Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Chocolate Raspberry Trifle

DSCN0357There is a smart phone game called ‘chocoful’ (チョコフル) gaining popularity in Japan. I don’t own a smart phone so I don’t know in detail but the rules seem simple. Skewer three fruits each as many as possible within a time limit and you get some prizes like a toaster! Yes! I need a toaster really bad…Not! My husband, the multi-tasker, plays iPhone game or reads while watching Olympics. Honey, look! You got to watch this!  Uno-tasker, me, yells with excitement. I know I saw it, my husband replay nonchalantly. How?… With your third eye?  

The above paragraph has absolutely nothing to do with trifle but since I titled this post by the same name, I thought I should mention it. Anyway, I love trifle. I have a few great trifle recipes and this chocolate raspberry trifle comes out on top, just needs time, patience and planning ahead. Chilled trifle is a divine reward for your hard labor! It has a lots of calories for sure but I’m satisfied with one spoonful of this..maybe three,four, five big spoonfuls will do.

Ingredients for Chocolate cake – use 13x9x2 inch baking panDSCN0341

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup sugar


  1. Grease and lightly flour pan. Set aside.
  2. Combine flour, cocoa powder and baking soda in a small bowl. Sift (do not skip this process). I sift flour on large sheet of wax paper for easy clean-up. Set aside.
  3. Beat egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attached on medium speed till soft peaks form.
  4. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar. Continue to beat until peak is stiff. Transfer to large bowl and set aside. If you have room in your refrigerator, store it there.
  5. Beat egg yolks in the same bowl (no need to wash) at high speed until thick and lemon-colored - about 5 minutes.
  6. Gradually add 1/3 cup sugar until the sugar dissolves. Add vanilla and beat for an another 30 seconds or so. Pre-heat oven to 375 about this point.
  7. Fold egg mixture into egg whites.Sprinkle flour mixture over egg mixture, fold in gently just until combined. Spread batter evenly in the prepared pan.DSC_5700DSC_5701
  8. Bake from 12 to 15 minutes. Insert skewer to check doneness. Immediately loosen edges of cake and turn cake out onto a wire rack. Cool completely.

Ingredients for custard

  • 4 egg yolks beaten well
  • 2 cups milk, half and half or light cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract


  1. In a large bowl, put ice and water.
  2. Combine 4 egg yolks, milk (half and half or cream) and 1/4 cup sugar in a heavy medium sauce pan. Note: If you want chocolate custard add about 3 ounces of chopped chocolate pieces and add to the mixture. The chocolate custard version (picture below) I made for last Independence day. DSC_5428DSCN0345
  3. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture just coats a metal spoon. Remove from heat and stir in the almond extract.
  4. Place pan over ice water to cool for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Careful not to get water in the custard.
  5. Pour custard mixture into a bowl. Cover the custard with plastic wrap. Chill for 1 to 4 hours. Note; Put plastic wrap directly on top of custard, not like in this picture.DSC_5704

To assemble

  • 1/3 cup seedless raspberry jam
  • 2 cup raspberries (if you are using frozen raspberries, thawed and drained).
  • 1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
  • 4 ounces bittersweet (or semisweet) chocolate, chopped in small pieces.DSC_5705
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • 2-3 Tablespoon sugar
  • A couple drops of vanilla
  1. Spread raspberry jam over top of chocolate sponge cake then cut into 16 rectangles.
  2. Arrange 4-5 of the rectangles, preserves side up on bottom of a 2-1/2 quart glass bowl.DSC_5712
  3. Sprinkle raspberries and almonds.
  4. Spread about 1/2 cup of custard over all.
  5. Sprinkle some of chopped chocolate. Repeat layers. Chill for 3 to 8 hours.
  6. Whip cream, sugar and vanilla and drop on top if desired.




My teacher let me pick some peas from her back yard after painting class.DSCN0320DSCN0334

I made pea rice of course.DSCN0336

Is this kale? Maybe she said. I rubbed with olive oil and little salt then roasted in the oven. DSCN0316DSCN0337

This edible flower spread all over in her garden but teacher won’t eat it, just for look I guess. What’s it name? Don’t know, lovely aren’t they? I have to get some for salad next time.DSCN0322

Haystack Rock!


