About Corina

Food blogger at Searchingforspice.com

Review: VonShef Kitchen Scales

Vonshef kitchen scalesEveryone needs some kitchen scales occasionally and I was recently sent this VonShef Slim Glass Black Digital Kitchen Scale to review.  My first impression was that it is very smart looking.   I loved the simple black style.

The VonShef kitchen scales are also very easy to use with just 2 buttons.   One button is to switch between the 4 different modes of measurement – kilos and grams, pounds and ounces, millilitres and fluid ounces.   The other button is to switch the scales on and can also be used to reset them to zero.  So for example you can put a bowl on the scales, measure in some flour then reset it and measure in something else.  If you hold this button down, it switches off the scales rather than just resetting them.

The surface of the scales is made from durable toughened glass so they are very easy to just wipe clean and because they are thin they store easily in a kitchen drawer without taking up much space.

And is there anything wrong with them?   Well, not that I could see.   If you’re looking for a sleek, stylish and affordable digital kitchen scales then I’d be happy to recommend them.

Disclosure: I was sent the scales to review but the opinions are my own.

Cauliflower Leaf and Chicken Stir Fry

cauliflower leaf and chicken stir fry

Are you guilty of buying a cauliflower and then throwing away half of it when you take off the outside leaves?  Have you even thought to eat the cauliflower leaves?

Well, until now I’d just thrown them away without thinking.   I don’t even know why I suddenly wondered about whether they would be tasty too. But for some reason I did and that’s how I ended up with this quick and easy meal.

Cabbage is quite a common stir fry ingredient and the cauliflower leaves are very similar when cooked in this way.   Cooking mellows the strong flavour a little and adding a strong sauce complements it well.    It may look like I haven’t added much black bean sauce but the brand I used is very strong and salty and after adding too much when I last used it, I am using it frugally now.   You may well need to add more if using a different brand.

If you’re wondering about other ways to eat cauliflower leaves, they have quite a strong cabbagy flavour and I liked them in a salad too.  However, my husband wasn’t keen and claimed I had cauliflower breath afterwards so although they are tasty, you may not want to eat them on a date night.

Ingredients – Serves 2

200g chicken, sliced into strips

Small piece of ginger, diced

1 tsp black bean sauce (I used a very strong sauce but you may need a little more depending on the brand you use)

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

About 4 large cauliflower leaves, sliced into thin strips

1 bok choi

5 mushrooms, sliced

How to Make Cauliflower Leaf and Chicken Stir Fry

1. Put a little oil in a wok and when it is hot, add the chicken.   Stir fry until it is almost cooked and then add the ginger, vinegar and black bean sauce.

2. Stir well and then add the vegetables plus a dash of water if the pan is too dry.    Cook for another couple of minutes until everything is cooked through.  Serve with rice.

I am linking this to Extra Veg, hosted by Fuss Free Flavours and on alternate months by Utterly Scrummy.  I am also linking to Credit Crunch Munch, hosted this month by Jen’s Food and run by Fuss Free Flavours and Fab Food 4 All.

Extra Veg

Credit Crunch Munch

Review: Chimasu Snack Box

chimasu box

Recently I was sent a Chimasu Snack box to review.  Chimasu provides monthly boxes filled with 12-15 different sweet and savoury snacks from Asian countries.  Most of the contents are things many people would struggle to buy unless they lived near enough to an oriental supermarket.   Another great thing is that once you have subscribed and given your preferences, your box is personally picked for you so you don’t end up with things you don’t like.

I really enjoyed trying the contents of the box and amazingly there was nothing I tried that I didn’t like.   The only thing I didn’t try was the tea as I’m just not a tea drinker.  I love nuts and many of the snacks were nutty so if you’re like me, you’ll be happy.  However, it may not be suitable for anyone with allergies or a special diet.

Prices start at £14 per month and you can also get £5 off your first subscription.   Below you can see all the snacks I received in my sample box.

Instant Noodle King Wonton Soup Flavoured 

IMG_6748These Wonton Soup flavoured noodles were really tasty and surprisingly filling.   I loved the amount of dehydrated vegetable bits in them and they had a lovely shrimpy taste.

