died in the wool ______

To have no set purpose in one's life is the harlotry of the will -Stephen Mackenna-

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

experiments in the kitchen

Last couple of weeks I've been trying a few different things in the kitchen.

A couple of winters ago, I found this great gingerbread layer cake recipe. It has a cream cheese frosting and calls for candied kumquats.

Kumquats are actaually a specialty fruit of Miyazaki, perhaps not suprisingly. Still, I thought that it would be way too sweet the first few times I made this cake and I was right.

This time however, my roommate's mother sent him, among many other things, some yuzu. They were simply going to waste so I decided to make yuzu-cha out of it. It was not being used, so I decided to use it as a substitute for the cake. I used the liquid instead of sugar in the frosting, and the rind to decorate the cake.

The liquid would have been much mores suited in the cake batter, as it gave the cream cheese frosting a more strong cream cheese-y flavor.

Somewhat unsatisfied with the cream cheese frosting I decided to try and make a buttercream frosting instead. In addition to the base gingerbread cake, I decided to try using the interesting ganache from this recipe as all of the 'exotic' ingredients were Japanese (wasabi, ginger, black sesame). Unfortunately the recipe is not very clear about when to add what, and I added the sugar to the egg whites right off the bat before I could boil it. I tried really hard to make something out the very large amount of butter/sugar/eggwhite mess that I had. I cut some of the butter into the cake to replace the oil and the sugar. but still had a really large amount. I used whip cream to cover the rest of the cake with a little bit of ginger in it, but it was way too thin to go with this.The ginger cake and the ganache were good though, although I will use baking chocolate next time as the chocolate seperated a little.

To use up the remaining mess, I found a cookie recipe that used up almost exactly all of the remaining ingredients. I added some cocoa and some flour to the mix. The baked cookies were very soft, but certainly didn't taste bad, and was way better than throwing it away.

In the savory department, I decided to make some minnestrone. Again my roommate had a bunch of left over vegetables (hakusai, carrots, gobo, red pepper), and the grocer down the hill had some mikirihin celery for cheap. I used black beans for the texture, and it really was delicious. My father used to make bread and soup on the weekends, and this very much reminded me of that.

And speaking of bread, I also made calzone. I used the olive oil residue oil from this Spanish Tortilla recipe for the dough. It still had an onion/potato flavoring in the oil which worked great in the dough. For filling I used Japanese eggplant and a mushroom called yamabushidake along with some basil, pepper, and gouda melting cheese. These were great, but need red sauce for the large amount of dough there is. I also think that putting olives in the dough would be nice too. I found it important to wrap the dough around the filling as tightly as possible so as to not have huge hunks of bland dough to eat.


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