Oat Berry Salad with Mayo Yoghurt Dressing

 

 

 

During the summer term at St John’s Primary School, I ran a Friday afternoon cookery club based around cooking with vegetables. Food in Community is a local charity that collects surplus organic produce, mainly from Riverford, and redistributes it to community groups and organisations. They kindly donated a box to the cooking club each week.  This means what we cook depends largely on what we get.

Initially, the box came on a Thursday giving me a day to plan for the Friday club. Then it changed arriving on the day, about 30-40 minutes before we started, so I really had to think on my feet.

One week I decided we’d make something using oat groats or oat berries from Grown In Totnes. When cooked they have a wonderfully soft, chewy texture which works really well with lots of crunchy veg in a salad. To make it a little more appealing for the children I created a competition, with the winning recipe to be published online (ie here…).

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We had a lovely mixed box of veg that day and a variety of ingredients to make a dressing. I encourage kids to cook without a recipe and to experiment with flavours. We’d been looking at the five tastes and thinking about these when we cook as well as different ways to cut and prepare veg.

The three teams came up with a tomato dressing, yoghurt and mint and yoghurt and mayo combos, all were delicious. We called on Mrs Connolly to do a blind tasting and choose a winner! It was incredibly close but the winning recipe was…..

Oat Berry Salad with Mayo Yoghurt Dressing

Recipe by Jaz Davey and Poppy Bastin

Salad Ingredients

  • 300g Oat groats
  • 400-500g vegetables: they used tomato, pepper, carrot, broad beans, finely chopped cabbage and spinach, and celery

Dressing – quantities very approximate

  • 3 tbs Olive oil
  • 1 tbs White wine vinegar
  • 2 tbs Mayonnaise
  • 2 tbs Natural yoghurt
  • 1 tbs Soy sauce
  • 1 tsp honey or sugar
  • Salt and Pepper

(Had garlic come in the box, they would have used that, too!)

Method

  • Cook the oat groats in a pan of water for about 30 mins until soft. Rinse, drain and leave to cool.
  • Cut or chop your vegetables. Blanche the broad beans and slip them out of their skins.
  • Add the dressing ingredients to a jar, whisk with a fork to combine.
  • Put the oat groats in a large serving bowl with the vegetables. Pour over the dressing and gently mix.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Raspberry and Elderflower Drizzle Cake

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I never once encountered Elderflower in Japan so it was a delight to be reacquainted with these beautiful frothy heads of pollen and pretty little blooms.  I recently made some elderflower syrup, with only Rapadura sugar to hand the resulting syrup is earthy brown in colour and not as delicate as it could be. My kids weren’t too impressed, so I began to think of alternative ways to use it.

This is a twist on my favourite lemon drizzle adding summer raspberries and using elderflower syrup on top. It’s what I call a ‘saucepan cake’. Instead of creaming the butter and sugar first (which requires you to be organised enough to take the butter out of the fridge in advance) the butter is melted with the sugar in a pan. I then use the same pan to mix the other ingredients (I even stick it on the electric scales to weigh the flour) meaning just the pan and baking tin to wash up at the end.

My children were much more impressed with this.

Ingredients

  • 200g butter
  • 180g sugar (I use Rapadura)
  • 200g self-raising flour (or plain spelt with baking powder)
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 punnet raspberries
  • 3 – 4 tbs elderflower syrup

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180C
  • Melt the butter and sugar in a pan over a gentle heat
  • Take off the heat to cool slightly
  • Add the lemon zest and one tbs of elderflower syrup, crack in the eggs and beat well
  • Add the flour and mix to make smooth batter
  • Break the raspberries into smaller pieces
  • Pour a third of the cake mixture into a prepared loaf tin
  • Sprinkle over some raspberries pieces, repeat and finished with raspberries on top (they mostly sink but some might remain)
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean
  • While still warm prick all over with a skewer or fork and spoon over the remaining elderflower syrup
  • Leave to cool in the tin

 

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Omuraisu

Omuraisu

Omuraisu

Photograph: Elena Heatherwick for the Guardian
 

Omuraisu is favourite with kids in Japan: fried rice with chicken, seasoned with ketchup served in an omelette covered with more ketchup.

I do it slightly differently adding different vegetables, using tomato puree or passata in the rice and saving ketchup for a token drizzle on top. You can add any finely diced vegetables and use brown or white rice. Tofu or tempeh is an easy sub for chicken.

I also sometimes use passata or puree with a little soy sauce and honey in a squeezy bottle in place of ketchup. And I’m experimenting with a fermented version at the moment!

But sometimes a little ketchup is OK and my kids enjoy squirting different shapes and making little flags to stick in as they do in Japan.

 

This recipe was a winner in the Guardian Cook’s kid issue.

