Cooking & Recipes

Vegetable Tempura

Japanese Week Part 1: Vegetable Tempura

It started as an offer to cook for a week, which of course I took as a challenge, relieving Mrs. Any Given Food of kitchen duties for a few days. We’ve been on a fine roll of home cooking for the past few weeks that have largely been driven by herself that I thought it right not to just sit back and take advantage.

Having tried a few dishes from Japanese Soul Cooking recently, I suggested I’d cook Japanese dishes for a week, not paying any attention to the calendar until it got to Sunday evening gone.

The requirements are simple – the dishes need to be Japanese in nature, I’ve got to be able to source the ingredients locally and I’ve got to produce lunch and dinner until Friday, or at the very least, dinner. Having just required a small pro fryer for the kitchen, I decided that Monday’s dinner should be vegetable tempura.

What Is Vegetable Tempura?

To put the Irish slant on it, if you were to walk into a chipper, it would be like asking for battered vegetables. There’s a slight difference in making the tempura batter to making regular batter in that

  1. You keep the wet (water and eggs) and dry (plain flour) parts of your batter separate until you’re ready to fry
  2. You keep the wet part of your batter extra cold by adding ice cubes to keep the temperature down
Sliced Vegetables

Sliced Vegetables

Parsnip, carrot, red peppers, courgette, mushrooms, onions and potato were all sliced in a variety of lengths, angles and bite-size pieces, dredged through flour, dipped into the tempura batter and fried in batches for 2-3 minutes at a time. The result is a lovely light golden batter with crunchy vegetable slice, served up all the better with some soy sauce for dipping.

Vegetable Tempura
Serves 4
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
25 min
For the batter
  1. 450ml cold water
  2. 2 eggs
  3. 250g plain flour
For the vegetables
  1. Selection of your favourite vegetables (recommended 450g), sliced at angles. I opted for carrot, parsnip, baby potato, red pepper, mushroom (just stalk removed), courgette (cut lengthways)
  2. Approx 2L vegetable oil (in pan or fryer)
  3. 2 heaped tablespoons of flour in a separate bowl or plate
Heating your oil
  1. Heat your in a pan or a fryer up to 182 degrees celcius, optimal temperature for tempura cooking. Some fryers may regulate heat by automating the thermostat; if cooking in a deep pan, keep a sugar thermometer handy as you may need to regulate heat manually.
For the vegetables
  1. While your oil is heating, slice and prepare your vegetables. Use kitchen paper to wipe or pad down any extra liquid or moisture from your vegetable selection (you want that batter to stick).
For the batter
  1. Pour cold water into a mixing bowl, add 2 eggs and beat
  2. Add 3-4 ice cubes to keep cool
  3. In a separate bowl place your 250g plain flour
  4. Only when you are ready to start frying, you add water & eggs to your flour, mixing loosely with chopsticks for around 30 seconds or so. You're not looking for a fine batter, instead going for a lumpy style.
Putting it all together
  1. Coat your sliced vegetables in the extra flour, dip into the batter and add to the pan / fryer, leaving for 2-3 minutes max.
  2. Remove vegetables from pan / fryer and place on a rack or kitchen paper to drain off excess oil, and serve.
  1. You could, just before frying, top up your vegetable oil with a little sesame oil just before frying for that extra flavour.
  2. Also, the more you put in the pan / fryer at one time, the more you will reduce the temperature of your oil. To counter this, just cook them off in small batches, either serving straight away or preserve the heat in an oven.
Adapted from Japanese Soul Cooking
Any Given Food

The Verdict

The illusion of something healthy and something dirty all at the one time which could satisfy one’s cravings for a takeaway. By itself, a vegetable tempura dish is lovely, but I’d say it’s a must to add a dipping sauce of some description, even if it’s just a pouring of soy sauce to really bring out the flavours.

Got your own tips or tricks on cooking vegetable tempura? Let me know below or tweet @anygivenfood with your own suggestions.

This is part one of a five part planned blog series on cooking Japanese dishes for the week.

Poached Egg

Perfect St. Patrick’s Day Poached Egg

How do you start your St. Patrick’s Day? With the perfect poached egg on a toasted half brown bagel, topped with some chopped fresh parsley, that’s how. Oh, and drizzle some Highbank organic orchard syrup over that bad boy too.

Get your water to boiling point, add some white wine vinegar, stir, add your egg and turn off the heat, letting the egg cook on reducing heat over 2.5 minutes.

