Sonntag, 31. Juli 2011

Mugicha - barley tea

In books and mangas I read so much about this japanese tea. It is a very traditional summer drink  in japan from ancient times when coca cola was unknown and the world of softdrinks a strange one. So I decided to try it. But it is impossible to buy mugicha here, maybe in japanese supermarkets in Düsseldorf (biggest japanese community in germany). Düsseldorf is only 280 km away but it is a boring city, so I don't want to spend money and time on this location for shopping only. I had to make the tea base by myself. This tea reminds me of my childhood when my grandma cooked fake coffein free coffee made from roasted malted barley, cichorium roots with lots of sugar and milk for the grandchildren only.

I bought 500 g organic barley without hulls. They did not provide smaller amounts.
(First I checked the barley field 5 min away on my jogging tour but how to get rid of hulls, too much of a hassle.)
I roasted a few tablespoons of barley in a cast iron pan for about 15 minutes on medium heat until the colour  of the grains turned to a roasted  coffee bean brown. This is quite a job. You have to stir it on and on to prevent burns.
in the pan stirring

roasted and unroasted barley

Afterwards I simmered 3 tablespoons of barley in 1 l water for 10 minutes.  I cooled the tea about 2 hours in the fridge. The result: A liquid coloured straw yellow-greenish brown. Think of something related to body fluids...

It did not taste anything special - ok a little bit sweet smokey-green tea-ish.  Husband decided this is something for people grown up with unsweetened light green tea only. Others said they would prefere even camomilla tea anytime before drinking this again.  Other countries other tastebuds. The birds in my garden will have to eat lots of barley grains during next winter.

And I will always love malted barley coffee with milk and sugar.

Crispy apple rolls

These rolls are made from yeast dough, lots of butter and apples. Warning: the dough is little bit tricky. Maybe you need a few trials. We like them very much and you don't even need lots of different ingredients. So if you are looking for a little comfort food on a cold and rainy sunday give it a try:

For dough base:
250 g flour
100 ml milk
30 g Butter, soft melted
1 egg
25 g sugar
1 pinch salt
1/2 sachet instant dry yeast

Dough finishing:
125 g butter (sliced, at room temperature)

For filling:
50 g sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 apples (medium size)
1/2 lemon, juice only
1 tablespoon dried aronia berries or currants or raisins

For topping:
1 tablespoon brown rocksugar ( so called tea sugar or kandis)
1 pinch cinnamon

Heat milk in microwave, add to dough ingredients (for the base) in your kitchen engine  bowl and let kneat for 10 minutes on medium drive. Make sure your enginge can handle heavy doughs. And yes, it has to be kneated for such a long time.
The dough is  hard to kneat. You can do it by hand but you have to beat it until bubble forms to receive a sufficient result later on.
Let dough rest, covered with cling film in the fridge over night or for 1- 2 hours.
Roll out the dough to a rectangle plate, thickness not more than 0,4 cm. This is quite tricky. Layer the sliced butter on one half of the plate and cover with the other half, fold the edges of the small side a little bit down to prevent the butter from escaping.  Fold dough from the short side to 1/3 and fold from the outer side also to 1/3, fold together to one part (sized as the 1/3). Now wrap the dough brick in cling film and let rest for 1 hour in the fridge.
dough brick

Roll dough to a rectangle plate - as thin as possible, dont kneat! This is some kind of puff pastry dough so don't destroy the layers.
For the filling, peel and core apples, cut them in quarters and slice quarters finely. Toss apple slices with lemon juice, put them in a bowl, cover and cook 2 minutes in the microwave  (900 w).
Stirr the cooled soft and juicy apple slices with cinnamon, sugar and berries and spread mixture on top of the dough.
Roll up the dough to a large roll and cut in thick slices (maybe 4 cm thick). Layer slices flat on a  baking sheet (covered with baking paper) and bake about 15-20 minutes in an preheated oven (200 Celsius). When brown and crisp, transfer on a roast and sprinkle with freshly grinded rocksugar mixed with cinnamon (or use ready made icing sugar).
makes 5 pieces - eat warm!

Samstag, 30. Juli 2011

Small fruited tomatoes

In may I bought seedlings of small fruited grape tomatoes.
The plants are still growing and somehow a miracle happened. Would you call this a small fruited tomatoe?

