Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Potato bread with caraway seeds ジャガイモ入りパン

I am stepping up to bake more than I used to; filling in the gaps left by my wife during recovery from her injury. This is one such baking projects. I did the "grunt" work under her supervision. Since we had leftover mashed potatoes from a barbecue (when we do a chicken or pork roast in our Weber grill, we often also roast potatoes) she wanted to use them to make this rustic bread (supposedly of Hungarian origin). This is also from the "Beard on Bread" cookbook. Since the original recipe asked for 8 cups of flour, we halved the recipe to make a smaller loaf as seen below. The recipe involves a starter (this starter only fermented for 30 minutes). It produced a very good rustic bread. Instead of just mashed potatoes, we used the mashed potatoes my wife makes with cream cheese (with onion and chive) which we had with the barbecued pork. We are not sure how much difference the cream cheese makes to the bread.

The black specks are caraway seeds. We are not sure if this is needed. The bread itself has nice flavors.

I slashed and sprayed with water to make "rustic" look and a good crust.

The "slashes" were supposedly to be "deep" so instead of a bread "lame", I used a kitchen knife which appeared not to cut as cleanly as it should have.

for starter:
1 package of dry yeast
1/2 cup of warm water with a pinch of sugar
3 tbs of flour

Additional 3/4 cup of warm water
1/2 cup  mashed potatoes (We used leftover mashed potatoes. My wife mixed in chive-and-onion cream cheese, 3/4 container for 2 large cooked russet potatoes).
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp caraway seeds
2-3 cups of bread flour

1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water with the sugar and let it proof until bubbly.
2. In a bowl, mixed the the yeast mixture and flour. Cover with plastic wrap and then towels and let it stand for 30 minutes until the starter bubbles up (starter).
3. In a stand mixer, add the starter, water, mashed potatoes, salt and mix well using a paddle. Switch to the dough hook, add the flour one cup at a time at low speed until the dough forms and cleans the side of the bowl (in the end, we estimate we added about 2 and half cups of flour). Let the mixer knead the dough for 7 to 10 minutes.
4. Place the dough on the floured board and hand knead for a few minutes to make a tight ball.
5. In a large bowl, add a small amount of olive oil, place the dough, turn over to coat all sides and cover with a plastic wrap and then with towels and let it rise until the volume doubles (about 1 hour).
6. Punch it down and fold a few times to make a free formed round loaf.
7. Coat the wooden pizza paddle with corm meal and place the formed dough on it. Slide the dough back and forth to make sure the dough moves easily.
8. Cover the dough with a plastic wrap and then a towel and let it rise for 30-40 minutes.
9. Remove the towels and plastic wrap. Using a sharp knife, cut a deep cross on the surface of the dough.
10. Using a sprayer, spray water on the surface of the dough and slide it on the baking stone.
11. Bake at 400 F for 30-25 minutes (or until done depending on the size of the loaf).

This is a really good rustic bread. It has a nice firm consistency with crust and good flavor. We are not sure we really need Caraway seeds.

The bread is great toasted.We just ate as is with butter but this could make a good sandwich. It was a success with this modified recipe.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Onion, shirataki, and pork pouch 豚肉と白滝の巾着

This is a variation of a dish called "Kin-chaku" 巾着, which is the name for a Japanese-style pouch with a string tie. When this word is used for a dish, it is referring to a deep fried tofu pouch stuffed with different items. One popular variation is mochi-kin 餅巾着 which I posted many years ago as a part of "oden" おでん  Japanese winter stew in which "mochi" rice cake was stuffed in a fried tofu pouch and simmered in seasoned broth. This time, I stuffed fried tofu pouch with seasoned onion, ground pork, and shira-taki noodles 白滝. I am not sure where I learned this variation. I imagine I got it from either an oden place I used to frequent in Sapporo or from my mother. The pouch could be stuffed with other items. Your imagination is the limit. I served this as part of an abbreviated oden dinner that included a boiled egg, fish cake with burdock root or "gobo-ten" ゴボウ天 and carrot.

I cut the egg and the pouch to show the inside. This combination is quite good and it is rather filling although not as much as the ones stuffed with "mochi" rice cake.

