Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Sweet Sesame Dumpling

Japanese Summer treat ごまみつ団子

DSC_7129There were 43 (as of Saturday) wildfires in Oregon and Washington causing the haze in the vicinity of Portland last weekend. We were saddened by the news of firefighters’ death and at the same time we appreciate their courageous efforts...sincere condolences to the families.

Instead of the usual sweet azuki bean paste in the center, this unique dumpling uses black sesame paste and to me has just the right amount of sweetness. I‘m sure many of you have heard about its beneficial components (check here). I stock this in my pantry and on some mornings I spread it on toast with a little bit of honey…I know I have been blessed so much.

Ingredients and Instruction for 12 dumplings (Print Recipe Here) The recipe credit goes to Japanese food researcher and cookbook author Maki WatanabeDSC_7102

For filling -

  • 1/4 cup black sesame paste
  • 4 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered agar-agar powder

For dough -

  • 150g (1 bag) shratamako (白玉粉/refined rice flour)
  • 130 to140ml water

Ground black sesame seeds for garnish

  1. Making filling - Put all the filling ingredients in a small pan, stirring continuously, cook at low heat until it almost starts to boil. Spread in container of approximately 6 inch by 5 inch. Smooth out with spatula. Freeze for 2-3 hours.
  2. Making the dough - Put shiratamako in a medium size bowl, add water little by little while kneading the dough well to make a soft, moist dough, add little bit of water if the dough seems too stiff. Divide in 12 portions and form into balls. Note: shiratamako is lumpy and has big chunks so you need to crush the lumps as you knead it.DSC_7109DSC_7111DSC_7112DSC_7114
  3. Shaping  dumplings - Boil plenty of water in a pot.Take out the frozen filling and cut in 12 pieces, set aside. Ready a moist paper towel nearby for wiping your fingers. Take one ball and flatten on your palm to about a 3 inch round. Put filling in the center of flattened dough and gather the dough and close tight at the top. Anytime your fingers get black with the filling, wipe with paper towel so that the dough won’t get messy…you definitely like to keep the dough neat and white! Do this step as quickly as possible so that filling won’t melt but if it starts melting put it back in the freezer
  4. Cook the dumplings – Prepare the icy water in a large bowl. With slotted large spoon, gently place  3-4 dumplings in the boiling water. When the dumpling floats to the top of the water surface, cook for additional 2 minutes. Scoop up the dumplings with slotted spoon and put in the icy water until cool. Repeat the process with rest of dumplings. Sprinkle with ground black sesame seeds.and serve cold.
    DSC_7133Warning! dumpling get hard after a while especially If you keep in the refrigerator. Microwave for 15-20 seconds….then of course it is no longer a cold treat!


Blame it on the unusual Summer weather (?), something caused our Asian pears to drop on the ground it seems like all at once. My husband was able to save some..IMG_5163

The shiso/perilla leaves are dwindling…a sure sign of the end of Summer right?…I made juice (concentrated) for #todaystapas instagram post. Refreshing!IMG_5122

I gave in to my ramen craving the other day…IMG_5128

This is a healthier version of the ice cream sandwich recipe on the back of Honey Graham Cracker box. IMG_5141

Wishing you a wonderful week!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Chilled Peach Soup

Savory, tangy cold soup by Jason Franey

DSC_7091Overlooking Lake Union in Seattle, iconic Canlis is perhaps a food lover’s dream. Every dish is like a piece of art. Because of the size, the place lacks some cozy feel but the view is spectacular!…the view must cost something…no way is this a cheap eat.

Former Canlis chef Jason Franey who departed last year created the dish featured in Food and Wine magazine in 2011…tangy and fruity and no heat required, that’s what we need when it’s sweltering outside. Preparation is quick though it needs to be marinated overnight (very important step) so it definitely needs your patience and planning.DSC_7093

Ingredients and Instruction for 4 servings (Print Recipe Here)DSC_7066

  • 3 cups of peeled sliced peaches (about 4 peaches)
  • 1/4 cup peeled diced seedless cucumber, plus thin slices for garnish
  • 1/4 cup finely diced yellow bell pepper, plus some for garnish
  • 1/4 cup diced dried apricots
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 3 Tablespoons crumbled fresh goat cheese, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1/4 cup for making croutons
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1 cup cubed (about 1/2 inch) baguette  Note: For gluten free, substitute toasted sunflower seeds or pine nuts
  • Basil leaves for garnish
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a large bowl, toss the peaches, cucumber, yellow pepper and apricots. Add honey, goat cheese, balsamic vinegar and 2 Tablespoons of olive oil, Kosher salt. Stir well and add garlic. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, at least 8 hours.DSC_7074
  2. Discard the garlic.Transfer the contents of the bowl to a blender and puree. Add 1/4 cup of water and puree until very smooth and creamy, add more water if the soup seems too thick. If necessary, add more salt and vinegar. Refrigerate the soup for an hour or so until very cold.DSC_7081
  3. (skip this process if you are substituting with nuts) Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat the 1/4 cup of olive oil. Add cubed baguette and cook over medium heat, stirring until golden and crisp.
    My husband made this ciabatta bread…he makes bread every week.

