Tag

Matcha

Blog, Spring Food, Summer Food

International Tea Day May 21st

 


In 2019, the United Nations General Assembly decided to designate May 21st as International Tea Day. International tea day falls on the same date every year to honour the cultural significance of tea and its role in promoting health, wellness, and community. It also raises awareness about the importance of sustainable tea production.

Of course in Japan tea (, cha) plays an important and significant role. With its first introduction from China in the Nara period 710–794. With real development later, from the end of the 12th century and in the 16th century, the art of the “tea ceremony” was formalised (the practice of making and serving tea.) Which is closely linked to the country’s deep-rooted culture of omotenashi (hospitality/serving guests).
There are many varieties of tea grown in Japan and also specific methods of production from
煎茶 sencha tea leaves to Matcha 抹茶 made from ground green tea leaves, ほうじ茶  hōjicha, roasted as well as steamed tea leaves as well as 玄米茶 genmaicha a mixture of green tea and roasted genmai (brown rice) and more. 

Japanese tea is prized for its health benefits being packed with antioxidants, such as polyphenols, which help combat free radicals in the body. These antioxidants have been linked to reducing the risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease and certain types of cancer.

One place that is famous for tea cultivation is Uji (宇治) a small city situated between Kyoto and Nara, which has an unbelievable track record of producing quality Japanese tea. I can remember visiting Uji a few years ago, as you strole through the town you could smell the strong tea smell from the grinding of the tea leaves into Matcha powder.

Everything was flavoured with tea from ice cream to sweets.


There were also many shops selling tea and many places  you could take a rest and partake in tea and sweets.


To celebrate International tea day as well as enjoying a delicious healthy cup of matcha I wanted to also serve it with a matcha sweet.

I decided I would make matcha ichigo daifuku. Ichigo means strawberry in Japanese.

If you would like to make these wagashi for yourself this is what you will need to do.

Ingredient’s:

4-5 small strawberries washed and leaves removed (pat dry with kitchen towel)

100gm Joshinko flour

x1 tablespoon of granulated sugar

130ml of cold water

Koshian smooth bean paste

Matcha

Potato starch

You will need a round cutter (I used one 78mm diameter), a rolling pin, plastic wrap and microwaveable bowl.

Method:

Prepare your strawberries then take a ball of bean paste, flatten it out and put a strawberry inside then fold the bean paste around the strawberry. Do this to each one and put aside.

Add to a bowl the joshinko flour and sugar then add a teaspoon of sifted matcha powder and mix to combine. Add the water and whisk to a smooth paste.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and microwave for 3 minutes then remove the wrap. Wet the end of a rolling pin or pestle and begin to pound the mochi until it’s nice and elastic.

Turn it out onto a damp surface and dampen your rolling pin. Roll out and start to cut rounds.


With each round cut out, stretch the edges and place the round over the top of one of your bean paste covered strawberries.

Turn it upside down and gather the edges to seal, so that the gathered edges are at the bottom, that way you know where the top of the strawberry is when you want to cut it in half to serve.

Place each one on a baking sheet with a dusting of potato starch and give each one a dusting of potato starch before finally finishing with some sifted matcha powder.


They look really pretty when you cut them in half to serve.


What’s your favourite Japanese tea?

Blog, Spring Food

Sanshoku 三色団子 Tofu Three Colour Dango For Hinamatsuri


上巳の節句
on March 3rd is the second in the five main seasonal festivals of Japan. Sometimes called Momo no Sekku (Peach festival ) or (dolls festival) but more commonly known as Hinamatsuri 雛祭. This festival originally celebrated both boys and girls but over time the celebration ended up being just for girls when Tango no Sekku became popular known as boys day, celebrated in May. Dolls are still displayed and are now said to represent the emperor and empress. The dolls are displayed to ward of evil spirits and are often bought with the birth of a new child or past down from grandparents.

The day now celebrates the growth and good health for parents with girl children. Hinamatsuri is a symbolic date for spring signalling the blooming of blossoms and the start of a new season.

There are many traditional foods that are eaten on this day for instance, hina-arare bite sized crackers, a fermented sake drink called shirozake, strawberry daifuku, sakura mochi, temari sushi, kompeito small candy sweets, inari sushi and chirashi sushi to name a few.