1. Deep fried tofu, 5 full-size cut into half making 10 pouches (use as is but just cutting open one end if using the half size "Inari-age" 稲荷揚げ ) (#1). If frozen, thaw and pouring hot water over it in a colander which removes excess oil.
2. Ground pork (I used hand cut trimming from pork filets), the amount is totally arbitrary (#2).
3. Shirataki-noodle, 白滝, 1 package rinsed, parboiled, rinsed again and drained (it has a peculiar smell) (#3)
4. Onion, 1 medium, cut in half and sliced (#4).
5. Oil (vegetable oil with splash of dark sesame oil) for cooking (#5 and 6).
6. Soy sauce and mirin for seasoning, one tbs each (#7).

1. Sauté the onion in vegetable oil, and add the shirataki-noodle (#5) and the pork (#6) for several minutes until the onion softens and the pork turns color.
2. Add the soy sauce and mirin (1 tbs each) (#7) and braise until most of the liquid evaporates.
3. When it cools, stuff the pouches and close it with tooth picks (or tie it with kanpkyo 干瓢).
4. Add the stuffed pouch in oden broth with other items and simmer.

This is a quite filling dish and certainly add to the variation in the oden items.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

"Aji" fry 鯵のフライ

I found the frozen filets of "aji" (jack or horse mackerel) in the freezer. I have posted twice about several dishes I previously made with this type of fish. This time, I made "namerou" 鯵のなめろうand made fries from the remaining 6 small filets. "Aji" fry or 鯵のフライ is a popular way to prepare "aji".

I served the fillets with a wedge of lemon and some coleslaw I made (with honey mustard dressing).

This was prepared exactly the same as any other fry. I covered the fillets with a paper towel soaked in sake for 15 minutes or so to reduce any fishiness . I also removed the small bones along the mid-line using a Japanese fish bone tweezer. As with any cutlets, I dredged the mackerel pieces with flour, dipped in  egg water and then coated with panko crumbs. I deep fried it in 350F peanut oil for 1-2 minutes turning once.

We enjoyed this just as it came out of the oil and it was nicely hot and crunchy.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Bento Box お弁当

We usually make sandwiches to take to our respective work for lunch. Although we have a quite collection of Japanese bento boxes, I rarely  make bento for lunch (too much work). This was such a rare occasion. I made this for my wife since she was having surgery for her rotator cuff injury. Although this was a same day surgery, we knew she would be essentially fasting nearly 20 hours, before, during, and after surgery, by the time she was released from the hospital.  Knowing she would be hungry I made this bento box so that she could eat it either at the hospital or on the way home in the car. (She wolfed it down in the car on the way home). I chose a two-layered Bento box (for adults) which is very functional and the right size that we like best. Both the bottom of the top layer and lid have gaskets and once the elastic band is applied it makes a good seal preventing leakage.

It came with a Japanese style "Kinchaku" pouch 巾着.  Since the rabbit is my wife's Japanese/Chinese zodiac animal, this is very appropriate.

So, the night before, I packed this bento for her. This lunch box comes with a small mold which can be pressed on the rice to make small individual semi-cylinders. This makes eating the rice a bit easier and looks more elegant. I sprinkled dried red perilla salt ("Yukari" ゆかり) on one row and dried green seaweed ("Aonori"  青のり) on the other.  The small compartment next to the rice (which can be adjusted) is usually for pickled or salted vegetables ("Tsukemono" 漬物) but I put salad (my cucumber salad, skinned and sliced Campari tomato and arugula).

The upper layer can be divided into 4 compartments for side dishes. The central "H" partition can be slid to adjust the sizes of the end compartments. For protein, I used fish, pork, chicken, and egg including grilled salmon and Spanish mackerel simmered in miso (left), barbecued pork loin thinly sliced (center upper) and chicken squares with gorgonzola cheese and dried fig topped with my home-made figgy cranberry sauce (center, lower).  Of course, any Japanese bento box has to have "dahimaki" Japanese omelet (right).

Both grilled salmon and blue fish simmered in miso were leftovers and I separated  the two with slices of cucumber.

I added dried green sea weed "Aonori" to the "dashimaki" Japanese omelet . To make a snug fit for the space, I used slices of tomato.

