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Japanese Chicken Katsu Curry

IMG_20140121_200752Ok, let’s just forget the fact that I haven’t blogged in a while. Truth is I needed a break. I needed to enjoy making food again without trying to style it. I needed to stop looking for the best light to shoot. I needed to chill. It’s been 18 months, people. Today I turned 35. Does anyone know at what precise moment you begin to actually feel your age? Is it a gradual realisation -or does it spring out at you like one of the many shocking  moments in a horror movie? I’m hoping it’s the latter.

My friend T.J. inspired this dish. He posted a picture on instagram of a Chicken Katsu Curry he’d made and I just had to try it- also T.J. is one of those super cool people you want to emulate, because he’s smart, challenges perceptions and on occasion wears a monocle.  So a win win all round.

For the uninnitiated – katsu  is the Japanese word for ‘cutlet’ and essentially it is a piece of meat – in this case chicken, crumbed and served with a curry sauce and fluffy white rice. I have adapted a recipe I found on ‘allrecipes’ and it is inspired by the Japanese chicken katsu curry served at UK food chain Wagamama. If possible, try to source Japanese Panko crumbs as they absorb less oil and end up deliciously golden and crunchy without tasting like you’re eating an oil slick. If you can’t find Panko – try cornflake crumbs. This dish ticks all the right boxes – hearty, spicy, fragrant, did I mention utterly delicious comfort food.

Japanese Chicken Katsu Curry

For the sauce:

2tbsp sunflower oil

2 onions, finely chopped

5 garlic cloves,crushed

2 carrots, peeled and chopped into small cubes

2tbsp flour

2tsp curry powder

600ml chicken stock

2tsp honey

2tbsp soy sauce

1tsp garam masala

For the chicken:

8 medium, skinned and deboned chicken breasts, cut in half

salt and pepper

3tbsp flour

2 free-range eggs, beaten

150g Panko breadcrumbs

250ml sunflower oil for frying.

For the sauce: heat the oil in a medium saucepan and saute the onion, garlic and carrots over low heat until softened- for about 10-12 minutes. Add the flour and curry powder and cook for a minute. Slowly add the stock, stirring to avoid lumps and then add the honey and soy sauce. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally until the sauce is thickened and a lovely rich colour. Add the garam masala. Keep warm.

For the chicken: Line up 3 bowls, one with flour seasoned with salt and pepper, one with the beaten egg and the last with the panko. Dip the chicken breast halves in the flour, then the egg and finally coat in the panko.Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry in batches over medium heat for about 4 minutes each side depending on the thickness of the breasts. I cut into the thicker pieces to ensure they were cooked and no longer pink. Drain on a paper towel lined plate and season with a sprinkling of salt. Serve with basmati rice and the curry sauce.

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Crushed Raspberry and Rosewater Ricotta Cheesecakes

Do you ever have those days where you wake up and want to do everything?

The sentence above could be so horribly misinterpreted.

Yesterday I woke up and I wanted to do the following:

Read Anna Karenina

Drink tea Russian style, with a dollop of jam

Learn to speak Italian

Write a new play

Experiment with molecular gastronomy

Stalk Alan Rickman

Did I do any of the above?

No.

I made cheesecakes.  Light, fluffy, healthy, baby cheesecakes.  So-pretty-they-could-be-on-the-cover-of-Vogue-Magazine-cheesecakes, low-fat cheesecakes, with the most fragrant and luscious raspberry topping, perfumed with roses. Sexy cheesecakes, cheesecakes to woo.

Let’s be serious for a minute.

These are good, and they’re not fattening, so you could eat them all and probably not gain any weight.

They’re also really quick and easy.

You’re going to have to bake them in cupcake cases, if you want to serve them in the cases go right ahead, it’s not like you need my permission.

Crushed Raspberry and Rosewater Ricotta Cheesecakes

From House and Leisure: The Food Issue

Makes 12 cupcake size cheesecakes

500g Fresh, soft Ricotta cheese, crumbled

1/2 cup Caster Sugar

4 xl Free-range eggs

For the topping:

125g Raspberries (I used fresh raspberries, but frozen will do)

2 tsp sugar

1 tsp rosewater

Preheat the oven to 190C. Beat the ricotta, caster sugar and eggs together, until smooth, thick and fluffy. Spoon the batter into a muffin pan, lined with paper cupcake cases.

Crush the raspberries roughly with the sugar and rosewater (not too much, you still want some texture) Spoon over each cheesecake, then lightly press down with the back of a spoon. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until set. Cool, then refrigerate until ready to serve. Dust with icing sugar if desired and serve with fresh raspberries.