Category

Autumn Food

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

Almond Tofu in Yuzu Batter

I have been making almond tofu for quite a while now since I first came across a similar recipe in “ the enlightened kitchen “ cookbook by Mari Fujii. I have seen this recipe many times in other cookbooks and I wondered what slight adjustment I could make to make this more my own. This fried tofu dish is crispy on the outside and soft inside. The almonds and with the introduction of Yuzu juice in the batter (which I have decided is what’s going to make this more my signature) gives the dish a lovely aroma.

You will need one block of drained firm tofu, white plain flour, yuzu juice, flaked almonds, oil for frying, salt and salt for serving.

I first saw this tip of getting excess liquid off tofu on “Dining with the Chef “ on NHK. Simply wrap your tofu in some paper towel and place on a plate and microwave for 2 mins. I use this method now every time.

Cut your tofu into large pieces depending on how big you want them you can cut the tofu into four or six.

Prepare a batter mixture with two heaped tablespoons of plain flour and a pinch of salt add to this one tablespoon of Yuzu juice. Then keep adding a small amount of water until you get a nice batter consistency.

Heat up some oil you can use sesame or your favourite oil for cooking, I often use coconut butter as it has no aroma. Do not use oil that has an over powering smell, and do not fry to many pieces at once. I normally do no more than two. Dip each piece of tofu in the batter and roll in some flakes of almonds and add to hot oil straight away. Turn the tofu on all sides until golden. Remove and place on some kitchen towel to soak up extra oil while you do the remaining pieces.

I recommend serving this dish simply with salt and maybe a wedge of lemon or lime. If you have Yuzu salt or matcha salt this is lovely.

You can serve it in the summer with salad or with vegetables. It can even be a nice snack to serve alongside a cup of sake.

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

Matcha Frangipane Puff Pastry Plait

This was roughly based on the French patisserie Gallette des Rois, which is eaten around the 6th of January for Epiphany. Eaten as part of the 12 days of Christmas but now also a pastry to eat through the New Year.

Easy to make with a few simple ingredients (especially if you use ready made pastry like I did ).

I used Ready made puff pastry but if you want to make your own especially a gluten free one then you will need to make this first.
You will need a rectangular piece of puff pastry 350mm x 230mm which is the size of a ready made puff pastry sheet, which you will need to cut in half.

Then in a bowl make your filling.

Add x1 and 1/2 cups of almond flour (meal /ground almonds) and one heaped teaspoon of good quality Matcha powder. Then add x1 tablespoon of kuzu root that’s been ground into a powder. Mix then add 1/2 a cup of maple syrup and 1/2 a teaspoon of almond essence, mix to form a dough.

Divide in half and lay out in the middle of each pastry sheet like this.

Slice diagonally on both sides, then from the bottom working up fold one slice over the other to form a plait. Tuck in the ends and brush the whole thing in plant based milk ( I used soy milk .) You can also sprinkle the top with flakes of almonds if you like.

Place each plait on a piece of parchment paper in a pre heated oven 200C and bake for around 20 minutes until golden brown.

Take your plaits out the oven and let them cool. You could dust with icing sugar if you like.
Slice and serve.

You can serve cold with some vegan cream.


They are also delicious warm for breakfast almost like an almond croissant. Just pop back in the oven and heat for a few minutes. Instead of making two large ones you could divide the pastry again and make four smaller individual ones. How will you eat yours?

Not just for January I think this is a delicious pastry you could serve any time of year and any time of day.

 

Autumn Food, Blog, Winter Food

Japanese Thanksgiving & Kondate-Zukushi Meal

Niinamesai 新嘗祭 is a Shinto celebration held on the 23rd of November, nowadays it has been rebranded as Labour Thanksgiving Day. It is a very important day in Shinto religion as it is the annual day to give thanks for the newly harvested rice. This is known as the celebration of first taste.In Buddhist temples it is known as The Autumn Festival and is normally a ceremony of the gratitude for everything nature provides. It is also a time to pray for a prosperous and fruitful New Year.

I decided to make a temple style meal to celebrate doing something a little different. These days due to modern cultivation methods, vegetables are grown all year round and no one seams to know a vegetables true season. In temple cuisine it is believed to be important to follow the flow of nature and eat foods provided by the season. This makes sense as each season provides us with the nourishment we need, consider summer vegetables tomatoes, cucumber and melon all have a cooling effect on the body. Autumn and winter root vegetables give us warmth and nourishment to warm the body with soups and nabes.

