Sunday, September 30, 2012

Hatch Chile Jelly

One last New Mexican green chile recipe

I made this quick and easy jelly at the end of Hatch chile season, so I either have to wait until next year or use Anaheim chiles to make another batch.

In the last hatch chile pepper jelly I made, I found some red chiles to give some interesting color, but this time I made sure to get the classic green for a monochromatic tribute. In addition, this jelly is nothing but hatch; no apricot, no onion, just chiles! The short cooking time allows the pepper to retain their crunch in the jelly.

If you've ever found yourself pondering what you could possibly do with a hot and sweet pepper spread besides over toast, I have some suggestions below:

Interesting twist on a quesadilla: spread some jelly on the inside of a tortilla, top with shredded cheese and meat of your choice, and grill until melted. I did this for my habanero gold jelly and made a quesadilla with leftover rotisserie chicken and cheddar.

Heat it up and swipe it over grilled meats right at the end of cooking: Grilled fish, poultry, and red meats will all benefit. Great when making grilled fish tacos!

Quick and easy appetitizer: Top crackers or toast with goat cheese and pepper jelly. Also good with cream cheese.

Fired up? Let's make some hatch chile jelly!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Gyudon (牛丼)

Gyudon is a relative newcomer to the donburi scene. Because of the era of Nara Buddhist rule, beef was outlawed from being consumed for over a thousand years until the Meiji Restoration. In fact, all four legged creatures were illegal to slaughter for food, partly because of Buddhist beliefs, but also to protect necessary draught animals during famine.

But with the push for more Western ideas, the Meiji Restoration lifted the ban on beef and pork consumption. Even then, beef was a bit of a luxury, due to the lack of land in Japan and the need for the cattle to help with rice cultivation. After rice cultivation was mechanized in the 1950s, cattle were no longer needed and beef consumption picked up along with the price becoming more affordable for the common man.

Still, even today, Americans consume a lot more beef than Japanese. Over in Japan, it's just more expensive, usually needs to be imported, and not as traditional as fish or even pork.

Doesn't mean that they can't cook a mean piece of cow though!

Now that you are all either asleep or bored with history lessons, let's talk a little more about gyudon. Gyudon is traditionally beef and onions cooked in a salty-sweet dashi and soy stock and poured over a bowl of rice. Additions like eggs and shirataki noodles are common, as well as a garnish of pickled ginger called beni shoga. This is Japanese fast food at its best!

Gyudon is one of the best selling donburi in Japan, and in my chikuwa teriyaki donburi recipe where I talk about the donburi in general terms, I mentioned that gyudon is what put donburi establishment Yoshinoya on the map.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Roasted Shiitake "Bacon"

Funny story: As I was writing this blog post, I was munching on some delicious fresh shiitake mushrooms my mom and I just scored at the farmer's market. They smelled so good, I couldn't resist. I decided to google "shiitake" just to make sure I wasn't doing anything dumb like spelling it wrong. The wikipedia page confirmed I'm not as dumb as I think I am, and had some cool trivia on shiitakes that I enjoyed scrolling through as I happily snacked on these fragrant and earthy mushrooms.

Shiitake Dermatitis: "Consumption of raw or slightly cooked shiitake mushrooms can cause 'an erythematous, micro-papular, streaky, extremely pruriginous rash' that occurs all over the body including face and scalp, which appears about 48 hours after consumption and disappears after 10 days."

Seriously?  Spit-takes are not just for comedic effect.

Now I am beyond itchy, even though literal seconds after ingestion. Obviously it's just psychological, but I can't help but imagine I am going to be dying a horrible fiery and itchy death as I claw through my own skin.

I've got 48 hours to wonder if I am one of the unlucky ones, about 2 in 500. Apparently cooked shiitake have no itchy perils, so with this recipe you are all safe!

This roasted shiitake recipe is tasty, but I don't think it tastes like bacon, it tastes like crunchy delicious addictive amazingness. Which sounds a lot like bacon actually. I'll let you be the judge.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Umami Burger

Another Dog Days of Summer post! For my birthday, my brother took me to Umami Burger. I had heard so many good things about this chain, you might say I walked in with a simultaneously excited and jaded outlook.

You know things are never as good as the hype. Everyone told me that the original Paranormal Activity was the scariest movie ever; grown men were telling me they slept with the lights on after viewing, and I walked into that movie theater already quaking in my boots. At the curtain close, I had one word: underwhelmed. I've had Tupperware left too long in the fridge scarier than that movie. It was a classic case of where I would have thought it better if it had not been so lauded, but hype ruined my expectations.
They had an impressive list of drinks: beer, wine, cocktails

So when we went to Umami Burger in Anaheim, we were excited and hungry, but also a little bit curmudgeonly. We joked about hipster havens, and how essential exposed rafters, Japanese words, and naked light bulbs were to burgers.

