Teen Wolf is back!
To celebrate, I decided to try Nerdache Cake’s Teen-Wolf-themed “wolfsbane” cupcakes, a dark-chocolate brownie with berries and berry frosting.
I offered to bring tarts to a dear friend’s family Thanksgiving and found this recipe as I was considering my repertoire. Also, geeky-dessert talk: I’m a huge fan of Ikeda Riyoko’s The Rose of Versailles (Beru Bara) fan*, so how could I pass up the tarte bouquet de roses?
This tart looks and tastes elegant: the freshness of the (mostly) uncooked apples with the creamy maple custard and soft walnut crust creates a great combination of flavors and textures. In Alain Passard’s version, he cuts the apples with a machine into long strips, but those of us without mandolins can (carefully) slice the apples into paper-thin, translucent pieces.
A nice bright salsa to end the summer (never mind it’s been over for a month). This recipe is very simple, and I love the way the flavors and textures work together.
I like to serve this with homemade tortillas (or rice or quinoa), avocados, and roasted kabocha tossed with cumin and cayenne.
There are two import foods I can’t live without: peanut butter and oats.
Let’s talk about oats–I’ll get to the peanut butter later. Sometimes I buy Quaker Oats in bulk from online import stores; sometimes I buy Alishan or Alara jumbo organic oats at Diamond in Omicho Market; sometimes I get Nisshoku oatmeal from the regular supermarket, though I prefer bigger oats. At any rate, there’s a constant supply of oatmeal in my kitchen, which keeps my cereal-obsessed American self quite happy, especially in the dead of the Hokuriku winter when the morning oatmeal warms the kitchen and dining room.
But what about in summer?
That’s where overnight oats come in! It’s like making cold cereal — requires no heat and barely any effort, just 5 minutes before you go to bed!
桃栗三年柿八年 (momo kuri sannen kaki hachinen): it takes time to reap the fruit of one’s actions
(lit. [It takes] three years for [planted] peach and chestnut trees, eight for persimmons [to bear fruit]) (ことわざ学習室）
In late autumn and early winter (mid-Nov. to New Year), Omicho Market is awash in reds and oranges: strawberries, crabs, mikan, and persimmons. Before I moved to Japan, I had never seen a persimmon, though they seem to be available in California. There are two main varieties available in Japan: non-astringent (amagaki, 甘柿) and astringent (shibugaki, 渋柿). Fuyu (富有）, the tomato-shaped variety, are a variety of sweet persimmon; they are dull orange, firm, and ready to eat when they are sold. The human-heart-shaped Hachiya (蜂屋), on the other hand, is very astringent until the skin turns reddish and the insides turn to jelly.*
I tend to eat Fuyu persimmons plain, but I was inspired by The Food Librarian‘s “Fuyu Persimmon Bundt” to try something new. I used a sweet seedless variety (hiratanenashi, 平種無) with a cinnamon-colored flesh in one batch and a seeded variety with orange flesh in another. Both work equally well, though the color of the cake will vary based on the fruit. (Remove the seeds, of course, if applicable.) My coworkers compared this cake to a Western-style Christmas cake, combining sweet fresh and dried fruits with nuts and spices. I think I know what I’m making instead of Stollen for Christmas this year!
My alterations: The night before I made the first round of this cake, I was out of butter, so I swapped in yogurt 1:1 by volume. Also, I think the natural sweetness of the persimmons more than makes up for the comparative lack of sugar in my version. This is also a half-size recipe to accommodate for the size of Japanese oven-ranges. For parties, I sometimes make a double batch in two cake pans and layer them, but that means that I have to cook them one at a time in the moven.
Although this site is called I’ll Make it Myself!, a lot of the baking I do is less recreating restaurant meals I liked and more reinventing recipes to make them healthier and to make them work in a Japanese kitchen.
Health-wise, my philosophy with baking is that almost any bread can be made over with whole grains and applesauce. For sesame-oil- or olive-oil breads, using the oil will favorably flavor the bread, so I don’t recommend changing it. However, if the recipe calls for vegetable oil or canola oil, you can swap those with unsweetened applesauce at a 1:1 ratio. That is, for 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil, use 1 teaspoon of applesauce.
For the flour, swapping half the volume of all-purpose flour with an equal volume of whole-wheat flour generally works: for a recipe that calls for 1 US cup of all-purpose flour, you would use ½ cup all-purpose flour and ½ cup whole-wheat flour. The conversion isn’t as simple to remember if you measure in weight (grams) rather than in volume (cups), but 1 cup AP flour is 100 grams and 1 cup whole-wheat is 130 grams. Therefore, you would use 50 g of AP and 65 g of whole-wheat. (Please note that for this recipe, I added in oatmeal as well, so the ratio here is different.) This swap works best in muffins and loaf breads; for flat breads or flour tortillas, I have better luck with recipes that call for whole-wheat in the first place.
Regarding the kitchen, to solve the problems I often have with bread not cooking through in the oven range as well or as quickly as it does in a full-sized American oven, I opted for a brownie pan to increase the surface area and reduce the depth of the bread.