The perfect St. Patrick's Day poached egg, with parsley. All of the Ps covered.

The perfect St. Patrick’s Day poached egg, with parsley. All of the Ps covered.

The result? One hell of a quick and quality breakfast for a bank holiday Monday.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Linwoods Product Range

Some Linwoods Goodies & Sweet Flapjacks

So, in the post during the week landed one almighty crate-load of Linwoods goodies and a handy recipe book with suggestions for use other than cereal toppings (which would be pretty much my token use of the Linwoods Milled goods range).

The Linwoods range focuses on ‘superfood’ combinations including chia, flaxseed, cocoa, berries, almonds, goji berries, shelled hemp and the likes, the cold milled range designed to boost digestion, increase energy levels, and promote good health and a good diet. Continue Reading

No Fail Pancakes

2 Ingredients: Ken’s No Fail Pancakes

Six heaped tablespoons of flour. 350ml milk.

Say it again.

Six heaped tablespoons of flour. 350ml milk.

Today is Pancake Tuesday / Shrove Tuesday. If you’re shy on ingredients, out of eggs, haven’t a clue how to make pancakes – whatever the case may be – if you can manage these two ingredients you’re laughing.

The Nitty Gritty

Add six heaped tablespoons of flour (plain flour or tritamyl if you’re going the gluten-free route) to a bowl, top up with 350ml milk and beat or whisk until you’ve got a fine pancake batter. Some people reckon you can’t make pancakes without eggs, I beg to differ.

Ken's No Fail 2 Ingredient Pancakes

Ken’s No Fail 2 Ingredient Pancakes

Get your pancake pan (flat based frying pan) up good and hot adding a little oil or butter if you like but if your mix is done right and your pan good enough, you won’t need it. Pour enough of the mix onto the pan for your preferred pancake size, letting it cook to the point with the mix visible on top starts to recede, bubble and dry. Then it’s time to flip, usual a spatula or some of your acrobatic pancake flipping skills you may have.

A minute either side should be more than enough on a high heat though this can vary depending on the flour used and how thick your pancake batter is – let the colour of your pancake dictate things, go for the golden colour as opposed to deep brown.

Can’t Eat It All

The mix should make about 8 reasonably sized pancakes but if you can’t eat them all in one sitting, don’t cook them all. Just cook what you want from the batter, store the rest in the fridge until later and crack them open again this evening.

Pancake Toppings

If you’re in the mood for toppings, go nuts. My preference for the day that’s in it is some cinnamon (sprinkle it into the batter), some nutmeg, some Highbank Orchard Syrup or, go a little fancy and try some raspberry jam and coconut in there too.


Chinese New Year Recipes

Chinese New Year Recipes

Chinese New Year is upon (tomorrow as it happens) and with it comes heaps of supermarket promos, ads and recipes popping up all over the web. You’ll get your discounts on sauces, free woks with a few packets of rice and (as it has already started here), the cursory text messages from your local Chinese takeaway touting offers on starters, four-in-ones and other dishes to mark the occasion.

It’s also the year of the horse, but you won’t see me tracking down horse recipes. What I have gathered are a bunch of starters and mains from a handful of recipe websites that might give you some inspiration to cook at home, also giving you something to do with the free wok you may have picked up in certain supermarkets this week. Continue Reading

Raspberry & Custard Cream Slice

Siucra’s Raspberry & Custard Cream Slices

Raspberry & Custard Cream Slice

Something sweet for the weekend? How about a raspberry and custard cream slice?

