French Sweets: Salted Butter & Ginger Bread Caramels

CARAMEL

Who does not like caramels?
Of course, there are many varieties depenfing on taste, texture and countries of origin.
My preferences lean towards the soft ones with a special taste.
These two caramels make use of ingredients from two different regions: Salted butter/Beurre sale from Bretagne/Brittany or Normandie/Normandie and Ginger bread/Pain d’epices from Bourgogne/Burgundy!

INGREDIENTS: ~35 caramels

-Salted butter caramels:
Fresh cream: 500g
Sugar: 375 g
Glucose syrup: 375 g
Salted butter: 200 g

-Ginger bread Caramels:
Fresh cream: 500
Good quality ginger bread: 100 g
Sugar: 375 g
Glucose syrup: 350 g
Fresh vanilla pod: 1
Salted butter: 100 g

-Utensils:
Thermometer
Thick bottom pan (middle size)
30 cm square mold for caramels

RECIPE:

-First prepare the salted butter caramels:

Line a mold with baking paper
In a thick bottom pan mix the glucose syrup and the sugar.Heat on a medium low fire to obtain a brown caramel.
Take off fire.
Add salted butter. Mix well. Add fresh cream. Mix well.
Put the pan back on the fire.
Whisking/stirring all the time, heat the mixture up to 180 degrees Celsius.
Cook for two more minutes and pour mixture inside mold.
Cut caramels with a saw-style knife before they have completely cooled down.
Wrap them separately/individually inside small thin jam cellophane paper.

-Secondly, prepare the ginger bread caramels:

Mix the fresh cram and the (crumbled) ginger bread in a bowl.
Cut the vanilla pod legthwise and take out the seeds.
In a thick bottom pan mix the sugar, glucose syrup, vanilla seeds and the ginger bread cream.
Stirring all the time heat the mixture uo to 180 degrees Celsius.
Add butter and mix.
Cook for two more minutes and pour mixture inside mold.
Cut caramels with a saw-style knife before they have completely cooled down.
Wrap them separately/individually inside small thin jam cellophane paper.

NOTE:
To obtain soft caramels do not overcook them.

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Tonkatsu Recipes 1: Basic Recipe

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Tonkatsu, if properly organized, is not difficult to cook or prepare.
Here is the first of a series of recipes you easily accomodate to your taste and preferences:

Tonkatsu Basic Recipe:

INGREDIENTS: For one person

-Pork cutlet: one large, 1~2 cm thick. Choose good quality with as little fat as possible, although some around the rim is welcome.
-Flour: 2 tablespoons
-Black pepper: to taste:
-Salt: to taste
-Nutmeg: a pinch (you may use other spices of course, including chili pepper!)
-Egg: 1 large
-Fresh breadcrumbs (if unavailable, use dry breadcrumbs or panko): half a cup
-Deep-fry oil (as fresh as possible!)
-Cabbage (as much as you want, finley shredded)
-Sesame powder/ground sesame seeds: 1 tablespoon
-Tonkatsu sauce: 2 large tablespoons (easily found in markets. You can of course make your own with worcestershire sauce, ketchup, mustard and so on!)

RECIPE:

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-Make a shallow incision across the rim every 3~4 cm. It is an important step as it will prevent the meat from contracting or bending!

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-In a bowl mix flour, pepper, salt and spices. One can add curry mix powder there, too!

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-Cover both side of the pork cut with the flour mixture. Take care not to form lumps of flour.
Trick: Try to use only one hand to come in contact with the food, while the other hand stays dry and can manipulate utensils!

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-In a different bowl beat the egg. Preferably do this ahead of everything.
Dip the floured pork cut into the beaten egg.

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-Pour the breadcrumbs on a plate and spread it evenly. Thisis also better done before you start anything!
Lay the pork cut on the breadcrumbs and gently press. Cover the top side with breadcrumbs, too and pat gently to help the breadcrumbs adhere. Don’t be afraid of coating with a lot of breadcrumbs!

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-Heta the oil to 170 degrees Celsius. Drop a little breadcrumb in the oil to check if it’s hot enough. It should start frying with bubbles right away. Drop the pork cut gently into the oil to avoid any accident.

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-Turn the pork cut over for even frying as it will rise to the surface. Do it as gently as possible either with long wooden chopsticks of frying tongs.

