Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Desserts for Bunco Game Party

Some friends of ours have a fun tradition at Christmas Evening to do Bunco Game. You can play Bunco anytime but this is special Bunco game because you could get a prize. Prizes consist of cash or gift cards attached to candies or sometimes a can of food for joke. Each of us supplies one prize to party and when you win at the table, you could trade with person on your left (loser). Most of the time you could see the prize so you easily could decide if you want to trade or not. But sometimes prizes are all wrapped up and you just have to take a chance. Hoping that it’s nice enough to gamble on.

The hosts requested me to bring “Crostata alla crema di cioccoalata con pistacchi siciliani” they called it ‘Chocolate pie’ Whatever! I made it before for other occasion (See my old post ‘Tale of two desserts) and they must have liked it. I’m honored! I went all the way and made the crust from scratch this time.


Somehow, the crust shrunk in oven and did not have enough height to hold all the chocolate custard. I yelled to my husband for help and he quickly brought frozen pie shell from freezer and started baking the pie shell. My hero!

Rare cheese aux Framboise DSC_0104

Two hours before the party I began to doubt that two chocolate pies would be enough. So I made the Rare cheese aux framboise (French for raspberry) cupcake style also (because I wanted to use cute Christmas cupcake case). The base is same cake (see my post ’WILLSEEYOUAGAIN Party’) minus cocoa powder.

Rare cheese filling

  • cream cheese  200g
  • water 4 Table spoons
  • unflavored gelatin 1 packet
  • 2 large egg yolk
  • 2 large egg white
  • sugar 40g
  • milk 150 cc
  • heavy cream 100g
  • 1 lemon rind grated
  • lemon juice 1 tablespoon
  • rum flavoring 1 teaspoon
  1. Whisk cream cheese till creamy. Set it aside
  2. In a small sauce pan, mix well: egg yolk, sugar and milk over double boiler
  3. Dissolve gelatin in water and put in egg mixture, whisk well to combine.
  4. Cook and stir until gelatin is completely dissolved / melted.
  5. Remove from head and when the egg mixture has cooled a little bit, add cream cheese and mix well. Set it aside.
  6. Whip heavy cream in mixer to soft peak stage. Add egg white and whip again to soft peaks. Then add lemon rind, lemon juice and rum. Mix well.
  7. Combine cream cheese mixture and heavy cream mixture. Mix well until creamy
  8. Scoop out some of the center of the cupcake and spoon in the cream cheese mixture as much as you could. Chill until loosely set.

Framboise sauce

Thin seedless raspberry jam (about 4 tablespoons) with water (about 2 tablespoons) and add half packet of unflavored gelatin. Spoon on top of loosely set cream cheese on the cupcakes. Chill until set. (If using seeded raspberry jam, strain through fine mesh to remove seeds.)


Total of 18 games we played; I won 11 rounds, got three 5’s and 2 Buncos. I got a unknown amount gift card and  a box of Junior Mints. My husband won’t tell me how many he won but he held onto the mystery gift, ended up with Lava Lamp. Yay!  He took it to his office and put it on the shelf next to his magic 8 ball. Don’t you love his fancy Hawaiian Shirt?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Eve Dinner For Two


Main DSC_0048

I know this bird looks big on the plate. I wanted some other bird – Dan… What was his name? The 1st Bush’s vice president, embarrassed by a misspelled potato… He looks like Robert Redford at a glance… Oh, yes, Quail. Sadly I can’t find it. So I settled for Cornish Game Hen instead. It worked better, with the left overs I made sandwich and chicken soup later. Christmas next day will be spent at a friend’s house for Bunco game so we decided to have a quiet Christmas Eve at home, dinner and watching Japanese TV show.
  • 2 quail, thoroughly cleaned and dried inside and out
  • 2 thin slices of prosciutto*
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 cup fresh sage leaves
  • Olive oil
  • Salt, pepper
  1. Finely chop the garlic cloves and sage together
  2. Rub a little salt and pepper on the inside of each bird and place some the garlic/sage mixture in each.
  3. Wrap a slice of prosciutto around each quail making sure the breast is covered and secure with a toothpick.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a fry pan and carefully brown the birds on all sides over medium heat. Remove to an ovenproof baking dish.
  5. Cook covered in a preheated 390 degree oven for about 30 minutes, basting with pan juices halfway through cooking.
  6. remove the cover about 10 minutes before the end to brown the birds.
  7. Remove the toothpicks and serve.
*We didn’t have any prosciutto so we skipped that part.