We sat out on the patio, which was split and shared with the craft brewery that occupied the same building as Umami Burger. I was pleased to see a very well mannered blue pit sitting outside and vowed to bring Tiara next time, and was less pleased at the volume of noisy earsplittingly loud crying babies. We sat outside chiefly to avoid this one baby, who best be an opera singer in adulthood, cause she had lungs. Unfortunately, there were just as many outside, but at least less annoying. I had no idea it was suddenly hip to have babies.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

10,000 views and the future of Mochiland

Miss Mochi's Adventures, which seriously started in May 2012, has received over 10,000 views to date.

I felt like this should be addressed. Not only is it surprising and awesome, but I want to let everyone know how this blog is going forward. Think of it as a "State of the Blog Address."

Miss Mochi's Adventures is definitely a pet project that I am enjoying a lot. But it became clear to me that I was going to have to involve myself in the blogging process a little bit more. I will always be considered a writer first, then possibly a passable amateur cook. Photography and computer smarts are somewhat down my ability list, resting right below shoelace tying and babysitting.

To put that in perspective, my only babysitting job involved the children accidentally locking us out of the house, carrying a shoeless toddler several blocks to my parent's house, and the older child getting a migraine and vomiting spectacularly everywhere.

And my shoelaces never stay tied. My mother used to outfit me in velco sneakers for a reason. I keep telling myself that having dog paws scrambling over my sneaks all day long is the cause, but in my heart I know better.

Setting aside my other inadequacies, I've been seriously working on my photography skills. Sometimes I will delay posting a recipe because I want to wait for my day off to be able to use natural light. Most of these recipes are made around nine to midnight, but even during the day I have to bring the food outside because my kitchen is so dark. My apartment is like a cave or maybe a nice adobe house. Great for keeping the air conditioning in, but not the best for food photography.

So for my Hatch Chile Apricot Jelly recipe, I actually waited a whole week to post it because I wanted to get good light. I set my alarm on a day off. This is sacrifice, people.

So I have been posting less frequently, because I want the quality of my posts to outweigh the quantity. It also doesn't help that my oven was either dead or vacationing in an exotic locale, but it managed to pull itself together for a recent plum cake. Then, I somehow managed to bug out my camera and the pictures of bubble tea took almost a week to make it on here, saved from a corrupted doom by my dear brother.

Speaking of which, I am also working on my computer savvy brother, to help elevate this blog away from its very generic stock template. I want this blog to express my love of cooking, love of mixing cultures, and love of food. I want to have the best navigation, the best look, the best damn blog experience ever for you guys.

Most of all, I just wanted to thank everyone who takes a look! Nothing warms the cockles of my heart like a nice comment. Feel free to contact me via email at if there are any suggestions for this site, or feel free to comment below.

Bubble Tea

I cannot write a post about milk toast without a follow up on how to make its partner in crime, bubble tea. Bubble tea, also known as pearl tea or boba tea, is traditionally a frothy cold drink made with large tapioca balls at the bottom. A large straw is usually used to be able to suck up the boba tapioca balls at the bottom of the drink, which are a pleasant chewy addition to the drinks. The drinks themselves are usually variants of sweetened milk tea, such as black, green, Earl Grey, and even Thai.

That doesn't mean that you are limited to tea! Boba tea shops usually have tons of flavors: taro, honeydew, strawberry, and other fruits are all fair game. One of my favorite boba drinks at my fave high school hang was actually a sour green apple slushie with boba!

Dry boba
I'd have to say that boba tea shops are a pretty important part of growing up Asian American for a certain generation in America, a place to socialize and sip. I certainly went to a lot of them in high school! Originally Taiwanese, this class of drinks have been embraced by the Asian community and beyond here in the States.

Boba isn't exactly the fastest drink to whip up at home, but if you store the tapioca pearls in simple syrup, you can refrigerate them for a couple days. However once they lose their chewiness and get brittle, they are done for.

The tea itself is easy. You can make it from a powdered mix, or for better tea flavor, make it by mixing sweetened tea and milk. In my pictures, I have milk tea as well as Thai iced tea that is from a mix.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Dorie's Dimply Plum Cake

My mother is a big fan of the local farmer's market. Almost every Saturday she is there bright and early, usually picking up fruit and veggies with her pooch. Not only are there seasonal vegetables, but also other goods like amazing tamales and fresh bread. She even picks up her fresh honey from a vendor there.

