Saturday, June 30, 2007

Sweet Seasons / June 2007 - Loquat -

Loquat jelly

I don’t think anyone is geeky enough to check my blog every month to see if I really have a wagashi entry on the last day of the month, but I just didn’t feel right if I didn’t do this. So I cheated again. :P

I posted this entry in the middle of July. Sorry.
The theme is loquat. See the seeded loquat in the jelly?

Wagashi by Minamoto Kicchoan


Friday, June 29, 2007

Green Ume Plum Jam

Green Ume Plum Jam on Yogurt
(I know the jam doesn't look green but I used green ume plums)

I didn’t have a great success when I tried making ume (Japanese plum) jam for the first time in 2005. I didn’t even think about making it in 2006. Now this year, what triggered me to give it another try was this shot of refreshingly green ume jam on someone’s blog. I thought, “Maybe mine didn’t taste very good last time because I used ripe ume plums. I might have a success if I use unripe, green ones.”

So, here we go. Obachan’s ume-jam project. And you know what?
I had a success this time! ;)

The recipe? It's so simple… cannot be any simpler.

1 kg green ume plums
Sugar (70 to 100 % of the weight of the seeded ume plums)

This time I stayed on the safe side all the time and didn’t add any twist of my own. To get rid of the harshness, some recipes said soak plums in water for 3 hours and others said overnight, and I chose overnight. Some said boil ume and drain them just once, others said repeat it two to three times, so I did it three times. Then I soaked them in water and changed the water twice. This might have taken away the “wild” flavor of green plums too much, but I just didn’t want any harshness and didn’t want to hide it by adding lots of sugar, either.
* The calyx(?-- the brown thing left at the stem end) needs to be removed with a toothpick before cooking the ume.

The aroma of cooking ume plums was so wonderful. (It’s strange that I didn’t mention the aroma in my ume-jam post two years ago. Maybe ripe plums didn’t smell so good when cooking?) Seeding the boiled ume plums by hands was a bit messy task, but it was alright. After mincing them with a knife (maybe I should have used an electric blender), I cooked them with sugar without adding any water. I guess the seeded plums weighed about 800 g and the sugar I added was a little less than 600 g. This jam thickens so easily and sets wonderfully (maybe too much) when cooled. Absolutely no need to add pectin or anything.

I love this green ume jam with yogurt so much. And here’s my adventure with the jam – spareribs with green ume jam glaze.

They were a lot less greasy because of the refreshing sweet-n-sour jam. It was too bad that the glaze didn't keep the taste of ume at all, though….

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A plus B makes ...

Home-made Pita Bread


Grilled Chicken, Hummus and Vegetables


........................................................... !! ........................................................


Friday, June 22, 2007

Fruit Cocktail Cake

Fruit Cocktail Cake

It's been a long time... maybe more than 7 years? ... since I made this cake last time. That time I used a recipe from an American friend of mine, and now I can't find it anywhere. This is the recipe I used today. Very sweet and moist. The flavor of evaporated milk makes me go Mmmmmm.... (Too bad I overbaked the cake a little. :P)


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Wakame and Kanikama Salad with Onion Dressing

Wakame Seaweed, Crab Stick and Daikon Radish Salad with Onion Dressing

I have heard that kanikama (crab stick?) is known and used even outside Japan and often called "surimi" in some of European countries, right? I love it in salad or rolled sushi, though I was not too crazy about its artificial red color. (This crab stick in the above photo was colored with lycopene. At least, that's what the package says.)

Anyways, I bought some newly harvested onions last weekend to try this onion dressing recipe (Japanese) I had found on the net recently. It sounds like using newly harvested onions makes a big difference for this recipe, so I bought four of them. Actually I didn't need that many, but it was four-in-one bag deal, so no other choice.

This dressing is so good but a little too sweet for me. Next time I'm going to use less sugar. When using as-is, I love it so much with tomatoes, cucumbers and daikon radish. It's very good with seafood/fish-cake products, too, like in the photo above, but I wasn't too impressed when used it with kaibashira (eye of scallop?) and corn.

Also, according to many "reports" from the readers of that site, this seems to be a versatile dressing. It must be handy to keep this in the fridge in a big plastic bottle so that I can add different flavors when I use it for different types of salad. I'm looking forward to playing with different ideas. Maybe herbs or sesame paste, soy sauce... even mustard or wasabi?... ;)

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Garden Report - June 2007 -


Though I couldn't take care of my plants at all for about a week in May, they are doing perfectly fine now. *Special thanks to my mom who kindly watered them every day while I was in the hospital :)

Mitsuba kakiage don

... And her daughter made and ate this mitsuba kakiage don all by herself today... (It was oh so good..!!)

Blueberries (Sunshine blue)

Blueberries are ripening. I may get fewer but bigger berries this year.

Here's some more...

Parsley & Thyme

My thyme completely died last winter. This is a new generation.

Dill & Yam

I never thought about growing yam in my balcony garden. But last winter I bought one and couldn't use it up, and left it on the table for a while. After several weeks it looked still alive, so I planted it just from curiosity. Then this spring-- See the vine? It's growing so fast and now I'm a bit worried...

Dill again

I promise. Dill seed pickles this summer. I promise.


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Chocolate Cherry Cake

Chocolate Cherry Cake or Cherry Chocolate Cake?

To tell you the truth, I’ve already done some baking after I came back from the hospital. As far as I remember, I baked yogurt & blueberry muffins, yogurt & cherry muffins, cheese and ham muffins and yogurt pancakes. And as for cooking, I probably cooked more often compared to usual month-end weeks. In my recovery period, I wanted to eat at home feeling relaxed, rather than eating out. Then why didn’t I post about them? Well, for one thing, what I made did not turn out very photogenic. But the biggest reason was that I didn’t feel like taking the time to take photos before eating when I was not completely back to normal.

However, today I felt a strong urge to bake something fancy AND post about it like I used to do. Yeah, it was about time. I chose something I had always wanted to try: the combination of dark cherries and chocolate cake. So I pitted these cherries and soaked them in sherry early this morning.

I used the same chocolate cake recipe(Japanese) as the one I used for my birthday cake last March, and had a great success again. For a little twist, I saved the sherry after draining the cherries and added a small amount to the syrup I made. It turned out to be a wonderfully-flavored syrup to moisten the sliced chocolate cake.

The sherry-soaked cherries were a little too many for this small (15 cm) cake. I started with a different decoration in mind, but ended up with this in order to use up all the cherries. Yeah, I’m not too proud of the way this looks, to be honest. Well, I’ll know better next time ;)

Anyway, this was a celebration of my recovery and I had so much fun. But I would definitely enjoy making this type of cake much more if I could slice a cake evenly. Any tips?

Hey, has anyone tried this dental floss trick?


Saturday, June 09, 2007

Cream Soda

This is what we call "Kuriimu sooda (cream soda)" here. I took this photo to share with my friend who loved this drink so much when she was in Japan.

(Photo taken at the small restaurant in the hospital where I had the surgery. )