I had just received a box of kabu from an organic Japanese vegetable farm. Robin & Ikuko run Nama Yasai farm in East Sussex.

Kabu かふis a type of Japanese turnip, it has an effective digestive aid and is rich in vitamin C, iron and fibre. The leaves are nutrient rich in vitamin A and Calcium.
As the whole part of the vegetable is good in so many dishes from soups and simmered dishes to salad and pickles, I decided to prepare a meal using two Japanese principles. The first is called Ichi Motsu Zen Shoku, which is the use of using a vegetable in it’s entirety. The second approach is called Kondate-Zukushi a culinary practice of making an entire meal from one single ingredient (in this case kabu).

This is my Teishoku meal

Kabu & Soymilk Soup

Chopped Kabu, simmered in vegetable stock until tender adding some greens at the last minute, then add a dash of soymilk and white miso before blending.

Gohan & Kabu greens

cooked Japanese rice with chopped Kabu greens mixed in after cooking.

Simmered whole Kabu with Yuzu miso

Miso roasted Kabu with sautéed greens and baked tofu

Finally what no Japanese meal should be without Tsukemono or pickles. This pickle is known as Asazuke or quick pickle.

Slice a medium Kabu and place in a ziplock bag, add to this some chopped greens, some sliced kombu kelp, 1/3 chopped red chilli a teaspoon of Yuzu zest and a teaspoon of Yuzu juice, a table spoon each of brown rice vinegar and mirin and a tablespoon of salt. Press the air out of the bag and seal it then massage the Kabu so all the flavours are immersed. Then leave in the fridge at least four hours or overnight.

I hope this can inspire you to make your own meal around the Kondate-Zukushi principle.

 

 

Autumn Food

Kaki crumble

Persimmons or kaki 柿 as they are known in Japan are popular autumn fruit often seen hanging in the trees of the Japanese countryside long after the leaves have fallen. Packed full of nutrients just one of these orange fruits contains over half your recommend daily amount of vitamin A critical for your immunity. Each fruit also contains 22% of your recommended daily amount of vitamin C amongst other vitamins and minerals.

The weather is turning cooler now so I decided  to make a warm dessert that was comforting and nothing says comforting dessert more than crumble. As I had quite a few kaki I decided to use some to try out a crumble recipe. It’s really simple to make and I think you could have this for tea or even for breakfast with some almond milk.


I chose an oven proof flan dish to make my crumble in.

Peel the skin off around 3-4 kaki with a knife and chop into large chunks. There are mainly two types of kaki Fuyuu are round and Hachiya are longer.

If your using Hachiya make sure they yield when you press them never eat these not ripe as they are high in astringency.
Put the chunks in your dish and sprinkle with some spices you could use what ever you have like cinnamon or nutmeg, I actually had this apple pie mixed spice so I decided to use this. Then I drizzled in about a tablespoon of maple syrup and a tablespoon of Yuzu juice. The Yuzu juice is optional. Give this a mix.

Now for your topping

To a bowl add one cup of flour of choice I used chestnut flour but something like oat flour would be good, add 1/2 cup almond flour, 1/2 cup hazelnut flour (basically finely ground almonds and hazelnuts) Also 1/2 cup of rolled oats.

Give it a mix and add to your flours 1/3 cup of melted coconut butter give this a good stir and make sure the coconut butter is mixed in to make your crumble a bit like bread crumbs. Tip this on top of your kaki. I like to sprinkle a little coconut palm sugar on top but again this is optional.

Bake in a moderate oven for around 30 mins until you can see the kaki bubbling and the topping is golden. Serve straight away warm with soy cream.

 

Autumn Food, Blog

Fukuyama Uzumi-Gohan うずみご飯

A traditional dish from Fukuyama is Uzumi cuisine.

Fukuyama is near the centre of Seto inland sea which has developed as a main port for the eastern area of Hiroshima prefecture, this dish began in the Edo period 1603-1868. It was created at this time due to frugal politics who’s government forbid luxury items. Uzumi means to bury, people used to hide luxury food items like rare mushrooms or fish under rice.
Now this dish is considered good fortune and people in Fukuyama even have an Uzumi festival to celebrate food from the mountains and sea.
I thought what a nice idea this was to have almost a surprise of food buried under rice . Also now people do not have to hide their food in fear of frugality and it made me feel lucky to have such choice in the foods we now consume. Why not try this meal for yourself using seasonal ingredients. Think of it as a reverse donburi instead of the rice being underneath it’s now on top.

