Friday, January 9, 2009

Japanese Souvenirs

When you go to pick up someone at the airport, you can usually figure out where arriving people are from by looking at the gift shop bags of the airport. When I used to work at Detroit airport, our team used to check the passengers group by looking at those bags. This one on the photo is the bag from Tokyo Narita Aiport which my cousin Mon-chan brought.

Inside the bag was filled with yummy stuff!

These are ramen noodles produced by famous ramen shops in Japan. Inside the boxes are uncooked soft noodles and soup.

Mon-chan couple and we ate one of them together with lots of vegetables, and after Mon-chan left, Aibo-kun and I ate the other box. Both of then were so tasty and we enjoyed them more than eating at any ramen restaurants in LA.

Ramen is so popular in Japan that whenever we go back, it is on our "must eat in Japan" list.

The next one in a red wrapping is spicy cod roe. We usually enjoy them with freshly cooked write rice, but Aibo-kun's favorite way to eat them is with "kuri-gohan", so I cooked some and enjoyed them together. This was a very good quality one that I was very very satisfied!

The sweets was special, too.
As soon as seeing the round packages, I was soooo excited! This is one of the most famous and most difficult caramel candies to get in Japan right now. They are produced by a famous Japanese comedian who owns his own farm in Hokkaido (northern Japan), and even you are in Japan, most people have hard time getting them.

Mon-chan ordered them on-line and the moment you put one in your mouth, it melts on your tongue. The photo is the chocolate flavor one, and we also got to taste the original one. Personally, I like the original one better.

Then the main gift really made me excited! It is a egg pan made with copper. I always wanted one, and when Mon-chan and I went shopping together in Tokyo last spring, I almost bought one, but didn't, and really regreted that I didn't get it. Mon-chan wanted to try using it, so we cooked two eggs, and voila! It turned out beautifully.

For sure, I will cook eggs more often then ever.

Thank you Mon-chan!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Received from Japan!

My blogger friend iikayo-chan sent me a gift package from Japan. She sent it so I can open it before Christmas, but for some reason, the package got lost and my previous landlord called me and said "I have a package for you" on the New Years Eve. I guess I was lucky to receive it because the package was almost sent back to Japan!
Anyways, iikayo-chan is a friend whom I met through the Japanese blog, and she and her husband has a photography business in Japan. They have a very good taste and I like their work style as well. This is their business URL.

Opening a cafe at home is easier in Japan than in the USA (which actually is one of my dreams for the future, too!), so they are planning to open one this year, and she sent me two kinds of organic tea they may use at their future cafe.

Darjeeling had a very fresh straightforward taste without any additives, and I liked it a lot. The tea bag one had a nice flavor, too. You can tell that both of them are very high quality teas.

Then the pretty traditional Japanese candies made me smile!

The leaf shaped one is made from a traditional special sugar called "wasanbon", and since you are tasting the sugar itself, the quality of "wasanbon" is very important. This one is very delicate and has a good aftertaste.

The other sweet is called "konpeitou". You can find all kinds and colors of "konpeitou" in Japan, but it is quite difficult to find a high quality ones because "konpeitou"'s taste also depends on the quality of the sugar.

Iikayo-chan ordered them from her favorite sweets shop in Kyoto City which is the most popular site seeing place in Japan because of its old temples and atmosphere.

Being apart from home, it is always nice to taste and feel Japanese things in the USA, and that is because my sweet family and friends always care about me. Thank you a lot!

Monday, January 5, 2009

A Happy New Year!

A Happy New Year to everyone!!!!

I hope everyone had a nice and peaceful holiday.

For us, my very close cousin "Mon-chan" who is like a sister to me and her husband visited us from Japan for a week during the new years holiday, so we spent a Japanese style new years eve and a new years day. This was very special for me because the New Years eve and day are important family holidays just like Christmas is in the USA. Aibo-kun and I used to visit Japan around this time of the year, but since I went back in spring, we've decided to stay in LA this time.

Since the New Years Eve was a pretty cold day, we decided to stay home, cook warm dinner, and watch this Japanese music show called "Kouhaku Utagassen" which most Japanese people watch on TV right before the new year's countdown.

LA has such a large population of Japanese people that we can watch this show on a local channel! My friends in Michigan wish if they could have it, too. It is a pretty big deal.

Another tradition is to eat "Soba" noodle (buckwheat noodle) before the countdown, so during the show, Mon-chan and I cooked some and tried to finish eating before the "Happy New Year!!!"

We woke up late on the New Years Day, and I prepared a simple small New Years dish setting using the plant in our yard. I used to cook the whole new years dish when I lived in Japan and would love to make them here, too, but we were just too busy this year. Maybe next year.

Then the main course was a soup bowl with mochi (rice cake). Mon-chan and I made the soup from the leftover crab from the night before, and it made a really good broth! Right before putting the mochi into the soup, we cooked the mochi just until they puffed up.