Often you will see dango in these three colours which are popular at this time. These are also called hanami dango 花見団子 or Sanshoku 三色団子 dango, which literally translates to “three coloured rice dumpling”.

Hanami 花見 means flower viewing which is something that Japanese people love to do to mark the changing of the seasons.? From the Ume blossom in early spring to the Sakura then wisteria and Ajisai in June. Japanese people often have picnics to admire the cherry blossom in spring and one such food that is enjoyed is hanami dango. It is also popular to eat this confectionery at Hinamatsuri celebrations as it is a spring celebration.

It is said that hanami dango was first served to guests at a hanami party Daigo no hanami which refers to the blossom-viewing party held in grand style at Daigoji Temple in Kyoto on April 20, 1598 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi attended by about 1,300 people . After this time it became popular to serve this confectionery when viewing cherry blossoms.

There are three specific colours associated with Hinamatsuri green for health, white for purification, and pink for luck. Some times the colours are referred to as : Green colour of spring. White the last snow that is melting away. Pink spring flowers, such as cherry blossoms and peach blossom.

Traditionally the pink dumplings were coloured using purple shiso (赤紫蘇) . However be careful if you are vegan in Japan as often any food that contains pink food colouring is not suitable for a vegan diet as it may contain carmine (made from cochineal insects) other names for this pink food colouring are E120 Cochineal, Crimson Lake or Natural Red 5. If you would like to make these simple traditional Japanese sweets for yourself you can with natural food colouring, like strawberry powder or beetroot juice.

Dango is often described with an onomatopoeia in Japanese called “mochimochi”! ‘Mochi-mochi’ (meaning chewy, elastic, soft, plump). So what is the secret ingredient to make these Sanshoku dango so soft with that mochi mochi texture for yourself ? In my recipe I’m using the soft “Shizenno Megumi”Organic Tofu by “Hikari Miso”. The authentic soft textured tofu called “Kinughosi Tofu” in Japan achieves a softer but chewy dango and adds sweetness without adding sugar.

To make these three colour dango which signify purification, health and luck you will need a pack of “ Shizenno Megumi Organic tofu, you will also need equal proportion: 50% rice flour and 50% glutinous rice flour. Known as Shiratamako (白玉粉) – Japanese short-grain glutinous rice flour, also known as sweet rice flour and Joshinko (上新粉) – Japanese short-grain rice. For this recipe I used two and a half tablespoons of each in each bowl. Shiratamako can come in quite large chunks so it is advisable to grind them down into more of a powder.

You will also need bamboo skewers, matcha powder and pink natural food colouring, I used beetroot juice.

First drain you tofu from the packet and section into three equal pieces and divide into three bowls, then mash the tofu. Add one tablespoon of shiratamako and one tablespoon of Joshinko to each bowl. Next add colouring to two bowls I used one teaspoon of matcha for green and one teaspoon of natural beetroot juice for pink.

Cream the tofu in each bowl then add another tablespoon each of shiratamako and joshinko to each bowl .

It needs to form into a stiff dough (people say to think of what an ear lope feels like and this is what dango should feel like when you press it). You may need to add one more half tablespoons of each flour to each bowl to get this texture. I like to add it in stages like this so you get the correct consistency and you can use your judgment as you go rather than weighing it out and tipping it all in at once.

Make your dough into three separate log shapes and section so you can make equal sized balls of each colour.

Heat up a large pan of boiling water and drop your white and pink dango balls into the boiling water, when they float to the top give them a one extra minute and they are done.


Scoop them out using a strainer and drop them into iced water for 30 seconds. Transfer to a plate lined with parchment so they don’t stick and do the same again to the final matcha dumplings so no colour runs. 


Take each ball and begin to slide them onto skewers. Remember to start with sliding on the green first then white and finally pink. If you would like to store your Dango you can pack them in an airtight container and keep at room temperature for 24 hours. You can also freeze the dango for about a month, so it’s nice to make plenty and freeze them in advance. When you want to eat them thaw them naturally at room temperature. 


