Blog, Spring Food

Spring Equinox Botamochi

Happy spring equinox !

幸せな春分

The bi-annual days of the vernal equinox (spring equinox) are  upon us. In Japan it is a Buddhist festival known as higan. In the spring it is known as haru no higan .

To celebrate I made Botamochi but this year instead of the traditional confectionery made of sweet mochi rice pounded and shaped with a red bean centre . I made them with pounded millet. I noticed that when I made my awa-zenzai (see my awa-zenzai post ) that the millet served its self well to making Ohagi. 

I rolled them in kinako and ground black sesame. 

It is traditional to take these with flowers and incense to the graves of ancestors at this time.

In the spring the sweets are called Botamochi named after the tree peony botan . In the fall the same sweets are called ohagi named after the clover bush hagi.

See some of my other  posts of Ohagi or botamochi for the recipe. 

I also made the more traditional sweet . Which you can get tye recipe for by searching Ohagi or Botamochi.  If you want to make around 6 sweets just half my recipe.

Blog, Spring Food, Summer Food

Amazake blondies

What’s a blondie? Basically it’s a brownie but with out using cacao powder and is normally made with brown sugar,eggs and flour with a vanilla flavour and either white or dark chocolate chips.
I set out to make a blondie using clearspring brown rice amazake.

They turned out so good that they didn’t last long. Feel free to substitute dark chocolate for white I’m definitely going to be trying it out myself next time.
First in a food processor add
One can of drained cooked chickpeas,
1/2 cup of soy milk or any other you prefer
1/2 teaspoon of raw apple cider vinegar
Half a jar of clear spring brown rice amazake which equates to 190g if you are using your own amazake.
2 teaspoons of vanilla essence / extract
Blend all this until smooth
In a bowl add
1/2 cup of coconut palm sugar
3/4 cup of almond flour
1/2 cup + x2 tablespoons of gluten-free oat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
Himalayan pink salt about 1/2 teaspoon
And some chopped chocolate buttons or chocolate chips (I will leave how many up to you.)
Stir to mix
Add the batter ingredients to the dry and mix in gently to combine.
Line a brownie pan with parchment paper and spoon in your mixture. Place in a moderate oven for around 30 mins until the top is golden. Leave to cool completely and then cut into squares.

Oh and just so you know this works just as well warm with ice cream and chocolate sauce as it’s brown counterparts.

 

Blog, Spring Food

Sakura Mochi

Sakura Mochi a traditional spring wagashi made  for Hinamatsuri and also to celebrate spring and the coming Sakura season.

There are three colours associated with the girls day festival .  White is for purification, green for health and pink for luck. I made Sakura Mochi in the three colours. Sakura Mochi is Mochi  rice cake with a sweet red bean paste filling and wrapped in a salted pickled Sakura leaf and topped with a salted Sakura flower. They are a nice combination of sweet and salty. Perfect with a green tea.

The recipe is basically the same as my ohagi recipe. If you live outside of japan you may not be able to get the leaves and blossom so easily although you maybe able to order them online from www.souschef.co.uk

I used matcha to colour the rice green and beetroot juice for the pink.

Why not try making Sakura Mochi to celebrate spring.

Blog, Spring Food

Spring Vegetables Shira-ae

Shira-ae is a traditional recipe from the Shojin ryori Zen Buddhist cuisine. The tofu is mashed into a paste with different vegetables and sesame . Which I guess is a slightly different way of having tofu rather than cutting it into squares etc. The tofu turns creamy and makes a wonderful starter or dish in your Teishoku ( set meal ) . See more inspiration for a Japanese style set meal by just searching Teishoku.

I also think this would make a great filling for wraps or sandwiches or even on a jacket potato . However this time I am staying traditional.

As we are hopefully turning our way into spring now I decided to use spring vegetables for this dish but you can use other things like green beans,shimeji mushrooms,spinach,Konnyaku and even sometimes in the autumn persimmon.

