May 27, 2004

todoroki valley: a small hideout

french classics reborn in japan

a brief escape

Thursday, May 27

It's been a while since my last post and I know it's cheating that I post for all the missing days at one time... but I kept taking pictures to upload, so I might as well write, too.

This afternoon I went for a small walk. First I took a short train ride to go to a patisserie called Au Bon Vieux Temps. This place is one of the first traditional French patisserie-viennoiserie style shops in Japan where they carry a complete range of shop-made confectionaries from fancy entremets and baked-to-perfection gateaux to tiny truffes au chocolat and shinyconfitures. It was my first time going there for the past eight or nine years, but the shop was there just as before. I studied what they had in the showcase, took my time to make a choice, and finally picked up three small entremets; Fruits rouges, a tartlet loaded with red (and black and blue) berries; Beau temps, caramel-mousse chiboust with raspberry sauce; and …oops! I forgot the name, pistachio creme brulee and raspberry mousse coated with white chocolate cream. I wish I could buy more, but there are currently only three of us at home and those small beauties would be so rich and powerful we won't need to eat a large amount, even if there hadn't been a budget issue. I also bought myself few caramels – orange-, fleur de sel-, and tea-flavored ones. And a small box of petits gateaux for later.

With a bag of sweet delights in my hand, I walked to a nearby park called Todoroki Valley park. It is a small quite park with a stream running through it, an amazingly nice spot for somewhere so close to downtown Tokyo which is known to have scarce green in town. I didn’t walk all the way along the river, but it was truly refreshing to have a bit of walk around in a calm, peaceful place like this. This park is also a place where I would come when I was a college student and when I lived in this area before moving to Hawaii, so this short walk did make me a bit nostalgic, looking back all those days….

I bought fresh, shelled fava beans on the way back. As I don't see fava beans much in my neighborhood in Hawaii, this is another one of food that I can't miss while I am here. I was thinking about grilling them, but as my sister said she would cook pasta with salmon, we decided to throw the beans in the pasta. It was meant to be cream-sauce pasta, but somehow we made too little sauce so the resultant dish wasn't quite creamy. I topped off the pasta with some freeze-dried zest of yuzu, a kind of citrus fruit that is widely used in some part of Asia including Japan - I like using lemon zest in salmon cream pasta as it gives a nice tangy accent to a thick cream and a bit fishy salmon. Yuzu is not quite like lemon – more bitter than sour, and a bit orangey – but it did a great job on our pasta dish nevertheless.

a "must" hawaiian souvenir

same as the previous day

Wednesday, May 26

It was another nice sunny day today, and it was another busy day packed with work for me. Not much to blog about really... only thing having come up to my mind was Mauna Loa's Maui Onion & Garlic-flavored macadamia nuts that I had brought from Hawaii for my family, especially my dear brother-in-law who just loves them.
Other than those macadamias, there are "Maui Onion" flavors in a number of food products in Hawaii, including potato chips, salad dressings, mustards, etc. In fact real Maui Onion are super good themselves – being a kind of sweet onion, they really are so sweet you don't have to soak slices in the water before using them raw in salad or something, and they taste also wonderful roasted. I use those sweet onions a lot at home, but not macadamia nuts. Why? Because they are so addictive you can't just have one or two! And it is too dangerous when you know that you can buy as much as you want whenever you want, because they are stacked in the shelves of any local supermarket... so better not to have'em at all!

black sesame cream caramel (sans caramel)

so nice out there so busy stuck inside

Tuesday, May 25

On the day I arrive at Tokyo it was hazy and a bit cool. But yesterday and today the weather has been gorgeous – not chilly, not unpleasantly hot, and not yet so humid as it might be within a month or so when we have the rainy season over here. What sucks is, though, that I've got work and don't quite have time to go for a walk or something on such a lovely day. Well I had some stuff I needed to take care of, so I walked to the post office and some stores in my neighborhood. It wasn't a very long walk, but still better than staying at home a whole day.