  4. Pour the peach soup into a bowl and garnish with sliced cucumber, bell pepper, goat cheese, croutons and basil. Drizzle lightly with olive oil, season with black pepper and serve.DSC_7097

From the Tapas post (#todaystapas)…Soy wrapped garden harvest (except avocado). Light, gluten free and fabulous.IMG_5105

Adapted from a Children’s book ‘Guri and Gura (ぐりとぐら) Kasutera (カステラ) recipe is easy to make…in the book, they shared this treat with forest friends…isn’t that nice?  The hand stitched kitchen towel is a gift from a friend. IMG_5096

Stay cool! Drink lots of water!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Being Foodies


Tapas foods and more


I returned a few days ago from Hawaii…I didn’t prepare anything for Tuesday’s  post though I would like to share some of my trip photos…mostly food photos. I managed to make something every day for today’s TAPAS instagram post (#todaystapas)…it was a bit challenging preparing in an unfamiliar kitchen…where is the baking powder? I took all the contents out of all the cabinets…nope she must not have it…darn it!

The days at Hawaii were really hot and humid. The grape juice offered comfort. IMG_4936Or this watermelon popsicle.IMG_4974

Some day I have no choice but use the meat that was already thawed…fried hamburger (Japanese called it minchi katsu), semi homemade ketchup.IMG_4930

I love lilikoi AKA passion fruit, growing in the front yard – made sauce for waffle, and simply juice with little bit of honey.

My daughter has Momofuku cookbook too. I made two of my favorite dishes from the book. Pork buns ( I made buns without baking powder) and Chicken and Egg, Very ono!


My grandson had a Beatles-like haircut when they came to pick me up at the airport.This picture was taken at Koko Head Café. I heard the rumor that the head chef had competed on Iron Chef.IMG_4874

The next day, his dad gave him a buzz cut…

After the hair cut…Cute ya?IMG_4901

What a cheesy name… Banzai Sushi Bar in Haleiwa…this avocado tempura was really good!IMG_4950

I pumped gas all by myself the other day, in Oregon we’re not allowed to pump it so I was very proud…What? Wrong gas? Two very kind strangers helped to drain the diesel fuel out of the car. I found out later that they are homeless. They kept assuring me that everything is ok, don’t worry.  I was so appreciative of that. IMG_5024

Sensible, artistic granddaughter is getting taller…time flies with top speed.IMG_5029

My son and his wife welcomed their first child, our newest grandson on August 5th…looking forward to meeting him in person in September.

He is beautiful!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Frozen Kefir Custard

Hot Weather Treat

DSC_7060The weather here in Oregon has been unusually warm lately. So I have been craving something cold and sweet. Since there is no one here to help me drink the kefir, I decided to kill 2 birds with 1 stone and use some of the abundant kefir to make frozen custard. When I was a kid we used to hand-crank our ice cream. I must admit that having an electric ice cream maker is much easier – and it makes just enough for me to eat and share with the neighbors.

Ingredients and instruction (Print Recipe Here)

Equipment needed: Ice cream maker

  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1-1/2 cups kefir
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 Tablespoons sugar
  1. Bring the cream and sugar just to a boil in a small saucepan.
  2. In the meantime, stir the egg yolks and vanilla together.
  3. Slowly pour the hot cream mixture into the egg yolks while whisking. Allow to cool.
  4. Pour the kefir into the  egg yolk and cream mixture. Cool off in the refrigerator.
  5. Put the cooled down mix into the ice cream maker and turn it on.
    We used to fight over who got the paddle when the ice cream was done. Somehow the ice cream stuck to that tasted better…
  6. Enjoy with fresh fruit or just plain.


In case you are interested here is the setup I use to make the kefir. I may have let this batch ferment a little too long but it still tasted good.

And here are the kefir grains

I am a big fan of home made kefir. I really like the sourness and the health benefits. We use it in our morning smoothies and I enjoy drinking it plain. Looking forward to Nipponnin getting home this week.

Got a few tomatoes from the garden,