Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Softly Served

Frozen yogurtDSC_0892

Soft serve ice cream holds nostalgic Summer time memories for me. My late mother used to take me to the basement of the department store after shopping in town and she bought me a cone and left me there while she looked for ready made food for supper. The basement of a department store is now called depachika (デパ地下). These modern day depachika are bright and dedicated entire floor with all sorts of foods and drinks, no comparison to my childhood of shabby place with poor selections. Many stores deeply discount their food after 6 PM. When I go to Japan alone and if I don’t particularly want to go to a restaurant then I pick up something after 6 at depachika. Only problem is so many choices! Overwhelmed with selections but joyful. My mother magically showed up when I finished eating and no one questioned her risky move of leaving an adorable (?) 5 year-old by themselves. It was the norm those days, I on the other hand, often questioned and disapproved of her purchases. What? It’s all nimono (cooked vegetables) and no sweets? Not even my favorite croquette?  But she never once asked me for my opinion. Ever!

This lovable, inexpensive smooth textured ice cream was one of my favorite Summer treats after shaved ice. Japanese simply call it soft cream. If I wanted soft cream here I just went to Dairy Queen but they moved further away to another town some 10 years ago. Too bad, I liked their peanut buster parfait. I usually chose to whack my craving rather than a 15 to 20 minutes drive to calm it. Baskin Robin is also a good alternative.

Lately I see lots of yogurt shops popping up and many are self serve. Our city has already THREE self serve yogurt shops. Though I visited all three I wasn’t wowed by any of them. Red Mango yogurt shop in Provo Utah is not self serve but has great yogurt. This is popular as a BYU student hang out place. But oh boy! After adding toppings it is not so cheap.

Ingredients for 4-5 conesDSC_0871

  • Powdered gelatin 10g
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Heavy cream 200ml
  • Sugar 70g
  • Plain yogurt 350g
  • Milk 50ml
  • Ice cream cone
  1. Pure water In a small microwave safe cup then sprinkle in gelatin, stir and dissolve. Microwave for 50 seconds with 50% power. Set it asideDSC_0872
  2. Put cream and sugar in bowl of stand mixer and whip till very soft peak
  3. In a medium bowl mix yogurt and milk then add to heavy cream mixture.
  4. Add gelatin mixture to yogurt/cream mixture and mix well.
  5. Put in the freezer plastic freezer bag and seal tight. Put it in the freezer for 30 minutes.DSC_0875
  6. Take it out from the freezer and squeeze until soft again
  7. Put it back in the freezer and freeze for 1 hour.DSC_0878
  8. Take it out  2nd time from freezer and knead till smooth. Use a cloth if it is too cold to handle DSC_0879
  9. Put it in a pastry bag with large (any) tip.
  10. Pipe out in a cone cup and top with your favorite toppings (optional).

DSC_0886I used a cup to hold the cone while I filled it.

I wasn’t wowed by this version of frozen yogurt either but it was fun to make and with different toppings, it could be a awesome treat. DSC_0900

I wish I had a cherry to top it off for the shot. Cone is fun and old fashioned but messy, I brought out the mop to sweep out whatever fell on the floor. I’ll use bowl next time.DSC_0894

My guys (my husband and my son) are doing volunteer clean up job in Iwate (one of March earthquake disaster area) Japan right now. They are grateful for the opportunity to help out some, still the recovery from the earthquake is long road ahead. がんばれ日本!

My life is getting quite weird without them. I don’t cook much. I eat whatever and whenever. I started organizing my pantry in the middle of one sleepless night, labeling every containers, discovering the forgotten and expired foods. Some mystery ingredients (I’m a fan of Chopped-The Food Network Channel show), I can’t figure out why I bought them but until I solve the mystery, I put it back in a corner of the pantry. Anyway, I plan to clean up and organize my whole house while they are gone then wait for their return to mess it up again. Perfectly clean house is nice but without my guys in it is not a perfect house for me. So I’m with busy cleaning up but not cooking, I decided to take some break from blogging. Please check back with me in the middle of September. I’m always browsing your blogs, sometime way late at night. No one here to stop my bit odd behavior makes me lonely though.

