Monthly Archives: September 2010

anpan found!

while taking my walk down memory lane, i realised that i wrote one of my very first posts on the anpan — a soft, sweet bread stuffed traditionally with red bean paste.  yes, i waxed on and on about how the bread reminded of breakfast as a kid, and even tried to make the bread at home (yes, very pathetic wrapping techniques; i’ll need to wrap a 1,000 before i get it).

while strolling down ginza a few weeks back, hubs and i stumbled upon the headquarters of kimuraya (木村家), the original sakadane anpan purveyor.  they’ve been kicking around since the 1860s, even as multi-story depachikas and temples to Cartier, Bulgari and all sorts of foreign brands grew up around them. to be fair, kimuraya has expanded too.  they’re now in an 8 floor building (with a few other locations throughout Japan).  the takeaway bakery is on the first floor.  floors 2-4 house 3 separate kimuraya restaurants of varying degrees of formality.  the bread factories are located on floors 7 and 8.  we didn’t have time to explore the rest of the kimuraya complex beyond floor 1, but lemme know if anyone has and would like to report on them?

they’ve got all sorts of breads, red bean paste treats, luxury gift sets and of course many varieties of the anpan in the store.  i purchased two: one stuffed with red bean paste with the traditional navel indentation (see bagel shaped object below), and one stuffed with lotus seed paste. they were both absolutely scrumptious, so moist and so kawaii!  i didn’t know, before going to the store, that kimuraya’s anpan were quite so petite.  that’s my hand, holding a kimuraya anpan — about 3 inches in diameter.  maybe i should have gotten hubs to hold the anpan instead, so as to provide a better sense of scale.

kimuraya’s anpans keep surprisingly well.  i ate one about 1 week later, and it was still rather moist.

Ginza Kimuraya (銀座木村家)
東京都中央區銀座4丁目5番7号
4-5-7 Ginza, Chuuou-ku
Tokyo, Japan 104-0061
(above exit A9 of Ginza Station on Ginza or Hibiya line)

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happy birthday, blog!

i started flipping through my archives, and realised that tomatointribeca came into my life about 12 months ago + a few days.  happy first birthday, blog!

l’olivier throws together a pretty spectacular bouquet, don’t ya think?

apple picking, apple muffins and apple cake pudding

we went apple picking this weekend at soons orchard in new hampton, ny.  it’s about an 1.5 hour drive from downtown manhattan.  they’ve got several varieties of apples on hand whose picking availability varies from week to week.  the first few times hubs and i went, i did the whole orchard exploration thing.  walking up and down every single apple tree row, sampling the apple varieties straight from the tree from time to time.  we were fairly efficient on this occasion.  i made a beeline for the fuji apples at the back of the orchard, then picked a few golden delicious because they are great for baking, and finally topped off  my 1/2 bushel with a few red delicious (they look rather different when not schlacked in wax).  soons also has got a country store at a different site, not too far away, that sells the most amazing apple pie.  we skipped it this time around, as it was hot out and we didn’t want the pie to be sitting in the car as we ran other errands around town.

when we finally got home, i unpacked the apples and stacked them up on a half sheet tray — as it was the only container i could find in my house, large enough to hold them.  they’re still hanging out there right now.  i pick one up to crunch on every now and then, but i’m thinking that if i let them mellow out there for a while longer, i might just start getting that delicious apple fragrance that used to greet me in the vestibule of the old Bouley restaurant .  . .

the next day, i decided to whip up an apple bundt cake. i think i got a bit too carried away dropping apples into the batter, that it ended up looking a bit full.  i scooped some of the batter out, and placed it into a muffin cup.  i guess i had some foresight because that was the only part of the apple cake batter that survived intact.  my bundt cake fell apart, in a rather unrecoverable manner, as i unmolded.   hubby thinks that my baking skills are a bit rusty, having traipsed around asia for a few weeks.   my own forensic investigations lead me to believe that it fell apart because i was in too much of a rush while making it.  against my own better advice, i  tried to unmold the cake before i had let it sit in the bundt pan for 15 minutes first; and i tried to butter the bundt pan before it was completely dry (resulting in a watery buttered bundt cake).  for good measure, i probably should have floured the bundt pan as well — but i skipped that to save time.  UGH!!!

well at least the lone leftover batter muffin remained, and i ate it the next morning for breakfast.  not bad.  moist with soft apple chunks.  would definitely make it again.

now, with a ton of crumbly apple bundt cake remains on my hands, i tried to figure out a way to transform it, as i was loath to toss it.  i decided to experiment with making an apple cake pudding, so to speak, i.e. a bread pudding but made out of cake remains.

an hour of baking later, i had myself a rather generous tray of apple cake pudding.  it smelled fantastic.  i reserved two small ramekins of the stuff for hubs and i to taste. quite delicious when hot out of the oven.  hubs took the rest to work the next day, and it ended up being consumed heartily even cold. i suppose that’s a good sign and a happy ending for my apple tale.

