Friday, 13 March 2009

Catching up

I am so behind in everything (e-mails, blogging, cleaning, ironing, phone calls, washing up...), can't believe how busy life seems even though I don't do half the things I used to do back in the UK (remember the song 'Busy doing nothing?). Hopefully will be able to catch up with myself after W's graduation tomorrow (which I'm not sure if I'm looking forward to or not, I've been warned to expect WEEPING!). W's teacher is expecting a baby in a couple of months, so I've made her a nappy cake (neutral colours as we don't know what she's having):

Finally got my outfit sorted last night. It's a 'formal' occasion, so I've been told to wear black. I've got a 'Magic' dress from M & S, which is supposed to suck everything in in all the right places. Problem (a nice one, though) is, I've lost weight and so it's not really doing any sucking... Tried on my ensemble (dress, bolero shawl, sparkly necklace and earrings and killer heels) last night and felt fab for the first time in years!!

As well as tomorrow being graduation day, it is also White Day - the day when those who received chocolates on Valentine's Day (boys) reciprocate by giving cookies (or hankies). J and W both have admirers who treated them in February, so we've been baking. Found some very cute boxes in the 100 yen shop to package the cookies in:

Ah yes, and my camera is full of picture of food so here's some to be going on with!

Shiitake Mushroom and Potato Cake

100g dried shiitake mushrooms
140g butter
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1kg large potatoes

Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Tip the mushrooms into a bowl and pour over boiling water to just cover them. Leave to cool, then drain (reserve the stock for another time), squeezing out excess liquid.
Heat about a fifth of the butter in a pan and stew the garlic over a low heat for 3-4 mins. Throw in the mushrooms and continue to cook for 15-20 mins until tender. Season well and set aside.
Peel and slice the potatoes (don't wash them, as the starch holds the cake together). Butter a 20cm ovenproof pan, then overlap a layer of potatoes on the bottom. Build up the cake with layers of potato, scatterings of mushroom, dots of butter and seasoning, finishing with a layer of potatoes. Cover with foil and bake for 50-60 mins, until a knife slides into the cake easily. Remove from the oven, run a knife around the outside to make sure it doesn't stick, then leave to relax for at least 5 mins before carefully inverting onto a plate. Serve cut into wedges.

Rosemary Chicken with Tomato Sauce

1 tbsp olive oil
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I used more as the ones here are tiny)
1 rosemary sprig, leaves finely chopped
1 red onion , finely sliced
3 garlic cloves , sliced
2 anchovy fillets, chopped
400g can chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp capers , drained
75ml red wine (optional)

Heat half the oil in a pan, then brown the chicken all over. Add half the chopped rosemary, stir to coat, then set aside on a plate.
In the same pan, heat the rest of the oil, then gently cook the onion for about 5 mins until soft. Add the garlic, anchovies and remaining rosemary, then fry for a few mins more until fragrant. Pour in the tomatoes and capers with the wine, if using, or 75ml water if not. Bring to the boil, then return the chicken pieces to the pan. Cover, then cook for 20 mins until the chicken is cooked through.

Better get going, the MIL will be here at the crack of dawn tomorrow...


  1. OH MY GOSH, A, you are so talented!!!! The nappy cake looks fabulous! I really hope you sell them here, you would do very well!

    You'll have to take some photos of yourself in your Couture dress, and congrats on the weight loss too, I wear spanx still, but hoping I won't have to come summer.

    The Rosemary Chicken.. OH MY GOSH it looks so delish, I LOVE chicken and have been looking for more soup like recipes (which are healthier than picking up a bento every night).

    Darn.. I just forget the anchovy word in Japanese.. derr...

    The potato cake, I am going to try, but dried shitake is SO expensive. Gosh all looks so great!

  2. Hi GJ! Anchovy is just that, in katakana. The recipe for the mushroom cake was using dried procini, by at over 650 yen for 10g there was no way I was going to try that! I will make this again using fresh shiitake, I don't see why they need to be dried...

    PS I picture you as a tall, slender but shapely (ie, with boobs!) blonde - am I far wrong?!

  3. Two things. That nappy cake is fantastic! You are so creative :) And that potato and mushroom cake looks brilliant! I can see myself serving that to a savoury loving friend for their birthday (they don't like sweet cakes but this is perfect)

  4. Thank you Lorraine! The mushroom cake does use a LOT of butter and I'm pretty sure it could easily be halved. But it was soooo delicious (I love 'shrooms - will be trying your shiitake 'bacon' this weekend)!

  5. You are definately becoming an expert on nappy cakes. The mushroom cake also looks fantastic. I personally prefer fresh shitake mushrooms - the flavour of the dried ones is just too strong for me - and reconstituting them means I have to be a little too organised! Thanks for the great recipes.

  6. lol Anchan.. you are so funny... I am med/dark Blonde, depending on the light = )

    Not very tall about 5'5 feet, was very slender size 2, had a skiing accident twice and got PLUMP but trying to lose the lasts bits... yep 34 DD! hehe

  7. what a nice nappy cake :) I ve never seen one before.