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Matcha

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Matcha Sakura Cookies

Today we had the most beautiful warm spring weather, as I look out into my garden at the blooming Sakura the bees are loving it. Time is very much slowing down at the moment but the bees are very much hard at work . I just don’t want the beautiful flowers to end, but I know soon the petals will be falling as we move on into summer.
As I had some salted preserved Sakura flowers I thought I would take today as an opportunity to make my Sakura cookies.

This time I made them with matcha.

The cookie recipe is the same but I used maple syrup and x1 tablespoon of matcha in the recipe. I didn’t need to add any water and added a little more oat flour just to make the dough better. Sometimes it’s a little trial and error with dough sometimes it may need more liquid sometimes a little more dry ingredients, in cooking it’s going with the flow and adjusting things as necessary.
These cookies came out so well it was hard not to eat them all in one go. I will save some for later although as we all know from baked goods they are always best on the day.
If you don’t have Sakura flowers you can just make these without. That little touch of saltiness with the bitter matcha and sweet cookie makes for a delightful flavour reminiscent of days in Japan.
Making these Sakura cookies is a way for me to be close to Japan’s spring time when I can’t be there.

I’m going to enjoy them with a Sakura tea  which you can buy from nugoo Japan.

How about making a cookie sandwich this one has sweet red bean paste in between two cookies

Blog, Winter Food

Kuzu-yu 葛湯

Kuzu or Kudzu starch is a Japanese powdered root and I often use to thicken my curry sauces. It is highly valued in the macrobiotic diet for having many health benefits from helping stomach illnesses, regulating blood sugar and high blood pressure to comforting cold and flu symptoms. This is why it makes a wonderful drink to have in the winter months, especially if you are sick. I chose to make this as it is also believed to help with migraine and ease neck and shoulder pain, which I had been suffering from, also it is helpful in regulating estrogen levels.
The kuzu tea  or as it’s known kuzu-yu is a hot sweet syrupy drink so would be helpful in easing tired muscles and aiding with sore throats.
(yu) means hot water in Japanese .

It is easy to make with just a few ingredients

x1 tablespoon of kuzu root powder, x1 cup of COLD water, x1 teaspoon of  grated ginger, x1 teaspoon of Yuzu juice or lemon and sweetener of choice to taste.

Add the kuzu to a pan and crush into a fine powder , at this point if you would like to make the drink with matcha powder rather than ginger you can add this here and mix into the root. Take your cup of cold water and add a little to the root and mix to a paste then add the rest. Heat on a gentle heat stirring all the time until it thickens.
Pour into your favourite mug or tea cup and sip to enjoy.

If you are making the matcha version it is sometimes served as a hot dessert in Japan with small rice cracker toppings called arare.

Another popular alternative is to use apple juice instead of water and make a syrupy apple drink, maybe adding ginger and cinnamon and a few cubes of fresh apple to finish.

I think this is a perfect winter beverage to warm your body.

Blog

Matcha Marzipan Chocolates

If your short on time and ingredients why not try making these super quick and easy matcha marzipans with only a few ingredients.

Add to a bowl 200g bag of ground almonds and to that two tablespoons of sifted matcha. Mix the matcha in well and add four tablespoons of pure maple syrup and cream the almonds with the maple syrup. You can test that it’s mixed well if you take a little piece and it rolls into a ball and sticks together.

Take x1 and 1/2 bars of vegan chocolate I used the Moo free rice milk chocolate which equates to 150g

Melt in a bowl with hot water underneath.

While the chocolate is melting take heaped tablespoons of marzipan mixture and roll into balls . If you would like to add a filling you could add a hazelnut or like me I added some crystallised ginger. Just push in your filling and then roll again .

Line a tray with parchment paper

When your chocolate is melted roll each ball in the chocolate to coat and place on your tray.

When all the marzipan is coated you can add a topping like some chopped nuts or chopped candied Yuzu peel.

Chill in the fridge.
Serve with a nice Japanese tea of choice or maybe an Umeshu

 

Autumn Food, Blog

Japanese Micro Season Part 3 Autumn Equinox & Making Ohagi


We are now heading in to the shorter days of Autumn. Monday the 23rd is the Autumn Equinox. In Japanese micro season it is known as Shūbun. This season is broken into three parts.