  • Phyllo dough
  • Goat cheese
  • Grapes, cut in half
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Melted butterDSC_0035DSC_0037DSC_0040
  1. Take a 7x7 square of phyllo dough and brush with melted butter. Place another sheet on top and brush again. Repeat 2 more times.
  2. Place grapes, basil leaves and cheese in the middle of the sheets.
  3. Fold the corners together and pinch the sides of the neck to make it like a closed drawstring sack.
  4. Drizzle melted butter over the top.
  5. Bake on a wire rack placed in a pan in a 350 degree oven until the top is brown.
  6. Make a sauce of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper.


    • Kale – tear into small pieces.
    • Apple – core, peel, slice and put in lemon water to prevent browning.
    • Dried cranberries reconstituted by soaking in warm water for 5 to 10 minutes
    • Pine nuts – lightly toasted.
    Toss all ingredients in a bowl with olive oil, salt and lemon juice. Mix until all are coated. This recipe is from a friend. I like it because it has the Christmas colors. 
    We enjoyed a quiet evening. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.

    Tuesday, December 21, 2010


    My friend is moving to Utah. She is the second Japanese friend to move there. What is so special about Utah? Besides the fact that our church Prophet lives there, the grand Salt Lake City Temple, the awesome Tabernacle Choir, great skiing in Park City Utah, the natural wonder of Zion National Park or the beautiful St. George Temple where my husband and I were married? Why do you want to move there? A place where there is no ocean near by ,,,, Duh, her husband’s new job is in Salt Lake City. That’s a good reason to move. So we had a ‘won’t say good bye but we will see you again someday party”. Another Japanese friend opened up her house for this occasion. Her house is filled with Japanese artifacts and she even had her dining room converted to a kotatsu(コタツ)room with tatami(畳) floor and gorgeous kimono display on the wall gives you sense of being in Japan.
    Soon to be Utahan, me in the middle, host
    We had Nabe ryori(鍋料理) which you cook any kind of meat, fish, vegetable and tofu in dashi broth in big stone pot. This style of cooking is a staple in winter to fend off cold. Indeed we made ourselves comfortable from warmth of kotatsu and our conversation.
    P1010380Yose nabe (よせ鍋)
    P1010381Matsumae zuke (松前漬け)
    P1010382Kiriboshi daikon(切干大根)
    P1010377Kale salad- Host’s black dish make this colorful salad pop!
    P1010389Anpan アンパン (bread with sweet red bean filling)ー This is my departing friends specialty. The best!

    P1010374And my contribution to the party- chocolate chestnut cup cake. I think I created a good likeness of Japanese cake. Very light chiffon cup cake had my husband’s seal of approval. Chestnut cream was a struggle to make but you can make different topping.

    Chiffon cake – makes 12+

    • Flour 50g
    • Corn starch 20g
    • Baking powder 1/2 teaspoon
    • Unsweetened cocoa powder 2 Tablespoons
    • 4 large egg whites
    • 4  large egg yolks, beat well
    • Sugar 100g
    • Oil 50CC
    • Milk 50CC
    • Rum flavor extract 1 teaspoon
    • Vanilla 1/2 teaspoon
    1. In medium bowl, combine flour, corn starch, baking powder and cocoa. Sift flour mixture three times, set aside.
    2. In electric mixer, beat egg white until frothy.
    3. Pour sugar in a little at a time, continue beating.
    4. Pour in egg yolks and beat well until soft peaks form.
    5. Sprinkle flour mixture in and mix well at low speed.
    6. Pour in oil and milk and mix well.
    7. Pour the batter into cup cake pan lined paper cup.
    8. Bake at 320F for about 20 minutes.