 

 

 

Japanese Rice Cracker Mix

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I found all the snacks in this little Japanese Rice Cracker Mix bag really tasty.  They’re quite fishy and peanuty and probably not for the slightly squeemish as they do contain little dried fish which might put some people off.

 

 

Hokkaido Rice Cracker Mix
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These Hokkaido rice crackers had the same flavours as the Japanese rice cracker mix.  Very nutty and fishy but without the actual dried fish.

 

 

 

 Boy Bawang Cornick Adobo Flavour

IMG_6754I loved the picture on the front of these Boy Bawang Cornick adobo flavour corn nuts from the Philipines. It made them look like they’d be full of flavour and they were.  A lovely crunchy alternative to a packet of crisps.

 

 

 

 White Rabbit Candy

IMG_6757These chewy White Rabbit sweets have a creamy vanilla flavour and are very morish.

 

 

 

 

 

Meiji Yan Yan 

IMG_6758These Yan Yan snack pots come with a creamy chocolate dipping sauce in one side of the pot and long thin biscuits at the other side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edo Gummy Candy

IMG_6762If you like sweets to taste of real fruit then you’ll like these Edo apple and peach gummy candies.   They’re a bit less sweet than a lot of jelly-like sweets and although I don’t eat a lot of these type of sweets. I really liked them.

 

 

Mama Shrimp Creamy Tom Yum Flavour

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I love noodles and the problem with some instant noodles is they just don’t have enough flavour.   That could not be said of these Mama Tom Yum instant noodles.  They’re a little creamy, slightly sour and full of oriental flavour.

 

 

Pu-Erh Tea
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If you like tea then there was also a sample of this Pu-Erh tea.  As I’m more of a coffee drinker, I’m afraid I can’t give a personal opinion.

 

 

 

 

Lotte Pepero Almond and Chocolate Biscuit Sticks

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These thin biscuit sticks are covered in a crunchy milk chocolate and almond coating.  Delicious if you like chocolate and nuts.

 

 

 

 

 

Cho Fu Peanut Cake
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This Cho Fu Peanut Cake was one of my favourite items in the box.  A sweet peanut brittle that was packed full of peanuts held together by a crunchy caramel.

 

Meiji Hello Panda Strawberry  Biscuits
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These cute Japanese Hello Panda Biscuits were also one of our top snacks in the box.  Each light bite-sized biscuit is filled with a sweet creamy strawberry filling.

 

 

 

 

 

Chun Guang Coconut Candy

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l really liked these little Chun Guang Coconut Candy sweets.   They are a hard creamy coconut flavoured toffee.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information about Chimasu then take a look at their website here.

Disclosure: I was sent a free Chimasu box to review.   However, the opinions here are my own.

Recipe Redux: Apple Pie with Spiced Wholemeal Pastry

apple pie with spiced wholemeal pastry

This month the theme for Recipe Redux is Pie Love i.e. to give a healthy twist to a sweet or savoury pie.   Well, to me pies are real comfort food and remind me of growing up as my mum used to make lots of pies both sweet and savoury.  We would have meat pies and chicken pies followed by apple, rhubarb or plum pies.   My mum makes very good pies and luckily for her, my dad loves his pies.  Or should I say her pies.

Unfortunately my husband is not a big fan of pastry so I rarely actually make a pie myself. I’m more likely to get my pie fix when I’m out and about, and of course bought pies are never as good as homemade ones.    And rarely even remotely healthy.

So, starved of homemade pies for a long long time, I was pleased to have a real reason to actually make one for this challenge.   Because I so rarely make pies, what could be more appropriate than  having a go at recreating my mum’s apple pie?   You see, although pies have a reputation for being unhealthy, as far as pies go, my mum’s is on the healthier side. She always makes pastry out of wholemeal flour and I love the crumbliness that that gives the pie.   It may not look so attractive and is difficult to work with but it just melts in your mouth, as well as giving the pastry a slight nutty flavour, which is helped here by the mixed spice as well.   The mixed spice is optional and is very subtle.  You could just add it to the apple instead for a more spiced pie.

