A life in flux. Soon to be immigrant to Japan. Recently migrated this blog from another platform after many years of neglect (about March 6, 2017). Sorry for the styling and functionality potholes; I am working on cleaning things up and making it usable again.
I can't remember exactly when I first heard of saffron kulfi, but I think it was mentioned in a Bharti Kirchner novel, or perhaps a desi short story collection. The book waxed poetic about the value of slowly simmering saffron and cardamom, which reduces the volume of the milk by about half while thoroughly infusing it with the aromas of the spices. This is a time-consuming, hour-long or more process, only possible to achieve on fairly moderate heat with plenty of patience.
It seems unlikely that you could accomplish the same level of flavor by pulling out a can of condensed milk and stirring the ingredients together, no matter how long you wait for the cold ingredients to meld together. The extra labor is totally justified by the results.
That being said, I'm fairly lazy, as obsessive cooks go... I delight in simplicity. The unusual level of labor means I haven't made this for about 5 years, when it was unceremoniously and completely devoured, along with some sort of sorbet, in less than 15 minutes at a dinner party I hosted. This time I served it to a much smaller crowd, so that I could guarantee I'd have more than a spoonful to taste for myself. I'm jealously guarding what remains.
Kulfi is not truly an ice cream, but simply a frozen dessert made in molds or even ice cube trays. It's rather unlikely to be churned, so the result will typically be quite firm and popsicle-like. However, thanks to my Cuisinart ice cream maker and a generous hand with cream, it develops a remarkably smooth, soft texture, and can fairly be called an ice cream.
Kesar Kulfi with Salted Pistachio
8 cups milk
1 cups cream
A generous pinch of saffron, about 8-12 strands
1 tsp. ground cardamom (best if freshly ground)
1 cup sugar
A few tablespoons shelled pistachio nuts, coarsely ground with a pinch of salt and a heavier pinch of sugar
Additional pistachio for garnish, if desired
Bring the milk, saffron and cardamom to a gentle simmer. Stir regularly as the milk simmers until the volume of milk is reduced by half.
Add sugar to dissolve. Add cream, and refrigerate until chilled, generally several hours or overnight.
Pour mixture into an ice cream maker with a 6 cup capacity (if your machine is smaller, the recipe can easily be halved). After 20-25 minutes, stir in most of the seasoned pistachio mixture.
I reserved some of the pistachio mixture for a nifty silicone mold I generally leave, neglected, stowed above my kitchen cupboards. I simply sprinkled the pistachios into the bottom of the mold before pouring in the ice cream mixture. Freeze the molds overnight. Unmold and serve, perhaps with some additional broken pistachios.
If you don't have such a mold, sprinkle the pistachio over scoops of ice cream after it's hardened in the freezer overnight.
In place of pistachios, almonds work quite well.
This kind of kulfi is ordinarily poured straight into a mold and frozen, rather than using the intermediary step of an ice cream maker, but the ice cream maker results in a smoother, softer texture. The extra cream, generally not used in Indian recipes, makes the ice cream extraordinarily rich and indulgent.
Although it's also not typical in Indian recipes for kulfi, the small hint of salt in the pistachio helps bring out all the other flavors in the ice cream. Like the great salted peanut butter ice cream at Seattle's Veil, one of the most remarkable items I've sampled there, it may evoke some strong reactions: At Veil, people either love it or hate it. I don't use as much salt as Veil does in my pistachio blend, so nobody who has tried my version was terribly shocked, but getting the balance might be tricky. Start with just a little pinch.
You'd think that we couldn't possibly have room to eat more.
However, to think so, you must be oblivious to the concept of betsubara... literally, separate stomach, the idea is expressed rather verbosely in English as "there's always room for dessert."
Toraya Cafe is a contemporary-style wagashi shop... Much like Tsujiri Cafe, from Uji, they reference traditional wagashi (Japanese confectionary) but playfully reimagine flavors and presentations. Toraya, though, is a very old confectionary company, and their parent company is equally adept at old-school and contemporary wagashi.
