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Spring Food

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.

 

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)

 

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.

 

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

Raw Chocolate & Yuzu Brownie Bombs

These raw brownie balls can be made with what ever nuts you may have in your cupboard and you can make them as small or as large as you wish. These ones I made extra large so they were more like a dessert than a snack and are perfect with ice cream.

First in a food processor add 3/4 cup of cashews,1/2 cup hazel nuts,1/2 cup pecan and a few walnuts. I didn’t add many walnuts as they can be a little bitter but you could maybe use almonds,pistachio or Brazil nuts. Then add 1 cup of gluten free oats and a pinch of Himalayan pink salt with 1/4 cup of raw cacao powder. Blitz together to form a flour. Then chop up some candied Yuzu peel I used about 1 heap tablespoon add this to your flour mix. I also added two tablespoons of Yuzu juice. Start your food processor and start to add large squishy medjool dates. I used 12. If they are hard they do not work so well and I didn’t want to soak these as it can make the mixture sticky. Keep dropping them in ( remember to take the stones out folks ) until the mixture starts to come together to form a dough.

Then take the mixture and form into balls.

Melt some vegan chocolate in a bowl over some hot water  ( I used a large raw vegan ombar) and add another 1/2 tablespoon of Yuzu juice,then roll around each brownie in the chocolate and place on some parchment paper on a baking sheet. When they are all done I topped them with a few pieces of chopped candied Yuzu peel. Place them in the freezer to set. They are best kept in the freezer until you want one and just take them out 15 mins before serving.

Yuzu juice can be found in bottles and the candied peel in packets at a Asian grocery store. I normally get mine from the Japan Centre in London but my friend sent me some lovely Yuzu peel from Japan this time so I used that instead.

If you do not want to use Yuzu juice or peel you do not have to. Why not try adding dried goji berries or cacao nibs instead and coating your bombs in maybe coconut if you do not want to roll them in chocolate. You can also use this recipe to flatten the dough mixture out on a baking sheet and then cut into slices for more of a brownie shape.

 

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

Amazake ( not just for winter )

Amazake or sweet sake is a fermented rice drink made from koji (kome koji). The koji mold or Aspergillus Oryzae is used in the making of miso,soy sauce,sake and Mirin. The mold causes the rice enzymes to break down and ferment into unrefined sugars. The sugar makes a sweet drink or can be used in desserts,smoothies or dressing.

Amazake is a popular winter drink and is often had at New year. You may find it served by street vendors or at shrines and tea houses,but did you know Amazake was not always a winter drink and was actually consumed in the Edo Period in the summer to battle against the hot Japanese summers and reduce fatigue. Amazake is made up of B vitamins, and all the vitamins and mineral components found in an IV drip . It has high levels of glucose so is perfect to have in the morning for breakfast or if your feeling tired. As it is high in protein and vitamins it helps to boost the metabolism and is good for the digestion as it is has probiotics due to the fermentation.

I had bought some organic brown Rice Koji from the macrobiotic shop ( link to their website is down the side of the page) I decided to give making amazake a try.

First you need to make Okayu a rice porridge. Use one cup of Japanese rice and wash well as if you were making sushi then add this with 5 cups of water to your rice cooker and cook. When it is done mix in 200g of Rice Koji and 200ml of water. Set your rice cooker to warm and place over the top a towel. The day I made it was a very warm day so I just used a clean jay cloth and then put the lid on a jar. You need to keep the temperature between 50-60 degrees Celsius so many people check the temperature with a thermometer. I didn’t have one so I actually winged it. If the temperature is too warm the amazake will not ferment sweet and too cool it may turn sour. I was very lucky it turned out so sweet and delicious . You need to keep the amazake on this setting for 10 hours stirring a few times in between.

You can then store your amazake in the fridge for up to 10 days ( I don’t think it’s going to last that long ) or you can freeze it for up to 6 months.

Now you can use your amazake to make delicious drinks and desserts.

The most simple way to have your amazake is to gently warm it 1-1 with water adding a little grated ginger.

You could also use soy milk. Do not over heat your amazake as it will kill the enzymes.