 
·      1 onion
·      150g chicken, diced 
·      2 carrots, finely chopped
·      ¼ red pepper, chopped
·      4 mushrooms, finely chopped 
·      2 spring onions, sliced
·      50g peas
·      400g cold, cooked rice
·      2-4 tbs tomato puree
·      4 eggs
·      Ketchup or more spring onions to serve
 
Serves 4
 
·      In a large pan heat some oil over a medium heat
·      Sauté the onion and chicken to brown
·      Add the vegetables and cook for a few minutes
·      Add the rice and stir for 5 minutes to heat through
·      Add the tomato puree, season with salt and pepper and mix well
·      Turn off the heat and put to one side
·      In a frying pan, heat a little oil over a medium heat
·      Beat one egg in a bowl and season 
·      Add to the pan and swirl to spread evenly in the pan
·      Cook until just set, slide onto a plate
·      Place a quarter of the rice on half the omelette
·      Fold over the empty side over to cover the rice and let your little ones squirt ketchup on top
·      Repeat with the remaining 3 eggs
·      Grown-ups may prefer a sprinkling of spring onion

From Hanami Live to Tatami Live

Two years ago we had the most incredible evening which stemmed from a crazy idea that blossomed due to the generosity of all involved.

The Todd Wolfe Band, a blues-rock band fronted by Sheryl Crow’s former lead guitarist were touring Japan in April 2015. The tour manager happened to know Peter Barakan, a well-known English DJ and promoter of foreign music to his Japanese followers. After the success of our the gig we organised for Philip Henry and Hannah Martin , who’d appeared on his radio show, Peter suggested he contact us about the band doing something in Ayabe. They were up for it, but we needed a venue.

We were about to move on from Ayabe Yoshimizu guesthouse, and any potential venue we looked at was not working. My husband had the crazy idea of hosting a live gig under the cherry blossom at the onsen (hot spring) park, calling it Hanami Live  – hanami, cherry blossom viewing and live meaning a live gig.

And it would be free….. we’d collect donations and the band could sell CDs, but the concert would be free for the whole community.

Hanami parties are hugely popular in Japan, especially in the milder regions but given that the beginning of April in Ayabe can be chilly at best and in the thick of snow storms at worst it was quite a gamble for both us and the band.

To our amazement, the Todd Wolfe Band agreed. We had a few short weeks to pull it all together. Again, Gekkiken theatre NPO supported the event providing the lighting, a sound engineer was found, publicity printed and volunteers recruited. Ayabe Onsen donated accommodation for the band.

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In the days leading up to the event there was warm spring sunshine but on the day storms lashed and the strong winds made setting up the lighting dangerous. Quick decisions needed to be made and within an hour my husband had secured the restaurant in the onsen park as an alternative venue. Publicity on online events pages and local radio let people know the gig was still on, but instead of Hanami Live, it had turned into Tatami Live. The band were to use a small Japanese style room as the ‘stage’, tatami is the Japanese straw matting on which shoes are never worn, the band joked playing a gig in their socks would be a first.

It was an amazing night that came together beautifully. Over 300 people came, from all over the Kyoto, as well as many from the local Ayabe Kanbayashi community, a Swedish/UK film crew, foreign guests from Yoshimizu, from 4 months old to 80+ – all together rockin’ the night away. I loved seeing an 80-year-old Baachan dancing (who’d just put her hip flask down) with our dear friend Tracey, a local Canadian potter.

Everyone left on a real high. There was a real sense of a shared experience which had brought different people from all over the world and of all ages. Many of the older people said they’d never been to a gig in their entire lives and were queuing up to shake Todd Wolfe’s hand. The band made more that night in donations and CD sales than other paid gigs on the same tour.

Posts and messages from the Todd Wolfe Band two years on show how memories of this special night live on for all.

Miles to Go

 

Onigirazu

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Very popular in Japan right now are onigirazu, a flattened onigiri (rice ball) sandwich. These were introduced more than 25 years ago by manga artist Tochi Ueyama in his ‘Cooking Papa’ series, which we just happened to have copies of in the guesthouse where we lived in Japan.
 
More substantial than a simple rice ball, the filling possibilities are endless, egg, tuna mayo, hamburger, tonkatsu matched with any cooked or raw vegetables.Cut open, they look lovely lined up in a box. This is one of my favourites. 
 
Salmon and Avocado Onigirazu
Ingredients
  • 4 sheets of nori
  • 4 bowls of recently cooked Japanese rice (short grain)
  • 4 tbs gomashio (ground, toasted sesame seeds mixed with a little salt)
  • 2 fillets of poached salmon, cooled (grilled works fine, too but will be drier)
  • 2 avocados, sliced long ways
  • 6 cm piece cucumber, finely julienned, 3cm long
  • 4 – 5 lettuce leaves, roughly torn
  • 4 tbs mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp ume paste, optional
Makes 4 (8 halves)
 
