Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Apricot and Sesame Seed Pie

New easier crust recipe

Who said  ‘ Easy as pie’? I never conceded that is true, wait, compared to what? Anyway, the key element of pie in my opinion is of course the CRUST. You need to have a flaky, buttery, biscuit like crust. I tried many crust recipes over the years…I have a few favorites…check my past crust recipe here, here and here.
Less fussy though the taste is as good as other professional recipes. The fruits I incorporated is apricot because I had to do something with the leftovers…ah, oh…some are already too ripey!…You can use any of your favorite stone fruits for this. The aroma of toasty sesame seeds is really something.

Ingredients and Instruction for one 8 inch tart ring or pie pan (Print Recipe Here)

Make the crust (I recommend making the dough the night before)

Necessary equipment: food scale, sifter

  • 1 medium egg yolk (about 20g)
  • 20g cold water
  • 3g sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • 100g butter room temperature
  • 160g low viscosity flour(薄力粉), sifted
  1. In a small bowl, put egg yolk and beat well, add water, sugar and salt and mix well. Refrigerate the egg mixture for 30 minutes.
  2. Put butter in a large bowl and cream it with a wooden spatula. Add flour all at once and incorporate by cutting in with spatula’s edge but never swirl until the mixture resembles oatmeal, do not over mix.
  3. Add chilled egg mixture and combine by cutting motion until the mixture just comes together. Again, do not over mix here either. Do this as fast as possible before the egg warms up. Form a disk, wrap tight with plastic sheet. Refrigerate for 4 hours or more.















Fruits compote

You may skip this ‘compote’ process for a less-calorie version

  • Stone fruits – number of fruits determine by it’s size – lay the halved and pitted fruits (do not peel skin) inside of pan plus two more (fruits will shrink in cooking process). Weigh the fruits.

  • Sugar – about 30% of fruits weight.  Note: I used less than 30% and it was still too sweet!
  • Water – 10% of fruits weight
  1. Place fruits in the pot. Add sugar, water the put lid on to cook fruits on medium heat. 
  2. When the steam starts coming out between the pot and the lid then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 5 minutes and turn off the heat. Remove the lid and cool completely in the pan.

Almond cream

  • 80g butter, room temperature
  • 70g sugar
  • 65g eggs (about 1 and 1/2 eggs), beaten. keep in the refrigerator until needed, Note: beat two eggs very well in a bowl then weigh, take away the potion you don’t need.
  • 80g Almond flour, whisk to remove large lumps.
  1. With the same whisk you used for almond flour, cream butter in a large bowl. Add sugar, whisk until the mixture turn to light color and fluffy.
  2. Add chilled egg 1/3 at a time. beat well after each addition.
  3. Add almond flour. Mix well with spatula.

Assemble and bake

  1. With the crust dough in between plastic wrap, roll the dough with rolling pin and fit in the ring or pie pan you’re using. Note: take out dough from refrigerator 10 minutes before start of assembly, other wise dough will be too cold and tough to handle.
  2. Heat oven to 390F. Spread 1/2 of almond cream in the bottom of crust. *Pat dry the fruits compote with paper towel and lay on the top of almond cream. *Not necessary but it may be too watery.

  3. Spread rest of almond butter cream on top of the fruits.
  4. Sprinkle evenly with white sesame seeds 1/4 cup or more on top. Bake for 1 hour. Cover the pie with aluminum foil halfway through. Serve warm with a scoop of  vanilla ice cream if you like.

From last week’s Tapas instagram post (#todaystapas) – Blabassoppa (Swedish blueberry drink) is a thick, warm juice I’ve come to love! The recipe I discovered from “Thirsty for…’ YouTube video, thanks to Linda’s Peaceful Place blog.

And this Fruits Gyoza made from fresh mango, cranberry relish, cream cheese, lemon, cinnamon…Truly scrumptious!…Honest! (love the movie!).

Garden jewel..semi-wild strawberries on our front yard….precious!

Wishing you pleasant weather!

P.S. Somehow the tool I have used for years to write my blog is not working, so this is not as good looking as my usual posts. I hope they get it fixed before next week's post.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Chicken Miso Hot Pot


DSC_6468Here we are in the middle of May, having iffy weather…particularly  last Saturday, Trying to decide whether I should grab the jacket or not when we head out the door…a bit nostalgic, almost melancholy for the perfect 82 degree Ishigaki weather.

This simple hot pot (basically miso soup with chicken) dish seems like it has comfort agent and is soulful…how blessed we are to have made the trip to my home country though…phew…to do list is getting lengthy and wish to linger in residue of the memories rather than to tackle it.

Our weekend is packed with errands and yard maintenance…dang! Those noxious weeds are overtaking our yard!…once again!