First prepare your tofu by draining and pressing out any liquid . I cut half the block of tofu and saved the other for another dish. Put your tofu in a bowl . You will need to toast and grind 1/2 a tablespoon of white sesame seeds or you can buy them already ground. Add this to your bowl with 1 teaspoon of white sesame paste or tahini if you can’t get Japanese sesame paste,1/2 teaspoon of sugar,1 teaspoon of white miso paste and a pinch of salt. Mash all this up together creaming the tofu. The process of doing this and also grinding your own sesame seeds in a suribachi has a meditative quality. Put this to one side. Now blanch your vegetables in boiling water for a few minutes. I chose asparagus,broccoli,finely chopped carrot and curly kale. In Japan in the spring this dish is often made with nanohana or edible rape seed flowers. It is not something we find available in the UK in markets or stores. Now plunge your blanched vegetables in cold water to prevent them from cooking further and to keep their colour. Chop them up and mix them into your tofu. I garnished mine with a few sesame seeds and rocket leaves on a bed of rocket and spinach.

I hope you will try this simple Shojin ryori cuisine at home.

 

Blog

Happy Valentines Day

I used my ginkgo cookie recipe, replaced the turmeric and added cacao powder to make these chocolate heart cookies and half dipped them in chocolate and scattered them with freeze dried raspberries. 

I then served them with my tofu mousse mixed with strawberries.

Will you be giving a valentine treat to someone today ? In Japan it’s just the men that get the gifts off the women and it’s not just loved ones that are given gifts it’s co workers, school and college friends teachers you name it ! It can be quite a big task giving gifts to all your male friends . I like to watch a programme on NHK called Home Sweet Tokyo

One of the programmes was where the little girl of the family was making bags of chocolates to take to all her male friends at school but she also included a bag for herself (I like that idea ) so even if your not buying a gift for anyone this valentines why not buy a gift for yourself today you deserve a bit of self love 💖 💕.

Autumn Food, Blog, Spring Food, Summer Food, Winter Food

Green Burger & Citrus Coleslaw

This green burger is great to make with what ever greens you have in the fridge. To start with you will need one cup of cooked beans I used 1/2 tin of broad beans but you could use edamame or peas if you like . Then I gathered together some greens cabbage,kale,broccoli and spinach just a handful of each . Chop them up quite fine and steam them until tender. I also threw in the half a tin of broad beans to soften. Add this to a food processor with some herbs and spices. I used some fresh chopped mint and basil along with a dash of paprika. Give this a process but not to much then add two-three tablespoons of vegetable soup. I actually used the winter greens soup from Tideford organics for this but you can use homemade or tinned soup. Give it another process and empty into a bowl . Then add a teaspoon of matcha powder and a tablespoon each of pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds and mix in. Then start to add some flour a little at a time I used oat flour but chick pea ( gram flour ) will work well too. When it becomes more of a dough make two balls and flatten them out . Don’t make your burgers to thin. Mine made two burgers. Add some oil to a pan and cook them on both sides until golden.

Serve with fries and salad.

An excellent accompaniment to my green burger is my citrus coleslaw.

First grate half a bulb of fennel and one carrot into a bowl. Slice thinly some red cabbage and add this to your bowl. Then make your dressing in a separate bowl  or in a jar add the juice of 1/2 a blood orange ( normal orange will do ) and one tablespoon of Yuzu juice ( you can buy the juice in bottles at Asian supermarkets). To this add one teaspoon of white miso paste and a teaspoon each of mirin and tamari. I like to use a jar as you can put the lid on and give this a mix by giving it a good shake. Pour your dressing over the shredded vegetables then add one to two tablespoons depending on how creamy you like your coleslaw of vegan kewpie Japanese mayonnaise or any mayonnaise you wish. Give this a mix. Finally I like to add a few raisins and flakes of almonds (optional)

 

Blog, Winter Food

Awa-Zenzai あわぜんざい

Most of you are familiar with Zenzai but do you know awa-zenzai ?

あわぜんざい. Warm sweet  azuki beans with slow cooked glutinous millet grains. This is known as mochikibi. There is a place in Asakusa Tokyo called Umezono 梅園 which was established in 1854. This long serving confectionary shop cooks up awa zenzai in the winter.

This dish is perfect for cold winter days as it’s sweet and comforting and super filling.

Use around a cup of millet and wash well through a sieve then add to a pan with water. I start with just covering the millet with water and bringing it to a boil,then turn down the heat to your lowest setting pop on a lid and let it simmer. You may need to keep adding water so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom . Keep checking and add water when needed until it’s cooked. It will resemble porridge consistency.

