Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Kouglof Salé/クグロフ サレ

_DSC1986Kouglof, Gugelhuph or kuguroufu…many spellings for the name of the signature wavy design mold (unfortunately mine has straight lines). Also the name of Alsace region in France’s specialty cake. Brioche like dough,often with liqueur soaked raisin in this kouglof pan and baked – it has a nice sweet flavor.

In contrast, salé means salty in French, hence, this is a savory cake/bread. Positioned near Shimotakaido (下高井戸) station in Setagaya district, is Noliette French pastry shop which just celebrated it’s 20th anniversary in September. The owner, Noriyuki Nagai’s recipe produces a superb texture of Cake salé , salty cake - soft, moist, buttery. At the beginning of his career, he was trained as a chef not a pastry chef - that may have contributed to this creation. Use of kouglof pan will put you in a festive mood. I think it will be gorgeous presentation at the Thanksgiving table. Bon appetite!_DSC1951

I just want to let you know that Noliette is now taking pre-orders for Christmas cake. I wonder if the store would ship to the US? Probably not…I guess I have to think of something fabulous to make!

Ingredients and instructions for two 6inch kouglof pans or 1 bundt pan._DSC1956

Stand mixer with hook, 2 kuglof pans or a Bundt pan.

  • 1/4 of medium size onion minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of butter and vegetable oil
  • Bread flour 250g plus 2-3 Tablespoons; sift.
  • Milk 55g
  • Eggs 165g (about 3 eggs) beat well in a medium bowl.
  • Granulated sugar 15g
  • Yeast,  fresh if possible 12g
  • Salt 4g
  • Butter 90g melted
  • Walnuts 1/3 cup chopped
  • Bacon about 2 slices, remove fat and chop small

Day 1 – Preparing dough

  1. Heat 1/2 teaspoon of butter and oil in the skillet at medium-low heat. Add onion and sauté till golden. Transfer onion to paper towel. Press gently to absorb excess oil. Cool and set aside
  2. Mix milk and beaten eggs. Set aside
  3. In a stand mixer bowl, put 250g flour, milk mixture(#2), sugar, yeast. Note: making the dough process should not take more than 20 minutes, otherwise it will ruin the good texture so start timing yourself. Run the mixer at medium speed. At first the dough will be sticky but eventually, it will pull away from the bowl. If the dough is still gooey and does not come together after 10 minutes, add more flour 1 tablespoon at time._DSC1963
  4. Add salt and mix 2-3 minutes more. 
  5. Lower the speed then pour butter in a little bit at a time. When the dough is slick and shiny, add onion, bacon and walnuts. Mix for 30 second or so..
  6. Make a ball and double wrap the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest overnight in the refrigerator.

Day 2 – Day of baking

Flour for dusting, Pam non-stick spray, foil

  1. Dust a flat surface with flour. Divide dough in two - If you’re using a bundt pan then skip this process. Tap dough lightly to release gas trapped in the dough first then kneed the dough 1-2 minutes._DSC1972
  2. Shape dough into big donuts. Here my husband made a hole with his elbow.
  3. Spray the pan with Pam. Press dough hard into the pan then wait about 1 hour for the dough to rise.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 446F. When it has reached this temperature, put the bread in and lower the temperature to 420F. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove foil and bake for 5 minutes.
  5. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack. Serve with olive oil or butter._DSC1994_DSC2002

Tip#1: Although you may lose the “ooh, la, la”  moment you could bake this in ordinary rectangular bread pan and it would be suitable for sandwiches - perhaps turkey?

Tip #2: If you like to make a sweeter Kouglof, add 25g of sugar and 100g of softened raisins (Chef Nagai recommends sultana raisins) in place of onion, bacon and walnuts.

