Author: Chef@Tokyo, Japan

March 3rd Hinamatsuri | ‘Girl’s Day’

March 3rd is a traditional day observed in Japan called ‘Hinamatsuri’ or ‘Dolls Festival’ or ‘Girls Day’. Ceramic dolls are displayed in each household to pray for continued health and happiness for their daughter. The ceramic dolls are dressed in traditional kimonos, displayed on red carpet steps, ornamental dolls representing the Emperor, Empress, attendants, and musicians in traditional court dress of the Heian period.  The ‘Hinamatsuri’ dolls are (used to be) inherited through generations, although perhaps not any more. To celebrate ‘Hinamatsuri‘, the most common food prepared is the ‘Chirashi-Sushi‘ (The word “chirashi” means “scattered,” so this is basically a big bowl of rice mixed with fish, vegetables, and additional ingredients of your choice.) However, this year applying the idea of a petite four cake, cube sponge cakes were simulated into a step like stage base, Emperor and Empress made of felt cloth, the stage base decorated with (her adoration) strawberries to simulate the other attendants of the Hinamatsuri festival.

70℃ Pork Roast

Making time for ‘slow cooking’ for a tender and juicy pork shoulder is quite worthwhile. The results are never disappointing, although people wonder what happens if the temperature goes beyond 70℃ ? ah…just let the heat escape or lower the heat. The idea is to ‘not let it boil’. There is no magic to this recipe, often can be applied to a lot of meat cooking for a tender juicy meat roast. Block of Pork Belly or Pork Shoulder Herbs and seasoning Salt and Pepper Marinate the pork belly with salt, herbs and pepper (as per your liking). Store in the fridge for one night.  Allow the pork belly to return to room temperature before browning the meat at high heat with a frying pan. Once the meat is browned on most all sides, double wrap the meat with a plastic wrap. Place the meat in a Ziploc so the meat will not be exposed to water. Boil the water in the hot pot, reducing the temperature to 70C; inserting the meat in the hot …

Irish Soda Bread, a multi-grain country bread

I grew up in Ireland and this ‘Irish Soda Bread’ is one of my (top 5) favorite breads amongst many of my bread families. Being a long time (bread) baker, the strong aroma of the (wild) multi-grains had been quite difficult to achieve among the flour, multi-grains available in Tokyo but this recipe had an astounding result, my personal view though. I have recipes with a multi-blend of flour and multi-grains but never close to what I remember as the true taste of ‘Irish Soda Bread’. This recipe was inspired by one of my reader’s recipe whom often visits my site. Tasty East – Tasty recipe from chef Ronit Penso’s kitchen posted a ‘multi-grain soda bread’ recipe and I closely followed the recipe replacing it items available in my baking kitchen. Thanks to her recipe, I think I’ve come to a recipe and taste which recalls my days in Cork, Ireland; the days of youth and the fresh country Irish bread, attainable anywhere in Ireland but only in Ireland. Irish Soda Bread Ingredients: 1 cup …

Pumpkin Twist Loaf & Apple Roll Bread

Making simple bread loafs are not quite easy when pursued perfection but ‘pre-made sheets‘ integrated into a basic bread loaf can be a quite fun and rather impressive. These ‘pre-made sheets’ can be made with many other ingredients, although my all time favorite tends to be the ‘pumpkin sheet’. Looking back at my baking archive, I’ve made this loaf with my nieces as a baking lesson, goes back already 3 years from now. Click the link to see my adoring nieces having lots of ‘baking fun’. RECIPE link to : Pumpkin Twist Loaf Pumpkin Twist Loaf Bread Recipe –  Bread Flour (100%) 175g Cake Flour (100%) 175g Salt (1.6%) 5.6g Sugar (10%) 35g Dry Yeast (0.85%) 3g Unsalted Butter (5.7%) 49g – mix in with the dough Cream (8%) 28g Egg Yolk (6%) 21g Milk (56%) 196g Pumpkin Sheet <Pumpkin Sheet> Recipe –  Cake Flour 10g Mashed Pumpkin 120g Corn Starch 5g Sugar 30g Milk    1 Tbsp Rum 1 Tsp Cinnamon Powder 1/4 Tsp Unsalted Butter 5g < Pumpkin Sheet > Mix the flour, pumpkin, …

Japanese Foods to go…

Foods prepared to go…are not easy. Perhaps I am over-sensitive and particular as to making and serving food; but not in this case as my daughter has been suffering from severe ‘migraine headache’, since late fall-early winter. The progressive winter cold certainly does not help alleviate her headache, daily housework and mothering a 3 year old child has become quite difficult for the past few months. To help her, I’ve been catering some ‘most common washoku foods-to-go’, sustaining a healthy balance diet for a 3 year old growing child. Although the prepared foods are far from being photogenic, ready to go in microwave proof Tupperware but hope will provide some insight to our (common) daily Japanese foods. Stewed potatoes with beef and konjac (Niku Jyaga), is a very common Japanese side dish, which we call ‘osozai’. All the ingredients are simmered in soy sauce flavored dashi. Konjac is probably an typical Japanese ingredient-a rubbery noodle like food made from Konjac yam, very low calorie known to cleanse the stomach and intestines. Stewed satuma age and …