Most of us ordered some sort of beverage, generally some kind of tea. Kristin ordered a "matcha glacé", a sort of sweet matcha drink that doubles as a dessert.
Tōnyū Pudding with Matcha Sauce
I ordered some azuki-cha (roasted azuki mean tea) served cold, with optional wasanbon syrup, a lightly processed sugar cane syrup, as a sweetener.
One of the things I love about soy-based foods in Japan, including desserts, is that, for the most part, little effort is made to conceal the soy flavor. In fact, the aroma of the soybean is often intentionally highlighted. Soy is not some sort health food or a second-class milk or meat substitute, but, when suitably fresh, a remarkable flavor all its own.
This tounyuu purin, or soy milk pudding, has a pronounced soy flavor and is pleasingly creamy.
A thick matcha-based crème anglaise adds a bittersweet touch and contrasts nicely with the soy pudding.
Dark azuki beans, slightly sweet, garnish the dessert in the same way you might expect to see in a coffee-based dessert.
Oshiruko With Pu-erh infusion
This remarkable variation of oshiruko, sweet azuki soup, is relatively traditional except for one subtle base note: The azuki are simmered with earthy Chinese pu-erh tea. Since azuki already has a somewhat earthy flavor, the flavor doesn't dominate, but provides a pleasant underlying accent that adds a subtle complexity to a dish that normally has a very straightforward, sweet flavor.
A few shiratama, also slightly tweaked for this dish, had, I believe, a little accent from white sesame seeds.
Although Toraya is a fairly large company, their cafe is, for me, one of the pleasant things that can happen when someone with vision and firm roots in a culinary tradition smartly reinterprets their palette of flavors and techniques with a creative eye. It's not hit-you-over-the-head culinary drama, but it's pleasingly innovative, and worth seeking out.
May 2nd, at Asamushi Onsen, on the way to Hirosaki. We wake up early and have another bath, then breakfast, and we head off. But first we looked out the window, and decided to make a quick trip to the beach...
Our ryokan wasn't quite on the waterfront, but it's just a short hop across a busy road to the beach...
Yu no Kabuto Iwa
A big rock, a little island, just across the bay.
A view of the left side of the island reveals a dramatic-looking pine.
There's a gate and a long stairway to a temple starting at the waterfront.
We made our way toward Aomori city, and discovered this odd looking building called Asupamu, to which Hiromi made a beeline in our rental car. It turns out that it did its job very well: the ground floor is full of gift shops peddling various Aomori specialties, and an impressive observation deck about 13 floors up. (We didn't feel any need to spend 600 yen each for that, even after buying so much stuff that we were good for up to two hours of free parking).
We gave in and bought a lot of them, some of them destined to be our gomen nasai present for coworkers when we return to the office, and some treats for friends, family, teammates, and fellow Meetup members. Oh, and some "gifts" for purely self-indulgent purposes. We need those. Self-indulgence is good.
After sampling the delights of the many Asupamu gift shops, we had pie from an Asupamu apple shop. We likepie. This one has some cream cheese in it. Aomori is famous for apples, so that makes this local food.
I chose this chausson (lady slipper?) for myself, but Hiromi thought it was boring compared to two of the other nifty options and I could sense her disappointment. Until she proceeded to eat at least half of mine. (I got my fair share of the cream cheese one though... I'm just making fun of her for visibly, if quietly, doubting my judgment).
Of course, no coastal tourist shop would be complete without some sort of rotating squidmobile.
April 28: Just after my first brief visit on opening day, Hiromi and I made our way back to the Shin-Marunouchi building again in search of a late breakfast. It was still a madhouse.
Point et Ligne Bakery, Shin Marunouchi Building, Tokyo
We couldn't help but buy a lot of bread here. Point et Ligne bakery carefully illuminates the bread, but prefers to keep the staff as a background feature, assiduously assembling your order.
