Sunday, December 30, 2007

My Last Post This Year...

I'm leaving for my parents' house in a few hours and will be back on January 2nd.

Happy Holidays, everyone!
See you in 2008.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

So, my Christmas project was successfully completed. A home-made Christmas tree, a small wreath (under the candle), and a fruitcake with icing.

My Christmas tree:
It didn't take too long to make this Christmas tree. It didn't turn out exactly the way I wanted, but doesn't look too terrible for the first try, don't you think? And every time I get close to the tree, the sweet smell of the spice cookies cheers me up. I love it! :)

My cookies:
This year I gave up on making some of my staples such as matcha cookies, jam thumbprints and big, soft ginger cookies. Other than the gingerbread people decorating the fake tree, I baked only two kinds of cookies: lemon sable and snickerdoodles (with my own tweaks. I turned them into orange snickerdoodles.).

I needed to spend about thirty minutes at Kochi Castle and Josei park to pick nuts for this small wreath. After taking the above photo, I used the wreath to decorate the candle. (See the top photo.)

Oh, I love the above shot soooo much. The idea of using this empty glass just popped up in my mind as soon as I started shooting cookie photos. Inspiration, ha? ;)

Place mouse on the photo to light the candle. Click photo to enlarge. ;)

My cake:
And my crazy invention, rum-amaretto fruitcake.
The icing of the cake consisted of almond paste and royal icing. How about that?

I liked this cake alright, but it could have been better, to be honest. I should have used more dried fruit.

Now I'm relaxing in my room, enjoying food and drink. So much has been happening lately and I have to take care of so many things. But for now, I don't want to do anything else but to enjoy this peaceful moment alone.


Dear readers,
Let me thank you for all your support throughout the year. I had to go through a lot in 2007... a surgery, changing jobs and all ... I couldn't have survived without your warm comments and emails.

May all your holidays be filled with
love, happiness and special memories.

-- Merry Christmas --


Friday, December 21, 2007

One Last Push for Menu for Hope 4

You ought to see this!
Click on this link and see how much we raised so far. It already surpassed last year's record: $60,925.12, and now it's over $80,000 !!!
I'm really excited. Are you?

If you didn't know about this campaign, don't worry. It's still not too late. Looks like bids are accepted through this weekend. (Right, Pim?) * Go to Chez Pim to find out how many hours are left to bid!

Don't forget to check out the photos from Lesotho, Africa posted on her site. The fund raised by this campaign will be used to support the school lunch program there. The photos will give you some idea of what kind of place it is.

Check out the full round-up of the prizes, as well as the regional round-up. And please take a look at the prize I'm donating this year from Kochi, Japan. I'd be very happy if you would buy raffle ticket(s) for my prize, but no matter whose prize you choose, your donation will bring food to kids in Africa, and that's what's important. Isn't it great that so many people all over the world can cooperate like this? ;)

Guess What

The bento shop that I have been working at is going to close on January 15th. What an exciting news to hear right before Christmas.

To be perfectly honest, we (employees) all knew that this was coming. We just didn't know exactly when. And that was why I was reluctant to start "Bento shop chronicle" series on this blog (though I had promised to do so), because it would have been too short and depressive... like, "I started working at a bento shop. I drew hundreds of bento illustrations to memorize how to pack different bentos. And the shop closed." That's it. What a joke.

Oh well. Let's hope that 2008 brings a better luck.

BTW, see the above photo? My Christmas tree is almost done. ;)


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Getting Ready - 2 -

See? The baking fairy in me is whipping me to work hard.

I know. I have no creativity. I just stole the decoration ideas from the photos on photostock and allrecipes.

But wait! I do make (crazy?) inventions sometimes. The photo below is amaretto-rum fruitcake I baked yesterday. There was no such recipe on the net, so I picked this recipe and replaced the brandy with rum. I have no idea how it worked... :P At least, the cake smelled heavenly while in the oven and turned out...

... pretty OK, I think?

Now the cake is "aging" in my fridge.

For the Christmas of 2007, I don't think I can prepare a big dinner like I did in previous years. The reason is: No time and no money. I'm going to help dad with picking oranges on the 23rd and 24th, so there is no way I can fix a special meal in my apartment on the Christmas eve or Christmas day.

Instead, my Christmas project this year will consist of a) a homemade(?) Christmas tree decorated with gingerbread people, b) a fruitcake with tons of icing, and c) a tiny homemade wreath. It would be wonderful if these would be accompanied by a bottle of decent sparkling wine and a good-looking candle.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Getting Ready...

I'm extremely busy these days, but determined to make a small Christmas tree (decorated with gingerbread people) and a wreath. And this coming Sunday will be Christmas baking day.
Ahhhh... I need 36 hours in a day!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Menu for Hope 4 - Obachan's Prize from Kochi, Japan -

mfhlogosmall_2Yes, I’m in. Again.
I just can’t let the year end without being part of this good-hearted project in December, you know. ;)

For those who are not familiar with this event --
Menu for Hope is an annual, worldwide campaign by foodbloggers and this is its fourth year. It is an online raffle which gives you a chance to win one of the great prizes donated by foodbloggers all over the world. And by buying the virtual raffle tickets, you make a contribution to the effort to make this world a better place, because the money raised will be used to support the UN World Food Program (more specifically, the school lunch program in Lesotho, Africa this year).

