Hot Asparagus Pudding/Flan chaud d’Asperges

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Fresh asparaguses are becoming available all year roun here in Shizuoka Prefecture, a region famous for its Winter-cultivated vegetables.
Here a traditional French recipe for the green ones. It is not as difficult as the title might suggest!
When you choose your asparaguses, check the cut part at the bottom of the stems. The more moisture, the less peeling needed!

Vegans and vegetarians seeking substitutes for milk, butter and eggs should check with Miss V’s excellent suggestions!

INGREDIENTS (4 people):
Green Asparaguses: 1.25 kg
Eggs: 5
Milk: 250cc
Butter: 50g
Trefoil or Italian Parsley (optional): 4 sprigs for decoration
Thyme, laurel & nutmeg (optional & varying to taste)
White Pepper


Peel asparaguses from top, cut out the bottom fibery part. Cut the tips and keep them aside.
Cut the stems in 1 cm-thick slices and put them in a pot. pour in milk, salt, white pepper and spices to taste. Let cook for 15 minutes. Take away from fire and transfer to food processor.
Add a few leaves of trefoil or Italian parsley and process to a fine mash.
Preheat oven to 6 (180 degrees Celsius) and put a large dish with water in it to be ready as a bain-marie.
Break the eggs in a large bowl, beat slightly, pour in the asparagus puree and mix.
Butter the inside of 4 small oven dishes (ramequin-style), pour in the mixture and cook in bain-marie for 20 minutes.
During that time put the asparagus tips in a frying pan, add the rest of the butter, 200cc of water, some salt and let cook for 20 minutes stirring from time to time until there is no more liquid left.
When the puddings are cooked, unmold them onto individual plates and decorate with asparagus tips and some trefoil or Italian parsley.
Serve at once.

What is wrong with fast food?

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By Patrick Harrington

_What is wrong with fast food?_

by Patrick Harrington

A lot.
The two big advantages are speed and price, but there are a number of
common grievances:
1. Food quality ranges from poor to crap.
2. Food is cooked from frozen, further diminishing the quality.
3. Premises are awful plastic-furnitured, fat-smelling cubes.
4. Staff wear false smiles and couldn’t care if we have a nice day or not.

But it doesn’t have to be like this.

On a street corner in Thailand I once had a flash-fried vegetable dish cooked in a heartbeat. The vegetables were all local and fresh, and the chef simply spun them around a hot wok and emptied them straight onto a plate. This was the fastest food I have ever eaten. Delicious and wholesome.
And I’m sure the readers here can quote lots more examples that they have encountered on their travels.

If it can be done in Thailand, then why not in Japan, the US, Europe etc?

What is wrong with fast food? Nothing, in the right hands.

Today’s Lunch Box/Bento (44)

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Yesterday’s bento was back to “open sandwich bento”!


The “main dish” was a bit complex:
From top left around the clock:
Brocoli, home-made chicken ham, lotus roots (boiled) and “tobikko/flying fish roe” salad.
Scrambled eggs
Avocado salad
Red mini-tomatoes, black olives, cornichons, raw ham on chickory leaves and lemon slice
Finley chopped greens
Persimmon wedges


As for the bread (baked the night before and toasted again in the morning): Black and white sesame and small pieces of processed cheese (eventually melted beyond recognition)

Now, to further answer Barbara and Rowena‘s questions about the Missus’ bread recipe, I discovered some more information (not complete, sorry!) after a lot of arm-twisting (I will have to do a lot of cooking this month,…):
Flour: Normal strong wheat flour 9 volumes (total weight unknown) and rye flour 1 volume (total weight unknown)
Water: unknown quantity
Yeast: name unknown
Olive oile: 1 large spoon
Skimmed Milk Powder: 1 large spoon (new secret unveiled!)
Salt: unknown quantity
Try to work it out!