Warm your sweet beans ( you can either make them yourself or I buy the ones already done in a can for quickness)

Serve together warm with a sweet chestnut if you like and green tea.

You can use any remaining cooked millet to make Ohagi ( Botamochi )

See previous Ohagi post ( just pound the millet like you would the glutinous rice.) I will do a new post for making millet Ohagi around the spring equinox when it is traditionally eaten.

Autumn Food, Blog, Spring Food, Summer Food, Winter Food

Kuruma Fu Amazake Japanese Toast

Fu is a macrobiotic meatless protein  often used in shojin Ryouri cuisine . It’s made from the gluten that is extracted from wheat flour. Yakifu is raw fu that has been dried. Dried fu is pretty tasteless but It’s like a sponge and soaks up any flavour you soak it in so it’s great for soups and stews. Kuruma-fu is a specialty of Niigata prefecture,it gets its name from its round wheel like shape kuruma meaning wheel. 

I thought because of its bread like texture I would try making it into a style of French toast . I call it Japanese toast . 

First you need to soak the dried fu in warm water for 10 mins then press  out the water gently . Then either soak your fu wheels in amazake mixed with soy milk or if you do not have amazake you can use a mix of soy milk mixed with a little plain flour to thicken you can add cinnamon and vanilla for that traditional French toast flavour or as this is Japanese toast you could make them more citrus and add Yuzu juice. 

After you have coated both sides and let them soak for 15 mins or so heat up a pan with your chosen oil and fry until golden on both sides. If your interested in making your own amazake I have another post on this and I can definitely recommend making your own but if you don’t you can normally buy it from Asian super markets or Clearspring do their own version. 

Serve with a dusting of icing sugar and fresh berries. Perfect for a Sunday breakfast .  

Autumn Food, Blog, Spring Food, Summer Food, Winter Food

Matcha Shortbread Biscuits

These creamy shortbreads are perfect for afternoon teatime . I just came back from a long winter walk the sky was clear blue the air crisp and fresh. It was lovely to come back to these little shortbreads to enjoy warming up with a tea.

If you would like to make them here’s how.

Put your oven on a moderate setting to warm and add a sheet of parchment paper to a baking tray.

You will need

Sift into a bowl

1 cup of oat flour,1/2 cup plain flour,2/3 cup ground almonds ( almond flour) and one tablespoon of coconut flour, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and one tablespoon of matcha powder.

In a separate bowl add 1/4 cup melted coconut butter and 1/2 cup of maple syrup.

Add wet to dry and mix to form a dough. Work with your hands to form a ball.

Put your dough ball on your parchment paper and flatten to a thickness of around 3/4 inch ( I like my shortbreads pretty thick ) then cut into slices,I like to tidy the sides up a little so they are straight.

Place in the oven for around 20 mins but do not let them burn. I turn mine around half way through cooking. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely before taking them off the tray . Best eaten within a few days. Keep in an airtight container.

Happy Teatime.

 

Blog

Kagami Biraki Zenzai 2019

On the 11th of January in Japan is kagami biraki. Which is the breaking of the Mochi of the Kagami mochi, which literally means “mirror mochi rice cake,”. Kagami mochi is two round mochi, the smaller placed atop the larger, and a daidai Japanese orange with an attached leaf on top. You can buy plastic ones like this in many convenience stores leading up to New Years in Japan and inside you will find the Mochi rice cake. 

Today it is tradition to eat your rice cake often in a dish called Zenzai ぜんざい or Oshiruko お汁粉 a sweet azuki bean soup . Zenzai is a traditional Japanese dessert.  It’s a thick sweet soup consisting
of boiled azuki beans and often served with mochi (rice cake) or shiratama dango (  I had a delicious Zenzai in Kyoto on my last visit so this meal really takes my thoughts back there. Oshiruko is more watery in consistency.

This is a comforting dessert in Japan sold hot in winter and in the summer you can see similar desserts with sweet beans dango and agar jelly called anmitsu . See a previous post . Also I have a previous Zenzai post from 2017 but thought you might like to see this years .

I used sweet red bean paste in a pan simmered in some  water and added grilled Mochi and a sweet chestnut often used in Osechi which I had a few left over from.