When I saw this haystack, I started to feel that summer was on its way out. A bit lonesome.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ban Ban

Banbanji/棒々鶏-Chinese fusion chicken salad


DSC_5596Ban, when written in Chinese characters, means “a stick”. Because this Szechuan/Sichuan cuisine (四川料理) used sticks to tenderize steamed chicken. The whole meaning is therefore: stick,stick chicken, how cute! I can almost hear the banging sounds of someone doing that repeatedly. Can you? This recipe was requested by friends whom we had over for Sunday dinner and they liked it very much. I’m flattered. I think it is a really great dish for a hot summer day.


Sichuan cuisine use lots of spices and this one is no exception. When it was introduced in Japan, it was too spicy for most Japanese. Naturally, Japanese people modified and Japonnized  it to fit their taste - to resemble a cousin once removed identity? One problematic thought-  people of Sichuan providence believe sweating is healthy, they eat lots of spicy foods to force sweat to come out from every pore so taming the wild heat is defeating the purpose?

There are many versions of the dish and it is very flexible about ingredients (except chicken breast of course) and volume, also for degree of heat. In other words, whatever…whatever is in your fridge that is. Just to be clear, I don’t ban ban chicken. 

Low-fat version of Banbanji Serve for 4

  • (Costco) frozen chicken tenderloin breast meat 8 pieces or 2 pieces per person.
  • 2-3 stalk of green onion-green parts only, white parts use later in the sauce.
  • Skin of ginger roots-about 2 inch by 4 inch, actual ginger part use later in sauce.
  • Vegetable- cucumber, bean sprouts, tomatoes, lettuce, spinach or arugula,etc. DSCN0256
  1. Boil water (about 4 cups,enough to cover all the chicken pieces) in medium sauce pan.
  2. Add green onion, ginger skin and chicken. Reduce heat to low and simmer until cooked through. You do this to take away the chicken odor. If you don’t have green onion or ginger, use 2-3 Tablespoons of rice wine instead.DSC_5587
  3. Meanwhile, prepare your vegetables. Cucumber - cut in match-stick style. Beans sprouts - boil for 1-2 minutes then drain and give an ice bath to cool. Tomatoes - thinly sliced. Spinach,lettuce and arugula - wash and spin dry. Lay all the vegetable on large platter.DSC_5591
  4. Drain the water. Discard green onion and ginger skin. Wait for the chicken to cool enough to handle then shred in small, skinny pieces. Lay chicken on the top of vegetables. Chill for about 1 hour. DSC_5594

While chicken and vegetable are chilling, prepare the sauce. Adjust to suit your taste.

  • Green onion,white parts minced
  • White miso paste about 4 TablespoonsDSC_5607DSC_5609
  • Sugar 2 Tablespoons-can use sugar substitute
  • Soy sauce 2 Tablespoons
  • Rice vinegar 2 Tablespoons
  • Tobanjan (Spicy miso paste) 1 to 2 teaspoonsDSC_5610DSC_5611
  • Sesame oil 1 to 2 teaspoons
  • Mirin (sweetened sake wine) 1 Tablespoon ( optional)
  • Ginger, grated
  • Sesame seeds

Mix everything except sesame seeds with the back of your spoon. Chill. Pour sauce over chicken and sprinkle sesame seeds on top. For vegetarian use tofu in place of chicken.

This one is Sunday dinner version-did not use tobanjan. DSC_5477

Dahlias are basking in the sun in my neighbor friend's manicured back yard. Striking look!DSCN0257DSCN0259DSCN0263DSCN0261DSCN0260


Golden sweet tomatoes are great for snacking.DSC_5603

Burdock flower! I’m ready for kimpira gobo.DSCN0277

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Scent Of Summer

Peach and Blueberry Pie

DSC_5580Scent of peach is what I believe Summer’s fragrance is like. Holding one up an inch from my nose and doing some inspections at the super market. My husband starts bragging to me how great Hurricane Utah peaches are and how store bought peaches even don’t come close, and so on. I abruptly interrupted by saying  “Honey  we’re out of milk, fetch me some, will you?” “As you wish”  and off he goes. I put some peaches in the plastic bag fast. Too bad we’re not in Hurricane.

I must have grandkids withdrawal symptoms for sure. House is too quiet. I’m craving for some sweetness. What is a Summer-like dessert? I start digging in THE FILE for ideas between laundry cycles. The yellowed newspaper recipe clipping caught my eye - Peach and Blueberry Pie - you’re today’s winner! I announced with some hesitation. There is no pictures, well I don’t necessary hate a mystery.

