Monday, December 13, 2010

Making Mince Pies in Japan

This year I decided to make some mince pies for Christmas, because I find the shop-bought ones way too sweet!  As I didn't have much time, I did cheat with the mincemeat but if you want to make your own I recommend Delia's mincemeat recipe that I used to use in England.  Unless you have a 12 hole yorkshire pudding tin not something you'll find in Japan!), you will also need to find some shallow rigid paper or foil cases and a baking tray.    Tins for baking muffins are too deep.  I got my cases from my local DIY centre and Tokyu Hands.  Baking in cases does actually make it  a lot easier to freeze the baked pies.  You will also need a rolling pin and two cutters, for the base and the top.  I used a 7.5cm diameter round one (which was the largest I could find, but actually a little too small), and a star for the top.

To make these allow yourself about 3 hours.

For the pastry
200g plain flour (ie in Japan, not bread flour)
pinch of salt
100g butter
extra flour for rolling
a little milk to brush the tops
a little brown sugar to sprinkle

For the mincemeat (cheating)
411g jar of Robertson's Classic Mincemeat from Kaldi Coffee Farm
1/2 apple, peeled
30-40g dried cranberries
1 tbsp brandy

  • Wrap the measured butter in foil and put in the freezer for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl.
  • Grate the butter into the flour, holding it in flour and dipping it into the flour to make it easier to grate.  Stir the butter through the flour making sure it is well covered.  Add cold water a little at the time and bring the pastry together with your hands.  It should hold well together, but not be too sticky.  Add a little extra flour if you find you've accidentally added too much water.
  • Wrap the ball of pastry in cling film or a plastic bag, and leave in the fridge to rest. 
  • Prepare the mincemeat.  Scoop out the jar into a large mixing bowl, grate in the apple, add the dried cranberries and brandy and mix well.
  • Preheat an oven to 190C.
  • Spread flour on a work surface.  Divide the pastry into four smaller pieces to make it easier to work with.  I'm lucky to have a pretty big kitchen in Japan, even by British standards, but even so my largest work surface area is only a square with side 35cm (yes, I just measured!)
  • Roll the pastry as thin as possible without it breaking.  Cut equal quantities of circles and stars.
  • Put a circle of pastry in each case, and fill with a teaspoon of mincemeat.  Cover with a star and brush with milk.  Repeat until all the pastry is used up.  I made 32 pies, using up the mincemeat exactly and with a tiny remaining bit of pastry.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes and cool on a wire rack.  I had to bake two batches of 16.
  • These freeze well when cooled.
  • Reheat from frozen at 220C, covered with foil, for about 5 minutes.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Beef Casserole

Well, I've been busy so it's been a long time since I've posted any recipes. The temperature is now dipping below 20C so it's feeling cold to me now!  That, and I also finally have a long weekend to sort myself out and enjoy a bit of cooking!

Yesterday I decided that today was going to be a beef casserole day, something I haven't eaten for many years!  After reading various recipes and taking out the bits I like, here is the finished recipe! 

I have very happy memories of hot dumplings made with suet, but these potato ones are healthier, if indeed you can even buy suet in Japan!  You can add more vegetables as you like, but the carrot and onions are essential! No picture yet - because I didn't follow my advice about making sure the pot didn't run dry...  Just remembered it in time, still delicious but it was a bit too dry and caramelised!

Ingredients (serves 1 very hungry Alison with 2 too many dumplings!)
200g stewing beef
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, cut into 1/2cm discs
1 large mushroom, sliced thickly
1 tsp garlic paste
1 generous tsp marmite (you could use a beef stock cube)
200ml boiling water
2 medium potatoes
25g grated cheese
1 tbsp flour
2-3 tbsp maybe of breadcrumbs
1 egg

