Thursday, October 11, 2018

Ricotta muffin リコッタチーズマフィン

This is, again, my wife's baking. I may have to change the title of the blog to reflect the fact my wife's baking is more frequently featured. In any case, she baked this from La Brea Pastry cookbook. This is a muffin with fennel flavor stuffed with ricotta cheese/cream filling. It is topped with pecan.

The stuffing got mostly absorbed in the muffin. I asked my wife to take over from here.

for the batter

2 tsp. fennel seeds
2 cups All Purpose Flour and 1 cup +2 Tbs cake flour (or 3 cups AP flour)
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
3/4 cup vegetable oil

for the filling
1/2 cup (4 oz.) ricotta cheese)
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. sour cream

for the garnish
1/2 cup toasted walnuts or pecans


Toast the fennel seeds in a pan until slightly brown and fragrant. Cut or crush into fine bits.
In a large bowl add the dry ingredients including the fennel seed. In another bowl mix the yogurt and vegetable oil until blended. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until blended.

For the filling mix the ricotta cheese and sour cream (for a thicker filling just use the ricotta cheese).

Spoon the batter into greased muffin cups to fill about 1/3 full. Spoon the ricotta cheese filling on top #1, then cover with more batter #2.  (It doesn't matter if the filling seeps out the sides, put in a healthy amount). Sprinkle with chopped nuts (#3). (Press the nuts into the batter otherwise they will just fall off after the muffin is cooked.) Cook 20 to 25 minutes in a 350 degree oven #4 & #5.

The muffin had a nice section of filling #6. I was cautious about adding the filling and I had a lot left over. In retrospect I will be more aggressive in adding the filling and use it all up because I adds a very nice texture and flavor to the muffin.

We are not sure we really like fennel flavor in the muffin. Other spices like cinnamon may work better. For the stuffing, my wife thought straight Ricotta cheese may work better instead of a mixture of cream and Ricotta. In any case, this is a good muffin especially for a breakfast.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Spiced apple with nuts インド風のリンゴのデザート

Among apples we like Fuji apples the best. So when we see them we tend to get them. Some of them stay in our refrigerator for quite sometime. Although apples last for long time, we decided it was time to make room for the new crop apples which should appear in the stores soon. So we used the apples from last year, that were somewhat past their prime to make this spiced cooked apple with nuts.

This comes from an Indian cookbook but my wife reduced the butter and sweetness. She also tamed down the spices a bit to our taste. Since we happened to have a Ricotta and cream mixture, we topped this with it.

6 apples (we used Fuji apple), peeled, cored and cut into small wedges (see below).
1/4 cup butter, unsalted enough to lightly saute the apples
1/3 cup honey or to taste
1/8 tsp. Cinnamon,
1/4 tsp. ground cardamon,
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
Roasted blanched almond slivers
Walnuts, toasted, skin removed and chopped


On low heat gently saute the apples in the butter. (The more butter you add to more sauce you'll have.  The apples will start to exude juice. Cook slowly until they start to soften and become partially translucent. Then add the spices stirring until the apples are coated. Finally add the nuts. Remove from heat. (The apples will keep cooking as they cool so keep that in mind if you would like an apple with a little bit of crunch in the center.)

This is a nice desert. Not too sweet but pleasently sweet with mild spices. The apple still maintains some crunch. My wife overdid it with the two kinds of nuts. Next time she can reduce or even eliminate the nuts.

P.S. We have had long days of rain and clouds. One afternoon, this totally wet red tail hawk landed in our cherry tree. Although this was a rather small hawk, it looked fierce. It specializes in squirrels.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Honey corn muffin 蜂蜜とコーンフラワーのマフィン

This is my wife's baking. This is a corn muffin using finely milled corn flour and honey. She made in two different sizes.

To the left are larger ones and to the right are smaller ones.


2 cups pastry flour
2 cups corn flour
6 Tbs. sugar
4 Tsp. baking powder
2 Tsp. salt
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup honey

 Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl (four to salt). Mix together the wet ingredients (eggs to honey). Mix until blended. Scoop into greased muffin tins. Bake at 350 for 18 to 20 minutes until skewer comes out clean. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before attempting to take out of pan.