Monday, August 22, 2011


Japanese style Scotch Egg with Oregon chicken

DSC_0836My husband’s co-worker handed him a sack of green beans other day. Nice! Our green beans in the garden stopped growing  for some weird reason. Like it’s saying, yep, I’m done, I can’t work with this weak sun. You little spoiled GB you! That is true that we didn’t have very many hot days in Portland, Oregon and August is fleeting. That makes me a little melancholic.DSC_0756

I have no idea what to do with this green of freshness, I start digging in my files for inspiration. This Scotch Egg like recipe I found in ‘Orange Page’ Japanese magazine published in 1996. Instead of ground beef, this uses ground breast chicken. Japanese called this tsukune- not my favorite kind of meat- too tame in flavor but it’s fried food! Which is my favorite method of cooking and all the ingredients I have at home is definite plus.

6-8 chicken balls depending on sizes.DSC_0827

  • 6-8  small eggs hard boiled and shelled
  • Chicken breasts 450-500g
  • Corn-canned (drained) or fresh corn cooked and cut kernel from cob 250g
  • Green beans 60g cut in small pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons sake
  • 2 Teaspoons salt
  • 1 Teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons corn starch plus more for dusting. I used potato starch for this.
  • Oil for frying
  1. Make ground chicken by laying the chicken on the cutting board then pound with sharp knife until minced or use a food processer to grind the chicken.
  2. Mix ground chicken, corn and green beans.
  3. Add seasoning-sake, salt,pepper and cornstarch then mix well till sticky. Divide in 6-8 portions
  4. Lay out a good size plastic wrap and put meat mixture in the center. Spread meat mixture thin but not too thin so that you can wrap the boiled egg without tearing.
  5. Dust the egg with corn starch. Tap to remove excess starch. Put it in the center of meat mixtureDSC_0828
  6. Pull the edge of wrap to form ball around the egg. Twist tightly so that it holds together. DSC_0832
  7. Dust with cornstarch and  deep fry the balls at over medium heat until golden color.DSC_0835
  8. Put a couple of paper towel on a large plate and place the fried balls to drain excess oil.

Cut a ball in fourths and simply mix 6 tablespoons of  ketchup and 2 tablespoons of  Dijon mustard as dipping sauce. Ponzu soy sauce with hot Japanese mustard is also good.  DSC_0840

A person who works for my husband gave him this homemade mustard last Christmas, It has great flavor and beats out Gray Poupon.DSC_0855

I found a zucchini on our door step someone left with a note attached. DSC_0761How sweet!  You shouldn’t have. We have a reason not to grow zucchini in our garden but we graciously accept this size. I didn’t have whole lot of time left till dinner, so I simply sautéed with butter along with eringi. Though I should have made  Marc’s zucchini fritter, I already made fried food with gift of fresh crops.DSC_0843

With a few drops of soy sauce, it was delicious. Thank you, squash loving neighbor!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Pushed Pork Tacos

Just kidding- it’s Pulled Pork Tacos

My son announced that he will make supper tonight. Oh goodie! I always welcome such a delicious offer. He shopped for ingredients the night before and he brought his laptop down to the kitchen for the recipe. Whew! My off night at the kitchen, well deserved.  I give him pointers- #1 Take pictures of every step. #2 clean up as you go- I said loud and clear using my telepathy power. Then I’m on the way to my painting class.

DSC_0664I love pulled pork tacos! Like mushu pork American style right? No? Whatever, at my painting teacher’s home we drank home-brewed mint tea and ate crackers while we chatted. Well past the time but I wasn’t in a hurry. Dinner will be ready by the time I get home, maybe?  After class, I stopped by a Japanese book store to check out travel books. Kyoto, Kobe,,,. My husband and my son are going to Japan next week and I need to make a list of things I want them to buy for me. Sadly, I know that I must shorten it though. 76 yen for the dollar won’t go too far. When my husband got there in Japan in December of 1976, dollar was worth 293 yen. A year later, dropped around 180 yen. Desperate, he asked his parents for more money. I read through the pages, but didn’t buy any, Japanese call this tachiyomi (立ち読み-not paying customer stand and read). I should save money here so that they could buy me Royce chocolate. I believe Royce is 1000 times better than H maker’s chocolate. My daughter can attest to that.