Finally, in banana breads, a combination of cinnamon and vanilla or lemon for a dimension of umami is common. I decided to use powdered ginger, lemon juice, and lemon zest along with vanilla. For a stronger lemon flavor, you could try lemon extract in place of the vanilla.
“Are those plums? Wait, what’s a マンゴ…ス..チ…ン?”
“Do you think it’s safe for me to eat?”
Ask me about my various strange allergies and I will give you a Cyrano-esque list of jokes I’ve thought up to make myself feel better. One of these is that I am a food allergy hipster–I was doing it before it was cool. (I was doing it before hipsters and indie kids were even a thing, for that matter.) My body decided at 12 that crippling seasonal allergies were trite and that Latex-fruit syndrome was more underground. And it was: I was diagnosed a good 5-10 years before the medical community caught up with this, and before Johns Hopkins announced that the use of latex gloves for the medical community was A Bad Idea. I was rocking my allergy when you couldn’t even buy non-latex bandaids at Kroger, that’s how cool I was.*
This was also before google was a verb, and so I spent a decade of my life being simultaneously terrified of eating new fruit and woefully ignorant about the non-fruit foods I ended up eating for the first time without a second thought. Latex-fruit syndrome is sneaky because you aren’t allergic to all the foods. Of this foods listed, I am only allergic to one of the four high-risks (kiwi) and one of the moderates (melons, but not watermelon).
When I moved back to Japan, I discovered that one of the grocery stores in my town inexplicably has a good selection of exotic fruit. Continue reading
柑橘類 (kankitsurui): citrus fruit
When I go grocery shopping, I always check the discounted produce cart for deals. Sometimes the fruit there is overripe or about to expire; sometimes it’s just a bit bruised. Last week, I found a few bags of 小夏 (konatsu; literally little summer) that seemed to be in great shape but just weren’t selling. Since I’ve noticed there are a number of citrus fruits that sort of look like grapefruits but are actually sweet like oranges in Japan–for example, the haruka (はるか） that was advertised as 「すっぱくない！」 (not acidic!)–I decided to give konatsu a try.
手作り (tezukuri): homemade
I was a bit wary of posting my jam recipes, because I don’t feel like I’ve perfected the jam-making process. This jam, adapted from Food in Jars‘ “Honey Lemon Apple Jam,” tastes amazing, and I think the recipe is fairly solid. That said, I’m not an expert on making preserves in Japan, and so I hesitated posting this and my other jam recipe. If you have a better way to make preserves (that works in Japan), please contact me!
Hot water baths seem to be recommended way to make sure your preserves last, but I can’t find mason jars with the two-piece lid-and-ring apparatus that most Americans use for canning. Instead, I got glass jars with replaceable lids—the kind that have a bit of rubber on the inside, since they were labeled as jars for jam. I baked the jars and lids according to the “low-oven” instructions on Just Hungry.
Powdered pectin was easy to find in the baking section of the large grocery store in town. I think next time I would add more pectin—maybe a tablespoon. It set well, but when I opened the jar a couple weeks later, the consistency the jam reached was more like an apple spread than a jam. Don’t get me wrong: this apple spread is delicious with a very bright lemon flavor, but if you want something more jammy in consistency, more pectin would be a good idea.
If you have suggestions about making jams in Japan, I would be very happy to hear from you!
Very Lemony Apple Jam
「しゃきっとみずみずしい果肉をしている」(shakitto mizumizushii kaniku wo shiteiru): to have a crispy and juicy flesh (of fruit)（alc.co.jp)
One of my favorite apples grown in Japan is the Jonagold. The flesh is crisp and sweet, and the skin is a gorgeous gradation of reds and yellows. This week, however, I have been pushed to the culinary limit by my love of a good deal.
Fruit in Japan is often expensive. I look for deals–6 apples for 500 yen is a good price, as apples in Hokuriku tend to run at 150-200 yen PER apple. Last weekend, I did my shopping at a large department-store grocery (Aeon) near a friend’s house, and I found the deal of a lifetime:
1 crate of apples for 980 yen.
That’s right, 20 beautiful grade-A Jonagolds from the apple country of Aomori for 980 yen. That’s 49 yen PER APPLE, and these are big apples at 270 grams each! My head nearly exploded from the glorious savings.
Now, if I had been thinking, I would have driven to my friend’s place and given her half of the apples, or, if the universe were on my side, we would have bought said apples together before the dinner party we threw the night before. I was not so lucky, and so I found myself presented with a challenge:
1 woman who lives alone + 1 tiny Japanese refrigerator/freezer VS. 5.4 kilos of apples.
If I were home in the States, I could have easily frozen most of these, but my freezer is perpetually full of extra food and hoarded rye bread, so I can only freeze a few due to space issues. Add to this the fact that I am leaving on holiday for part of Golden Week, and the plot thickens.
Failure is not an option, my friends! Join me on my 20-Apples Challenge!
Recipe 1: Homemade Applesauce