Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Chicken Miso Hot Pot

鶏みそ煮込み

DSC_6468Here we are in the middle of May, having iffy weather…particularly  last Saturday, Trying to decide whether I should grab the jacket or not when we head out the door…a bit nostalgic, almost melancholy for the perfect 82 degree Ishigaki weather.

This simple hot pot (basically miso soup with chicken) dish seems like it has comfort agent and is soulful…how blessed we are to have made the trip to my home country though…phew…to do list is getting lengthy and wish to linger in residue of the memories rather than to tackle it.

Our weekend is packed with errands and yard maintenance…dang! Those noxious weeds are overtaking our yard!…once again!

Ingredients and Instructions for enough for two people (Print Recipe Here)

  • 3 cups water
  • 2x3 sheet of dried kelp, wipe the surface with damp paper towel
  • 1-1/2 cups bonito flakes
  • 2 chicken thighs bone-in, skin-on, roughly cut
  • 3-4 Tablespoons white miso paste   Note: I used Koji Miso in the bottle – handy, has rich yet mild flavor.
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  • 3 cups Chinese cabbage roughly chopped
  • Seven spice red pepper (optional)DSC_6456
  1. Pour water in a stone pot or thick bottom pan. Soak kelp in the water for say…30 minutes? Put the pan on the burner and start to boil at medium heat. Remove the kelp and discard just before full boil.DSC_6439
  2. Put bonito flakes in mesh sieve which fits in the pan you’re using. Cook to extract flavor about 3-4 minutes. Lift mesh and press with wooden spatula to get the juice into the pan. Discard bonito flakes.DSC_6442DSC_6443
  3. Place cut chicken in the pot and cook for 30 minutes (or so) at lowest heat setting.
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  4. Dissolve miso paste into the pot, check the flavor, add more miso to suit your liking. Add water if it’s too salty but remember that the cabbage will dilute the saltiness later.
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  5. Mound the Chinese cabbage on but not disturb the chicken with stirring and cook at lowest heat until the cabbage eventually cooks down. Have as is or add a few drops of ponzu soy sauce, seven spice red pepper (optional).
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I bought the award winning  Nitamai(仁多米) rice at Shimane Fair (products on sale that were made in Shimane prefecture 島根県) at Japanese Supermarket. 2kg(4.41lb) for $15.99. Holy macaroni! Gleaming white rice I think has great flavor!DSC_6454

Here is the Shimane’s yurukyara (mascot), Shimanekko…right.

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More pictures from our trip – We took a walk near the Japanese style Inn we stayed at on the outskirts of Fukuoka.. We saw this orange tree in someone ‘s back yard…naturally we click, click over the fence…what kind of orange is that? asked my husband ‘I dunno…’ I crooked my head slightly to the left and appealed with my cuteness…just kidding, of course.IMG_3721

‘ May I help you?’ an older gentleman opened the back sliding door hearing our commotion. We’re just admiring your orange! said my husband  apologetic. ‘Would you like to have some? IMG_3722Why don’t you come in?  My husband and I looked at each other Really?..’Should we?’ my husband said telepathically. ‘He seems harmless’ I beamed back.  And he was. Musician/composer nearing his retirement, offered us coffee which we declined…his wife was in a care home, he was perhaps a bit lonely.  IMG_3723

We found out that this is called Amanatsu orange(甘夏みかん). He cut open the hard skin and put it in a bowl for us to have…interesting, cross between grapefruit and pomelo? He put four more in the plastic bag as a parting gift which we lugged all the way to Tokyo.

From Today’s TAPAS (#todaystapas)– As a Mother's Day gift, my daughter sent us a box full of beautiful apricots from Frog Hollow Farm. Apricots? Not really my usual go-to fruits… I made an apricot and sesame seed mini pie. It was very successful pie, this could be a future blog post…I was thinking…IMG_3937IMG_3939Thank you for your visit to my blog. Have a wonderful week!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Quaint little Izakaya

Restaurant Review

IMG_3683I peered over the shoulder of a stranger seated in the plane’s window side and the emerald sea jumped into my view below…first time in Ishigaki Island, a semi-tropical island, south of Okinawa. We were more than thrilled.