  • In a large saucepan, heat the vegetable oil until hot.  Add the beef and brown quickly on all sides.  Add the chopped onions and garlic paste and fry until golden brown.  Add the carrot and mushroom, and season with thyme and a good grating of freshly ground black pepper.
  • Meanwhile, boil the water and mix with the marmite or stock cube.  Pour into the saucepan, bring to the boil, then cover and leave to simmer for one hour, adding about 100ml more of boiling water every now and then if you feel it needs it.
  • After starting the casserole simmering, halve the potatoes and boil in water for 15-20 minutes until tender.  Remove from the pan and mash in a bowl with the raw egg, cheese, flour and breadcrumbs.  Season with freshly ground black pepper.
  •  After one hour, shape the potato mixture into balls, add a little more boiling water, and lay the potato dumplings on top of the casserole.  Re-cover and continue to simmer for 15 minutes.
  •  Serve immediately in a large bowl.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Zojirushi Breadmaker

I'm now the proud owner of a Zojirushi breadmaker.  This is something I've wanted for a number of years now, as it is impossible to buy wholemeal bread to my liking in Japan!

I used to have a breadmaker in England, and found it incredibly useful - it's even more useful here where I can't buy the bread I like!  There are many fantastic bakeries in Japan, some chain bakeries (notably Kobeya) and many independent bakeries creating both rustic country breads and breads with unusual fillings or flavours, but nothing quite beats a decent wholemeal roll!

I'll add recipes as and when I experiment...!  The recipes included with the manual encourage me to be really quite creative, but have needed adaptation to be suitably wholemeal - the wholemeal recipes they suggest tend to use only about 1/5 wholemeal flour, not really what I have in mind!  But although some bread hasn't risen quite enough, every batch I've made has been really delicious!

I'm going to post these recipes on a separate website that I'm setting up, mainly for my own notes, Bread to make your mouth water.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Gammon and Chilli Bean Vegetable Casserole

Nutrition Information (per serving)
Calories 147
Protein 11g
Carbohydrate 17.5g
Fat 3.5g
Dietary Fibre 5g

Ingredients (serves 5)
200g gammon, cooked and roughly chopped
1/2 onion (about 100g), chopped
425g (1 tin) Mexican Style Chilli Beans
1/2 white cabbage (about 280g)
1/3 kabocha (Japanese pumpkin, about 160g)
160g packet spinach, roughly torn

  • Put the chopped onion in a saucepan.  Soften in a little water over a low heat for about 3-4 minutes, until all the water has evaporated, and the onion is browned.
  • Steam the kabocha in the microwave for 8 minutes.  Chop roughly, including the skin.
  • Add the chopped cabbage, kabocha, gammon and spinach to the saucepan.
  • Add the tin of beans, then fill the can with water to rinse it out, pouring the water into the saucepan.
  • Cover and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, and everything is hot.
  • Serve immediately.

Carrot and Ginger Soup

This is a lovely refreshing and tasty soup, with a beautiful colour!

Nutrition Data (per serving)
Calories 61
Protein 1.5g
Carbohydrate 15g
Fat 0g
Dietary Fibre 4g

Ingredients (serves 4)
1 litre stock, made with a stock cube
500g carrot, sliced
40g fresh ginger root, peeled

  •  Crumble the stock cube into 1 litre of water.  Add the sliced carrots and bring to the boil, then simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile mash the ginger root in a blender.
  • In batches, add the carrots and some of the stock to the blender.  Puree until smooth, and transfer to a large container.  Obviously the blender will get very hot.
  • Put the mixed carrot and ginger puree back into the remaining stock and mix thoroughly.
  • Reheat to serve, or I think it's better served ice-cold.
This really is extremely refreshing ice-cold as the weather is getting warmer.  It freezes well, and yesterday I just took it to work still frozen and had it later in the day as a kind of vegetable slush puppy (ice drink)!  Delicious, and it's actually quite sweet too!

    Egg and Potato Saute with Baked Beans

    This isn't my idea, but is adapted from the BBC Good Food website's recipe  I found I had to change a lot of the timings.  It is closer to sauteed potato than chips.