Apple Muffins / Bundt Cake
(probably makes about 20 muffins or one 9 inch bundt cake)

Milk 2 cups
Eggs 2 large ones
Butter 2 sticks, melted
Vanilla extract 1 tsp
Flour 2 ½ cups
Sugar 1 cup
Baking powder 2 tbsp
Baking soda 1 tsp
Salt A pinch
Nutmeg 1 tsp
Oats 2 cups
Apples 4 medium sized apples, peeled, cored and cubed
Pecans ½ cup, crushed
Chocolate Chips 1 cup
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350ºF.  Flour and butter bundt pan if using, prepare muffin cups.
  2. Pour flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg in bowl of stand mixer with paddle attachment.  Mix together slowly (about 30 seconds).
  3. Pour in milk, eggs, melted butter and vanilla extract.  Whisk together until just combined.
  4. Add in Oats and continue to mix for 20 seconds.
  5. Turn off mixer.  Fold in apples, pecans and chocolate chips with a rubber spatula.
  6. Transfer into bundt pan or muffin cups.
  7. Bake muffins for 30 minutes and bundt cake for approximately 1 hour, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  8. Wait 15 minutes for bundt cake to cool in pan before unmolding to cool on rack.

Now if you’re clumsy enough like me to have the cake fall apart on you, here’s what you can do . . .

Apple Cake Pudding
(a 9×12 inch baking dish)

Eggs 2 large eggs
Egg yolks 3 yolks
Half and Half 3 cups
Sugar 1/3 cup
Vanilla extract 1 tsp
  1. Take cake remains (from above — you can probably make this with any cake remains, assuming you’ve got about 3/4 of the recipe left), spread out in baking dish and bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes.  You’re trying to crisp the edge of the cake and de-moisturize it a bit. [Most bread pudding recipes are based on using stale bread, as it absorbs the pudding better].
  2. Heat half and half in a small saucepan until it just comes to a boil.
  3. While heating, whisk together eggs, yolks and sugar in the bowl of your standmixer using the whisk attachment on lowest speed.
  4. Turn up the speed to the highest setting and pour in 1/4 up the hot milk. [We’re tempering eggs here].  Whisk for about 20 seconds. Then pour in the rest of the half and half.
  5. Pour the egg/milk mixture back into the saucepan and allow it to reduce for about 3 minutes, stirring constant.
  6. Turn off heat and pour in vanilla extract.
  7. Pour the custard you have just made into the baking dish container the toasted cake remains.  Place a few sliced apples on top (i used about 3 apples), or whatever else you fancy, dot with butter and sprinkle on some sugar.
  8. Bake the dish at 300ºF for about 1 hour.  You’re looking for the pudding to set.

kimukatsu キムカツ: thousand layered tonkatsu

pork tonkatsu, by itself, is a guilty pleasure — a piece of tenderized pork loin, breaded in panko and then deep fried and served with a fruity and caramelized tonkatsu sauce. now, kimukatsu’s rendition of pork tonkatsu, with its thin layers of pork stacked on top of your choice of garlic, scallion, ume or cheese is as  fashionista rachel zoe would say, “beyond, just so beyond, i die, i mean, i literally die.”  i kinda like to think of kimukatsu as the love child of a mille-crepe cake  pastry artist and a traditional tonkatsu chef.

so which flavor to get? i ordered the scallion flavor (in the picture above), and i quite enjoyed it.  when we sat down, our waiter recommended garlic and cheese as his favorite.  my dining companion elected for garlic — they all seemed to gulf it down before i could ask for a sample.  G, who recommended Kimukatsu to me, said he really liked ume.  i did see quite a lot of customers ordering what appeared to be sampler platters, container one of each flavor.

the mille-pork is also served with a never-ending bowl of shredded cabbage (which is delightfully refreshing when dressed with their house sesame sauce) and a bowl of japanese rice.  we got refills on the cabbage about 3 times.

what can i say?  happy eating!

Kimukatsu
[there are various kimukatsu’s in japan. i visited the one in ginza; G went to the location in Ebisu]
Ginza branch (slightly different name ゲンカツ)
東京都中央区銀座4-6-18  銀座アクトビル3F
Tel: 03-3567-1129
(near the Mitsukoshi Ginza)
approximately 2500 yen/pp for dinner

sadaharu aoki grand opening in tokyo midtown

on our last day before we departed from tokyo, hubs, K and i headed over to tokyo midtown to grab some lunch.  while wandering around looking for a place to eat in the complex’s glorious gourmet lower level, we came across, yes, hold your breath, the grand opening of sadaharu aoki’s tokyo midtown boutique.  to be fair, sadaharu always maintained a kiosk presence at tokyo midtown. on the 18th, he upgraded to a full fledged store, complete with spotless white seating and elegantly illuminated pastry counters. he has on offer the usual suspects: delicate cakes, cookies, color chocolates, tea cakes, chocolate dipped dried fruit and (not pictured) flaky green tea croissants which i had not seen at any previous sadaharu aoki location.