Yes, you want these olive-oil anko-filled baguettes
Many bakeries in Japan skip over the savory breads in favor of sugar-laden pastries... There's some sweet stuff here, but I was pleased that even the sweet treats like these olive-oil laden sweet red-bean paste baguettes avoided sugar in the bread itself in favor of an ama-sioppai experience. And there are some savory mini-baguettes just to the left of these for those who want to go straight for the butter...
Point et Ligne's extremely open format doesn't hide the guts of the operation. I wouldn't want to be the one responsible for keeping those beasts sparkling clean...
Contemporary wagashi at Kanou Shoujuan
Ume zerii presented at Kanou Shoujuan, Japanese apricot jelly, available for takeout in a bamboo-shaped cylinder. We took some home to Hiromi's parents, along with a matcha jelly.
Monaka, typically sweet bean paste-filled crispy cakes (the outside texture resembles an ice cream cone), also from Kanou Shoujuan.
14 Juillet Debutante
All dressed up for 14 Juillet's second day of courting new customers.
Cassis eclair at 14 Juillet Tokyo
Black currant eclair. You must have one. We did. We will never be the same.
14 Juillet Sorbet
In case pastries don't suck you in...
1F Cafe that spells like Emeril
Although the photos of their coffee look pretty, I can't bring myself to go inside a place that spells espresso like this. And no, I don't think it's a Japanese mistake... it's far more difficult to make an "ekkuspuresso" sound in Japanese than to say "esupresso." Some highly paid consultant is clearly responsible.
I don't remember how long ago it was, but probably about four or five years ago I was staying somewhere in Nishi-shinjuku... Several times on the way to somewhere more interesting than Shinjuku, I found myself walking right past a tiny bakery called Rappopo. I was tempted by the aroma of constant baking, and by a shockingly long line for a train station bakery.
Most people were walking away with a Rappopo Pie. It's built on a foundation of pie crust, or perhaps what in Germany is called Biscuitt-Teig. Above that, there's a thin layer of something like pound cake, followed by a thick layer of sweet potatoes, and a layer of apples, and then topped with some sort of lattice-pattern piped streusel.
At about 700 yen, give or take, it seemed like too much to indulge in all by myself, so I kept waiting until I had a good excuse to buy one... maybe a chance to split one with a friend or three... well, such an opportunity never arose on that trip, so I finally grabbed one on my way to Narita airport.
Once I arrived at the airport, I set out to eat one quarter of the pie while it was still a bit warm, thinking I'd snack on some of the rest during the middle of the 9 hour flight.
Narita airport is a really boring place to be trapped for a couple of hours, especially if you've been there a dozen times or so and you've seen all of the duty-free shops, convenience stores, and gift shops. Even more so if you've already done all your gift shopping before leaving.
So after due consideration... Do I want to walk around the airport aimlessly for another twenty minutes? Or have another slice of this nice pie? I chose the more comforting, fattening route.
Every 20 minutes or so I repeated this internal conversation, until the pie had completely disappeared.
Friday afternoon when I arrived in Tokyo, I had some time to kill, so I spent an hour or so at Shin-Marunouchi building on opening day, but I avoided every temptation to try one of the many fantastic-looking new shops.
But when Hiromi and I met on the Yaesu side, we passed another location of Rappopo, and our fate was sealed... we had to have one of those pies.
Reunited with both Hiromi and Rappopo, the three of us made our way to the Ochanomizu weekly apartment we had arranged for this stay in Tokyo. Hiromi and I each tucked into a small wedge of the pie shortly before we started hunting for dinner, some towels and some knee supporters for my increasingly temperamental legs.
For some reason I get wistful whenever I think of the various ningyo-yaki (shaped waffles typically stuffed with sweet bean paste) and dora-yaki I have eaten on my many trips to Japan. From a highway service area or a department store basement, fresh, warm ningyo-yaki are impossible to resist.
Maybe they speak to my inner child.
Maybe it's just the sugar rush.