How about trying the above chilled with a little Yuzu juice for a refreshing summer drink.

You could also use it to make sweet chai tea. Steep one 1/2 cup of hot water with black tea with spices like cardomom and star aniseed,cinnamon bark and clove. I actually have a premade chai tea blend and used about a tablespoon . Strain then add this to a pan with 1/2 cup soy milk and one tablespoon of amazake and gently heat. This will add a lovely sweetness to your chai tea.

You can make a delicious smoothie or shake by adding to a blender two tablespoons of amazake,one cup of soy milk and one to two bananas depending on how thick you want it. Blend and chill for a delicious breakfast with fruit and maybe some granola.

Why not add it to porridge to make it extra sweet and creamy just add it to your porridge after cooking up the porridge so it doesn’t kill the enzymes.

I even made a chia pudding with it. Just add two tablespoons of amazake with two tablespoons of chia seeds and 1/2 cup of soy milk. Mix well and leave in the fridge to set. Perfect when topped with yogurt and fruit.

 

If you do not want to make amazake for yourself you can buy it . Clear spring do a lovely range or if you can get it you can buy Japanese amazake drinks from an Asian supermarket .

Amazake can be enjoyed at anytime of year.

 

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

Kinako Latte

Kinako (黄粉) Japanese roasted soybean flour. You will probably know it from being dusted over wagashi like Mochi . Did you know it also makes a delicious and nutritious drink? Kinako is a Japanese superfood being packed full of protein,and rich in dietary fibre,calcium,potassium,vitamin B1 and A.

That sweet nutty flavour makes a comforting alternative to tea or coffee or have it cold with ice in the summer.

Just add two heaped teaspoons of sifted Kinako to a pan with a teaspoon of sweetener. I like to use coconut palm sugar. Add a cup of your favourite plant based milk. Soy or almond work well. Heat gently whisking well . If you have an electric frother use this to create a nice foam for the top that you can dust with more Kinako before serving. If you want this cold just chill for a few hours mix and add ice before serving. Why not add Kinako to your favourite smoothies it works well with banana. Or add to ice cream for a nutty flavour topping. Sprinkle onto cereal or granola. This stuff is not just for Japanese sweets .

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

Tofu Dengaku (In A Miso Umeboshi Glaze)

Dengaku, a miso glaze traditionally used on tofu,daikon or eggplant ( see Nasu Dengaku for a further recipe.) This one has lots of umami flavour as I used Umeboshi plum giving it that sweet,salty and sour taste. To make the glaze mash one tablespoon of Umeboshi plum with one tablespoon of white miso paste or any other miso you prefer like red or hatcho. Add one teaspoon of maple syrup or malted brown rice syrup,a teaspoon of mirin and a teaspoon of brown rice vinegar and mix together. Now you can use this to glaze your tofu. Cut your tofu into cube or steaks if you like and spread on the glaze. Bake in the oven until the tofu is golden. Top onto warm rice to make Tofu Dengaku Donburi. Add a sprinkle of sesame seeds and chopped green onion.

You can use the glaze for eggplant either cut into rounds or lengthways and score a cross hatch pattern into the flesh. This is called kakushi-bocho,this will help the eggplant absorb the flavours while baking. Bake in the oven until tender,again adding some sesame seeds and green onion before serving.

Finally Daikon Dengaku this one is particularly nice in winter. Peel and cut your daikon into at least one inch rounds and simmer until tender in some kombu dashi,do not throw away the water after as it makes nice broth for miso soup. When tender you can serve your daikon as is with some of your miso paste on top .

or why not pan sear first to give your daikon a crispy outer coating. I also like to add a little dashi broth with a dash of tamari when serving my daikon in the bottom of the bowl. Makes for a comforting dish. In this particular paste I added a splash of yuzu citrus ,if you have any paste left over just add it to a jar with a little water put on the lid and give it a little shake for the perfect salad dressing.

