25 Mar 2016

桜の葉の塩漬け ・ Salted cherry leaves


When salted, cherry leaves develop a unique tangy aroma and taste. Salted cherry leaves are used in many Japanese sweets and meals popular in springtime. Most often they are wrapped around something quite sweet, so that the salty, sour aroma will balance out the sweetness. I've seen them on sale in Ikebukuro Tokyu Hands, so if you're visiting Tokyo. (I'm sure they are sold in many places in Japan, but that's the place I know). You can also try making them on your own too. If you'd like to celebrate this year's hanami eating sakura mochi with your own pickled leaves, that's unfortunately too late, as the leaves come after the flowers (you can pickle them too!), but be ready to pick the leaves as soon as the blossoming is over once the leaves have grown big enough but are still soft.

Happy Easter! At the moment I'm flying towards Amalfi Coast and enjoying my short vacation. Maybe I'll even glimpse some blossoming cherry trees there...


桜の葉の塩漬け ・ Sakura no ha no shiozuke


50 cherry leaves
  • preferably Oshimazakura's, but any flowering cherry tree will probably do. I've collected leaves from   random cherry trees and they've always worked. Just make sure to collect young soft leaves (with the petiole). Try to pick larger ones, they will be more versatile.)

30 ml (2 Tbsp) sea salt
60 ml (4 Tbsp) water

Boil 60 ml water and let the salt dissolve in it (all the salt might not dissolve). Let cool a little while. Rinse the leaves.

Bring plenty of water to boil, and blanch the leaves for 15-20 seconds. Immediately transfer to an ice water bath to stop cooking. Make stacks of 10-15 leaves (it's easier when done under water). Gently press each stack between your fingers to get rid of excess water. Place the stacks in a container.

When the salt water has cooled (at least to room temperature), pour it over the cherry leaves. Seal with plastic wrap by putting it directly on top of the leaves. Put a weight over them (e.g.1/2 liter water in a ziploc bag etc) and refrigerate for 2 days. After 2 days, drain and wrap in plastic, put in a Ziploc bag or container, and keep refrigerated for up to 1 year or freeze for up to 2 years.

Before using the leaves, soak in water for 10-30 minutes to remove excess saltiness. Remove the petiole if it's still firm.

Adapted from: http://recipesfortom.blogspot.fi/2013/03/sakura-no-ha-no-shiozuke-salted-cherry.html




You might want to try pickling the blossoms, too:
Salted Cherry Blossoms

Recipes to use your salted cherry leaves on:
Kanto Sakura Mochi
Sakura Domyoji (in Finnish)



20 Mar 2016

Pumpkin Potage




My love for everything pumpkin must be quite clear... Pumpkin soup might be an autumnal dish, but anyway I'm going to post it now. And actually its vibrant colour suits the spring equinox time very well :) This bright orange soup is extremely delicious, easy and quick to make: perfect for those evenings, when you're tired after work and need to eat something quick but also perfect as a starter for a weekend dinner: just steam some apple cubes (or brussels sprout leaves) and use as a garnish.

Pumpkin Potage (serves 4 as a starter, 2-3 as a light lunch)


500 g kabocha/butternut/Hokkaido squash
1 large onion
1 Tbsp butter
200 ml vegetable stock
200 ml milk
1-2 Tbsp cream
salt

optional: 1 apple, peeled and diced to small cubes (0,5 cm).

Peel and cut the squash into large chunks. Dice the onion and saute it in butter until translucent. Add the squash and vegetable stock (or half a stock cube and 200 ml water) and bring to boil. Simmer until the pumpkin is cooked. Add the milk and cream and reheat until hot. Blend until smooth. Season with salt.

Optional: Microwave the apple cubes for 1-2 minutes on a deep plate covered with a clingfilm. Use as a garnish for the soup.

Adapted from Cooking with dog.

17 Mar 2016

Tuna and Rice Salad




I've been cooking this recipe so many times for casual parties I've hosted. It's easy, filling and keeps well if made ahead (though store in fridge. Let it come to room-temperature before serving for maximum taste). It's also a great take-away lunch option. Do note that the marinade is added to the hot rice, so that it will absorb more taste.

Happy St Patrick's day! (Though this post has nothing to do with St Patrick's except maybe the green colour of the lettuce...). Will you be celebrating it? I'd really like to go to an Irish pub and drink some green beer and maybe eat a Car Bomb Cupcake (Btw, I just realized I'm wearing a green shirt... just by coincidence or subconsciously).

Tuna & Rice Salad


150 ml (~130 g) brown rice
400 ml water (or according to the package)

Marinade for the cooked rice:
2 Tbsp vinegar (I've used apple or rice vinegar)
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp vegetable oil (olive / rapeseed...)
1 onion, finely diced
salt, pepper
(dried parsley or any herb you like)

For the salad:
a small iceberg lettuce (or any leafy vegetable)
1(-2) cans tuna, in brine or oil (drained weight 140 g/can)
pickled gherkins
a bell pepper, cucumber, or any vegetables you like

Optional: cooked and halved eggs, olives, capers...

Cook the rice according to the instructions on the package. Meanwhile mix the marinade. Once the rice cooked, pour the marinade over it and stir without mashing the rice. Leave to cool under a clingfilm.

Prepare the salad: wash and shred the lettuce and arrange on a plate. Drain the tuna and dice the gherkins and the other vegetables. Once the rice is cooled down, stir in the tuna and vegetables and toss on the shredded lettuce. Decorate with halved eggs, olives etc...


13 Mar 2016

Lohikeitto - Salmon Soup


I've been meaning to make so many posts. Despite having cooked quite many dishes I wasn't able to take proper photos as it was so dark and grey the whole time. The photos for this post were taken weeks ago when it was still quite dark (I actually rushed home from work to be able to take some shots of the leftover soup from the previous day). Luckily this weekend was so sunny that I'm starting to wake up from the winter sleepiness.

Finnish Salmon Soup


1 leek or 1 onion
2-3 carrots, cut into coins
6-8 potatoes, cut into chunks
700-800 ml water
whole black peppercorns
1-2 bay leaves
250 ml milk
100 ml cream
500 g salmon, cut into 1,5-2 cm pieces
fresh dill
salt

Cut the leek or onion in small pieces. Saute in oil or butter and add carrots. Pour in water and add peppers, salt and bay leaf. Bring to boil. Add potatoes and cook about 10 minutes. Add the milk and cream and cook until the vegetables are done. Bring to boil and add the salmon and dill and take away from heat. Check the saltiness and add more if needed. Serve with bread.


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