Since all of us were quite busy working till late in the evening, we had simple, quick dinner together. Yet there was a dessert; my brother-in-law brought us another box from Cheese Cake Factory, and it had black sesame & cheese crème caramel. Well maybe they should not be called "creme caramel" since they don't use caramel in them, but I don't know what to call them then; the bottom line is, they are made from (this is my guess) eggs, sugar, milk and/or cream, which make up the base of crème caramel. You got the idea. And in this version, they added cream cheese and black sesame paste... this is the winner. I love sesame, either black or white, but as far as I know, black sesame isn't as common as the white one in the States, while it is now used in everything including sweet desserts like this in Japan and people love them. Anyways, it is great to have a brother-in-law who brings home such goodies now and then, isn't it?

my first boule bread (to be improved in the future)

as normal as any given day

Monday, May 24

I don't usually have jetlag, and this time was no exception. I got up 7 o'clock with my sister and her husband who left for work. So here I was staying at their house all by myself during the day, and doing my own work.
As my sister took few slices of bread that I had brought for her, now I got to have some for myself; the whole point was, since the bread was for her, she had to have the first slice, right? Anyways, the bread was very good – it had a distinguishable wholewheat flavor because it used only wholewheat flour, which some people just don't care for, while some others like very much – including me. I like light, sweet, airy bread and pastries very much, but I adore dense, solid, more hearty bread like this one, and I was so glad that I got to make some on my own. I spread some cream cheese over a very thin slice, which went admittedly great with the walnut pieces.

When my brother-in-law came home from work, he brought us our all-time favorite cheesecakes. In Tokyo there is a cheesecake house called Cheese Cake Factory , which seems to have nothing to do with the US restaurant chain Cheesecake Factory, which I have been to once but did not have their cheesecakes (the food was too big I couldn't even think about dessert – come to think about it, I hardly ever get to the dessert part at any restaurant in the US). Okay, back to Japan’s Cheese Cake Factory; they've got a good variety of quality cheesecakes as well as cheese desserts, and today we had plain New York-style cheesecakes. They are properly dense, thick and creamy, perfectly New Yorker except, maybe, that their size isn’t quite American enough, which I won't complain.

my assorted-cookie plate

8-hour flight, 27 hours have past

Sunday, May 23

Having flown across the dateline somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, it was already the 23rd (I think) when I woke up before the breakfast snack came, one more hour to our destination. Everyone else was having a ham sandwich or something, while I was served a dish that seemed like ratatouille; I know it's not a typical breakfast dish, but I had not eaten enough vegetable lately, so it was welcome anyways.

It was a bit chilly in Narita when I arrived. I took local trains to a station from which I walked to my sister's apartment. As she was at home, I took out the stuff I had brought all the way from Hawaii right away.
There were one bread, four kinds of cookies, and three kinds of cakes. I brought the whole wholewheat-walnut boule bread, as it was meant to be for my sister who is a big bread-lover. Everything else I left about half of each kind home and brought the rest here.
As for cookies, I had: maple pecan cookies - which were originally made from only three ingredients (maple syrup, flour, butter) and I added pecans because I like the combination of pecans and maple syrup; rosemary shortbreads - which have become my "signature" cookie, although I am trying several different recipes for the cookie dough, for which this time I used one by Phil Vickery, a British pastry chef; galettes bretonnes - very buttery cookies that have been my favorite for years, and this time I made this because I wanted to make the most of the best-quality ingredients I had, inclusing Isigny Sainte-Mere's butter, French pastry flour, and Sicilian almond flour; and dark brown sugar cookies - which I baked almost a week before, as the recipe indicated that they would taste better 3-7 days after they are baked. And there were three loaves of cakes; a fruit cake, a gateau citron, and a gateau chocloat. Well any of these was not fancy or pretty alone, but if you arrange all of them in one plate, it can make a nice gift, I suppose. And they all tasted good, by the way.