This is something between desert and breakfast. It has a nice delicate (not crumbly) texture with strong corn flavor but it is a bit sweet. Since my wife used buckwheat honey, the assertive taste of honey is apparent. We really like this muffin. We can choke it down either as a breakfast or desert.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Pistachio nut bread ピスタチオのパン

This is another of my wife's baking projects. This is unusual since half of the flour is actually ground pistachio nuts and Greek yogurt is used as a part of the wet ingredients. It has a very nice unique taste and we love it as a breakfast bread.

You can see small pistachio nuts on the cut surface of the bread.

When finished baking some fissures appeared on the surface but the texture was quite tender and delicate.


1 cup sugar
4 tsp. orange zest
1 tsp. orange flavoring
1/2 cup orange juice
2 2/3 cup pistachios roasted
2 cups all purpose flour
4 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cardamon
1 tsp salt
8 eggs
1 cup greek yogurt (my wife strained the regular yogurt).
1/2 cup olive oil
4 tsp. vanilla

Roast the pistachios. Don't skip this step the flavor and texture of roasted pistachios is different from un-roasted. Grease and flour 2 bread loaf pans. Cut some parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pans and grease it on both sides. (This will make it easier to get the bread out of the pan).

In a food processor combine the sugar and orange zest. Process until the sugar is damp and fragrant Put aside in a bowl (#1). Add the pistachios to the food processor and pulse until coarse. Add the flour, baking powder, cardamon and salt and process with the nuts until finely ground (#2). Whisk the eggs, yogurt, oil, orange juice, orange flavor and vanilla into the sugar mixture previously set aside. (#3).  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Fold until blended. Put into the previously prepared bread pans (#4). Cook in a 325 degree oven for 50 to 55 minutes until a skewer comes out with moist crumbs. Cool in pan for about 15 minutes before removing. Let cool completely before cutting into pieces.

This bread has a nice orangey overtone from orange zests, juice bolstered by the flavoring. My wife reduced the cardamon so that this was not too overwhelming. The texture is extremely rich and moist. The flavor is very complex. The pistachio nuts added some nuttiness but we could not pinpoint that this is the taste of pistachios. Nonetheless, this is very flavorful bread with nice texture.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Moon gazing "Tsukimi dango" dumpling 月見団子

My wife really likes the moon (and rainbows), especially a full moon. She always looks for it in the sky. So, she immediately loved  the idea of Japanese "Tsuki-mi" 月見 moon-gazing or moon-viewing,  "Chushu-no-meigetsu" 中秋の名月 or "Juu-go-ya" 十五夜 . It refers to the full moon which falls on August 15 according to the Japanese lunar calendar and on September 24 according to the  Gregorian calendar. It is the full moon nearest the autumnal equinox which incidentally also falls on September 24 this year. This moon gazing has something to do with a harvest festival in Japan and in the west this moon is called the harvest moon.  In any case, we decided to cerebrate for the harvest moon and Juu-go-ya moon. My wife even collected "Furoshiki" 風呂敷, Japanese wrapping cloth, and "tenugui" 手ぬぐい, Japanese hand towels, with moon-gazing motifs on them. As shown by the furoshiki below, these usually include the full moon, pampas grass or "Susuki" ススキ, and rabbits gazing at the moon. Rabbits are generally associated with the moon in Japan because according to Japanese folk lore supposedly derived from a Buddhism story, a mochi-pounding rabbit lives on the moon, rather than a man. So in Japan you have bunny-in-the-moon instead of man-in-the-moon. Since the creature living on the Japanese moon pounds mochi, this may explain why the traditional food to accompany the fall moon-gazing is a round mochi ball or dumpling made of rice flour called "Tsu-ki-mi dango" 月見団子 Also because the full moon occurs on the 15th night of August "Juu-go-ya" according to the Japanese lunar calendar, the dango are presented in three layers of 9+4+2 totaling 15 commemorating the 15th night full moon. A plate of these mochi dumplings is shown next to the rabbits in the picture below. The plate of the dumplings I made is in the forefront of the picture.

The last time I made this with mashed potatoes with a center of cheese but this time, I wanted to go traditional and made dango using rice flour. With my wife's help, I used one of her collection of furoshiki as a background for the picture.