Despite my wife's total lack of ability to use her right arm/hand, she enjoyed and finished the bento box in the car. She said the bento was very good and assured me it was not due to "Hunger being the best sauce". I thought the amount was quite large but she somehow managed to finish it. Now, she is on the mend and gradually regaining her right arm functions with physical therapy. I should make bento more often--for less serious occasions.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Lunch and dessert on New Year Day 4

We had a lunch comprised mostly of items I made for the New Year (the red and white fish cakes are store bought and I did not realize this one has the letter "Kotobuki" 寿 on every cut surface (no doubt by co-extrusion process of white and  red colored kamaboko ingredients). I rather prefer the simple red and white ones. In any case, the main dish here is from the osechi box. It is a cylindrical sushi made from sushi rice, wrapped with buri 鰤 (grown-up yellow tail) and thin slices of white radish called "Buri kabura zushi" 鰤かぶら寿司.

Here is a close up. This is a type of sushi called "Bo-zushi" 棒鮨. First sushi rice is formed in the shape of "bo" 棒 or  "rod/cylinder) and then the upper side of the cylinder is wrapped with a thin filet of vinegared fish. In this particular dish, it was wrapped with  vinegared "buri" or grown yellow tail and then thinly sliced large white radish. This appears to be a New Year dish famous in Toyama 富山. I slightly warmed it up in the microwave oven to bring the sushi rice back to its original texture. It is important to "take the chill off" of the rice but not cook the fish or radish (I used increments of 10 seconds of microwaving to control the process).

As a dessert, we had chestnut "shibukawa-ni" 栗の渋皮煮, sweet yam and chestnuts 栗きんとん and black beans in syrup 黒豆. All these are traditional new year dishes but they are rather sweet and this is the best way to enjoy, at least, for us. We had this "Fukamushi Shin cha" of the last year season from Uji Hibiki-an 深蒸し新茶、宇治 響庵.

Some time ago when we are dining at Sushi Taro Omakase, our conversation with Chef Kitayama went to North American Chestnuts. As I  posted before, surviving (after chestnuts blight of 1940s) North American chestnuts have deep crevices and it is difficult to remove inner brown skin or "sibukawa" 渋皮 without breaking the chestnut apart. We asked Chef Kitayama how he handles this problem. He said he had to peel so many chestnuts and the perfect ones were set aside for dishes which requires whole chestnuts (such as shibukawa-ni) and the rest were used for other dishes (such as kuri-kinton).

Last year we also got a few sets of new tea cups from Hibiki-An. This is out favorite among them. It has a little turtle figure climbing up one side.

This was a quite filling lunch and nice dessert with wonderful green tea. Among the few green tea (sencha 煎茶) we tried from Hibiki-An, we like this tea the best so far.

Monday, January 14, 2019

New Year's feasting , evening of day 3 正月3日目の夕

On day 3 of the New Year, we are still enjoying the osechi box. Here I show a few of the highlights or our favorites.

This is "ankimo tofu" あん肝豆腐 or "monk fish liver terrine". It has smooth creamy texture bursting with ankimo flavor.

This is new item this year; "Ebo-dai koji-zuke" えぼ鯛麹漬.  "Kabura" white radish and white fish meat (butter fish) marinated in koji 麹 (malted rice). This dish evokes a childhood memory for me of "ii-zushi or izushi" 飯寿司 of Hokkaido where I grew up. It is a dish similar in which koji-rice, vegetable and fish (in Hokkaido, herring, anchovies, and salmon were popular) fermented together. It appears that this is a type of izushi that is a New Year's dish in the Kanazawa 金沢 area called "kabura-zushi" かぶら寿司. In any case, it has a nice gentle sweetness from the koji. The subtle sourness and crunchy vegetable in contrast with the savory and soft fish meat are a great combination.

This is the last of steamed sea urchin. Although fresh raw sea urchin is the best, this is really good in its own right. It was steamed on a sheet of cedar which renders a subtle flavor/smell. Come to think of it, this is a good way to preserve the sea urchin so that it will last through New Year's cerebration.

