Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Baked clam escargot style

DSC_3243Clam is our family’s favorite shellfish, except for my daughter. She does not like foods that come from the sea that much. Funny, she lives by the ocean though. Clam sauce spaghetti is our go to dish when we’re in a time crunch. Clams steamed with rice wine (アサリの酒蒸し) at Maki (槙) restaurant in Tigard, Oregon is our staple order. Drinking the garlicky and oceanic flavored juice left after eating all the clams is a delightful treat. You should try it sometime.

My earliest memory associated with clam is fragmented because I was so young but I remember going on the boat to some nameless… wait, it has a name but I just couldn't recall,,,anyway a small island in Nagasaki with my cousins, aunts and uncles for clam hunting. Clams were not found under the sand but stuck to the side of rocks in the shoulder high water. You could lay on your stomach on the rock and stretch out your hands to reach them ( I couldn’t ) or go underwater to get them. I hit the jackpot of clams accidently. I got in the water to see what seemed like millions of clams clustered along the side of a huge rock!  My imagination went wild all of a sudden and I was over whelmed with monstrous fear. I was out numbered for sure. I did a retraction as fast as my little feet were able then stumbled down and drunk sea water, so much for the jackpot. It was otherwise a fun outing. We had rice ball, kara age chicken, baked egg and some pickles we brought for lunch. We stopped at a tiny tobacco shop to get some ice candy (popsicle) on the way over to the boat dock. I got sea sick on the return trip, that was no fun. I wish I remembered only the good parts.

Come to think of it now, it may not really have been clams but some kind of shell fish but that does not matter, they were really tasty. I don’t have to go hunting to get shellfish anymore. They are sold fresh at Asian market. Whopping 50 cent per pound off from regular price last week. I bought a couple pounds.This recipe I adapted from Chez Shea restaurant in Seattle that has a perfect flavoring of parsley garlic butter. I didn’t have fresh parsley but I had left over carrot leaves and that was just fine. As it baked in the oven, the aroma filled the kitchen and traveled upstairs to our bedrooms like life’s little bliss,,,now where is the room deodorizer? It’s getting a little stinky in here.


Rimmed baking sheet lined with scrunched foil

  • Fresh clams-I bought 2 pounds or 20-26 clams. Choose the larger size if possible.DSC_3221
  • Water for boiling about 3 cups
  • Garlic 3 cloves finely minced
  • Shallots finely minced 2 Tablespoon
  • Parsley or carrot leaves finely mince 2 Tablespoon DSC_3282
  • Unsalted butter 1 cup at room temperature
  • Salt 2 teaspoons
  • Bread crumbs about 1/4 cup
  1. Fill a large bowl with clean water. Put in all the clams and leave in the water for a couple hours so clams will spit sand out. I do this mainly for my peace of mind. Scrub hard to clean the shell under running water.
  2. Mean while make the parsley garlic butter by combining garlic, shallots, parsley, salt,  butter and salt in a bowl. Set it aside.DSC_3228
  3. Boil the pot of water and put clams in and cover. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Take out only the ones that opened and discard the water and unopened clams.
  5. Wait a few minutes for the clams to cool down and remove the meat from the shell.
  6. Separate shells in half and put 20 to 26 of clams shell on the prepared pan.DSC_3227
  7. Heat oven to 450F
  8. Put clam meat in the selected shells then top with butter mixture (you don’t have to use all the butter).DSC_3233DSC_3235
  9. Sprinkle with bread crumbs on top then bake for 6-8 minutes till they turn a golden color.DSC_3244

They are great with fresh squeezed lemon juice.DSC_3240

I’m still working on the macro lens. DSC_3292DSC_3287DSC_3289

Verdict: Its hard. I need more practice.



Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Three vegetable sweetsDSC_3214

Really? is the word I uttered for Aya Kakisawa (柿沢安耶)’s vegetable sweets. She is owner/ chef of Patisserie Potager (パティスリーポタジェ) in Meguro, Tokyo and uses vegetables in all her creations. She opened this shop in 2006, when she was still in her 20’s. She seems to have everything  - beautiful, brainy and talented. She graduated from prestigious Gakushuuin (学習院) University in French literature. I thought her degree does not exactly translate to being a pastry chef but actually she was studying French home cooking under a food researcher too while in the university and after graduating ,she studied abroad in France for more training in cooking. I believe finding your passion or dream at a young age is a real head start. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. Only about 10 years ago I just realized that I love to paint and accidently found the teacher with lots of patience. Lots! 