Apple Clafoutis & Carrot Cake

Apple Clafoutis is one of my favorite desserts, which I make during the cold winter season. Apples of different kinds come in abundance, although unsure whether this can be classified as a ‘vegan dessert’, the volume of apples: 70% verses the egg dough: 30% tends to feel quite healthy and not too filling. The recipe has already been introduced in the past so if you are interested in my recipe, here is the link with a slide show recipe or below. Apple Clafoutis|アップルクラフティ For the filling 3medium apple 30g salt free butter 30g brown sugar For the batter 60g Cake Flour or Gluten Free Cake Flour 60g brown sugar 3 Eggs 100cc Milk 100cc Fresh Cream 100cc Beer or Carbonated Water Instructions Cut the apple to approx 2 cm wide, remove the core, peel the apples.2. Place butter in a frying pan, add the apple and sugar, pan fry at low heat. Grill the apples until the apples are soft and cooked.3. Apply butter (appropriate amount) inside a heat-resistant dish and evenly sprinkle sugar (appropriate …

PETITE Chocolate Cupcakes

Once in a while, I start looking for new ‘chocolate’ cake recipes, despite many in my recipe archive. Depending on the degree of my “chocolate crave”, recipes which catch my eye tend to drastically differ from brownies to gateaux cakes to soft ganache types. This recipe is taken from one of my favorite blog site – Londonbakes.com It’s a gluten free recipe site but recipes covered to my own needs. It works for me! I made the cupcake base for my lovely neices to decorate during Christmas. PETITE  CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES INGREDIENTS Recipe in courtesy of : Londonbakes.com For the cakes:  135g (1 stick + 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, at room temperature plus extra for greasing the muffin tins 60g brown sugar  80g all purpose flour 25g ground almonds 1/3 teaspoon baking soda  1/3 teaspoon baking  powder 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 3 tablespoons cocoa powder 40ml (1/4 cup) hot water 75g (3 oz) dark chocolate 2 large eggs, at room temperature 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (optional) 40ml yoghurt INSTRUCTIONS Preheat the oven to 180C/350F (fan) …

Osechi

our traditional Japanese New Year Food On New Years Day, the ‘Osechi’ is our traditional food accompanied with mochi (rice cake) in a soup broth called ‘Ozoni’. The Osechi comes in a infinite variety of styles, differ in region and household but the most common ‘Osechi’ (dishes or items) have a certain meaning to it’s portion. What I have prepared this year is very simple, most probably the minimal as my intentions on New Years Day family get together was to go ‘Western Style’ upon request from my children and grandchildren. However the ‘Osechi’ which I put together were as follows – Kuro-mame (Syrup stewed black beans) | Representing longevity Kamaboko (Red and white fish cake)| Genuine meaning quite ambiguous but the color-red and white represents festivity. (This is an off the shelf item) Datemaki (Egg Roll) | The roll having similarity to the old scroll books represents the wish to the cultural development. Namasu (Red and White radish and carrots blend) | Representing happiness through the colors of red and white. White Beans | …

one of the oldest shrines in Japan – Izumo Taisha

an excerpt from our camping car trip in 2018 Our trip to Izumo Taisha Shrine located in Shimane prefecture took place early October 2018, when the longest and hottest summer gradually started to loose force, surrendering itself to the next season, the fall. Izumo Taisha Shrine is considered the oldest shrine in Japan, in existence in the early 700s as revealed by the nation’s oldest chronicles; and has always been my ‘must see places in Japan’. The access is about a 820 kilometers drive from Tokyo, a 9 hours non-stop drive according to the Google Map which we managed to achieve in our first day of our trip. The majority of Japanese endeavor to see Izumo Taisha, as according to our history, Izumo used to be ruled by a powerful clan in pre-historic times, and plays a central role in Japan’s creation mythology. The main deity (kami) enshrined at Izumo Taisha is Okuninushi no Okami and according to the creation myths, Okuninushi was the creator of the land of Japan and the ruler of Izumo. …

Welcome 2019

  I often wonder why we love to organize our time into segments; minutes, hours, weeks, months and then years. Every moment of our lives must be just as precious as any but the accomplishment of completion, achievement bringing satisfaction quite often is measured by time, I the same. Year 2018 had been quite a turbulent year to our family, not as gentle as we hoped and expected it to be. My husband underwent surgery after cancer test claimed in doubt, my daughter is suffering from serious migraine attacks unfortunately with no successful remedy disabling her daily life. Unfortunately we do not live in a world of fantasies, miracles and abracadabras, nor do I have a magic wand to let troubles and worries go away. But this is the start of a brand new year 2019. Letting our worries aside, January 1st which we call ‘gantan‘ in Japan, calls for a day to celebrate with gratitude from our hearts. Although we have our own traditional ritual food for New Years Day, ‘osechi’ ; I’ve decided …