Sunday, October 30, 2016

Raisin rolls レイズンロール

This is another baking by my wife. This recipe started as a loaf of raisin bread but she converted to rolls so that we could take them to work for breakfast.

She usually bakes several kinds of breads at one time and whatever we can't eat gets frozen. Frozen rolls can be readily microwaved to return their original glory (or very close to it). The bread rolls she makes are all in equal size because she weighs the dough before forming it. This is something I would never be able to do; I don't have the patience.

I asked my wife to fill in the recipe and the rest.

1 cup milk
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup butter
4 cups flour (with 2 more in reserve to add make the dough the right consistency)
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs of sugar
1 1/2 tsp of salt
2 packages of active yeast
3 eggs at room temperature
several handfuls of raisins (to taste)(I used 4-5 handfuls; an amazing amount of raisins can disappear into this bread).

Put the flour in the bowl of a mixer with a dough hook attached. Put milk, butter, sugar and salt in a saucepan and heat until salt and sugar are dissolved and the milk is scalded. Cool by adding 1/2 cold water. Dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup warm water with some sugar added and wait for it to foam up (proof). Add the yeast and milk mixture to the flour with the mixer of speed 2. Add flour until a smooth dough is formed. Then knead for 7 minutes. Add raisins and continue kneading for 3 more minutes.

Put in a warm greased bowl turning to grease the top. Cover and let rise until doubled. Punch down (#1) and make rolls weighing about 2 1/4 oz (# 2).  Put into a heavily greased baking dish (#2 and #3) and let rise again while oven preheats to 375 degrees. Cook for about 18 to 20 minutes until golden brown (#4 and #5).

These are lovely breakfast rolls. The bread is slightly sweet with little bursts of additional sweetness from the raisins. These are particularly good slightly warm with some butter.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Cold tofu with fresh tomato sauce 冷奴の新鮮トマトソースかけ

We really like cold angel hair pasta with tomato sauce. We made this dish multiple times this summer. Since the tomato sauce is so refreshing and good, I used it for our cold tofu.

To give a bit of a different taste, I garnished it with real wasabi and aonori. I also added a bit more mentsuyu めんつゆ or concentrated noodle sauce.

The cold tofu I used was from "Otoko-mae tofu". This is called "San-ren-chan" 三連チャン  (mahjong terminology) with three square tofu containers strung together as one package. When it is unmolded, you can sort of see the Kanji character "Otoko" 男 on the surface.

I just poured on the tomato sauce (skinned Campari tomato with olive oil and  3x concentrated Japanese "Mentsuyu" sauce, please see the previous post for recipe)

This was really good. I think this will work with either basil or perilla as well. Nice cold refreshing dish for summer.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Dry curry/Keema curry, Sort of ドライカレーもどき

Whenever we barbecue chicken we cook two, so that we have enough for sandwiches during the week but often, we end up with excess chicken meat. I have used the cooked chicken meat in many different ways making curry, soup, salad, terrine and more. This is another new variation. It is a type of curry I came up with one day. It is similar to a type of  Japanese curry called "Keema curry" or "dry curry". "Dry curry" must be a Japanese modification of "keema curry". It is called "dry" as opposed to regular Japanese style curry which has a thick "wet" sauce. I had these type of curries in mind but I did not even look up recipes until I started writing up this dish for the blog. This was my attempt at finishing up the barbecued chicken dark meat. I served this over rice and topped with soft poached egg and a side of assorted pickles shown in the small square dish on the right. The pickle at the top of the dish is homemade pickled watermelon rind, the white one below that is store bought rakkyo らっきょう and the red one on the bottom is "Fukushin zuke" 福神漬け.

The poached egg had a nice runny yolk which is mixed into the curry and the rice. As per Japanese tradition, we ate it with a spoon not a fork.

The curry is made of finely chopped cooked chicken, and vegetables and I also include raisins which gives it a nice sweet taste. It does not have any sauce per se.

Japanese generally top this with chopped boiled egg, a raw egg or raw egg yolk but we like our egg soft poached.