Below is a picture of the guest of honor; the moon. I took this picture several days before Juu-go-ya (September 24). It was almost full moon. On the 23rd and 24th, it was rainy and cloudy and we could not see any moon.

I made tsukimi dango a few days prior. After displaying the dango, I put the dango on skewers and warmed it up in the toaster oven and coated it with "mitarashi" sauce. This way of serving dango is called "Mitarashi dango" みたらし団子. It was good (especially the sauce) but the dango themselves were not soft or warmed through. So the next day, my wife tried microwaving the dango with the sauce. That method worked much better and the soft elastic texture came back like the ones freshly made.

I have never made this from rice flour. I looked for the recipes on line and decided on making it with rice flour and silken tofu (the alternative is using just water). This recipe variant came with the claim that the dango stays soft even cold.

At that point, I was not very familiar with different kinds of Japanese rice flours* (see footnote). Because rice contains practically no gluten and gluten-free diet is popular in US, even if you do not have gluten allergy or Celiac disease, rice flour is readily available. Actually, my wife used it in her baking and she provided me with the rice flour she had used.  This is called  "Sweet white rice" flour from Bob's Red Hill. This is made from short grain Japanese eating rice grown in California (Probably "Kokuho Rose"). The flour looked a bit coarser than what I remember but I made dango from it. After boiling the dango for a few minutes, they should have floated to the surface but they never did. Although I boiled it for almost 20 minutes, they never became soft and  not quite edible especially after they were cooled. I then learned about the different kinds of  Japanese rice flours*.  Since I did not have the time or energy to go to our Japanese grocery store to look for the appropriate rice flour, I turned to Amazon and got "Mochiko"餅粉 meaning "rice-cake flour" which is milled in California by "Koda farms"  (Japanese name!). This is  made from "mochi gome" 餅米.  Mochi-gome* is a type of  rice specifically grown for making mochi 餅 or other rice dish such as "seki-han" 赤飯 (#1 in the composite picture below).  My thinking was this flour (by name and by Japanese association) must be the better flour to make dango.


for the Dumpling:
"Mochiko" rice flower 100gram
Sugar 2 tbs (30gram)
Silken tofu about 1/2 (gradually added until right consistency is attained)

for Mitarashi sauce:(all weighed since amounts are rather small).
Soy sauce 40ml (or grams)
Sugar 60 gram
Dashi broth 100ml (or grams)
Mirin 15ml (or grams)
Potato starch 15 gram

For Dumpling:
Add the flour and sugar in a bowl (#2).
Add a small amount of the tofu (#3)  at times to the dry ingredients and mix by hand.
Add more tofu until the dough forms but is still soft (#4) (The Japanese instructions say "texture of an ear lobe).
Using a small ice cream scoop, make small balls (need to make at least 15, I made 19).
Cooking them in boiling water until they float on the surface and cook additional 3 minutes (#5).
Put cooked dango in ice cold water for few minutes and drain (#6).

*Footnote: The below are what I gleaned from the Internet. There are some conflicting information. It appears that there are three major kinds of rice flour. These are made from two different kinds of short grain rice; one is "eating rice" called "Uruchi-rice" うるち米 which contains polysaccharide amylose, another is called "mochi-gome" 餅米 which contains two kinds of polysaccharides amylase and amylopectin. Amylopectin gives a lot of sticky elastic texture when cooked. Rice cake or Mochi is made from this rice.

1. Shira-tama-ko 白玉粉
Made from milling washed uncooked mochi-rice with water, After the starch settles down, it is dried, very fine, mixed with water and then boiled. It makes a delicate soft dumpling with slippery surface which remains soft even when cooled.
2. Mochi-ko 餅粉
Made from milling  washed and dried uncooked mochi-rice, strong rice flavor and makes elastic dumpling by mixing with water and then boiled
3. Jou-shin-ko 上新粉
Made from eating "uruchi" rice, washed, dried, and milled,  mixing with hot water, steamed, and pounded to make elastic mochi like dumpling.