In any major city in Japan, it seems there are pastry shops on almost every block. Therefore competition is fierce. Pastry chefs are always thinking, experimenting for new creations called shinsaku (新作). At the beginning of each season, many stores come up with shinsaku cake to lure more customers. I know from experience that if there is  ‘new ‘ word on front of the name of cake, I’m sure I will have it. One thing my husband and I must do in Japan is try popular cake shop cakes. We sometimes walked a good distance in our quest for the best cake in town. One time we got lost and it started raining. It was very important to us (me) to find the shop so we bought one cheap umbrella at convenient store and pressed on. We had to ask 4 people (including a police man) to reach the destination. It was bit embarrassing for my husband. I’m somehow high maintenance when it comes to foods,,,,and bags.

The Patisserie Potager stands tall for its originality. Although some of the recipes are not love at first try for me but it grows on you. On the other hand some are so peculiar that I may never repeat though I applaud her efforts and her out of the box thinking. She also is a great business woman who made good connections with celebrities. For instance she made a birthday cake for the popular singer/actor Masaharu Fukuyama (福山雅治) and other famous people and she does catering to big social events and occasions. I’m a huge fan of gorgeous Masaharu Fukuyama so I am jealous of her success too. Ah, do you need extra help at his February 6th birthday party?

Burdock Florentine I tweaked her recipe for this.


  • Cake flour 200g
  • Almond flour 40g
  • Cocoa powder 5g
  • Unsalted butter 70g
  • Sugar 25g
  • 1 egg- scramble
  1. In a bowl,combine cake flour, almond flour and cocoa powder . Set it aside.
  2. Put butter and sugar in an another bowl and mix until pale yellow in color with hand mixer.
  3. Add egg  a little at a time. mix well each time.
  4. Add flour mixture and combine with rubber spatula.
  5. Put in the middle of a large sheet of plastic wrap and twist up at the top to make a tight ball. Leave in refrigerator for 1 hour.DSC_3190
  6. Heat oven to 355 F. Flatten the ball of dough into the 9x9 inch square pan as evenly as possible. Prick top several times with folk.DSC_3193
  7. Bake for 20 minutes.DSC_3196

Burdock sauté

  • Burdock 100g –Peel the skin, slice thin and soak in water for about 20 minutes.DSC_3181DSC_3186
  • Unsalted butter 1 teaspoon or 4g
  • Sugar 1 teaspoon or 4g
  • Water 70g
  1. Heat frying pan at medium high. Add butter and burdock and sauté for a couple minutes.
  2. Add sugar and continue to sauté until sugar dissolves. DSC_3194
  3. Pour water in and cook until water evaporates and burdock is tender yet has firm texture.

Caramel and Finish

  • Honey 40g
  • Sugar 40g
  • Unsalted butter 40g
  • Heavy cream 60g
  • Almond slice 20g lightly toasted
  • Pumpkin seed 20g
  1. Heat oven to 355 F.
  2. Put honey, sugar, butter and heavy cream in a frying pan. Heat at medium high.
  3. Cook stirring continuously with rubber spatula until it turns dark brown and gets thick.DSC_3199
  4. Add burdock sauté, almonds and pumpkin seeds.
  5. Pour caramel mixture over the baked tart then as quickly as possible spread across the entire top. It hardens very quickly so be speedy.DSC_3203
  6. Bake for 20 minutes. DSC_3216

Daikon radish Fra mange’s vivid mint color sauce from daikon leaves is stunning and has light fresh taste. This could be a vegan dish that screams “healthy”. I like the crunchy texture from the bits of daikon but my family critic/my son says ‘Interesting’ which means I don’t care for it. DSC_3116DSC_3117DSC_3156

Carrot rice tart has sesame oil aroma and savory side of sweet. My son says ‘ different’; that means no way. Thank you for your constructive criticism.DSC_3026DSC_3033DSC_3067DSC_3070

It was hard to find daikon or carrot with leaves still intact at the market. It was good to know that leaves are edible.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Super mochi mochi

Improved cooked rice bread

DSC_3114This might be it! I have been experimenting with the cooked rice bread recipe for a while and I think I achieved near perfection! It’s moist, soft and awfully pale. Though it has almost no nutritional value compared to its whole, 7 or 10 grains dark, chewy and hay like aroma counter parts, many Japanese prefer it that way. Thanks to the bread machine doing the most of work, my part is easy – just two extra steps to reach this super mochi mochi texture! I adore this method better than one that I posted before.

