Happy New Year, 2019!

New Year 2018 sq

Wish you all have Wonderful 2019!!

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Oh! Hanami 🌸 Ukishima

For us Japanese Spring time is all about ‘Sakura’ Cherry Blossom. You might think all the Cherry blossoms are the same, however, there are many different types. The species with single petal flower start blossoming first and then other types with multi petals follow to open flowers. So that, although the best viewing time is quite short for each tree, we can enjoy viewing Sakura Cherry blossom for quite a long time betwee mid – late March and throughout April in Japan.

These days it is getting quite well known that Japanese have a picnic party eating and drinking under a full blooming Cherry tree. It is called ‘O’Hanami’. It literally means ‘the viewing of Sakura blossoms’ and it tells how much we love seeing Sakura. I tried to think a perfect Japanese sweets for this O’Hanami occasion which is something delicious in the Cherry blossom theme and also easy to pick and eat outdoors.

O’Hanami Ukishima

The sweet I created for the O’Hamani occasion is ‘Ukishima’. It looks quite like a western cake but is actually a very Japanese sweet with a soft, light texture. When I tasted this sweet the first time, I fell in love with it! The best thing about it is it’s so moist.

hanami Ukishima4

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Yomogi Mochi 2018

I made Yomogi Mochi for April. I don’t know why I feel like having Yomogi Mochi especially in spring but I made Yomogi Mochi and posted about it last year too. Maybe because ‘Yomogi’ is wild leaves you can find in a field and we are in the season now that lots of plants are just coming out after being under a cold weather. My Yomogi Mochi this year looks quite similar to the last years. So what is the difference?

Yomogi Mochi, 2018

The outer layer is a ‘Mochi’ type of Japanese sweet with Yomogi leaves mixed in. It has a slightly bitter leafy taste but with sweetness and a bouncy and gooey Texture. As the centre I used ‘Tsubu-An’ Sweet Azuki Beans paste without skin removed during the process. Yomogi and Tsubu-An are just a great combination and I could not think of using any other bean paste for Yomogi flavour.

Yomogi Mochi3

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Sakura 2018

We are in April. We had a cold winter with quite a lot of snow in the UK but even we must be finally in Spring? I keep receiving posts and photos that say ‘Sakura’ Cherry blossoms came to Japan far too early this spring. Single-petaled Cherry species always blossom earlier than multi-petaled ones and it normally starts opening at the end of March and becomes full bloom at the beginning of April. However, this year single-petaled blossom almost ended even before April came. April is the beginning of the academic year in Japan so the entry ceremonies to schools and companies are held at the beginning of April. It is normally a great sight that people posing with full Sakura blossom as the background for the photo shoot on their special day, but maybe it did not happen this year.

Sakura 18Because the weather was so miserable for the last week or two in London I did not go for a walk very often. I went to the nearby park to see the Sakura blossoming situation two days ago and noticed that half of the flower buds were already open. It is a warm and sunny day yesterday so most of the buds would be open by now.

Sakura, 2018

Since I started making Japanese sweets I always make some sweet in the theme of Sakura Cherry Blossom in spring. I made a sweet quite literally in a Sakura flower shape last year so this year I wanted make something Sakura as an image.

Sakura 3

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Private Order in Spring

A few days ago I received a private order for my Japanese sweets. The client wanted me to deliver 15 Wagashi sweets to her. Apart from the specific request that she would like to have 4 Daffodils and the rest should be ‘Mochi’ type sweets I was given the honour to select the suitable sweets that would be favoured by western people. So the sweets I picked and packed were like this.

Spring Gift Set

Gift

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Matcha Swirl Mochi for Early Spring

Comparing to the snowy weather three weeks ago it is so much more like spring now. It is not just because the temperature is higher but because the sunlight is brighter and the air is lighter. Although the forecast says there is a possibility that this weekend might become cold again, the season always moves forward by going back and forth a little. It means we are definitely getting closer to spring!

It means we are in Early Spring now. I quite often design sweets depending on which season we are in. I pick some significant signs of the season such as colour, flower or mood of the season. So what is early spring like for me? It is the season some leaves start to come out (Green) on a tree and field, but in some area it is still covered with snow (white). It is a little too early to see a view of full Sakura cherry blossom in the most places, however, but in some warmer area some trees probably starts blossoming (Pink). The smell of early spring is a grassy green smell. So what I have to do after running my imagination is put all these images together.

Matcha Swirl Mochi

I needed to assemble all the elements of green, white and pink together. I was imagining a mountain in early spring. For autumn season I made Autumn Mountain Mochi and reached up to this swirling sweet of early spring version of the mountain.

Matcha Swirl8

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Sakura Mochi

In my garden, Lilac flowers have gone and the marvellous scent of Mock Orange (Philadelphus) flowers is filling up the atmosphere instead now. I know Sakura, Cherry blossom, season is over and I have to admit that I made this sweet a few weeks ago but did not have a chance to post here.

Sakura Mochi

It is a ‘Mochi’ type sweet with a hint or two of Sakura Cherry Blossom essence.

Sakura Mochi

So what is the Sakura essence that I added to this sweet?

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Yomogi Mochi

Winter in Japan is very cold and snowy but once Spring comes all the plants in the field and mountain start to grow rapidly. As you might know already Japanese like to add some seasonal touch into food and it can be a shape or some flavour added to create a taste of the delightful season.

Yomogi

Yomogi

One of the wild Plants we traditionally add into making Mochi is ‘Yomogi’ leaves. It is a type of Mugworts (Artemisia indica var. maximowiczii) and it used to grow anywhere by the road or field. The upper side of leaves is dark green and the lower side is white-ish colour covered with tiny hair like structure. When you mix the leaves into a sweet it gives a dark green colour but what we like the most about using this plant is the very distinctive slightly bitter flavour that it gives. When it’s added to sweet and combined with sweet bean paste the bitterness of the leaves enhances the sweetness of the bean taste and creates the harmony in flavour.

Yomogi Mochi

I created this Yomogi Mochi as one of the sweets for having during the ‘Hanami’ Cherry Blossom viewing occasion.

Yomogi Mochi4

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