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Friday, October 25, 2013

Tonkatsu Karē Donburi (トンカツカレー丼)

I seriously cannot believe that I haven't blogged about this recipe before. I've talked about it numerous times, so I have no clue why I haven't shared this recipe with you yet.

Actually, scratch that. I know exactly why I haven't: I hate frying.

I hate frying because I am great at creating epic messes when I cook. My dog hovers outside the kitchen hoping something will drop, and Mr. Mochi usually retreats a safe distance to avoid the Willy Wonka atmosphere I tend to create, complete with weird noises and puffs of smoke and flour.

So when you throw in hot oil and breadcrumbs, I basically destroy my kitchen.

Eggshells in the sink. Flour on my shirt. The dog bursting forth into the kitchen and frantically licking up breading that was flung off into space. Even the bowls for mise-en-place when I'm not frying end up stacked hap-hazardously on all counters like the tea cups of Alice in Wonderland. 

I am a world-class culinary mess maker. A lot of people tend to downplay their faults, strive to make their lives seem perfect from the outside. I can tell you that most food bloggers don't start their posts by telling their readers their faults.

Whatever. I can't pretend that I'm anything more than chaos and entropy, blonde hair and boobs. I don't even know how anyone puts up with me.

Don't fret, I'm sure you will manage to cook this without any of the daikaiju wasteland side-effects. It's actually a really simple recipe with only a handful of ingredients, and shallow frying makes the tonkatsu a breeze to prepare. And if I'm in good company and you're a fellow Godzilla of the kitchen, one bite of this will convince your own Mr. Mochi to help you clean up.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Matcha Shortbread Cookies

I was a weird little kid. I loved all sorts of sour or bitter things, like kumquats and coffee. I definitely still loved sweet things, but even then my favorite candies would be the sour ones like warheads or sour patch kids. The waitresses used to think I was very strange to order coffee (decaf of course) and drink it just like my dad with cream and sugar.

This is all funny, because I didn't immediately love green tea, which has definitely eclipsed coffee in my book. It wasn't until I was probably around ten years old that I really appreciated green tea.

I love the popped rice in genmaicha!
I love pretty much all green tea, from toasty-roasty hojicha to mellow and sweet genmaicha. I love a hot cup of tea with a rowdy group of friends at Honda-ya, and I also love it curled up with a good book on a night in.

Of course, I also love to cook with it.

Most recipes you see that say "green tea this-or-that" are made with matcha. Matcha is made by taking the finest tea leaves that are grown in the shade and then drying and grinding them into a powder. It is much sweeter than normal green tea, and is a beautiful vibrant shade of green. Traditionally it is used primarily for tea ceremony, but nowadays I happen to think more people make sweets and baked good with it than actually drinking it with hot water.

This recipe is no exception, I borrow the sweet and bitter taste of matcha along with its gorgeous color. I also use genmaicha as a decorative garnish, and the roasted grains of rice add a pleasant crunch.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Slow Cooker Lemon Chicken

If you follow me on Pinterest, you might have come to the conclusion that recently I've become obsessed with slow cooker recipes. There's so many recipes on Pinterest for slow cookers, but until my birthday I didn't have one. So now that I have one, I must admit I'm obsessed.

Mr. Mochi got me a very colorful Crock-Pot for my birthday, and I must say he did a great job. Everyone who has seen the slow cooker says that it is definitely a perfect fit to my tastes. I love bright colors and it goes well with my kitchen.

After unwrapping, I immediately demanded that my mother hand over her recipe for lemon chicken. She even surprised me and picked me up some chicken thighs from Sprouts to get me started.

I'm not a huge meat fan. In fact, I've never even cooked chicken in this apartment we've been in for going on 3 years. I'm the type that likes popcorn chicken because there's little to no chicken in it. Crazy, I know. If Mr. Mochi is craving chicken, he is in charge of picking up a rotisserie chicken from the market or heading out to eat for wings.

I love it! The only crock-pot with orange hehe!
But this chicken is delicious. The chicken is slow cooked until it is almost shred-able, and the sauce is made for spooning over rice. It tastes like cheap take-out Chinese. And I mean that in the best way possible. Definitely not authentic, but has that comfortable sticky sweet-and-sour combination that is so crave-able!

This recipe is a little more work than some slow cooker recipes, where you literally just dump ingredients in a slow cooker, but the little bit of extra prep really makes the chicken better.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Baked Brie with Figs

Certain foods can take your brain on a trip down memory lane. Your grandmother's chocolate chip cookies, your mom's pot roast, everyone has some meal that triggers a happy nostalgic time in your life.

A lot of my happy nostalgic foods are straight from the earth. My grandparents have always had a garden filled with fresh veggies: sweet peas and their beautiful flowers, giant heirloom tomatoes, and peppery radishes with dirt still clinging to the roots. My parents have citrus, avocados, and even cherimoyas hanging from trees throughout the year. Biting into a fresh summer peach, still warm from the sun as it ripened on the tree, takes me back to running around in my parent's orchard where my brother and I used to throw oranges that had been knocked down by the Santa Ana winds at each other.

One fruit that I almost never eat nowadays is figs. They have a short season, don't ripen well off the tree, spoil relatively easy, and I work on the weekends which makes the local farmer's market off-limits. So when I visited my grandparent's house, it was a delight to have a bag full of ridiculously ripe figs to enjoy. My grandmother has a fig tree in her front yard for as long as I could remember, but as a kid I was wary of figs. They were weird, in my youthful opinion, too many contrasting textures and too honey-sweet. I liked sour plums and zesty kumquats; I was one of those weird kids that liked grapefruit with no brown sugar or broiling needed.

It's a funny thing, to take a bite of this dish and wax nostalgic about a fruit you didn't like as a kid.

One thing I can confidently say is that I have always liked brie, rind and all.