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-On a serving plate lay a bed of shredded cabbage decorated with a little parsley and a few lemon slices. Provide some strong mustard if wanted.
Take pork cut out of the oil and lay on a grill for a few seconds to take off excess oil. Transfer onto a working table and cut into strips.
Place it above or beside shredded cabbage in the right order so as to remind you of the original shape.

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Japanese Cakes-Wagashi 15: Daifuku

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Daifukumochi (大福餅), or Daifuku (大福) (literally “great luck”), is a Japanese confection consisting of a small round mochi (glutinous rice cake) stuffed with sweet filling, most commonly anko, sweetened red bean paste made from azuki beans.

The traditional daifuku, like all Wagashi are vegan in concept.

But Daifuku comes in many varieties.
The most common is white, pale green or pale pink colored mochi filled with anko.
These come in two sizes, one approximately the diameter of a half-dollar coin, the other palm-sized.
Some versions contain whole pieces of fruit, mixtures of fruit and anko or crushed melon paste.
Nearly all daifuku are covered in a fine layer of corn or taro starch to keep them from sticking to each other, or to the fingers. Some are covered with confectioner’s sugar or cocoa.

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HISTORY:
Daifuku were originally called Harabuto mochi (腹太餅) (belly thick rice cake) because of its filling nature. Later the name was changed to Daifuku mochi (大腹餅) (big belly rice cake). Since the pronunciation of Fuku (腹) (belly) and Fuku (福) (luck) is the same in Japanese, the name was further changed to Daifuku mochi (大福餅) (great luck rice cake), a bringer of good luck. By the end of the 18th century, Daifuku were gaining popularity and people began eating them toasted. They were also used for gifts in ceremonial occasions

VATIETIES:

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Yomogi daifuku (蓬大福)
A version made with kusa mochi (草餅), which is mochi flavored with mugwort.

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Ichigo daifuku (イチゴ大福)
A variation containing strawberry and sweet filling, most commonly anko, inside a small round mochi. Creams are sometimes used for sweet filling. Because it contains strawberry, it is usually eaten during the spring time. It was invented in the 1980s. Many patisseries claim to have invented the confection, so its exact origin is vague.

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Mame daifuku (豆大福)
Another variation made of mochi mixed with red peas or soy beans.

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French Restaurant: Tetsuya SUGIMOTO (the approach)

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Service: excellent and very friendly
Facilities: great washroom, great cleanliness overall
Prices: reasonable, good value.
Strong points: Very fresh local ingredients extensively used. Seasonal ingredients only.

Tetsuya Sugimoto, former owner of Sugimoto Restaurant, has finally come back to us after venturing into unchartered waters to open his new restaurant, Tetsuya SUGIMOTO, in shizuoka City for the great pleasure of his many fans.
I personally consider him, and many friends agree, to be the best French in town and probably in the Prefecture.
As he has only just started again, the menu is still very much under study and is bound to vastly expand. I will only feature the dishes that I and a friend of mine tasted, as well as those that my other friend Marcus took during two quick meals.
A bigger one is coming next week, so stay tuned.

My Pictures:

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Marcus’ pics:

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Tetsuya SUGIMOTO
420-0038 Shizuoka Shi, Aoi Ku, Umeya, 2-13, 1F
Tel./Fax: 054-251-3051
open for lunch and dinner
Closed on Wednesdays

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Italian Restaurant: Contorno

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Service: excellent and very friendly
Facilities: great washroom, great cleanliness overall
Prices: very reasonable, good value.
Strong points: Very fresh local ingredients extensively used.

Contorno is the new Italian restaurant in fashion in Shizuoka. It was open in Spring this year by a former chef working for Hana Hana, another remarkable French/Italian restaurant in Shizuoka City.
The proximity of Contorno to the seashore and harbour of Mochimune means access to gereat and fresh seafood.
It makes an extensive usage of local vegetables, fish and meat whenever possible, and that only is a good enough reason to visit it!
Moreover it is open on Sundays and has its own car park.
Anyway the other day, a very hot Sunday, I decided to make a trial visit.

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It certainly looked charming from the outside.
The welcome is warm if a bit shy.
As it was lunch, there was a choice of set menus and side dishes.

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The Itlian smoked ham and other tidbits served as an appetizer with the first drink were surprisingly of very high quality!

