Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mochi Mochi

Rice bread

DSC_2755Bread made with cooked rice was introduced in the Asahi Newspaper (a major newspaper in Japan) two years ago and caused a sensation among bread lovers. I was intrigued with how it tasted but it is not sold in US, at least not in our area so I looked for recipes. I came cross the cook book written by Kazumi Yamada whose daughter experimented with using leftover cooked rice to made bread for her family and it was a hit. Though they are not professional bakers, their love for making  bread ended up in newspapers and Yamada wrote a cook book about cooked rice bread. You can purchase her homemade breads at Dossari Ichi (どっさり市) in Shizuoka, Japan.     

Unfortunately this is not a gluten-free recipe since you still have to use bread flour in it. But using cooked rice (often left over rice) not rice flour makes economical sense and the bread turned out mochi mochi (もちもち), a Japanese word that describe food texture or skin condition but not easy to translate-springy, bouncy, moist and soft or all three of these combined which appeals to many Japanese. DSC_2617

All the recipes in the cook book are relatively simple and the bread machine does the hard part. I made basic bread first which I was not impressed and moved to chocolate variety with great success. You can create your own version of mochi mochi bread.

Ingredients for basic white bread-special equipment-bread machine

Note: If you are using a Japanese bread machine then cut this recipe in half.

  • Cooked rice 200g –Soft cooked is better for this. DSC_2601
  • Warm water 200g
  • Milk 80g
  • Bread flour 500g
  • Sugar 50g
  • Salt 1 teaspoon or 6g 
  • Unsalted butter 30g
  • Dry yeast 1 packet or 7g
  1. Put cooked rice in bread machine pan then water. Wait for 10 or more minutes for the rice to soften. DSC_2683
  2. Add milk, bread flour, sugar, salt, butter and finally if your machine has yeast dispenser, yeast go in there otherwise sprinkle the yeast over flour. 
  3. Set machine to rapid bake and go play.
  4. After it’s done, remove from pan and cool for 5 minutes or so then put the still-warm bread in a plastic bag- the steam will moisten the bread further. DSC_2625

Ingredients for double chocolate bread

  • Cooked rice 200g
  • Warm water 200g
  • Milk 50g
  • Heavy cream 50g
  • Bread flour 500g
  • Unsweetened pure cocoa 20g
  • Sugar 60g
  • Salt 1 teaspoon or 6g
  • Unsalted butter 30g
  • Dry yeast 1 packet or 7 g
  • Mini chocolate chips and white chocolate chips (I did not have white chips so used butterscotch)
  1. Put all ingredients except chocolate chips as basic bread above.DSC_2690
  2. Set machine for dough only cycle.DSC_2718
  3. When the dough is done, take out of machine and roll out to flat sheet. DSC_2720
  4. Cut into 12 or so strips. Even though I didn’t do it this time, if you cut them into shallow parabolic shapes, it makes a prettier roll when done. DSC_2722
  5. Top with chocolate chips and roll up like making cinnamon rolls.DSC_2723DSC_2740
  6. Put in pan and loosely cover. Let rise in a warm place until about doubled in size. DSC_2752
  7. Pre-heat oven to 150 C / 302 F.
  8. Bake for 6 minutes then cover with aluminum foil and bake 13 minutes more.DSC_2759DSC_2796DSC_2789

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. I really like to dress up the table this time of year.DSC_2633DSC_2642DSC_2657


This is the Chinese characters for “Hope”DSC_2775DSC_2774

This was one of my favorite presents from a friend.


My cute 3 foot Santa!


The Thursday before Christmas it was cold and there was lots of frost. When the wind blew it was like snowflakes.


Wishing you a very happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Orange rolls

DSC_2551I think Oregon’s gloomy and gray winter drives people to seek sunshine. So dark that I have to keep lights on all day today and pretend that the light bulb is the sun. I day- dreamed that I was somewhere in a warm place walking on a sandy beach, my hair blowing in the nice breeze and two little angelic people chasing me, calling me Nana. Buzzz, I was woken by sound of the washing machine signaling the finish. What a beautiful dream! Those children looked gorgeous!

We don’t get sunshine often this side of Northwest at this time of year. My husband is from southern Utah where pretty much everyday is sunshine. We moved to Oregon (and to Washington later and back in Oregon) where it rains a lot. He thought he couldn’t survive this much rain at first. Nagasaki, where I grew up, is well known for many rainy days. There is a famous Japanese song called ’Rain fell yet again today in Nagasaki’ (長崎は今日も雨だった)It is an often requested song at Karaoke bar in Japan by old folks. I know this song by heart and if you start singing it, it will be stuck in your brain forever. So rain didn’t affect me as much as him but gloominess is something different. All day shade is disheartening.

My husband agreed to make this rolls to cheer me up tomorrow because this needs overnight rest. This recipe is from ‘Simply so good’ and he loved it and has made it twice already. I can see the future with this recipe - many repeats.