We had sashimi and fresh-cooked rice for dinner. Like I mentioned before, I am constantly deprived of fish in Hawaii, so this was a real treat for me. Felt like home, for sure.

in-flight meal: amaretto & ginger ale (left); what the hell are those stuff in my vegetarian meal? (right)

off I flew

Saturday, May 22

When I woke up it was slightly light outside. My flight was leaving at about 6:30, which meant I should leave home at around 5:15 to allow ten-minute drive to the local airport and one-hour for checking-in, security checks, and boarding. "It can't be light now", I thought in the bed, "sunrise would be at around 5:30 and we set the alarm clock at 4:45 and I haven't even heard it rang... what time is it???" He looked up the clock and said, "we've gotta go right now, it's 5:57". We jumped off the bed, got dressed, took my luggage out, and got in the car and off we went.
Against the worries, I made it. I mean I made it to Honolulu, where I change flights back to Tokyo – the problem was, the inter-island airline company couldn't find my name in the reservation list for the international leg on their computer system at my local airport. Instead, they found my name for the wrong flight on the same day – Tokyo-Honolulu one. I got a bit panicked, but I had no choice but to take the flight to Honolulu anyways and there I would talk directly with United people.
Again, things went quite smooth. At a United's desk in Honolulu Airport, they instantly found my reservation for the Honolulu-Tokyo flight, even though there also was a reservation for that wrong flight, as well. I don't know how they came to create the wrong reservation – it would have been hectic to fly from Narita leaving in the evening of the 22nd, arriving at Honolulu at seven or eight in the morning of the same 22nd (due to the 19-hour time difference), and fly all the way back to Tokyo leaving Honolulu at 10:00 on the same day.

The flight was fine. I had a vegetarian meal, not because I am a vegetarian, but just because I was kind of tired of all those "chicken or beef?" question. On today’s flight, they had what sounded like Boeuf Bourguignon as a choice of beef. Boeuf Bourguignon a la in-flight meal?? I was really curious how good (or bad) it could be, so almost decided to decline the vegetarian meal that had been made exclusively for me upon the request from myself (what the heck!), but by the time the food cart reached to our seat row, beef packages were all gone and there were a lot of chicken something. Well, those chicken dishes didn't sound quite exciting enough for me to have them throw away my vegetarian dish, so I let them know that I had ordered a vegetarian meal (they hadn’t spotted my seat) and there it came. I had steamed white rice with supposedly chili beans and… something that I can't figure out what it was. It was a dish of what looked like lentils but tasted like... quite nothing else. They are seasoned with spices but very plain, or quite frankly, tasteless. I suspect they might be some kind of pasta made from white flour but I'm really not sure. Does anyone have any idea what they are?

early-summerly dinner (not quite light, though)

tutti frutti, ancora una volta

mission continued (and completed)

I spent more than half of the day in kitchen today. And rest of the time I went shopping and did a little bit of cleaning and packing as I leave tomorrow.
In the morning, I made tropical fruit crumble for breakfast. Yes, crumble again, but I had a leftover in the freezer from the other day when I made rhubarb crumble. Today I used mango, papaya, and lychees; I had a couple of bites of each and enjoyed the juicy, sweet flesh and cut up the rest, arranged them in a pan, sprinkled with lemon juice and a small amount of sugar, and topped them with crumbles and crushed almonds. I was really pleased with the result – in general I like fruits better fresh than cooked, but the combination of slightly cooked, tender tropical fruits and crumbly crumble was so pleasant. It did impress him, who doesn't like fresh fruits. I think it is lovely to have some fresh fruits for breakfast, but this dish also made a great way to start off a day.
Meanwhile, I prepared the leavened bread dough and made wholewheat-maple rolls. I like maple syrup a lot, and was very much excited about making bread using it – but those small rolls were not as exciting as I had expected them to be. They tasted fine, but weren't quite maple-y enough. We spread a thin layer of bets-quality butter and a generous amount of thick maple syrup on them. A lot better.

This was mere a pre-breakfast warming up, and the project went into a full scale in the afternoon. I prepared a whole-wheat boule dough to begin with, followed by gateaux citrons (lemon cakes) and galettes bretonnes (round, thick biscuit cookies – not those thin crepe-type pancakes made with buckwheat flour).
While baking the cakes and galettes I started cooking dinner. We were having orange chicken this evening; those who live in the States may have Panda Express' Orange Flavored Chicken come up in their mind, but my version (recipe) is supposed be more like French in origin (or is it?). It was my third time trying this dish, and both of the last two times it turned out great – in fact, it does taste a bit like Panda's orange chicken, for the better or for the worse, and it has become his latest favorite dish that I have made, as he is obsessed with Panda's orange chicken.