Shizuoka Beer 8/3: Usami Brewery

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This is the 8th Micro Brewery in Shizuoka Prefecture I finally have ascertained. So far, I have nine confirmed! Usami Micro-Brewery and Restaurant are located in Ito City, Usami in the Izu Peninsula where great water is plentiful!
Good Beer and Country Boys, Beer Haiku Daily and BeerMason, keep your eyes open!

Note that their front label is always the same. Check the sticker behind the bottle and the cap!

This is the third tasting:

Usami Brewery: Donau (Hungarian Type)
Ingredients: Malt and hops
Alcohol: 3.5%
Contents: 330 ml
Unpasteurized, Unfiltered.

Foam: Long head, fine bubbles
Clarity: Very clear
Colour: dark lemon colour
Aroma: light and fresh, citruses, lemons, oranges.
Taste: Soft attack, dry and tangy with a pleasant slightly acid finish.
Complex: Lemons, oranges.
Does not vary with food and stays faithful to first taste.

Overall: Refreshing. Thirst-quenching for all seasons

Usami Brewery
European Ji Beer Company
Ito City, Usami, 3504-1
Tel.: 0557-33-0333
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)

Zucchini Gratin

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There are many recipes I have learnt back home like any good son in any part of the world.
I come from a family where does and can cook!
This particular dish is a specialty cooked by my father Andre (83!)
The Missus still raves about it!
It is very simple!

for 2~4 people
3~4 medium-size zucchini (courgettes)
3 eggs
1 cup of fresh cream
Salt, pepper, nutmeg (other spices according to preference)


Clean and cut zucchini into large chunks. Do not peel skin.
Grind into robot or cut/grate very finely. Mix in some salt and pepper.
In a large saucepan drop some butter and olive oil and cook zucchini on medium fire until very soft. Switch off fire and let completely cool down.
In a bowl beat the eggs into an omelette. Pour in and mix fresh cream. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Add mashed zucchini and stir well.
Coat an oven dish with butter and pour all the zucchini paste. sprinkle with plenty of very fine breadcrumbs. Add parmeggiano cheese on top if you like it (I do!).
Cook in oven at 180 Celsius degrees until top has turned a nice brown colour.
Can be served hot, lukewarm or cold.

Variant: One could use zucchini of different colours for effect. Adding a few finely chopped herbs would be a good idea, too!

Today’s Lunch Box/ Bento (43)

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Yesterday’s (Today’s will appear tomorrow!) bento was definitely “Japanese” and could have, apart of some details, been fit for a vegetarian’s priorities!


The staple rice section included three different “inari sushi/Sushi in grilled tofu pouches”:

bento-2008-12-1e bento-2008-12-1f bento-2008-12-1g

1) Sushi rice (shari) mixed with “tobikko/flying fish roe”.
2) Sushi rice mixed with black and white sesame and “hijiki/sweet seaweed”.
3) Sushi rice mixed with minced Japanese-style cucumber pickles.


The “maki/rolls” are “natto/fermented soy beans” maki. Now, Rowena, these little leaves are actually “shiso/perilla” sprouts! Very popular here in Shizuoka Prefecture!


The “o-yatsu/accompaniment” included on a bed of finely chopped greens, yellow plum tomato wedges, mini red tomatoes, black olives, walnuts (for dessert), lettuce, home-made chicken ham (equivalent of turkey ham, but with chicken), processed cheese and more perilla sprouts!

Frankly speaking I was full for the day, but who am I to complain with such a good half! (I’m receiving a lot of stick with days with my comments on the Missus! LOL)

Seafood Souffle

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I decided to re-post this particular recipe as it appears that souffle are so popular with friends at Foodbuzz!

As explained before, souffle is not that complicated.
There are simple rules to follow though:
-Get all your ingredients ready within reach first.
-Souffle must be savoured as soon as it comes out of the oven. As the adage says, “The guests wait for the souffle; the souffle does not wait for the guests!”.
It is another way to eat seafod in season and it’s a favourite when Spring and Autumn nights are still cool or cold. Of course it is a great dish in winter as it will warm up your guests or family!
Ingredients can be easy replaced according to season or supply. The spices indicated are basic and also open to imagination!

