24 Dec 2010

Mincemeat Muffins

I love muffins. They're dead easy to make and you can add pretty much anything you like to them - blueberries, cranberries, chocolate chips in all shapes and sizes, nuts, etc. etc. I tend to put in whatever I have to hand and it being Christmas, right now that means mincemeat. 

18 Nov 2010

Double-Spud Gratin with a Sake Kasu Sauce

This is a kind of two birds with one stone thing: having rediscovered the joys of potatoes (!) whilst back in Blighty I've been itching to post a spud recipe (twice-baked jackets, for example, or cottage pie with carrot and potato mash - there's nought like hearty British potato cuisine!). Mizuki, meanwhile, has been experimenting with sake kasu (the lees left over from the sake-making process, but more on that anon), so I basically went with a recipe that combines the two. 

11 Nov 2010

Today's bread

I've been so busy cooking with yesterday's bread there's none leftover for today, and not being one to relish an empty bread bin I decided to rustle up a loaf, though I'm not entirely sure that this strictly qualifies as bread - what else you'd call it beats me, mind you. 'Cake' comes with a whole load of other connotations that really don't do much to tantalize the taste buds in this instance. It has the texture of steamed bread (think Chinese steamed buns) - it's moister (the mix is surprisingly wet), denser, more chewy (starchier?) than regular bread and doesn't brown at all, despite the fact that it had 25 minutes in the oven, but it is good so think somewhere between a banana bread and Cake Salé - the savory French 'cakes of salt' and you'll get some idea of where this is at. Whatever, it works a treat with a big bowl of onion soup and it's dead easy to make - no yeast, no kneading, no proving, so it's done and in the oven in 15 minutes or so. 

7 Nov 2010

Raisin roll and butter pudding and other delights with day-old bread

It's been a while since I posted anything (so long, in fact, that I'd forgotten our password...) but that's not been for want of cooking, eating and spending time in kitchens. The three weeks I spent quoffing Cruzcampo and scoffing tapas in Andalucia were an inspiration, though what with daily flamenco lessons and side trips to hilltop pueblos blancos, not to mention a seriously primitive kitchen, not a lot of cooking went on. I have come back with a Spanish vegetable press, mind you, and I'm itching to experiment with some of the southern Spanish flavors I encountered (espinacas con garbanzos and other Spanish comfort food come to mind), but I also spent three weeks back home and there, a whole lotta cooking went on so there are probably going to be some recipes inspired by good old-fashioned English cooking appearing over the next few weeks, too. 

For now, though, my mission is to do something creative with stale bread...

18 Oct 2010






しょうゆ 小さじ2
七味唐辛子 適宜

1) バゲットを5mmから1cmの厚さに切る。

2) バターを室温に戻してやわらかくし、しょうゆとよく混ぜ合わせる。

3) 1の乾燥焼きしたバゲットの片面に1を塗る。すりこむように塗るよりもややたっぷりめに塗ったほうが美味しい。

4) 天板またはオーブンラックに並べ、七味唐辛子をふりかける。

5) 130度のオーブンで15分ほど焼く。きれいな飴色に焼けたらできあがり。


20 Sep 2010










4 Sep 2010

Cheese Tofu

I know this is another tofu recipe, but I've been wanting to post this one for a while, in fact ever since the guy who runs one of my favorite eating and drinking dens shared the recipe with me. At Uradori, the aptly named back street restaurant where this is served (uradori means 'back street' in Japanese), it comes as an appetizer with the first drink you order (this custom being one of the many things that endears me to eating out in Tokyo), and I always save it to savor after I've taken the edge off my appetite - it's that good. I'm finding it also works in salads and cold noodle dishes, but the best way to eat it is as an hors d'oeuvres (the shiso leaves are optional; it tastes just great all by itself). 

29 Aug 2010

Miso Tofu Bruschetta

Bruschetta have been appearing on the menus of Italian restaurants here in Tokyo for a while now. They are simple to make and extremely satisfying either as lunch, brunch, or - with a large glass of chilled white wine, as a light evening meal, and I'm definitely into eating light right now. Made the traditional way, bruschetta are a wonderful way to capture the flavors of ripe summer tomatoes, fresh garden basil and garlic, but I wanted to do something a bit different so decided to marinade some tofu (I'm getting through a block a day right now, in one way, shape or form). 

26 Aug 2010


アマンダの記事のタイトルにもありますが、as cool as a cucumberは冷静沈着という意味。


22 Aug 2010

Cool as a cucumber (or cooking without heat)

I'm craving light, refreshing foods that can be brought to the  table without use of oven or burner and that brought to mind the king of cool - the cucumber. Mizuki and I have been talking about cukes and their versatility for days now and we decided to present our respective takes on this cool, crisp vegetable. 
The vegetable: Japanese cucumbers are long and slender with dark green, slightly prickly skins, and firm, crisp flesh. English cucumbers are longer still and have a considerably bigger girth; they're virtually seedless and have a tender skin and a flavor that tends towards sweet (as opposed to the bitterness usually associated with other varietals). Unlike their Japanese cousins, English cucumbers don't lend themselves to pickling, but they are the best variety to have in cucumber sandwiches, of course!