When I got home, the dinner was not quite ready but the yummy smell filled the house. My son’s friend was wearing my awesomely cute apron and helping him or was my son helping her? She really looked good in it. Too bad he did not take her picture. 

Roasted Sweet Pork

6 (approx.) pounds Pork butt/shoulder
1 19 oz. can Red Enchilada Sauce
1 can Dr. Pepper (20 oz.)
2 tsp. Chili Powder
1 tsp. Cumin
1 tsp. salt
1 Clove Garlic or 1 tsp. Garlic Powder
1 1/2 c. Brown Sugar
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, choppedDSC_0633

Combine all ingredients into your crockpot and cook on low overnight or until meat is tender.DSC_0637

Cilantro Lime Slaw

1 whole shredded purple cabbage DSC_0644
1 c. Mayonnaise
1 c. Cilantro, chopped
1 tsp. minced Garlic
1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper or a dash of your favorite hot sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. Lime Juice
1/2 tsp. Cumin

DSC_0639Combine all but slaw in a mini food processor or chop and combine yourself. Mix desired amount of dressing with slaw mix no more than 30 minutes before serving.DSC_0656

Place the shredded meat and sour cream & shredded cheese (optional) on top of a tortilla and then the slaw on top of that. Fold in half and enjoy. Have plenty of napkins ready in hand.DSC_0674

We liked it very much. My husband and I ate left over the next night so I had two nights off kitchen duty. Nice!

Memo to myself- need to work on my telepathy power a bit.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Rice Flour Roll Cakes


A Japanese beautician lent me her rice flour dessert book when I went to her for a hair cut. Ah, nice but ie ie kekkoudesu (  いえ、いえ結構ですーThank you but no thank you) I know that rice flour is kind of tricky to use. Beside  thanks to Foodbuzz, Tastespotting and Food Gawker, I have tons of recipes that I would like to try, I have no more space in my file. She mistakenly thought I’m being polite, she coaxed me three times more. I said jaa (じゃあーif you insist). I took the book home being really polite this time.

This Japanese cook book is very pretty. It’s enjoyable to look at. I put it on my bed side table. I read/look at it at bedtime and I say “Wow” and “Ahhh”, I must make this in the morning then fighting to not close my eyelids while I read 2-3 verses from scriptures. I say a shamefully short prayer of thanks for countless blessings then I happily hit the pillow. In the morning though I don’t remember to make anything from the book. That’s been 4 weeks now, I really need to take the book back to her very soon. I should make something from the book so that I could thank her and say that I like that book not just I like to look at it.

This cake uses new type of rice flour called Riz  Farine (リ・ファリーヌ) is very close approximately of weak power flour (薄力粉) developed in Japan. Which I could not find in here in US. Oh rats! I hope for the best. I used ordinary rice flour for the strawberry cake and jyoshinko (上新粉) which is a more refined type of rice flour for the chocolate roll cake.DSC_0763

Strawberry Roll cake sponge for 1 16x11 pan lined with parchment paperDSC_0682

  • 6 large eggs at room temperature
  • Granulated sugar 120g
  • Rice flour 100g
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  • Water 100ml
  • Granulate sugar 40g

Cook water and sugar in a small pan over medium heat for 5 minutes. Set aside


  • 4-5 tablespoons of Apricot jam
  • 2-3 tablespoons water

In a small microwave safe cup combine apricot jam and water. Microwave for 1 minute on 50% power. Set it aside.


  • 250ml heavy cream
  • 3  tablespoons sugar
  • 10 Strawberries cut in small pieces plus 2-3 strawberries for garnish.