    Nutrition Data
    Calories 484
    Protein 22g
    Carbohydrate 83g
    Fat 12g
    Dietary Fibre 16g

    Ingredients (serves 1)
    150g new potatoes diced with skin (this is 2 new potatoes)
    1/2 onion (about 100g), sliced and broken into semi-rings
    1 teaspoon olive oil
    1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    1 egg
    210g (1/2 tin) of baked beans

    •  Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
    • Put the diced potato and onion rings into a baking tin.
    • Sprinkle over the olive oil and mix thoroughly.  Sprinkle over the oregano.
    • Bake for 35 minutes until the potatoes are cooked and brown.
    • Make a gap in the vegetables and break in an egg.  Return to the oven and cook for 8-9 minutes until the egg is set.
    • Meanwhile reheat the baked beans in a saucepan.
    • Serve immediately.

    Sunday, April 4, 2010

    More bread-making practice needed...!

    Well, I tried making Delia's easy no-knead wholemeal bread today, but couldn't get it to rise.  I used graham flour rather than wholemeal flour because it looked more suitably brown to me!  I think the mixture was too wet, and I didn't use quite enough yeast.  It tastes OK though, and is certainly brown, so not a complete disaster!  A bit closer to the vacuum-packed German ryebread that I buy than actual bread...!  I'll have another go soon - I think I can get optimal bread proving conditions under my kotatsu!

    Oat, Fig and Nut Cookie Bites

    Today I did two variations of these.  The first is the one that holds together better, and is easier to make.  These are a little like a cookie form of my trail mix, but use more nuts.

    Ingredients (makes 12-14 tiny cookies)
    25g coarse porridge oats
    25g almonds
    25g macadamia nuts
    40g sticky figs from a packet
    about 1/2 tsp nutmeg

    •  Preheat an oven to 200C.
    • Put  everything in a blender, and blend until finely chopped and sticky.
    • Form teaspoons of the mixture into balls and press into rounds.
    • Put onto baking paper on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.
    • Cool on a wire rack, and store in an airtight container.
    Variation Ingredients
    25g porridge oats
    25g almonds
    25g pumpkin seeds
    40g dried apricots
    1 tsp honey
    about 1/2 tsp nutmeg

    Apricots aren't really sticky enough, and the pumpkin seeds don't bind so well.  Prunes would also work well as the fruit, I think, and other more binding seeds instead of the pumpkin seeds.  But the variation is also delicious.

    Science Experimentation Day!

    Sometimes it feels like my kitchen is my laboratory, where I create weird and wonderful dishes, sometimes it looks like that, sometimes it tastes like that too!  Those ones don't make it on to the blog, funnily enough...

    But usually, I'm very happy with the results!  Today the plan is to create some new concoctions, so watch this space!

    Sunday, March 28, 2010

    Easy Wholemeal Bread

    It's very rare to find good wholemeal bread in Japan.  Dark German rye bread, yes.  But not wholemeal bread.  I've just found this recipe for very easy wholemeal bread, no kneading required.
    I'll report back when I've found the wholemeal flour and have a chance to make it!

    Tuna and Avocado Flower

    I had this stunning dish in a bar last night, and so wanted to recreate it quickly before I forgot... It looks so beautiful - it was a bar snack, but would be beautiful as a starter for a special meal.

    Ingredients (serves 1)
    5 very thin slices of daikon (mooli/Japanese radish)
    1/2 ripe avocado
    1/2 rounded tsp green pesto
    about 20g very fresh raw tuna
    a little red onion
    about 2 tsp flying fish roe (tobiko)
    a sprig of something dark green

    • Peel a small piece of daikon and slice it into 5 very thin rounds - you can use a knife or vegetable peeler for this. If it is thin enough you will see the veining on the daikon.
    • Arrange on a small plate as a 5 petaled flower.
    • Thinly slice a little red onion into slivers.
    • Roughly chop the raw tuna into about 1cm cubes.
    • Mash the half avocado with about 1/2 rounded teaspoon of green pesto. Mix in the tuna.
    • Arrange the avocado mixture on the daikon petals, top with the slivers of red onion, and scatter the flying fish roe on top.
    • Chop something green on top. I just chopped a bit of green salad leaves on top, but you could use basil or parsley.
    • Serve immediately!