And today I also tried another "orange chicken" in an attempt to copy a dish that I saw at a deli in my local natural food store. The label read "Orange & Ginger Macadamia Chicken", which was exactly what they seemed to be. Contrary to the sweet and spicy chicken, this version looked lighter and probably would taste lighter, too. At home, I used boneless skinless chicken thigh, pour white wine and fresh orange juice over it and put small pieces of orange segments and chopped fresh ginger root. I didn't use oil this time - just salted and peppered it. After roasted the chicken in the oven for a while, I flipped it over, and added coarsely chopped raw macadamia nuts and shredded orange zest and roasted for another while. I added another batch of orange segments and shredded zest along with fresh ginger before serving, and the dish looked pretty much same as the one I saw at the deli. And the chicken tasted as light, refreshing, and juicy as it looked – I didn't try the store's so I can't compare the two, but I am really satisfied with how my version turned out. This will make a nice early-summery, light dish for an early dinner or something.

For dessert, we had the gateau chocolat I made yesterday. It was the recipe by Trish Deseine who’s book Mes petits plats preferes has already become one of my favorite cookbooks. I first found the recipe in Clotilde's foodblog (where, in fact, I first came to know about the cookbook) and have ever since meant to try it myself. The list of ingredients promised that it would make a rich and dense chocolate cake, and the promise was proved right; hands down, it was a sweet, luscious, surprisingly soft and sinfully rich, real dark chocolate cake… if someone else had made this cake and given it to me, I would have enjoyed the rich cake without slightest worries about how rich they indeed could be.

While we were eating, the project was still going on. I baked two kinds of cookies that I prepared last night, and the boule bread to finish off. I was planning to bake some muffins for breakfast next day, but I figured it was too late in the evening (I was taking an early morning flight next morning) and I had already had enough baked goods anyways. It was about time to get done with packing and go to bed, rather than staying up baking muffins.

crumbly dinner & gooey dessert

tutti frutti

mission: use that oven

Thursday, May 20

As I am leaving for Japan in a few days, I have been trying to do things that I can't do over there while I am still here - oven cooking; they don't have an oven at my sister's where I am staying at. I am cooking and baking as much as I can, so I won’t miss oven cooking so much while I am over there (I sure will anyways, but not as much), and also I can bring something nice for my sister and her husband.
So I went for the plan – I did cook a lot today. First round, I made gateaux chocolats and fruit cakes in the afternoon. This fruit cake (recipe in Japanese)has been one of my latest biggest hit. Loaded with dried fruits and nuts, this cake is very moist, soft, and satisfying, and on top of that, it’s sugar-free. I am not into making sugar-free or fat-free sweets usually, since I don’t want to use artificial sugar- or fat-substitutes so much, but this cake is sweetened only with maple syrup and honey (according to the recipe – but I omit honey), and dried fruits do the rest, And the best part is, the cakes taste really good!
I have made this fruit cake four or five times over the last half year or so, and I’ve come to make more than double the amount of marinated fruits and nuts originally called for, since the marinated mixture is actually really delicious itself. Often dried fruits for fruit cake are marinated in liquors such as rum, brandy, and/or whisky or maybe in strong tea if you are making a tea loaf, but this one you use orange juice and zest and balsamic vinegar. You can use any fruits and nuts that you like or you find at home – this time I used raisins, currants, blueberries, prunes, dates, black and white figs, candied ginger, and candied guava for the fruity part, and pecans, walnuts, brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, pine nuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and crushed almonds for the nutty part. Okay, it’s not exactly sugar-free, since some of the dried fruits are candied with sugar. But it is still amazing how sweet all these fruits are on their own.