Blog, Spring Food

Kashiwa Mochi

Happy Children’s day Japan?
To day May 5th in Japan is known as ( Kodomo no hi ) ( こどもの日)
It is part of the string of national holidays over the Golden Week period .
This day is in fact for the boys as girls day Hina Matsuri was in March . However a lot of people celebrate this day now as children’s day.
It is traditional to eat these mochi wagashi called Kashiwa mochi to day . They symbolise a child’s growth as an oak leaf is used to wrap the mochi ( not edible ). The reason an oak leaf is used is because oak trees do not shed their leaves until the new ones start to grow so thus are seen as a symbol of harmonious flow from one generation to the next. They are also a symbol of growth,strength and prosperity. These mochi are made from pounded sweet joshinko rice flour and filled with bean paste . Other mochi can be filled with white sweet bean and miso paste known as misoan. How would you know if a mochi is filled with bean paste or miso paste ? Well look at the leaves the mochi is wrapped in. If the veins are on the outside there is bean paste inside.

I was lucky enough to be sent some of the preserved oak leaves from japan so I set out to make Kashiwa Mochi . I’m really hoping next year I am in japan eating an authentic Japanese one and visiting the wisteria park and seeing the azalea.

To make 5 Kashiwa Mochi

( they do not keep well so only make what you plan to eat on the day or at the very latest the next day)

x5 preserved oak leaves ( not edible)

125g of Koshi-an ( smooth bean paste)

100g of Joshinko flour

x1 tablespoon of organic granulated sugar

130 mil of water

you will need a sharp knife,some paper towel, a microwaveable bowl,something to pound the Mochi like a rolling pin or pestle and plastic wrap and a spoon ( also have to hand a bowl of water and a damp cloth.

First rinse and pat dry with some paper towel your oak leaves and set aside.

Then make five balls of sweet bean paste and set aside

Add joshinko flour and sugar to a bowl and mix then add your water and mix. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 4 mins.

When done remove from the microwave and use a wet spoon to loosen the edges. Start to pound your Mochi with your pestle or rolling pin.

When it is smooth and elastic take out of the bowl and place on a damp surface, dampen your hands and knead the Mochi.

When nice and stretchy form into a log shape and cut into five pieces with a damp sharp knife. Cover with a damp cloth,while you make each mochi. Keep your hands and surfaces damp to avoid sticking.

Flatten each piece out into an egg shape then place a ball of sweet bean paste in the centre and fold over your Mochi to cover it and then pinch the ends together. Wrap with an oak leaf and you are done.

They are best eaten straight away they are so chewy and soft. If you need to store them wrap them in plastic wrap and put in an airtight container. I did have one the next day and although still nice they were no where near as nice as eating straight away.

I hope what ever you do you all have a wonderful Golden week in Japan and happy children’s day !

 

 

Blog, Spring Food

Gomoku Gohan

Gomoku gohan is Japanese mixed rice ( five ingredients mixed with a dashi stock ). Go means five and gomoku means five items with out including the rice or any toppings or seasoning. It can also be called takikomi gohan which is rice cooked with vegetables,meat or fish. This is known as takikomi in the Kansai region but in Kyoto/Osaka it can be known as Kayaku gohan.

You can put what ever ingredients you like into your rice which can make for a good fridge clear out day. Some items could be as follows, daikon radish,carrot,tofu,aburaage,burdock,meat or fish if you wish. Mine of course is vegan and so is the dashi used.

First start by making your dashi by simmering a kombu kelp and dried shiitake in water for about 20 mins, then add a dash of soy sauce or tamari, this dashi will be used to cook your rice in and will add flavour. I used spring inspired vegetables like Takenoko which is a traditional spring vegetable in japan and is bamboo shoot. Avoid the tinned variety and if you can not buy fresh then see if you can get the vacuum sealed precooked type. As well as bamboo shoots I added to my rice sliced shiitake,edamame,broccoli and sweetcorn.

Add your rice to your rice cooker or pot and then the required amount of dashi liquid. As I was mainly using vegetables that didn’t require much cooking I steamed my vegetables on the top of my cooking rice. However you can just add vegetables to the top of your rice and let it cook then after mix the vegetables in. When my rice was ready I mixed in my vegetables.

I served my vegetable rice with spring peashoots and Hiyayakko which was topped with pickled ginger and had Ume shiso seasoning .