    Sunday, March 21, 2010

    Trail Mix

    This is a really delicious and healthy snack. No measurements are given, because it's such a matter of taste!


    Coarse oats
    Almonds, chopped into thirds
    Pumpkin seeds
    Dried blueberries
    Dried figs, chopped into quarters
    Dried coconut
    Anything else you might like!

    • Preheat the oven to 170C.
    • Spread the oats in a fairly thin layer on a baking tray, and toast for 20 minutes until crisp and golden brown.
    • Pour into a large bowl, and mix in the other ingredients.
    • Store in small containers for snacking!
    If you like healthy snacks, you might want to take a look at the Sunday Snacks Event - Healthy Snacks.

    And also some of my previous posts:
    Cheesy Potato Marmalade Balls
    New Potato Asparagus and Bacon Hot Salad
    Melted Camembert with Toasted Walnuts
    Balsamic Figs Ham and Blue Cheese
    Mackerel on Rye Bread
    Low Fat Lemon Pepper Houmous

    Celery, Cucumber and Ginger 'Juice'

    It's difficult to call this one a juice, because it's really rather chewy! But it is very fresh-tasting, and ginger is very good for promoting good blood circulation. Of course if you had a juicer you could make it clear, but then it wouldn't have the fibre!

    Nutrition Data
    Calories: 36
    Protein: 1.5g
    Carbohydrate: 8g
    Fat: 0g
    Dietary Fibre: 2.5g

    Stalk celery (about 60g, with or without leaves)
    1 Japanese cucumber, or 1/3 English cucumber, unpeeled (about 90g)
    Piece of root ginger, unpeeled (about 15g)

    • Wash the vegetables.
    • Break the vegetables up into the blender with a little water, and blend until as smooth as possible.
    • Drink immediately!
    • If you don't want to drink it immediately, then store it in a vacuum flask. This keeps it cool and dark, so that you don't lose too many nutrients.

    Spinach, Avocado and Tofu Smoothie

    OK, so as from this last week, I'm on a bit of a health kick, and feeling really energetic all day as a result!

    This very green smoothie really is filling! It also supplies about 20% RDA calcium, nearly 200% RDA Vitamin A, about 70% RDA Vitamin C and about 30% RDA iron.

    Nutrition Data
    Calories: 272
    Protein: 13.1g
    Carbohydrate: 17.8g
    Fat: 19g
    Fibre: 8.9g

    Ingredients (serves 1)
    120g spinach
    1/2 avocado
    150g soft silken tofu

    • Wash the spinach and tear roughly into the blender bowl.
    • Add a little water and blend until finely chopped.
    • Add the avocado and silken tofu and blend until smooth, adding water until it's a consistency you like.
    • Drink immediately!
    If you like spinach, you may also like to look at the Healing Foods Event - Spinach.
    Also my previous spinach posts:
    Spinach, Cucumber and Avocado Salad
    Sesame Sauteed Spinach

    • So now you have half an avocado that you need to keep without it going brown. Don't brush with lemon juice, but keep the half with the stone and wrap it in foil, making sure that the foil is pressed down well over the cut side. Store in the fridge for up to 2 days.
    • If you don't want to drink it immediately, then store it in a vacuum flask. This keeps it cool and dark, so that you don't lose too many nutrients.

    Monday, February 22, 2010

    Cheesy potato marmalade balls

    Ingredients (makes 5 or 6)
    2 medium potatoes
    50ml milk
    honey according to taste
    3 cheese slices (for melting)
    marmalade for topping

    • Cut the potatoes into 1cm pieces and put in the LeKue steam case for 5 minutes in a 600w microwave. Carefully mash as much as you can and then microwave for another 3 minutes.
    • Mix in the cheese slices, milk and honey. Microwave for another 2 minutes.
    • Mix well, put spoonfuls onto cling film and twist and squeeze into balls.
    • Unwrap and decorate with marmalade.