Tuskimi-dango is ususally made from either shira-tama-ko or mochi-ko. The red mill rice flour is similar to #3.  The way I made the dango using this flour was not proper or this flour is too coarsely milled. The ones I made from Mochi-ko, the dango was much better and close to commercial "dango" my wife and I are familiar with.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Ricotta cheese tart リコッタチーズのタルト

For some reason, my wife wanted to try this recipe from "La Brea pastry cookbook". It is called "tart" but no tart shell is involved just the cheesy filling. In any case, my wife thought this is a good snack go with wine. She made it one-bite-small.

The main flavor is sage. We used fresh sage leaves from our herb garden.

3 cups Ricotta cheese
2 cups Parmesan cheese
2 large large eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
7 sage leaves

In a large bowl combine all the ingredients #1,#2,#3. Scoop the cheese mixture into small muffin pan. (grease the pan even if it is "non-stick") #4. Bake in 375 degree oven for about 18-20 minutes or until lightly browned and firm to the touch #5 and #6.

It was difficult to remove the tarts despite my wife's use of non-stick muffin tins. It required to use a small spatula to coax out the tarts. Next time, it may be advisable to grease the tin. In any case, this was nice cheesy mini tart (or quiche) with fresh sage flavor. It does indeed go well with wine.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Smoked salmon and salmon salad roll スモークサーモンとサーモンサラダ巻き

My wife is a firm believer that mayonnaise and sushi rice are a good combo. We tried her theory previously with tuna hand rolls and "Salmon salad" sushi. We regularly prepare grilled salted salmon with crispy skin (after salted and dried for few days in the refrigerator) We finish the skin but we make leftover salmon meat. I often make the leftover salmon into salmon salad by flaking it and dressing it in a mixture of Greek yogurt and mayonnaise. We enjoy the salmon salad as an appetizer as a canapé by putting it on the cracker. Since we had still some salmon salad left, my wife suggested this salmon salad roll with smoked salmon and caper. I took her suggestion and  I made a medium sized roll or "chu-maki" 中巻き (As opposed to Futomaki 太巻き fat roll or Hosomaki 細巻き thin roll). This differed from our previous post because it is a roll and includes smoked salmon

I made the salmon salad a few days earlier. I used a mixture of Greek yogurt, mayo, Dijon mustard  seasoned with Myer lemon juice, fresh dill, salt and pepper. to dress the flaked grilled salmon.

The rice was distributed a bit unevenly.

Since this was a weekday evening, I took a short cut and used frozen rice to make the sushi rice.  I have a Japanese container we got at our grocery store which was designed to store cooked rice frozen. The lid has either small air vent or by turning the lid 180 degree, the lid will leave small gap so that microwaving the frozen rice will steam the rice. I also microwaved sushi vinegar (from the bottle) to warm it up and dressed the warm rice and let sit for 5 minutes.

Sushi rice, 1 cup (see above)
Nori dried seaweed sheet, one
Smoked salmon, 3 slices or enough to cover the rice
Salmon salad, enough to spread to cover the rice
Caper, 20 buds

Place the nori sheet on the bamboo sushi mat
Spread the sushi rice in a thin layer on the nori to cover about 70% (for a medium roll)
Place one layer of the smoked salmon
Spread the salmon salad and top it with capers (see below)

Roll it with the bamboo mat and press to shape.

Wet the blade of a knife and slice the roll in half and then slice each half into 5 slices each.

This again proves my wife's theory that mayo and sushi rice go well together. The only problem with this iteration was that the salmon salad was a bit on the wet side with Greek yogurt and Mayer lemon juice but it tasted great. Sushi rice from frozen rice was not bad at all and this was a great ending dish for the evening.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Oven fried baby red potato オーブンフライドレッドポテト

This was a rare occasion for us to enjoy steaks. I got some that were labeled "tenderloin steak" from our regular grocery store. It had some marbling and could represent Chateaubriand (head of tenderloin) but certainly was not a regular filet mignon. It was not too expensive and (unexpectedly) excellent. When it comes to beef steak, my wife is strictly a  "meat-and-potato Gal". Since we had baby red potatoes*, she remembered often making crispy oven fried red potatoes in the past. I also  added sautéed green beans and red wine sauce.

*red potato: In the U.S. these red potatoes are called  Norland Red potato and are sold as "baby red potatoes". It has a dark red skin and white flesh. Flesh is not too starchy or waxy.