Method
  • On a chopping board lay out a large square of cling film and place a nori sheet on top, turn so it is in a diamond shape
  • Place the equivalent of half a bowl of rice in the middle and shape into a rough square; flatten. You should have a small square with four triangles of nori showing
  • Sprinkle 1 tbs gomashio over the rice
  • Flake half of one salmon fillet over to cover the rice
  • Layer the avocado, then cucumber on top
  • Mix the mayo with the ume paste and spread a quarter over the cucumber, then cover with lettuce leaves
  • Cover with the remaining rice, keeping the square shape as much as possible
  • Now, fold the two opposing triangles of nori in over the rice, then the final two to make a small, square parcel
  • Bring the cling film corners over to wrap and secure
  • Wait till the rice has cooled before cutting in half with a sharp, wet knife
  • Repeat and place the onigirazu halves filling side up in a box

A little bit more…

  • You can use either brown or white rice, but it needs to be short grain. Pudding rice works well if you can’t find regular Japanese or sushi rice
  • The other fillings pictured are smoked mackerel, red pepper, and rocket with mayonnaise, and shredded egg, wakame and fermented ginger carrot
  • The difference between sushi and onigiri and onigirazu is the rice. Sushi rice is seasoned with vinegar, salt and sugar (or alternative) whereas onigiri or onigirazu uses plain rice. 
  • Cling film/saran wrap makes them easier to assemble and transport but I just use a sushi mat or clean tea towel to wrap them in

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Roasted Cauliflower with Pear, Walnuts and Stilton

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A very easy comfort dish to make on a cold winter’s day and the winning recipe in the Guardian Cook, this week.

A little bit more…
I used purple skinned turnips as that’s what I had to hand, and for a little colour. Any root vegetable could be substituted, Jerusalem artichoke or celeriac, in particular, would be good
I used a local Devon Blue rather than stilton
This works equally well without the cheese. I’d add a drizzle of white miso mixed with a little water, as a salty contrast to the pear 

Winter Velvet Soup

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This is a soup my mum always used to make on Boxing Day with generous amounts of cream and brandy but is equally good without. I used a local cheese called Blue Bay made in Sharpham, Devon but any blue cheese will be fine.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium celeriac (about 700g), chopped
  • 1 large potato (about 200g), chopped
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 stick celery, chopped
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1.5 litres vegetable or chicken stock
  • 500ml milk
  • 100g soft blue cheese, eg Cambozola
  • Brandy, splash or glug (optional)
  • Cream to drizzle on top (optional)
  • Sage leaves, (fresh or fried in butter) to garnish, (optional)

Method

  • Gently fry the onion for 5 minutes or so
  • Add the celeriac, potato, onion, celery, leek, and garlic, give it all a good stir then pour over the stock
  • Cook on a medium heat until the celeriac and potato are soft, about 20 minutes
  • Add the milk, 90g of the cheese and brandy, if using, and cook for a further 5 minutes
  • Blend with a food processor or hand blender
  • Pour into bowls, crumble the remaining blue cheese on top with a swirl of cream and sage leaves if using

8月 August in Kanbayashi

The heat of August is intense, except the wonderful first hour after daybreak. But kayabuki, the traditional thatched house comes into its own, remaining cool and dark under its dense, heavy roof.

Produce strung from bamboo poles hang from the kura to dry. School children play in the river and catch insects during their long summer break. It’s a slow, lazy month as it’s just too hot…

This completes my year of life and the seasons in Kanbayashi, north Kyoto Prefecture. Compiling these images each month has made me notice and experience more and has been a very special experience.

I really do miss this landscape.

7月 July in Kanbayashi

After the monsoon rains the humidity and heat soars, the cicadas shrill during the day while the frogs chorus through the night. Dragonflies dart through the rice fields which have grown tall and green.

Summer evenings are filled with festivals: spectacular fireworks or thousands of lanterns floating down the river. Here in Kanbayashi shrines and temples hold smaller festivals with local food and taiko drumming. Children don their yukatta, summer kimono, and light fireworks.

Tanabata – Star Festival

The 7th day of the 7th month is Tanabata in Japan. The one night in the year that  the two lovers, Orihime and Hikoboshsi, separated by the milky way are permitted to meet. People mark the day by writing wishes on colourful paper, tanzaku. When in Japan, my two daughters spent the days leading up to Tanabata making paper decorations and writing wishes to hang on bamboo.

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On that night we would have star themed meals,  star carrots in chirashi-zushi (scattered sushi) or last year the farm shop in Ayabe Tokusankan was selling star and heart shaped cucumbers! We created a huge salad with a grated carrot milky way, and lots of cucumber stars.

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This year being back in the UK, I didn’t have the usual reminder of hanging tanzaku leading up to the entrance of the kindergarten. It was my daughter who happen to ask the day before “wasn’t Tanabata coming up soon?”.

We are still not back in our house nor unpacked our belongings so we had a make-do celebration that evening. When she came home from school we wrote down our wishes and she strung them up on a nearby tree. We had chirashi-zushi for supper, unfortunately without any stars or hearts, but still a Japanese meal to mark the day.