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My other half had this superlative cold pasta seafood salad while I was having roast guinea fowl (sorry, lost the pic!). Now all ingredients are of perfect freshness. As for the taste, the dishes were remarkable for their simplicity and great balance in perfect accordance with the season!

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Italian restaurants, however good, are not always renown for their desserts. It was certainly a pleasnat surprise to discover Contorno’s creations:
Above, the Catalan Creme Brulee might not be Italian, but I know a lot of people would not complain and visit the restaurant for that single dessert!

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Now, the Sicilian Dry fruit and nuts Sicilian ice cream was very Italian, and I can tell I was happy leaving my half eating (most of) the creme brulee!

Conclusion?
I must the lace for dinner! Full stop!

CONTORNO
421-0122 Shizuoka City, Suruga Ku, Mochimune, 5-1-10, Sunrise Mochimune (5 minutes walk from Mochimune Station)
Tel.: 054-2565877
Opening hours: 11:30~14:30, 17:00~21:30
Closed on Wednesdays

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Bryan Baird’s Newsletter (2009/20)

Baird Beer & Taproom Events Bulletin 2009 #20
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Dear Taproom Friend & Baird Beer Enthusiast:

The heat and langour that typify the “dog days” of August are waning; autumn is in the air. Therefore, we are in a rush to release a first-time Baird Beer end-of-summer seasonal brew: Dog Days Golden Ale.

*Dog Days Golden Ale (ABV 5.3%):

Zesty and effervescent, Dog Days Golden Ale is lightly hopped (20 BUs) with three American varieties: Galena, Perle and Vanguard. The light kiss of hop bitterness is just sufficient to balance the soft honey-biscuit flavor of the simple malt bill (Maris Otter, Carahell, Caramel Wheat). A sprite floral hop flavor and aroma (dry-hopping with Vanguard) remind the imbiber that the end of summer is near. Let’s enjoy what’s left of it!

Dog Days Golden Ale will be available on draught at our Taproom pubs beginning Wednesday, August 26 as well as at other Baird Beer retailing pubs and restaurants in Japan. 633 ml bottles can be purchased direct from the brewery as well as through the fine family of Sakaya which retail Baird Beer in Japan.

As craft brewers, we enjoy autumn every bit as much as we do summer. In anticipation, and celebration, of the onset of fall, we are releasing (rather, re-releasing) a unique style of dark lager that we have been conditioning since its original release in April 2008: Baird Pacific Porter.

*Baird Pacific Porter (ABV 6.6%):

This is the Baird Beer version of a Baltic Porter (a strong dark beer fermented with lager yeast that has enjoyed historical popularity in Baltic region countries). The color is deep copper-brown. The aroma is soft, round and fruity with a hint of chocolate. The body is chewy but not thick. Subtly sweet flavors of caramel and milk chocolate are highlighted magnificently by an underbelly of nut and pit fruit character. The overall impression is one of smoothness and balance.

Limited quantities of Pacific Porter (including 360 ml bottles) remain and will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Cheers,
Bryan Baird

Baird Brewing Company
Numazu, Japan
HOMEPAGE


The Japan Blog List

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Must-see tasting websites:
-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery
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Today’s Lunch Box/Bento (’09/58)

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When I came back home last night the Missus’ first question (she alway starts conversations with questions, LOL):
-Wha did you have for lunch?
-Ekiben Bento!”
-You went all the way to the station to buy one?
-Yup!
-Which one did you buy?
-Shizuoka Monogatari!
-Hummm….
She didn’t ask me if I enjoyed it, but she was certainly busy in the kitchen in the mirning, grumbling all the time. Well, if she grumbles, so much the better! (she more she grumbles, the better the food, didn’t I say before?)

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She was still grumbling at her own “mistakes” when the bento finally came up. Taking pity of her, I assured her that her mistakes were delicious, that she should not worry…

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The steamed rice was “maze gohan” style/mixed rice, including beans and sweet seaweed/hijiri carrots and thinly sliced aburaage/fried tofu sheets.

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Now, the fried chicken stuffed goya and chicken balls with black sesame seeds were really good. She also made sure I had my favourite tamagoyaki to which she added okra, red pimento, brocoli and lettuce.

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The salad/dessert included cress, mini-tomatoes, cheese cubes and grapes.

I’ll have to find another reason to make her grumble!

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