    Chestnut cream

    • Chestnuts – I used 1/3 of William Sonoma jar chestnut
    • Half and half or milk
    • Cream 300g
    • Rum flavor extract 1/2 teaspoon
    • Sugar
    1. In food processer, process chest nuts until fine.
    2. Pour half and half or milk slowly to find right constancy, I used about 3/4 cup milk to reach softened cream cheese consistency.
    3. Add sugar a little at a time - about 2 tablespoons or more to your taste
    4. Add rum flavor extract. Mix well to smooth texture.
    In clean, dry bowl beat the heavy cream with an electric mixer to soft peak. Add chestnut cream (I strained it thru a fine mesh to make it smoother) a little at a time (you don’t have to use all of the chestnut cream in this) to your liking. Add more sugar if you like. Beat well until peak form.


    Put one chestnut (jar chestnut cooked in sweet syrup available in Asian market) on top of the chocolate chiffon cup cake then pipe the chestnut cream around it to make mount. Shave bar chocolate on top of it. Enjoy.
    I am grateful for her friendship, the good times we shared and all those temple trips we made. Thanks for the memories. Good luck in Utah, my friend. Just don’t like it there too much. Oregon is ichiban.!cid_image003_jpg@01CBA0F2                                          Soon to be Utahan, me, another friend

    Saturday, December 18, 2010

    Clam Sauce Spaghetti

    My husband as cook                              
    DSC_0053In our kitchen,I believe I’m executive chef. He however has great skill in certain area of cooking. Our children attest to that, so I guess he will be my sous chef. He usually cooks from memory and he is sucker for carbo loaded foods. He wash dishes too. I’m so glad I don’t have to do every thing.
    My top FIVE of his dishes are:
    1. Fried scone – Warm scone drizzled with honey is very comforting. He will prepare this in bread machine early in the morning, so we could have for breakfast, What a nice guy!
    2. Real cream cheese cheesecake with whole wheat crust bottom- It tastes better the next day.
    3. Crepe- Whenever our children come home, this is his staple to make for breakfast.  Chocolate sauce, fruits and whipped heavy cream; roll it up like tube and eat it. This is great stuff.
    4. Cinnamon Rolls- He will make this when someone in his office has a birthday or if there is a long meeting planned that day or just if someone in his office asks him for it. He will make it the night before, let the dough raise in the refrigerator over night and wake up early to bake. Their appreciation is shown by the empty dish.
    5. Clam sauce spaghetti- We always have cans of clam in our pantry for this quick and easy yet satisfying dish. I requested this the other night because I needed a break. Our son loves it, not so much for my daughter. She and sea food are just friends.
    DSC_0066He does not have recipe but this is how he makes it
    • Put some butter in a sauce pan
    • Add some crushed garlic and sauté until soft
    • Add some sake and simmer to remove the alcohol
    • Add crushed sweet basil
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • Open two cans of chopped or minced clams and pour in the juice reserving the clams
    • Dissolve a couple of tablespoons of corn starch in a couple of cups of milk or half-and-half
    • When the clam juice mixture begins to boil stir in the milk
    • Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick
    • Turn off the heat and add in the reserved clams
    • Add parsley if desired

    The very next day, I made clam sauce gratin from the left over clam sauce. Just pour the clam sauce over cooked rice in an oven safe dish. Grate lots of parmesan cheese and panko and dots with butter. Bake in the oven at 375 F until bubbly on the edges and golden color at the top. Sauce may be a bit dry the next day so add more milk, cream or juice from can of clam. For pouring over the rice,you want the sauce to be a little thin.
    I will sing a song to show my gratitude to my husband (with appropriate thanks to Old Blue Eyes).
    Fly me to the moon and let me play among the stars
    Let me see what Spring is like on Jupiter and Mars
    In other words, Hold my hand
    In other words, Darling kiss me
    Fill my heart with song and let me sing forever more
    You are all I long for, all I worship and adore
    In other words, Please be true
    In other words, I love you
    Oops! Too corny. Sorry.