The parents of our daughter-in-law were waiting for us at the arrival gate, smiling, We waived our hands big through glass wall, I pointed to one of two baggage claim area and motioned that we had to get our luggage first. They nodded, still smiling. We spent three days with our new favorite people in this beautiful island.

That night we’re invited to their cozy restaurant Kurashita (蔵下), short walk  from the city hall, near shopping arcade. The interior of the restaurant has Izakaya feel though, geared toward French (but not limited) because of his extensive training as a French chef. He worked as a chief chef at a top floor restaurant in Ishigaki Nikko Hotel for more than 20 years before opening his own restaurant 10 years ago. This is truly a Mom and Pop shop, chef dad cooks and the mom works as a server.
I don’t remember the names of most dishes (sorry, my bad) but it was marvelous!.

First course – appetizer plate. lots of seafood, loved the sea grape.IMG_3608Sea grapes ( 海ぶどう) Close up!IMG_3609

Second course – seared beef saladIMG_3612

Third course –  Shell fish (see that shell in the pic, don’t remember the name though) gratinIMG_3613

Fourth course – Puff pastry over the soupIMG_3616IMG_3618

Fifth course -  fried sea weed accented this dish.IMG_3621

Sixth course – The chef got us remarkable Ishigaki beef so tender and flavorful! IMG_3623

Seventh course – Rice in soup, packed with umami!IMG_3625

Finale – Purple sweet potato Mt. Blanc cake! Delish!IMG_3627

They showered us with their generosity and kindness throughout our Ishigaki excursion which we’re very grateful! Meeting their group of friends since grade school added to the enjoyment.IMG_3626The next day, they took us to Yakiniku place for dinner and that was also delicious. Check out my new hair do…I stopped coloring my hair 8 months ago. Now my hair is 60% gray! Chic, right?Scan_20150511 (2)

At Yimamura (やいま村). Why don’t we take picture with traditional Okinawa costume? Ah…for real? Yes, really, let’s!  Scan_20150511

Although I maybe biased on the restaurant review (just a tad), I highly recommend this place if you ever have the chance to visit this fabulous Island.

Please visit a Travel blogger, Minoru’ Photo Diary to enjoy spectacular views of Ishigaki.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

White Chocolate Mousse

With Raspberry Napaju

DSC_6433For me, a good place to immerse myself in deep thought is definitely a book store especially a Japanese book store. If they have a place to sit, that will be ideal….I take some cook books and go over to the children’s book section to browse-study… I mean to get inspired for my next blog post until my behind gets sore from sitting on the tiny wooden chair…

I came across this dormy…I mean dreamy dessert recipe by Yuuko Kumagai in her cook book, “Decoration method for Petit Gâteau” But where can I buy the dome shaped mold?  I stopped by my other favorite (usually just looking) store, Sur-la-Table to see if they have one…they did! The store clerk asked me what I am going to do with it…uh…hopefully to make mousse? It looks awfully difficult…but I was optimistic! I also checked their clearance sale corner to make sure I don’t need anything else I can’t live without…I must say their clearance pricing is leaving much to be desired…oops, did I say that out loud?

I mostly followed her recipe except napaju (shiny transparent coating)

Ingredients and Instructions to fill 4 - 3 inch diameter molds (Print Recipe Here)

For Biscuit – skip this process if you’re using store purchased sheet cake.

Equipment: rimmed cookie sheet, parchment paper or printer paper. Hand held mixer. Note: I doubled the biscuit recipe for a 12x 9 inch sheet cake.