Powdered sugar for garnish

  1. Pre-heat oven to 340 degrees.
  2. Put all 6 eggs in the bowl of stand mixer. Scramble eggs at medium high speed (6 on my Kitchen Aid) for 5 minutes. Add sugar at the half way point.
  3. Lower the speed to 4 then sprinkle flour 1 tablespoon at a time then continue to mix about 2 minutes.
  4. Add vanilla and mix at low speed for 30 second more.DSC_0687
  5. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes.
  6. When it’s done, take out from the pan and peel the edge of paper. Rest 1-2 minutes.DSC_0696
  7. Put fresh parchment paper on the top then flip it so that bottom side is now on top.DSC_0764DSC_0767DSC_0769DSC_0770
  8. Carefully peel off parchment paper and discard it.
  9. Put another piece of fresh parchment paper then flip again so that top is bottom.DSC_0771
  10. Wrap with plastic wrap to keep moist.DSC_0772
  11. Mean while whip cream and sugar until soft peak. Set it aside.
  12. After the cake has cooled, brush the top of the cake with syrup then with apricot jam mixture.
  13. Spread on the whipped cream, Thinly spread toward the end of the roll.DSC_0773
  14. Sprinkle strawberries on top of the cream.DSC_0703
  15. Using bottom of parchment paper as a guide roll the cake tightly as possible.
  16. Tape the end of paper and rest  the cake in the refrigerator for an hour.DSC_0775
  17. Decorate with powdered sugar and strawberries.

Variation: Chocolate roll cake with chocolate cream.DSC_0778

Sift Rice flour and 2 table spoon of  unsweetened cocoa powder incorporated as above. I didn’t use any vanilla for the chocolate one. Skip the syrup and the apricot spread as well.

Chocolate cream filling

In a small sauce pan, cook heavy cream until small bubbles appear at the edge of pan, remove from pan then add 60 g of milk chocolate. Stir until chocolate melt and smooth. Cool to room temperature. Whip 150g of heavy cream till soft peak. Add cooled chocolate mixture and continue whipping for another 1 minutes. DSC_0781

In my opinion Jyoshinko rice flour one came out lot fluffier but less moist than regular rice flour.

Is it Murphy’s law? When I took time to clean my kitchen and organize, no one came. I started making the chocolate roll cake, I used entire counter top and dirtied many dishes and pans. Too tired to clean up, I took a break then my son came home with friend. Ahggg, I’m totally embarrassed!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Summer harvests

Green pea rice/豆ごはん

DSC_0625DSC_0576Our small back yard garden is doing well. We harvested green peas twice and made my favorite-green pea rice (which my son dislikes). My husband grew up on a farm so he loves to go out in the garden. He brings out a long hose to water those precious plants although we had automatic dripping system put in but I won’t say anything. This is one way for him to unwind from hectic life as a salary-man (サラリーマン). Still he does not have enough time to do it all, he slides on weeding often to let natural stage of garden come out. He eats as he picks and the neighbor’s cat follows him sometimes for chance of getting a pat on its head. Then he could hear other neighbor’s dog barking over the fence. After all these years of him being out in the garden, the dog should learn his smell by now?

I read an article in Japanese newspaper in June. Someone bought a rare watermelon at an auction for something like $26,000!!! I could not find the article now so that might not be accurate number but even if it’s one 0 off it still sounds so expensive. Blackish green with no stripes and is intensely sweet it’s said (How did they know though?). My number one  question is really who bought it? Followed by Holy cow! Did you put that in the refrigerated vault for safe keeping or did you eat it right away?  Are you the same millionaire who bought a Yubari (夕張) musk melon for $45,000 last year?  Did you hear about somewhere in Africa people are dying of starvation? You could buy lots of foods with the money minus $40 which is the going rate for a good size watermelon in Japan right now. I’m just saying… it’s your money but hey, I’m just saying, you know.

I’ll betcha 10 bucks you can’t tell the difference in a blind taste test.

Fresh green pea rice for 4 peopleDSC_0622

  • 2 rice-cooker cups short grain rice
  • 1 tablespoon sake
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
  • 1 and 1/2 cup freshly picked green peas shelled.DSC_0551
  1. Wash rice and put it in the rice cooker. Add cold water to just below the recommended water line. Soak for 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Add sake, salt, soy sauce and green peas. Cook.DSC_0554
  3. Stir to combine rice and peas. Add more salt if the taste is too bland.

If you don’t like mushy peas then you can cook rice and peas (boil in salted water for until desired doneness) separately. Some people put 1 tablespoon of granulated chicken stock powder in the water but I like the simpler flavor, little mushy peas and all. Bring me a sprinkle of happiness. My husband puts teaspoon of butter on it to make a richer taste. DSC_0570Pork miso soup, scallop with cherry sauce and mame gohan




DSC_0609Japanese seedless grapes


DSC_0613Desert King Figs