September the 23rd-27th Kaminari sunawachi  koe o osamu ( thunder ceases )

September the 28th- October 2nd Mushi Kakurete to o fusagu ( insects hole up underground )

October 3rd-7th Mizu hajimete karuru. ( farmers drain the fields )

The equinoxes are a special time for Buddhists they believe that this is when the worlds between the living and dead are at their thinnest, thus at this time people pay respects to the deceased .

This is also part of the silver week holiday in Japan starting with Respect the aged day  and finishing on equinox day.

Buddhists call Autumn Equinox O-Higan or Aki no Higan, and it is tradition to make ohagi at the time a type of Japanese wagashi (sweet) Ohagi おはぎ is named after the Japanese clover bush and these sweets are sometimes also taken to ancestors graves at this time as offerings. They are really delicious and so easy and fun to make.

To celebrate why don’t you try to make them. They are made with sweet half pounded ( hangoroshi ) Mochi rice with an anko filling and rolled in various toppings like kinako and ground sesame. You can also do a reverse one where the rice is the filling and the anko is on the outside. You can either buy chunky bean paste called Tsubuan in packets at Asian grocery store or make your own.

The above shows Mochi rice and bought and homemade tsubuan.

You will need 1 rice cooker cup of sushi rice and 1 cup Mochi rice (Mochimai). First give the rice a good rinse changing the water until in runs clean. Soak your rice in four cups of water over night and then cook in your rice cooker or pan. This does make a lot of ohagi so you can either freeze them or just use half the amounts 1/2 cup sushi rice 1/2 cup Mochi rice and two cups of water. Through experience if your rolling your ohagi in toppings do this after you have defrosted them.

When the rice is done mash your rice but not fully so you still have some grain and leave to cool covered with a cloth so it doesn’t dry out. Divide into balls and flatten out. It is advisable to use plastic wrap but if you don’t want to just have damp hands and a wet clean cloth to hand. In the middle of each flattened ball add a ball of anko and then fold the rice over the anko to make a sealed ball. Carry on making until all are done.

If you want to make inverted ohagi make small balls of rice and add this to the middle of larger flattened balls of tsubuan.

Now choose what you would like to roll your ohagi in . Powdered black sesame ( kurogoma ), kinako ( soybean flour ), sesame seeds mixed with sugar or maybe matcha.

How about making Kurumi which is powdered walnuts with sugar. The balls of sticky rice become easier to mould into balls after they have been rolled in the topping.

They make lovely gifts and are perfect with a green tea.

I know I will be making them to enjoy with a tea while looking out onto my already changing colours of maples in my garden. In Japan they won’t be changing just yet people in Japan will have to wait until late October, November to do what’s called momijigari or autumn leaf hunting which is as much a custom as hanami flower viewing in the spring.

Kyoto

Inokashira park Tokyo

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

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, Summer Food

Greenery Day Raw Tart & Mousse

Greenery Day (midori no hi ) is upon us again in Japan. The 4th of May is part of the long golden week holiday and greenery day is a day when people like to celebrate and take time to appreciate nature. They might visit their local park or flower garden. There are many beautiful flowers out at this time and people in japan flock to see the amazing wisteria,elegant iris or brightly coloured azaleas. In fact the old name for May is Satsuki meaning Azalea.

I decided to make the tarts using tofu,avocado and matcha . If you do not want to make the base you can just eat as a mousse or add the base to the bottom of a glass instead.

To make your base process one cup of raw nuts,I used a mix of almonds,walnuts and pistachios. When your nuts are processed start adding one at a time while your food processor is still running some pitted medjool dates. You will need one cup. Then add two tablespoon of raw cacao powder and one tablespoon of melted coconut butter.Blend all this together. Turn out onto a a large pie tin or small tins . I like the ones with removable push up bottoms. Press in your mixture to form a base and place in the fridge.

Now to make your mousse topping.

Blend together two large avocado,two tablespoons of maple syrup,two tablespoons of melted coconut butter the juice of two limes,half a block of silken tofu and a heaped teaspoon of sifted matcha powder.

When this is blended remove your bases from the fridge and top with the topping. Or alternatively spoon into glasses.

