Monday, March 3, 2014
This is a bowl of udon noodle soup from a counter in Arashiyama, near Kyoto. It was good and cheap, and I happily ate it for lunch often while I was in Japan last October.
But I want to tell you about one particular lunch in Tokyo that my mom and I will always remember. (One particular lunch where I didn't bring my camera.)
We got off the subway under Mitsukoshi,* an expensive department store in the chic Ginza shopping district. It was Sunday afternoon and we had clearly joined the rest of Japan, who were also there to browse and shop.
I remembered Lonely Planet saying there were good food halls under Japanese department stores, and sure enough, we soon found ourselves amongst dozens of vendors and thousands of hungry shoppers.
My stomach growled and I saw gyoza. Six hot little dumplings were quickly packed into a clear plastic container, along with chop sticks and dipping sauce.
I turned around and saw my favourite Japanese vegetable – the lotus root – in salad incarnation. A big scoop was pushed into another clear plastic box, and I knew we just needed a drink.
Sure enough, there was a bottle of special green tea that you had to shake to release the green tea into the water. We paid for it and started looking around for a place to sit.
There was literally no corner that wasn't taken up by vendors and shoppers standing and buying food. I asked the man who sold me the green tea and he said to take the elevator up to the ninth floor.
We found the microscopic elevator and a clutch of 15 other people already waiting for it. Growing hungrier by the minute, we resigned ourselves to it.
Eventually, the elevator came and we packed ourselves in, arms and bags held as close as possible. At the next floor, we packed in as many people again and all rode up to the ninth floor together.
It was well worth the wait and the cramped ride up. Suddenly, we were out on a rooftop terrace with park benches and children running across patches of grass.
We found a bench and tore into our ten-dollar lunch. The gyoza squirted hot pork juice and the lotus root crunched in our mouths. We watched the children and looked out at the sunny Tokyo skyline and it couldn't have been better.
All that to say: I have finally added my favourite Japanese restaurants to hop & go fetch it. If you're visiting Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima or Kasugai, these were my favourite places to eat.
* It appears that Mitsukoshi started in 1673 to sell kimonos. It sure sells a lot more than that now.
one year ago: panna cotta with red wine syrup
two years ago: caramel chocolate mousse
three years ago: grand forks borscht (the most popular recipe on this site!)
four years ago: yellow split pea dahl
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Saturday breakfast was suddenly interrupted.
There we were, lazily rolling crêpes with maple syrup, and then maybe with bakeapple syrup or Saskatoon berry syrup. We were piling warm raspberries and blueberries on top. We were cutting the bacon and sailing it through the extra syrup.
And then –
I really try not to let taking photos get in the way of good, hot meals, but I was just struck by the fact that I hadn't shared my gluten-free crêpe recipe with you yet.
And that needed to be rectified before they were all eaten.
It was almost like a commercial break.
I think I had the photos done in about 30 seconds, and we were back to the rolling and syrup pouring.
I'd like to thank my dad for the original recipe, which had wheat flour. Dad would make these crêpes Sundays for lunch out of the cookbooks that contained all his breakfast specialities, like waffles and pancakes and a deep Swedish pancake.
These crêpes are lovely weekend morning food, because they're quick and roll up perfectly with just about any syrup you can think of.
Now: back to breakfast.
one year ago: korean food in jasper
two years ago: eating out in vancouver, vancouver island and edmonton
three years ago: turnip puff to the rescue!
four years ago: olympic nanaimo bars
makes about 15 9-inch crêpes
35 g. chickpea and garbanzo bean flour
15 g. sorghum flour
35 g. brown rice flour
35 g. tapioca starch
35 g. potato starch
1 1/3 c. milk
2 tbsp. oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
butter to cook the crêpes
Heat a cast iron skillet or your crêpe maker to medium or 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Whisk the flours and starches together. Set aside.
In another bowl, beat the eggs, milk and oil together. Add the flour slowly and blend well. Whisk in the salt and vanilla.
Melt a pat of butter and spread it around your pan. Ladle in enough batter that you can tip the pan and swirl it to cover (that's about 1/4 cup for my 9-inch skillet). After a minute or two, the crêpe should look cohesive and slightly drier. Wiggle your flipper under and edge and turn it over. Let it cook another 30 seconds to one minute, and remove to a plate to keep warm.
