Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Another Jam Session in the Kitchen! ;)

Homemade Blueberry Jam, 2014 

I've been lucky with my jam making this summer: Ume plum jam (used the plums taken out from homemade ume juice), tomato jam (used home-grown oval tomatoes, Aiko) and this blueberry jam.

If you are a long-term reader of my blogs including the previous foodblog, you might remember the sunshine blue bush I was growing in a planter? I brought it with me when I moved into my parents' house and planted it in the garden. Last winter it looked sick, so I cut most of its branches. Then the bush had no flowers this spring and I thought the other blueberry wouldn't yield any fruits because it wasn't a self-pollinating kind. But for some reason (maybe someone in this neighborhood is growing blueberries), it gave me this many!

This Year's Harvest (336 g)

Yep, I kept them in the freezer, and this time I didn't wash them before freezing because I had read that it would make the skin harder. And the day before yesterday, I finished the tomato jam, so yesterday morning, I found myself cooking these berries in an enameled pot.

The jam tastes good, but seedy. I wonder if there is a seedy kind or it's the way I grow the bush...

Monday, September 22, 2014

Before Summer is Totally Gone...

Sun-dried Tomato and Cream Cheese Canape

Now, before summer of 2014 is over let me post about two more creations from my sun-dried tomato project. The project was the highlight of this summer, I would say.  :)

First, these canapes.
I soaked the semi-dried tomatoes with warm water and after they were softened, chopped them like this. Then all I did was just putting them on Ritz crackers with cream cheese and basil leaves. Yeah, you see the tiny green pieces? At first I used a whole leaf for each. But its strong flavor overpowered the sweetness of the sun-dried tomatoes. So I tore the basil leaves into small pieces and sneaked one under the cream cheese, topping it with an even smaller bit.

This simple creation was actually the best of all my attempts with dried tomatoes this summer! The combination of the tomatoes and the cream cheese was just heavenly with the refreshing kick of the sweet basil.  :D

Sun-dried Tomato and Bacon Muffins

Second, these muffins.
This was another "just okay" attempt of mine with sun-dried tomatoes. I thought the tomatoes would taste great with bacon, which was probably a right guess, but obviously I didn't use enough bacon. The muffins would have tasted much better if I diced the bacon into larger pieces and put more in each with more cheese and black pepper. After all, the muffins were rather bland.
But I ate them all in one day. :P

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sudachi Infused Liquor!

Sudachi (Citrus Sudachi)

Sudachi is a small, round citrus fruit that looks like a baby lime, except that it is a little flatter. I love to use Sudachi in place of lemon when I eat seafood, because it adds such a refreshing fragrance! :D

My family is lucky to have a sudachi tree near the graveyard. It gives us plenty of fruit every year and we never have to buy any at the store. And this year, I decided to give this a try:
Sudachi Infused Liquor

At the end of May this year, I made plum infused liquor. And I didn't know what to do with the leftover distilled liquor and rock sugar. Now this is the perfect chance to use them up.

It was not easy to pick a recipe, though. Some recipe sites says "Do not peel sudachi," others says, "Peel most of them but leave a few unpeeled," without really explaining the reason why. And some says, "Take out the rind in 2 weeks," so maybe the green rind can add a little bitterness to the drink or something??  Well, we'll see.
Here's the recipe I used this time:
Sudachi Infused Liquor
  Twelve sudachi citrus, peeled (three were unpeeled and halved)
  250 g   rock sugar
  900 mL distilled liquor (called "White liquor"in Japan)

They say it will be ready in about three months. So I should be able to enjoy the drink with hotpot dishes at the end of this year. How nice!  :D
Mmmmm... Maybe I should get some vodka and do the same to make a special drink for Christmas dinner. ;)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Love Their Colors!

Noble Scallop
Bon is a Buddhist custom in Japan and our ancestors' spirits are said to come visit us during this period. It's also a family reunion time. Supermarkets sell local specialties and party foods twice as much as usual!:)

Noble scallop is something they started selling recently at supermarkets around here in this period (though it is not exactly our local specialty!). In my neighborhood, we already celebrated this custom in July, but last night I took this opportunity to try some because my family has never tasted it before.

.... I know. Overdone. But they tasted good. :D

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Exclusively Sun-dried!

Exclusively Sun-dried Plum Tomatoes, Herbs and Blueberries

This time, it worked! I dried the tomatoes for about three days on a big rock on the beach under the summer sun. They turned out to be great semi-dried tomatoes! YAY!
Yes, these taste way better than the ones that went through three drying methods!

Don't they look lovely this way? ;) The sun-dried herbs also look nice in these packages.

Mini pizza for lunch today! :D

The mini pizza pieces were OK, but the strong taste of the cheese and the crunchiness of the crust (actually Chinese dumpling skins) sort of hid the rich flavor and the pleasant chewiness of the tomatoes. Next time I would definitely go for mozzarella or cream cheese.
Definitely. ;)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Aiko in Scones!

Dried Tomato, Herb and Cheese Scones

See what I made with the home-grown and home-dried plum tomatoes! :D

In addition to the dried tomatoes, I added dried herb (thyme and oregano) and grated cheese.
They look nice, don't they? As for the taste...  Well, this was definitely a healthy recipe. But I'm going to try a different scone recipe next time.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Dehydrating Aiko!

A Variety of Plum Tomato Named "Aiko"

"Aiko" is a girl's name in Japan, but I'm not dehydrating a girl, of course, so don't worry. ;)
I'm just going to dry these cute, oval-shaped tomatoes! Oh, they would be great with pasta and pizza!!
Originally, my plan was sun-drying them. It sounded like the best method both taste-wise and nutrition-wise. HOWEVER, when I tried it about a week ago, I had to learn in a hard way that:
a) it takes more than one day to dry these juicy tomatoes, and
b) the half-dried tomato halves rot VERY easily  :(

So this time, first I sun-dried them on the beach, then...

... tried to finish them up in the oven @ 130 degrees C for about an hour.

When came out of the oven, still they were not quite dry yet, but I didn't continue the attempt any longer, being worried about the power bill. I decided to sun-dry them again the next day, but I was again worried about what would happen to them during the hot and humid night.  So I stored them in the fridge overnight, which was ... probably one of the major mistakes I make often ...??? They looked terribly soggy in the bag this morning! :O

Would these ever dry up ???

So finally... I asked a friend of mine to let me use this modern convenience.
Now, four hours later...

Tada ~ !!

Now I have these fragrant dried tomatoes on hand. It would have cost a lot if I had bought them at the store! Some of them turned out quite dry and others a bit moister, and I cannot decide whether to store them simply in an empty air-tight jar or in olive oil... or maybe I should freeze them?

Anyway, I can't wait to use them. :) Stay tuned for my posts about pizza and pasta with home-grown herbs AND these dried tomatoes which went through all three drying methods: sun-, oven- and food-dryer drying!! YAY! :D


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