Ingredients and Instructions for enough for two people (Print Recipe Here)

  • 3 cups water
  • 2x3 sheet of dried kelp, wipe the surface with damp paper towel
  • 1-1/2 cups bonito flakes
  • 2 chicken thighs bone-in, skin-on, roughly cut
  • 3-4 Tablespoons white miso paste   Note: I used Koji Miso in the bottle – handy, has rich yet mild flavor.
  • 3 cups Chinese cabbage roughly chopped
  • Seven spice red pepper (optional)DSC_6456
  1. Pour water in a stone pot or thick bottom pan. Soak kelp in the water for say…30 minutes? Put the pan on the burner and start to boil at medium heat. Remove the kelp and discard just before full boil.DSC_6439
  2. Put bonito flakes in mesh sieve which fits in the pan you’re using. Cook to extract flavor about 3-4 minutes. Lift mesh and press with wooden spatula to get the juice into the pan. Discard bonito flakes.DSC_6442DSC_6443
  3. Place cut chicken in the pot and cook for 30 minutes (or so) at lowest heat setting.
  4. Dissolve miso paste into the pot, check the flavor, add more miso to suit your liking. Add water if it’s too salty but remember that the cabbage will dilute the saltiness later.
  5. Mound the Chinese cabbage on but not disturb the chicken with stirring and cook at lowest heat until the cabbage eventually cooks down. Have as is or add a few drops of ponzu soy sauce, seven spice red pepper (optional).

I bought the award winning  Nitamai(仁多米) rice at Shimane Fair (products on sale that were made in Shimane prefecture 島根県) at Japanese Supermarket. 2kg(4.41lb) for $15.99. Holy macaroni! Gleaming white rice I think has great flavor!DSC_6454

Here is the Shimane’s yurukyara (mascot), Shimanekko…right.


More pictures from our trip – We took a walk near the Japanese style Inn we stayed at on the outskirts of Fukuoka.. We saw this orange tree in someone ‘s back yard…naturally we click, click over the fence…what kind of orange is that? asked my husband ‘I dunno…’ I crooked my head slightly to the left and appealed with my cuteness…just kidding, of course.IMG_3721

‘ May I help you?’ an older gentleman opened the back sliding door hearing our commotion. We’re just admiring your orange! said my husband  apologetic. ‘Would you like to have some? IMG_3722Why don’t you come in?  My husband and I looked at each other Really?..’Should we?’ my husband said telepathically. ‘He seems harmless’ I beamed back.  And he was. Musician/composer nearing his retirement, offered us coffee which we declined…his wife was in a care home, he was perhaps a bit lonely.  IMG_3723

We found out that this is called Amanatsu orange(甘夏みかん). He cut open the hard skin and put it in a bowl for us to have…interesting, cross between grapefruit and pomelo? He put four more in the plastic bag as a parting gift which we lugged all the way to Tokyo.

From Today’s TAPAS (#todaystapas)– As a Mother's Day gift, my daughter sent us a box full of beautiful apricots from Frog Hollow Farm. Apricots? Not really my usual go-to fruits… I made an apricot and sesame seed mini pie. It was very successful pie, this could be a future blog post…I was thinking…IMG_3937IMG_3939Thank you for your visit to my blog. Have a wonderful week!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Quaint little Izakaya

Restaurant Review

IMG_3683I peered over the shoulder of a stranger seated in the plane’s window side and the emerald sea jumped into my view below…first time in Ishigaki Island, a semi-tropical island, south of Okinawa. We were more than thrilled.

The parents of our daughter-in-law were waiting for us at the arrival gate, smiling, We waived our hands big through glass wall, I pointed to one of two baggage claim area and motioned that we had to get our luggage first. They nodded, still smiling. We spent three days with our new favorite people in this beautiful island.

That night we’re invited to their cozy restaurant Kurashita (蔵下), short walk  from the city hall, near shopping arcade. The interior of the restaurant has Izakaya feel though, geared toward French (but not limited) because of his extensive training as a French chef. He worked as a chief chef at a top floor restaurant in Ishigaki Nikko Hotel for more than 20 years before opening his own restaurant 10 years ago. This is truly a Mom and Pop shop, chef dad cooks and the mom works as a server.
I don’t remember the names of most dishes (sorry, my bad) but it was marvelous!.

First course – appetizer plate. lots of seafood, loved the sea grape.IMG_3608Sea grapes ( 海ぶどう) Close up!IMG_3609

Second course – seared beef saladIMG_3612

Third course –  Shell fish (see that shell in the pic, don’t remember the name though) gratinIMG_3613

Fourth course – Puff pastry over the soupIMG_3616IMG_3618

Fifth course -  fried sea weed accented this dish.IMG_3621

Sixth course – The chef got us remarkable Ishigaki beef so tender and flavorful! IMG_3623

Seventh course – Rice in soup, packed with umami!IMG_3625

Finale – Purple sweet potato Mt. Blanc cake! Delish!IMG_3627

They showered us with their generosity and kindness throughout our Ishigaki excursion which we’re very grateful! Meeting their group of friends since grade school added to the enjoyment.IMG_3626The next day, they took us to Yakiniku place for dinner and that was also delicious. Check out my new hair do…I stopped coloring my hair 8 months ago. Now my hair is 60% gray! Chic, right?Scan_20150511 (2)

At Yimamura (やいま村). Why don’t we take picture with traditional Okinawa costume? Ah…for real? Yes, really, let’s!  Scan_20150511

Although I maybe biased on the restaurant review (just a tad), I highly recommend this place if you ever have the chance to visit this fabulous Island.

Please visit a Travel blogger, Minoru’ Photo Diary to enjoy spectacular views of Ishigaki.