Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Ichigo Daifuku (kind of)

So unbeknownst to my readership I have been experimenting behind closed doors. Not so long ago I was introduced to mochi. Actually the first type of mochi I tried was an ice cream daifuku, a little ball of ice cream covered in a skin of mochi. Mochi, in case you are unfamiliar, is glutinous rice cake made (traditionally) by pounding glutinous rice into a thick sticky dough. It can be flavored with all sorts of things, it can be baked, it can be filled. It is simply lovely. Well, it turns out one can make mochi at home easily enough by substituting the pounded glutinous rice with cooked, reconstituted glutinous rice flour. It may not have the same glorious light yet chewy and smooth texture of traditionally made mochi, but it also it tremendously less labor intesive. When I have a trio of strong men to pound my rice for me perhaps I shall try it that way.

Anyhow! I have been experimenting with making different mochi treats. I say "kind of" in the post title because I am actually cheating. I could not find glutinous rice flour so for the time being, until I can get to the closest Asian market, I am stuck with plain regular rice flour. No, it doesn't have the same texture, no it does not make treats quite as wonderful, but it seems to handle relatively the same, and if you do it right they still come out quite enjoyable.

So long story short I tried out making some ichigo daifuku which are mochi skins filled with whole fresh strawberries which have been surrounded in adzuki bean paste. I made some fresh bean paste just for the occasion and they came out pretty darn tasty. Wrapping the starberries in the bean paste and then covering them proved a bit tricky though, even with cold beans, so I also tried a couple with the strawberries hollowed out and the bean paste hidden inside.

As a side note, I have complained before about making bean paste and about how long it takes to cook the beans, well, this time I soaked them overnight and it cut my cooking time by what seemed like 90%! Splendid. Now the only time consuming, laborious part is straining out the skins :-P

<---Here is another picture of when I got tired of dealing with strawberries and made one just filled with bean paste. My skins are probably too fat, but for the time being I will blame it on not having the right ingredients.

Celebration Berry Crumb Cake


So I am finally done the horrendous nightmare that has been this past outage at work. No more nightshift. No more 12 hour days. No more eating every meal out of the microwave. I am supremely happy that I am done for another cycle. There has been a rather unfortunate development over the past month, however, which is that Favorite and I are no longer keepers of that which is called, The Internet. The Internet has been taken away from us for the time being and as such I only have access to my blog portal when I am at work. The most unfortunate part of this being that I can not take pictures and immediately upload them. Well, I have managed to get the pics to work to upload so here goes:

I have a recipe book called something like Light Desserts which has a ton of recipes made with fresh fruit. I figured, since it is berry season now, that this would be the best time to try one out. I showed Favorite a narrowed selection of berry recipes and he chose the crumb cake (I knew he would). The recipe was for blueberries, but based on Favorites preference in berries we decided to go with mostly blackberries with a few raspberries thrown in the mix.
The cake base was coffee cake like in density and sweetness and had some fresh lemon zest thrown in to brighten it up. The batter went in to a round cake pan followed by beautiful, fresh, fat blackberries and raspberries. On top of this went a cinnamony brown sugar crumb topping and into the oven it went. The cake came out brown and springy, the crumb golden and sweet, and the berries, hot and glorious (very, VERY, hot! I burnt my fingers a bit turning it out to cool). Favorite was about to dig in to his piece when I convinced him it wouldn't be right to eat it without a dollop of fresh, lightly sweetened whip cream and a couple of fresh berries. He managed to hold off woofing it down and he was glad he did. The blackberries were quite sweet with a good bit of tang that was tempered by the more overt sweetness of the raspberries and the crumb topping. It also went splendidly with a cup of vanilla camoro black tea. Overall I felt it was a good opening to the next couple of months of being able to bake in season. I hope I get to do a couple more of these recipes with super fresh tasty fruit.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Woe is the Baketress!

So it has been about 4 weeks since the outage has started and I have not baked a thing in what feels like forever! I am going cuckoo working the night shift. As it turns out it is a good thing I don't live in Alaska because never seeing the sun does funny things to a person. In fact, the only things I seem to see anymore are the view outside my car window as I am driving to and from work, the inside of my cubicle walls, and the backside of my eyelids. I miss my Favorite! I miss my kitties! I miss fresh hot meals and lazy weekends! Luckily, the end is in sight. More of the outage is behind me than is ahead of me. Armed with that knowledge I think I will be able to make it through.

Sorry I have no pictures to adorn this wonderful post with, but the inside of my cube isn't that great. Plus, we're not allowed cameras onsite anyway.

Hope everyone is doing well here in the Blogosphere and beyond. Feel free to keep me abreast of current events by emailing me or commenting on my post. I don't have a lot of contact with the outside world right now and updates on the state of affairs are appreciated.