Well, I don't have a taiyaki (fish shaped) waffle pan in my otherwise well-stocked kitchen, so at home I have to settle for dorayaki, the pancake-like equivalent. These are often served cold, but they're even better just a few minutes off the stove. You can make a batch of them and keep them in the refrigerator as an afternoon indulgence for up to 3 or 4 days.
I also don't have pancake rings or an electric griddle, so my dorayaki end up being the size of my smallest nonstick omelet pan. That means mine need to be cut up into quarters for individual servings, or perhaps folded, if i used a thinner batter.
Dorayaki aren't exactly the same thing as the pancakes you'd slather with syrup. The American pancake is, by itself, not distinctly sweet; it typically only has enough sugar to make the pancakes brown nicely. Every dorayaki recipe I've seen, on the other hand, is full of sugar or honey, and distinctly heavier-handed with eggs. That's partially because the fillings are a bit less sweet than the typical syrup topping, and partially because this is a snack rather than a breakfast item.
Mine are sweeter than normal American pancakes, but not as sugary as the typical afternoon snack version that Japanese dorayaki vendors tend to produce. The key is to eat them in much smaller quantities than you might eat pancakes... they're heavier than they look.
Measuring things precisely is still sort of anathema to me, but I used about 3 egg yolks, one whole egg, 2/3 cup buttermilk, a shy teaspoon of baking soda, about 5 ounces (by weight) of all-purpose flour, maybe a tad less than 1 cup. Cake flour might be better, but I never keep it around. You'll also need two tablespoons vegetable oil, a few tablespoons of honey, and a generous pinch of salt. The batter needs to be mixed until lumpy, like regular pancakes; it's easiest if you mix all the liquid ingredients first.
Recipes in Japanese vary widely. Some use all sugar, some use sugar and honey, some are all honey, and some incorporate mirin. Some are lighter and fluffier, some are thinner and aspire to be a little mochi-mochi (chewy, but not tough). Almost none use buttermilk; if you only have regular milk, use that, but switch to baking powder instead of baking soda.
The pancakes need to be cooked on medium-low heat with the slightest brushing of oil in the pan.
Take two pancakes and make a sandwich with them using any kind of anko, anko cream, or maybe a thick custard. I used koshi-an (finely sieved sweetened red bean paste) bought at Uwajimaya this time, but this is also good with ogura-an (coarse red bean paste), uguisu-an (mung bean paste), and probably even zunda (sweet edamame paste). If strawberries are already good where you are, consider putting a halved strawberry in there.
If you make the pancakes bigger than 3" or so in diameter, cut them into halves or quarters before serving.
Until a little trip to Licorous last fall, I had never thought much of financiers. I don't know why... maybe I never had a good one. I don't have much love for madeleines either.
But Licorous' financiers were just too hard to resist... Served warm with an espresso caramel dipping sauce and another dipping option, perhaps a bit of warm maple syrup, the crisp-yet-tender brown-buttery goodness continues to occupy a place in my dreams.
At home, I rarely make financiers... as much as I love butter, there's only so much I can handle. But I've been tempted to reinterpret the financier with a wafuu approach, and so I have occasionally been trying my hand at them recently.
For my first attempt at making Japanese-styled financiers, I replaced all of the standard ground almonds with ground white sesame seeds. It turns out that the almonds add some flavor foundation that a pure sesame seed version doesn't supply, so I've since tweaked my recipe.
This version is based on Dana's financier recipe on Tasting Menu. When I first saw this recipe, I thought the amount of sugar was incredibly high and that this would be unbearably sweet, but it somehow works out to be just about right, and is much less sweet than I expected. Perhaps the bitterness of the nuts helps balance out the sugar.
4 tbsp. butter
3/4 cup confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar)
2 egg whites
4 tbsp. almonds
2 tbsp. white sesame seeds
2 tbsp. black sesame seeds, whole
1/4 tsp salt
5 tbsp. all-purpose flour (or cake flour)
Brown the butter in a small on medium heat. You want it to become the color of hazelnuts, but not carbon. This time I used some very nice Cremerie Classique butter from the Pike Place Market, which seems to have fewer milk solids than the average butter, so it took a bit longer to brown. Be careful that it doesn't cook so long that it scorches; once it's bubbling, watch very carefully.
