Banana & Coconut Dairy-free Cake

It has been for quite a while since Coconut Oil became popular in the world. People say it is much healthier than any other vegetable oil or Butter. I was trying not to ride on this trend but just recently one pot of Coconut Oil has appeared on my kitchen shelf. So I have to start going into the usual mission of searching for healthy but tasty things.

Banana & Coconut Dairy-free Cake

I have tried using Coconut Oil for cooking before but this cake was my first attempt for making sweet with it.

banana-coconut-cake1

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Iced Matcha Tea, Anyone?

Iced Matcha Tea with Wagashi

I like ‘Matcha‘ Green Tea. Actually since I was a child I really liked the taste. Although we had a set of Matcha making tools at home my mother did not make Matcha tea that often. Only when we had very good Japanese sweet ‘Wagashi‘ my mother brought out the set and made Matcha tea for us. Maybe that is why I thought having Matcha tea is something special. It was more like for ceremonial occasions and I still get excited about the whole process.

I think Matcha’s popularity these days is phenomenal. Western people knowing its Japanese name ‘Matcha’ was unthinkable to me until 5 years ago and it is unbelievable that there are several shops and cafés serving Matcha drink or food even here in London. Now we have been informed that there are great health benefits in Matcha and it is not just foodies but healthy food eaters are joining the Matcha drinking club.

Matcha on spoon

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It’s Raspberry Time!

Raspberry 8Yay, it is Raspberry time. It has been raining a lot almost every day here in London so I hardly water plants in my garden.

Whilst I was not even going out to my garden my Raspberries gradually started to appear. They were small and green at the beginning and became bigger …

Raspberry 1

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Soufflé Pancake with Strawberry Sauce

Souffle Pancake 1

Yes, yes another ‘Soufflé’ type food. Since the Sake Cooking Competition I like making soufflé. Its very soft light & smooth texture has the luxurious quality.

I also like Pancake. So why don’t I mix the two things I like together? I wanted it to have a custardy flavour so I did not add anything to the basic ingredients except for Vanilla extract.

If it’s a Vanilla flavoured soft sweet … it should be with Strawberries, right?

Soufflé Pancake with Strawberry Sauce

Souffle Pancake cut

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And the Prize Goes to …

Wow … what a day, what an experience.

It was three months ago, I saw this advertisement about Sake Recipe Competition.

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‘Gekkeikan Masters Cooking Competition’

The notice must have been out there for a while but when I saw this poster it was just a week before the deadline. The applicant had to create two recipes, one in savoury and one in sweet by using Gekkeikan ‘Sake‘ (Japanese Rice Wine) which should not be a Japanese Dish. Developing two recipes in a week seemed rather hard but I tried anyway. Then right after New Year’s Day I received an email saying that I was shortlisted for the final! They said that six finalists were selected from over one hundred applicants. That sounded pretty impressive.  😀

However, I faced the first problem … The contestants had to cook the dishes in the final day and serve them to judges. I submitted a baked dish but there was no oven at the venue! I had to develop some other dishes which you didn’t need to use an oven. I had tried several dishes but was not happy with them. And then one week before the final day I was told that I could bring a small oven if I wanted. Great! So I decided to stick to my original idea but had to adjust the recipe a little for making it suitable for cooking in a small oven.

The final stage of the competition took place at Ichiryu Udon noodle restaurant last Sunday (the 24th January). But there was a bigger problem waiting ahead of me…

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How to make ‘Shiro-An (白あん)’ (Quicker version)

Shiroan White Bean Paste

By going through the preparation for markets and recent private order I had a chance to make ‘Shiro-An’ so I can finally post ‘How to Make’ it here.

‘Shiro-An’ is one of the main ‘An/Anko‘ Sweet Bean Pastes for Japanese Sweets which is made from white beans such as Butter Beans or White Kidney Beans. I used to think that it is just one type of Anko but since I started making wider range of Japanese Sweets I now realised that ‘Shiro-An’ is definitely the most important one among of all ‘Anko’ Sweet Bean Pastes.

Shiro-An is not just a tasty filling but it is also an essential ingredient for making Japanese sweet. Because it is 1. in white colour so that you can change it into any colour you want 2. having a very smooth texture, it is very versatile and basically it acts like a great shape shifter. It can be used in all sorts of sweets in disguise. My recent hit sweet ‘Ukishima’ and also ‘Nerikiri’ are just two examples that ‘Shiro-An’ is used into a different shape. Unless you are told you don’t realise.

So How do you make ‘Shiro-An (白あん)’/ White Bean Paste? Well, professionally it is a long process but I am going to show you the easier method. Some steps are omitted here but the product you get tastes very good. What you need is just patience and lot of care.

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My First Order!

Hooraaaay! I had the first order for my Japanese sweets and I managed to deliver them to the client last Saturday. (Sorry, it takes so loooooong to write in a second language)

The client was a lady who lives locally. She visited my market stall on the 6th of December and liked my products. She wanted my Japanese sweet for her husband’s birthday party who loves Japanese food. What a lovely thought!

So what she ordered me was 35 pieces of ‘Ukishima’ with Matcha Green Tea & Apple and Chocolate & Chestnut flavours. I prepared the ingredients ready for making it on time for the Saturday.

So, Voila!

Ukishima

35 Pieces of Ukishima became ready! I cut and trimmed the edge of each piece carefully.

Ukishima matcha

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‘茶’ – Japanese Tea

3 tea in cup

Did you know that all the tea is made from the leaves of exactly same tea plant, Camellia sinensis? They might be grown in different countries in different climates, but yes, English Breakfast tea, Japanese Sencha tea, Chinese Oolong tea or Sri Lankan Ceylon tea … any tea is from the same leaves. The difference is just the process of how to make them from leaves into a tea. I found it very fascinating that the same tea leaves can taste so different just by how it is treated.

In Japan we have several types of tea. Unlike Chinese tea most of Japanese tea is steamed and unfermented. That is why it has kept a clean green colour and aroma with lighter flavour. Some of the famous ones are as follow.

3 tea leaves 2

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Happy New Year 2016!

2016 New Year card

🎍 Happy New Year! 🎍

In Japan we celebrate three days for the New Year. Yes, the New Year Days are very big deal for Japanese. It is the biggest National Holiday and everybody should be resting including the person who cooks for the family too. In order to have less cooking time home chef prepares celebratory meal ‘Osechi (お節)’ until New Year’s Eve. It is like a bigger version of Bento box filled with lots of delicious & luxurious food all of which last for 2-3 days so that you just need to add some extra thing such as ‘Sushi’🍣, ‘Sashimi (さしみ)’ or something warm.

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