Bond Red Mountain ads, a steaming jet of water fills your mug and your hot beverage is ready. And that's it.


Does it work? Yes, it does.

But to be honest, I can only think of six reasons why you'd want to buy this:
  1. you work in an office where people don't want to make tea for their colleagues;
  2. you're the little old lady who lived opposite my parents and who only ate biscuits;
  3. you have weak wrists;
  4. you lack patience;
  5. you're amused by gimmicks;
  6. you like pretty gadgets.
Because otherwise a kettle is better. A KETTLE IS BETTER.

Sorry Morphy Richards, but it's true.

Talking of kettles, since then I’ve been sent a gorgeous red toaster and and kettle, also from their Accents range.

I have little to say about them except just staring at them makes me happy - oh and they work exactly as they should, so I recommend them both completely in terms of both form and function.


The Accents Pyramid Kettle and Accents 4 Slice Toaster are currently on special offer on Amazon for £39.99 each, and also come in other desirable hues.


Anyway, here's a competition of sorts - my One Cup obviously isn't new any more, and it's too heavy for me to post, so if you know me in real life and would like the One Cup, leave a comment telling me why you want it and the best answer by this Friday 11 November will get it delivered to them in person. Oh yes.

Or the One Cup is £34.99 if you don't know me and want one for yourself (
you can get it in black for the arbitrary price of £29.74).


@LoveYourMorphy on Twitter

It's Ross Kemp! With hair!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Rodizio Rico, Fulham


I used to have this recurring dream that I was at the most glorious buffet. I knew it was a dream as the food looked more beautiful, more luscious, more tempting than anything you could possibly imagine. I'd pile my plate high, and return to my seat, and just as I was about to dig in, I'd abruptly wake up.

I don't think this means anything more profound than the fact that I am a pathetically greedy person. But the only thing I can think of that would be better than a buffet (apart from this one) is an all-you-can-eat that comes to me.


And what an all-you-can-eat - men with meat - wielding huge whacking swords of the stuff (and we're back to the psycho-analysis).

Rodizio-style churrascarias are a real dream; at these Brazilian steakhouses, an endless procession of butch, barbecued meat is brought straight to your table by the dashing passadores and carved onto your plate until you admit defeat.


Rodizio Rico is such an establishment - unlimited 'prime cuts' and a buffet of side dishes costs £23.50, which is great value, especially if you're a glutton like me.


So, I find myself living this dream one balmy summer night.

Before the meaty onslaught, our hungry band visit the buffet to find some authentically stodgy Brazilian dishes like farofa, coxinha, pão de queijo, and bolinho de arroz (rice balls), but also random salads, slightly crummy lasagne and that buffet staple of boiled eggs.


There's even banana frita, deep-fried banana in a crunchy bread coating which is just ... odd (I feel like I've come to the end of a Chinese meal). I'm most enamoured of the dish full of stellar pork scratchings, which I return to on more than one occasion.


With full plates, we sit down on the terrace outside with our cocktails and the meat begins to arrive. Skewer upon skewer of beef, pork and lamb (including some luscious Picanha ie top sirloin) melt in our mouths, having been seared beautifully on a charcoal grill beforehand.

They also produce a mildly disturbing joint of beef oozing with cheese - I don't know why this throws me, as I'll happily eat this combo in a burger.


As well as skewers, the passadores bring us great platters of ribs, steak, lamb chops, chicken wings, and my best beloved chicken hearts - all of them excellent. It's so much fun being waited on like this, and it's tempting to keep going all night.

However, mindful that I''m not wearing elasticated trousers, eventually I find some restraint, and I stop the meatwave by turning round my handy "stop/go" sign to red (to be honest, by that point, I think I've lost the power of speech).


I waddle my way home before desserts arrive to catch the last train - we're in Fulham which is a bit out of the way for me, but there are branches in Islington (where the buffet is "even better" I'm assured), Westbourne Grove and the O2.

I've vowed to visit again the next time the meat-cravings hit. I expect that will be quite soon.

I dined as a guest of Rodizio Rico.

Rodizio Rico
11 Jerdan Place
Fulham Broadway
London SW6 1BE

Rodizio Rico on Urbanspoon