Me neither.
I think they confused the plant pots in the nursery. Same occured to my friend, bought small fruited plants and got the big guys too. But she has to deal with the cheap round shaped tomatoes. She is as despleased as I am. Besides, this is so not a tomatoe summer. They are lacking sunshine.

Green Plum Brandy

I read about Umeshu in japanese blogs. Interesting, but Ume are not available in Germany. Ume are some sort of apricots (Umeshu is made from unripe ume plums and rice brandy). I do know how green (unripe) apricots taste like and it is no way different from what my still a little unripe cherry plums actually taste.
So I decided to give it a try: Making Plum brandy from cherry plums.
All you need is:

A wide mouthed big jar with airtight lid (I used a beer jar for 3.5 l beer, available at small artisan breweries. You can buy their beer in this kind of jars, if you return the jar you get money back or get a refill)

600 g plums - cleaned in hot water, stems removed
400 g rocksugar
900 ml Vodka (high octane: 40%)
1 bamboo skrewer

Ingredients for plum brandy

Pick the plums with the bamboo skrewer a few times. Place a first layer of plums in the jar, add a small of rocksugar, keep on going with a next layer of plums and sugar and repeat until they are used up. At least cover with vodka. Close lid and keep the jar in the basement. After 6 month we will see.
Some say you should fill the jar only halfway. I filled it up to 3/4. There is no way the plums will produce more than 500 ml juice. Even with the amount of sugar and vodka it is not enough to blast open the jar.

This was no help to reduce the amount of plums on my tree. We contacted a local distillery. You can deliver fruits and afterwards buy back the brandy. But you have to deliver 150 kg fruits without seeds/core. I don't think we have more than 60 kg plums and hell I am not going to pit this amount. Husband will contact the zoo. They are always happy about a free delivery of organic grown fruits (apples) for the animals but I don't think they will take plums. Next year I am going to cut down the tree to a more manageable size for sure. Everbody in our village loves the view of this tree in early spring. It looks fanstastic while blossoming (there is a little girl in the neighbourhood always making her own plum blossom viewing. They have trouble to get her going on her way to kindergarten). But the tree is way to big and produces too many fruits afterwards.

Update 23.10.2011:

Just checked the jar. The rock sugar has desolved. The flavour matured already nicely: very fruity (plum) with a little sour zing. The colour of the liquid has turned to pale yellow/green.
2 more month to go.

Samstag, 23. Juli 2011

Wicked summer

We had a short very hot summer in may and june but since a few weeks it is rather cold, rainy, cloudy, windy, nasty. But there are some guys who love this weather. I am facing major problems especially concerning this one:

My cherry plum tree, 5 m tall and heavy loaded.  During hot and dry summertimes some of the fruits just don't make it, but this year I have tons and tons. Usually I would cook jelly and chutneys but there is no way to manage this years harvest. Dont know what to do.
I wish I would have more of these:

Actually I count 16 peaches on the tree - in early spring we had some freezing cold nights and therefor the peach harvest will be rather small.

The only thing making me happy  in this so not summer (as a gardener) is the development of my lilies and greens as Rhododendrons - it is like living in a jungle.

Freitag, 22. Juli 2011

Grüne Walnüsse in Sirup / pickled green walnuts Part II

Pickling walnuts is a longterm project. You need a few weeks for the preparations. First you have to put them about a fortnight into a salt water brine, changing the brine once after one week.

After two weeks the walnuts turned pale in colour. They smelled like capers or green olives.

Walnuts after a fortnight

Now you have to dry them. I put the walnuts on a tray layered with kitchen paper and stored the tray in a dry and warm room in the attic.

After 3 days the walnuts shrunk a bit and turned pitch black:
Black walnuts ready for boiling

Not very tempting mummies...ready for the next step.

750 ml vinegar (balsamic white wine vinegar)
700 g sugar (600 g white sugar, 100 g molasses sugar)
1 tablespoon allspice corns
1 tablespoon black pepper corns
1 teaspoon sechzuan pepper corns
1 cubeb (african pepper)
1 big cinnamon stick
2 big laurel leaves

Bring to boil, add nuts, simmer 10 minutes on low temperature. Let sit over night. Bring to boil again. Spoon nuts in clean glass jars, fill in the hot sirup. Close the lids and store at least 6 weaks before eating your first pickled walnut.