I can’t claim a pie is healthy, but this pie is slightly healthier than some pies in that the fruit isn’t encased in pastry. There’s a layer of fruit and then a layer of pastry.   So much easier and also no need to worry about a soggy bottom!

Finally the fruit.  I used eating apples so didn’t need to add any sugar to sweeten them, although I did add a squeeze of agave nectar for just a little extra sweetness and taste.

As you can see, I ate this pie with ice cream.   I could have had it with natural yoghurt but that would have defeated the purpose a little.   Why recreate your mum’s pie and then not serve it the way she would have done?   It had to be served warm with vanilla ice cream.   Nothing else would have done.  I’m hope you understand.

apple pie with spiced wholemeal pastry

Ingredients – Serves 4

4 eating apples, peeled, cored and chopped

1 tbsp agave nectar

200g wholemeal flour

100g butter

1/2 tsp ground mixed spice

A little icy water

How to Make Apple Pie with Spiced Wholemeal Pastry

1. Put the apples in a saucepan with a little water and simmer until the apples are soft but still hold their shape.   Don’t let them boil dry.   Add a splash of water if it looks like the pan might get too dry.

2. Put the apples in the bottom of a greased pie dish.

3. Make the pastry by putting the flour and butter in a food processor and blending until it looks like breadcrumbs.

4. Turn the mixture out onto a work surface and add a couple of tablespoons of cold water from the fridge.    Bring the mixture together with your hands to form a ball of pastry.

5. Wrap the pastry in cling film and put in the fridge to rest for about 20 minutes.

6. Put a little flour on the work surface and roll the pastry out until it’s the right size and shape to cover the pie.   The pastry will be very crumbly and difficult to work with without it breaking up but this is also what gives it its light crumbly texture after it’s cooked.

7. Make a couple of cuts on top of the pie so the steam can escape and then bake the pie in the oven at 180C for about 20-25 minutes.

8. Let the pie cool for about 15 minutes before serving with ice cream.  Or yoghurt.

To see what other #RecipeRedux participants have made, click on the link below:

This is also my #BakeoftheWeek at Casa Costello.

Bake of the Week

Mexican Salad in a Kilner Jar

Mexican kilner jar saladI don’t consider making food look good to be one of my strengths.   Making tasty food is more (I hope) where my talents lie.   However, when I was asked if I would like to take part in a competition to present something tasty in a Kilner jar, I was tempted.  Kilner jars have become incredibly popular recently, not just for canning and preserving food, but for presenting sweets, soups, drinks, desserts, salads and probably many more things.

Initially I was considering making a trifle.  I thought I could make it look good in the jar, but I very much doubted I’d be able to get it out of the jar and still make it look good.  I soon moved on from that idea.   At least for now.

I then started thinking about salads and decided on this colourful Mexican bean salad.  It may not be the most original thing to fill the jar with, but it was very very tasty.

You can make this Mexican salad in advance and then turn it out of the jar to serve.  I used a 1 litre jar and it was big enough to serve 2 people generously but could serve up to 4 as a side salad.   It’s important to add the dressing to the jar first and then put crunchy vegetables in first that won’t go soggy in the dressing.    The lettuce and herbs should go at the top so they don’t get crushed.  Before serving you can turn the jar upside down for 5 minutes so the dressing runs down and coats all the vegetables.

If you’d like a more fiery salad, add a little sliced chilli pepper or some jalapenos to the jar as well as the hot sauce.   Or if you’d like a non-vegetarian salad, a little roasted chicken would go well too.