I’ve displayed the dango here in a dish shaped like a hagoita (
羽子板) which is a paddle used in a game with a shuttlecock a bit like badminton. The game is called Hanetsuki (羽根突き) and was often a game played by girls. It was believed that playing the game would drive away evil spirits because the movement of the hagoita is similar to harau action a Japanese expression meaning to drive away. Thus playing hanetsuki with hagoita is often used as a charm against evil.

Tofu dango is sometimes served with kinako powder to dip them in or with anko sweet bean paste. I recently saw a wagashi store in Kanazawa called “Cafe Murakami” one I visited on my recent trip to Japan that serve up warm dipping chocolate with their Dango. I thought this was such a lovely idea. All you need is an oil burner with a night light candle. The store In Kanazawa used strawberry white chocolate in keeping with spring colours. 

As I have no children it has also been suggested to me that girls day is a nice day to spend with girl friends or sisters. Maybe if you have no girl children you could plan a day out or go for a meal or celebrate women in general.

One of the best memories I have in my life is visiting Japan at Sakura season.

If  you have never been lucky enough to witness it, seeing the blossom and the way people in Japan celebrate Hanami is just breathtaking.

I think I miss Japan the most at this time of year.  I always like to celebrate Japanese customs and traditions it helps me feel close to Japan  when I cannot be there.

How about making some tofu dango and sit with these and a bento under the blossoms and if like me you cannot be there just dream you are.

Blog

Matcha & Yuzu Boule De Neige

Boule De Neige

Matcha & Yuzu snow ball cookies

 抹茶と柚子の

雪の玉クッキー

As the end of the year approaches and the evenings grow dark earlier, we prepare for the winter solstice known as tōji (冬至 ) in Japan .
I decided to give this French crumbly confectionery a make over after being inspired by the ones I saw in Muji Japan. Made with almonds and rolled in powdered sugar boule de neige means “snow ball”.
My very simple vegan recipe has a Japanese winter seasonal twist by using matcha tea powder and yuzu candied fruit peel coated in sugar (a wagashi from K. Minamoto .)
These small snow ball cookies make the perfect little tea time treat. Crispy crumbly cookie with a hint of matcha and almonds and subtle yuzu flavour. They also make a perfect home made gift.
I wanted to use Yuzu in this cookie for the winter solstice as Yuzu is often a symbol of this time. Please check out my previous posts on the winter solstice with more yuzu recipes .
To make Matcha & Yuzu Boule De Neige you will need:
90 grams of plain flour
40 grams of ground almonds
25 grams of granulated sugar
2 teaspoons of sifted matcha powder
6 tablespoons of melted odourless oil I used Tiana coconut butter
10 grams each of finely chopped blanched almonds and candied yuzu peel
Powdered sugar (icing sugar ) for decorating
Place all dry ingredients in a bowl except the icing sugar for decorating. Mix and then start to add the oil a little at a time mixing as you go. Finish by forming the mixture with your hands into a dough.
Either roll out flat or into a log so you can cut relatively equal pieces and roll each into a ball.
Place each ball on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper .
Bake for 15 mins in a preheated moderate oven.
Allow to cool completely then roll each ball in the powdered sugar.
Enjoy with your favourite tea or coffee.
Autumn Food, Blog, Spring Food, Summer Food, Winter Food

Kuwa Matcha Buckwheat Biscotti


Kuwacha is mulberry leaf tea. It has been traditionally drunk in Japan for many years for its health benefits being rich in calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc. The most interesting compound in kuwacha is DNJ which has shown to inhibit intestinal glucose absorption and accelerate hepatic glucose metabolism, hence it maybe helpful for people with diabetes.

Kuwa (桑) is Japanese for mulberry and Matcha (抹茶) is Japanese for powdered tea. Clearspring Organic have a brand new tea added to their extensive range of products “Kuwa Matcha”. In fact their Kuwa matcha is the first naturally caffeine-free matcha in the U.K. Just like traditional Matcha, Kuwa Matcha is a vibrant green, finely ground powder which has been widely enjoyed in Japan for centuries. It is made using the finest organic and sustainably grown mulberry leaves from Kagoshima Japan. Kagoshima has volcanic soil and a humid climate making it ideal growing conditions for the mulberry plants. Once harvested the leaves are steamed, dried and ground into a fine powder which is just as versatile and delicious as traditional Matcha. The powder is not only delicious for a caffeine-free hot drink or lattes but is perfect for smoothies.