I tested one nut right after the first boiling. I hope they will mature to something better during the next 6 weeks or they will end in the bin (also it looked alike the store bought).

Mittwoch, 20. Juli 2011


Hiroyuki showed us his japanese school canteen version of bibimbap. It looks very delicious. My son would have appreciate it very much as school lunch. He likes all kinds of food from eastern asia. And I remember very well a funny episode when he was only four years old and we visited the first (very good) japanese restaurant down here. He was the one who ate everything (formerly unknown to him from taste and texture) as sashimi, pieces of sea urching, sea wead, tofu and things we still don't know yet - simply everything his father left on the plates and he ate his kid meal too: ebi fries, duck breast with soba. He was and still is as always a little bit more adventureous...

So he likes my korean bimimbap version too (hi Niki you missed this but you may cook it at your home...):

My small bowl already mixed

1 cup short grain rice
1 l Dashi stock with a piece of konbu ( dashi made from 1 l water and 1 small package dashi no moto)
400 g ground meat (pork)
1 carrot, peeled and cut in match sticks
4 green onions, light green parts cut in bite size pieces, white parts cut in small slices
1/4 small white cabbage (crisp), cut in wedges, thick parts removed
1/2 broccoli, in bite size bits
1/2 precooked bambooshoot, cut in match sticks
3 eggs

3 tablespoons soysauce (1/2 for the cabbage)
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons sake
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 big knob ginger
2 garlic gloves
1 Pinch Chiliflakes

Korean Chilisauce (Gochujang)

Cook rice as usual.
Heat dashi with konbu. Blanch vegetables (not the bamboo stripes and carrot sticks) separted for 2 minutes. With a slotted spoon transfer blanched vegetables in separate bowls.  Blanch carrot sticks for 1 minute.
Roast sesame seeds in a dry pan until they become golden and fragant. Put seeds in a electric grinder or motar and grind them together with salt into a sticky powder.
electric grinder with sesame powder

Ginger and garlic: Finely grate them and mix in a small bowl.
Season the different vegetables with a little sesame salt powder (good pinch) and a small pinch of  the ginger/garlic  mixture and a few drops of sesame oil.  Additionally add a little soysauce and chiliflakes to the cabbage (needs more flavor..).
keep vegetables separated

Heat meat in the pan and roast until crumbly and golden  browned. Deglace with soysauce, mirin and sake. Add the leftover mixture of garlic and ginger (ca. 1 teaspoon). Roast until fluids are nearly evaporated.
deglacing meat

Oil the ceramic pot with 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil.  Spreat rice in one layer in the bowl. Place a layer of roasted meat on top.
first 2 layers

Arrange vegetables as last layer to you liking, they should be separeted in the different kinds.  Crack 3 eggs in different corners and middle.
Spoon a little chilisauce all over the top.
Bake in oven for 10 - 15 min at 200 degrees. Sprinkle with slices of green onion.
For additional seasoning have a little soysauce, chilisauce and sesame oil prepared.
Cooking the eggs on top of the dish in the oven is for food safety reasons only. Usually you would cook the pot a little bit on fire only without eggs. Afterwards just heap vegetables, meat and rice in your bowl and stirr in raw egg. This is not recommended in europe. Nearly 20% of european poultry (laying hens) is infected by salmonella bacterias - they will hurt your tummy, very disgusting creatures.

Maybe you did prepare a little too much vegetables. Just use the dashi stock and the leftover vegetables, cut in smaller pieces, for a nice little soup, with miso or omlette or ham cut into stripes with ramen - just don't through them or the dashi away..

Samstag, 9. Juli 2011

Small mackerels

I bought a big bag of frozen pacific horse mackerels (1 kg for 3.99 Euros). So what to do? I took 4 of the bunch and tried to trim them the japanese way for aji fry: butterflied. Boning was easy but what to do with the small stingy thorns on the back? No way to cut them without destroying the "butterfly".
So I gave up the butterfly idea and cut each into two nice small fillets.
Soaked them in saltwater brine for about 1 hour, dried them with paper towels and afterwards dragged them through wheat flour, lightly beaten egg spiced up with japanese seven-spice and panko flakes.
Fried them in oil and that's all...

