We had some friends over for dinner this weekend and considering we are trying to refine our Japanese cooking skills, we decided to have a Japanese themed dinner.
We started off our morning gathering all of our ingredients. One of the dishes we wanted to make was Miso Clam Soup so naturally, we had to get some fresh clams.
Diana’s seafood was our go to fish market for this – it’s pretty far from where we live but we can always count on them for having the largest variety of the freshest fish.
We picked up a few items from there but we can post about those later 🙂 We picked up two types of clams for our soup since we wanted to mix it up a bit: Littleneck and savoury clams.
People often store their clams by throwing the closed bag in the fridge or soaking them in water until they’re ready to use. This is not the best way to store your clams as you are at risk of killing them. Clams need to breathe so the first thing you should do when you are home is to open up the bag. Although it is perfectly normal to soak the clams for an hour or so to help them purge the sand they were sucking in from the ocean floor, they should not be soaking in water for any longer than that as clams are not used to living in fresh water.
For those of you who don’t know, one of the main reasons why I decided to start this blog was to keep a running collection of recipes that we’ve tried over the years, capturing the ones we enjoyed the most. Instead of making adjustments to recipes and then not remembering what we did to alter it, it was just so much easier to document it online so that we don’t lose our notes considering how unorganized we are. It also makes looking up a recipe much easier because we tend to make things we like over and over again.
As people who love to cook and bake, we thought this would be a great project for us. Plus, it made sharing recipes with family and friends so much easier. We have decided to try and take this project to the next level with the goal to produce a cookbook within the next year. We aren’t really planning to sell the cookbook, it’s more so something we can see as an accomplishment for ourselves. But who knows, maybe it can one day make it to the bookshelf 🙂
The hardest part was thinking about what the theme of our cookbook would be – considering how much we love Japanese food, it made sense that our first cookbook would be about Japanese cooking. We already have quite a bunch of Japanese recipes on our blog such as Agedashi Tofu, Miso Cod, Ochazuke, and Japanese Strawberry Shortcake just to name a few but it’s time to build on it even more. Stay tuned because you will see lots of Japanese recipes coming up on this blog 🙂
I decided to take the day off today to start working on some recipes and update our blog. The easiest dish that I could think of making was Cold Soba Noodles with Dipping Sauce.
Cold soba noodle is a very popular dish in Japan, especially during the summer months when you want something to cool you down. Typically it is served with Mentsuyu sauce which is a multipurpose sauce used in Japanese cooking. It is often served with noodles and tempura dishes just to name a few. Best of all, this sauce can be made in advance and be stored in the fridge for up to a month. This means the next time you’re hungry for some cold soba noodles, all you need to do is boil the noodles which would take no time at all!
It’s peach season!! Meaning peaches are the sweetest and most cost effective during this time of year 🙂
Not having gone as crazy last year as buying a giant basket of peaches from the farmer’s market where we used it to make our Summer Peach Crumble, we decided to used the peaches we bought from the grocery store to make this Peach and Blueberry crumble as somehow we ended up with 3 pints of blueberries that we barely touched throughout the week…. >_> It worked out pretty well because we had friends come over for dinner and we always prep a full course meal whenever we have people over and a full course meal would not be complete without dessert.
Although there is the option to make peach and blueberry pies instead of crumbles, our personal preference is to have crumble because of the nice texture that it has. Plus, it’s a lot easier to make the crumble from scratch than it is to make pie crust from scratch as it requires less prep time.
To make the peach and blueberry crumble, all you have to do is sprinkle some sugar, cornstarch, some lemon juice and lemon zest onto the peeled peaches and fresh blueberries and toss it around a bit. The corn starch will help thicken the fruit juices up once they are being baked.
This weekend was beautiful in Toronto. For the past month or so, it has been super gloomy and rainy, which sucks because it makes summer less enjoyable. All we want to do is have drinks on the patio or have bbq with friends.
It actually worked out really well that our friend decided to have us over for a bbq this weekend since we haven’t really hung out in a long time. It was like 30 degrees celcius, super sunny, no cloud in the sky – just perfect summer weather. We were tasked to bring some desserts so first thing Saturday morning, I opened up my Bobbette & Belle cookbook to get inspiration on what recipes to make. It also gave me an opportunity to try new recipes as well. I decided to make these ginger cookies as well as my Apple Cinnnamon Coffee Cake.
These cookies actually turned out really well. The first time I made it, the cookies were too crunchy because I cooked it for 15 minutes as per the original recipe. The second time round, I undercooked it a bit for about 12 minutes, and let the dough rest for about 3 more hours in the fridge and it was perfect. These cookies were a bit strong in the ginger/clove flavour in my opinion but you can adjust accordingly.
Overall, I got good feedback on my coffee cake and cookies at the bbq and had lots of fun catching up with friends. Now I have extra cookies leftover so I guess i’ll be bringing them to work 🙂
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves.
In a separate stand mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy (approximately 3 minutes). Add the egg and beat to combine. Slowly dad the molasses and mix until well incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl at least once.
