Sonntag, 26. Januar 2014

Green tea mochi filled with chestnut paste

This evening we will be guests of an japanese aquaintance. I was thinking to bring some home made food as a gift.
So first I decided on mochi but I am not quite sure. Maybe I will bring some home made jam instead. It is like taking owls to athens, you know, maybe she does not like them. at all. She is the expert on japanese food and not me. Anyhow I prepared some and will decide later on.

First I made the mochi: sticky guey stuff, hard to handle...

I prepared a rather unusual filling beforehand yesterday evening:
Instead of bean paste I cooked chestnut paste with chopped caramelized walnuts. I had so many mochis with so many different fillings, I thought to give it a try because I like chestnuts and I have walnuts in storage.

This paste is very delicious, believe it or not, yes it does not look that attractive on first sight.
And this are the finalized mochis:

And this is one cut open, not easy to cut a mochi, better to eat it in one go...

All in all I prepared 8  mochi.

For the filling:

  • 200 g peeled and steamed chestnuts / marrons
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 cup sake
  • 60 g black sugar (rockhard raw sugar cane molasses)

until the liquids are reduced to an half. Puree the chestnuts with the remaining liquid. Simmer while stirring until the paste forms (soft but firm and it will stick to the pot, therefor scrape the bottom of the pot well or it will burn (think preparing puff pastry dough) - set aside.  I inveted this filling and it is not of japanese origin.

Heat up:
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water, 
  • 1 cup roughly crumbled walnuts 
 and stir until the liquid is gone and the caramelized sugar coats the nuts.
Let the nuts cool down a bit and mix with the chestnut paste. I added a small pinch cinnamon.

Let the paste sit in the fridge, covered, over night.

  • 2/3 cup sweet glutenous rice flour
  • nearly 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon green tea powder
Stir ingredients and fill into a glas bowl. Cover bowl with clingfilm and put it in the microwave (900 W, 2 minutes). Stir the hot mochi well, cover again and put it again in the microwave for another 2 minutes.
Transfer the hot mochi in a motar and pound until cooled down to lukewarm. You can stir the mochi with a spatule instead of pounding but this is really hard work and may ruin the spatule and your arm.

With the help of a spatule put mochi on a plate covered with corn starch, form a roll. The mochi is very soft and sticky, but it should feel like an earlobe when touched (it was slightly too soft so I will reduce the water next time in combination with this type of rice flour).

With a teaspoon form small balls out of the chestnut paste.
Cut a slice of the mochi roll, dust your hands with corn flour and form a small palm sized circle, put a chestnut paste ball in the middle and close the mochi around, quickly toss mochi ball into the corn starch and roll it for a bit.

The interesting thing concerning this combination - the chestnut paste is not overwhelming sweet with a fruity and slightly bitter taste: fruity because of the sake and apple juice, bitter the walnuts. This goes well with the green tea flavour.

Update: Decided to bring them along.
I took a cardboard box, cut it in size and glued tissue paper (with a nice carp design) all over, placed the mochi and put the box in a transparent envelope. Hope this will do.


Freitag, 10. Januar 2014

Teriyaki Chicken and Kinpira Salsify

I planned to prepare Jambalaya, that is what I had in mind when I went to the store, but first I visited the vegetable area and found some black salsify - so good! I decided on fake Kinpira gobo. Wish I could buy gobo but in my country burdock is called an annoying weed and not a vegetable to be sold. I think salsify makes a wonderful substitute. So today we had Kinpira salsify and Teriyaki chicken:

Meat and vegetables will be done during the time it takes to boil the rice.
First I deboned two chicken tighs and cut the meat into smaller chunks (prepared some chicken broth from the bones). I marinated the meat in
  • 2 tablespoons sake 
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
for 1 hour in advance. Then I stir-fried the chicken (skin-side first) until well browned, added the leftover marinade, stirred with some chickenbroth (3 tablespoons) and let it simmer until done and the liquids nearly gone  (just a few minutes).

  • 2 big salsify roots
  • 2 carrots
  • oil for frying
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 1 sip sake
  • sesame seeds (toasted)

I peeled the salsify roots (the skin is not edible) and shaved the roots into strips  (- I did not care about the oxidation. The white salsify turns yellow-brownish due to oxidation if not put into vinegared water after peeling, but this would add a slightly sour taste so I decided against).
I cut the carrots into strips and stir-fried the vegetables in a little oil. Added the liquids, simmered over medium until the vegetables turned tender/crunchy and sprinkled sesame seeds.