Delicious with sauce tatar.
Next time I will cut them open from the back...

Donnerstag, 7. Juli 2011

Rain and meatballs

Today I found horse mackarel at an asian supermarket. The owners are chinese from Kanton region and they are specialized on chinese food. But they also provide some japanese products and lots of frozen seafood. The makarels were small and incredible cheap. One of my underlings said: these fishes must have been found near some well known nuclear ex-power plant (because they were so cheap..).I told him, I would not care as long as they are not going to glow in the dark.

Any how the weather was nice and sunny and so I promised my husband to grill the makarels for lunch in the evening (hurry up home...).  Preparations were nearly done, as a huge thunderstorm with heavy rain occured out of the blue. Have a good look at my patio and you know why I skipped grilling mackarels this evening.

outright flooded...

I got other things to do, save the basement for example: the water came rushing in.

After this unaspected event had taken place I decided to cook something quick and easy: Meatballs in onion sauce. Hiroyuki san posted a recipe a few days ago. So I had to give it a try. You may find the recipe at Hiroyuki's blog

Tsukune Nanban Zuke/つくねの南蛮漬け

I took one pound ground meat (beef/pork 50:50 mix) added 2 tablespoons of panko-flakes and therefor skipped the starch. I also added a little bit harissa (arabian chilipaste) because we like spicy meatballs (otherwise I followed the recipe). The onions were tiny because fresh and young. They just started to build their yellow-brown peel. I decided to use a mandoline to slice them. So the slices were rather small. But they tasted wonderful.

In addition to the meat part of the meal I made a daikon-cucumber-salad with citrus dressing  (just soysauce, lemon juice, mirin- presalted and afterwards soaked the slices in water before) and spinach with sesame seeds (take blanched spinach, squeeze of the water, and mix the dry leaves with a little soysauce, sesame oil and sesame seeds). We had rice for me and soba for my husband too.

Thanks to Hiroyuki we had a very tasty dish.

Sonntag, 3. Juli 2011

Miso glazed beef

I once found a recipe in the web showing wagyu beef roasted over charcoal on a magnolia leave, glazed with a miso-sesame paste: Yummy! Had to give it a try.
Since a few days it's raining cats and dogs (think monsoon but disgusting cold)  and there was no chance to fire up the outdoor bbq-grill so I choose my own method:
I took minute steak cuts - beef loin in  thin slices. Usually this meat has to kiss the pan only. Oh, and it was no wagyu beef. This cow has never seen japan before, or experienced a beerwash or someting else exotic - just a common well breed german product. Due to the lack of dried magnolia leaves (my magnolia tree produces a lot of greens at the moment) I decided to try it with a hot non stick pan (and no charcoal of course).

Serves 3:

6 minute steaks (beef loin) thickness of slices about 0.4 cm

1 tablespoon red miso
1/2 teaspoon sesame paste
1 tablespoon Sake (japanese ricewine)

For the paste: Just mix together.
Layer the steaks on a plate and brush the paste on both sides of the steaks. Let sit 30 minutes.
Heat a non stick pan with a very small amount of oil, put the steaks in and just flip them over after a few seconds. They are ready in a blink. Avoid to roast the miso too harshly. The surface of the steaks should just become a  dry look but no burned or dark roasted marks or the miso turns bitter.
Transfer to a plate. Deglace the pan with 1 small scoop dashi (look at the salad recipe down below) and you will get a nice little sauce (for rice and meat)

Serve steaks with rice and salad.
German serving method - no bowls involved and no precutting of the steaks

This broccoli-snowpea salad is nice and easy and healthy:

salad before tossing

You need:
1/2 broccoli
1 cup snowpeas
2 young onions, 1 big 1 small
1 garlic glove (fresh mild young garlic)
1 knob fresh ginger, peeled
instant dashi for blanching the vegetables and 2 tablespoons for the dressing
1 tablespoon soysauce
1 teaspoon sesamepaste
1 teaspoon sesameoil (from roasted seeds)
1/2 big lemon, juice only

Divide  the broccoli in bite size pieces. Heat 1 l  water with instant dashi.
Let broccoli cook in dashi 1 minute on high heat, transfer broccoli on a plate and let cool quickly.
Cook snowpeas for 1 minute in the same dashi and let cool in a bowl.
Cut a big young onion with a mandoline in thin slices.
Mix the small young onion - cut roughly in pieces, ginger, garlic glove, sesameoil, lemon juice, soysauce, sesamepaste and dashi in a blender until smooth. If you don't have a blender, grind the onion, ginger and garlic and stirr with the other ingredients.