Then I cooked dinner. Today I made chicken & vegetable crumble and hot chocolate cakes, both of which turned out very good. Crumble recipe is from my recent favorite cookbook Mes petits plats preferes by Trish Deseine, in which the original recipe uses chicken and leek. I added zucchini, mushroom, and celery, while using sweet onion in place of leek. As did other recipes from this book that I have tried so far, the crumble turned out good, too. Only thing that may keep me from making it again soon is (well, other than the oven issue, obviously) the fat content in this dish… lots of butter, oil, cream, and cheese. This may be something that I enjoy just occasionally, not so often.

The chocolate cakes (recipe taken from the book Neiman Marcus Cookbook (2003, Clarkson Potter)) for dessert meant to be served immediately after they taken out of the oven, so I had all the ingredients ready in the kitchen before dinner, after which I fixed the batter quick and pour it into three pots and baked them just about ten minutes. The cakes, sizzling hot out of the oven, were absolutely gorgeous – just a bit crumbly on the surface and gooey inside, perfectly chocolate-y. They were very rich and sweet, even though I had secretly reduced the sugar down to the half. Well even he gave them two-thumbs up, despite the fact that he usually doesn’t like dark chocolate and I secretly halved the sugar in the recipe. This was a pleasantly easy cake that would make an impressive desert, even though you have to make sure that everyone is at the table, fully prepared to have their dessert without allowing it a chance to settle.

And I prepared two different kinds of cookies as well as bread dough after dinner. My oven-cooking/baking project will go on tomorrow....

May 20, 2004

spaghetti giapponese


Wednesday, May 19

It's been rainy and humid for these last several days here. Admitted, it rains a lot in this town all year around, anyways - but it is so humid I almost feel like I couldn't breath, you know.

We had a bit of leftover of curry rice from last night which we were going to have for lunch, but his friends dropped by and they were all watching a movie eating pizza, so I decided to fix myself something else for lunch.
So I came up with tarako spaghetti; I cooked egg spaghetti I had bought in Rome the other day, dressed them with tarako and butter, and topped with thin strips of lightly pickled shiso. Voila.
For those who wonder what the hell tarako and shiso are: tarako is salted cod roe and shiso is "green perilla", a bit basil-like herb, both of which are widely consumed in Japan. I know there are people who hate the idea of any human being eating fish roe, but I usually like them - cod, salmon, and even mullet. I don't eat fish so often these days, though, as he doesn't eat fish. That's one of the things I miss, and that's also why I am so excited to go back to Japan - Land of Fish!

May 19, 2004

evil-looking pesto (continued)

curry and rice makes "curry rice"

taste of home

Tuesday, May 18

We still had a bit of purple basil pesto leftover from a few days back. Since there was too little left for pasta, we put the rest of pesto on pieces of five-grain sourdough bread and toasted them. Heated pesto gave out incredibly flavorful aroma, even though it made our toast look... um... not exactly pretty.

Dinnerwise, I made curry. It was Japanese-style curry, served with steamed rice, hence called curry rice over there and this dish is something special for a lot of Japanese... almost nostalgic, comfort food so to say. Every family seems to have their own recipe for curry that children and adults equally enjoy, while from cheap diners and cafeterias to topnotch restaurants proudly serve their "own" curries. In essence, Japanese-style curries are closer to Indian than to Thai ones, usually thick than soupy. You can put anything you want - meat, fish, vegetables, or even fruits if you wish - but the very basic ingredients I believe are onions, potatoes, and carrots. Just like any other kid, I liked curry rice a lot when I was younger and I still do, even if I don't make them as often as I used to. Now he has come to like curry rice a lot these days, I started making them more often. The only thing that I do differently from those days in my childhood is that I use beef rather than pork; he doesn't like pork much, but well, I threw several pieces of pork along with beef in our curry this evening, and it was fine! Who knows?

May 18, 2004

quick & easy lunch

I would have been back home

Monday, May 17

If things had gone as scheduled, I would have taken this morning's flight to Tokyo and back home by now. Instead, circumstances made me change my plan and I am still here in Hawaii as of today. Well it's a matter of less than a week, so I really should try and enjoy an unexpectedly extended stay in here.