Repeat with the butter and make your next crêpe. And so on until you're out of batter. Serve.
*If you'd like to make this recipe with regular wheat flour, just substitute 1 cup (140 g.) wheat flour for the gluten-free flours.
Thursday, February 13, 2014
I am very picky when it comes to macaroons.
In fact, I often won't even try them because when I do, I find that the coconut is too dry and the whole cookie is too meh to fill the cookie-shaped hole in my stomach.
My poor husband has to eat them all the time because they're often the only gluten-free cookie he can get at a coffee shop or bakery. While I'm happy he has a cookie option, I'm sorry they're macaroons.
Which is why you could now knock me over with a feather, because all I can think about is when I can reasonably make another batch of these macaroons. I even bought an extra can of condensed milk and two bags of flaked coconut at the grocery store last weekend so that I'd be ready.
It all started when my friends Corey and Gina brought some over for a little party celebrating Scott's 40th. I didn't get to try any that night, but I stashed a few before I sent them home. After all, I had never eaten anything Corey baked that wasn't amazing.
The next morning, I thought I'd try one. It was so good that I ate another.
That was before noon. I ate another one right after lunch and then cut myself off.
The macaroons were fudgy and intensely chocolate-y. In fact, it was almost like eating a really good chocolate that was chewy and the size of cookie. You can see why I fell hard.
I begged Corey for the recipe and made them as soon as I could. So should you.
This is a macaroon I can whole-heartedly recommend. I would never feel sorry for anyone who had to eat this macaroon.
In fact, I would ask him to share it.
P.S. It's dollop of cream's four-year anniversary! I am going to make more macaroons to celebrate.
one year ago: chocolate ginger cookies and dutch babies
two years ago: gumdrop cake
three years ago: whisky marmalade and bacon-wrapped dates with almonds and olives
four years ago: muesli, lemon loaf and olympic nanaimo bars
chocolate coconut macaroons
adapted from diana rattray
bakes about 30 cookies
1 can (398 g./14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
3/4 c. (72 g./2.5 oz.) cocoa powder
2 tbsp. vegetable shortening
1/4 tsp. salt
2 2/3 c. (227 g./8 oz.) flaked coconut*
1 tsp. vanilla extract
a handful of chocolate chips to top the cookies
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Stir condensed milk, cocoa, shortening and salt together in the top of a double boiler, or bowl suspended over boiling water. Stir often until it's all melted together. Take it off the heat.
Mix the coconut and vanilla in well.
Drop rounded tablespoons of dough about 2.5 cm or 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheets. Press about 3 chocolate chips onto the top of each cookie.
Bake for about 12 – 14 minutes, until the cookies look set. Let cool on a wire rack.
*I'm really into flaked coconut right now because I like the texture so much better than shredded coconut. But I'm sure shredded would also work. Flaked should be right next to the shredded at your grocery store.
Monday, January 27, 2014
Well, I think you know how I feel about retro recipes.*
So how about some nuts and bolts?
My mother-in-law made a big batch of these at Christmas and every time she put a bowl out, we'd dip in and keep coming back until, in very short order, the bowl was completely empty.
I don't think I should even contemplate how many I ate on our day trip down to Seattle . . . but let me tell you, they are a perfect car snack. They're not messy, but they're super tasty and you've got at least two food groups with all the cereals and peanuts.
My mother-in-law made them gluten-free and my husband was so pleased that I knew I'd have to repeat them again soon at home.
And you know what?
They're a cinch. Basically, just mix a bunch of cereal with some oil and spices and bake.
I couldn't resist sampling a few before they went in the oven and they were darn good, but what happened in the oven was magical. The bolts slowly crisped and transformed themselves from separate cereals into one golden, cohesive snack mix.
I know you might be skipping down to the recipe now and might be astonished by the amount of oil called for . . .
What can I say?
This is a retro snack. I actually cut the oil from two cups to one and a half and it still tasted great. And this recipe makes a tonne of nuts and bolts (think: two of your biggest Tupperware containers overflowing).
So I don't think there's very much oil per serving. And the oil is, I truly believe, essential to create that lovely, golden, crisp finish.
Just try it. All the cool retro kids are doing it.