So with that in mind I decided to bake with it much like you would do if you were using regular matcha.
I decided to take my matcha biscotti recipe one step further and used buckwheat flour as a naturally gluten-free alternative. Buckwheat is not related to wheat despite its name and has been grown for centuries as a nutritious staple food. Originally from Central Asia it is actually related to rhubarb and sorrel, has high levels of fibre and is a good source of protein. You may be familiar with soba noodles a thin noodle enjoyed in Japan made from buckwheat. The seed of the plant has a triangular inner groat and a dark outer hull, after the hull is removed it gets processed into flour. This flour has a mildly sweet, nutty and earthy taste similar to wholewheat flour. I thought using the Kuwa matcha which has tasting notes smooth savoury sweet hay- with honeyed notes, would be great to use in baking as the Japanese suggestion of food pairing with drinking the kuwacha is cookies.

Recipe for Kuwa Matcha Buckwheat Biscotti

Preheat your oven to 180 fan assisted and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In one bowl add:

1 and 1/2 cup of organic buckwheat flour (I used Doves Farm)

2 tablespoons of already sifted Kuwa matcha

2 teaspoons of baking powder

A handful of sliced blanched almonds

In another bowl add:

2 tablespoons of apple purée (check out Clearspring fruit purées)

1/2 cup of unrefined sugar

1/4 cup of melted coconut butter

1 teaspoon of almond essence

1-2 tablespoons of water (added later if needed)

Add the wet mixture to the dry to form a dough use your hands to work the dough together adding a little water if needed but don’t make your dough wet.

Form into a log and flatten to an oval about one inch thick.

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 slices using a sharp knife and turn onto their sides and bake again for a further ten mins in a cooler oven about 150. Take them out and flip them again for a further ten minutes.

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

Enjoy with a delicious Kuwa matcha latte.

You can also make this recipe with regular matcha and Clearspring do a great Premium grade matcha green tea powder which is perfect for culinary use from baking and smoothies to ice cream it is made from organic tea leaves grown in the hills of Uji.

I also have a promo code you can use against anything on the Clearspring website to get a one time 15% off on your purchase use tokyopony15 at the check out. You can find the link to the Clearspring website at the bottom or side of the page depending on your browser. 

 

Blog, Spring Food

Yatsuhashi for Midori no Hi みどりの日


Greenery Day (midori no hi) みどりの日 also known as Arbor Day on the 4th of May is part of a string of holidays and celebrations over a week long period in Japan called Golden Week.
On Greenery Day, it is customary to visit a garden or a tea room for a tea ceremony . It’s a great opportunity to try the best green tea and celebrate nature.
Around the time of Golden Week is Hachijuu Hachiya (八十八夜) and is one of the most important dates for Japanese farmers. It means eighty eight days (it depends where we look at it as it is also translated into eighty eight nights) after the start of the spring (risshun 立春). This is typically when the first crop of green tea is harvested, known as first flush (Ichibancha, 一番茶), the green tea harvested during this time is widely regarded as the tastiest of the year many claim that even a single cup of fresh Hachiju-Hachiya Shincha can promote health and longevity.
(the other two, nibancha and sanbancha occur in July and September).

If you have ever visited Kyoto you maybe familiar with a Japanese wagashi ( confection) mainly sold as an omiyage (souvenir) known as Yatsuhashi 八ツ橋 (八橋). It can come in two types baked hard like a senbei or soft known as Nama Yatsuhashi which is a soft mochi made from Joshinko (non-glutinous rice flour). The unbaked yatsuhashi is cut into a square shape after being rolled very thin, and folded in half diagonally to make a triangle shape, and filled with red bean paste inside. Unbaked yatsuhashi may also come in a variety of different flavours from cinnamon, matcha and Yuzu to even chocolate. It is pretty difficult to find this wagashi outside of Kyoto and I often buy it to bring home.


