Monday, December 21, 2015

Holiday Eggnog

Eggnog is probably the most famous Holiday season drink in America. Every year, just before Thanksgiving, farms stands and supermarkets start selling a variety of eggnogs. I have a few favorite store bought versions, but nothing beats your own eggnog made at home.   With the home-made version you can also fine tune the flavor and adjust the sweetness and the creaminess to your liking. Over the years, it has become my husbands job to make eggnog for the holiday celebrations, mostly because eggnog is his favorite.

One year we spent Christmas in Japan and my husband made our eggnog there.  My family loved it especially my mother.  Since then it has become a tradition for us and we always look back at our Christmas in Japan.

My husband and I usually drink the first cup of eggnog straight, but then we add a little bit of rum for the second cup. Drinking our eggnog always lifts my spirits while I am hectically preparing for Christmas dinner each year!

Holiday Eggnog

  • 3 raw pasteurized eggs (we use store bought pasteurized eggs that we can get at the Japanese grocery store.  You can make your own by following the correct directions and heating the eggs to over 141 F for a specified time.)
  • 240cc whole milk
  • 240cc heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • rum, if youd like

1.  Add all of the ingredients in a blender.

2.  Blend until all are incorporated well and serve in your favorite holiday glass!  Serve with rum or extra nutmeg sprinkled on top according to your taste!

* You can even add a dollop of gourmet vanilla ice-cream to your eggnog.  This is a favorite for children.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Mulled wine with apples and oranges

Another wonderful holiday drink is fruity mulled wine. I really love hot wine during the winter holiday season. I still remember the first time I tried mulled wine at my English teachers holiday party. I was stunned by how delicious the drink was I still regret that I didnt ask for the recipe!

The mulled wine I make at home is a sweet and citrusy version. I serve it with fruit pieces, cinnamon or star anise mixed in the pitcher but you could also keep it simple if you dont have everything on hand. I prefer my mulled wine to be a bit on the sweeter side, so I add a generous portion sugar, but if you prefer less sweet then just reduce the amount of sugar according to your taste!

This drink is perfect for holiday parties or with any social gathering with family or friends!

Mulled wine with apples and oranges

  1 bottle of Red wine (like Cabernet Sauvignon)
  60cc or 4 tablespoons of brandy
  2 oranges (organic if possible)
  1 apple (organic if possible)
  3 cinnamon sticks
  3 star anise
  4-5 cloves
  4-8 tablespoons of granulated sugar

1.  Wash the apple and the oranges. Cut one orange into 7-8mm wide round slices and the apple into 1cm wide pieces or cubes.

2.  Peel the other orange with peeler and squeeze out the juice. Keep the peels for later use.

3.  In a pot with the apple and orange pieces, add the orange juice, cinnamon, star anise, clove, and granulated sugar.

4.  Add the wine and brandy.

5.  Heat the mixture for about 15- 20 minutes, over medium-low heat so that you will not bring the mixture to boil.

6.  Serve in a cup or glass when the wine is hot enough (but not too hot). You could serve with a cinnamon stick and an orange peel garnish in the cup.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Fig jam for your cheese plate

My favorite fig jam!

Its great on toast but it really shines when eaten with cheese. Of course, we have to pair it with the correct cheese maybe Ill write about that some other time!
This fig jam, which I make every year, is easy enough but you have to follow the recipe precisely. You can use green, black, or brown figs, whatever you can get fresh.  Note that the green figs tend to have a thicker skin.

Fig jam 

     2 pounds or 900g of fresh figs
     1 whole lemon, squeezed
     2/3 cup or 160cc water
     600g of sugar
     1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1.   Remove the stem of the figs and dice the figs into small cubes, less than a half inch. Put all the diced figs into the pot.

2.    Squeeze the lemon and add the lemon juice and water to the fig pot. Cook down the figs over low heat for 20 to 30 minutes until the skin on fig is soft.

3.   When the mixture starts to look a lot like jam, add sugar and vanilla extract and increase the heat to medium heat.

4.   Remove the white layer of bubbles that appear on the surface (look at the picture for reference). Continue to cook until the mixture becomes half the amount now.

5.   Turn the heat off, and let the jam cool. Store in a sterilized, airtight container and store in the fridge.

*If youre planning to keep the jam for a longer time, you should sterilize the container in boiling water

*Its key to cook the figs first, with water and lemon juice, until the figs soften before adding sugar!

Enjoy the jam with wine and cheese on a cold winter night!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Articles in the Washoku.Guide

As I mentioned the other day, I have been writing some articles for the
Washoku.Guide.  I would like to introduce my articles that you can see there now.