The cut surface of the potato became really crispy and inside was soft and creamy. My wife removed the skin before eating and I ate everything. (I thought the skin added to the flavor). (When cooked like this the skin comes off very easily.)

Although we have posted quite a few variations of oven fried potatoes, somehow this one escaped our attention. This is by far the easiest but the result is excellent.

Baby red potatoes, cleaned and eyes removed if needed, cut in half
Kosher salt
Olive oil

Preheat the oven at 375F.
Put olive oil in a small flat dish and dip the cut surface of the potato into the olive oil to coat.
Arrange the potatoes after dipping the cut surface in olive oil on a cookie sheet with the cut surface up (#1 picture below).
Season the cut surface with Kosher salt
and turn them over so the cut surface is on the pan(#2 and #3).
Bake it for 30 minutes (#4)

This potato was very satisfying. Nice crunchy exterior and soft creamy interior with a slightly sweet taste. As compared to other oven-fried potatoes, this is the simplest and very good. The steaks were cooked as usual; brought  to room temperature, seasoned with salt and pepper. Seared with melted butter 2-3 minutes on each side (for medium rare, I did not finish them in the oven this time).

For the red wine sauce, I simply blotted the excess oil from the pan the steak was cooked in. I poured in some red wine (I happened to have an open bottle of Tempranillo) and a small amount of balsamic vinegar. I mixed and removed the "fond" with a silicon spatula and reduced the wine mixture until it just coated the bottom of  the pan and finished it with pats of cold butter.

We decided to open a good wine for this occasion and had Caymus Special selection 2010. We bought this some years ago (it was much less expensive when we bought it than current market prices). We stored it for a number of years in our wine refrigerator. I decanted it carefully and served with the steak. The wine was excellent. There is no sign of excess oxidation. It still has lots of dark fruits, chocolate  and vanilla with silky tannin. Ultimate California cab!  So this was a quite a potato-and-meat feast with a good wine.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Rosemary scone (cookie) with macchiatos ローズマリースコーン

This is my wife's baking project of making savory cookies (it was dubbed as a scone but it is more like a fluffy cookie). It is based on a recipe in the "La Brea Bakery" cookbook. It has a fresh rosemary flavor which you would not expect from the appearance. One weekend afternoon, we had this with espresso macchiatos. I am not a big desert or cookie eater but this is really good and perfect with the macchiatos. Please note, in the picture below, the scone/cookie is very large and the coffee cup is a demitasse size. In truth we shared one cookie between the two of us. (We admit this was a staged photoshoot).

The cookie is soft but slightly crumbly with gentle sweetness with fresh rosemary flavor which are such a great combination of tastes and textures.

The picture below shows our usual macchiatos which we often have as a second cup of coffee after morning cappuccinos on the weekend. The bean was a blended bean called "Altiplano" from Sweet Maria. We home roasted to full-City+. I use foamed cream (just a small amount) on the top. I use my  Nespresso frother for this. This cup may look similar to one with cappuccinos but, as I mentioned, this is a much smaller cup.

This scone is made using the rosemary from our herb garden. Our current rosemary is the third or fourth iteration we planted. Our winters are generally too cold for rosemary to survive more than a year or two. Remarkably, we planted this rosemary more than 20 years ago. It has grown into a small gnarled bush with a beautifully thick twisted stem. This spring we were afraid that it may not have survived the winter. After removing several dead branches, however, at least two major branches are still alive and producing new growth. We were so glad and relieved; it was like welcoming back an old friend who had been seriously ill. We have been refraining from cutting sprigs of our rosemary, during the summer,  to give it a chance to fully recover.  Now, it has grown enough that we can safely use our rosemary again.


3 3/4 cups All Purpose flour
1 3/4 cups corn flour (or corn meal)
1 Tbs. plus 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh rosemary (more or less to taste)
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 sticks (12 oz.) butter cut into 1/2 inch cubes and frozen
2 large eggs
2 Tbs. plus 2 tsp. honey

(The original recipe called for, 1 large egg, 1 egg yolk and 1/2 cup plus 2 tsp heavy cream. I misread the recipe and as shown above I used 2 eggs. In addition, I left out the heavy cream...the scones were still really good.  I'll have to try the original recipe to compare with the one I made. Nonetheless, my variation is worth trying).