I have recently started selling a range of organic tea in my shop by a Japanese company called “Nodoka”. It is something pretty special a luxurious genmaicha tea powder. Where as before you may have tried genmaicha which is green tea with roasted rice in its tea leaf form, you can now get the nutritional benefits of 100% tea leaf by using the whole ground tea. As you can use it pretty much like matcha for not only making delicious lattes but also in baking, I decided to use it to celebrate greenery day and try making some yatsuhashi with it. They turned out so delicious.
Want to enjoy the taste of Kyoto in your home why not give them a try. You can purchase the Genmaicha from my shop or just substitute it for regular matcha. Obviously the taste will be different.
Gather your ingredients (you should be able to get these from an Asian grocery store or on line)

You will need:

30g Shiratamako (glutinous rice flour)

50g Joshinko (non glutinous rice flour)

60g of unrefined caster sugar

150g of tsubuan (chunky bean paste)

1 tablespoon of kinako (roasted soybean flour)

2 1/2 teaspoons of sifted genmaicha or matcha powder

65-70ml of water

You will also need : a microwaveable bowl, muslin cloth, steamer a piece of card cut into a 3×3 inch (8x8cm) square and a knife.

Method:

Add your Shiratamako to a microwaveable bowl and add 65ml of  water, whisk well until it’s nice and smooth with no lumps. Then add your sugar and Joshinko, mix until you get a thick smooth batter consistency adding more water if necessary.


Place some plastic wrap over the bowl and microwave for 3 minutes with a 600w microwave. Take out of the microwave and spoon out onto a muslin cloth.

Place this inside a steamer basket loosely covering over the top of the mochi. Heat up some water in a pan and place the steamer on top. Steam for 15 minutes.

Tip out the mochi into a bowl and let it cool slightly so you can handle it. Add your tea powder and start to knead the mochi until all the tea powder is incorporated.


Scatter some kinako onto a cutting board and roll out your dough with a rolling pin thinly. Start to cut out your square shapes using your stencil.

When you have finished cutting out, add a teaspoon of anko to the middle of each mochi square.

Fold the mochi over corner to corner and gently seal the edges together by pressing slightly. Do this with all the remaining squares and you’re done.



Yatsuhashi often has a slight cinnamon flavour if you would like this I recommend either adding a little cinnamon to your tea powder or sprinkling some cinnamon mixed with kinako on your cutting board. I like to serve with either a sprinkle of kinako or sieved matcha over the yatsuhashi on top.
Best eaten on the day of making but can be stored in an airtight container for up to two days. Do not put in the fridge. They can also be frozen, defrosted and eaten straight away. Enjoy with your favourite tea while enjoying nature. Happy Greenery Day.

If you would like to make Yuzu yatsuhashi use 1/2 Yuzu juice and 1/2 water and omit the tea powder. Just use kinako again to dust your surface to stop it from sticking.


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

The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House. Matcha Pancakes & Nasu no Nimono

The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House

舞妓さんちのまかないさん A series on Netflix about Food & Friendship set in a Maiko house in Kyoto.

Photo Credit: The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House, 2023. Netflix

From acclaimed filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda

Adapted from the manga series “Kiyo in Kyoto”by Aiko Koyama,

season 1 episode 4 “Wish” 

Part 1:

Apprentice Maiko get two days off every month, it’s Kiyo and Sumire’s day off together. They first decide to visit a monument in a sports shrine. This Shinto shrine is called Shiramine Jingu, and the monument is known as the monument of Kemari, which is said to bring luck in sports by spinning the ball which is inside the monument. The shrine is home to to the god Seidai Myojin who is known to be the god of sports. Kemari is an athletic game which was popular in Japan during the Heian and Kamakura period and resembles a cross between a game of food ball and hacky sack. Nowadays Kemari is played as a seasonal event and the players play in a traditional costume called Kariginu which was worn as everyday clothing by nobles during the Heian period. Kiyo and Sumire frantically spin the wheel and wish for their friend Kento to win in his sports tournament.
What is your perfect afternoon out? For Kiyo and Sumire it was visiting a local cafe for a stack of fluffy matcha soufflé pancakes and a latte which had cute latte art.

Every time I visit Tokyo the first thing I do is visit one of the Ain Soph  cafes for such a pancake. Their menu is 100% vegan and all their food is made from scratch. Each cafe has their own unique menu, Ain soph Ginza has a ground floor vegan patisserie, on the second to fourth floor is their restaurant. Access 1 min walk from Tokyo Metro Higashi-Ginza Station exit 3 by the Kabukiza theatre.