    Thursday, December 16, 2010

    Tale of two desserts

    Oh I love Dickens,,,. but this is nothing to do with a novel.

    Tale One



    On Monday this week I made this for our Family Evening Group. Every other Monday we (20 or so empty nesters) meet at an assigned home for scripture study, church history lesson,  game or whatever. Christmas is near so we had a White Elephant gift exchange pot luck party.  I was asked to bring a dessert. This complicated Italian dessert was a bit challenging but I’m kind of glad I did because no one else in dessert department brought something home made. Others brought very familiar C brand warehouse value pack cupcakes and pies. Nothing wrong with that, just didn’t make me feel special. My husband removes the frosting on those kind of cupcakes before consuming. The name of this chocolate pie is Crostata alla crema di cioccolata con pistacchi siciliani. That sounds very importante!  In English it is Chocolate custard tart with Sicilian pistachios

    Chapter 1 - Dough

    • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
    • 1/2  teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons shelled unsalted Sicilian pistachios*
    • 1 3/4 sticks of chilled unsalted butter cut into small pieces
    • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon confectioners sugar
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 large egg yolk
    1. In a bowl - mix 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour and salt
    2. In a food processer – put the remaining 1 tablespoon flour and nuts; finely grind using Pulse button. Combine in the bowl with flour mixture above.
    3. In a electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment-combine butter and sugar. Mix on medium low speed until well combined, about 4 minutes. Add the whole egg, then egg yolk. Then add flour mixture in 2 steps, scraping down sides of bowl between each addition.
    4. Turn out dough onto a clean work surface. Shape into flattened disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
    5. Between 2 pieces of plastic wrap, roll out dough to an 11 inch round; remove and discard plastic. Fit dough into a 9 inch tart pan with removable bottom. Press dough into edges of pan, using knife to trim excess dough along top edge. Prick bottom of dough with fork all over. Chill in freezer for 10 minutes.
    6. Line tart shell with foil or parchment paper, Leaving 1 inch overhang; fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake in oven for 15 minutes at 350 F, remove the pie weights and parchment. Continue baking until crust is dry to touch – 15 minutes or so. Remove from oven and cool completely.

    Chapter 2 – Chocolate custard

    • 1/2 cup plus 1-1/2 tablespoons shelled unsalted Sicilian pistachios
    • 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate roughly chopped
    • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate roughly chopped
    • 1-1/4 cups heavy cream
    • 2/3 cup whole milk
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    1. In a food processer-pulse nuts until finely chopped then spread on baking sheet and lightly toast in oven (you may have to stir few times to prevent burning). Set aside 1-1/2 table spoons toasted nuts in small bowl for garnishing.
    2. Combine bittersweet and semisweet chocolate in a medium bowl.
    3. Combine remaining nuts , cream, milk and sugar in a small saucepan; bring mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and let stand for 20 minutes.
    4. Strain milk mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Transfer back to saucepan and bring to a boil again (do not skip this process for smooth texture chocolate custard).
    5. Pour about 1/3 of the hot milk mixture over the chocolate and very gently whisk together until chocolate is melted. Add remaining milk mixture and gently whisk to combine.
    6. In a large bowl, beat eggs. Pour about 1/3 of the chocolate mixture over eggs and gently whisk just to combine. Then pour egg mixture over chocolate mixture, add salt and very gently whisk until smooth.