Place greens and onion slices in a bowl  and cover with the dressing.

Samstag, 2. Juli 2011

Onigiri with tuna salad / Japanische Reisbälle mit Thunfischsalat

Today we liked to have just a little snack and Onigiri are really quick to prepare. You don't need much ingredients and you can place inside what ever you want (or find: fridge cleaning....)
Uns war heute nach irgendeiner Kleinigkeit und das hier ist wirklich rasend schnell gemacht. Man braucht dafür nicht viel und kann im Prinzip alles darin versenken (Kühlschrank aufräumen...)

Makes 4 / für 4 Stück:
3/4 cup japanese shortcorn rice / 3/4 Tasse japanischer Rundkornreis
1 piece konbu (5 cm) / 1 Stück Konbuseetang (5 cm)
seasalt (fleur de sel) / Meersalz (fleur de sel)
nori seaweed, toasted and cut in 2 cm high stripes / geröstetes Noriblatt in 2 cm brete Streifen geschnitten
addional 1 teaspoon black or white sesame / zusätzlich 1 Teelöffel Sesam, schwarz oder weiß

Tuna salad: / Thunfishsalat
1 can tuna, tuna only / 1 Dose Thunfisch, abgetropft
2 tablespoons mayonnaise / 2 Essl. Majonnaise
1 small teaspoon mustard / 1 kleiner Teelöffel Dijonsenf
1 small pinch wasabi (hazelnut size) / 1 kleines Stück Wasabipaste (Haselnussgröße)
1 tablespoon capers (salted), chopped coarsely  / 1 Essl. in Salz eingelegte Kapern, grob gehackt
1 green onion, cut in small stripes and than in pieces / 1 Lauchzwiebel, in Streifen geschnitten und dann in Stückchen zerhackt

Tuna salad:
Just stirr all ingredients together. Set aside
Thunfischsalat: Einfach alles zusammenmischen. Beiseite stelllen.

Wash in water until water becomes clear. Cook with konbu  in 1 cup and a little water, pot covered with a lid, on low heat until water is evaporated and rice done (15 min) - get rid of the konbu, add sesame and stir the rice one time.
Line a small tea bowl with a sheet of cling film, put 1 tablespoon hot rice int the bowl, place 1 teaspoon tunasalad in the middle and push the salad a little bit into the rice, cover with another tablespoon rice and push  gently down with the help of the cling film. Take the riceball covered with cling film out of the bowl and form  it into a triangle shape.  Don't push to much, do it very gently and quick. Let cool. (cling film allows you to work with hot rice neat and clean: no sticking, no pain - I am not a japanese grandmother)
Unwrap the triangled onigiri, sprinkle with a little fleur the sel and pat the salt lightly in, wrap a stripe of nori around one side.
  • You may put some black sesame seeds in the rice or on the onigiri. I am not a big fan of black sesame.
  • Not original japanese onigiri style but yummy for europeans: season the rice with a little mirin and vinegar.
  • Leftover Tunasalad can used as sandwich spread or served filled in small tomatos.

Reis in Wasser waschen bis das Wasser klar ist. Mit Konbu und einer plus etwas mehr Tasse Wasser aufsetzen und zugedeckt bei kleiner Hitze 15 min. kochen lassen - bis der Reis gar und das Wasser aufgesogen ist. Konbu entfernen, 1 Teelöffel Sesam dazugeben und den Reis einmal umrühren.

Kleine Teeschale mit Klarsichtfolie auslegen, 1 Essl. heißen Reis hineingeben, 1 Teelöffel Thunfischsalat in die Mitte geben und sanft in den Reis drücken, mit einem weiteren Essl.Reis bedecken, dann alles mit Hilfe der Klarsichtfolie zusammendrücken (aber nicht zu fest). Den mit Folie ummantelten Reisball aus der Schale nehmen und  in ein Dreieck formen. Schnell arbeiten und nicht fest drücken, nur ganz sanft formen. Abkühlen lassen. (Die Folie ermöglicht ein sicheres und sauberes Arbeiten. Klein kleben, kein Schmerz, man ist schließlich keine japanische Großmutter).
Onigiri auspacken, mit Seesalz bestreuen, das Salz ein wenig festdrücken, Noristreifen mittig seitlich umlegen und andrücken.