    Sunday, February 21, 2010

    Honey Castella


    1 whole egg
    1 egg yolk
    50g soft light brown sugar
    40g white flour
    half teaspoon baking powder
    10ml milk or 10g mascarpone
    5g soft unsalted butter
    10g/ml honey

    • Line the bottom of the steam case with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 180C.
    • Beat the egg with the sugar and butter.
    • Beat in the flour and baking powder until smooth and mix in the milk and honey.
    • Spoon into the LeKue steam case.
    • Bake with the case open for 15 minutes and then close the case and continue baking for a further 5 minutes.
    • Turn out immediately onto a wire rack and cover with a clean kitchen towel until cool.
    • Serve in thin slices.

    New Potato, Asparagus and Bacon Hot Salad

    4 new potatoes
    4 pieces asparagus
    4 pieces of lean bacon or proscuitto ham
    1 thick triangle processed cheese (I used processed mozzarella)
    Black pepper

    • Wash the potatoes, but don't peel. Cut into bite-sized pieces.
    • Wash and cut the asparagus diagonally into bite-sized pieces.
    • Cut the bacon or ham into small pieces.
    • Put the potato pieces into the LeKue steam case and into a 500w microwave oven for 2 minutes.
    • Add the asparagus and bacon and continue cooking in the microwave for 1.5 to 2 minutes.
    • Add the processed cheese and microwave for one more minute.
    • Stir and add freshly ground black pepper to serve.

    Monday, February 15, 2010


    It's time to introduce this little known food - yuba.

    Yuba is sometimes known as tofu skin, but in fact is just the skin that is formed when you boil soy milk.

    It can wrap fillings and be fried, or eaten on its own like this with a little soy sauce and ginger or wasabi. It's really creamy and delicious!

    Orange Caramelized Onion & Potato Frittata

    Nutrition Data (for the whole frittata, serves 4 with a salad)
    Calories 800
    Protein 42g
    Carbohydrate 98g
    Fat 25g
    Dietary Fibre 14g


    3 large onions, chopped
    100ml orange juice
    1 tablespoon marmalade
    about 250g potatoes
    5 medium eggs, beaten with a teaspoon of dill and a good grating of pepper
    1 teaspoon olive oil for greasing the pan

    • Wash and scrub the potatoes and boil them whole in a pan of water until tender. Chop roughly into cubes.
    • Meanwhile, boil the chopped onion in the orange juice and marmalade until brown. Right at the end of cooking time, as the orange juice has evaporated, stir well to get all the dark brown caramel to coat the onions.
    • Beat the eggs.
    • In a frying pan, heat the olive oil and coat the pan, making sure that the sides of the pan are oiled. Add the potatoes and onions and pour over the beaten egg.
    • Leave on a medium heat for about 10 - 15 minutes without disturbing, until the egg is set.

    Sunday, February 14, 2010

    Bite-Sized Pepper Steak

    OK, the picture really doesn't do this justice... The beef isn't really burnt, but it's a really wet day today and the lighting on this photograph is terrible.

    Although I've never been vegetarian (I like sausages too much!), my family and friends know that I eat very little meat as it is, but instead add smaller quantities (usually ham) to vegetable dishes.

    As a child, I hated beef, and I still never choose it in restaurants because it's never cooked as I like it. Since I came to Japan, and discovered the sliced medium roast beef in the supermarkets, I now eat it every few months just as it is. It is still pink, but is actually cooked, and really melts in the mouth.

    Today, I decided to make pepper steak for the first time - I don't think I've ever eaten it before. For this many mouthfuls, I used a 100g piece of steak.