Still the yolk is totally runny and almost same as using raw egg yolk (this is pasteurized Daividson's egg).

Ingredients (probably makes 4 servings):
Chicken meat, dark meat, barbecued (4 legs), meat separated and finely chopped
Onion, one medium, finely diced
Garlic, one fat clove, finely diced
Ginger, finely chopped, 1 tsp
Carrot, one medium, peeled, sliced on bias, julienned and finely diced.
Raisin, 1/3 cup
Japanese curry powder (SB brand) but any curry powder will do,  2 tsp or more
Garam masala, 1/2 tsp
Chicken broth (about 2-3 cups or as needed), I used Swanson no fat and low salt version
Olive oil for sauteeing (2tbs)
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. In the pot, I added olive oil or any vegetable oil and when the surface started simmering, added finely chopped garlic and ginger.
  2. When the garlic and ginger got fragrant, I added the onion, carrot and kept sauteing for several more minutes.
  3. I added the chicken, the curry powder and kept stirring for a few more minutes and added the raisins. 
  4. I added the chicken broth just enough to cover the ingredients and simmered for 10-15 minutes.
  5. If the liquid is not enough add more chicken broth until everything is cooked and only some moisture left.
  6. I added the garam masala, salt and black pepper.

I placed cooked rice in a bowl and layered it with the dry curry and topped with soft poached egg.

This was a good new way to use leftover cooked chicken. Of course you could make this from other ground meats such as beef, lamb, chicken or pork. The curry was spicy enough that you feel the heat but not too hot. The egg yolk makes the curry a bit milder and these pickles went so well with this curry. Since this curry is "dry", you could use it over a cracker or a piece of bread as well.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Corn Rice cooked in corn broth とうもろこしご飯

Since we are still in the midst of corn season (early September) and piles of corn in husks are plentiful at the market, we, again, ended up with 10 ears of corn. Without having any specific plan of what to make with them, my wife went ahead and cooked the corn by briefly microwaving the ears covered with a paper towel for 4 to 6 minutes. I removed the kernels and my wife then made her famous corn broth from the corn cobs and onion. So we ended up with corn kernels as well as corn broth. Instead of making regular corn soup, I decided to make a Japanese style corn rice. After we made the corn rice, we made corn potage from the corn kernels and the broth.

Unlike the traditional Japanese recipe which uses sake, kelp or Japanese broth, I used my wife's very concentrated corn cob broth to make this rice.

Because the broth was not totally clear, the rice got slightly brown/yellow in color.

I served the corn rice with hot smoked trout cooked in our Weber using indirect heat and hickory wood chips. My wife skillfully deboned the fish for me and I served it with a side dish of cucumber, onion and dill salad.

This is how our hot smoked trout looked. The meat was very succulent with a nice smokey flavor and we liked it.

Ingredients for corn rice:
Corn kernels, raw or cooked about half cup (#1).
Rice, Japanese short grain, 2 cup (using the 200 ml cup that comes with the rice cooker)
Corn cob broth, reduced, (about 2 and 1/4 cups).
(You could add salt or light colored soy sauce but I did not. These can be added later jut before you eat).

  1. Wash rice until water runs clear and drain.
  2. Add the washed rice and the corn kernels to the rice cooker.
  3. Add the corn cob broth to the mark (#2).
  4. After finished cooking let it stand for 10-15 minutes (#3).
  5. Gently mix and serve.

Using the concentrated corn cob broth made this corn rice very special. It had a very lovely corn flavor and a slight sweetness. We first tasted as is and then added butter and soy sauce which made it even better. This will be a regular seasonal dish from here on. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Spanish Mackerel dishes, two kinds サバの味噌煮と竜田揚げ

We bought a whole Spanish mackerel from our nearby gourmet grocery store. Again, the exact Japanese name for Spanish Mackerel is unclear but  I will just call it "saba" 鯖 さば. Certainly it looks and taste like one. I asked the fishmonger to just gut the fish. I made miso-ni 味噌煮 simmered in miso sauce (left) and tatsuta-fry 竜田揚げ.