It was another slow day but I made a quick cake for after-lunch treat. The cake, originally taken from this recipe (*in Japanese), has made a recent hit at my home, as it can be made within ten minutes everything inclusive, and tastes surprisingly good for a cake made using a microwave. Since it is so easy to make, I have been playing with the recipe over and over, replacing some of the ingredients with another, and so far my most favorite version has been the one using soy milk instead of eggs and half the amount of butter that is originally called for. Although it is very moist and soft fresh out of the (microwave)oven, it gets dry very quick just like anything else that is microwaved. So this cake should really meant to be made right before serving.

And the cake I made today was an almond-orange chocolate cake; I added slivered almonds in the cake, and served the slices with grand marnier-flavored clotted cream. I also mixed chopped homemade candied orange peel in the cream, making it really orangy. It made a nice small dessert after lunch.
For the lunch we had my "signature" pumpkin salad, by the way; when I prepared it on Saturday for the dinner with friends, I made some extra and reserved it in the fridge. This salad, which has been one of my favorites and now he likes a lot, is owe its tastiness to the combination of sweet grilled kabocha pumpkin, crunchy roasted walnuts, tangy Parmiggiano Reggiano, crispy arugula, and good seasonings - salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice. Often I add thinly sliced onion (sweet onions are great) and use mesculin greens instead of arugula, which is not always readily available in my neighborhood, but pumpkin, walnuts and the cheese are a must. Very easy to make, great results guaranteed.

May 17, 2004

basils ruffles!

evil-looking pesto?

Sunday, May 16

Overnight into Sunday morning, somehow I still had heavy stomach. Also I had a bit of trouble during the night and didn’t get to have much sleep. So it ended up being a slow day, not much done.

In the evening, even though I still didn’t feel very hungry, we made pesto genovese using bright purple basils we bought yesterday. Labeled as Purple Ruffles Basils, they really were purple – I had never seen such a thing and very curious about it. They did smell like basils, although strikingly different in color as well as shapes. As I didn’t know what it should be used for, I decided to make pesto – purple pesto! Not very appetizing? Well the result was, our pesto wasn’t so purplish; probably I ran the blender too long and the heat must have faded the color. It was a shame, but it still tasted wonderful, almost fruitier than regular green basil pesto… I don’t know our local natural food store will carry those purple leaves all the time, but if we find them at the store next time we’re there, I bet we will grab a bag or two again.

wasn't that a little too much for 4 people?? -never!

too much to eat??

Saturday, May 15

As we had his friends in our place for dinner this evening, it was a big cooking day for me. I didn't exactly know what they would like, and what they wouldn't, so I took a safer plan - just cook a lot of dishes.
I made rosemary & onion focaccia bread, my signature pumpkin salad, "jambalaya" pasta, mock osso bucco, and amaretto-white chocolate cheese cake. It was a lot of food.

I love Italian focaccia bread and this was my first time baking one on my own. I used Williams-Sonoma's recipe which worked surpirsingly well, even though the dough got very sticky and made it hard to work on it. I added a lot of chopped fresh rosemary and that was a really good plus.
Jambalaya pasta was from the book Neiman Marcus Cookbook. This is a very rich tomato & cream-sauce based pasta seasoned with Cajun mixed spices that turned out beautiful. I usually like the combination of tomato and cream sauces, and this recipe was a spicy version of the rich sauce. In fact, the sauce seemed way too rich to me when I checked the ingredients, so I just used a little bit of cream and milk instead of several cups of heavy cream; it worked fine, and the sauce was still very thick.

Salad and beef were both fine and there came the dessert - cheese cake! The amaretto-white chocolate cheese cake was a version of my all-time favorite Bailey's cheese cake, sinfully rich, creamy cake... I replaced Bailey's with Disaronno, and used chopped almonds instead of walnuts for the crust. The result was good, I liked original Irish Cream one a little better though... I still like amaretto, so I think I will try to use it in anotehr cheese cake recipe.

We drunk a lot, ate a lot, talked a lot, and laughed a lot. I was really pleased by our guests, who gave me a lot of compliments. Overall we had a very good time even though we were absolutely full by the time they left. I really couldn't think of anything about food...