    100g piece of good quality steak
    a lot of freshly ground black or mixed peppercorns
    about 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
    about 4 tablespoons of mirin
    olive oil for frying

    • Cut the steak into bite-sized pieces.
    • Grind the pepper onto a plate.
    • Coat both sides of the steak with the pepper.
    • Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, and add the steak pieces. Brown both sides.
    • Quickly pour in the soy sauce and mirin (exact quantities don't matter, just roughly 2 parts mirin, 1 part ssoy sauce). It will bubble vigorously and thicken a little. It will also produce an impressive flame if you forget to remove from the heat... Make sure that the beef has been coated in this sauce. Tip: use the sauce to cook the beef to your liking, rather than the browning stage - the bubbling sauce will quickly cook the beef through.
    • Serve immediately.

    Ham and Mustard Twice Baked Creamy Jacket Potatoes

    I'm not going to give any measurements because you will need to use more or less depending on the number and size of the potatoes, and according to taste. If you can get baby new potatoes, they would be best.

    Small potatoes
    Mascarpone cheese
    Dijon mustard
    Proscuitto type ham, chopped
    Salt and black pepper

    • Bake the potatoes until they are soft. (I have a magic baked potato setting on my oven).
    • Take out from the oven and let them cool for about 10 minutes until they are cool enough to handle. Turn the oven up to 230C.
    • Slice off the top of each potato and eat it to keep you going until the potatoes are ready.
    • Using a teaspoon, carefully scoop the potato out of the little jacket potatoes into a bowl.
    • Mash with the mascarpone, dijon mustard, salt and black pepper, stir in the chopped ham. Taste and add accordingly.
    • Using a teaspoon again and your fingers, pile the mixture back into the potato skins, and press the skins back into place if you tore them. Grate lots of black pepper over the top.
    • At this point you can wrap some of these up with cling film and keep in the fridge for a couple of days until you are ready to reheat.
    • Bake the potatoes in the 230C oven for about 10 minutes until the mixture is hot.

    Cod and Poached Egg on Wholemeal Toast

    Now that was a delicious breakfast! I steamed some cod in the microwave for a couple of minutes, mashed it with some fresh dill, and piled it on one small slice of wholemeal bread. I put a poached egg on the other piece of wholemeal bread.

    Sunday, February 7, 2010

    Lentil and Vegetable Gratin (improved!)

    I originally posted this recipe as Lentil and Courgette Gratin back in September last year, when I didn't have an oven. Since moving house, I bought myself an oven and have been making this recipe a lot recently. I have made some amendments/improvements to the recipe, and am now even more happy with it.

    It's a very healthy recipe: it's very high in fibre and low in fat, as the crispy base is not made from pastry but a combination of red lentils, oats and now also wheat bran. The wheat bran came into the recipe by chance, as I only had half of the amount of oats needed.

    Nutrition Data (per portion)
    Calories 313
    Protein 21g
    Fat 10g
    Carbohydrate 37g
    Dietary Fibre 14.5g

    Ingredients (serves 4)

    125g/4ozs red lentils (in Japan, sold on Rakuten or in some import food shops such as Nissin)
    10ml/1dsp olive oil
    1 onion, peeled & finely chopped
    1 clove garlic, crushed
    15ml/1tbsp tomato purée
    25g/1oz oat flakes and 25g/1oz wheatbran
    10ml/2tsp of your favourite dried herbs

    250g vegetables such as courgettes, leeks, broccoli or cauliflower (or a mixture), diced
    2 eggs, beaten
    15ml/1tbsp wholemeal flour
    50ml/2fl ozs skimmed milk
    50g/2ozs Cheddar Cheese


    1. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5/375oF/190oC.
    2. Cook the lentils in twice their volume of water for about 20 minutes, until they are fairly soft and the excess water has dried out. Beat well with a spoon.
    3. Heat the oil in a pan and gently fry the onion and sliced garlic for about 6 minutes until soft and golden brown.