I made the miso simmered mackerel in the morning and reheated it just before serving. Then I fried up the marinated tatsuta mackerel. This one was well seasoned and did not require any sauce just a bit of lemon juice.

I garnished the miso simmered mackerel with thin julienne of ginger or "hari shouga" 針生姜 and thinly sliced scallion.

Preparation of the fish:
This was a rather large mackerel. I filleted it "sanmai-ni-orosu" or sliced it into three layers (two layers of fillets and one layer of backbone and head). I removed the belly portion and also removed the meat under the fins since there are many small bones under the fins. Using a Japanese bone tweezer, I removed any small bones which remained.

I cut the pieces into rectangles and scored the skin so it wouldn't break during cooking. I divided the pieces into two groups. I simmered one group in miso sauce and the other I fried into tatsuta.

1. Mackerel braised in miso sauce サバの味噌煮
Mackerel, one fillet, cut into rectangles with the skin shallowly scored. 
300 ml water
100 ml sake
5tbs miso
3tbs sugar
4 slices of ginger

I placed the water and sake with the ginger slices in a frying pan and brought it to a boil. I placed the mackerel in with skin side up. I removed some liquid and used it to dissolve a mixture of miso and sugar. Once dissolved I added it back to the pan (#1) and turned down the flame to simmer. I placed the otoshibuta (my usual silicone lid) on top (#2).
I simmered it until the sauce became thick and clung to the fish (for about 45 minutes to 1 hour) (#3).

2. Mackrel tatsuta fry 鯖の竜田揚げ
Mackerel, one fillet, cut into rectangles.
Soy sauce and mirin (1:1 ratio)
1 tsp grated ginger
Potato starch for dredging
Oil for deep frying

In a Ziploc bag, I marinated the mackerel for several hours in the refrigerator. 
I blotted the excess marinade using paper towels and dredged the pieces in the potato starch (#4).
I deep fried it in 350F oil for a few minutes turning once (#6).

Both dishes were quite good but we liked the miso flavored one best. Although these two dishes are good drinking snacks, we had them with rice. Especially the miso-ni was best on the rice (OTR). We were pleasantly surprised that the Spanish mackerel we got was very fresh and the resulting dishes were great.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Chilli cheese shortbread 唐辛子とチーズのショートブレッド

This is my wife's savory cookie/shortbread which belongs to a similar category as the anchovy black pepper cookie she made before. This is seasoned with red pepper and worchestershire sauce.

This is not sweet at all and clearly calls for wine or some other drink to accompany it.

2 cups AP flour
12 Tbs. butter
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp  red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cup shredded cheese (cheddar and gruyere)

Blend all the ingredients in a food processor. (Word of advice: This is a very dry flaky dough. Don't panic if it looks like it is not coming together. We had to dump it as crumbs out of the food processor and my wife worked at it diligently. Eventually she was able to make the ball shown in #1 below.) Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Roll out dough as shown in #2. Cut out cookies whatever shape you want and put on a cookie sheet #3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and cook for 15 to 18 minutes until golden. Put on a rack to cool #4. 

This is an ethereal cookie. It dissolves on your tongue leaving behind a slight saltiness (from the Worcestershire sauce) followed by a pleasant buzz from the red pepper that slowly kicks in and builds. Although anchovy is the main ingredient for Worcestershire sauce, this version of savory shortbread is much more subtle compared to the anchovy black pepper cookie.  Despite all the butter in this shortbread the texture is somewhat grainy and some libation helps nicely to wash it down. We had it with Spanish red wine which went really well.  

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Negitoro-don ネギトロ丼

I (again) made negitoro (or more precisely pseudo-negitoro ネギトロもどき) from frozen yellowfin tuna sashimi block and decided to make "donburi" 丼 as a shime 〆 dish. Besides negitro, I added Japanese style scrambled eggs or "iritamago" 炒り卵, strips of nori sea weed and perilla.