Strain and reserve the hot browned butter. Discard any particles of solids that are left behind.
Grind the almonds and white sesame seeds in a food processor, spice grinder, or clean rotary coffee grinder.
Sift the confectioner's sugar into a bowl and add the ground nuts.
With a mixer or whisk, stir in the egg whites until a paste forms. Pour in the warm, but not fiercely hot brown butter, and continue mixing until consistent. Add the flour, salt, and black sesame seeds, and gently mix until everything is incorporated.
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Pour into baking forms. I used some nifty individual 1 inch silicone muffin cups on a baking sheet. They take about 17 minutes. Mini-muffin pans would work well I've also used some small rectangular loaf pans filled to a depth of about 3/4 inch, which takes about 20 minutes.
After baking, rest on a cooling rack for about 10 minutes. If you used a larger form, use a bread knife to cut the financiers into smaller cubes, but you may want to cut them a bit sooner so that they don't steam themselves soft.
These are perfect dipped into a little kuromitsu, a bittersweet Japanese black sugar syrup. Failing that, consider blending some molasses, treacle, or sorghum syrup with honey to taste; try blending about 80% sweet molasses and 20% honey. I dusted a little kinako (toasted soy flour) seasoned with sugar and salt onto the plate, which also adds a nice flavor and makes the dish even more wafuu.
I served mine with a little espresso... A sturdy tea would work as well.
During the last week or so most of our home meals have been minor variations of things I’ve made recently, and on late nights, arriving home quite hungry, I haven’t felt much of an urge to photograph the “reruns.”
Tonight, though, I made a first attempt at a brown nougat, made without egg whites, flavored with a bit of kirsch and vanilla. I embedded some almonds in the nougat. My hands weren’t quite happy, because I worked the sugar while it was still hot enough to produce some blisters on my hands. The Silpat mat helped me rein in the sugar as it started cooling initially, but I wanted to incorporate some air into the candy.
The shiny stretched sugar mass
Cutting the nougat into bite-sized bits
I should have used a lower final temperature when I boiled the sugar mass. I got a fairly crunchy-chewy result; I really would have been happy if it were merely chewy.
Dusted with cornstarch
I dusted the candy with cornstarch so that I can store it without the pieces sticking together. The end result isn’t bad, but I think I have to experiment a bit more before I develop much confidence in candy-making.
I finally got around to shooting some photos of Masa and Lisa’s Matcha White Chocolates, a product that evolved from a promotional concept I developed back in the late spring or early summer. After months of struggling with packaging options and some variations of recipes, they got the chocolates ready just about a week before Christmas, and we got it into the hands of a few customers before the holidays, but we will probably mostly be promoting the product leading up to Valentine’s Day.
Alas, I wasn’t quite happy with my own photographs tonight, so I’m continuing to borrow some of Masa’s and Lisa’s for my YuzuMura project.
Hiromi says that she can’t readily find matcha chocolates of this quality in Japan… most of the Japanese products I’ve seen so far use a fairly low grade of matcha and a blend of other ingredients to simulate the matcha… Masa and Lisa decided to use the same matcha they use to produce their matcha latte, so it’s a fairly nice result. I’ve gone with a somewhat more assertively matcha-y flavor profile in my own matcha white chocolate enrobed fortune cookies, so their chocolates have a slightly sweeter touch than my cookies, but I like them as a small indulgence, so the sweetness isn’t terribly overwhelming. The little foil packets help me with portion control…
I was mostly in rush-everywhere-mode today, going from customer to customer and errand to errand. I got a fair amount done but I’m still behind on a couple of things.
Actually, until tonight, I didn’t even get around to sending out shipping notifications for the large number of internet orders I sent out on Monday and Tuesday.