    4. Remove from the heat and mix in the cooked lentils, tomato purée, oats, wheatbran and herbs. Season well. The mixture should be thick enough to hold together. If the lentils are a little wet, return the pan to the heat to dry them out.
    5. Press the mixture into the base and up the sides of an 20cm/8″ flan dish. It is easier to do this with your hands than with a spoon. Pre-bake at 190C for 20 minutes until it is slightly dried out.

    6. For the filling, lightly steam the vegetables for 4 minutes or until tender.
    7. Blend the eggs with the flour, then add the milk. Stir in the steamed vegetables and season well.
    8. Spoon the filling into the pre-dried flan case. Sprinkle with grated cheese.

    9. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the filling has set.
    10. Serve hot or cold with jacket potatoes and salad, or with soup.

    • This can be taken out of the tin, cooled on a wire rack, then cut up and frozen in individual portions. Unwrap and reheat from frozen at 200C for 30 minutes.
    • Finely grating the cheese makes it go further.

    Monday, January 11, 2010

    Kenchinjiru, Japanese Zen Buddhist vegetable soup

    I got this delicious recipe from the excellent Just Hungry website. Very little was changed - just the type of stock (not having kombu dashi, I used niboshi dashi) and the quantities of vegetables - I didn't want to be eating it for the rest of the week! However I didn't scale it exactly by half, using the same quantities of tofu, konnyaku, satoimo and burdock (gobo)... My half quantities would serve 3 people. I just ate it on its own and it was filling, but you could have some brown rice with it. No nutritional information for this recipe, but it is very low in calories and fat and very high in fibre.

    However, unfortunately this recipe is going to be difficult/impossible in Britain unless you live close to a very good Japanese supermarket and can get burdock root, or unless you grow it! And you're certainly going to have to use normal white potatoes! But I certainly recommend trying this kind of clear soy sauce soup with vegetables, konnyaku and tofu - it is very tasty and filling.

    Friday, January 1, 2010

    Baked Sugared Crusts

    No picture, but this is a very cheap and sweet snack. When I made the Flower Snacking Plate, I was of course left with a whole lot of crusts. Crusts are also sold in big bags in Japanese bakeries from free to about 100yen.

    Put them on a baking tray, sprinkle with a very little brown sugar and bake at 180C for about 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack so that they crisp up. Store in an airtight container.

    Toshikoshi Soba

    In Japan, on New Year's Eve, it is traditional to eat soba (buckwheat noodles). This link explains some of the traditional beliefs about toshikoshi soba

    I didn't eat soba on New Year's Eve, but I did have it for dinner tonight! This isn't a traditional soba recipe - this is just what I wanted to add to my soba... Again apologies for the photo, the colours really aren't coming out in artificial light.

    Nutrition Data
    Calories: 458
    Protein: 34g
    Carbohydrate: 55g
    Fat: 13g
    Dietary Fibre: 5g

    Ingredients (serves 1)
    60g dried soba (buckwheat noodles)
    400ml of dashi (stock)
    1 heaped teaspoon of red miso
    200g firm tofu
    50g cooked thick slice of gammon, chopped
    1 teaspoon dried wakame seaweed

    • Heat the stock until boiling, turn down the heat to simmer and add the soba noodles. Cook for 5 minutes until al dente.
    • Meanwhile, cube the tofu and add to the pan along with the wakame and chopped gammon. Stir in the miso and serve.

    Flower Snacking Plate

    I really need to improve the lighting for taking photos in this new house - they're coming out really insipid-looking...

    This came from an idea I saw in a magazine whilst I was away.

    Cut the crusts off 5 or 6 pieces of bread and roll each piece thinly with a rolling pin.

    Arrange 4 or 5 pieces around the edge of a round metal tin and press the final piece into the bottom. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180C for 15 to 20 minutes until the bread is crisp and browned at the edges. Leave in the tin for a couple of minutes and then put on a wire rack to cool.

    Put the bread 'flower' on a plate and fill with ham/cheese rosettes, cooked vegetables, fruit and boiled eggs etc.