In a food processor fitted with a blade, combine the flours, baking powder, rosemary and brown sugar and process until incorporated. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is pale yellow and the consistency of fine meal. (The amount was too big for my food processor so I processed it in batches) In another bowl add the eggs, honey and cream and whisk together. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.

Turn the dough out only a floured work surface and gently knead a few times until it comes together. Roll the dough into a 3/4 inch thick square. Cut the scones (I cut them into squares to eliminate the scraps that would have to be reworked if I cut them into rounds). Place the pieces on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until slightly browned and firm to the touch.

This one is in the same category of other savory cookies we have made such as "anchovy black pepper cookie", "rosemary pine nut cookie", "castagnoccio"  and "chili cheese shortbread". It uses a ridiculous amount of butter but it is well worth it. We like all the savory cookies but this one may be our new favorite.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Cold mackerel ball soup 冷製鯖のつみれ汁

We got a whole Spanish mackerel from the near-by Whole Foods and made our usual miso simmered mackerel 鯖の味噌煮. I also made mackerel fish ball soup 鯖のつみれ汁 from the meat scraped off the bone and tail tip portion of the fish. I just cooked the mackerel fish balls in dashi broth but did not season or finish the soup and placed it in the refrigerator. The next day, it was very hot and humid and my wife suggested we have this soup cold. Following her suggestion, I made this cold soup with mackerel balls, silken tofu and udon noodle as a light lunch.

I just seasoned the broth with concentrated noodle sauce from a bottle and garnished with sliced scallion and yuzu zest (frozen).

Ingredients: (this made 7 meat balls).
Scraped meat from one whole Spanish mackerel (scraped off the bone and also the thin tip of the tail portion)
Scallion, half stalk, finely chopped
Miso and potato starch 1 tbs each
Sake 1 tsp
Roasted sesame oil 1/2 tsp
Ginger root, finely chopped 1/2 tsp
Salt, scant pinch
Japanese broth, 300ml (I made this from a dashi pack with bonito and kelp).
Concentrated noodle sauce from the bottle to taste
Silken tofu and udon noodles (both cold, amount arbitrary)

For garnish
Scallion, 1/2, thinly sliced on bias
Yuzu zest

Mince and mix the Spanish mackerel meat, scallion, miso, potato starch, sake, sesame oil, ginger root and salt.
Meanwhile heat-up the Japanese dashi broth and keep it simmering
Using two teaspoons, make a quenelle and drop it into the simmering broth
Cook it gently until all the fish balls float (4-5 minutes)
Let it cool to room temperature and place it in the refrigerator overnight.
In a small bowl, add the broth seasoned with the concentrated noodle sauce, add the fish balls, tofu and udon and garnish.

We liked the warm version but this cold one is also very good especially on a hot and humid summer day in August in Washington.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Sally Lunn bread サリーラン ブレッド

This is again my wife's baking. This is a very usual and good bread called "Sally Lunn" bread. The original "Sally Lunn bun" was reportedly served in the spa town of "Bath" in England in the 18th century. In the U.S., the same name appears to be attached to breads that are dissimilar from the ones served originally in Bath. This recipe came from "Beard on Bread" and probably represents the latter category.  While the leavening agent is yeast it is a batter bread. This means that the texture of the dough is very unusual and not like regular yeast dough. It is wet, sticky and has to be "poured". My wife never made a bread like this before and wasn't quite sure how to handle it but in the end everything worked out just fine.  Lightly toasted and buttered, this is wonderful.

As you can see lots of holes which make this bread so light.

This is how it looks before toasting. Since it was baked in a tube pan, you have to cut it into wedges which is a bit awkward.