Ain Soph Journey in Shinjuku Tokyo Metro Shinjuku Sanchome station exit C5 is the birthplace of their so called “Heavenly Pancake” and indeed they are.
There is also another location in Ikebukuro 10 minutes from the station.
Ain Soph in Kyoto have been open a few years now serving up again their “Heavenly Pancakes” in the best Kyoto style using organic matcha.

Which ever one you visit along with their delicious menu I recommend you try their pancakes.
Also in Kyoto I visit for breakfast another cafe serving up fluffy pancakes, called “Choice” in Northern Higashiyama at Sanjo Keihan station.

Serving up vegan and with the exception of their pasta dishes gluten free food, Choice was opened by a doctor who is keenly aware of the impact of healthy food on health and happiness. Why not start your day with some delicious healthy pancakes if you’re visiting Kyoto.


I decided to give making these fluffy pancakes a try and after lots of trials this was my favourite.

I like to call them matcha muffin pancakes as the texture is quite like a soft muffin. Perfect for a breakfast treat.

Mix into a bowl 175gram of sifted self raising flour, 1 teaspoon of chia seeds, sift matcha to make one tablespoon and add this to the flour. Then add 200ml of plant based milk, 1 tablespoon of melted coconut butter/oil and one tablespoon of maple syrup. Mix until combined but do not over mix a lumpy mixture is perfect.

Leave for the chia seeds to swell and make the batter thicker for about 5 mins. While that’s happening heat a nonstick frying pan on high heat and wipe over with coconut oil using a paper towel. Wipe the inside of two pancake rings with coconut oil and leave them to warm on the frying pan. If you do not have pancake rings you can make the matcha muffin pancakes without. Now turn the heat down to very low and spoon your mixture into the pancake rings if using.

If you are not using pancake ring the batter should be thick enough to add layers on top of each other. Just add a spoonful of pancake mixture to the pan and keep adding on top to get that thick pancake look.
Cook the pancakes on a very low heat for ten minutes, then flip over.

Cook on the other side for a further ten minutes, then if using a pancake ring ease the edges with a knife and lift the pancake ring off.

Transfer to a plate adding vegan cream, fruit and extra maple syrup to pour over. Finish with a dusting of icing sugar.

Part 2:

In the same episode we see Kiyo returning to the market looking for seasonal vegetables. She is drawn to the plump eggplants known as nasu in Japan. When I visit Japan I also take great pleasure in visiting markets and farmers markets. Tokyo has a wonderful one held over Saturday and Sunday every week in front of the United Nations University in Aoyama. Selling a wide variety of local and organic products from 10am-4pm.

If you’re visiting Kyoto no visit would be complete without a visit to the so called “Kyoto’s Kitchen” which is Nishiki Market. A narrow five blocks long shopping street lined by more than one hundred shops, which is 400 years old.

There is so much to see and taste, the lively market has all things food related from fresh pickles, to knives, cookware to yuba and is a treasure trove of culinary delights.

Kiyo decides to take the nasu back to the Maiko House, we see her scoring thin cut into the nasu before she sautés them and then simmers them in a dashi broth. This method is called “Kakushibocho” and is a technique used so that the eggplant will absorb the flavours of the broth better.

Placing a few in a bowl she hands them over to “Mother” to try. Both Mother and Sumire’s father who comes to visit and try’s them find them nostalgic. Often the case with home cooked meals.
This simple dish has a few variations from Agebitashi which is eggplant which is deep fried then soaked in dashi to the dish more like the one Kiyo makes in the episode “Nasu no Nimono” (Simmered eggplant).

You will need: serves 4

Make a dashi stock by soaking a piece of kombu in 2 cups of water over night.
Discard the kombu, add to this four tablespoons of tamari or soy sauce and four tablespoons of mirin.

x4 eggplants ( trim off the stems and slice in half lengthwise, make fine diagonal slices into the eggplant being careful not to cut all the way through.

Add the eggplant to a frying pan and sauté both sides in a little vegetable oil until the skins wilt.