    Fill crust with chocolate custard; put tart pan on a baking sheet. Carefully transfer to oven and bake at 275 F. until edges of custard are set but center is still jiggle about 35 minutes. Set pie on a wire rack to cool. sprinkle with reserved pistachios. Serve at room temperature.



    Author’s notes

    * Of course I did not use Sicilian pistachios, regular kind is fine. Due to lack of time, I also used a store bought crust. Happy ending nonetheless…

    Tale 2



    On Tuesday night, I attend Church’s Relief Society Christmas Party- this is a women only gathering. “My favorite things” was the theme. You’re supposed to bring your favorite whatever thing for exchange gift. Brainstorming, what  should I bring, my husband announced that he is busy tonight and I can’t bring him to the party. OK, OK. My second favorite is oil painting but I can’t paint in one day, so my third favorite thing  to do is cooking. I made this cup cake using a Japanese cup cake cook book. Closely following this recipe, I only produced  8 cupcakes. I should have known. Next time I have to double the recipe.

    第一章 – The base

    • Unsalted butter 50g at room temperature
    • Sugar 80g
    • 1 large egg at room temperature
    • Lemon rind -  about 1 teaspoon
    • A pinch of salt
    • Milk 60ml
    • Flour 100g – sifted with 1 teaspoon of baking powder 
    1. In a electric mixer, cream butter at medium speed. Add sugar.
    2. Add salt, egg and lemon rind, mix until smooth.
    3. Add half of milk and mix.
    4. Add half of flour mixture a little at a time scraping the side of bowl once in a while.
    5. Add the rest of the milk a little at a time. Then add rest of flour mixture a little at a time, mix well until smooth.
    6. Spoon into cup cake pan lined with paper and bake at 340 F for 20 to 25 minutes until golden color, remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

    第二章- Lemon curd

    • 2 large egg yolks
    • Sugar 50g
    • Butter 20g
    • Lemon juice 30ml
    • A pinch of salt
    Put everything in a small sauce pan, cook while stirring with whisk, stop the cooking before full boil. Strain the curd if you like more smooth texture.


    With a spoon, spread lemon curd on the cooled cake. Whip 200g of heavy cream with 1 table spoon sugar, 1 teaspoon of lemon extract if you have one until peak, Pipe on top of lemon curd.


    This cup cake and the made-in-Japan spatula were ‘My Favorite Things’ gift exchange items. The lady who got my gift ate it on the spot and loved it. Sweet success. Just need to remember to take pictures of the process next time.

    Sunday, December 12, 2010

    Looking for a perfect cupcake

    My husband and I spent last Saturday looking for a perfect cupcake. If you have been in Japan and tried their sweets already then it’s not an easy task to find it in the USA. I don’t know why Japan’s cakes are almost always perfect in looks, texture and flavor but they are super good! Therefore our standards are already high up there. But we tried anyway. Because I‘m thinking of entering a cupcake contest I thought I need to do homework. We drove 30 minutes in heavy rain to the first store. The interior of the store had not much light - that gave me a bad impression - and just two customers inside - US. We selected coconut white cupcake and double chocolate cake with hot chocolate with homemade cinnamon marshmallows.
    The coconut cupcake was too dry and hot chocolate was lukewarm. Also the marshmallows were way too sweet.
    On to the next place. Saint Cupcake was cute little store sharing with another business behind it. Very simply decorated cupcakes were good, just not great. They have vegan cupcakes too. They packed our orders in a cute little box. I wish they had a place to sit down and eat.  We were already sugared out so decided not to go Papa Hayden. I like the store but sometimes it is too rich and too sweet.We really miss Japanese sweets store like La Palme D'or Patisserie in Hawaii.
    After all that sugar intake I still l had my usual fix of homemade hot chocolate in my favorite mug at evening. I bought the mug from Starbucks around Valentine’s day 6 years ago. IT has the word “love” on front and inside the mug says “love” in Chinese character.