For more details about the Menu for Hope campaign, visit Chez Pim, and check out the full round-up of prizes worldwide! (Isn't the list amazing?!!) Also, take a look at the regional round-up on Grab Your Fork by Helen, the regional host of the Asia-Pacific region.

Now, here’s my donation this year,

“Gourmet chef's hamper from Kochi, Japan”
Prize Code: AP10
The package will include:
  • 1 x jar of Yuzu Miso (a yuzu citrus flavoured fermented soybean paste perfect for marinades or dressings)
  • 1 x tube of Yuzu Kosho (green chilli paste flavoured with yuzu citrus zest);
  • 1 x pkg Kanbaiko (special rice flour for making Japanese sugar cakes called rakugan);
  • 1 x pkg Wasanbon sugar (for making rakugan); and
  • 2 x ceramic rakugan molds in the shape of a plum blossom and maple leaf
  • (And 1 pkg shiroan as an extra gift)

    Yuzu miso is an excellent marinating paste for fish and meat, and it also makes great dressing for tofu or vegetables. Yuzu kosho is also a versatile and flavorful condiment that is widely used not only for typical Japanese dishes like nabe, yakitori, etc. but also for various dressings and pasta dishes these days.

  • * Here are some recipes with Yuzu miso. Click on the photos. :)

  • Rakugan is an easy-to-make Japanese sugar cake. With the special rice flour, sugar and the molds I'm donating, you will be able to make cute-looking rakugan like these:

(Click here to see how beautiful maple leaves are in Kochi now.)

Of course I'll include a rakugan recipe with step-by-step instructions and photos. :)

You want to be part of the fun?
OK. Here's what you should do...

1. Go to the donation page at (
2. Make a donation: each US$10 will give you one raffle ticket toward a prize of your choice. In the 'Personal Message' section in the donation form, please specify which prize or prizes you'd like, using the prize-code and detailing the number of tickets per prize you'd like to purchase. For example, a donation of US$50 can be 2 tickets for AP01 and 3 for AP02
3. For US donors, if your company has agreed to match your charity donation, please remember to tick the box and fill in the information so we may claim the corporate match.
4. Please make sure you tick the box to allow us to see your email address so we may contact you if you win. Your email address will not be shared with anyone.
5. Winners will be announced on Chez Pim in mid-January 2008.

The campaign runs from December 10th to 21st.
And I'll keep updating this post during this campaig with additional info. on my prize and/or more photos, so check back on this entry if you are interested.
Thanks for your participation! :D

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Recipes with Yuzu Miso

Pork Cutlet with Yuzu miso and Shiso

......................................... INGREDIENTS
Thinly sliced Pork, 2 slices per serving
Salt and pepper to taste
Yuzu miso
Shiso (green perilla) leaves
1 egg beaten
all purpose flour
panko (bread crumbs)
vegetable oil for deep frying

Pound the pork slices to make them thin and tender. Season with salt and pepper (both sides). Spread yuzu miso on one slice and place shiso leaves on top. Spread a little yuzu miso on them and place another pork slice on top. Thoroughly coat the surface with flour and shake off the excess. Dip in beaten egg, then coat with bread crumbs. Deep-fry in vegetable oil until golden brown.

* If the sliced pork is thick, I don't recommend sandwiching the miso and shiso with two slices, because it would take too long to be done.
This alternative method may work:
Use only one slice for one serving. Spread yuzu miso on the slice and cover carefully with shiso leaves. It is better that miso is now showing from underneath the leaves.) Bread carefully and deep-fry. I guess you can't help a little miso oozing out while deep-frying anyway, but don't worry too much about it. The meat should be done before all the miso would ooze out (hopefully). ;P

Grilled Cod Fillets with Yuzu Miso

......................................... INGREDIENTS
Salmon fillets
salt to taste
(sake... optional)
Yuzu miso

Sprinkle cod fillets with salt (and sake). Leave for apx. 5 minutes. Slather yuzu miso on top and grill until the salmon is done.

(* My grill heats from the top only, so I always grill one side of the fish without miso first. When that side is done, I turn over the fish and slather miso on top and grill until the miso is slightly burnt.)

Grilled Salmon with Yuzu Miso

......................................... INGREDIENTS
Salmon fillets
salt to taste
(sake... optional)
Yuzu miso

Instruction is basically the same as grilled cod. Sprinkle salmon fillets with salt (and sake). Leave for apx. 5 minutes. Slather yuzu miso on top and grill until the salmon is done.
(* My grill heats from the top only, so I always grill one side of the fish without miso first. When that side is done, I turn over the fish and slather miso on top and grill until the miso is slightly burnt.)