If you’d like more ideas, foodie or otherwise, for what to do with a Kilner jar, then have a look at Think Money’s Jam J-Art site.

vegetarian Mexican bean salad in a kilner jar

Ingredients – Serves 2-4

Juice of 1 lime

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp hot sauce

1/2 red pepper, diced

1/4 cucumber, diced

2 tbsp sweetcorn

1/2 small red onion, sliced

1/2 avocado, cut into large chunks

1 large tomato, diced

2 tbsp red kidney beans

2 tbsp  coriander (cilantro), chopped

2 tbsp iceberg lettuce, sliced

How to Make Mexican Kilner Jar Salad

1. Layer all the ingredients into the jar in the order given above.

2. Before serving, turn the jar upside down so the dressing covers all the ingredients.

3. Turn the salad out onto a plate.

vegetarian Mexican bean salad in a kilner jar

‘Lamb. Tasty Easy Fun’ Campaign Launch and my Tasty Easy Lamb Stir Fry Recipe

Cyrus Todiwala demontrating how to cook lamb at Lamb Tasty Easy Fun campaign launch

Last week I was invited to the launch of a new campaign:  Lamb. Tasty Easy Fun at Cafe Spice Namaste in London.   Not only did I learn a lot about lamb, but I ate some of the tastiest lamb dishes I’d eaten in a long time.  Thank you Cyrus Todiwala for some amazing food.IMG_6872

The campaign aims to encourage younger consumers in the UK, Ireland, France, Belgium, Germany and Denmark to consider lamb as an everyday meat to buy and cook with regularly.   It doesn’t only have to be a roasted lamb joint with mint sauce on a Sunday.   It is a versatile meat that can be enjoyed at any time and cooked in many IMG_6875different ways.  Of course it can be slow cooked but you can also cook a quick steak, cutlets or a stir fry too. And of course lamb mince is great for burgers, mince and koftas.

As we enjoyed canapes Jane Ritchie-Smith from AHDB (Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board) introduced the campaign, highlighting the quality and sustainability of lamb.   Unlike some animals, sheep do not need quality land to survive on.  They often thrive on hillsides and the type of land that would be unsuitable for any other type of agriculture or farming and therefore make an important contribution to the economy in rural areas.

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John Kirkpatrick, a sheep producer then talked briefly about sheep farming, followed by Cyrus Todiwala demonstrating some lamb dishes and talking about the way lamb is used in his restaurant, Cafe Spice Namaste.  As he likes to support smaller independent sheep producers and I grew up on a farm with sheep, I was impressed by his approach.

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As I mentioned above, I was especially impressed by the food. There were a variety of lamb canapes – Kadduk Sheek Kavaabs, barbecue lamb breast fingers and diced lamb with chilli, garlic and cinnamon.  I was feeling well fed before the meal even started!

There was then a starter of lamb cutlets and liver and IMG_6888sweetbread samosas.   I don’t often eat offal but I could have eaten a lot of those samosas!   The next course was a lamb burger stuffed with chilli, cheese and garlic.   The final lamb course was a lamb curry with the most amazing coconut stir fried green vegetables and lamb rice. Finally at the end there was one lamb free course – kulfi and stewed figs.IMG_6901

 

After all that lamb you might think I’d never want to eat lamb again in my life  but I came away inspired to add my own twist on some of my favourite dishes of the evening.  I make a lot of stir fries but usually with chicken.  I don’t think I’ve ever cooked a lamb stir fry until now but as the message of the campaign was that lamb can be a great meat to cook with everyday at home, I felt it was only fitting I created my own quick easy and tasty lamb dish.   I love lamb with spices but if you’re not confident blending lots of spices together you can make something just as delicious using a spice blend or just 2 or 3 individual spices.   This lamb stir fry simply uses garam masala, a common Indian spice blend plus a little cayenne pepper for extra heat.  It’s super quick to prepare, especially if you miss out step 1, and really tasty too.   I’ll definitely be making it again.

Lamb stir fry

Ingredients – Serves 2

3 garlic cloves, finely diced

Small knob of fresh ginger, finely diced

1 red chilli pepper, sliced

2 lamb steaks

1 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)

How to Make Lamb stir fry

1. If you have time, put the lamb in the freezer for 30 minutes before beginning the cooking.  This will make it easier to cut into strips.

2. Slice the lamb into strips.   Remove any hard bits of fat.

3. Heat a little oil in a wok or frying pan.   Add the garlic, ginger and chilli pepper.  Stir fry for 1-2 minutes.

4. Add the lamb, garam masala and cayenne pepper.   Stir fry for a couple of minutes until the lamb is just cooked.   Stir in the chopped fresh herbs at the end.