Blog, Winter Food

Japanese Year Of The Boar Osechi

Happy New year . It’s 2019 and the year of the boar ( inoshishi) the final animal in the zodiac cycle. The boar is honest and helpful,they are affectionate and kind to loved ones.

It is traditional in Japan to make a special meal for New Year called Osechi . I have covered this is previous posts and the symbolism behind it but thought it would be nice to just share a few of the recipes with you.

Below is my Osechi,which consisted of Onishime,kuro-mame,Kuri-Kinton,Namasu,shojin steak and simmered kabocha. Also served with Ozoni and some yatsuhashi I brought back from Kyoto on my last trip to Japan.  If you would like to make simmered kabocha you can find this in a previous recipe.

Kuromame are Japanese black beans cooked in sweet syrup and are traditionally eaten at this time.

Kuromame (黒豆) which literally translates to black bean are black soy beans cooked in a sweet syrup.

First wash your black soy beans you will need around 100g then soak them in water over night. The next day add them to a pot with water and add 80g of organic granulated sugar with a tablespoon of tamari or soy sauce and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil then gently simmer for around three hours. Let them cool in there own juice and then refrigerate.

Eating kuromame also is considered good for your health for the new year.  

Onishime or simmered vegetables

Another traditional meal . First you will need to prepare a dashi stock, I leave a piece of kombu and a dried shiitake in water overnight then put this in a pan and simmer,then remove the kombu and discard,remove the shiitake to use in your meal. Then add mirin around 3 tablespoons to three cups of dashi and 3 tablespoons of tamari and 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Prepare all your vegetables. shiitake,,bamboo shoots,taro,carrot,shiitake,daikon,freeze dried tofu ( Kouya Dofu ) and lotus root. The lotus root is very significant as it represents a happy future with out obstacles. Add the vegetables to your dashi except the snow peas and carrots ( I like to blanch these and add them at the end) . Cover with a drop lid ( or otoshibuta )

Simmer until your vegetables are tender. This dish is often served in a new year bento box called Jubako.

It is custom to make Ozoni for breakfast on New Year’s Day. This year I made it with a citrus twist and added Yuzu peel in my dashi when I made the miso broth. If you would like to know more about this dish see previous post Ozoni .

I will be updating my travel section this year with places that I visited on my last trip to Japan.  Places of interest, and restaurant reviews. If you are planning a trip to Japan why not take a look at my travel section for some ideas of things to do .

I also have lots of new ideas for dishes so why not subscribe so you never miss a post this year. Thankyou to you all for all your support both on my website and on Instagram. I hope you all have a happy and healthy 2019!

Autumn Food, Blog

Tonyu & Miso Nabe

Tonyu means soy milk in Japanese and nabe is a kind of one pot dish.

This thick and creamy nabe is full of vegetables and tofu it is comforting and filling but also healthy.

Its so quick to make all you need to do is prepare what vegetables you want to use.

I used napa cabbage,kale,leek,broccoli,carrot,pumpkin,tofu and a selection of Japanese mushrooms.

Start by steaming the vegetables first that take the longest so the carrot and the pumpkin and leave things like the kale and broccoli until the last minute.

In a pan add two cups of kombu dashi (leave a piece of kombu submerged in water over night or simmer for 15 mins) and two cups of soy milk,add one tablespoon of mirin and bring to a gentle simmer. Add your miso about two tablespoons and gently stir in.

Pour your broth into a large pot and add your vegetables and tofu. Serve with rice. (If you have a donabe pot like this one you can cook them all together in the same pot, just add your broth and vegetables pop on the lid and simmer )

A perfect meal for a cold day but so easy to make.

Autumn Food, Blog

Chard & Tofu Rolls With Roast Vegetables

This colourful dish is created using rainbow chard but you could just as easily use cabbage. First roast some vegetables i used fennel,carrot,beetroot and tofu. Add these to some foil with some bay leaves and make a parcel and roast until tender. Steam some leaves and they them out flat. Fill with your roasted vegetables and tofu and roll them up and secure with a tooth pick . Make a broth of tamari,kombu dashi and mirin and warm in a pan. Arrange your filled chard in a bowl and pour over your broth. Why not decorate with some steamed carrot that has been cut into leaf shapes.

Perfect served with rice and a soup on a cold day.