I have written about:

-The Perfect Family Dish: Three Color Soboro Don,
and just updated this article,

In the
Washoku.Guide articles I am typically talking about my Japanese influenced life in the USA.  Part of the fun of living in a mixed culture environment is finding ways to enjoy my Japanese food and culture in the USA. There are always challenges with limited supplies and sometimes we are required to substitute or find local options but once we do we are happy to share these finds with others.  This is the value of a site like the Washoku.Guide and I am very much pleased to be a part of this treasured resource. If you like Japanese food and are interested in Japanese culture, this is the site you should check!!  Washoku.Guide: Yoshiko Sullivan

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Holiday Hot Chocolate from scratch

Who doesn’t love a cup of hot chocolate on a cold winters day during the Holiday season? When I think about spending time together with my family over the Holidays, I imagine my kids playing outside in the snow while I watch from the kitchen window making them some hot chocolate. I picture them coming in from the snow and sipping the hot chocolate in front of the Christmas tree.  That is my ideal Christmas image.

This is the recipe for rich, creamy hot chocolate made from scratch, using dark bitter chocolate. My kids love this with marshmallows floating on the top and a candy cane to mix it. My husband prefers the big marshmallows, but I like it with a bunch of little marshmallows.

I love to find old fashioned rustic Candy canes, which are easier to find during the winter holiday season, to use in the Hot Chocolate. When you use the Candy canes to stir the chocolate, the mint flavor transfers to the chocolate and creates a nice slightly minty chocolate flavor. Its almost like mint chocolate ice cream! Just dont let too much of the Candy cane melt into the hot chocolate as they are quite sweet and minty.  I make sure to take them out of the mug after a while

Of course, hot chocolate made from scratch is the best, so try this over the store bought mixes, and add on these toppings to bring out the extra depth in flavor!

Holiday Hot Chocolate from scratch

serves 4

    2 cups of whole milk
    2/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chip
     1/4 cup of heavy cream

1.   Slowly heat the milk and the chocolate together in a milk pot and melt the chocolate.

2.   When the chocolate is completely melted, add the heavy cream. Stop the heat right before the mixture comes to boil.

3.   Serve in beautiful holiday mugs!

Marshmallow topping is a must, but also try adding an Old fashioned Candy cane if you like! Enjoy a great, chocolate holiday treat!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Western omelet, still a classic

There are many delicious omelets to choose from but I think the most well-known is the Western omelet. It is a classic with ham, peppers and onion- pretty basic but quite tasty. The traditional version does not have cheese in it, however, we always add cheese to ours.
There are a few different ways to making a Western omelet. You could cook the vegetables and the ham first then add the egg mixture.  Next you could cook the vegetables on the side first and then add them to the egg mixture as it cooks. Last is just cook everything together at the same time. Try them all and see what version you like the best.  After all it is breakfast food so anything goes.

Western Omelet

serves 4

Egg mixture
      8 Eggs (2 eggs per person)
      8 Tablespoons of heavy cream, or milk
     ½ teaspoon of salt (1/8 teaspoon for one person)
      2 Tablespoons of cheddar cheese

Vegetables and Others
     5-6 Slices of ham
     ½ Onion
     1-2 Bell peppers
     Salt and pepper
     3-4 Tablespoons of butter

1.   Cut all the vegetables and ham into 1cm cubes.
2.   In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of butter and fry the onions. Add the peppers and continue to fry.
3.   Then, add the ham and cook until the onions are completely soft. Add salt and pepper according to your taste.
4.   Take out the cooked ingredients from the pan.
5.   Crack 2 eggs into a bowl, and mix well with salt and heavy cream. Add cheese.
6.   Reheat the skillet and melt ½ tablespoon of butter. Pour in the egg mixture and heat over medium heat. Evenly distribute the egg mixture on the bottom of the pan, stirring it a little to keep the eggs fluffy.
7.   When the eggs are about half cooked, add ¼ portion of the cooked ingredients and place it horizontally in the middle of the omelet. Fold the egg in from the top and from the bottom and wrap the ingredients in.
8.   Gently transfer the omelet from the pan to a plate and serve!

*serve with toast!
*adjust the ingredients according to your taste.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Old fashioned pancakes

This buttery pancake recipe makes light and fluffy pancakes. I prefer my pancakes to be light and fluffy so I really love this recipe. To give the pancakes a lighter and fluffier texture, the key point is to use pastry flour instead of all-purpose flour.

Old fashioned pancakes

      250 cc pastry flour
     1 teaspoon baking powder
     ½ teaspoon baking soda
     1 tablespoon soft brown sugar
     A pinch of salt
     200cc milk
     1 whole egg
     2 tablespoons butter, melted
     Extra butter
     Maple syrup, whipped cream, or anything else you like on your pancake!

1.    Combine dry ingredients, flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt in a bowl and mix well with a whisk.
2.    In a separate bowl, whisk the milk and egg together.

3.    Add the egg and the milk mixture into the powder mixture and add the melted butter. Whisk lightly. Make sure not to mix too much, because it will make a tough batter.

4.    In a heated pan, add butter for cooking the pancakes. Using a ladle, pour a serving of the pancake mix into the buttered pan. Keep the heat low to medium heat.

5.    When bubbles appear on the surface, flip over the pancake.

6.    Cook for additional 1 to 2 minutes and serve.

*You could keep the pancakes in the oven at around 180°F to keep them warm while the rest are cooking. Dont leave them in the oven for too long or they will dry up!
Serve with butter, whipped cream and/or maple syrup!