On Thursday night, happily ensconced in Paddington Basin, we invited a couple of friends round to the boat for supper.

Richard and I made one of our favorite chicken dishes, Michael Olivier’s Tulbagh Chicken from Pam Hirschsohn’s wonderful cook book. We served it with couscous and some roasted aubergine flavoured with the very last half gram of my adored togarashi seasoning. I was very sorry to dust the slices of aubergine with those last few sprinkles of togarashi since I had no clue where I’d ever get any more of this now essential store cupboard ingredient. I knew the aubergine would be delicious though. I hoped our guests would appreciate it. Well, at least I hoped there was enough togarashi on the aubergine that they’d actually be able to taste it.

I’d searched every Waitrose anywhere near the canal on our trip from Braunston to London. Nothing. I’d checked on the Waitrose online store. Nothing. Pity. I’d have to email Waitrose and double check if they did still sell it. Or maybe look for a Japanese supermarket in London.

Paddington

Supper was ready, Paddington Basin was looking gorgeous in the late evening light when our friends arrived. We greeted them on Patience’s bow, they handed over the customary bottle of wine and as I turned to lead the way into the boat our friend Jon said, ‘I’ve been reading your blog, you know’.

I stopped in my tracks and spun around, not quite believing my ears. What? No! I mean I do want people to read it, of course, but preferably when it’s better, more polished. When I’ve really found my voice.

‘You know Waitrose doesn’t sell togarashi seasoning anymore, don’t you?’ Jon said.

‘I suspected as much. Pity.’ I’d been having such fun with it.

‘I suppose you must have looked for it on Amazon, then?’

I looked back at him. What? Was he crazy? You’d never find togarashi seasoning on Amazon.

And as I turned to go back into the boat he handed me a packet. A weighty packet. Floppyish and soft but with a bit of heft.

500g of togarashi spice blend.

I almost fell into the canal. What a man! To say I was touched would be a massive understatement.

So to celebrate tonight I made a meal where even the dessert was flavoured with togarashi.

Heaven.

Togarashi 250g

A salad of smoked salmon, greens and goat’s cheese rolled in togarashi

Ingredients

  • zest of half a lemon very finely chopped
  • juice of one lemon
  • 60 ml olive oil
  • one clove of garlic crushed
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 courgettes cut into ribbons with a Microplane Spiral Cutter (a fabulous implement)
  • 30 g soft goat’s cheese
  • 1 tablespoon togarashi spice blend
  • 200 g smoked salmon
  • 200 g asparagus roasted
  • one avocado sliced
  • 60 ml drained capers fried in olive oil

Method

Mix together the lemon zest, juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and pour over the courgette ribbons. Toss well.

Roll the goat’s cheese in the togarashi spice blend. Slice into discs and cut in hald or crumble roughly.

Layer the courgette, salmon, asparagus, avocado, cheese and capers in a bowl and gently toss.

Roasted peaches with vanilla, cognac and togarashi

Ingredients

  • 4 peaches
  • 8 teaspoons butter
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
  • a generous splash or two of cognac
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon togarashi spice blend

Method

Heat the oven to 220 Celsius.

Cut the peaches in half and remove the stones. Place in a baking dish.

Put a teaspoon of butter and half a teaspoon of vanilla paste into the center of each peach.

Splash some cognac over each peach and add a little more to the baking dish.

Sprinkle the peaches with a little sugar and the togarashi.

Roast for about 40 minutes or until nicely soften and browned, adding another splash or two of cognac as needed. By the time the peaches are cooked you need to have a couple of tablespoons of liquid in the baking dish.

Divide between four bowls and drizzle with the pan juices. Serve hot with Greek yoghurt flavoured with vanilla and a swirl of honey.

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