On low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter mixture, mixing until combined. Do not overmix as it will make the cookies dense. Put the cookie dough in saran wrap and chill in the fridge for at least an hour, the longer the better.
When ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or silpat
Scoop small pieces of cookie dough and roll it into a small ball (approximately 1-2 inches) and roll it around in the granulated sugar. Press it out flat slightly on the silpat/parchment paper to give it its cookie shape.
Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes if you want softer, chewier cookies. If you like them a bit crunchier, bake it for 15 minutes. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before you dig in. Store in airtight container.
Continuing with my baking weekend, the other recipe I wanted to try in my cookbook was the Mixed Berry Pavlova recipe. There was a lot of fail on my part that went into making this dish.
First, I thought we had all the ingredients we needed to make this dish so I didn’t invest in buying too many extra ingredients at the grocery store. When we came back, I realized I didn’t have enough eggs to last me the week if I used all the eggs in this recipe. Plus, I only had like 2 tbsp of whipping cream left -_-
Needless to say, I had to halve my recipe to make this work and it worked out because now I don’t have all this extra dessert lying around which allows me to bake other things 😀
The other thing I changed about this recipe is that I took out the liqueur aspect of the mixed berry garnish. Originally, the recipe asked that I toss the mixed berries in some sugar and Grand Marnier. I didn’t have any Grand Marnier so I used Cointreau instead and I thought it tasted ok… but J hated it. It wasn’t THAT bad. I didn’t add the alcohol in the next batch and I have to admit, it did taste much better. This is a cute and elegant dish and when made in smaller portions, it can look very exquisite.
In a stand mixer using a whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites and pinch of salt until frothy. Slowly add the sugar in a bit at a time until all sugar is incorporated. Whisk until stiff peaks (egg whites should be smooth and glossy)
Add in cornstarch, vinegar, and vanilla extract into the egg white mixture and fold to combine.
Spoon dollops of the meringue onto a Silpat or parchment paper and smooth into a round dish using the back of a spoon. You may press down on the middle of the meringue to make a shallow crater so that it leaves space for the whipping cream and berries later.
Turn down the oven to 250F right before you're about to place the meringues in the oven and make for approximately 50 minutes to an hour. The meringues should remain white - if they're starting to turn a bit golden you've baked them for too long.
While the meringue is baking, toss the berries with 1/8 cup of sugar and allow to sit so that the fruits start oozing in juices.
Also, start whipping the whipping cream in a cold bowl.
When meringue is done, allow to cool. Dollop some freshly whipped cream into the crater you made earlier in the meringue and top with the sugar coated berries. Garnish with some fresh mint leaves and dust on some confectioner sugar. Done!
I’ve been looking forward to this weekend for quite some time now. It’s the first weekend in a while where I don’t have any family/friend commitments which means I finally have time to bake – Yay!!
Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and friends but sometimes it’s hard to find time to pursue my hobbies (such as baking) while spending time with them because I often have a hard time multitasking and even if I bake for them while they are there, I feel like I am neglecting them or not fully paying attention! I’d much rather bake first, then invite them over for some treats 🙂
Having not baked in a while, I picked up my newest cookbook (Bobbette & Belle) and decided to flip through it for some inspiration as to what to make. One of the recipes that caught my eye was the Cheddar & Chive scones because I’ve been growing my chive plant but haven’t had a chance to use it much. Plus I had leftover cheese from a few weekends ago I needed to use up so it was perfect.
This recipe was super simple and tasted good. If I were to remake this again, I”d definitely try to make it more savoury – perhaps add some more butter and salt? For the first attempt it wasn’t bad.
If you’ve been following our blog for some time now, you’ll know we are pretty into Japanese food and have experimented quite a bit with Japanese cooking. Matcha has been all the craze for the longest time but recently, a new type of Japanese tea has been rising in popularity – Hojicha!
Hojicha is a roasted variation of green tea. I’ve had it several times in Japan and upon returning to Toronto, I started noticing it more in restaurants. In fact, a fairly new Japanese dessert shop in Toronto (Tsujiri) that typically specializes in matcha desserts came out with Hojicha soft serve ice cream and it was really good. Though I personally felt it left a bit of a bitter aftertaste due to how strong the tea flavour was, I enjoyed it.
This inspired us to make Hojicha creme brulee. The great thing about Creme Brulee is that it’s a very versatile recipe. Once you have the base recipe down, you can essentially make any flavour you want. We are still in the process of experimenting with the ratios but I think the first round went well.
As when we experiment with any new recipe, we always try to make it in small batches first as to not waste it if it all turns sour. I found a recipe on SeriousEats that makes creme brulee just for one — perfect! From there, I just adapted the recipe by steeping 1/2 tbsp of hojicha into the whipping cream and voila! This creme brulee is born.
We plan to continue refining this recipe and adjusting the portions as we go. What I like about our blog is that it’s a place for us to keep track of what we made, and allow us to track refinements as we go along.