I made the negitoro as before (#1). I also made scrambled eggs seasoned with sugar and light colored soy sauce (#2). For garnishes, I prepared a chiffonade of perilla leaves (#3). I placed sushi rice in the bowl first (#4) and added strips of nori (#5) which was followed by negitoro and eggs (#6).

This combination cannot go wrong. This was a quite nice small donburi perfect to complete the evening.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Pocket stuffed with chicken and craisin チキン、チーズと干しクランベリーのポケットパイ

This is a continuation of my wife's "pocket" dishes. This started out as a question about what to do with the extra barbecued chicken from the previous weekend. I am not sure where she found this recipe. My contribution was chopping Jalapeno pepper and leftover barbecued chicken. Here is the end result pocket just out of the oven.

Nice buttery pie crust and smokey and cheesy stuffing.

I asked my wife to fill in the rest.

1 cup chopped cooked chicken
2-3 Tbs. Mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup craisins
2 diced jalapenos (or to taste)
1/2 cup grated smoked mozzarella

Mix ingredients together using just enough mayo to blend then stuff pockets. Cook stuffed pockets at 400 degrees for 18 minutes or until golden brown. 

We found this type of dish perfect starters when we come home. The smokiness comes from both barbecued chicken and  smoked mozzarella cheese and craisin add sweet and sour taste. Just pop in the pockets in the toaster oven and heat it up. This tastes great and fills the hollow in your stomach just long enough for dinner to arrive.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

New Macro lens, Broccoli, tomato and white asparagus マクロレンズとリングLEDライト、ホワイトアスパラ

I just got a new sony macro lens E 30mm F3.5 Macro (SEL30M35) for my Sony Alpha a6000. Before this, I was taking my foodie pictures mostly using a kit lens (16-50mm zoom) which I bought with the camera body.  Real close ups were difficult with the kit lens. I also get an LED ring light for macro lens. The below are the first pictures I took with this set up. I happened to have blanched broccoli and took this picture.

The LED ring light has a bluish color temperature and unless, you are taking really a really tight shot, the periphery gets dim and only the center gets well lit. But I am happy with the close up I took.

For these two pictures, I adjusted the color and exposure using a Mac photo program. The below are taken with natural light from the windows.

I also made white asparagus with a Bearnaise sauce variation. Instead of tarragon, I used concentrated  white asparagus broth.

The sauce is another variation of Beanaise-like sauce.

As before I peeled and cooked white asparagus in water with all the peels until soft and cooked. I then removed the asparagus but left the peels and further simmered it until only a very small amount of liquid was left which has a concentrated flavor of white asparagus. I added rice vinegar and reduced it further (2 tbs of liquid left). In the double boiler, I then added two egg yolks to the concentrated liquid and whisked. Since the sauce appeared a bit runny, I decided to add pats of cold butter while whisking (about 1-2 tbs). I seasoned it with salt and white pepper.  For color, I garnished it with chopped chives. 

Hope I can take better pictures in the future but since I do not spend enough time to set up the lighting or to compose good pictures (after all, we need to eat), the quality may not really improve but I am having fun with my new toy.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Dashimaki with tarako wrapped in nori 海苔巻きたらこのだし巻き

Although I have posted similar dishes. this one came out rather nicely (visually). This is an example of stuffed Japanese "dashimaki" omelet だし巻き. The most famous/popular is stuffed with eel called "U-maki" 鰻巻き. This time, I stuffed it with tarako cod roe which was wrapped in a nori sheet. I bought this "tarako" たらこ code roe, to make "tarako" spaghetti たらこスパゲッティ (actually using thin udon). I had one sac left over so and few days later, I made tarako dashimaki for the evening.

I removed the tarako roe from its sac (by cutting the sac open and scraping the content using a knife blade leaving the membrane) and wrapped it with a nori sheet (cut to match the width of the rectangular Japanese omelet pan). I just rolled this into the center of the dashimaki omelet.

The tarako was just barely cooked underneath the nori.

Salty cod roe, nori and sweet omelet went so well together. This type of dish really calls for sake.