Surprisingly, we were still not full, so cooked some more mochi and this time, ate with a drop of soy sauce and nori.

The mochi I bought this year was organic brown rice mochi from an organic Japanese supermarket, and this was a big hit!

Then came the dessert time♪

Mon-chan brought this cute Japanese sweets just like fortune cookies made for the new years, so four of us broke a few pieaces each.

Mine were "Procrastination is the thief of time.", and "Better now than later", so I guess I should be more active this year!

It was a very peaceful new years with lots of laughter, and hope that this happiness will continue throughout the year 2009, not only for me, but for everyone!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Friend's great Christmas Party

My very good friend Nadia held a great Christmas Party at her home over the weekend, and she wanted me to bring the rectangle cheesecake after she saw one in this blog, so I've decided to decorate it with the marshmalllow snowman.

I also baked my recent favorate, a chocolate pecan pie. Both of them are my favorites.

The holiday season traffic was pretty heavy, but we finally got there and as I walked into the house, the main table was filled with great looking tasty food!

The first ones came into my sight were beautiful main dishes, ham and salmon.

Then follows other good looking side dishes such as salads, special rice, and bite size quiches.

Chicken and sauces were great, and the whole table just looked so beautiful!

I was so proud of Nadia.

Another thing I really liked with this party was that the idea of the cool drink bar. So many different drinks with cute ice container with fresh cranberries.

Each glass had a real leaf with a ribbon so the guests could write their name with a sharpie to identify each other's glasses.

I would love to use this idea if I have my own party in the future! :)

There were about forty people at the party and everyone was having great time with great food and decoration. Kids were having fun, too.

For myself, I was really glad to see people enjoying my cakes because making people smile with my sweets make me happy!

Celebrating holidays with great friends is always enjoyable and precious. Cheers to a great party!

Happy holidays to everyone, and have a great rest of the year 2008!!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Decoration Class

Holiday seasons!

This time, I taught how to decorate cupcakes and cookies with Christmas theme. We made two kinds of cupcakes, and decorated two kinds of cookies.

The flavors of the cupcakes were vanilla lemon and carrot cake. Both baked very well.

There weren't enough time to bake cookies in class, so I baked vanilla and gingerbread cookies the night before and took them to the class for decoration.

Since this was everyone's first time to decorate cookies and cupcakes, it took more time than I planned, but many of them turned out very cute, and the class was very fun.

The cream cheese frosting with the carrot cake tasted very good, and the cookies were so cute!!!

This would be a good class to have in different seasons with different themes, so I would love to held more of them in the future.

Happy holidays!!

Company Christmas Party

Aibo-kun's company Christmas Party was held over the weekend, so we attended the party for the second time. When we attended the last year's party, it was right after I moved to CA and didn't know anyone, but this time, I could see a few people I know, so it was more relaxing and fun.

Here are the photos of the dinner served.

Blue cheese and pear salad. Since Aibo-kun cannot eat cheese, he got the one without cheese. (Thanks to the server!)

The main course was beef and white fish. The beef was cooked with red wine sauce, and the white fish was served with beurre blanc sauce. Accompanied with potatos, mini suqash, and other vegetables.

Dessert was key lime pie with coffee or tea.

The party was very simple, but it was nice to talk with other people, and have a holiday photo taken by the professionals.

Because of the slow economy, many companies have stopped having holiday parties, but I hope things will get better so people can share a happy time together again.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Appetizer & Hordorve Lesson

There was a request for fancy looking appetizers and Hordorves lesson for home parties, so I taught two kinds of terrines, a Vegetable Consomme one, and a salmon one.

We used fresh vegetables from a farmer's market. With the vegetable terrine, we made a dressing using citrus vinegar and maple syrup. This terrine holds together with gelatine cooled in a refrigerator.
With the salmon terrine, we made yougurt dill creamy dressing which also would go well with the vegetable terrine. This one was cooked in a water bath in the oven. Both of them were done right on time, so I was really relieved when we could try some after the class. Usually terrines taste better after sitting at least for over night.

While we waited for both terrines to be done, we made three kinds of hordorves.

The first one is buckwheat mini pancake topped with smoked salmon and creme fraiche. Creme fraiche is something similar to sour cream, but is lower in acidity and higher in fat. It is a common cream used in Europe.

The next one is America's favorite, "Deviled Egg". The name comes from "strong, spicy taste". In order to add the hot flavor, we used tabasco this time. The red color on the top is the sprinkles of powdered paprika.

The last one is mushroom tapanade. Sauteed mushrooms with different herbs, ground and spread over miniature toast. This one has a really good flavor, and it sure will become a nice accompaniment to wines.
All of these will be a popular starters for your holiday season parties!!