Ingredients (large portions for 2 persons)
Separate yolks from whites. Keep yolks in a small dish. Pour the whites into a large bowl with a pinch of salt.
-Milk: 1 cup/200 cc
-Butter: 50 grams
-Flour: 70 grams/2 large tablespoons
-Salt, pepper, nutmeg, thyme (powder) to taste.
-Olive oil: 1 large tablespoon
-Oysters: 12 out of their shells in a small strainer to allow excess water out.
-Mussles: 24 large shells bushed and cleaned under running water.
-Crab: 1 small tin. If fresh, a “fistful” slightly boiled or steamed).
-Shallots: 1 large, thinly chopped
-Garlic: 1 clove, thinly chopped
-Noilly or sweet white wine: 1 glass/50cc/a quarter cup
-Thinly chopped fresh herbs (Italian parsley, basil, etc.): 1 “fistful”.

1) Pour oil into a deep non-stick frypan over a medium high fire. Cook shallots and garic until shallots turn transparent. Take care that garlic does not darken.
2) Drop the mussles in. Close with glass lid.
3) When mussles are all open switch off fire and take them out shaking all vegetables and juice out. Delicately separate mussles from their shells. Put aside in a small dish. Discard shells.
4) Switch on ffire again to medium and drop oysters in.
Cook them just long enough for them to stay tender. Switch off fire and take oysters out delicately. Put aside in a small dish.
5) Take crab out of the tin and squeeze out juices into the frying pan.
Put aside in a small dish.
6) Switch on fire again and reduce sauce at least to half. Switch off fire and strain the sauce into a cup. Put aside for white sauce.
7) White sauce:
On a medium fire, in a large deep pot melt butter completely. Drop in all the flour and whisk until smooth. Pour in milk little by little, whiking all the time to attain a smooth sauce. Add salt, pepper, nutmeg and thyme, and cup of reduced juices. Mix. Keep stirring gently until sauce is very thick and adheres to the whisker.
8) Switch off fire. Mix in the yolks with whisker until smooth. Drop in fresh herbs and mix well.
Beat the egg whites until very firm
Fold whites into sauce one third at a time with a spatula (if you mix with a whisker, the souffle will not rise. If you pour all the whites at once you will end up with white “blobs” and uncooked liquid yellow sauce).

9) Butter the inside of 2 (or more, reducing the size of each) oven dishes/ramequins about 12 cm across and 7 cm high.
Pour in one layer of sauce on the bottom of each dish.
Place half of the oysters in each dish and cover with one more layer of sauce.
Place half of the mussles on top and cover with one more layer of sauce.
Spread half of the crab in each dish on top of the last layer of sauce and cover the lot with the rest of the sauce.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
Cook for 35~45 minutes depending on your oven.
Check if souffle is ready with a thin stick. It should come out with no sauce attached to it.
Serve immediately!

Accompany it with a solid white wine!

California Roll made easy!

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I would like to dedicate this particular recipe to all sushi and sushi rol lovers!
My better (worse?) half came up with this simple recipe the same day she prepared the bonito sushi.
Once again she used traditional sushi rice added with fine pieces of pickled fresh ginger.

On a large piece of cooking cellophane paper she first placed thin strips of avocado and slices of smoked salmon, and finally the rice, keeping in mind to place them as to form a regular-shaped cylinder.


She then wrapped the cellophane paper around the whole as shown on above picture.

She cut the sushi roll through the cellophane paper with a sharp knife she wiped between each cut.
N.B.: Wiping the knife the knife on a humid cloth is a technique universally used in Sushi restaurants to insure clean cuts!

She finally served the cuts topped “Tobikko” (flying fish roe). Lghtly dipped in shoyu, great with Japanese sake!