This past Saturday, she brought home some goodies for me to experiment with! Some fresh oyster mushrooms which might appear on this blog on a later date, some peaches which were promptly devoured as is (don't leave a good peach alone with Miss Mochi), and some french plums.

French plums are also known as sugar plums or french prunes, and are the small variety of plums that are usually cooked with or dried as prunes. They are about the size of a large walnut, and are much sweeter and less tart than a regular plum.

I bit into one excitedly, still on my fresh peach rampage and thirsting for plum, and was brought up short by the lack of acidity. Tasted like a weird plum to me! My mother later texted me and asked what I was planning on cooking with the fruit.

Ahh! Cooking! Didn't even think to cook peaches or plums, seeing as I usually just eat them at once, but apparently that's what you do with these plums if they aren't your thing raw. Once cooked, I had a better appreciation for the french plum, as the cooking concentrated its sweetness and brought out the little bit of tartness they have.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hatch Chile Apricot Jelly

I've got that canning and preserving bug again. I will never understand what compels me to spend most of the day chopping and boiling fruits and veggies to get a couple jars of preserves. I think it is reading too much Laura Ingalls Wilder books. Or maybe it is the almost magic process that allows such perishable and seasonal goods such as fresh Hatch chiles to be shelf stable and able to be given away as gifts.

After all, I couldn't do just one Hatch chile recipe for the season!

I debated on how I wanted to preserve the chiles. I could pickle them, made a jelly with their juices, or make a simple jam with just the chiles. After some thought, I decided. My family and friends enjoyed the Habanero Gold preserves so much, I decided to make a Hatch Chile edition. This one will be milder without the habanero, but I made sure to get a couple hot Hatches to throw in the mix!

The very cute ball jar in the pictures are courtesy of an anonymous family member, who returned the baskets from my mother's day preserves at my mother's doorstep with a four pack of them.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Nutella Fudgesicle

I have a confession: I have never had Nutella before this popsicle. I blame my mom, she would have never let us kids have a chocolate spread as "part of a nutritious breakfast." After all, Nutella is made by Ferrero, which makes Ferrero Rocher chocolates. So I am sure, to my mother, Nutella was tantamount to slathering melted hershey kisses over toast.

Actually, now that I've tasted Nutella, it is just like that, only better.

We know that Nutella is basically a tub of spreadable candy bars, so rather than the breakfast table, let's make dessert with it!

I've seen Nutella fudge pops lurking around the web, and I wanted to make one myself. Most of the recipes called for chocolate milk and use a higher ratio of milk to Nutella, but I wanted tons of Nutella in mine, and I wasn't about to hunt down chocolate hazelnut milk. I think the more concentrated amount of Nutella made the popsicles nice and creamy. Mr. Mochi and my brother raved about the texture, which was very smooth unlike most popsicles which are icier.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

New Mexican Green Chile Enchilada

Hatch chiles are here! These New Mexican peppers, usually green, are actually the same as the Anaheim pepper found here in Southern California, but they are usually much hotter.  Hatch chiles are not actually a type of pepper, but simply named for being grown in the Hatch Valley, New Mexico. The hot days and cool nights make for a famously delicious group of chiles, but anyone in New Mexico will tell you that New Mexican peppers in general are special. Most commonly, these peppers are a couple different varieties of New Mexican green chile with names like "Big Jim," which is how farmers can sell Hatch chiles by grouping them "hot, medium, and mild." The hot ones are hotter than jalapenos! Here's a list of cultivars developed by New Mexico State University.
I had fun finding the rare red ones!

My dad's side of the family is from New Mexico, and I remember getting big batches of roasted chiles and pecans from the family. So when I saw that the chiles were arriving from New Mexico, I just had to jump on this! I wanted to make something classic New Mexican, so what better than some enchiladas with green chile sauce? Like in my dad's recipe for enchiladas, these puppies are stacked like pancakes, not rolled.

Alien tomatoes!
You can vary the heat of the enchilada by the type of New Mexican chili pepper used. I made them with the mild/medium variety and Mr. Mochi and I unanimously agreed that next time we would use the hotter ones. The cheese and the milk do a good job taming the green chile, so don't be afraid of heat. And while red peppers do pop up in bushels of peppers, I suggest using the green ones so that way the color goes with the tomatillos.

Speaking of which, this green chile sauce uses tomatillos like the Mexican chile verde, a fruit I had never used before. They are members of the nightshade family just like tomatoes, but they are actually a closer relative of the cape gooseberry, which also has a husk that covers the fruit. They are acidic and tart, and are pretty weird to me for whatever reason (husks!). You peel off the husk, wash off the sticky residue on the skin, and chop them up, no need to peel or seed them.