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 some 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 most, Happy Valentine's Day!  I am having such a busy month but I'm happy that I made it 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 can see it's not 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 fast 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 imitation vegan version of meat or daily 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, okara(soy pulp) and soy milk in Japan.  

Bum!  Cheesecake!  

Growing up, cheesecake was my absolute favorite cake.  But the typical cheese cake in Japan is made mostly with eggs and 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 milk.

I love this kind of little surprises once in a while when I cook, wouldn'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 to 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.  


Super Moist Christmas Chocolate Ganache Cake

Happy New Year!  I hope you are having a great start to the new year.  I wish that I made more posts this past holiday since I did cook quite a few fun dishes and desserts.  But time just flew away!  This is the cake I made for Christmas this year.  

For the past several years I have made Buche de Noel, aka a Yule Log.  It is a very popular Christmas cake in Japan.  "Do you celebrate Christmas in Japan?" is a common question people ask me.  Ummm... yes, sort of.  Christmas is celebrated in Japan mainly because of the commercial and entertainment reasons.  But there are so many great bakeries in Japan and they make amazing Christmas cakes.

This year I was ready to do something different and I desperately wanted to use up some mini marshmallows that never seem to go away.  I think this cake turned out pretty cute and delicious (of course!).  I knew I couldn't go wrong with the combination of dark chocolate and pomegranate for the visual effect : )


Thanksgiving with Kabocha Pumpkin Mascarpone Mousse


Good things are happening recently with BB.  I am all inspired, and I am proud of this post.  All the important elements of this blog - good photos, good recipe and some twists - came together.  

I guarantee that you'll be happy once you try this mousse.  Tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the States.  I'm not cooking the whole dinner, but I'm in charge of the dessert for the family dinner. 

I used kabocha instead of traditional pumpkin.  Kabocha is a kind of squash/pumpkin and very popular in Japan.  When I think of pumpkin, I think of kabocha.  Kabocha is richer and heavier than pumpkins,  and  also slightly bitter.  I used mascarpone cheese to make it lighter and creamier.   I also added some orange zest and candied ginger bits to give it a little twist.  

Try it.  This will make you happy : )

Happy Thanksgiving!!!


Simple Root Vegetable Miso Soup

I've been running around like a headless chicken every day and it's already winter!?  It's getting frosty in the mornings and find myself shivering here in Seattle.  When I start to feel the cold winter in the air, I crave for this kind of soup.  It's miso and bonito broth based and loaded with a variety of root veggies including konnyaku.  See the gray bits in the photo of the soup?  It's made of konjac root, which I had no idea about before.  I've eaten it all my life regularly and I don't think I can live without it.  Anyway, give it a try if you've never had it.  It doesn't have much flavor, but you might find it strange because of its gelatin-like texture.  If the texture is too much, dice them small.  And of course, much like everything else strange in Japanese cuisine, it's good for you!   

I'm sure I'll be making a huge pot of this soup definitely after the Thanksgiving feast. 


Afternoon Tea Party with Fresh Fruit Tarts

My daughter and I had a girly tea party a few weekends ago.  She is a major inspiration to my inner girlishness, which I'm amazed that I had it in me at all.  I was in a mood for making some tarts.  One thing let to another, Cassis and I were having this super girly tea party on the patio.  

This tea party was also inspired by two other elements besides her - Ann of Green Gables and my new vintage props.  Almost every time I bake or make jam, I think of the book.  How I used to wonder and was fascinated in the small fishing town of Southern Japan, what it's like to taste a homemade pie.  When I was growing up,  moms didn't bake sweets at all.  It was too foreign and no one had decent/real ovens.  I probably read the books when I was around 10 years old (translated in Japanese).  My daughter is still too small for it, but I can't wait to read it with her when she's a bit older and get all girly together with her.

Anyway, one of my favorite things to do with my free time is to go to this enormous antique store by my house and browse around mindlessly. I found this beautifully stitched vintage table cloth for $5 and the retro cup with saucer made in Sweden for only $3 the other day.  Also it's not vintage, but I found the ceramic spoon (see the first photo) when I was at Saturday Night Market in Chiang Mai, Thailand, earlier this year.  It's from Clay Studio Pottery.  I fell in love with this beautiful rustic spoon.  

I make this tart now and then.  It takes a little effort to make tart dough, but the rest is super simple.  My husband thought I bought them at a French bakery.  Simple, easy, inexpensive and impressive.  My kind of baking item!

(Hope you all had a fun and happy Halloween!)

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