* That would be very, very positive.
one year ago: pan de yuca (colombian tapioca cheese buns), carrot and fennel soup
two years ago: tomato sauce with onion and butter, lemon syllabub
three years ago: naomi's granola, rosemary gruyère baked eggs
nuts and bolts
this makes a lot of nuts and bolts – enough to fill an industrial-size cookie sheet
all of these cereals – Chex, Cheerios and pretzels – are available gluten-free
1/2 – 3/4 box Chex*
1 box Cheerios
1 bag pretzels
1 1/2 c. neutral oil, such as grapeseed or canola
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. celery salt
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 can roasted, salted peanuts
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour the cereals onto an industrial-size cookie sheet, or even two if you don't like nuts and bolts escaping onto the counter as you carefully mix them.
Whisk the oil with the Worcestershire sauce, celery salt and garlic powder. Alternately pour and mix them with the cereal until it's all mixed in. Don't worry if some spices are hanging out at the bottom of the bowl. Just scrape them out and put them on the cereal. This is a very forgiving recipe.
Stir every 15 minutes or so and bake for a total of two hours. When cool, toss with peanuts and eat.
*I used three-quarters of a 365 g. box because I love Chex. But the original recipe called for half a box.
Sunday, January 5, 2014
Happy New Year!
And happy time of the bean. In the post-sugar-and-gravy-haze of the holidays, I always like to give you at least one new bean recipe before I go back to dolloping cream over everything.
Last year, it was black-eyed peas with kale and bacon (and a near identical photo – fancy that!).
I seem to have skipped a year in 2012 (it was a leap year, after all), but I did bring you the über-healthy and über-tasty glory bowl.
In 2011, I brought you glorious hummus.
And in 2010, I brought you shortbread. Hmmm . . . maybe I'm not quite as consistent as I think.
Anyway, back to this year's bean dish.
Have you ever eaten a cannellini bean?
I believe it is Italian for "buttery, wonderful bean." That might not be a direct translation.
The cannellini bean is essential for this dish because once it's fully cooked, it magically maintains its nice bean-y texture but also emits a kinds of creamy bean-y goodness. This works very well when you finish it with slivers of golden fennel and carrot that have been softened in good olive oil.
A bit of fresh sage perks it all up, as does a splash of white wine at the very end.
I should tell you that the original recipe calls for both fresh sage and fresh rosemary, but my grocery budget doesn't permit me to buy both. I find a shake of dried marjoram stands in nicely for the fresh rosemary. (The sage is also handy to have on hand to add to brown-butter gnocchi for another meal.)
Anyway, whatever herbs you use and however you want to adjust this, it all cooks up and blends together so well that you will be eating it for many Januaries to come.
|Bonus photo! This snowflake just arrived in the mail from friends in Germany.|
Isn't it lovely?
tuscan white beans
adapted from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa: How Easy is That? and Ezra Pound Cake
454 g. (1 lb.) dried white cannellini beans
1/4 c. olive oil
4 c. fennel, chopped (about 2 large fennels)
2 c. carrot, chopped (about 4 carrots)
1 tbsp. garlic, minced
2 – 3 c. chicken stock
1 tbsp. fresh sage leaves, minced
2 tsp. kosher salt (or 1 tsp. regular salt)
1/2 tsp. freshly-ground pepper
1/2 – 2/3 c. Asiago, Parmesan, or Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
splash of white wine
(optional) couple shakes of dried marjoram powder
(optional) 1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, minced
You have two options for soaking the beans: slow and quick.
Slow option: Cover the beans with water at least two inches higher than the beans. Cover and refrigerate overnight or 8 hours.
Quick option: Cover the beans with water at least two inches higher than the beans. Bring to a boil. Turn off the heat, cover and let sit for 1 hour.
Strain and rinse the beans. Put them back in the pot and add about twice as much water as beans. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncover until they are tender, about 45 minutes (depending how old your beans are).
In the meantime, heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the olive oil. Stir in the fennel and carrot. Cook 8 – 10 minutes, until tender. Stir in the garlic and cook 1 more minute.
Once the beans have cooked, strain them and add them to the vegetables.