On the left is miso-marinated (and dehydrated) egg yolk with walnuts. All of these items are perfect with cold sake. We can really get used to this.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Jan 2nd evening 正月2日の夕

Now it is the 2nd day of New Year. The first three days of New Year are called "shogatsu sanga-nichi" 正月三が日 or simply "Sanga-nichi". These days are considered official New Year holidays in Japan. So, since we observe this custom in our household, we continued indulging in the good food from the Sushi Taro osechi. I served several assorted items by placing them in a small hexagonal "juubako" 重箱 container.  Almost all except a few items are from the osechi box.

We also enjoyed head-on shrimp provided in the box. To make them fit on the plate and to make it easier to access the goodies in the head (mostly the liver), I separated the head from the tail. There is nothing delicate about this; the only way to enjoy is to pick it up and suck it out. The shrimp was large and had a nice sweet firm meat. It almost tasted like lobster. Wedges of Meyer lemon also added a bright flavor.

One of the tips to enjoying the osechi box fully is to heat up certain items before serving. Here I heated up the fish in the toaster oven and simmered vegetables in the microwave oven. Heating up these items really makes them more succulent and accentuates the flavor.

The items in the small blue bowl are hachling fish called "Jako arimani" じゃこの有馬煮. They had such a nice flavor (I like to put these on rice). The items in the center are "date maki" omelet and steamed ground white fish meat with matsutake mushroom or "Matsutake shinjo"松茸真蒸 .

This picture shows cod roe wrapped in kelp (bottom left), herring roe with butter fish underneath and white radish in koji 麹 or えぼ鯛麹漬け (top left). More about this in a later post.  On the right in a small light blue bowl are black beans in syrup or "Kuromame" 黒豆 (again, a must-have for New Year).

These were really nice starters.  At this point, we have consumed near 2/3 of the osechi goodies. We have to hurry up to finish it while it is still fresh. (Its a tough task but I think we are up to it.)

Monday, January 7, 2019

Mozzarella cheese mochi マッツレラチーズもち

We used to have "Isobe -maki" grilled mochi (grilled mochi coated with  sugar-soy sauce mixture wrapped with a sheet of nori) for lunch on the second day of New Year but now we (especially my wife) like grilled cheese mochi. This year, we used low-moisture cow-milk Mozzarella cheese (from Whole Foods) and it worked very well. It came out almost like gyoza with wings or "Hane-tsuki gyoza" 羽根つき餃子. The "wings" of this type of gyoza dumpling are made by adding cheese or a thin flour/starch batter that creates the crunchy fringe when cooked. I also served soup and other items for this second-day lunch.

This is double wing version with cheese wings both top and bottom. We had this with a bit of soy sauce. My wife precut her piece into small pieces using a pizza cutter. I posted how to make this before.

The soup is leftover from zoni 雑煮 or new year's day soup. I added more vegetables (shiitake mushroom, snow peas, carrot) but no mochi.

To help digestion, diakon namasu 大根なます (daikon in sweet vinegar) is a must with mochi. As usual, I also added boiled octopus leg and ikura salmon roe.

This small plate has red and white fish cake (with wasabi and soy sauce), date-maki omelet roll (this is one I made), Russian marinated salmon and marinated herring roe.

This was a rather filling lunch because of the mochi (one mochi must be equivalent to, at least a full bowl of rice). The low-moisture mozzarella made a nice crunchy crust which contrasted with the soft texture of cooked mochi.

Friday, January 4, 2019

New Year's day evening with Sushi Taro Osechi 元旦の夕, すし太郎のおせち

We were wondering how long we have been getting Sushi Taro's Osechi box to celebrate New Year. We went back to our blog and it appears we started getting Sushi Taro Osechi on 2012.  In any case, we got the box on the afternoon of New Year's eve and started indulging in its contents the evening of the New Year's day.

We were delighted to see our favorite "karasumi" 唐墨 or "bottarga" or sun-dried mullet roe this year as well (right upper corner) along with the other usual goodies.

This is the second layer. Miso-marinated beef tongue  (right upper corner) is new this year. We like beef tongue but this is quite different from how we prepare it. Another one of our favorites "Monkfish liver terrine" or "ankimo tofu" あん肝豆腐 is peaking out on the right upper corner of the third (bottom) row.