21 Aug 2010

A book for reluctant chefs

Trawling through the shelves of cookery books at my local bookstore today, I found this: 

The World's Easiest, Most Impressive and Delicious Japanese Foods

I'm off to Andalusia in a few weeks time and will be flying on to England after that so I read it - in part as whimsical translation, in part as wishful thinking - as something along the lines of 'dead easy, impressive and delicious Japanese foods you can reproduce the world over'. Now that would be a great recipe book to have. It probably goes without saying, but I'm a big fan of the cuisine in my adopted country. I love eating food that is so in tune with the seasons: natural ingredients at the peak of freshness and meticulous preparation are what make Japanese cuisine an art, and I miss the crisp, fresh flavors when I've been away for a while. This is - despite not being quite the cookbook I found I was after, nonetheless a valuable recipe book and one that has an interesting premise. 

18 Aug 2010


The delivery man brought me a box of delights yesterday - a great mound of fresh corn-on-the-cob straight from the fields of central Nagano, with dark brown whiskers and bright green husks clasped snugly around ears of corn that peeled back to reveal tight rows of plump, golden kernels, gleaming and glistening like pearls. They looked so good, I was tempted to take a bite right off the cob to taste the sun-warmed sugar on my tongue.

17 Aug 2010

What a difference light makes!

I've been having a bit of difficulty with the shooting element of this venture. I realize that natural light produces the best results, but by and large, the recipes that end up here are things I've cooked for an evening meal, and by the time I get around to eating - even in the height of summer - it's dark outside. My kitchen-cum dining and living room is lit for ambience, not for photography, which either means attempting to shoot my dinner with a lens long enough to capture wild life or fiddling with the white balance and jacking the ISO up to astronomical levels, and still ending up with odd-tinted results. It's also why so many of my photographs are shot at very close range; that element is unlikely to change since I like getting up close, but the addition of powerful spotlighting has made a massive difference to the results I'm getting, and I haven't even got my 50mm fixed focal length lens yet...! That's going to take a bit of adjustment as I'm used to shooting with a zoom of some description: the lens that's currently on my camera is a Nikkor 35-70mm, f3.3, which isn't that light at the best of times and I'm mostly photographing at 70mm, which gives me a maximum of f4.5. The new-old lens - it's pre-loved, but new to me - is a Nikkor 50mm, f1.8. It's due to arrive tomorrow and I can't wait. 

Viva La Salsa!

It's been almost unbearably hot here in Tokyo these past few days and I've decided that the only way to get my appetite working is to give my taste buds the shock treatment. 
I've been having something of a love affair with salsa of late. Mizuki sparked it with her tales of the quirky salsa-natto combination, and believe me, it's quite unconventional: tomato salsa and fermented soybeans?! Though it works, amazingly well. 
An aside: natto was invented here over 1,000 years ago and is known as the "meat of the field"; it's gaining something of a reputation as a health food elsewhere on the planet, but it has a distinctly pungent aroma (think feet) and an off-putting slimy texture (think children's handkerchiefs - it's known as the 'sneeze bean', or okra if you'd prefer a more savory example). It tops the charts of strange Japanese food and is often used as a barometer for acclimatization though lots of Japanese people find the smell/texture objectionable and refuse to eat it, too. Its beneficial health effects include prevention of heart attacks, strokes, cancer, osteoporosis, obesity and intestinal disease caused by pathogens, so get over the goo-factor and try it: if nothing else, the salsa will disguise the smell!

One more thing from ginger

醤油と生姜、醤油とみりんとだしと生姜。That's Japanese taste!

10 Aug 2010

All Things Ginger

Not a spice to slip in unobtrusively, ginger has a tangy freshness, light spiciness, warmth, and mellow sweetness that complements a range of dishes, from sweet to savory. It can be a dominant flavoring, or it can work in conjunction with other flavors. Fresh ginger works with pretty much everything: fruit, vegetables, poultry, fish and all kinds of meat, though it does particularly amazing things to the flavors of pork. 
It plays a significant role in Japanese cuisine though in England, fresh ginger is generally associated with Asian cooking, in the broadest sense of that term (forgive me if I'm a tad out of touch with culinary practices in English kitchens...), while the powdered root finds its way into a whole range of sweet treats - gingerbread men and ginger cake (the sticky Lyle's Jamaican variety) bring back especially happy memories of childhood. And then there's crystallized ginger dipped in chocolate; now that's a truly indulgent after dinner treat. Oh and there's ginger ale, of course, which, with whiskey and a wedge of lime, is undoubtedly the best way to drink bourbon if you're not into single malt. 

8 Aug 2010

Veggie-Rich Burgers

I can't in all conscience call these veggie burgers because they're not strictly vegetarian and contain ground chicken as a binder but, as the name suggests, these are crammed full of vegetable goodness, substantial and full of flavor. 
A lot of people imagine that Japan must be a great country for vegetarians: it's the country that made tofu famous after all, and then of course there's the Buddhist angle, but while the Japanese diet relies heavily on plant fare there are very few strict vegetarians in modern Japan and most people take a pretty lax view of the whole "vegetarian" thing. 

Soda Farls

Every now and again my mum sends seasonal recipe booklets that she picks up at her local supermarket, though as with so many things these days, they're no longer free. More often than not these serve merely to allow me to indulge in food nostalgia (they're tied to the supermarket so a lot of the ingredients simply aren't available here in Japan), but every now and again there'll be something I can attempt to replicate in my Tokyo kitchen. These soda farls are one such recipe.