Add 2 cups of the stock, sage, salt and pepper. Also add the marjoram or rosemary, if using. Bring to a simmer and cover. Stir occasionally and simmer for 15 – 30 minutes, until the beans are a very tender and a bit creamy. Add more stock if you'd like it a bit saucier.
Add the wine. Turn the heat off. Stir in the cheese. Taste for salt and pepper (you'll probably need more.) Serve hot with a piece of crusty bread or cheesy toast.
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Growing up, I remember sugar cookies.
My mom and I would roll them out into bells and stars, and then paint them with a lemon glaze. The best part was watching the red and green sprinkles wash into the glaze like a water colour painting.
In the meantime, my dad would be down in the cold room, dousing a fruitcake with dark rum every few days in the couple months before Christmas.
When Christmas finally came, we'd pull out tins and make plates of sugar cookies, Christmas cake, brandy beans, dominosteine, stollen and mandarin orange pieces. For about two weeks, we would make a plate almost every afternoon around coffee time.
Now, Scott and I have different cookies, but we usually keep the brandy beans, the dominosteine and the mandarins on the plate. Sometimes, we add walnut slugs or shortbread or Mozartkugeln. This year, it's pecan puffs and – if I have time – these buttermilk cookies, which remind me of the sugar cookies of my childhood.
My friend Amanda gave me this recipe for pecan puffs in Victoria a few years ago. They were her mother's cookies, she reports, and she likes to make them to remember her mother. So we're calling these Jane's pecan puffs, in honour of Amanda's mother.
I am sure Jane was a wonderful baker because these puffs are fragrant with pecans and so delicate that they almost burst into sleigh bells and all things magic at Christmas as soon as they hit your tongue.
I hope you have time to make at least one batch of cookies this holiday season. I have been putting all my energy into planning special radio shows to raise money for the food bank, but these cookies help me step away from it all and remember that Christmas is indeed coming.
one year ago: hot lemon honey tea
two years ago: spiced ginger mounds and cheesy grapes
three years ago: butter lettuce for a break and tipsy rum balls
jane's pecan puffs
1 1/2 c. pecans
1/2 c. butter
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt (fancy, if you have it*)
1 c. cake flour
70 g. rice flour
35 g. cornstarch
18 g. potato starch
18 g. tapioca starch
icing sugar, for rolling
Grease two cookie sheets or line them with parchment paper.
Grind the pecans in a food processor (not a blender) until small but not until they become pecan butter. Set aside. If using gluten-free flours, mix them together well. Stir salt into the cake flour or gluten-free flours and set aside.
Cream sugar and butter. Stir in the ground pecans and vanilla. Stir in the flour-salt mixture. Roll into small balls (about 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter) and place on prepared cookie sheets. If using gluten-free flours, chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the cookies for 23 to 30 minutes, depending on size. Their bottoms should become lightly golden. Once they are cool enough to touch but still somewhat warm, carefully roll in icing sugar.
*I used Maldon sea salt flakes and found it worked very nicely with the pecans.
Sunday, December 1, 2013
May I introduce you to my new favourite dip?
Only . . . it's not quite a dip.
It's more like a soft, plump piece of the most flavourful sun-dried tomato you can imagine hanging out next to a golden piece of garlic that spreads like butter when it hits your cracker.
The sun-dried tomato and the garlic have a bit of very good olive oil* to keep them fluid, and that's it.
I like to serve this concoction with a little wooden spoon from Japan that allows it to work in its magical twilight between liquid and solid.
You spoon it onto your cracker or crisp bread, take a bite before the oil dribbles too far down your chin, and head back for more. (But someone else has now got the spoon, so you also get to learn patience. Bonus.)
This sort-of-dip has an unusual technique. First you let the garlic soften and get golden in that good olive oil, then stir in the spices, then a bit of plum and balsamic vinegars. Finally, you stir in some plump rehydrated tomatoes.
All those additions quickly make friends and that humble sun-dried tomato becomes (so I think) the very essence of what a sun-dried tomato should be.
Many, many thanks to my friend Haruko who first introduced me to this recipe. She brought it to book club and I begged for the recipe. At the next meeting, she came with a hand-written purple recipe card.
Haruko calls this Annie's Sun-Dried Tomatoes, because her dear friend Annie gave her the recipe. Turns out, it's originally from Wilderness Cuisine by Carole Latimer. (You better believe I am going to request Wilderness Cuisine at the library right now. There. Done.)