1 package active yeast
1/4 tsp. sugar (to bloom the yeast)
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
1 stick butter melted in the milk
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
3 1/2 to 4 cups all purpose flour


Bloom the yeast. Melt the butter in a sauce pan add the milk, sugar and salt. Stir until the sugar and salt melts. Let cool to lukewarm. Add the eggs and stir to combine. Add 3 cups of  flour to the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix to incorporate. Slowly add more flour in small amounts at a time to make a "stiff but workable batter" (whatever that meant). (I ended up using a total of 3 1/2 cups flour until I declared the batter "workable".  It was very thick, wet, stretchy and somewhat stringy). According to the recipe: Pour it into a bowel. (Pouring was a bit of a euphemism. It was more like battling it into the bowl against its will.) Let rise until doubled.  Then, again according to directions, beat it down with a wooden spoon for about 1 minute. (Beating it down was the appropriate term here). Scrape it into a heavily buttered tube pan. (This took some doing, particularly to get it evenly distributed around the tube.) Cover and let rise until it reaches the top of the pan. (Initially I did not think that would be possible given the volume shown in the picture below, but to my surprise it not only reached the top but was trying to bust out of the cover by the time I captured it from going over the edge.)

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until the bread is dark, golden on top and sounds hollow when rapped. (I thought this may have been a bit too high done next time I may try a shorter time). Turn out onto a rack to cool. (I was amazed at the final result shown below and even more amazed when we cut it into wedges and tasted it...what a beaut!)

Slice into wedges as shown below.

This was a remarkable bread making experience. This bread is very light and airy as you can see in the picture. I has a nice mild slightly sweet flavor. The crust is nice and crunchy especially when toasted. Who would have thought yeast bread could be made like this?

Monday, September 3, 2018

Otoshi three kinds including octopus sashimi タコ刺身、酢味噌和えとおとうし三種

This was the starting lineup for dinner one weekend evening. I had just come back from our Japanese grocery store burdened with all kinds of "goodies"; "ikura" いくら salmon roe, boiled octopus leg, fish cake, steamed squid salad Chinese style, and other items. So this was a quick and easy starter to prepare.  I used a store-bought "sashimi" soy sauce  刺身醤油 (small bottle shown below). Regular soy sauce is made with a mixture of soybeans, Koji rice, salt and water. It is somewhat watery and clear in appearance. In contrast this "sashimi" soy sauce is made differently. It uses either Tamari たまり, which is made from 100% soybeans (instead of a mixture of soybeans and koji-rice)  or it uses "double prepared" soy sauce or "Saishikomi-shoyu" 再仕込み醤油.  This is double prepared because soy sauce is substituted for the water used in regular soy sauce and is brewed again to make the "double prepared" soy sauce. As a result of this double brewing, it is thicker and more viscous than regular soy sauce. Depending on the brands, it may also contain "dashi" or "mirin" or other additions. For us, the difference is subtle but we occasionally have this special soy sauce for sashimi.

I served octopus two ways; one was sliced thinly with a wave pattern, which is called "sazanami-giri" 漣切り meaning "ripple cut".  My version is more like "big wave cut". This is done so that when dipping in wasabi and the afore-mentioned sashimi soy sauce, the surface will hold the sauce. The other is a tip portion cut into small chunks and dressed in "karashi sumiso" 芥子酢味噌.

The dressing is a mixture of miso, sugar and  and rice vinegar in 2:1:1 ratio and added prepared Japanese hot mustard to taste. Recently, I have reduced the vinegar (as per my wife's request) and added a small amount of hot water (from our "instant" hot water dispenser using RO filtered water). This makes the dressing milder and also dissolves the sugar better. I also added small chunks ("rangiri" 乱切り) of American mini cucumber.

Shown below is store-bought fish cake which we like. I grilled it in the toaster oven and dressed with ginger soy sauce (mixture of grated ginger and soy sauce). Since I had chives, I also added chopped chives.

This is another store bought drinking snack made of steamed squid with a "Chinese" style dressing called  "Ika-chuka-sansai" イカ中華山菜. Depending on the brand, the taste and ingredients vary  a little but this is not bad at all (except some of  the large chunks of squid was too chewy for my wife and she graciously transferred them to me).

This is the only one I really made. Cucumber suno-mono with small dried shirasu (whitebait/dried sardine hatchlings) garnished with ikura  しらす入りきゅうりの酢の物. Thinly sliced cucumber (American mini-cucumber), salted with moisture wrung out, mixed with "shirasu" (frozen in a package), dressed in sweet vinegar and garnished with ikura.

For a change, we started the evening with  tokubetsu junmai "Suigei" 特別純米酒 酔鯨 sake from Kochi in Shikoku 高知、四国. This is a  dry sake with acidity but not yeasty at all and went well with these snacks.