Sunday, April 28, 2019

Easter breakfast 2019 イースター朝ごはん2019

This is a sort of regular menu for Easter breakfast. My wife baked hot cross buns for Easter this year as usual but without the representative icing cross. Instead, she put icing on the side so that we could "smear" it on the bun however and wherever we wanted.  In addition, she made a new cream cheese based icing. She also has a collection of "bunny" plates (bunny seen here peeking out from behind the food) that add to the occasion.

To complete the spring theme, I made creamy scrambled eggs which was supposedly made by Chef Patrick O'Connor of Inn at Little Washington when Queen Elizabeth visited some years ago. Since I did not have green aspraragus, I garnished with blanched sugar snaps and rapini.

The hot cross buns are made with a recipe from King Arthur flour.

Instead of confectionary sugar icing, she made cream cheese based icing with honey and cinnamon.  This was much better and much easier to handle.

Ingredients for the icing:
1 package of Philadelphia cream cheese
1 tsp cinnamon powder
3 tsp. honey
3 tbs. butter

Directions: Cream the butter in a mixer. Add the cream cheese and mix until it is fluffy. Add the honey and cinnamon until completely blended.

This is not as sweet as a sugar based icing and it comes out like a spread so it is easier to use on the muffin. The cream cheese gives it a slight tartness offset by the honey. The cinnamon goes so well with the spices used in the hot cross buns. This is certainly something worth getting up for in the morning.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Chicken tulip drummets with Gorgonzola dip 手羽元チューリップとゴルゴンゾーラディップ

I have not made "Teba-gyoza" 手羽餃子 for some time but recently when I did a barbecue pork roast in the Weber grill, I also made teba gyoza.  I had to remove the drummets to make the teba gyouza, so, I used them to make these tulip of drummets.  Just as a minor variation, I marinated the tulips in "Shoyu ko-ji" 醤油麹 overnight before baking.  I did not make my own Shoyu koji but I used a store-bought package.

As before, I coated the tulips with yellow cornmeal and baked them in our toaster oven on convection mode at 450F for 15 minutes.

My wife made Gorgonzola dip for this, which worked very well.

For the Gorgonzola dip

1 cup blue cheese (gorgonzola) crumbles (about 4.5 oz)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
3 tbsp buttermilk (or however much is needed to get the desired consistency)
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Just mix and refrigerate before serving.

I served the chicken tulips with carrot and celery sticks. Deep frying may be better but high temp baking made it rather crispy on the outside. The dip went very well.  (We decided that if it was made with a looser consistency it would also make a nice dressing for salads). We are not sure that the "Shoyu koji" marinade made a big difference but the meat was reasonably tender.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Beginning of Hanami 2019 花見の始まり2019

Last year, in a nor'easter (winter hurricane) we lost the 30 year old cherry tree that formed a canopy over our deck and was the foundation of our hanami celebrations. Although we immediately replaced the destroyed tree with a new one it is "just a kid" (only about 7 feet tall). Although it is blooming it's little heart out it has some serious growing to do before it replaces the gap left by the tree that was destroyed.  Luckily we have two other cherry trees which were growing on the property when we moved in.  Some years all the cherry trees sing as a chorus; blooming all at the same time. At the other extreme, some years they perform sequential solos.  This year the small native cherry tree bloomed first. Last weekend, it was in it's full glory. Then the "kid" joined in for a duet. We are waiting to see when the last, oldest tree, will decide to make its voice heard.

The cherry tree blossoms were accompanied by the vibrant pink  of our plum tree. It usually blooms much earlier sometimes even in February. We actually have pictures from previous years of the blossoms covered in snow.  Between the cherry trees and the plum tree we decided there were enough pink blossoms around for us to have our first hanami 花見 or cherry (cum plum) blossom gazing.

So, our hanami appetizers for the evening are shown below. I served 5 appetizers in a 5 well rectangular plate. All except for the asparagus spears with sesame dressing アスパラの胡麻よごし are store bought. I added two more plates of appetizers rounding out the 5 to 7. My wife chose pink sake cups for both of us to commemorate the cherry blossoms.

The first two dishes are our usual ika-shiokara イカの塩辛 and ika-mentai いか明太子.

For the dishes shown below I blanched the asparagus and served only the tips for this dish. The sesame dressing was made using white sesame paste (from the pouch) and grated roasted sesame seeds, soy sauce, rice vinegar and sugar.  On the right is "spicy baby clams" which I bought in a plastic container from our Japanese grocery store. It is sort of Chinese flavor with rings of red "togarashi" red pepper and wakame (the root portion). It was quite good and not too spicy if you avoid the red pepper.

The last dish shown here (on the right) is Chinese-style squid salad which also came in a plastic container. All these small dishes were perfect for sake.

I also served my dashi-maki Japanese omelet だし巻き卵, Campari tomato, blanched broccoli and braised cauliflower.

The last dish is boiled octopus leg thinly sliced with su-miso dressing 酢味噌, thinly sliced and salted  cucumber and topped with "ikura" salmon roe.

These were just enough appetizers to honor the first hanami of the year accompanied by sips of cold sake.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Shumai V2 焼売再挑戦

When I tried to make shumai 焼売 the first time, things did not go well. The skin did not adhere to the meat filling. In an effort to salvage the situation, I ended up converting the shumai into wanton noodle soup. So, this is the second try at making shumai. This time I was more careful to wrap the filling and pinched the sides of the wonton skins. It was a qualified success. I made this as a lunch over the weekend.

The wonton skins adhered much better than in the previous version.

I should still try harder. The top portion was stuck together but toward the bottom was a bit loose.

I served it with rice vinegar with white pepper and soy sauce.

As a side, I served cucumber and tomato  (skinned and  cut Campari tomato) mixed with masago (small hatchlings - which was previously frozen) dressed with sweet vinegar.

I very quickly made the filling with ground pork, chopped ginger, and chopped scallion seasoned with sesame oil, salt and pepper. I just wanted to try making the shumai again; I was challenged to make the wonton skins stick better. I was more careful to press the side to the filling and also let it sit for 10 minutes before steaming hoping the moisture from the filling would permeate the wonton skin.

I also got a new bamboo steamer (#1) with a perforated parchment paper insert(#2) which prevents the steamed items from sticking to the bottom of the steaming tray. With this new contraption, I could space the shumai so that they did not touch and would not stick to each other (#3). I steamed the shumai for 10 minutes and they came out OK. They at least did not stick to the bottom of the tray or each other.

Although I still need to refine the way I form shumai, I'm getting there. Or maybe, I should stick to making gyouza.