Tuesday, 4 April 2017

The Cookery Calendar Challenge


First of all, thank you so much for your comments on Angus's blanket. They were a delight to read and you were all so kind and complimentary - thank you.

This year, I am joining in with Penny at The Homemade Heart's Cookery Calendar Challenge, and my chosen book for March was The Wagamama Cookbook by Hugo Arnold. I was delighted to receive a copy of this book as a surprise gift through the post from my friend Abigail and have spent many happy hours leafing through it. I am a big fan of the Wagamana restaurants and love their food, especially their ramen dishes. The book is well laid out, minimally styled and with clear - in instruction and font - recipes. No ribbon bookmark, but you can fold over the dust jacket to bookmark pages. (These things are important!)

I didn't introduce these recipes to Bella and Angus. We try to eat together as much as we can but sometimes it's just not possible, due to what time John gets in from work or what after school activities the kids are doing. I actually quite like the evenings when John and I eat together when the kids are in bed - it's rare time together to talk, and eat meals that they would not enjoy.


The first recipe we chose was Shichimi Spiced Duck Ramen. It wasn't very well planned, in that John just happened to see some duck (usually out of our price range) on offer in Waitrose, so he bought it, but we couldn't get shichimi seasoning so improvised with Chinese Five Spice and chilli. Probably very inauthentic and very inaccurate, but absolutely delicious. 

The duck was rubbed in spices and pan fried before going into the oven. Ramen is all about the stock and I have to confess that I did not make my own here. I used shop bought chicken stock and gave it more depth of flavour with ginger, star anise and soy sauce. I just fiddled around with it until it tasted good, then threw in pak choi and spring onions right at the end.  


The stock was ladled over cooked noodles, then the duck arranged on top.


These pictures don't really do it justice, it all looks really brown. But take my word for it, it was sensational, and the duck was so meltingly tender and the broth was so aromatic.


So, not a meal I would buy or cook for the four of us, but definitely something John and I would eat together again. 

The second choice was Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry. I think teriyaki chicken has unfairly become one of those cliched dishes, something that people choose when they want safe, Western, familiar versions of "foreign" food, like the chicken Tikka Masala of Japan. The thing is, like that famous curry, it's delicious and its lack of heat makes it very appealing to those who like milder food, like children.

It's so easy - the chicken is marinated in teriyaki sauce with chillies and garlic before being stir fried, then you add in peppers, pak choi and spring onions, and serve it with rice.


I found the shop-bought (what can I say, I'm lazy) teriyaki sauce I bought a little bland, but extra soy sauce soon perked it up. It was such an easy, tasty meal, and it occurred to me that the kids would definitely eat this, perhaps with less chilli and some broccoli on the side.


So, two very successful meals and I will report back on how teriyaki chicken goes down with my two critics, I mean children.

My book for April is 365 Good Reasons To Sit Down To Eat... Stephane Reynaud. I'm already excited to try some of the recipes from there over the Easter holidays. You know, when I have a little spare time...






18 comments:

Christina said...

Yum, I love the food on your plate. I am not a big fan of duck normally but I'd tuck in and eat happily yours, it looks delicious. Richard and I rarely eat together, it sounds like a nice treat. Shame we don't like the same foods... xx

Jennifer Hays said...

Both meals look delicious. Did you know I've never eaten duck? I'd like to someday, though. I was just watching Rick Bayless (American chef specializing in Yucatecan Mexican cooking) last night making duck breasts with black garlic. I love to eat alone with P. We have had a standing Saturday night dinner alone after the kids are in bed since L was a baby. I look forward to it all week. Just last night, I told him how excited I was for "Saturday dinner alone," and he told me to simmer down, it's only Monday. Hey, I need things to be excited about!

Mac n' Janet said...

Both look delicious, I would love to try the duck.

Librarian said...

It is rare that I eat duck, but I like it when it is done really well and preferably has a crispy crust.
The 365-cook book looks wonderful! I am sure you'll have plenty of fun, and some very delicious meals out of it.

Sandra (Cherry Heart) said...

I wish I had your enthusiasm for cooking. It's a bit of a task of necessity for me rather then one I enjoy and so we do get into a bit of a rut with meals sometimes because I'm too lazy to experiment. Hubs is great and has that instinct for what will taste right which I don't at all. If only he were available to cook during the week! These options both look lovely though. I must try and make more effort!

S x

CJ said...

Well done you for trying some new things. I am ashamed to say I have cookery books on the shelf that I rarely use. Cooking for children can be a thankless task a lot of the time, and I have lost the will to experiment a bit. Something about the way they say, "What is it?" when I put the plate down or "What's that?" as they pick out some microscopic unidentified particle. Maybe I'll get one of those cookbooks down. I shall look forward to seeing what you make next month. CJ xx

Susan Smith said...

Great to try new recipes, and we eat fairly plain food, & I don't tolerate anything spicy (long story), but still try & experiment when time permits. Hubby doesn't cook at all, so it's up to me to set the menu each week & work it all out. Look forward to see what yo do this month. Take care.

VeggieMummy said...

I do love a nice veggie ramen. I haven't seen the Wagamama cookbook - is there much veggie stuff in it? I remember the odd occasion when the girls were small and R and I got to eat alone. It usually involved mushrooms as neither daughter is keen and it seemed such a treat. Have fun with the new cookbook. xx

Amy at love made my home said...

Everything looks delicious and is making me very hungry indeed! Glad you had a good month of eating, I look forward to seeing what April brings you and I hope it is delicious for you!

Jo said...

I love these posts but never get around to thinking about photographing my own trials and tribulations. I just love reading other peoples though. We had duck and noodles on Sunday and the children really liked it which is nice and all that but it meant less for Andy and I and will mean a bigger butcher bill next time! Jo x

Ksunshine52 said...

"Simmer down" lol!

handmade by amalia said...

This looks so tasty. I love eating at Wagamama but have never tried making their recipes at home.
Amalia
xo

Elizabeth said...

My those meals look delicious! And the next book looks great too, I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

Penny said...

Thank you so much for joining me again this month Gillian. Looks like two very successful dishes! I have never eaten in Wagamama (I know; sad) but these dishes look lovely, I think my family would like the duck dish especially . Your book for next month looks good, I am looking forward to seeing your dishes for next month X

guillermina kelly said...

Dear Gillian, I'm writing to ask if you could recommend me a host family to stay next January since I'm panning to visit your city for a few days.
Thanks a lot

guillermina kelly said...

Dear Gillian, I'm writing to ask if you could recommend me a host family to stay next January since I'm panning to visit your city for a few days.
Thanks a lot

rachel said...

I know what you mean about dinner for 2. Much as I am a champion of family meals its nice to fob the smallest off with tuna pasta occasionally and have a really hot curry or expensive steak/ duck/ seafood. Those both look delish and I would def try the kids with teriyaki.

Gillian Roe said...

Which city are you visiting?