Sonntag, 5. Januar 2014

Nut & Fruit Bars

Before christmas my mother shipped me a lot (ton) of walnuts. She has a big tree in her garden and each and every year she shares the harvest. She always tries to eat lots but they are legion. She even feeds squirrels and birds with the cracked open nuts (some birds are used to come knocking at her sliding door for breakfast). I have seen her blackbirds, they remind me on fat poultry, nearly unable to fly, all thanks to those fabulous nut snacks and she feeds raisins too.

Today I decided to clean out the kitchen cupboard and found some leftover dried fruits. So I decided on candies again while using the nuts and this snack is quite heathy...

By the way the following is a medieval recipe:

300 g nuts (for example mix of walnut nuts, pine nuts, cobnuts, almonds)
200 g dried fruits (figs, apricots, dates, raisins)
100 g candied fruits (I used my candied orange peel and 10 candied cherries)
2 tablespoons almonds, finely ground

Chop the nuts and fruits roughly

150 sugar
100 g honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 small pinch ground cloves
1 pinch ground dried ginger

Heat up sugar and honey until the sugar is melted and the mixture bubbling hot.
Mix all ingredients together and fill into a rectangled mould, greased and layered with thin wheat wafers. Spread the mixture evenly (best up to 3 cm high), cover with another layer of wafers and bake at 150 degree C for 30 minutes.
After baking put some weight (a wooden board and some cans) on top of the wafers, let cool down and put it into the fridge for a couple of hours.
Remove weight and cut the nut-mixture into dices using a heavy knife.

The wafers help to keep the fingers from getting sticky. If you don't have any wafers you may substitute with parchment paper, after baking remove the paper and dust the dices with icing sugar.

Freitag, 3. Januar 2014

Early spring

It is incredible, right now usually we are in the middle of the deepest winter with cold wind from the east, but there is spring outside.
Even the strawberries started to blossom and I went into the garden to cut the first flowers. Just enough to put a little spring into the house after removing christmas decorations.
I don't like snow and ice so this winter is best. There is only one thing, maybe I have to mow the lown if this weather goes and on. But I prefer mowing grass to shuffling snow.
My little flower arrangement contains one mahonia blossom, japanese quince twigs with flower buds and some bamboo. I just sticked it together into some moss.

Mittwoch, 1. Januar 2014

New Year noodle soup

We started the New year with a bowl of leftovers. Yesterday evening we had a late dinner: our alltime favorite hot-pot/nabe dish. It is so nice and cosy to sit around the table, chat and fish for a piece of meat or a mushroom or vegetable from time to time...
Hot-pot is so easy to prepare, can be prepared well in advance and it takes time to be consumed.
Basic ingredients are a chicken broth (very light, not salted but spiced up with bonito flakes. I used the flakes to prepare a Ponzu sauce and let the squeezed flakes soak in the warm broth for 30 minutes, filtered the broth).

The broth was kept in a bigger pot over a gas burner on top of the table.
In went:

Just to be dipped in and to be eaten after 1 minute max.
  • beef, loin, fatty, sliced thinnly 
  • pork, loin, sliced thinnly
  • young chard leaves (chard is still growing in my raised bed)
  • rucola leaves
 Should be simmered a little longer:
  • mushrooms: oyster, king oyster, enoki, shimei,
  • daikon radish cut into rounds (to be let simmering until the very end 2h +)
  • spring onions, cut into longer pieces
  • carrots cut into flower shaped rounds
  • snow peas

I prepared sesame sauce and ponzu sauce especially nice with the meat.
Sides: pickled daikon, quick pickled cabbage, carrots and bell peppers, smoked oysters in mustard-spring onion sauce.

Today we just had some mushrooms, long simmered daikon and some deeply flavored broth left over. The meat was gone... I added some more water to the broth and a little salt and soy sauce and a sip sake.
Boiled 2 eggs and deep-fried 100 g tofu, sliced some leek, cut a few snow peas into strips and harvested some more chard leaves, cooked some soba and here we are - super delicious noodle soup:

Happy New Year!