Since I got frozen bluefin tuna sashimi block form Catalina Offshore products last December in preparation for the coming new year, we had some on New Year's eve and finished it New Year's day evening.  The tuna was very good and it was between chu-toro 中とろand ko-toro 小とろ.

On the sashimi plate, we had tuna, steamed sea urchin, karasumi, boiled shrimp (leftover from making ozouni), white and red fish cake, salmon Russian marinade, marinated herring roe (this is one I prepared) and burdock root stuffed with mustard. This year, karasumi was sliced a bit thicker than usual so I grilled it lightly in the toaster oven before enjoying it.

The second small plate had my "Chicken matsu-kaze yaki" 松風焼 (left in the picture below, I used toasted walnuts instead of pine nuts so it is not really "matsu-kaze" or "wind over the pine"). The green vegetable is from the osechi box called "pickled Chishatou" ちしゃとう or celtuce. This is a food item I am not familiar with but it is a stalk of a type of special lettuce. It has a nice crunchy texture. This "Date-maki" egg roll is from the osechi box and the meat behind it is miso marinated beef tongue. It is firmer than I make it but it had a nice beef flavor.

The third small plate had "renkon" lotus root cut in flower-shape dressed in vinegar, marinated (I assume in miso) egg yolk with walnut (another of our favorites), smoke salmon rolled in thinly peeled radish and cumquat in syrup. Behind the renkon is steamed fish cake with matsu-take mushroom or "matsutake shinjou"松茸しんじょう(cut in half).

This is an octopus leg I dressed in mustard miso vinegar タコ足のぶつ切りの芥子酢味噌和え.

We had the same sake (the last bottle) as last year which we brought from Japan two years ago. Jurakudai daiginjou from Kyoto.

We thought these are the starter but after eating these and drinking, both of us were quite full and called it quits. It was a nice evening to start 2019.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year 2019 新年御めでとうございます 2019

We had an unexpected break in our blog last year due to some unforeseen events that absorbed most of our attention. As the saying goes, life is what happens when you are planning something else. Hope we can start up and continue the blog again with the start of the new year. Although it is getting repetitious our first post of 2019 starts with our Kagami-mochi 鏡餅 new years decoration and since it is year of the boar; two figurines of boar. We placed this in the"tokono-ma" 床の間 alcove of the small Japanese-style room we call the tea room.

The larger boar is made of fired clay in the form of a bell called "Do-rei" 土鈴 and the small one is carved from wood.

As we are entrenched in our routine, it is very hard to start the morning without coffee and bread. So we had our usual cappuccino and assorted breads for breakfast instead of the traditional new year's soup "Ozou-ni" お雑煮 which we had for lunch. Although, as usual, we got the osechi box from Sushi Taro yesterday, we are not going to touch it until this evening. So the lunch consisted of dishes I made in addition to the soup.

I made this year's ozo-ni slightly differently. For the broth, I combined chicken and kelp/bonito broth and used sous-vide chicken breast. We had dikon, carrott, seasoned freeze-dried tofu ("koya-dofu"高野豆腐), shrimp, shiitake mushroom and snow peas. I precooked the chicken breast (sous vide), shrimp and snow peas separately and added them to the soup at the last moment just to warm them up. I added frozen "Yuzu" 柚子 skin  just before serving.

Although this was a lunch, we had a small cup of symbolic sake for good luck and health.  The sake cups are a gift from our sisiter-in-law in Japan many years ago and made of thinnest porcelain.

These are are the dishes I made for this year (all posted in the "Norio's New Year dishes" tab in the main blog page); salmon kelp roll 鮭の昆布巻き, herring roe in broth 数の子, Russian salmon marinade 鮭のロシア漬け(from left to right in the back), Date-maki omelet 伊達巻 and simmered freeze-dried "ko-ya"  tofu 高野豆腐 (front right to left).

Of course, I had to serve daikon in sweet vinegar or "daikon-namasu" 大根なます with boiled octopus leg and ikura salmon roe いくら.

So we did what we could to make an auspicious start for 2019 and we're looking forward to hitting the Osechi box this evening.