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Chicken katsu curry

This is a popular Japanese dish that sadly I never had the chance to encounter on my travels in Japan. I came across it at Japanese Canteen in the city of London many years ago. Not sure if the place is still there, but the katsu curry was one of their most popular dishes and one of my lunchtime favourites. I think I loved the dish as the curry sauce reminded me of the curry sauce they served with chips in chip shops in Ireland when I was younger.

2 chicken thighs slightly flattened
200g panko breadcrumbs
1 egg beaten
75g flour seasoned with salt and pepper
20ml oil for frying

Half an onion finely chopped
50g carrot finely diced
1 clove garlic finely chopped
10g madras curry powder
2g cumin seeds
2g turmeric powder
2g garam masala
100ml chicken stock
10ml soy sauce
10ml honey
10ml oil for frying
15ml cream
5g corn flour mixed with 15ml of water
Salt to taste

Place the onion, carrot and garlic in a pan with the oil and fry off on a low heat for 10mins until they are soft and glossy
Add the cumin, madras powder and turmeric and cook for a further 5 mins
Next add the stock, soy, honey and stir through, cook for a further 10 mins
Mix the cream and cornflour together until it forms a paste and add to the sauce, stir until it starts to thicken
Lastly add the garam masala and season to taste with the salt

To prepare the chicken

Place the flour on one plate, the egg on another, and the breadcrumbs on a third
Using one hand, dip the one side of chicken thighs first into the flour, then into the egg and finally into the breadcrumbs ensuring they are well coated
Repeat the process for the other side of the chicken thighs
Place each chicken thigh to one side until you have coated them all and are ready to cook them

To cook the chicken
Place the oil in the pan and ensure it is on a high heat
Once coated place the chicken thighs in the pan
Brown the chicken thighs on both sides and then lower the heat and cook for a further 7-10 minutes, keep turning to ensure the breadcrumbs do not burn and the chicken cooks through
Serve the thighs with the sauce and some steamed basmati rice

Fig and gorgonzola focaccia

Figs and blue cheese are a great combination. I like to make focaccia style breads as they only require one prove, so no waiting around for a second prove before you put it on to bake. I also love the flavour and texture of the bread. This bread pairs really well with sliced parma ham and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic.

450g strong white bread flour or '00' flour
7g instant yeast
5g salt
300ml water
100g gorgonzola dolce chopped into small cubes
4 figs finely chopped

Add the flour, salt, yeast, figs and cheese into a bowl
Mix together to combine and add the water to form a wet dough
Knead for 5 minutes until the dough becomes smooth
Place on a greased baking sheet and cover with oiled cling film and place in a warm place until the dough has risen to twice its volume (roughly 30-40 mins)
Remove the cling film and place in an oven at 190c (fan) 200c (normal) and bake for 40 minutes. 
If cooking on the BBQ use indirect heat, 200c (400f) or in a Kamado style BBQ use the plate setter with pizza stone on the griddle for 40 minutes
Tip: You can check if the bread is done by tapping the bottom and if it makes a hollow sound it is done

Steamed pork, prawn and shiitake won tons

I love dim sum type dishes, nothing better than heading out with friends and picking lots of dishes to share. It took me a while to get the hang of making the won tons, especially trying to fill and shape them exactly like you see in restaurants.There were many misshapen efforts before they vaguely resembled proper won tons. 

For this dish you will need a steamer or steamer basket. Chinese steamer baskets are easily found online or in Chinese supermarkets. All you need to do is to ensure you have a good amount of water in a pan, set the steamer above the pan on the lip, and ensure that the water does not touch the basket. The water must be on a rolling simmer and not boiling. 

10 dried shiitake rehydrated and finely chopped
200g pork belly minced
100g rose prawns
50g carrot finely diced
50ml soy sauce
20ml shaoxing rice wine ( if you can't get this then use a dry sherry)
2 cloves garlic finely grated
10g fresh ginger finely chopped
4 scallions finely chopped
10g corn flour
5ml sesame oil

1 pack won ton wrappers

Mix all ingredients (but not the won ton wrappers) together until it is well combined
Form a circle with your thumb and forefinger and place the won ton wrapper on top with the middle pushed down slightly
Place a teaspoonful of pork and prawn mix in the middle and then push down until you have a cup shape
Before placing in the steamer ensure you place non stick parchment in the steamer to prevent the won ton sticking to it, you may need to make small holes in it to ensure the steam gets through, or try and get steamer parchment which will already have perforations
If using metal steamer, oil the basket beforehand
Place in the steamer and steam for 15 - 20 minutes, if your steamer has a temp setting, then 110c for 15 minutes

What's in season - September

The nights may have started drawing in, but the harvest is still in full swing. This is probably my favourite time as wild mushrooms are now in full season, game is available, as well as plenty of fish to be had. Fruits are readily available so lots of chutneys, jams and baking going on chez Kitchen Exile.

