A nice bright salsa to end the summer (never mind it’s been over for a month). This recipe is very simple, and I love the way the flavors and textures work together.
I like to serve this with homemade tortillas (or rice or quinoa), avocados, and roasted kabocha tossed with cumin and cayenne.
One of my go-to breakfast recipes is Heidi Swanson’s baked oatmeal (via Lottie & Doof). Extremely versatile, you can swap in any seasonal local fruit you like–in Japan, I often used persimmons, apples, or figs instead of bananas on the bottom; diced apples, raisins, or mikan mixed in when blueberries were out of season; and, best of all, it fit in a moven in a 20×20 cm (8×8 in) pan. The recipe will always remind me of my Kanazawa kitchen.
I wasn’t expecting to have to adapt this one in the US, but lacking access to my kitchen equipment– no brownie/cake pan– and wanting to make this recipe more portable for post-gym breakfasts enroute to/at work, I decided to revamp it as portable oatmeal by using the muffin tin, which actually turned out to be great for grabbing while dashing out the door on the way to the gym before work.
I’ve noticed a lot of people find my blog by searching for bamboo shoot recipes. This year, I wanted to develop a new recipe to add to the list and to make something other than bamboo-rice with the shoot I bought. My friend and temporary roommate mentioned that she had seen a bamboo and kabocha curry at a festival over the weekend, and–
On my first Thanksgiving in Japan as an exchange student, I had cold tofu for lunch and felt exceptionally sad. After two years of not celebrating the holiday while I was in rural Japan, I decided to host a Thanksgiving potluck for my friends last year, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Everyone’s favorite dishes–even ones I really disliked as a child, like green bean casserole–were exceptionally good. The atmosphere was good, too–everyone seemed really excited to be there and to share their dish; plus, there was no weird gender segregation in the kitchen!
Kabocha-Apple Whole-Wheat Turnovers
If you’re living in Japan, making your favorite holiday dishes can be somewhat difficult. Maybe there aren’t fresh green beans in late November at your store; maybe your moven is too small for a turkey. I’ve gathered up some of my recipes (and some from other blogs) that would work well for your fall/winter holiday parties below.
Finally, let me take the opportunity to express how thankful I am for all of you. Whether you’re a commenter, a twitter friend, or someone who has actually been in my kitchen, your support keeps me going on days when I’m down and out Darwin-style. You all push me to write more and try harder. So thank you. Really, truly.
On the themes of both autumn and non-chickpea hummus-adjacent spreads, I present kabocha hummus, one of the many fine uses for kabocha purée. As I stated in my baba ghanoush recipe, chickpeas/garbanzo beans (Japanese: hiyokomame, ひよこ豆) are relatively expensive in Japan, so I’ve been trying to less expensive chickpea alternatives. If chickpeas are cheap where you live, consider this recipe an interesting seasonal twist on a classic.
If every Japan food blogger is required by law to cover okonomiyaki (twice), then every food blogger in the US and Canada is required to offer a homemade version of Starbucks pumpkin spice latte.
The most popular variety has pumpkin purée rather than syrup mixed into it. Whether you live in Japan or the US, you don’t have to worrying about buying canned pumpkin before the Thanksgiving hoarders get to it or even stocking up on the orange pumpkins that seem to disappear on November 1 to make your own purée. Where there is squash, there can be “pumpkin” spice latte. No import store required.
Trying to shift your mentality of “I can’t have it because I can’t buy it in Japan” to “I’ll make it myself!” is hard. Really hard. For example, let’s take my recent discovery of how to purée kabocha to substitute for pumpkin purée/canned pumpkin in American recipes. Kabocha and pumpkin have different textures. Pumpkin has more water content, so mashing and processing boiled or baked pumpkin (something I might have phoned my mom about in grad school) results in a texture like thick applesauce. Mashed kabocha is more like mashed potatoes.
Prior to adding water, it’s more like mashed kabocha.
Trying to substitute mashed kabocha for canned pumpkin does not work. This is what I was told, and it’s true. But that doesn’t mean you can’t purée it by adding water and blending.
I know, I know. How the hell else do you make purée? Continue reading
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I’ve covered bread here, so let’s move on to sandwich fillings, specifically pita. Hummus or falafel seem like obvious choices and are very easy to make at home if you can get the ingredients. In Ishikawa, chickpeas are mostly relegated to the import stores (and are expensive), and my first blender was a cheap plastic thing that did not like anything with a consistency harder than melted butter. Hummus, therefore, was not a food I could make consistently while living out in the country.
Fortunately, I discovered baba ghanoush after yet another incident where I had too many eggplants. This magical food solves all of the making-hummus-in-Japan problems. This eggplant-based spread uses no chickpeas, which means no special trips to the import store; eggplants are plentiful and cheap; and the soft consistency of the vegetable base means you won’t murder your blender. Instead of tahini, which is also import-store-only, we’re going to use white nerigoma, Japanese sesame paste. Tahini is a paste made of roasted sesame seeds; nerigoma is paste made with sesame seeds that haven’t been roasted, so to get a smokier flavor, we’re going to add cumin.
A bit of press to start off this reader: a review of this blog from Tony at What Can I Do with a B.A. in Japanese Studies! Welcome, new readers, and よろしくお願いいたします！
Roasted Plums and Ice Cream (Joy the Baker)
Typhoon season has brought the temperature down from the endless blazing days of August, one of the few times of year when Ishikawa isn’t rainy. Because of Mt. Hakusan, the typhoons that slam into west of Japan dissipate into thundershowers over Kanazawa, a sign that fall is near. With all the squash at the market and the slight drop in the heat, I’ve been on a roasting kick lately. Unlike in the winter, when I warm the apartment cooking dinner and hide out in the kitchen area for most of the night, roasting in late summer and not using the AC just means I go hide out in a different room with the fan.
This salad has some of the best of autumn’s flavors and is reminiscent of stuffing but is vegan and gluten free. Apples and kabocha squash roasted with chestnuts and tossed with quinoa (or rice) and sauteed onions and garlic. Simple as that. Because the dish is naturally on the sweet side and enhanced with cinnamon, it would made an excellent side dish in the style of sweet Southern-style side dishes like pineapple stuffing or creamed corn to a savory entree. As an entree, you could serve this chilled on a bed of fresh greens or with some savory sides to balance out your meal.