Today is a good day. I’m rarely happier than when I’m off on a foodie expedition, ice-axe in hand. There’s things I’ve eaten, read about, seen on TV and the like, but the mountain is never really conquered until you’ve truly ‘been there’. Tick.
Okonomiyaki [o-konomi-yaki] is a Japanese savoury pancake. I’ve eaten plenty, but discovering how easy and satisfying it is to make them in your own kitchen is positively joyous.
Here’s the low-down:
Make a pancake batter, fill it with delicious savoury ingredients, cook it slowly and top it with equally delicious and visually attractive garnishes.
The name derives from ‘okonomi’ which means ‘whatever you like’ and ‘yaki’ meaning ‘grill’. As you may be aware, I’m a big fan of using up leftovers and reducing food waste so this is right up there in the list of go-to/back-pocket dishes.
Although it has regional variations across Japan, generally speaking it’s filled with shredded cabbage, but I’ve used gem lettuce in my version as it’s what I had to hand. It’s your dish – mix it up to your liking, but you’ll have to trust me with the mayonnaise zigzag.. I think it really is essential and brings an additional dimension.
Ingredients: (serves 1)
- 1 large egg
- 50ml stock, cooled
- 4 tbsp plain flour
- 1 handful lettuce (or cabbage), shredded
- 1 spring onion, finely sliced
- 2 tsp black sesame seeds or Furikake*
- 1 tsp rapeseed of vegetable oil
- mayonnaise (from a squeezy bottle)
- oyster sauce
- Sriracha chilli sauce
- Beat the egg, stock and flour together with a pinch of salt.
- Mix in the lettuce and some of the spring onion (or ‘whatever you like’).
- Fry in the oil over a low heat for about 5 minutes on each side until until golden and a little crispy.
- Top with the obligatory crisscross of sauces and top with the remaining spring onion and your choice of condiments.
*Furikake is a Japanese seasoning made from mixed sesame seeds, Shiso leaves and nori seaweed.
Every year the Food Revolution becomes stronger and reaches further. This year is going to be a big one – I can feel it. The number of concurrent initiatives combined with growing media coverage is helping us to build awareness. Every little action adds to the snowball effect that will ultimately turn the tide and deliver change.
So. For 2017, my resolutions are as follows:
- Carve out additional time for supporting the Food Revolution charity. I’ve found it quite challenging over the last year as I’ve been involved in more activities and events than ever before, but it never feels like enough. I want to do more, so I’ll have to develop a strategy for allocating time.
- Run. I honestly don’t think that there’s any other sport as accessible and ’rounded’ for mind, body and soul. I’m slowly returning from my running hiatus and I need to focus on getting out there as often as possible.
- “Why not?”. I love pushing the envelope and forcing myself into situations where I have to try something new, different or out of my comfort zone. Last year I made a list of specific ingredients that I’d work with and it was hugely satisfying. Whatever comes up, my initial response will be to ask myself “why not”. Relax and go with the flow; what’s the worst that can happen hey?!?
- Make more videos. Hmmm, see point 3 ref: comfort zone. Do I wish that I had more clips of events and moments from the last few years? Absolutely. Let’s be a bit brave and see how it pans out.
Now, when I suggested this monthly ambassador challenge to the team, I was feeling, like every year to date, quite optimistic and positive about what the following year may have in stall.. Little did I know that the world would be facing such troubling developments with potentially long-lasting and catastrophic implications.
Good luck all, I hope it’s a good one.
Here’s a classic fruit cake which I reluctantly refer to as a Christmas Cake, as it seems a shame to restrict beautiful food to a particular time of year, religion and belief :o)
Albeit an incredibly delicious cake, the joy of this is all in the making for me; the family can all get involved in the various steps of the process and feel equally proud of the results – there’s always going to be plenty to go round, and more than enough to share with friends and family. I was so chuffed at how well received it was this year.
This recipe is lifted from Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook, his latest (and potentially greatest) book to date. Developed from refinements on classic recipes and innovative twists over nearly two decades, it certainly won’t be gathering any dust on my shelf.
My 5-year-old daughter, Winter, was particularly keen to get involved with this bake and I found myself having to reel her in at times so I had a moment to pause and think before crashing ahead. #SuperKeenBean
- 75g dates
- 75g prunes
- 100 glace cherries
- 400g mixed dried fruit
- 1 apple
- 100ml stout or porter
- 1 clementine, zest and juice
- 200g unsalted butter
- 200g soft light brown sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 200ml milk
- 300g plain flour
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 3 tbsp cocoa powder
- Find yourself a 20cm square cake tin, grease it with butter and line it with greaseproof paper.
- Roughly chop the dried fruit in a food processor and transfer to a mixing bowl.
- Grate in the apple, add the stout, clementine juice and zest, and set aside.
- Beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy and then mix in the eggs one at a time, followed by the milk, a little at a time.
- Combine the two mixtures and then sift in the flour, spices, baking powder and cocoa, folding everything together.
- Pour the cake mixture into the lined tin and bake for 2 hours at 150°C.
- Allow the cake to rest in the tin for 30 minutes before transferring it to a wire rack to cool completely.
- You can finish the cake however you like – you may want to just eat it like that – but we chose to coat it in a thin layer of apricot jam followed by marzipan and finally a fairly thin layer of royal icing.
Little hands working hard to roll out the royal icing on a sprinkling of icing sugar.
We used a simple Scandinavian (Ikea!) cookie cutter to stick mini sugar pearls to the cake with a dab of water.
The finished ‘Festive Cake’:
(Note to self – steady on the royal icing).