My grand daughter had 6th birthday. This cowboy hat is one of her gifts. Cool yah?DSC_5518

My daughter made this cake from Momofuku Milk cook book.DSC_5516DSC_5514

My grandson loves water.DSCN0224

Time to say good bye.DSCN0249DSCN0250

Make two pie dough

I made this pie from scratch because I didn’t have frozen pie shell but you could use store bought ones. I don’t think it makes too much difference. My favorite is Marie Callender’s frozen pie shell packaged 2 in tin pie pans. Who said “‘easy as pie”? Making good pie dough is tricky and needs muscle. I like a friend’s recipe but this basic dough recipe is good too. You will have a flaky pie shell if you put all the ingredients in refrigerator to chill at least 1 hour before you start making. Use a glass pie pan for this recipe.

  • 2-3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • Pinch of Kosher salt
  • 2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces.
  • Icy-cold water about 5 Tablespoon
  • Flour for rolling out the dough
  1. Combine the flour, sugar, salt and butter in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the mixture until butter is the size of small peas, about 12 pulses. Do not over blend.
  2. Add 5 Tablespoon of water then pulse just until the dough is crumbly.
  3. Test the dough by gently squeezing some dough in your hand. If the dough comes together without any dry pieces, you’ve added enough water. If still floury, add more water one Tablespoon at time.
  4. Press the dough into 2 flat 1-inch thick disks. Do not over handle the dough (one disk is larger, use about 2/3rd of dough and other use 1/3 for this pie)
  5. Wrap the disks in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
  6. Remove disks from refrigerator and wait 15 minutes.
  7. Generously flour a work surface and sprinkle more flour on the top of the dough.
  8. Roll in into an evenly thick 14 inch circle. Roll from the center out and away from your body, be careful as too many crosses make dough tough so rotate quarter turn. running a large metal spatula underneath to make sure the dough is not sticking to the work surface. Transfer to glass pie pan and press it into and along the inside bottom edge. Trim the dough 1/4 to 1/2 inch hanging over the side. Fold the excess so the edge is double thick. Make a decorative pattern along the edge if you like.
  9. On a generously floured surface, roll out other disk to 1/8 inch thick. Make 10 3/4 inch to 1 inch wide strips.

Make peach and blueberry filling

  • 6 medium peaches-peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch wedges (about 4 cups).DSC_5535Pull the skin off this way.

  • 1- 1/4 cup blueberries
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon heavy whipping cream
  1. Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine the peaches, blueberries, sugar, corn starch, salt and lemon juice in a large bowl.DSC_5540
  3. Spread evenly over the bottom of the pie crust.DSC_5544
  4. Lay 5 of the lattice strips vertically across the fruit filling.
  5. Lay the remaining 5 strips horizontally to form a lattice pattern.
  6. Cut off extra overhanging dough and press the strips into the side of the dough.
  7. Brush the strips with the cream. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of sugar on top if you like.DSC_5545
  8. Put pie on cookie sheet to prevent spilling. Bake the pie until the filling is bubbly, about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes.*DSC_5552DSC_5582DSC_5555Roses from our garden. DSC_5570

* For a more flaky bottom crust- bake the pie for 20 to 30 minutes at 375F before putting in the filling. Use pie weight or parchment paper filled with uncooked rice or beans to avoid puffing up during baking.

Rainer cherries are now in stores. Cherry pie next?DSC_5523


My son wished for a pet on his 10th birthday. My husband and I both worked at the time so we settled for a cat. Thinking that it’s easier to take care of than a dog. My husband and son went to rescue a cat from Oregon Humane Society one day. They brought her home in a white box. I was a bit surprised that it’s was not a kitten. Already fixed indicated that she was someone’s pet and probably strayed. Ordinary tortoise fur with beautiful face but she was very frightened and hid under the bed for a couple months. We didn’t change her name, we thought it was cute. She warmed up to us slowly then she turned into a people cat. She was always curious and happy to meet new people when they came to visit. She looked sad when we locked her in a room so that she wasn’t underfoot. She has been a constant companion for us even when our son left home for college. She has been showing her age and last week after 16 years she passed away.  Top-1I’m not choking the cat, just trying to turn her head to look at the camera.