  • Man könnte schwarzen Sesam in den Reis oder auf den fertigen Reisball geben, ich bin aber kein Fan von scharzem Sesam. 
  • Überhaupt nicht wirklich echt japanischer Onigiri aber lecker: Reis mit ein bisschen Mirin und Essig aufpimpen.
  • Thunfischsaladreste schmecken lecker als Sandwichauflage oder einfach in Cherrytomaten gefüllt.

Grüne Walnüsse in Sirup / pickled green walnuts

Unripe green walnuts harvested until end of june can be turned into something really delicious: pickled walnuts in syrup - a good company for cheese or as ingredient of hearty stews as deer or beef stew.
I never tried to make this kind of preserve before since it is not so easy to get hold on fresh young walnuts unless one climbs into a neighbours garden around midnight....
This year I managed to visit my mother just in time and was allowed to pick some from her big walnuttree. I just have to send her a jar of nuts, when they are ready. She is also very excited how these nuts will turn out.

Grüne Walnüsse, bis Ende Juni unreif geerntet, können in etwas ganz überraschend leckeres verwandelt werden: Eingelegte Walnüsse in Sirup - besonders gut als Beilage zu Käse oder einfach in herzhaften Fleischtöpfen wie Rinderstew oder Rehgulasch mitgeschmort.
Ich habe diese Nüsse noch nie zuvor selbst gemacht, da man nur schwer an unreife grüne Walnüsse kommt. Es sei denn man bedient sich aus Nachbars Garten zu nächtlicher Stunde...
Dieses Jahr schaffte ich es meine Mutter genau zur richtigen Zeit zu besuchen und konnte ihren Walnussbaum plündern. Dafür schulde ich ihr dann auch ein Glas. Sie ist ebenfalls hochgradig am Ergebnis interessiert.

First thing to do: make sure the nuts did not develop their inner hard nut shell yet, just cut one bigger nut and have a look, wash the nuts and pierce them with a fork all around from each and every side. Use rubbergloves to prevent skin contact with their juices. The juice will turn you, your shirt and sensible surfaces like a wooden cutting board dark brown. And don't get some juice splashes in your eyes while piercing!!! This hurts a lot, I can tell you.
Put nuts in a big container (glas or ceramic) and cover them with water. For 2 kg nuts add 150 g coarse salt to the water. Cover the container and let the nuts rest for a week. After 1 week discard the water and cover them with fresh water and another round of salt. The salt water will help to extract the tannin out of the nuts. So it is not really important how much salt exactly you use - it has to be a heavy salt solution.

Als erstes prüfen, ob die Nüsse noch hinreichend unreif sind, d. h. sie dürfen noch keine harte innere Nussschale entwickelt haben, dafür einfach mal eine größere Nuss durchschneiden und nachschauen. Nüsse waschen und dann rundherum mit einer Gabel tief einstechen. Unbedingt Gummihandschuhe benutzen und den Hautkontakt zum Nusssaft vermeiden. Der Saft färbt einfach alles braun: dich, dein Shirt das empfindliche Holzbrett also aufpassen. Und niemals Nusssaft beim Anstechen der Nüsse ins Auge bekommen.  Das tut gemein weh, kann ich bestätigen.
Nüsse in einen entsprechend großen Behälter aus Glas oder Keramik geben.  Mit Wasser bedecken und dabei 150 g grobes Salz bei 2 kg Nüsse im Wasser auflösen. Gefäß entweder mit einem Deckel oder eben Folie verschließen. Das Wasser nach einer Woche gegen eine neue Salzlösung austauschen. Diese wäscht die Gerbsäure aus den Nüssen. So ganz exakt muss man  es mit dem Salz nicht nehmen, es muss eben eine sehr salzige Lösung sein.

First day / am ersten Tag:

After 3 days:

Colour of the brine turned to somehow red tea alike - foamy surface. Whatever, seems to work