Decorate with lime slices and coconut and pop in the freezer to firm up.

You can also keep them in the freezer for later and just remove them half an hour or so before serving.

 

Blog, Winter Food

Matcha Chocolate Chip Cookies

As I have just started a new job on my days off I like to make treats for when I’m working in the week .

I made these yummy choc chip matcha cookies which are perfect as an afternoon snack .

you will need

in one bowl

1 cup oat flour

2/3 cup almond flour ( meal )

1 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

1 heaped teaspoon matcha powder

A good handful of vegan chocolate chips

Mix

in another bowl

1/4 cup of melted coconut butter / oil

1/2 cup of maple syrup

1-2 tablespoons of water add 1 to start with

Add wet ingredients to try to form a dough

Tip out onto some plastic wrap and form into a ball and place into the freezer for ten mins to firm up.

Take your dough out the freezer and place on a surface  lined with parchment paper, roll out your dough ( I tend to do this whilst it’s still inside the plastic wrap so nothing sticks ). When your dough is flat cut out your cookies with a cutter and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. You can keep reusing up your dough until it’s all gone . Put your cookies in the oven for 10 mins . Leave to cool and enjoy.

Blog

Three Healthy Japanese Drinks To Help Keep You Cool

Three healthy Japanese summer time drinks to help you keep your cool.
If any of you live in Japan or have been to Japan in the summer then you know how hot and humid it can get. Here are a few drinks to help you chill in hot weather.

The first is Soba Cha
By infusing roasted buckwheat kernels in hot water you can make a delicious gluten free and caffeine free drink which is refreshing also chilled.
There are a number of health benefits that go with drinking Soba Cha from improved blood flow ( which could help with varicose veins) to helping reduce blood sugar and treating diabetes. It is said to help improve your immune system and an aid in weight loss. I think this has to be one of my favourites all you need is to steep one teaspoon of kernels to one mug of water and drink hot or chill for a nice refreshing summer drink over ice.

The next is Mugi-Cha or toasted barley tea
This is only a caffeine free drink so if your sensitive to gluten it’s better to stick to the Soba Cha or Matcha.
This is another very popular drink in the summer in Japan. And you can often find it amongst the chilled green teas in bottles in the vending machines all over Japan for a quick rehydrating drink in the hot humid Japanese summers.
It is just as nice to have a jug of ice cold Mugi Cha in the fridge at home to have if the weather gets warm. You can buy Mugi Cha in different ways but the most convenient for making it yourself is with tea bags. You can either use hot water and one tea bag steeped in a jug of water and let it go cold before putting it in the fridge ( I find this makes a stronger tea so you can dilute to taste ) or just cold brew one teabag in a jug of cold water in the fridge . When your ready just add ice.
This tea has been said to reduce stress, it also has antibacterial properties and is good for helping fight tooth cavities. Like the Soba Cha it’s good for cholesterol and also helps with aiding digestion.

Did you know that matcha is Japan’s superfood?
The ceremonial one is the finest vibrant green and is not bitter and has a smooth taste. I like to buy organic and the finest young tea buds are picked then dried and ground in a granite mortar into a very fine powder. Having a matcha powder you are having the whole leaf so is much more concentrated where as in other teas you brew the leaf and then disgard. To enjoy an ice cold matcha simply put a teaspoon of sifted matcha into a lidded container and add cold water with ice, put your lid on and give it a good shake. I’ve spoken many times on my Instagram account about the benefits of matcha with it being high in antioxidants and flavanols which are thought to protect the immune system and brain. Matcha is also high in theanine an amino acid which can have a calming effect and help with focus and concentration. No wonder the Buddhist monks in Japan like to drink it

