With all the cakes and analyses lately, I’ve really missed doing this series!
Nothing like a lot of spice and soup to warm up in the winter. Here are some of my favorite new (non-cake!) recipes from the last few weeks. I promise you that the actual recipes have better photos than my sad ones, so don’t be deterred by that hot mess of paneer…
“Carrot, Ginger and Orange Soup with Star Anise,” Cook Eat Live Vegetarian.
I have some star anise that was given to me by a repatriating friend, and this was the perfect way to use it and the discounted carrots I had. For Japan: Star anise is usually stocked with the Chinese and Korean spices; it’s called stâ anisu (スターアニス), hakkaku kûikyô (八角茴香), or dai kûikyô (大茴香); I skipped the cilantro; and I used yogurt for the topping.
“Quick Indian Spiced Broccoli with Yellow Lentils and Toasted Almonds,” Cook Eat Live Vegetarian.
My local Marue supermarket stocks lentils (renzu mame, レンズ豆) now! If yours does not, gourmet stores and the import stores usually have them. I used brown lentils and olive oil since that’s what I had and skipped the cilantro again (none at the store that week).
“Curried Tomato and Brown Rice Soup with Fried Paneer,” Naturally Ella + “Paneer,” The Ishikawa JET Cookbook
This is a great recipe for Japan–brown rice and canned tomatoes are very easy to get, and it comes together so easily. I used a spicier Indian-style (vs. Japanese-style) curry powder, but use what you like. As for the paneer, it’s very simple to make at home if you can’t find it in a store. Mine is not very photogenic, but it was very tasty. I used the recipe in the Ishikawa JET Cookbook, but if you are vegan or can’t be bothered, fry up some cubed firm tofu (drained) instead. Both ways are good.
“Cranberry-Walnut Butternut and Brussels,” The Pescetarian and the Pig
For a brief, shining moment in February, we had Brussels sprouts in Kanazawa. I usually serve them simple and savory, sauteed in butter with a cheese, but this sweet side dish was a nice change. I used kabocha, which has to cook a bit longer, so you might want to start cooking it 5-10 minutes before adding the Brussels. Even skeptics will love this one: the balance of sweet and savory and the combination of flavors and textures is perfect. For Japan: Cranberries are getting easier to find in the dried fruits section, and our Marue stocks real maple syrup from Canada. (I often wonder if Japanese maples would be good for tapping, though no one seems to have tried it.)
Around the Web
“Our Love Affair with Mediocre Food,” Tie Attack. 28 Feb. 2013.
Featured on Freshly Pressed, this article takes a look at why we love mediocre food: nostalgia and BAC.
“Men Go on ‘Guyets’ Because Girls are Stupid,” Sociological Images. 3 Feb. 2013.
“Importantly, this isn’t just about maintaining a strong distinction between men and women, it’s about maintaining gender inequality. We disparage and demean femininity, which is why men want to avoid it.”
“How the heck is nori made?“, Alice Gordenker. 19 Feb. 2013.
Great in-depth article with pictures of how dried sheets of nori are made. The more you know! ~☆
“Japanese Kit Kats – Regional Collection (日本国キットカット味遊記),” Kit Kats!. 17 Feb. 2013.
Ali Muskett (of Haikugirl’s Japan) comes to possess a sampler of all of Japan’s regional Kit Kats.
“How Did Our Brains Evolve To Equate Food With Love?”, NPR’s The Salt. 1 Mar. 2013.
Bonobos show how we evolved to use food to make friends. I don’t even need to say that I am guilty as charged. (My MO for maintaining my platonic and romantic relationships: “I BAKED YOU A CAKE BASED ON DATA I HAVE COLLECTED ABOUT YOUR INTERESTS PLEASE LOVE ME.”)
Spring arrived quite violently this week. With temperatures rising to 15, the pollen is back and so are my allergies. Spring may turn young men’s and young women’s hearts to love, but it only turns my heart to all the generic Claritin I’ve stockpiled from the US.
Sakura season is scheduled to begin here around April 10, and the plum blossoms have started in Kenrokuen. Sakura season also means sakura-flavored food! The sakura white hot chocolate at Starbucks is divine, and so are the Mister Donuts sakura old-fashioned. Just, you know, everything in moderation. Project for spring: learn to cook with preserved sakura.
What are you cooking and reading this week?