Blueberries!!! Part 2 - Blueberry Banana Almond Muffins

Here's another blueberry dessert.  I made up these muffins impulsively without any plan, ideas or recipes.  I had 4 over ripe bananas and was trying to come up with snack ideas for the kids quickly.  So in my head blueberries + bananas = either muffins or smoothies.  I chose muffins. I don't always measure when I make muffins to be honest.  I think muffins are very forgiving without strict measuring if you know the basic recipe already : )  My not measuring technique doesn't always work obviously.  But this time, it did! and I tell myself better than if I had measured or followed a recipe!

They turned out moist inside, crunchy outside, not too sweet and super delicious.


Blueberries!!! Part 1 - Blueberry Tart


I am super happy that it's been a great season with my blueberries bushes.  I harvested very little last year from the four that we have, so this year I didn't have very high expectations.  But-- they all started to flower, blossom and fruit around late June very nicely, right before our month trip away from home.  When we got back home in August, the berries were just getting started.  I finally harvested the last batch a few days ago.  We had about 2 buckets full total, about 5 kg.  Best ever in the past 6 years.

I'm not sure what contributed to such a great blueberry season this year for us, but sites like this one give some tips on how to grow blueberries. 

I made these tarts for the barter event at Harvest Fair hosted by Seattle Tilth. I went with my friends a few weeks back.  Most people brought canned items. I was happy that I got a few canned goodies in return for my tarts.  (Someone even offered to buy some!)

By the way, one reason my posts here have been so few and far between is that I was taking a ceramic class at college.  It ate up a lot of my time and effort.  So it's sort of nice to use one of the ceramic pieces I made on this post!  It's the bluish plate that the tart is plated on.  Making ceramic pieces was very fun and even therapeutic.

To be continued with Blueberry Part 2.


Arangini and it's Party TIme!

Arangini is one of my favorite Italian dishes, but sadly I don't make them very often.  I make rice balls regularly, but they are usually done the Japanese way, aka onigiri, which is much easier and quicker to make since they are not deep fried.  But I love deep fried rice balls.  It's a bite of heaven when you pop one into your mouth while they are still hot.

I made these to bring to a party and I was very happy with the results.  Happy enough that I quickly grabbed my camera and took photos before we left. 

These are basically seasoned rice shaped into balls, then coated with flour, egg wash and panko crumbs and deep fried.    Like many deep fried foods, they do take a bit of time to prepare, but they are so worth it.  And I do recommend to make your own marinara sauce if you bother to make these yourself.  Go all home made then eat them while they are hot!


Back from London: Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year

I came back a week ago from a trip to London for the opening of the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year 2014 Contest exhibit at The Mall Galleries in London, which was held on April 26th (the exhibit ended already but you can view the images on their website). 

I am honored that my entry image - shown below -  for the contest received the 2nd place in the Food for Celebration category.  This image was taken at a May Day Celebration a few years back in a small island in San Juan, Washington.  I was lucky to have witnessed this event as the island is not easily accessible to "outsiders" and May Day Celebration is one of my favorite festivals.  I was there to shoot a wedding, which was followed by this festival.  

On this island, there are no electricity or store.  People basically grow what they eat and live without pretty much any modern means.  It was incredible to witness how the community came together with the food they grew and prepared without using any modern resources.  I think I will post more food related photos here sine I think it'd be interesting for people to hear about it. 

Back to the exhibit, the whole experience was such a joyful one, especially because it gave me a good excuse to visit London : )  The reception and exhibit were so well done and I was very pleased to be a part of it.

I will be posting some photos from the reception as well as around London in a week or so.  I will be reporting photos from many great places to eat in London currently.  Stay turned!


Happy St. Patrick's Day!! with Pea Soup and Beef Stew

Happy St. Patrick's Day to everyone who has any connection to Ireland!  I don't really have any connection to Irish heritage, but I love to celebrate it anyway.  After all, green is also my favorite colo{u}r.  I've made some green pea soup for lunch for the occasion and also made some beef stew for dinner.  It's good to celebrate any holiday with some good food. 

I'm off to pick up my daughter at school and check out the serious cherry blossom scene at the University campus. Then, I'll be back to edit the recipes!  


Ricotta Cheese Cake with Fresh Berries

First and foremost, Happy Valentine's Day!  I am having such a busy month but I'm happy I'm able to post this cake I made the other day… by accident. 

I was grocery shopping with my daughter, a little spaced out.  I grabbed a container of ricotta cheese to make ravioli with - thinking this is an unusual section to place this item??

I got home, opened the container and noticed that it looked weird.  I could see it wasn't ricotta cheese.  What a surprise.  It was a vegan ricotta cheese made with soy.  I would never buy this if I knew what it was.  But I am happy that I bought it this time by accident! 

I tasted it and it was horrible.  It didn't taste anything like ricotta made with cow's milk.  By the way, I love soy products and I eat tofu almost everyday.  I just don't like eating the imitation vegan version of meat or dairy projects.  

I wasn't sure what to do first.  I didn't want to throw it away.  I paid like $5 for it too.  But then I quickly realized that there are many desserts made with tofu, okra (soy pulp) and soy milk in Japan.  

Boom!  Cheesecake!  

Growing up, cheesecake was my absolute favorite cake.  But the typical cheese cake in Japan is made mostly with eggs and is very light compared to New York style cheese cake.  I made this cheesecake mostly with eggs and the vegan ricotta cheese.  I also added some sugar, honey and sour cream.  So it is very light and yet super moist.   You can of course make this with ricotta cheese with cow's milk.

I love these kind of little surprises once in a while when I cook, don't you : )


Empire Roast Chicken-- Inspired by Jamie Oliver

Let's just say that I don't often roast a whole chicken.  Maybe because I didn't grow up eating or seeing them around.  You see all kinds of whole fish at the supermarkets in Japan, but never whole birds or other whole animals.  So normally I go for a whole fish instead of a whole bird. But I was watching Jamie Oliver making this on You Tube the other day, and Jamie says it's "the best thing he's ever put in his mouth."  

It's no secret that I have been a long time fan of his cooking. I love his cooking.  It fits my style.  I love his rustic and enthusiastic approach.  He made this Empire Chicken in the video outdoors in his usual rustic way.  I was just super excited to make it after seeing how it turned out.

I've been trying to decide what to do with three home-grown chickens sent my way from my brother-in-law's farm in my big freezer.  Now I had some inspiration! I thawed one of them out and soaked it in a brine. Jamie doesn't brine his, but I thought it couldn't hurt.  Brining is like taking a long bath with herbs.

I ended up making this roast chicken twice in the same week because it was so much fun and so good.  The first time I made it, Jamie was right.  It was out of this world crazy, amazing, insane $%^* gooood! It was also so much fun using all kinds of Indian spices. 

The second time, I hosted a dinner party revolving around this chicken. I had to share my excitement and joy over this tasty bird with some of my regular dinner buddies.

This roast chicken is as good as Jamie says.  I am no longer intimidated by cooking a whole bird.  Highly recommended trying it, especially if you like Indian spices.  

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