While you’re doing that bring your broth to a simmer then add your eggplant. Simmer gently for around 15-20 minutes.

Remove from the heat and leave to cool in the broth in the fridge preferably over night. To serve cut your eggplant into bit sized pieces and add to a serving bowl with a little of the broth topping with some slices of peeled ginger or grated daikon radish to garnish.

 

Blog, Winter Food

Valentines Day Matcha Chocolate Hearts

 


Happy Valentine’s Day

ハッピーバレンタインデー ❤️

Did you know on Valentine’s Day in japan only the guys get the gifts?

Girls have to wait until March on the same day known as white day, when they can return any gifts given to them.

And it’s not only one person you buy a gift for it could be teachers work colleagues and male friends.

That’s a lot of chocolate! and some people make their own.

These easy chocolate hearts have a raw matcha and almond centre and are perfect for making for that special someone.

All you will need is:

100g of almond flour (ground almonds)

1 teaspoon of matcha ( sifted)

1 tablespoon of maple syrup

1 tablespoon of melted coconut butter

1 tablespoon of cashew butter

1 and a half bars of vegan milk alternative chocolate ( and half a bar of dark chocolate for drizzling over if you wish)

Decoration ( I used freeze dried strawberries ) be careful using sprinkles as a lot of the red colour ones are not vegan so check first.

Method:

Mix the almond flour and sifted matcha in a food processor then add your maple syrup, cashew butter and melted coconut butter. Process until you get a dough. Tip the dough out of your food processor, roll into a ball and chill in the fridge for half an hour. This will make it easier to roll.
Meanwhile add your vegan milk chocolate alternative to a bowl and melt over a pan of hot water. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and then get two further sheets to roll out your dough.

Take the dough from the fridge and roll out your dough between two sheets of parchment paper to what ever thickness you would like your chocolates to be. Cut out your dough into heart shapes and transfer to your baking tray. Keep cutting until all your dough has gone.
Dip each heart  fully in melted chocolate don’t worry about being perfect as we will be cutting the sides later.

Place your chocolate in the freezer to set the chocolate for 15 mins. While it’s setting melt your dark chocolate.
Take out your chocolates from the freezer and with each one press your heart cutter back over the chocolate to reveal the matcha sides. This also makes the edges more presentable.
Place your chocolates back on the tray and drizzle with dark chocolate and decorate as you wish. Place back in the freezer again to set and your done.

These chocolates can then be transferred to a box and kept in the fridge.

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.

 

Blog, Winter Food

Matcha Scones with Yuzu Drizzle & Sweet Red Bean Jam

Move over mince pies there’s a new Christmas tea time  treat in town.
I decided to make matcha scones as I thought they would look pretty festive.


Filled with sweet azuki bean jam but you could make them look even more festive if you used say a strawberry or cranberry jam instead.
Heat your oven to 200 c fan oven
You will need:

350g of self raising flour sifted into a bowl

to this add 1tsp of baking powder, 3 tablespoons of caster sugar and 1 heaped tablespoon of sifted matcha powder . Mix together.

Chop into squares 85g of vegan butter and add this to your matcha flour and thoroughly rub the butter into the flour very well.

In a jug measure 175ml of soy milk and warm it slightly in the microwave for 30 seconds then to this add 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence and 1/2 teaspoon of Yuzu juice.
Add this to your flour mixture and mix in.

Tip out onto parchment paper flatten and fold the dough a few times and then leave in the fridge for 30 mins.
Add some plain flour to a surface and tip out your dough. Flatten and fold again a few times. Then put your dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Depending on what shape you want you scones either make your dough into a circle to make triangle scones or a rectangle to make rectangle scones. Cut your dough to make your scones and separate them from each other.

Brush each scone with soymilk

Bake in the oven for 10 mins

Remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Make some icing from icing sugar water and Yuzu juice and drizzle it over the scones.

Cut in half length ways and fill with red bean jam.

The easiest way to make red bean jam is to use a tin of precooked azuki beans. Drain the azuki beans and tip into a pan with water and sugar. Simmer down and mash the beans, then chill in the fridge to set.

Blog

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 16 Autumn Equinox & Making Ohagi


We are now heading in to the shorter days of Autumn. Saturday 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