I made two Uzumi the first was soboro style. Soboro is normally minced chicken  and egg ( you can see another post for this on my recipe pages. I made my vegan version and put the rice on top.


The second was a mixture of autumn Japanese mushrooms shimeji, shiitake, maitake and enoki. Sautéed in a teriyaki sauce then placed in the bottom of a bowl and topped with rice. It’s as simple as that .


You could make all kinds of your own variations. What joy to be given an Uzumi rice bowl, digging out delicious seasonal foods, not knowing what lies beneath the rice.

Autumn Food, Blog, Winter Food

Candied Sweet Potatoes Daigaku Imo 大学芋 with a Yuzu syrup

Have you heard the Japanese word Natsukashii ? It’s a word meaning a small thing that brings back fond memories of the past. When I posted my candied Japanese sweet potato on my Instagram account I had so many messages from either people from Japan now not living in Japan or people with memories of Japan. One japanese lady said it reminded her of her grandmother. How lovely I thought that these small things can bring back such sweet memories maybe of your childhood or a visit to a certain place.
I decided to make these when I was lucky enough to get hold of some Japanese sweet potato (Satsumaimo) さつまいも. These sweet potato are great for desserts as they are very sweet. Often used as an ingredient for kuri kinton part of a New Years Osechi Ryori.

When autumn rolls around in Japan you may hear the sound of the autumns equivalent to a summers ice cream truck it’s the Yaki-Imo truck. Baked satsumaimo warm the hands on a cold day. Tear them open to reveal the orange flesh.

Daigaku-imo actually means university potatoes, maybe because of the story of someone selling these to help pay for their university tuition or another story is there was a potato shop near Tokyo university which became a hit with the student’s.
These snacks are normally deep fried and then coated in a sweet caramelised syrup. I decided to make a snack that you could eat without frying but then afterwards I decided to sauté them and they were both delicious so you can decide to do it either way. Because they are so sweet Japanese people like to eat them as an accompaniment to green tea.

You will need a Japanese sweet potato I got a Miyazaki Beni which is the original brand type of Japanese sweet potato.


Purple on the outside and a cream flesh that turns orange when cooked. You don’t have to but I took off some of the outer skin to make it look interesting. Slice into rounds and put in a bowl of cold water for 15 mins to remove any starch.

Add to a pan one cup of water, two tablespoons of granulated sugar and two tablespoons of yuzu juice. The yuzu  juice is optional but it gives the syrup a lovely citrus flavour which I think goes well with the potatoes. Give it a stir then drain your potatoes and add them to your pan. Simmer on a low heat with a dropped lid or otoshibuta, if you don’t have one just use tin foil with a few holes pushed in and rest it on top. This will perfectly simmer your potatoes and stop them them breaking as you won’t need to stir them. Simmer for around 20 mins. Your syrup will start to thicken, test your potatoes are done with a toothpick and leave to cool in the syrup.


You can then eat them as they are or add the potatoes to a pan without the syrup with a little oil and sauté them until crispy on the outside.


Then serve them warm adding a drizzle of the syrup and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.


Either way I hope you will enjoy this traditional Japanese treat.

 

 

 

Autumn Food

Kabocha & Chestnut Cookies

I have been loving using Kabocha pumpkin in sweet recipes, it has a lovely nutty flavour and a great consistency that yields well to baked goods. When I saw this chestnut flour I knew I wanted to try it to make cookies. If you can’t get hold of this other flours will be fine to use like oat or rice.


First steam 1/2 a Kabocha pumpkin and let it cool. Scoop out the flesh, you need enough for 1 cup of pumpkin. Add this into a food processor and add to it 1/3 cup of maple syrup, one teaspoon of almond essence or you could use vanilla essence and two tablespoons of melted coconut butter.
Add to a bowl 1 cup of chestnut flour and 1/2 cup almond flour to that add 1 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, add to this either pumpkin spice powder or a mix of cinnamon and nutmeg. Give this a mix and then add your wet ingredients to your dry. Cream it together to form a dough add a little water a few teaspoons a little at a time if your dough is too dry but do not make it too wet.

Form a ball and place it in the fridge to chill for around 30 mins.


Take out your dough and roll it on some parchment paper, use a cookie cutter to cut out any shapes you like. If you have a pumpkin cookie cutter I think this would be a great time to use it. As I didn’t I just cut mine into rounds. I then placed each cookie on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and added a few pumpkin seeds for decoration.
Bake in a moderate oven, these cookies are quite soft not crispy.



They would also work well crumbled onto porridge or use as I did as a crust for pumpkin pie using mini tartlet cases.


