Friday, January 23, 2015

Addictive "Fruit & Coconut Honey Granola"

Here is the addictive fruit & coconut honey granola recipe!!
You need to try this out.
Trust me. 
You will make this again and again, and you will end up making this double size :)

【Fruit & Coconut Honey Granola】

5 dried figs
5 dried apricots
¼ cup of dried cranberries
½ cup of coconut flakes
¼ cup of cashew nuts
¼ cup of sliced almonds
1 cup of old fashioned rolled oats
100 ml of heavy cream
2 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of honey
1/3 cup of granulated sugar

1)  Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Line the baking sheet with parchment paper.
2)  Pour the heavy cream, butter, honey, and brown sugar in a microwavable bowl and cook in the microwave for 5 minutes.
3)  Cut the figs and apricots to the same size as the cranberries. Split the cashew nuts in half along the seam. Combine all the nuts, dried fruit, coconut flakes, and oats in a bowl.
4)  While the wet ingredients are still hot, add to the dry ingredients and mix well.
5)  Pour the mixture onto the baking sheet and flatten it with a spatula.
6)  Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until preferred color and texture.
7)  Remove the baked granola with the parchment paper from the baking sheet and let cool.

8)  Break to preferred size and store in a container.

* When you cook heavy cream, butter and honey in microwave, the ingredients will be bubbling.  If you want lighter and softer granola you can cook shorter, or longer to make more caramelized.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Celebrating Japanese New Year's holiday

Osechi ryori is specially prepared
New Year’s day celebration food,
beautifully arranged in lacquer boxes.

Each menu item and ingredient in osechi has a meaning
such as good health,
good harvest, happiness, prosperity, long life,
and so on.

It is said that yellow colored dishes and ingredients
such as kazunoko (salted herring roe) symbolize prosperity
and that various beans imply a wish for good health.
Also, red/pink and white colored food, such as pink and white kamaboko (fish cake) slices represent celebration colors.

To make this special Osechi ryori,
it takes a couple of days to prepare but
I am always looking forward to
making Osechi ryori at the end of each year.
Even though I am living in the USA and celebrate Christmas and Thanksgiving with my English speaking children, I still want to teach the traditions of my Japanese culture, which I experienced while growing up in Japan.
Celebrating New Year's day is
very important for me as a Japanese person.

I will introduce my Osechi ryori

and how clebrated this special day
with my family this year.

The first box

The first box is the appetizers to kick off the celebration.

Simmered sweet black beans
mashed sweet potato with sweet chestnuts
salted herring roe
fish cake
red and white pickle salad

The second box

Baked/grilled items and pickles.

simmered konbu rolls with salmon
sweet omlet
simmered shrimp
chicken hamburg
pickled lotus root

The third box

Stewed items  

simmerd chicken and root vegetables

On New year's day,
my brother-in-law's family came over to my place

to celebrate and enjoy Osechi ryori with us
It was a lot of fun to share my cultural event with everyone.

What a wonderful family I have!

 Along with Osechi,

I also prepared some of my favorite party foods.

Yoshiko's famous fried chicken.

This is always a kids' favorite!
Even though kids didn't eat osechi,
I was sure they would eat this.

Salmon escabeche,
called nanbanzuke.

Onions and carrots color,
white and red (orange) are celebration colors.
Also this is one of my husband's and my favorite dish. 

 Fish kasuzuke

Kasuzuke is a technique to "pickle" or marinate 
in sake lees or sweet sake lees.
I marinated the fish for a couple of days
and then grilled it.
This item actually belongs be in the second osechi box but
I couldn't fit it in,
so I served it separately.
This is absolutely one of our favorites!!
It could be best favorite!

Japanese style roast duck

After I roasted duck,
I marinated the duck in a soy sauce based sauce for a day.

Lovely dish!

And of course SAKE!!

We started this food fiesta from early evening.
"Night is young"

was out catch phrase,
we really enjoyed New Year's day.

Also we have another traditional food to eat
during the New Year's holiday,
called Ozoni, which is mochi (rice dough) in Vegetable soup.
There are some different varieties of ozoni,

depending on the area people are from,
such as miso based soup in west area,
soy sauce based soup in east area.

Even mochi shapes are different between areas and vegetables varieties in the soup
change from place to place.

I usually make two different types of Ozoni 
during the new year's holiday.
This is Tokyo style, based on soy sauce.

We use square shaped mochi and
grill them first, then put in soup bowl and pour the soup
on the mochi.

This is miso based soup.
This miso is not like regular miso.
It is sweeter and creamier than usual.

For this ozoni,
we use round shaped mochi,
and we don't grill it first.
Simmer mochi in soup until mochi is soft.

Typically we eat the New Year's Osechi for three days,
so I arranged osechi with different plates
and change the atmosphere. 

The second day,
I used white plates.

On the third day,
I used vintage glass cake/nuts stand.

Using vintage glass stand is a unique arrangement,
but I kind of like it!
It is fun to think about new styling.

With so much food from the New Year's holiday,
our stomach gets quite tired,
so we make rice porridge with green vegetables.

 This is also traditional to eat on the 7th of January,
wishing us health and safety.

Even though I live in another country,
I still follow my Japanese culture
as much as I can
to show to my kids.

Hopefully my kids will carry the tradition :)

Happy New Year everyone!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Chicken & Shrimp Macaroni Gratin


Macaroni gratin could be the most popular Japanese family food dish in Japan.  My kids really love it! This is the first dish I made for my husband, when we were dating, to show off my cooking skills!

This dish is great for parties. I know everyone will love it so I decided to share this recipe with you. I want you all to enjoy this creamy, rich, warm and tasty Japanese family dish!

Here is my youtube video.  I hope it will give you some idea to make this dish. The detail recipe will follow.

【Chicken and shrimp macaroni gratin】

Yield: 6-8 servings

<white sauce>
8 table spoons of  salted butter
10 table spoons of all-purpose flour
5 cups of whole milk
1 cup of heavy cream
2 bouillon cubes
half tea spoon of Kosher salt
a pinch of grated nutmeg
a pinch of ground pepper

<chicken and shrimp>
2 table spoons of salted butter
1 pound of chicken thigh (cut into bite-size)
1/2 pound of shrimp (cut into bite-size)
1 medium sized onion (thinly sliced)
4 slices of bacon (cut into quarter inches)
10 mushrooms
1/2 cup of white wine
1/2 tea spoon of Kosher salt
a pinch of ground pepper
1/2 pound of macaroni

Grated Parmesan
Bread crumbs
Salted Butter

1) Cook the macaroni according to the direction on the package. Drain well.

2) Melt the butter in a pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 3 to 4 minutes.   
Pour the milk into the butter mixture in several batches and stir well with a whisk.
Cook over low heat, stirring with a spatula, until it thickens. Mix in bullion cubes, grated nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

3) Melt 2 table spoons of butter in a saucepan and continue stirring until it 
becomes soft. Add the chicken and bacon. After the chicken color changes, add the shrimp and mushrooms. After the shrimp color changes, pour in the white wine and cook for about 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper.

4) Preheat the oven  to 450 F. Mix 1, 2, and 3 together and add the heavy
cream into the mixture. Add more whole milk or heavy cream if needed. Add salt and pepper if needed.

5)  Spread some butter(not included in ingredients) in a baking dish and pour the mixture in.
Spread the Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs over the mixture.
Tear apart the butter into small chunks and place onto the top.

6)  Place the baking pan in the oven and bake until the top becomes golden brown.

7)  Serve hot!