I never ate a proper dinner. I just nibbled on good bread from Le Fournil and dug in to some Brie. If I had been doing this on a park bench or at the dinner table, that would have been perfectly respectable, but actually I was mostly eating it while underway this evening, between tasks.
I got a bit hungry late tonight but I remembered I have some kuri-kinton, or sweet potato puree with chestnuts, that I made a few days ago.
Kuri-kinton is one of the humblest of Japanese confections. You won’t find a lot of middle-aged Japanese mothers who make the kinds of sweets that appear at fancy wagashi-ya-san, even if it’s as simple to replicate as dorayaki. Daifuku (usually ambiguously referred to as “mochi” in the U.S.) are rarely made at home except for special events. But a fair number of people are willing to attempt kuri-kinton.
I have attempted to make daifuku at a nursery school in Japan that a friend’s family managed. This was about 7 years ago, and my Japanese was even worse at that time. The teacher gently scolded me for making them inadeqately elegantly; the 4 year olds had more experience and seemed to understand the instructions on kneading the dough better than I did, and they managed to massage out any hint of seams in the bottom.
Kuri-kinton, however, requires no such attention to detail. Boil some Japanese-style sweet potatoes, peeled and in pieces, until fork tender. Drain. Add a fair amount of sugar to taste, and optionally, a splash of mirin; I recommend adding a pinch of salt to add some richness. Smash with a fork or potato masher while still quite hot (about 160F sounds good to me).
When you have a nice, smooth paste, you will then incorporate some chestnuts. For convenience, canned or jarred chestnuts preserved in syrup work well; the syrup should be drained, and may used in something else if you so desire. Otherwise, you’re welcome to attempt to make them from scratch by boiling in your own syrup; this requires very careful peeling, and even with my nifty Japanese chestnut peeler I rarely quite get that right. I’ll save the chestnut peeling for roasted chestnuts or things that require a less sweet starting point.
You can serve the kuri-kinton warm, but it’s more typically served at room temperature or slightly chilled.
Kurikinton requires no artfulness in presentation and can simply be spooned onto a plate. If you feel so inclined, however, you may shape the kurikinton into little balls or other shapes. I chose to highlight one chestnut in the center.
I struggled to figure out the quirks of the high-powered convection oven at Floating Leaves Tea in Ballard yesterday, but after the second test batch I figured things out and started to get a rhythm. The oven fits about 5 baking sheets at a time, so I baked about 60 cookies at a time. I stopped counting how many batches I made.
When I finished, I know I had baked somewhere between 300–400 cookies…. If I recall correctly, it involved about 5 pounds of butter, about 8 pounds of flour, about 4 or 5 pounds of white chocolate, and a fair supply of pine nuts, not to mention a lot of matcha. Anyway, after baking an absurd amount of cookies, and cleaning up after myself, I rushed to Cash & Carry for some disposable cups, ice, and milk, then I made a brief stop at home to pick up my cooler and some ice. I managed to encounter some traffic on the freeway heading over to the arboretum, but I arrived just about 5 minutes before people started to line up at the Japanese Garden.
A few people were a bit confused about where I was supposed to set up refreshments, as is the nature of volunteer things, but I met my contact and got myself a little table to offer refreshments to guests of the moon-viewing festival. I stayed until about 10pm, since a fairly constant flow of visitors moved in and out of the garden. The sunset came a little late for moon-viewing, but I think the reason for staging the event so early in the year has something to do with the unpredictability of September weather.
I served iced tea donated by Floating Leaves, including a Jasmine, a Chinese Green, and something herbal, and of course I sampled matcha latte. I managed to use up absolutely everything I came with… It turns out that at least 500 people came for the festival.
I passed around a lot of business cards, and close to closing time I spoke a bit with Elizabeth Falconer, who is a well-known Seattle-based Koto player, and her family.
With some leftover raspberries, a bit of sugar, and some buttermilk, I made a kind of raspberry lassi today… No mangoes around, but raspberry works quite well.