Just grease the cases before adding your biscuit base and bake. After you can add your pie filling. I love the pumpkin custard pie filling from the vegan pudding company. Originally from Japan they are now based in Canada but they ship world wide. Or just use my tofu pumpkin pie recipe. This company do three filling favours the vanilla is the pumpkin but they also do a chocolate and a matcha.

Happy Halloween Happy Fall

Autumn Food

Chestnut truffles

Chestnuts or Kuri as they are known in Japan are very popular in autumn. Japanese people like to cook them with rice and you will also find them in many desserts.

This is a quick recipe to make your own chocolate truffles. Perfect as a wagashi with a matcha tea.

You will need a pack of already cooked roasted chestnuts. Tip them out into a bowl and start to mash them.


Add two tablespoons of coconut palm sugar and start to cream the chestnuts with the sugar. This can take a little time. Add to this one heaped tablespoon of cacao powder and one tablespoon of melted coconut butter and again start to cream it altogether. Add a teaspoon of water at a time to make a dough. Do not add to much water you do not want a wet dough. Roll into balls and then roll the truffles in cacao powder.

You can also dip them in melted chocolate like my pumpkin Halloween truffles on another recipe on this website or why not add a centre of your choice it could be a nut or nut butter maybe even marzipan. You could even add chopped fruit to the dough or roll the dough in chopped nuts.
Why not experiment and give them a try. I would love to see anything you make so please tag me on Instagram and I will feature what you make.
Have fun in the kitchen.

 

Autumn Food, Blog

Basque Style Cheese Cake

A dessert that’s very trendy in Japan at the moment is the basque style cheese cake. A crust less cheese cake with almost a burnt surface and a golden centre using eggs, milk and cream cheese. This is my vegan version. It tastes a cross between a cheese cake and an egg custard but no eggs or dairy !
What is my egg replacement ? Many people thought it was tofu but the wait is over I can reveal its Kabocha pumpkin !
There is a variation on the basque cheese cake called a Far Breton, many have prunes or raisins at the bottom so you could add this too to the recipe if you like. They are both perfect served warm with some soy cream. I have recipe tested this many times with different variations and I have found it best made in a lined loaf tin .
So for all of you that were waiting for this recipe here you are and I would love to see any of you that recreate this on Instagram. Remember to tag me in and I will repost.
You will need:

x1 carton or soft vegan cream cheese

this is the one I used.


200 ml of soy milk I recommend BonSoy as it’s nice and creamy

x1 and 1/2 heaped tablespoon of steamed and mashed Kabocha pumpkin

1/2 cup of granulated unrefined sugar

x3 tablespoons of plain flour

a tablespoon of maple syrup and a teaspoon of vanilla essence

And that’s it !

Slightly soften your cream cheese ( I added mine to the microwave for 30 sec) then add this to a food processor

Process everything together cream cheese, sugar, maple syrup, soy milk, vanilla, and pumpkin then add your flour last.  Then pour into a lined loaf pan.

Bake on a high preheated oven around 200 degrees for a fan oven  for 30-40 mins and then chill over night in the fridge before removing and cutting.

 

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

Crispy Aburaage Tofu Spring Rolls

These are my crispy aburaage fried tofu spring rolls, they are super delicious straight out of the oven but just as perfect for a bento . Why not try to make them for yourself.


First you will need to make your filling I used a mixture of julienned carrots finely sliced, finely sliced spring onion, red pepper,  hakusai ( Chinese cabbage ) and bean sprouts to that mix in some schichimi pepper and a dash of tamari or soy sauce and a little finely grated ginger. Sauté this in a pan in a little sesame oil until tender then  put aside.
Now prepare your aburaage, I used the kind you can find already made  frozen like these ones, defrost them and do not wash off the oil that they were fried in.

Take your aburaage and cut off three sides leaving one of the longer sides.
Then carefully pull apart to make a square sheet and tip sideways to make a diamond shape.

Get your Prepared filling and put a line of filling across your aburaage then fold in the sides and the bottom like an envelope and then roll.

After you have finished all three you can either put them in a pan with no oil ( there is enough oil already on the aburaage when it was fried this is why we didn’t wash it off )

Or what I like to do is put them in the oven until they are nice and crispy on the outside ( around 15-20 minutes)

Take out the oven and serve with something like a chilli dip or soy sauce.

