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

わざと残したパンで…

以前アマンダが、「炊いたご飯が冷蔵庫にたまってくると嬉しくなる。美味しいチャーハンが作れるから。だからちょっと多めに炊くの」と言ったときに不思議な感動を覚えたことがあります。
残り物で作るイメージが強いチャーハンですが、そう、確かにチャーハンは美味しい。
チャーハンを作りたいからちょっとご飯を残しておく、なんて愛おしいその感覚!

などと言っている私も、先日大きなスーパーマーケットで、まず食べきるのが不可能なバゲットの詰め合わせを買ってきてしまいました。
食べ残ったバゲットでできる色々なメニューが楽しみだから。
パンの国の人達はこんな馬鹿な買い物はしないでしょうが、パンが大好きだから、あえて残したパンで何か作ろう、などと考えてしまいます。


ラスクは地味ですが隠れたファンがたくさんいると思います!
この軽さ、フレーバーの多彩さ。スイーツにもおつまみにもできる自由さがいいですね。
今日はシンプルに作りましたが飴がけにしたりトッピングを乗せたりするリッチなラスクもあります。

バターしょうゆって美味しいですよね!
バターしょうゆのピリ辛ラスク

材料
バター(無塩)80g
しょうゆ 小さじ2
七味唐辛子 適宜

作り方
1) バゲットを5mmから1cmの厚さに切る。
固くなったパンにはこんな細かい鋸刃がついたパンナイフが使いやすいですよ!
天板またはオーブンラックに重ならないように切ったバゲットを並べ、120度のオーブンで15分程度焼いて冷ます。
中心を指で押して固くなっていればOK。

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。
バターしょうゆは焦げやすいのでときどきオーブンの中を確認しながら焼いてください。

七味唐辛子のかわりにザラメやグラニュー糖をふって焼くのも、甘辛な和風テイストで美味しいです。



20 Sep 2010

豆腐のホワイトソース


お豆腐という食材はもはや外国の方がよほどポピュラーに使われているようです。海外のお料理サイトを見ていても、豆腐レシピの多さに驚きます。アマンダに聞いたところ、固いステーキ用の豆腐とか、日本にはないような種類の豆腐が欧米のスーパーマーケットにあるとか!

だいぶ秋めいてきた今日は、秋野菜をたっぷり入れたクリームシチューを豆腐で作ってみました。
小麦粉で作るホワイトソースに負けず濃厚な風味で、カロリーも低め、カルシウムも摂れます。
豆腐で作るホワイトソースはミキサーかフードプロセッサーがあれば驚くほど簡単に作れますので覚えておくと重宝です。



豆腐ホワートソースの作り方

材料
・木綿豆腐…400g
・牛乳…100cc強
・コンソメキューブ…1個
・塩、こしょう…適宜
・コーンスターチ…小さじ2

作り方
1.木綿豆腐をしっかりと水切りする。クッキングペーパーに包んでザルに入れて重しを乗せて一晩冷蔵庫に入れておくと簡単。

2.水切りした豆腐と牛乳70cc、コンソメをミキサーに入れて豆腐の塊がなくなるまで撹拌する。
なめらかな状態になったら鍋に移し、弱火にかけながら残りの牛乳をソースの固さを調節しながら加えていく。
コーンスターチを倍量の水で溶いたものを加え、とろみがついたら火を止める。

3.塩、こしょうで味を整える。

ドリアやシチュー、青菜のクリーム煮などに使えます。ダイエット中の強い味方ですね!
濃厚に豆腐の味がしますので、シチューの具材にハンペンやシイタケ、長ネギや里芋など日本の食材を使ってもよく合います。
ドリアにも普通に使えますが、せっかくの豆腐ソースなので醤油味の炊き込みご飯を作って海苔を乗せ、チーズを重ねて和風ドリアを作ってみたらとても好評でした。

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

冷静な野菜で冷製なメニューを!

アマンダと毎日、暑い〜火を使う料理したくね〜なんかもうカッパになりたいと言い合っているうちにできたメニューがいくつか。
日本の夏野菜代表、キュウリにはあんまり栄養はないのですが体を冷やしてくれる作用があります。
この猛暑にはありがたいですね!
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。
イギリスでも『キュウリは冷静な奴だ』とみているようです。(笑)

私は日本風にキュウリのすり流し(ポタージュスープ)をご紹介しましょう。



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

Mielies!

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








日本食にも生姜はあたり前に使うスパイス。
おそらく、どこの家の冷蔵庫にもひとかけらの生姜がラップに包まれて転がっていることでしょう。
醤油と生姜、醤油とみりんとだしと生姜。That's Japanese taste!
今の季節にはそうめんや冷や奴に欠かせません。
特に今は旬だから、大量の生姜が安ーく買えます!
ところが、買いすぎて使い残した生姜にカビが生えちゃった!なんてことも実によくあります。
なので、私は使い残した生姜が気になりだしたら刻んで砂糖とお水で煮てしまいます。
刻んだ生姜と同量の砂糖と1.5倍のお水で30分ほど煮るだけ。
こうしてできたシロップは飲んで美味しいだけでなく、和洋中と縦横無尽にお料理に使えますし、副産物の生姜の甘煮もお菓子に佃煮にと変身します。
好みのハーブを加えて煮るとさらにいい香り、贅沢なジンジャーエールが楽しめるのでぜひ作ってみてね。

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.