Today, I finally made a dent in an upgrade from DotText to Community Server v1.1, although it did not go completely smoothly. My photo gallery is missing as of yet, and I haven’t had time to migrate my previous skin design, or tweak any of the new ones.
In Germany, I remember buying a short-grain rice called Milchreis as an awful substitute for japonica. It was the cheapest possible rice we could buy and available in mainstream supermarkets. It tasted adequate and the price was right for a starving student’s budget, so I frequently used it even when I cooked Chinese-style or Japanese-style dishes. On rare occasions I was able to get some decent basmati or Jasmine rice for a slight premium from Asian markets, but Japanese-style rice required a bit more difficult a journey from our little university town, Marburg.
The typical German way of making use of this rice involved cooking it with milk, sugar, and maybe a bit of vanilla, sometimes with a knob of butter. It was always cooked with substantially more liquid than if you meant to cook rice for eating with savory foods, so it is almost the texture of okayu. Essentially, it’s a rice pudding. It works best simmered at a low temperature with about 4 milk to 1 rice, by volume.
I think I can count the times I ate Milchreis in this manner in Germany on one or two fingers, but somehow I craved the idea last night, and I prepared some in anticipation of this morning’s breakfast.
It turns out that I have more ready access to California-grown Japanese-style rice than “Milchreis,” so I just used that. I made a quick raspberry sauce with a medium-heavy syrup and raspberries, and topped my molded milchreis with some more fresh raspberries.
I made these matcha muffins this morning, and we used up some recently made shira-tama and leftover ogura-an by placing them in the muffin batter. I think I first tried matcha muffins about 6 or 7 years ago at Kimura-ya in Ginza.
They actually looked substantially more matcha green before being hyper-illuminated, so I might reshoot these at some point when I get around to making some more, and try not to overexpose them so much.
Jason’s Matcha-An Muffins
1–1/2 cups flour 2/3 cup sugar 2 eggs 1 stick butter, melted 1/2 tsp baking powder 2 tsp Matcha for Cooking 1/4 tsp salt
Ogura-an or your preferred type of anko (sweetened azuki bean puree), about 1/2 cup
Mix with a fork to a lumpy consistency, taking care not to develop strands of gluten. I filled a 24–piece mini-muffin pan with this amount of batter, using about a tablespoon of batter per pan. Using two spoons, press a bout a teaspoon of anko into the batter. We also snuck a few homemade shiratama into some of the muffins; when baked they taste kind of like yakimochi.
Bake at 375F (180c) for 22–25 minutes, until edges are browned. You can test one muffin with a toothpick.
Breakfast also included some leftover black raspberry pie, some very orange jidori no tamago medama-yaki (sunny side up orange eggs from very well-fed hens) with a little Ritrovo truffle salt, and watermelon.
Hiromi and I spent the afternoon kayaking yesterday with Jennifer… we made our way from Portage Bay to the arboretum, then up to Madison Park and back. Surprisingly, three hours in the sun didn’t roast anybody. It was Hiromi’s first time on a kayak, so Jennifer gave a basic lesson to Hiromi while I was waiting in line to rent a 3rd kayak at Agua Verde.
Afterward I made a late dinner to take advantage of some decent but early heirloom tomatoes… insalata caprese, a salad with grilled figs, tomatoes and butter leaf lettuce, some bruised tomato garlic bruschetta, various leftover cheeses, and some tomato cream pasta with basil, just to complete the tomato-heavy theme. The day before we also had some tomatoes, but on ciabatta… also an egg white fritatta with morels and some earthy smoky cheese, and a salad with a crushed raspberry vinaigrette and lavender fennel cheese.
We also had a nice dinner at La Carta de Oaxaca on Friday night… preceded by cocktails at Fu Kun Wu. That seems to be a theme every time I end up at La Carta… the waiting list demands stopping somewhere else for a drink. But we got a table in 30 minutes… an impressive feat for a group of 7 on a Saturday night.