Speaking of bread, my husband and I dined at our favorite Maki restaurant last week. One of the few Japanese restaurants that offer good desserts and sells home made bread. We bought the Japanese style rolls. _DSC1979

We had a surprise visit from friends bearing gifts – chicken thigh mushrooms – the Indonesian name for matsutake mushroom. I leaned the name from an amazing Dentist food blogger, dentistvschef. Okay…that name doesn’t sound appetizing. Anyway, they were wild matsutake harvested from Mt. Hood. How in the world? Compared to regular size one in front, it is Humongous, right? It was bigger than my thigh, I mean my hand!_DSC2003

I simply sautéed with butter._DSC2009

Frost on my lawn…It is getting cold here but I dare not to complain. I’m heart sick to hear the other parts of the country having terrible weather. I hope you’re safe.IMG_0661IMG_0656

And Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!_DSC1936

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Cozy up

Seafood and Mushroom Doria

_DSC1908I can’t fathom that there are some rice cookers that cost more than $1,000 in Japan. One from Mitsubishi corporation sells for $1,400. Has the Japanese passion for perfect cooked rice driven people insane? I dunno, but I certainly am intrigued and would have loved to have volunteered for a taste test.

I bought a new rice cooker recently. Because I saw too many flaws in my old one and I simply fell out of love. I mumbled a few words when I put this one behind me (I mean, put it in a donation box)…”I appreciate your hard work for all these years but …it’s not you…it’s me…I hope you understand”. Anyway, I was seduced by the 20% off price tag, a strong persuasion to form a new relationship.. it did not cost a thousand yet it is a perfect match. See the pic? Isn’t he dreamy? He’s an induction heating type._DSC1857

Doria is a popular dish in Japan but the chance of encountering this on a menu is rare in US restaurants. Japanese style curry restaurant in Portland Kale offers a nice curry flavored doria. Gratin-ey with rice and seafood. Cozy and warm – a welcome dish on a cold Autumn night.

Ingredients and instruction for 4 to 6 servings_DSC1867

  • White rice 2 rice cooker cups
  • Cumin seeds (not the ground kind) 2 teaspoons
  • Butter 2 Tablespoons
  • Salt 1/8 teaspoon
  • Shrimps 4-6 shelled and cleaned. Slice in half length wise.
  • Scallops 4-6 sliced in half thickness
  • Squid, body only about 3x5 cut in 1x2 rectangle.
  • Mushroom – any mushroom – I used maitake and white beach mushroom. Need 1 or 2 small packages cut off stem ends divide in 4 or 6 bundle.
  • White wine 75cc
  • Parmigiano Reggiano cheese 1 cup or more grated.
  • Chopped parsley for garnish

For the white sauce

  • Butter 4 Tablespoons
  • Low viscosity flour (薄力粉) approximately 1/2 cup loosely packed.
  • Milk 350cc or more
  • Salt and white pepper to taste
  1. Make cumin seed rice – wash rice and put in the rice cooker. Add water as directed. Add cumin seeds, butter and salt and cook. After it’s cooked stir with rice paddle to insure cumin seeds are evenly distributed. Put the cooked rice (3 - 4 cups) in an oven safe dish.
  2. Spread shrimp, scallops, squid and mushroom on the bottom of pan. Sprinkle with wine then put lid on to steam cook for 2-3 minutes at medium heat. Do not over cook. Put steamed seafood, mushroom and liquid left in the pan on the top of rice.
  3. Make quick white sauce – Melt butter on the skillet or pan at medium heat. When the butter starts to bubble, add flour and stir until incorporated at low heat. Turn heat to high and add milk all at once and stir until creamy at high heat. Note: this white sauce should be quite loose, add more milk if the sauce is getting too thick. Salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the steamed seafood and mushroom
  4. Heat oven to 400F. Generously top with cheese and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until cheese is golden._DSC1900
  5. Garnish with parsley and serve warm._DSC1901


If you have the resource plus desire to own a high priced rice cooker, wait until a new model comes out. Then the price of the old model suddenly drops like 25 to 30 percent. It’s practically same but a better deal. Isn’t that nice? And my favorite maker is Elephant Mark (象印) but Tiger rice cooker getting lots of votes lately…what is it about animals and rice cookers though?

We spent nearly 3 hours raking the magic carpet, I mean fallen leaves, last Saturday. This is the After photo.IMG_0607

It was like this two weeks ago. Shinning ,Shimmering, Splendid…. A whole new world…A new fantastic point of view, no one to tell us no or where to go…

…Stay here, now is  time to rake, my husband interrupted my singing.IMG_0600

I watched a friend’s two boys one afternoon. I really don’t care for Sponge Bob but I’m grateful for the show as it gave me a 20 minute breather. Are you sure you don’t want to watch an another episode?…They are so cute! IMG_0615

Thank you for dropping by. May your day filled with laughter and fantastic deals.








Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Matsutake Three Ways

Matsutake mushroom and Bok Choy Sauté

_DSC1827My husband got an email from his co-worker one Saturday saying that they saw matsutake mushroom at such and such market (my husband does not recall the name of the market but that is not an important part of this story) for 16 dollars per pound. ‘Do you want it? asked the co-worker. At the Japanese super market, matsutake mushrooms sell for nearly 50 dollars per pound at the beginning of Fall and price will come down to half at the end of the season but so and so market price was lower than that. My husband asked for a conservative 1 pound proxy purchase.

When my husband and I were still young with just my daughter, we took a broken television to a tiny repair shop. The repairman happened to be Japanese and he shared a few matsutake mushrooms he had hunted in Mt.Hood. It was a tender moment, I hadn’t had that delicacy in years and I never dreamed of having them in the US but there they were right in front of me.

The following Monday morning, my husband and co-worker made the exchange.

Do you have the goods?
Yeah, do you have the money?
Good. This never happened, capish?

_DSC1752Joking aside, it definitely was a great buy. The aroma and texture were excellent. We should have bought more. What is the name of the mystery market honey?

Ingredients and Instruction for two servings

  • Matsutake mushroom 2-3 Use the bristle brush to remove dirt under running water then pat dry, cut off hard stem ends.
  • Bok Choy 2-3, separate each leaf and clean_DSC1856
  • Ginger roots about size of adult thumb. Peel skin and julienne.
  • Vegetable oil or peanut oil  2 teaspoons, divided
  • Chinese chicken broth 4 Tablespoons Note: I used soup granule (approximately 1 teaspoonful) dissolved in 4 Tablespoons warm water._DSC1815
  • Salt to taste
  • Soy sauce  or ponzu sauce (optional)
  • Red pepper for garnish (optional)
  1. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in wok or non-stick skillet at medium heat. Sauté matsutake mushrooms until aromatic, about 1 minute. Place the mushrooms on a plate. Set aside._DSC1817
  2. Heat remaining oil in the same pan and add bok choy and ginger and sauté for 1-2 minutes at medium heat._DSC1820
  3. Pour in the chicken broth and continue sautéing until vegetable is tender.
  4. Put matsutake mushrooms back in the wok and stir to combine._DSC1823
  5. Salt to taste. Add a few drops of soy sauce or ponzu sauce if you desire. Garnish with red pepper (optional) and serve.

My daughter sent my husband a Stove Top Smoker for his birthday in September. _DSC1836I placed matsutake mushrooms, maitake mushroom and eringi mushroom in it._DSC1832And closed the lid._DSC1837Voila!_DSC1847OK… it worked, stinking up the whole house in the process though. Hummm, I think we killed the nice fragrance of matsutake and replaced it with less desirable smoky flavor, beside it works better on meat?…but that was a fun experiment wasn’t it?… I try not to put blame on my husband.

Matsutake rice is our favorite. And it goes well with sautéed matsutake mushroom and bok choy. _DSC1641 I stumbled upon a male Japanese blogger who hikes to the mountain to hunt for mushrooms around this time. I recently tried his award winning okonomiyaki recipe  (I forgot to take photo) and it was terrific! His blog, written in both Japanese and English, is worth checking out.

We saw this No-Knead Artisan loaf recipe by Jeff Herzberg and Zoe Francois in Oregonian FOODDAY. It had really good texture. Super easy said my husband. _DSC1754

Also discovered in FOODDAY was World’s Best Lasagna recipe. I crumble under the words like ‘Best”  If it says “World’s” in front of  “Best” then I must try it. This one however is a touch over rated. _DSC1810

I made Banana and Walnuts Rolled Cake for dessert. This perhaps is a post worthy recipe for next Tuesday? But I can’t really think so far ahead. _DSC1838

Goodwill hunting with my friend the other day and I decided that I can’t live with out this vase. Just $1.99, so money can buy love some times? Roses in our garden are on their last leg. _DSC1795

Rain is back and gloomy in Portland. I went and bought a ‘cheer me up’ item from the grocery store…glowing light of sunshine._DSC1805

Have a happy rest of the week!