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

Hambāgu Steki ハンバーグステーキ

I first came across Hambagu Steki at a vegan cafe in Tokyo, the steak came out sizzling on a platter served with potatoes and vegetables in a rich Demi glacé. Sadly the cafe is no longer trading, but I always wanted to try making it and when I saw some pea and rice plant based mince in my local super market I just knew I wanted to try and make them.


Hambagu Steki is normally made of ground meat, with some kind of sauce. With this one I decided to make a Mikan sauce with some delicious shiso delight juice I had got from the wasabi company ( link at the side of the page) the juice is made from mikan, shiso and ume plum. If you can’t get this I suggest maybe making a ponzu style sauce with Yuzu juice and tamari or soy sauce. You will need to make 1/2 cup a blend of tamari or soy sauce, juice and water.


Dice finely 1/2 an onion and sauté in a little oil in a pan until soft.

Then to a bowl add 1/4 cup of either Panko or like I did gluten free breadcrumbs. Add to the breadcrumbs x4 tablespoons of soy milk and mix together.
To a large bowl add the mince, sautéed onions and bread crumbs. Knead all together with clean hands. Flatten at the bottom of the bowl and divide into four equal portions. Take each portion and mould into thick oval ball shaped patties.

Add some oil to a pan and fry the patties on both sides until golden. Then add your ponzu sauce. Put on a lid and reduce for a few minutes.

Serve with a topping of grated daikon radish and chopped shiso leaves.



To grate the daikon finely use a Japanese style grater suitable for wasabi, like a ceramic Kyocera or Oroshigane  metal grater.

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

Sesame Cookies


These cookies were a big hit, soft and chewy on the inside but a nice crisp outer. They make the perfect ice cream cookie sandwich, and have a lovely caramel flavour. Some of you on my Instagram account wanted to know the recipe so here you are.

This will make about 10 large cookies.

Preheat the oven to 150 ( moderate oven )

Mix in one bowl

1/2 cup of gluten-free oat flour

1/2 cup of chick pea flour (gram flour)

1/2 cup of coconut sugar

1 teaspoon of baking powder

2 tablespoons of White roasted ground sesame (suri goma shiro)

すりごま

If you are in Japan you maybe able to get this ground almond and sesame blend which is also a nice alternative.

Mix in a separate bowl

1/4 cup of maple syrup

1/3 cup of melted coconut butter

1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

2 tablespoons of sesame paste or tahini

1 tablespoon of water

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry and form a dough

Make balls from the dough and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. When you have used all the dough flatten them out with you hands and then if you like make a pattern with a fork.

Sprinkle with some toasted sesames and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

Take out the oven and leave to harden and cool.


Enjoy!

 

 

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

Midnight Diner Tokyo Stories Plum Rice Ball

Episode 3 of season 2 sees Master the owner of the diner Meishiya make plum rice balls for a customer. The series is so heart warming and shows how food has the ability to not only to connect people but to bring back memories. One such memory for me was one Marine day ( a public holiday held on third Monday in July in Japan where many people head off to the coast). We had started our train journey over to Enoshima island in Kanagawa Prefecture and there were lots of families on the train. On the opposite seat was a family the mother got out a neatly packed bento and untied the furoshiki around it. Opening the lid she started to take out onigiri those triangle shaped rice balls wrapped in nori sometimes with a filling, she handed them to her children. The onigiri filled the hands of the small children and I remember how happy there faces were to be eating such a breakfast on the way to the seaside. Onigiri ( rice balls ) are perfect for picnics or in the case of the Midnight diner an evening snack.
The pickled plums used in the series were the hard type called Ko ume, as I only had umeboshi I used those instead. Umeboshi are slightly squashy which are dried and salted plums. They are tart and tangy and I must admit to not liking them at first but now I love them. They have been used in Japan to aid digestion and are a good way to keep the rice fresh for a few hours.

Cook up some Japanese rice and chop up an umeboshi plum. When the rice is done fold in your umeboshi ( I also added some furikake with sesame and dried daikon greens to give it a little colour ).

Wet your hands and make a ball of rice then start to mould the rice by pressing the rice into a point, then rotate the ball pressing it into that onigiri shape.

Do not put in the fridge as they will go hard, the umeboshi will help to keep them fresh for a few hours, if you want just put a damp cloth over them. When your ready to eat them I find a strip of nori ( dried seaweed) makes them easier to hold.

I like to toast my nori in the oven to make it extra crispy. The crunch of the nori and the soft rice then the tang of the umeboshi, just takes me right back to Japan, and for me that is one of the  reasons I make Japanese food.

They are nice just simply served on their own with a sake or a miso soup.