5. Serve the stir fry wrapped in chapatis with lettuce, tomato and cucumber.

lamb stir fry with chapatis

You can find out more about the campaign at www.tastyeasylamb.co.uk and also follow them on Twitter @TastyEasyLamb or Facebook Tasty Easy Lamb

 

 

Baked Tunworth and Review of The Cheese Market

Tunworth cheese studded with garlic and rosemary, ready for baking

Recently I was asked if I would like to review a Cheese from The Cheese Market, who sell artisan, specialist and luxury cheeses online.   Well, I love cheese so I was delighted to be able to choose something new to try.

There are a huge range of cheeses on their website from individual cheeses to hampers to even cheese wedding cakes.   There’s also something to suit every type of cheese lover: those who like French cheeses, those who like the traditional British cheeses and even those who like a fiery kick to their cheeses.

I could have just chosen a rather special Cheddar or Red Leicester but I wanted to pick something I’d never tried before.   I came across Tunworth, a Camembert-like soft cows cheese made in Hampshire, which has twice been Supreme Champion at the British Cheese Awards, as well as winning gold at the World Cheese Awards last year and I knew that I had found the cheese I wanted to try.

Apparently Raymond Blanc has described Tunworth as, ‘the best Camembert in the world’ and that he likes to bake it with chilli, garlic and rosemary.   Well, although I love chilllies, I felt that might be adding a little too much so I just stuck with rosemary and garlic for my baked Tunworth.   I spiked the top of the cheese with a knife a few times and pushed in a few rosemary leaves and a couple of cloves of garlic cloves cut in half and that was it.

The only issue I had was that the box the Tunworth came in was slightly broken at the side and so some of the cheese flowed out across the baking tray as it was in the oven.   Next time I might line the inside of the box with foil to stop that happening.   Even so, it wasn’t wasted.  I poured the molten cheese from the baking tray into a ramekin so we could dip the bread in that too.

It is quite rich to eat cheese baked in this way so you’ll probably feel like eating something light afterwards.  For us it made an easy Saturday lunch with salad and bread, followed by fruit.     The Tunworth may have been rich but it was lovely, smooth and creamy and not too strong.   I’d definitely enjoy it for lunch again.

You can buy Tunworth online from The Cheese Market for £6.95.

Baked Tunworth

Ingredients – Serves 4

250g Tunworth cheese

2 garlic cloves, sliced in half

A few rosemary leaves

How to Make Baked Tunworth

1. Unwrap the cheese from its packaging and then place it back into the wooden box.   Make a few cuts on top of the cheese and push in the sliced garlic and rosemary leaves.

2. Bake in the oven at 180C for about 15 minutes.

Watermelon, Feta and Basil Salad

Watermelon feta and basil salad

This month I have been trying to eat healthily and even started running again so when I picked my Secret Recipe Club assignment from the blog, Cheesecurd in Paradise, I immediately went to look at the savoury recipes.  As I think of myself more as a savoury cook than a sweet one, I was delighted there was so much choice and so many recipes were tempting me.  I especially liked the sound of a lot of Ashley’s slow cooker recipes such as the Slowcooker Thai Peanut Beef but in the end I opted for the Watermelon, Feta and Basil Salad.   

I’ve been wanting to make a watermelon salad for a long time but somehow never have.   I’ve seen a lot of slightly different versions but what I liked about this one was the simplicity and the squeeze of lime.   It’s a perfect match for the salty feta and the sweet melon.

I just ate this for lunch one day but it would be a great salad to have on a hot day, eaten outside in the garden, maybe with a barbecue.

Ingredients

1/4 medium-sized watermelon, diced

50g feta cheese

About 8 basil leaves, chopped

Juice of 1/2 lime

How to Make Watermelon, Feta and Basil Salad

1. Mix all the ingredients and add a little extra lime juice if it’s needed.

2. Chill in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.

To see what other Secret Recipe Club participants have made, click on the link below:

 

Rhubarb and Fromage Frais Frozen Hearts

Frozen Rhubarb and Yoghurt Hearts

I was seduced online by some very similar looking hearts to these a couple of weeks ago on My Fussy Eater.  They were strawberry flavoured and I’m sure they tasted amazing.  I didn’t have any strawberries but I couldn’t resist making some similar ones with stewed rhubarb.  I’d stewed the rhubarb with some cinnamon and sugar and it was sitting in the fridge waiting for me to do something with it.    The fromage frais was in tubes doing exactly the same.    Both would have been delicious just as they were but putting them together like this needed so little effort it was hard to say no.