May 15, 2004

waipio valley beach and waterfalls

olive oil and rosemary married to cakes

excursion to a hidden valley

Friday, May 14

I like rosemary. I like it in roasted veggies, grilled chicken, focaccia bread, mash potato - or you name it. I like it so much I have recently been trying it out in a bunch of baked sweets, so far shortbread cookies and scones, and I loved them all. This time I wanted to try it in a cake - with a bit of good extra virgin olive oil.
The recipe (*in Japanese) I tried last night turned out to be very good, I liked the way rosemary and olive oil matched with the sweet and moist cake....

Today we went to a beach called Waipio, about 40-50 miles away from home. It was our second time down there - we wish we could make it more often, but due to geographical conditions of the place, only four-wheel drives or better equipped vehicles can access the beach, while our car is nothing but an old compact car. This time a friend of his ever so kindly offered that we could use her 4WD, we gladly took it.
Waipio is a really beautiful spot, secluded from towns with thick woods and valley. It sure does involves a rough driving to get there, but really worth it. It was a little hazy day today, but it would be even better for those who are usually not beach-bums, like myself; you don't have to get sunburnt so bad (I did get a little, though)!

pink rhubarb hidden beneath

rhubarb debut

Thursday, May 13

Born and raised in Japan where it is hard to find rhubarbs in an ordinary supermarket, I have never cooked this vegitable myself until today. I have bought a jar of jam a long time ago, or a store-bought tart or something somewhere, but not fresh ones. From my limited experience, rhubarbs didn't seem to make extraordinarily delicious desserts, but since I live in place where I can at least find them in a local supermarket, so why not a try?
I decided to make rhubarb crumble, as it seemed easy to make, which proved to be true. I looked up some recipes (this, this, and this) and sort of mixed them all; cooking rhubarbs in white wine and flavoring them with ginger. Ginger seemed to make a good match with rhubarb in a lot of other recipes, and as I love ginger anyways, so I made my rhubarb very gingery - cooking rhubarb with minced fresh ginger, while mixing diced candied ginger and ginger powder in the crumble. The result was satisfying, not tasting as gingery as I had hoped it would be, though. Rhubarbs themelves were a bit too tender and almost squashy... it might have been because I cooked them too long. I think I will try to make something with this vegitable again, next time in something else.

May 13, 2004

as seen in Serving Suggestion

a taste of the Netherlands with a twist of Texas?

They are called stroopwaffels, cookie-like waffles sandwitching milky caramel filling. It was in Prague about a month ago when I tried those Dutch delights for the first time. Well I must have had something similar before, I guess, but those fresh-baked sweets sold at a street vendor were so delicious I can't think I had ever had waffles as good as those. I brought home a bag of stroopwaffels from Paris where I visited after Prague, and once opend, they dissappeared very quick; they were so irresistible.
To our great joy, we found stroopwaffels-like waffles in one of natural food stores in my town the other day. Those were not a traditional type, but with White Chocolate Amaretto cream filling - how does that sound?? We passed them up at that time, but a couple of days later he bought a box for home. OK, I'll try some if I have to...
They were certainly different from the ones we had before, but super good anyways. White choc & Amaretto was a good combo, too. On a side of the box it suggested a "Warmed on a cup of coffee" method, so I went; my stroopwaffel got warmed up a little bit, the waffle part got a little softer and cream melted just a bit. It really did remind me of the ones I had in Prague... now I can picture myself going back to the store soon and grab a couple more boxes... I'll be in trouble!

They can be ordered on the net: Lady Walton's

May 12, 2004

cookies can be cinnamon rolls, too!

so now it's started

Everything has its very first time, and in my case, this is it. This is my very first blog (and hopefully not the last) post, and there're a bunch of things I would like to write about, but unfortunately I really should be gone to bed by now at this late in the midnight.

Well since this is meant to be a foodie blog, I shall include something about food... today I baked Cinnabun Cookies, a Cinnabon-turned-into-a-little-cookie type of stuff. Very cinnamony cookie with sweet cinnamon swirl, topped with cinnamon butter that caramelizes when baked - very flavorful.