What stirred Johannes Vermeer to paint his Girl with a Pearl Earring masterpiece? Why did Billy Joel compose Uptown Girl? Love. The same reason Crossroads Kitchen’s Chef Tal Ronnen took the vegan path and is now the maestro of exquisite plant-based cuisine. Wanting to impress a cute vegan girl in high school, young Chef Tal traded his steaks in for soybeans. His infatuation may not have turned into marriage. However, Chef Tal’s flair for turning veggies into haute cuisine certainly caught the eye of Oprah. (America’s beloved chat show host.) And no wonder. At Crossroads Kitchen, a cheese board with vegan Boursin and Brie served with dense nutty raisin bread had this writer swooning.
Japanese matcha and miso are au courant. Suddenly, Bon Appétit and countless gourmet sites are touting the Japanese green tea and fermented soybeans. Growing up in Japan, matcha tea powder and miso soybean paste are staples in the kitchen of this Ninja Baker. Why fickle fame has spotlighted the Japanese staples now is a mystery. What is certain is the umami of miso and the subtle notes of matcha are now available to American audiences. With Japan’s ancient miso paste and matcha tea’s rise to fame, you can grab the items at your local American supermarket.
What tricks were used to cajole you into eating carrots as a child? As children, my sister and I traveled from Tokyo to Spain. Our superstar tennis mom was playing in a tournament. (As was Arthur Ashe who I was lucky enough to meet!) Mom needed to practice to win the big purse. So, my sister, Karen, took charge of meals and other caretaking duties. At one dinner, Karen promised me that if I ate all the carrots off my salad, my straight hair would turn curly overnight. AND I could have dessert. Such a deal! The carrots disappeared quickly…as did the dessert.
Next morning, I uncharacteristically jumped out of bed. My heart sang a joyous pitter-patter.
“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”
~Winston Churchill (former English Prime Minister)
If one believes the wisdom of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Japan is flawless! Every trip back to my hometown of Tokyo reveals revolutionary change. It’s an odd feeling to be gazing at futuristic architecture. Yet, sensing the familiarity of the surroundings in my bones. Has this ever happened to you?
Japanese temples, shrines and palaces, however, seem to be permanent fixtures. Ditto to the attitude about fruit. Particularly Japanese melons. Forever the fancy Japanese melons have been fancied and expensive! The melons also figure into corporate and family budgets as reciprocation for generous favors.
Celebrating Dads on Father’s Day is as American as Apple Pie…Or Apple Crisp. I figure my apple crisp is the 2016 version of the classic pie. Sugar seems to be a dirty word today. Especially in Southern California where I live. So, my apple crisp is created with organic Fuji apples, organic oats, Japanese yuzu citrus juice, a bit of brown sugar and spelt flour. Surprisingly, this Oreo-loving Ninja didn’t miss the white sugar. The sweet crunch of the crumble mingles with the tart apples and is yummy! Fuji apples are usually honey like on their own. However, the Japanese yuzu citrus juice adds a delightful sour accent.
Ninja Note 1: If you prefer an American Apple Pie taste, substitute lemons for the Japanese yuzu.
Ninja Note 2: If less sugar is to your liking, Japanese yuzu juice is available online and at most Asian markets.
My own father lives in Florida, is 93 and is not so prejudiced against sweet stuff.
A touch of elegance, a taste of Europe is yours with a cup of coffee. Caffe Luxxe serves exquisite organic espressos and cappuccinos that will make you forget about coffee chain stores forever. Nestled between fashionable boutiques and high-end furniture stores, you’ll find the brainchild of marketing mavens Gary Chau and Mark Wain. Each cup of Caffe Luxxe coffee is made to order ... 観光でカリフォルニアを訪れた方やロサンゼルスにお住いの方。忙しい毎日の中で、素晴らしいCaffe Luxxeでリラックスしてみませんか。カリフォルニア産の無農薬のコーヒー豆を北イタリアの技法によって焙煎することによってチョコレートやキャラメルの風味が味わえるコーヒーを提供しています。イタリアの影響のみではなくフランスの文化も取り入れて、無農薬の材料から作ったクロワッサンとマカロンも販売しています。この店では高質、高級なものをお客様に提供しております。オーナー、ゲリー・チャウ氏とマーク・ウエイン氏は皆様に最高のコーヒーを提供するために、コスタリカやイタリアを訪れ、修行を積んでおられます。
A package arrives addressed to the Ninja Baker. Inside the box a sliver of silver gleams. Digging through the plastic peanuts, I discover Dorothy: A bundt pan so named by The Peoplehood of the Traveling Swirly Pan. A ruby journal (Toto) dutifully leans against Dorothy. And appropriately a spatula with the red shoes is revealed. Love this brainchild project of Pastry Chef Online, Jenni Fields. She’s recruited a community of bakers from around the world. We bake a bundt in the Dorothy pan and share bits of our heart in the Toto journal. After the experience – hopefully wiser and happier - we send the pan and journal to the next baker so that eventually Dorothy will make her way back home.
So, I look for inspiration and land upon the idea of a gluten-free yellow brick road bundt cake. Topped with my magical Emerald City matcha sugar sprinkles. For the batter, vegan butter as sweet as Dorothy and as golden yellow as the brick road is beat to fluffy perfection. I pour in 2 bags of gluten-free yellow cake mix. 4 eggs are beaten in one at a time. Next a stream of French vanilla coconut milk creamer and vanilla extract are stirred in.
The Idaho russet potato is a tried and true American classic. From the most momentous to mundane moments, the spuds faithfully deliver flavor. Idaho russets dutifully report to the kitchen and are whipped, baked and mashed into deliciousness. Do you have a potato recipe that is a family favorite? Please share!
My husband’s mom was an excellent cook, baker and mother. (Think freshly baked pies every Friday.) David (my husband) was skeptical at first of stretching the boundaries beyond traditional American potato recipes. However, I’m now getting requests on an almost daily basis to add Japanese pizzazz to an Idaho russet. The ingredients are easily attainable, easy to make…and well, a fantastic way to enjoy the joys of both Japanese and American cuisine! Want to take a peek at the how-tos?
It’s A Small World. Gone are the days of the static-filled conversation over the phone. Friends, family in remote reaches of the world now connect clearly with Skype and FaceTime. It’s a Small World that provides great opportunity to expand perspectives. I’m on Skype at least twice a week peeking into the homes of my friends in Japan. While collecting recipes for scones and other scrumptious items on the Internet, I peek into the kitchens of bakers all over the planet. Including one of the grande dames of the Australian blogosphere, Maureen of OrgasmicChef. Reading her blog, I get glimpses of life in Australia and glimpse the grand heart of Maureen…who kindly expressed interest in seeing what’s #InMyKitchen. Want to take a peek, too?
The gluten-free goodies in this post were generously provided by Glutino.
“Some people will tell you there is a great deal of poetry and fine sentiment in a chest of tea.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson, Letters and Social Aims
Ancient Japanese poetry master, Issa thought matcha was so important that he wrote several haiku about green tea. Here’s a favorite:
The tea smoke
and the willow
Teas, whether Japanese matcha or English breakfast, evoke an air of sophisticated simplicity. Tea seems to create space. A cuppa, as the English say, promotes permission...