About 4 or 5 years ago I bought a Cuisinart ice cream maker, and not much longer thereafter I found myself making green tea ice creams on a regular basis. This used to be an expensive endeavor: 30 grams of matcha bought in the U.S. usually costs $7.50–$15.00 for average quality matcha, which is roughly two tablespoons. In Japan I can usually get ordinary matcha for $6–8, and sometimes I could get bigger sizes for not much more money. But happily, since I now work with company focused on matcha products, I have access to Matcha meant primarily for cooking applications, and this makes green tea ice cream a far lesser extravagance.
I think two tablespoons of the cooking matcha works out to about $1.88 for 1.5 quarts if you buy it by the pound. Including the cost of organic milk, heavy cream, and organically produced sugar, I think I spent about $5–5.50 for this at retail prices. That’s still substantially less expensive than buying 3 pints of average-quality green tea ice cream at about $3–4/pint, and with a much more substantial green tea flavor, much more fresh, and far fewer additives.
For a 1.2–1.5 quart batch, I once typically used about 1–1.5 tablespoons of the tea ceremony matcha that I used to use prior to having access to culinary matcha. Now I am using an indulgent 2 tablespoons, which provides an excellent balance of the bitterness and sweetness. If you’re really looking for a heavier matcha flavor, you might use a bit more, but be judicious. You shouldn’t try to replicate the bitterness of straight matcha; you’re just trying to use the matcha as an accent.
I never previously thought blending matcha and vanilla should be controversial, but my roommate seems to be sensitive to heavy vanilla use in green tea flavored things, so I’ve since reduced the amount I use in my own matcha recipes.
Jason’s Matcha Ice Cream
2 cups heavy cream 2 cups whole milk 1 cup unprocessed cane sugar (blond) 2 heaping tbsp. Matcha for cooking, Grade A 1/8 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Whisk the matcha for cooking with the milk and sugar, making sure the matcha dissolves. Stir in the cream and vanilla. If using a frozen-canister based ice cream, maker, chill the ice cream in the refrigerator for another hour to make sure it is sufficiently cold for processing, or hold in the freezer about 15 minutes.
Process in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer instructions. This produces about 1.25–1.5 quarts of ice cream, depending on expansion. Make sure this is appropriate for your ice cream maker and adjust proportionally to your capacity.
If you’d like a more custardy ice cream, you might use an egg yolk or two in your recipe, perhaps reducing the cream a bit to compensate for the extra fat.
If you are using Ippuku Matcha Latte mix, you will use about 1/2 cup matcha latte mix and reduce the sugar content to a scant 2/3 cup.
Continuing my Matcha theme, I made these cookies with cooking matcha, white chocolate and pine nuts.
Jason's Matcha-Matsu-White Choko Cookies
½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter ¼ tsp salt ½ cup unprocessed cane sugar (blond) (roughly 80g) 1 egg ½ tsp. pure vanilla essence (some may want to reduce this to avoid competition with green tea flavor) 1 tsp. Matcha for Cooking by Three Tree Tea 1 tsp. baking powder 1 cup flour (roughly 150 g) 3.5 oz. (100g) white chocolate, chopped 2 tbsp. raw pine nuts (matsu-no-mi in Japanese)
Cream butter with salt and sugar. Add matcha, egg and vanilla and mix until consistent. Stir in baking powder and flour. Stir in pine nuts and white chocolate.
Drop in 1 tbsp. portions on a baking sheet with room for 3" diameters. Bake at 375F (190C) 12-15 minutes until edges are lightly browned. Rest before removing from sheet. Yields 16-20 cookies.
Because of the potential for oxidation of the matcha I don't recommend storing a supply of the dough, but you may consider freezing in an airtight container. I have made similar cookies without the white chocolate before, but with a touch more sugar.
If it’s more convenient, you can use Three Tree Tea’s Matcha Latte mix instead of the cooking matcha. Use 4 teaspoons of the matcha latte mix and only use 3 level tablespoons sugar. In the pictured version, I used Grade A or “gold” Three Tree Tea cooking matcha, but with something crispy and low-moisture like a cookie, you should get good results from the Grade B.