Sunday, 22 December 2019

December 2019 Favourites List

Back in 1978, Raymond Briggs published his children’s book The Snowman. It is a delightful book, with carefully rendered drawings, like a comic with no words. It was always a favourite of mine. It was transformed into an extraordinary animated film of the same name. It won the BAFTA for best graphics, which is unsurprising, given the whole film is made of hand drawn scenes. Every year children discover its charm and artistry for the first time, and many revisit it, as it becomes an old childhood friend. 

This year the stretch of river between London Bridge and Tower Bridge (south side) has been reimagined as a Winter wonderland. Hay’s Galleria has a huge, twinkling Christmas tree. There is a pretty Christmas market selling original and hand crafted gifts, food stalls and a pop up bar. But best of all is the “Walking with the Snowman Festive Art Trail”, where there are 12 sculptures of the iconic “The Snowman” which different artists have decorated. The theme is the Twelve Days of Christmas. 

This month’s Favourites list photos are the twelve sculptures. They are by turns endearing, humourous, colourful, Christmassy and adorable. 

The works are:

A Partridge in a Pear Tree by Jodie Silverman

Two Turtle Doves by Megan Evans

Three French Hens by Lei-Mai

Four Calling Birds by Jenny Leonard

Five Gold Rings by Adam Pekr

Six Geese a-Laying by Matilda Elizabeth

Seven Swans a-Swimming by Laura-Kate Chapman

Eight Maids a-Milking by Donna Newman

Nine Ladies Dancing by Lizzie Rose Chapman

Ten Lords a-Leaping by Hammo

Eleven Pipers Piping by Jess Loveday

Twelve Drummers Drumming by Jess Perrin

I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a happy new year. I hope you have a happy, healthy, fulfilling and fun 2020.

Now for those favourite things of mine for the final month of the year…


Sichuan recipes from Fuchsia Dunlop: Braised chicken with chestnuts, Steamed egg custard with minced pork topping, Fish-fragrant aubergines and Gong bao prawns with cashew nuts:


Angela Hartnett's Roasted pumpkin and cashew nut salad - a herby alternative accompaniment to Christmas dinner?


Gingerbread always makes me feel festive. Here's a soft and spicy gingerbread with a touch of Christmassy cinnamon:

A riot of red and burgundy on your plate! Angela Hartnett's Red Cabbage and Beetroot salad - marinate overnight for extra flavour:

Leek and potato soup, a classic Scottish staple soup from Janice at Farmers Girl Cook blog:

This Parmesan Brussels Sprouts Salad with almonds and pomegranate seeds could be a healthy Winter lunch, or a side dish for Christmas dinner:

Pasta with roast chicken and pine kernels and Cauliflower cheese with cheddar and smoked garlic and nigella seeds. Internal central heating recipes from Nigel Slater:


Food writing and articles:

Whenever I buy celery, I use one or maybe two sticks to add flavour to a stew base, make a sofrito or similar. I try not to waste the rest, but it eventually becomes a bit limp and sad. Here's how to use up celery, and avoid food waste:

Christmas Wine Selection and a recipe for an Easy Home Made Gravad Lax from London Unattached:

Vegan Christmas dinner inspiration - Squash, chestnut, sweet potato and sage loaf:

What you might have missed at Snig's Kitchen: 

Pork Katsu Curry for cheaters – a recipe post:




Vienna Blood


Child 44

Testament of Youth


Lucy Rose – No Words Left

Thom Yorke – Anima

Various Artists – Mojo Magazine, The Best of 2019

Please note: as with every monthly Favourites List, all of these items have been selected by me simply because I love them. I do not receive any money, benefits in kind or other incentive for posting these links or recommendations. 

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Pork Katsu Curry for cheaters

Katsu is a wonderful Japanese food creation. Sure, there are other versions of it around the world, like Schnitzel, but there’s something about katsu. I think it is the unique texture and lightness of Panko breadcrumbs. They are, in my opinion, the best breadcrumbs in the world. I have no idea how to make them, so I confess I buy them in. 

Katsu can be served with a fruity sauce or curry sauce. If you are lucky and get to visit Japan, you will find specialist katsu restaurants. These take crispy, breaded cutlets to a new level. Elevated to lovingly made, art form, they are crunchy and crisp on the outside and soft and tender on the inside. Sometimes they will do a cheeky little tempura on the side. 

As I have confessed, I buy readymade Panko breadcrumbs. Other breadcrumbs, I might be prepared to make out of stale bread. Another thing I buy in is Japanese curry sauce. 

Japanese grocers sell many different curry sauce products. I favour the curry cubes, which are sold in little flat boxes with trays of solidified curry concentrate, waiting to be broken up and brought back to life. 

Here is my pork katsu curry for cheaters like me. I hope you like it. I got my ingredients from the Japan Centre and See Woo. Hopefully they are not difficult for you to find. 

Pork Katsu Curry for cheaters

Serves 2


2-3 pork loin chops

1 egg

Panko breadcrumbs

Plain flour

Salt and pepper

Vegetable oil

Half a mug of frozen peas

1 carrot, peeled and cut into thin slices of 4-5mm

1 potato, peeled and cut into

1 onion, peeled and finely diced

Japanese curry sauce block

400 ml water

Japanese rice, cooked, to serve

A dessert spoon of pickled red ginger, to serve

A sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds, to serve [optional]

1. Beat the egg in a mug with a fork. 

2. Using a meat tenderiser, smash the pork loin chops until around half and inch (1cm) thick and flat. 

3. Set up three plates, which should be at least as large as the now-smashed pieces of pork. One should have Panko breadcrumbs (around two handfuls), one should have the beaten egg. The last should have plain flour, which you will need to season with salt and pepper.

4. In a small pan, fry the onion until soft in a little vegetable oil (10 minutes).

5. In the meantime, parboil the carrot and potato in another pan (10-12 minutes). 

6. Take the pork pieces and initially dip in the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs. Make sure the pork is covered liberally in the breadcrumbs to give lots of crunch.

7. Break up the curry sauce block or curry cubes, and combine with the water in a pan, when the curry has dissolved, put on the heat and add the onion, carrot and potato. Heat gently for 8 minutes. 

8. Fry the breaded pork for 6 minutes in all, three minutes each side. It should be a lovely golden brown. 

9. Add the peas to the curry sauce and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes. 

10. Carefully cut the pork katsus into one inch thick (2.5cm) slices.

11. Serve up with cooked rice at the bottom, then the sauce, then the katsu slices. Put the pickled ginger on the side. Top with toasted sesame seeds, if using.