  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 Tablespoon yeast
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 1/2 –5 cups flour
  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water, set it aside for 5 minutes.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together eggs, sugar and salt. Set it aside.
  3. In a small saucepan, melt butter then add milk. Slowly pour into egg mixture mixing all the time.
  4. Add yeast mixture and 2 cups flour. Mix until dough is smooth. Add remaining flour 1 cup at time. Only use needed amount of flour to form a smooth yet sticky dough. Do not add more than 5 cups of flour.
  5. Cover dough with plastic wrap or aluminum foil then place in refrigerator overnight.
  6. DSC_2512

Ingredients for Orange filling

  • 1/2 cup butter-melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Juice from 1 orange
  • Zest from 1 orange

Combine all ingredients in a medium size bowl and stir to blend.DSC_2502DSC_2503DSC_2506DSC_2508DSC_2510

Final stretch-Preheat oven to 375 F

Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or foil.

  1. Butter or grease 2 muffin pans then set aside. (You can also do these like cinnamon rolls. I did half each way.)
  2. Divide dough into two equal balls. Roll into a rectangle. Spread half the melted butter and orange mixture on the dough leaving 1/2 inch border around the sides.DSC_2520
  3. Cut roll into 12 slices and place in prepared muffin pan. DSC_2523DSC_2524
  4. Repeat with the second ball of dough.
  5. Allow to rise until double in size.DSC_2528
  6. Bake in a oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.DSC_2534
  7. When done baking, remove from pan by flipping the pans over onto a prepared cookie sheet. DSC_2536

Here is a picture of the other pan – cinnamon roll style.DSC_2539

These rolls are like sunshine in my stomach. Warm me way up so that I’m ready to go again to fight the crowds for last minute Christmas shopping.

On my son’s day off it is his turn to cook. He made pork chops, roasted Brussels sprouts, mashed potato with gravy and a can of corn.DSC_2577

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Kabocha pottage

DSC_2420It’s been very cold lately, not Minnesota or Wisconsin cold ( I know this because I have been there in the dead of Winter) but pretty cold to me nonetheless. I harvested the last of our kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) two weeks ago. I pre-maturely picked the first kabocha and my husband gave me the evil eye but this time I waited until it was almost in a naturally frozen state. It was heavy and cold, I felt like I was carrying a block of ice. Open the door quick! My hands are freezing!DSC_2216

According to the Oxford American Dictionary, the word pottage is an old one that means soup or stew. That is way too simplified in my opinion and many Japanese can differentiate between those three seasoned, cooked liquid foods. I like the word ‘pottage’ because of  the French flare sound to it. Merveilleux!  A la pottage de kabocha… like that? No?. Anyway, a night like this needs some warmth to your body and soul.

Kabocha has a really tough skin so I like to bake it first in oven (400F for about 25 minutes or more) or if you have a big enough one to hold the whole kabocha in your rice cooker, just put it inside then push the button. If you use the skin in your pottage then the color comes out green. St. Patrick's Day would be a great time to make this dish but it is probably not available in market then - well, thank you for the useless information. You could also substitute with regular pumpkin. In that case, you may call it pumpkin soup with an American accent. 

Ingredients Serves 8 or more

  • 1 Kabocha- I didn’t weigh it but it was big!
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic chopped
  • Oil or butter 1 Tablespoon
  • Chicken broth about 3 cups
  • Heavy cream about 1 cup
  • Salt about 1/2 teaspoon or more to taste.
  • Pepper-I prefer white pepper for this-about 1/2 teaspoon.
  • Sake-Japanese wine (optional) about 1/4 cup
  • Sour cream (optional)
  • Chive (optional)-Fresh chive if you have it (I didn’t).
  1. Bake kabocha in foil lined cooking sheet at 400F. until soft but not collapsed.DSC_2408
  2. Cut in a half to take seeds out and peel the skin, (if not using). Set aside.DSC_2410DSC_2414
  3. Heat oil in a saucepan and sauté onion and garlic until onion turns translucent.
  4. Pour chicken broth into a blender or food processor and add kabocha, onion and garlic. Blend until smooth.DSC_2415
  5. Return to saucepan and heat. Add cream, sake, salt and pepper. Add more chicken broth if you like a thinner pottage.DSC_2416
  6. Put a dollop of sour cream and top with chives when serving.DSC_2419

So much frost was on the trees that it looked like snow. DSC_2446

Bare branches were rimmed in ice too.DSC_2451DSC_2456

A group of us went to Nativity sets display. There were many kinds and it was really fun to look at. I was able to capture a few of them. I wish that the lighting was better and I had my tripod…DSC_2459


This was a beautiful set. Be careful with the baby Jesus!

DSC_2461DSC_2464Here is a Lego one too. My grandchildren would love it.DSC_2465

This one was my favorite, but, where is Joseph?DSC_2463