Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sweet Seasons / February 2007 - Plum blossom -

Many people love plum blossoms here as a messenger that brings a sign of early spring. When we notice the sweet fragrance of the plum blossoms in the crisp and cold air, we know that the winter is almost over. It is a little different this year, though. When we enjoyed the fragrant flowers, it was unbelievably warm – almost as warm as late spring – and now the flowers are gone and it’s getting cold again. Strange weather, indeed.

But still, the combination of snow and plum blossoms is a Japanese favorite, which I think is the theme of this wagashi, too. The white bottom probably represents snow. The bottom part looked like milk jelly to me, but to my surprise, it did not taste or smell like milk at all. I also love it that the pink flowers are at the bottom, not on the surface, of the top layer of the jelly. What a lovely idea. :)


Monday, February 26, 2007

"You Are What You Eat" Meme

Well, Rosa of Rosa’s Yummy Yums tagged me for “You Are What You Eat” Meme. Gee, this meme must have been around for quite a while. I think I saw this meme on someone's site last year, or even the year before...??
Anyway, ok, here are my answers to the 10 food-related questions. They would probably show the hidden part of obachan's personality? Naw... there's nothing surprising, I guess.

1) If you were stuck on an island and could only eat one cuisine (e.g., French, Italian, etc.) for the rest of your life, what would it be? Why?
It’s an island, so I assume that I can get plenty of seafood there. Which means I can make sushi. Yeah, how can I live without sushi for the rest of my life??? No way.

2) What is the most unusual food you've eaten?
Fish eyes. Well, more precisely, I ate the gelatin-like stuff around the eyeballs.

3) What is the most unusual food you've eaten and liked?
The gelatin-like stuff around the fish eyes. I liked it.

4) What foods will you avoid eating (either because of a dietary choice or allergies or just plain don't like)?
Insects and worms. Now, I might eat them if I were convinced that they would actually taste good. But right now, I can’t picture myself eating them.

5) Do you cook (and by that, I mean prepare a meal that you'd serve to friends)?
No, I wouldn’t want to serve a meal to my friends. That would terminate our friendship. :P

6) If yes, what is your favorite dish to prepare to impress someone?

7) When you go to a restaurant, what's your ordering strategy/preference?
I tend to order a combo that allows me to try a little amount of many things for a reasonable price.
Oh, BTW, when I eat out with my mom, we often order something different and share it. At a rather formal restaurant, we do that when the waiter/waitress is not around and no one is watching us. :P

8) Have you ever returned a dish or wine to the kitchen at a restaurant? Why?
No, not yet. I have never had a bad experience like a fly in the soup or a hair in fried rice or a cockroach in ramen noodles. Lucky me.

9) How many cookbooks do you own?
Five. Not many, ha?

10) What is one food that you wouldn't want to live without?
Rice. Definitely, rice. I HAVE TO feel the texture of rice on my tongue at least twice or three times a week. (That’s what I found out when I lived in the U.S.)


Saturday, February 24, 2007

Kumquat Marmalade and Citrus Financier

Kinkan (Kumquats)

I haven’t written about it here on this blog, but now I have a new nighttime job. Yesterday someone brought bunch of kinkan (kumquats) to the office, and this was my share of this lovely-looking citrus. To be honest, I’m not too crazy about kumquats. In my childhood, my grandma once boiled them with bunch of sugar and made me drink the soup when I had a bad cold. It was sweet but the bitterness from the rind was very unpleasant to me. Then she made me eat the boiled kumquat. Actually it tasted better, being less bitter from the boiling. But after eating a couple of them, I nauseated. (Sorry.)

So I didn’t know what to do with these kumquats. The only thing I knew was that I didn’t want to eat them raw. And I ended up with the same old solution… marmalade. Hahaha…
I googled and found some kumquat jam recipes on the net. They were so simple… Wash kumquats, boil them (to take away bitterness), halve, seed and chop them, then simmer with sugar and lemon juice for about an hour.

And the amount of sugar was supposed to be apx. 50% of the weight of the seeded kumquats. Easy enough.

When the kumquat marmalade looked done, I immediately tried it on buttered toast.

Not bad…But I would never call it my favorite. Then what should I do with these three small jars of kumquat marmalade that I’m not too crazy about? Here comes the same old solution: Use it for baking. :P

Hence, my first attempt with this cake.

Kumquat citrus Financier

When I posted about my angel food cake last year, I believed that it was the best way to use up the frozen egg whites. Well, not any more. From now on, “financier” will be my first choice. I know that it’s probably a less healthy choice, but think about the wide variety of flavors I can play with: cocoa, matcha, tea, citrus, fruits and various kinds of liquor, too… :)

See the minced kumquat rind?

BTW, now I’m terribly intrigued by those silicon mini-financier molds. But my concern is that most of them would probably be too big for my small oven-cum microwave. I mean, they would fit, but won’t be able to turn with the turntable inside the oven. Does anyone know if those silicon molds (Matfer, Flexipan, etc.) can be cut with scissors or something?


Monday, February 19, 2007

Crispy and Creamy Doughnuts

Crispy and Creamy Doughnuts

I've never made yeast doughnuts before, but to my surprise, my very first attempt turned out GREAT! :D
Though there were a couple of negative reviews, I think this recipe is excellent.

Today I didn't glaze them, but next time I'll definitely go for it. Mmmmm....
(The bigger ones in the photo were filled with pastry cream.)


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Seafood Chirashi-zushi

Seafood Chirashi-zushi Bento

No, I didn't make this. This packed sushi was the last one on the shelf at the supermarket, and I grabbed it ASA they put a "20% OFF" sticker on it.


Sunday, February 11, 2007

Cranberry Nut Bread

Cranberry Nut Bread

Well, dear readers,
I have a confession to make.
I no longer work for the kaiseki place. Actually that kaiseki place does not exist any more; they seem to have closed at the end of January. Why do I say they “seem to have closed?” Because I quit that place in the first week of January. And I already knew that they were going to close pretty soon.
So there will be no more "kaiseki chronicles" here unless I start working at another kaiseki place. Sorry.

Anyway, today I tried out this cranberry nut bread recipe and it was OK. I know. I should have used more cranberries. Look at the photo on the recipe site. Look how berry-full the bread is! Mine is a lot more orangey. ;)

Maybe I should name this
"Orange bread with cranberry and nuts"


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Still Experimenting...

Nikujaga (Simmered Meat & Potatoes)
I know. You see carrot and onion, too. But even in its Japanese name,
only meat and potatoes are mentioned.

I was hoping to be able to post "my" nikujaga recipe here this time, but I was not satisfied with the result. Mmmm... more trials and errors... :(