This recipe is like a blank canvas. The possibilities are endless. Just by changing the filling you could make a savory roll or a sweet snack. My husband’s favorite is custard cream filled bread (クリームパン)and my favorite is always savory curry bread (カレーパン) - deep  fried, crusty outside with warm curry filling inside is hearty and satisfying. There is bread called Melon pan  (メロンぱん) which usually does not have melon as one of the ingredients. The name came from the shape; it remotely resembles a cantaloupe melon? Whether there is actually melon in the bread or not it is still quite popular among Japanese. Then there is this sweet azuki bean bread (アンぱん) that is the go-to bread with the older, I mean rather distinguished generation. My friend, who is not that old, at least not at heart, makes incredible sweet azuki bean bread. She gave me her recipe but I don’t know where it is now due to my stupendous disorganization skill. I hope she coincidently sends me the recipe via email.


2 8-1/4 X 4-1/4 loaf pan lined with parchment paper for plain loaf style bread

Cookie sheet lined with parchment paper if doing the filled buns

I made both kinds of breads with this so you’ll see each of them in the pictures below.

  • Cooked rice 100g
  • Water 100g –substitute plain yogurt to give the bread sourdough flavor.
  • Milk 20g
  • Heavy cream 20g
  • Bread flour 250g
  • Sugar 25g
  • Salt 1/2 teaspoon
  • Unsalted butter 1 Tablespoon
  • Dry yeast 4g about 1/2 packet
  1. Put rice in small sauce pan. Add water and bring to boil. Turn off the heat and cover with lid. Wait for 30 minutes.DSC_2903
  2. Put rice in food processer and make loose paste.DSC_3072
  3. Set the brad maker to the dough setting. Put the rice, milk, cream, flour, sugar, salt, butter in the pan then sprinkle in the yeast.DSC_2910
  4. When the dough is done, turn onto a flat clean surface dusted with flour. Roll out dough with flour-dusted rolling pin to a rectangle of about 10 x 8. Cut into 8 pieces or if making small buns, cut 16 equal partsDSC_3078.DSC_2918
  5. Make balls and lay the ball seam side down then cover with clean moist towel and rest for 15 minutes.DSC_3085DSC_3086
  6. Roll out the ball of dough to about 7 x 4 oblong shape or about 6 diameter round for filled buns. Picture below is sweet azuki paste.DSC_3087DSC_3092DSC_3096
  7. Roll up the dough and put in the prepared loaf pan seam side down or fill with your favorite stuffing then gather the dough together on top, lay on cooking sheet seam side down.DSC_3098
  8. Let the dough rise in warm place to double in size. About 40-45minutes. DSC_2930
  9. Heat oven to 302 F. Bake for 20 minutes (stuffed dough take 5-7 minutes more). If you want the color to stay white, cover with foil half-way through. For shiny look, brush with an egg yolk and 1-2 tablespoon water or milk mixture on top.
  10. Take out from pan and cool it on a wire rack. Keep the bread in a plastic bag after it cools down bit so that it stays moist.



I had a swell time in Utah last weekend. My friend as promised made us a mont blonc cake.Yes! It tasted like one I had in a famous pastry shop in Tokyo.  I didn’t take my big camera with me so the photo doesn’t do it justice but it was amazing!. Oishii (美味しい) was the word that we repeated many times without effort. Thank you so much.P1020703P1020711P1020704My friend who made the cake is on the left.

It was the very first time that I drove a rental car. Although the Garmin GPS my daughter gave me for last Christmas was very helpful, it tried to take us to a wrong but same name store in Las Vegas. It recalculates way too often. Sheesh!  And I don’t want to name anybody (because I can’t) but Utah drivers were awful!. Can’t you see I’m driving at the speed limit?

P1020715P1020716Snow in front of the Swadee Thai Restaurant

P1020724Skate rink at the downtown Marriott

P1020733P1020735Brunch at the Copper Onion Restaurant

DSC_3016It snowed Sunday. Not frost but actual snow.DSC_3017DSC_3018