Raspberry & Custard Cream Slices
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  1. 500g readymade puff pastry
  2. A little plain flour - for rolling
  3. 250ml double cream
  4. 12tbsp raspberry jam
  5. 16tbsp Siúcra Icing Sugar
  6. 2-3tbsp cold water
  1. 250ml whole milk
  2. 3 large egg yolks
  3. 70g Siúcra Caster Sugar
  4. 2tbsp cornflour - level
  5. 1tsp vanilla extract
Raspberry Jam
  1. 1kg Siúcra Sure Set Jam Sugar
  2. 1kg Raspberries (fresh or frozen)
For The Slices
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/ 400°F / Gas Mark 6.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out a large 14”x9” rectangle of puff pastry. Then cut 12 even pieces and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Lightly prick with a fork then allow to rest for 20 minutes in the fridge.
  3. Bake the puff pastry for 10 to 15 minutes until risen and golden brown. Transfer into a wire rack, to cool completely.
  4. To make the custard: In a saucepan heat the milk and bring to the boil. In a bowl beat the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour together until pale. Then pour the hot milk onto the egg mixture, and stir. Pour it into a clean saucepan. Whisk constantly over a high heat until the custard begins to thicken, continue whisking for one minute. Spoon the custard into a bowl and cover with cling film. Leave to cool and then place in the fridge.
  5. Whip the cream until thick. Cut the puff pastry in half horizontally. Spread one tablespoon of raspberry jam on the bottom of the pastry. Then add a layer of custard, cream and top with the remaining puff pastry.
  6. Mix the icing sugar in a bowl with enough water to make a runny icing. Then drizzle on top of the pastry.
For The Raspberry Jam
  1. Wash and drain the fruit, put into a large saucepan and mash, crush or liquidise.
  2. Add the sure set and heat stirring till dissolved, then bring to the boil and boil vigorously for 4 minutes.
  3. Pot the jam, cover and date.
Any Given Food
Homemade Pizza Ingredients

In Photos: Anatomy Of A Homemade Pizza

His and hers homemade pizza

I’ve posted the recipe for my homemade pizza below. The the weeks go on, the more adventurous I tend to get with the ingredients. This one, a ‘his and hers’ pizza comes with goats cheese, onion, green peppers, jalapenos, tomato and basil sauce, beetroot, red cabbage, garlic and chilli. I was also looking for an excuse to test out the Canon 5D MK1 I’ve borrowed while I work on replacing my stolen Canon 6D. You can get the step-by-step pizza base recipe here, but here’s a look at how it all comes together. Continue Reading

Vegetarian BBQ

BBQ Time: 10 Things to Cook for a Vegetarian Barbeque

Vegetarian BBQ

Vegetarian barbeque goodies. Creative Commons photo via Matt Spurr on Flickr.

The sun is out, the back of National Vegetarian Week is broken and, as far as barbeques go, my real experience is all meat or meat related – chicken, ribs, burgers, bacon, pudding, wings, the whole lot. Sure enough, the odd spud goes in there (love BBQ spuds), but beyond that, I’m at a bit of a loss in terms of what to cook for a vegetarian barbeque.

The dilemma is this: I got a present of a brand new barbeque for the birthday last weekend and it’s still sitting in the kitchen, the empty can of gas to go along with it in the back of the car and all the goodies that came with it are still in their original bags. With the best weekend of the year by far now upon us, it’s coming out this evening to get some cooking going. But, what does one cook?

In scouring the web for a few suggestions, here’s 10 things you could cook for a vegetarian barbeque.

10 Vegetarian Barbeque Options

  1. Potatoes Plus (grab the tinfoil)
  2. Courgette & Halloumi Skewers
  3. Grilled Zucchini
  4. Barbecued Portobello Burgers
  5. Carrot & Sesame Burgers
  6. Stuffed Peppers On The Barbie
  7. Grilled Eggplant, Halloumi & Pesto Burgers
  8. Chickpea Burgers
  9. Thai Tofu On Lemongrass Skewers
  10. Grilled Asparagus with Spring Onion-Radish “Butter”

So what do you reckon? For someone who doesn’t barbeque any kind of vegetarian food but is wholly intent on spending the next few days beside the grill, can you suggest anything? Have you any favourite veggie BBQ foods?

Weekend Chef #3

The Weekend Chef #3

Weekend Chef #3

IT’S NOT EVERY weekend that I haul myself out of bed before 9am to go running in the cold, but that’s how this morning started which means at this stage I’m raring to go in the kitchen. I’m thinking some kind of piri-piri chicken dish myself but if you’re stuck for ideas on what to cook in the kitchen this weekend, here’s ten recipes garnered from food bloggers and papers this past week including some easy mains, sides and desserts.

Happy cooking!

The Weekend Chef #2

The Weekend Chef #2

The Weekend Chef #2

Toying with the idea of cooking up a storm in the kitchen this weekend? If you are, here’s 10 recipes that might get you thinking, from main courses to desserts and treats, all collected from the web this past week. I’ve been enjoying a good start to year in the kitchen so far this year with something cooked every day. If I can keep it up, well, that’s another thing, but the recipes definitely help.

Are you planning on cooking up anything fancy in the kitchen this weekend?