To tell you the truth, I added a little mayonnaise to yuzu miso this time to experiment, but I didn't care for it too much. IMHO, the mayonnaise somewhat hid the yuzu fragrance and added unnecessary greasiness. (Cheese might work better than mayonnaise, but not sure. Yuzu kosho and mayonnaise on salmon might be a better choice.)

Baked Oysters with Yuzu Miso

.................................................... INGREDIENTS
Oysters (shelled or on the half shell)
salt and pepper to taste
(sake... optional)
yuzu miso
minced green onion

Season oysters with salt and pepper (and sake). Put them in oyster shells, if available. If not, mini casserole dish or baking dish will do. Top the oysters with yuzu miso. Bake in the oven just until the oysters are done. (About 5 minutes at 450 F?? Do not overbake!) Sprinkle minced green onion on top to serve.

Condiment for Oden (Japanese hotchpotch)

Yuzu miso and yuzu kosho are my condiments of choice for oden (Japanese hotchpotch) these days. I can enjoy two different flavors. :)

For an oden recipe, click here.

Furofuki Daikon (Simmered Daikon Radish)

.......................................... INGREDIENTS
Daikon radish
Dried kelp
rice-rinsing water
or 1 Tbsp rice for pre-boiling
(light soy sauce, salt, instant dashi powder... optional)
Yuzu miso

For the instruction of making furofuki daikon, see this post. You might be tempted to add seasonings like a pinch salt or one teasp. light soy sauce or instant dashi powder to simmer daikon, but just do not add too much seasoning. And NEVER let daikon turn brown with soy sauce.
Serve with Yuzu miso on top.

Yaki Onigiri (Grilled Rice Balls)

........................................ INGREDIENTS (two rice balls)
apx. 150 g cooked white short grain rice

1) Soy sauce version
1/2 teasp. soy sauce
1/2 teasp. sake
1/2 teasp. white sesame seeds

2) Aonori (green laver flakes) version
1/2 teasp. green laver flakes
1/2 teasp. white sesame seeds
a pinch salt

Divide cooked white rice in two.

For 1)
-- Mix soy sauce and sake. Add to cooked rice with sesame seeds and mix. Shape into a triangle. Grill both sides (top and bottom). Spread yuzu miso on top. Grill the top a little more to slightly burn the miso.

For 2)
-- Add green laver, sesame seeds and slat to rice and mix. Shape into a triangle. Grill both sides (top and bottom). Spread yuzu miso on top. Grill the top a little more to slightly burn the miso.

I first made yaki onigiri with plain rice and yuzu miso only. The miso-covered top was really tasty, but the rest of the onigiri tasted rather bland. So on my second try, I seasoned the rice with above-mentioned ingredients, and it worked well. Some people put fillings in yaki onigiri, but my hunch is that a filling with a strong taste -- like umeboshi -- would probably ruin the taste/flavor of this yuzu miso.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Experimenting with Yuzu Kosho - 1- Chicken and Lettuce Pasta

Chicken and Lettuce Pasta with Yuzu kosho

So today I tried out one of the yuzu kosho pasta recipes that I found on the net. Well, to be more precise, I combined two different recipes ('chicken and lettuce pasta with yuzu kosho' and 'Tuna cream yuzu kosho pasta') and added my own twist, too. Let me call this "chicken and lettuce cream pasta with yuzu kosho." Long name, ha? The ingredients were: chicken, lettuce, spaghetti, garlic, olive oil, heavy cream, salt, pepper and yuzu kosho.

The dish turned out better than I had expected. When I took the first bite of the pasta, I thought it was very light-tasting... almost close to being bland, even with the refreshing aroma of yuzu. (Maybe I added a little too much pasta cooking water. See how runny the sauce is in the photo?) But a pleasant kick of green chilli followed right after, and it made me want another bite, and one more... until the dish was finally empty! :D
And it went so well with sparkling rose wine.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Nabe with Yuzu Kosho

Tori dango (chicken meatball) Nabe

It was so darn cold here today. I bet more than 90% of Japanese had nabe dinner tonight.
Oh, I'm positive. ;)

This green stuff right next to the grated daikon radish is not wasabi. It is yuzu kosho, green chili paste flavored with yuzu zest. This condiment was not so popular 5 years ago, but thanks to a popular TV cooking show, it has become popular throughout Japan recently.

What's nice about yuzu kosho is that it has refreshing citrus flavor AND a spicy kick. That is why it is so versatile... Now many Japanese foodies use this condiment to spice up meat, poultry, fish, tofu, potato, noodles, tempura and even pasta dishes, not to mention various sauces and dressings. (Actually I was going to try out "tuna cream pasta with yuzu kosho" today, but it was so cold that I couldn't resist the temptation of nabe dish.)

Ahhh... I have to get up extremely early tomorrow morning to work at the bento shop... Sigh