Artichoke, aubergine, beetroot, broccoli, butternut squash, carrots, celeriac, celery, chillies, courgettes, cucumber, fennel, french beans, garlic, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce & salad leaves, mangetout, marrow, onions, pak choi, peppers, potatoes, pumpkin, radishes, rocket, runner beans, shallots, spring onions, sweetcorn, tomatoes, turnips, watercress, wild mushrooms

Apples, bilberries, blackberries, damsons, elderberries, figs, grapes, medlar, melons, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, raspberries, redcurrants


Chestnuts, chives, cob nuts, coriander, oregano, mint, parsley, rosemary, sage, sorrel, thyme

Meat and Game

beef, duck, grouse, guinea fowl, hare, lamb, mallard, pheasant, rabbit, turkey, venison, wood pigeon

Clams, cod, coley, crab, dab, dover sole, grey mullet, haddock, halibut, hake, herring, lemon sole, mackerel, monkfish, mussels, oysters, pilchard, plaice, pollack, prawns, red mullet, sea bass (wild), sea bream, shrimp, squid, turbot, whelks, winkles

For more information visit Eat the Seasons

Carrot, orange and beetroot salad with cumin

The flavours in this salad bring back memories of a trip to Morocco many years ago. I always remember that after a meal they would serve orange slices dusted with cumin. I like to combine sweet and savoury and in this dish I've combined the flavours of beets and carrots backed with cumin and highlighted with a tart orange dressing. This salad works better if you julienne the carrot and beetroot. You can grate it but it does end up as mush and the colours bleed into one another.

1 beetroot peeled and julienned
1 large carrot peeled and julienned
5g whole cumin seeds toasted
1 orange peeled and segmented and cut into small pieces

20ml orange juice
20ml rapeseed oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Place all the dressing ingredients into a jar, place the lid on and shake well to combine

To assemble the salad
Mix the carrot, beetroot, cumin and orange segments in a bowl
Sprinkle with the dressing

Creamed sweetcorn with garlic and herbs

I came across this dish many years ago at The Gaucho grill in London. It was one of the side dishes served with the steak that we had and I loved it. It's one of my favourite side dishes to have with steak as it pairs so well. Thankfully It wasn't that difficult to re-create at home. I prefer to make this when sweetcorn is in season and at its best, but you can also use tinned if you like.

2 sweetcorn (preferably still in their husks and soaked in water for 10 minutes)
30g butter
2 spring onions chopped
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
1g smoked paprika
20g creme fraiche
3 sprigs fresh thyme, remove the leaves and chop them roughly 
salt and pepper to taste

I like to cook the sweetcorn on the BBQ, direct heat about 200c, make sure to keep turning it for about 10 mins as you cook it
Remove from the BBQ and allow to cool
Cut the corn kernels off the cob and place to one side
In a pan fry off the garlic and spring onions in the butter on a low heat
Add the paprika and cook for 1-2 mins
Add the kernels and creme fraiche to the onion and garlic, stir to combine
With a stick blender or in a food processor, start to puree the mix until you have a rough puree
Add the chopped thyme and stir through
Season with the lemon juice, salt and pepper

If not cooking on the BBQ 

Cut off the kernels and place to one side
In a pan, fry off the garlic and spring onions in the butter on a low heat
Add the uncooked kernels to the garlic and spring onions, cook through for about 10 minutes
Add the paprika and cook for a further 1-2 mins
Add the creme fraiche to the pan and stir through
With a stick blender or in a food processor, start to puree the mix until you have a rough puree
Add the chopped thyme and stir through
Season with the lemon juice, salt and pepper

Blackberry and Apple tart

I love this time of year when blackberries and apple are in season. They say what "grows together, goes together", blackberry and apple are a classic combination. Growing up I used to go blackberry picking in the local woods and hedgerows as my mother always made jam. These days, I grow some in my front garden. Occasionally I'll pick some if I see them in the wild.

Pastry (for a 6" pastry plate)
110g flour
60g butter
30g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
pinch of salt
30ml cold water (you may not need to use it all)

Rub the butter and flour together until it resembles bread crumbs 
Add the egg yolk, sugar and water and bring the mixture together until it forms a stiff dough
(this can also be made in a food processor, simply whizz the flour, sugar and butter mix until it resembles bread crumbs, then add the water and egg yolk till it comes together)
Wrap the pastry in cling film and place in the fridge for an hour to rest
Once the pastry has rested, roll out to 2mm thick 
Next, get your pastry dish and cut out the pastry using the shape of the pie dish as a guide, ensure you leave some excess pastry around the edges
Then take the cut out pastry and press into the pastry dish, making sure there are no air bubbles and push the pastry into all the corners
You can trim any excess pastry from the edges of the pastry dish using a knife if need be
Place the pastry dish back in the fridge to allow the pastry to rest for about 30 mins
Keep some of the excess pastry to finish the tart
I roll this out and slice into strips
Place in the fridge until needed

For the filling
3 large bramley apples peeled cored and sliced
100g blackberries
50g caster sugar to sprinkle

To assemble the tart
Take the pastry lined plate out of the fridge
Arrange the sliced apple and blackberries on the pastry and sprinkle with the sugar
Top with the strips of pastry 

Pre-heat the oven to 190c (fan), 200c (normal)
Bake for 20 - 30 mins until it is light brown coloured with a sandy texture to the touch
Allow to cool

I like to serve this with a vanilla cream