Summer Food

Matcha Smoothie & Granola Bowl

We all know by now that matcha is finely ground whole tea so you are getting all the natural compounds associated with it. From flavanols thought to protect the immune system to the amino acids that have a relaxing and calming effect on the mind and help aid concentration.
So there is no better way to kick start your morning than with a dose of a whole leaf matcha tea smoothie and matcha granola.
I particularly think this is a nice one to make on a weekend to help you unwind after the week.
First let’s make that crunchy chewy granola .
All you need is a cup of oats (I like to use raw gluten free sprouted oats by rude health organic) Add the oats to a bowl.
Then you will need a tablespoon of melted coconut butter (I use Tiana organic) sift a teaspoon of matcha or a Clearspring matcha shot into a small bowl and pour in your melted butter and give it a good stir.
Add this to your oats and stir it in. Then I like to add a few pumpkin seeds sunflower seeds chia seeds and flax seeds but you can use what ever you have.
Give that a stir and then add a little sweetener if you like around a teaspoon of maple or rice syrup.
At this point I turn the oats and seed matcha mixture out onto some parchment paper and bake for ten mins in a moderate oven keep and eye on it you don’t want it to burn. This is why I like to add my nuts and dried fruit after. When your matcha oats are golden you can now tip it into a bowl and add the rest of your ingredients. I added some broken pecan and walnuts a few goji and dried cranberries berries and some flaked almonds to mine but feel free to use what ever you like.
Give it a good stir and your granola is done.
Now for your creamy smoothie.
I always try to think ahead so if I’m thinking of having this on a Sunday morning then I would freeze two sliced banana the night before. I always slice mine and lay them out flat on parchment paper wrap them up and freeze them that way they do not stick together and they are easily blended (my food processor is a pretty cheap one so not very powerful)
Blend up your banana until it resembles crumbs then sift in one heap teaspoon of matcha put your lid back on and give it a few pulses. Then add some plant based milk,for my smoothies I always like fresh organic almond milk but you can use soy if you wish. Add around 1/2 a cup and keep pulsing stopping to scrape the bottom and sides then give it a good final blend so it’s all creamy. Tip out into a bowl add your granola and some fruit topping and enjoy the wellbeing of matcha.

Summer Food

Matcha biscotti

I love to use matcha in my baking and this recipe was a little bit of trial and error but it came out well so I thought you would like to make them also.

In one bowl add

1 and 1/2 cup of oat flour

2 tablespoons of sifted cooking matcha (lower grade)

2 teaspoons of baking powder

1 heaped tablespoon of chopped candied yuzu peel

( add more if you prefer)

in another bowl add

1 tablespoon of mashed banana or apple purée

1/2 cup of unrefined sugar

1/4 cup of melted coconut butter

two tablespoons of water

add the wet mixture to the dry to form a dough.

if the dough is to wet add more flour to dry add a little more water

form into a log shape and flatten to around  two inches .

This mkes four long thick biscotti

bake in the oven until golden then take out and leave to cool completely  ( if you don’t it will crumble when you cut it)

cut into four slices using a sharp knife and turn onto their sides and bake again for a further ten mins.

Take out the oven and leave to cool completely before storing .

( if you store before they are cool they will go soft) I often wrap mine in foil and freeze them .

Enjoy with a good coffee.

 

Summer Food

Matcha chia pudding

A really filling breakfast is chia pudding made from chia seeds . Chia seeds aid digestion and are high in omega- 3 essential fats. They are also high in fiber so help keep you full until lunch. Because of this they help to balance insulin levels. When you add liquid to chia seeds they become a gel. All you will need to make chia pudding is two tablespoon of chia seeds mixed with one seaspoon of sifted matcha powder and one cup of plant based milk. Add this to a jar and put on the lid and give it a good shake making sure all the chia seeds are not stuck to the bottom of the jar. You can also add a little sweetener if you wish like maple syrup or rice syrup. Put your jar in the fridge and check it after half an hour giving it another shake. I now leave the jar over night so it will be ready for breakfast the next morning.

In the morning spoon out your chia pudding and add to it what you like. To mine I made a parfait with organic soy yogurt and you could add fruit or granola if you wish .

Enjoy

Blog

Matcha

As you know I love matcha .
Now Clearspring have brought out these handy matcha shots with just the right amount inside to make that perfect matcha . These are great for on the go .
And because Clearspring only use organic matcha from Uji you know it’s going to taste lovely and smooth.
I like matcha because it’s the whole tea so your getting all the natural compounds and antioxidants and flavanols associated with having benefits for the immune system . Matcha also has theanine which is an amino acid that is relaxing and calming and great for concentration so these matcha shots make a great pic me up to take to work . Or why not add one to a smoothie or bottle of ice water ? Just shake and go to Super power your day.

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