The silicon mould meant it was really easy to take the frozen hearts out but as they weren’t on sticks, they weren’t the easiest of things to eat.   I didn’t mind popping them straight into my mouth but my children were not quite so brave.  I suspect that other children or slightly older children would be though.

Of course, if I hadn’t had a silicon hearts mould I wouldn’t have been able to make them look quite so cute, although I could have made extra big ones in a lollipop mould, which may well be what I’ll do next time.

You don’t really need a recipe for these and there are so many possible variations depending on what fruit or yoghurt you use, but as I like to do it, I’ve included the recipe below anyway.

Ingredients

Fromage Frais or Yoghurt

Stewed rhubarb or another stewed fruit

How to Make Frozen Rhubarb and Fromage Frais Hearts

1. Put a teaspoonful of stewed fruit into the bottom of each shape in a silicon mould.   Top with a teaspoonful of fromage frais or yoghurt.  I used tubes of fromage frais which made it easy to squeeze it directly into the moulds but using a spoon would work just as well too.

2. Freeze until you are ready to eat them.

Frozen Rhubarb and Yoghurt Hearts

I am linking these to Treat Petite, hosted by The Baking Explorer and on alternate months by Cakeyboi.   The theme this month is Lets Get Fruity.  This is also my Recipe of the Week, hosted by A Mummy Too.

Recipe of the wEek

Treat Petit

Salmon Miso Soup

Salmon and miso soup with courgette and sugar snap peas

It may not really be soup weather any more but that’s no reason not to enjoy this healthy vegetable and salmon miso soup for a light easy meal.

Don’t even feel you have to stick exactly to the recipe – any green vegetables would be fine as a substitute.   After all, I looked in my fridge and found courgette and sugar snap peas.   Had I had mangetouts and spring greens, I’d have still made a salmon miso soup.

I don’t use miso very often but I was sent some complementary Mellow Yellow Awase Miso soup and Organic Tamari soy sauce by Yutaka and I really wanted to use them together. I added a little ginger and garlic and also just a few drops of sesame oil at the end for a little extra flavour.   Just be careful not to add too much or it will drown out the taste of the miso.

I made this when my lovely husband was out as he’s not such a big fan of salmon as I am. On nights like that I really don’t want to spend all night in the kitchen so it was even better that this soup was so quick and easy to put together.  I also went to bed feeling smug and healthy, knowing that he may have had more fun on a night out, but I’d feel better in the morning.

Ingredients – Serves 1

1 sachet Yutaka Mellow Yellow Awase Miso Soup

1 tsp Yutaka Organic Tamari Soy Sauce

1 small piece of salmon

1 clove of garlic, finely sliced

Small piece of fresh ginger, sliced into batons

1/4 courgette, cut into thick batons

Handful of sugar snap peas

A few drops of sesame oil (optional)

How to Make Salmon Miso Soup

1. Dissolve the miso soup paste into 200ml of boiling water in a saucepan.   Add the ginger, garlic and soy sauce and then the salmon.   Let it simmer very gently for about 7-8 minutes.

2. Remove the salmon and add the courgette and sugar snap peas to the pan.   Simmer for 2 more minutes.

3. Flake the salmon into a soup bowl.   Ladle the miso soup over the top and add a few drops of sesame oil if you want.

I am linking this to Super Soup, hosted by Jo’s Kitchen and Recipe of the Week hosted by A Mummy Too.  As it contains lots of veggies I am also linking it to Extra Veg, hosted by Veggie Desserts and run by Fuss Free Flavours and Utterly Scrummy.

Super-Soup-e1420548258803recipeoftheweekExtra Veg

Disclosure: I received the Yutaka products for free but the opinions and recipe are my own.