  • 1 egg white
  • 30g sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 30g low viscosity flour (薄力粉) sifted
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 F. Beat egg white until cloudy at low speed with hand held mixer then add sugar. Switch to high speed, beat until stiff peaks form.
  2. Add egg yolk and stir lightly with rubber spatula. Sprinkle in the flour. Scoop batter up from bottom and gently fold until the flour blends in.  Do not over mix.
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  3. Spread batter to 10x 8 freeform on the parchment paper, Place on cookie sheet then bake for 8 - 9 minutes. Remove from pan and cool. Wrap in plastic paper while the cake is slightly warm to prevent drying.DSC_6381DSC_6383

For Mousse

Equipment: 4 stainless steel molds   I used dome shape. Get ready for ice bath (ice and cold water in large bowl)

  • 200g milk
  • 30g sugar
  • 7g (1 packet) powder gelatin, soak in 50g of water -: pour water first in shallow bowl then sprinkle gelatin. DSC_6387
  • 100g White chocolate shaved and put in a *medium bowl (A) *1 size smaller than ice bath bowl
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  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1-2 drops orange extract or 1 Tablespoon Cointreau (optional)
  • 180g heavy cream, beat till very soft peak
  • 50g frozen berries mix combine with raspberry jam below
  • 15g Raspberry jam
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  1. Put milk and sugar in a small saucepan and heat till it just boils at medium heat. Remove from heat, add soaked gelatin and combine well.DSC_6388
  2. Pour half of the milk mixture in to the bowl of white chocolate A. Whisk well to combine. Add rest of milk mixture and mix well. Add lemon mixture and orange extract or Cointreau combine well.DSC_6389
  3. Carefully lower the white chocolate mixture bowl into the ice bath so that water will not get into the chocolate mixture.Whisk gently to thicken the chocolate mixture.
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  4. When the mixture is thick (but still loose), add very soft peak heavy cream in two separate stages. Continue to whisk till it thickens but is not solid and pourable. If it gets too thick then add heavy cream or milk (2-3 Tablespoons) to loosen.
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  5. Pour in the molds 2/3rd way up. Gently push1 Tablespoon of frozen berries mixed with raspberry jam in the center of mousse.Note; see the pic below, I put in too much! Aarrgh! Spoon in more mousse to cover the berries. Cut out biscuit cake one size smaller than mold. Place with the top side of the cake on bottom of the mousse, press. Put in the freezer until solid, 4-5 hours.
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  6. When the mousse is frozen solid, stick a fork in the middle. Grab the fork and directly heat the mold all around for about 20 seconds (the mold will start sweating). Support with the palm of your hand under the flat side of mold and slide the mousse out gently with the fork. Decorate with fruits, Chantilly cream, gurasaju or napaju (recipe below). Refrigerate for about 1 hour to defrost
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For raspberry napaju

Whisk 100g of raspberry jam and 1 Tablespoon hot water and 2 Tablespoons corn syrup. Strain through a mesh to make ultra smooth napaju. Set up a wire rack over the rimmed pan. Pour the napaju over the mousse. Keep in the refrigerator to defrost about 1 hour. Note: there are many napaju methods available online.  DSC_6416Mine looks less dreamy I know…I made a few mistakes but it was good challenge! And délicieux!

Last week’s  Today’s TAPAS Instagram posts (#todaystapas)  were slanted towered dessert…heck…probably not so good for you…The churros I ate with fruits for a balanced diet!IMG_3406 

Mango pudding topped with mango puree was for a friend who is on the mend. IMG_3502

We attended an Emergency Preparedness Fair coordinated by our church last Saturday. It was very educational event…how to store food and water safely, how much food we need to survive first 72 hours etc.…There were scratch and sniff card at the Northwest Gas Company booth… do you know how bad natural gas leaks smell?…gag…it wasn’t me!
I thought this Mt. St. Helen eruption photo from 1980 was something! IMG_3503

May 18th, 1980, my husband and I looked up the direction people were pointing out and saw the massive cloud of black smoke, visible in Portland… It was a really frightening sight.

Thank you for visiting, always grateful for your kind comments. Pleasure to know you through your fantastic blogs. I just want to say, keep going…you may not be aware of it but you are inspiring someone today with your message.

My husband and I are heading to Japan soon…see you in a few weeks.