prices appear to be slightly higher than in paris, but that may have to do with the yen being at an all time high.

earlier in the week, i visited the sadaharu aoki counter at shinjuku isetan and picked up a lovely cassis chocolate cake. absolutely divine!  it consists of layers of thin chocolate genoise soaked in some sort of liqueur or syrup and layered with cassis mouse.  he’s got something in between that provides a bit of crunch. while my sadaharu obsessed friend G has raved endlessly about the le bambou (green tea) cake, i think i’ve become smitten with le cassis!

check-out the packaging!  my small sliver of cassis cake came wrapped with two mini-ice packs and two cardboard bumpers to keep it from moving around while in transport.  the japanese are master packagers!!!

pandas and peppercorn

i found myself on the other side of the world, reunited with Y for another wacky adventure through some remote areas in china.  we ended up  doing a fly-by tour of  inner mongolia, ningxia and sichuan. the trip was a bit of a blur, and in my  jet-lagged state, i’m kind of piecing things back together.  bear with me while i try to clear out of my dazed and confused state . . .

visiting the pandas at the chengdu panda base was by far the highlight of my trip.  i spent about 2 hours running through the reserve, ooo-ing and aahing at the cute and cuddly creatures.  couldn’t get enough of them!  for a RMB1,000 donation, a visitor could hug a one year old live panda in one’s arms and have her picture taken.  i thought about doing so long and hard; ultimately, i decided against it — a decision that i still  sorta regret. i guess i’ll have to go back one of these days.

afterwards we headed back into downtown chengdu, and ate a hot and spicy dinner at 外婆乡村菜 (roughly translates into Grandma’s Country Cooking restaurant) based on our cabbie’s recommendation.  it turned out to be a mid-scale chain restaurant with 5-6 different locations.  we ordered a few classic sichuanese dishes that were tasty — although i had to say a bit different from how my very authentic sichuan grandmother prepares them.  so, for example, my grandmother makes her 粉蒸肉 (powder steamed pork) with pork ribs and taro and without chili peppers. the version we got at the restaurant ended up stewed in chilis, minus the taro,  fashioned out of a very fatty pork belly, and accompanied with some pancakes for wrapping.  hmmm . . .

we couldn’t find an available cab after dinner, and Y and i resigned ourselves to walking back to our hotel.  on my way back, i came across a newly opened store selling sichuanese delicacies.  they had spicy beef jerky, tea smoked duck, hot sauce, and most importantly, mouth numbing sichuanese peppercorns.  you know, the kind that until recently was contraband in the US (the ban has since been lifted). [fuschia dunlop has got a whole chapter on the subject in her book Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper, which i found enjoyable].  i snagged a few bags to bring back with me, and am now toying with a recipe that incorporates the peppercorns. more hmm. . .

here’s what i did with some of the peppercorns:
sts pickled radishes

 

Grandma’s Country Cooking
外婆乡村菜(西体店)
四川省成都市金牛区西体路2号, China
+86 28 8767 0410

earl grey chocolate ganache tart

i’ve been away for a while, and now i’m back!  so much to write about with respect to my recent travels.  that said, before i left i made a earl grey chocolate ganache tart based on jacques torres recipe.  it’s one of my favorite tarts to make,  super simple and yet extremely sophisticated in taste.

i didn’t have time to write it up before my trip, and am just now getting around to it. . .

Earl Grey Chocolate Ganache Tart
(based on Jacques Torres recipes; makes 6 three inch tarts)

Tart Shell
Butter 1 stick, cold and cubed
Salt ¼ tsp
Powdered sugar ¾ cup
Egg 1 large one
Rice flour ¼ cup
Cake flour 2 cups
Lemon 1 medium sized one, zested
Ganache
Heavy cream 360g
Earl grey tea 2 tbsp
Honey 60g
Bittersweet chocolate 350g
  1. Place butter, salt, sugar, egg and rice flour in the bowl of your standmixer.  Beat until combined at medium speed with the paddle attachment.
  2. Add in cake flour and lemon zest.  Beat until a smooth dough forms.
  3. Remove the dough from the dough, form into a disc, wrap in plastic and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
  4. When ready to use, roll the dough out until it is about 1/4 inch thick.  Fit it into a mini tart ring, chill the unbaked tart shells in the freezer while waiting for the oven to heat up, and blind bake for 10 minutes at 350ºF.  Set aside to cool until ready for use.
  5. To make the ganache: pour heavy cream and honey in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Remove from heat and let the tea leaves steep in the cream.  After 30 minutes, use a mesh sieve to strain the tea from the cream.  Bring the cream to a boil again and pour over chocolate.  Continue stirring the chocolate mixture until it is smooth, shiny and lump free.   Pour the chocolate into the cooled tart shells.  Place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
  6. When cooled, the tart is ready to serve.  Garnish with some fresh fruits!