1 tsp of sugar (to carmelize for the creme brulee)
Preheat oven to 300F and boil some water for the square 8x8 baking pan which you will use for the bain marie.
Meanwhile, heat the whipping cream over medium high heat until it comes to a gentle simmer. Once it starts to bubble a little bit around the edges, turn off the heat and add the hojicha tea leaves. Cover and let steep for at least 10 minutes.
Once it's done steeping, strain the tea leaves and put the infused whipped cream mixture back into the pot to keep warm.
In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolk and sugar together. Then, slowly add a bit of the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture to temper it while whisking continuously. Then, add the rest of the cream mixture in a bit at a time. This will prevent the eggs from cooking. Finally, add the vanilla extract.
Put the mixture into a ramekin and place the ramekin into the square pan. Fill the pan with boiling water and bake for 40 minutes or until the centre is firm when you shake it.
Allow to cool for 15-20minutes and then chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
When ready to serve, sprinkle the top of the creme brulee with the remaining sugar and blow torch the top to get that signature carmelized top.
Every summer, we have a tradition of going strawberry picking because we love strawberries and the endless possibility of dishes we could make with them. Even if we can’t eat them all, we could always freeze it but they don’t last that long in the freezer anyways. Last year, we made strawberry sorbetwhich was one of our favourite frozen dessert.
Normally we would go to a local farm to pick our strawberries but this time we went to a different one to give it a try. Unfortunately, we didn’t realize how expensive the “pick your own” experience was at this farm – it was $5 admission per person AND that fee does not get subtracted from the total cost of your strawberries. The strawberries cost almost $5 a pound! At that price, it was difficult for us to justify picking our own strawberries so we decided to just buy trays of strawberries that were pre-picked since they were looking pretty good anyways.
We also bought some Rhubarb to make Strawberry Rhubarb pie. Mind you, I’ve never had Rhubarb before and the only way I know how to eat it is in pie form (which I’ve also never made) so it will be quite the experiment lol.
After dropping close to probably $40 on strawberry and rhubarb, we went home on a mission to make as many strawberry dishes as possible. This will mark the beginning of #StrawberryWeek.
One of the first dishes we made was Strawberry Scones.
I love scones. There’s something about them that makes them such an elegant dish – probably because I see them at fancy places like brunch or high tea. This would taste great with some fresh jam or butter. However, I personally think they taste great as is but it’s personal preference.
half & half cream (if the batter is still too dry)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using a pastry cutter (or in a food processor), cut in the cold butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Gently stir in strawberries.
In a small bowl, whisk sour cream and egg until smooth.
Slowly incorporate the sour cream mixture into the flour mixture until all the liquid is incorporated. It should come together into a shaggy looking like dough. If the mixture is still too dry, add in some half & half cream a little bit at a time until there isn't any dry ingredient left.
On a lightly floured surface, shape the dough into a ball and flatten into a circular disc. Then, using a bench scraper, you can cut the scones into triangles (similar to how you divide a pie or pizza).
Place the scones on a silpat or parchment paper and bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. Cool and then serve.
Father’s day may be over but that doesn’t mean you can’t make your loved ones a delicious Tomahawk steak dinner!
We picked this bad boy up at the Cheese Boutique out in Etobicoke. We originally wanted to go there to pick up some artisanal cheese but was pleasantly surprised when we found out this place was actually a grocery store too! We honestly expected to go in and only see cheese based on the name lol.
This place was like whole foods, but better because things weren’t crazily overpriced but you can tell the quality of their food was good. What really impressed us was while we were shopping, a guy came around and offered us espresso. The first thing that came to mind was “Do we have to pay for this?” but it didn’t seem like it would cost us anything so we just went for it. Nothing makes us feel more special than having espresso while grocery shopping, especially when it comes served to you in a saucer with a little shortbread cookie! How cute 🙂
They even came around with free sorbet after! This place was awesome. We got to sample all the cheeses and cured meats too. Love it.
Anyways, we ended up leaving the store with quite a number of things, the Tomahawk steak being one of them.
We prepared the steak using the reverse sear method that we learned from Serious Eatsand it turned out delicious! The key is to generously season the steak with freshly ground pepper and coarse sea salt. It may seem like a lot of salt on the steak but trust us, it’s not! Continue reading →
Caprese salad is my guilty pleasure. Perhaps it’s because I really don’t know what else I can do with all the fresh basil we’ve been growing in our garden other than making pasta sauce but this dish is pretty solid. I’ve been making it so much that I’ve been told to cut back on it because eating that much cheese on a daily basis can’t be good for you.
All you really need to make this dish is 3 main ingredients – some form of mozzarella cheese (we used Burrata), fresh basil, and tomatoes.
Usually whenever we make this dish, we use good quality extra virgin olive oil and a generous amount of freshly ground salt and pepper to season. However, since the quality of these tomatoes and cheese was so good, we were able to cut back on the seasoning quite significantly (which is better for our health!). I could eat this up for DAYS. I’m not typically a salad person but I could have this on the regular that’s for sure 🙂