I think this is the kind of recipe that gets around a lot between friends.
* I like like this Sicilian olive oil, which is surprisingly reasonable for its big flavour.
one year ago: cheese ball!
two years ago: spiced ginger mounds
three years ago: walnut slugs and spicy cajun almonds
four years ago: seafood chowder for a cold autumn day
annie's sun-dried tomatoes
slightly adapted from wilderness cuisine by carole latimer
yields about 1 cup
3/4 c. sun-dried tomatoes (dry)
6 tbsp. good olive oil
7 – 10 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. coriander
1/4 tsp. salt
5 whole peppercorns
2 tbsp. ume (Japanese plum) or rice vinegar
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Cut the garlic into thick strips (in half for a small clove, maybe 4 or 5 for a big clove). Gently heat a pan over low heat. Add the olive oil and garlic and cook for about 15 minutes. Make sure they're not burning: you just want them to slowly get golden.
While the garlic is cooking, bring the sun-dried tomatoes to a boil in a small pot with enough water for them to swim around. Let them boil for a couple minutes to rehydrate. Drain. Put the sundried tomatoes on a cutting board so they can cool down a bit. Once they are cool enough to touch, cut them into long ragged strips.
Measure the spices and add to the garlic once it's golden. Stir and cook five more minutes. Add the vinegars and cook two more minutes. Stir in the cut sun-dried tomatoes. Serve with crackers or crisp bread, or set aside to serve at room temperature. Store in the fridge if leaving out for more than a couple hours. Set out an hour ahead of time to bring to room temperature.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
|Breakfast in Hiroshima|
I can't think of just the right words to summarize eating in Japan, so let me share a few things I do remember.
I ate a lot more noodles than I expected – and I loved them.
The fish was usually raw – and always perfectly fresh and tender.
The sake was hot or cold – and both were good.
I am yet another foreigner who doesn't like natto (fermented beans) – and I can't even handle looking at that slimy texture.
I learned to drink green tea like water – and I miss it now.
I continued my new love affair with soft tofu – and am now determined to make it at home.
I live in Alberta and I don't want to be unpatriotic, but I ate the best steak of my life at the New Otani Hotel in Tokyo – and can't wait to go back for more.
Let me show you the rest . . .
One morning, these sweet potatoes showed up in the yard at our host family's house in Kasugai. I believe they came from Hamako's brother's garden. I never saw grass in between houses in the city; the land was always used for vegetable gardens and persimmon trees.
Hamako packed these snack bags for us on our last day. We happily munched our way through them on the bullet train.
We had our nicest hotel breakfasts in Hiroshima, looking out at the bus stop and scores of school children rushing to the bus with all their umbrellas up.
After making my way through the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, all I wanted was a cup of hot tea.
I asked at the little shop inside and the server pointed to what looked like a refrigerated case of tea bottles behind me.
I said, "No, I would like hot tea."
She nodded and I gave in. She reached into the case and handed me a bottle that was hot. I still don't know how. I sat at a little table and drank it, looking through the rain at school children visiting the Phoenix tree that survived the atomic bomb.
This was just one small part of lunch at a restaurant on Miyajima.
From my seat, I could see out the windows, to the rainy ocean and rising land beyond.
While my mom finished her shopping on Miyajima, I ducked out of the rain into a little bakery.
Miyajima is famous for these little maple-shaped cookies filled with bean paste. They were only about 90 cents and I ordered two: one for me and one for mom. I sat down to eat mine and they brought me green tea. It was exactly what that rainy afternoon called for.
A market stall just before entering the Nishiki food market in Kyoto. I do believe we ate daikon radish every day in Japan.
Lunch at Arashiyama: a big bowl of udon noodle soup and green tea.
On our last morning in Tokyo, more than a hundred people were lined up for breakfast at the hotel.
We headed outside and found a little Thai restaurant. We sat outside at a rickety table and ate green coconut bread, ricotta pancakes and mango as we watched thousands of people cross the intersection from the subway station on their way to work.
I was reminded once again of a very important Japanese word: oishii. Delicious.
one year ago: potato chip cookies
two years ago: roasted tomato soup and asiago lace
three years ago: butter tarts