Chickpea velouté

Every time I receive a parcel from my parents from France, there is inevitably some of my favorite staples in it. Chickpeas and chickpea flour are part of them. They are made by an acquaintance and I love cooking with them. So yesterday I decided to cook a big batch of chickpeas and I used most them in raggu with other vegetables etc… but I ended up with about two handfuls remaining and it was lunch time… and it was a bit of a chilly wind outside, I have had a long walk so wanted something warming… it would be soup. While minestrone with chickpeas is quite common in Italy, I opted for a version where the chickpeas are blended to obtain a creamy consistency. I added an hard boiled egg on top may be because I wanted one but it is totally optional.

Want to try my recipe of the chickpeas velouté? Here it is!!!

Chickpeas velouté (1 serving)

  • Two handful of boiled chickpeas
  • Water
  • 1tbsp of olive oil
  • Cumin powdered
  • Paprika
  • Turmeric
  • Black pepper grounded

In the bowl of your blender put the chickpeas, 1 glass of water and 1tbs of olive oil. Blend. If it is too thick add a bit more water. Add the spices and blend again. Move to a pan and heat slowly. Serve and enjoy!

I am sure you could add cream and other things to make the soup richer and silkier, but I like simple things and I prefer olive oil rather than cream… so that’s my way of doing it!

Fresh ginger

Just after myoga, fresh ginger season is starting. Both plants may look very similar, but in ginger we eat the root mainly. Unfortunately we don’t have ginger growing in our garden yet, so I usually buy fresh ginger at the farmers market. I’m big fan of candied ginger, and prepared some sometimes, but so far I didn’t get time. Work has been really busy, and everyday is full from morning to evening, if not with work, with surfing, gardening and trying to get familiar with Pistache. Progresses in any of the above are really slow: I’m getting better at spinning but it’s not quite yet very nice… the new garden soil is slowly shaping up, very slowly… and the cat… hum she’s around a lot but it is still too early to get anywhere close…

Pistache

All that to say that I didn’t make candied ginger, but instead used the fragrant roots for honey drinks, and for a delicious brioche. The drinks are easy, I just peel and slice thinly the root. Add a tablespoon of honey and top with hot water. For the brioche, the recipe is below.

Hot ginger

Ginger and lemon brioche

  • 400g of flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 100g of butter
  • 50g of brown sugar
  • 100g of fresh sourdough
  • 1 root of fresh ginger grated with its juice too or ginger powder
  • The zest and juice of one lemon or lemon extract

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and knead until smooth and soft. Leave for as much as it needs to grow. That will depends on the room temperature. Once the sourdough has clearly worked, flatten the dough, wait 15min and shape (I used a cake dish). Leave for another 1h or 2 before baking at 200deg for 40min or until golden.

Breakfast with the ginger and lemon brioche

Peanuts…

It may seem strange but peanuts grow quite easily in Japan and peanuts from Chiba are among the most famous. Peanuts in Japanese is called rakkasei 落花生, which literally means the falling flower’s life or something of the kind… because peanuts are a very intriguing plant indeed! It looks like a low pea, with nice flowers, which then stem underground, where the peanuts actually grow. My curiosity, the fact that they are local so normally adequate for the weather, and that I am slightly better at growing underground things than overground, peanuts were definitely on my list of things to grow. I did a first attempt in 2019, more or less successful, and tried again this year, more successfully. I harvested a little basket of fresh raw peanuts.

After debating about what to do with them… we usually don’t eat peanuts… I decided I would simply boil them… simple enough and actually really super delicious. So here is my recipe.

Salted boiled peanuts

  • Fresh raw peanuts
  • Salt
  • Water

Remove all the soil and dirt of the peanuts. I gently washed them while shaking them. Then I let them rest overnight in water, and rince again. But if yours are clean enough just go ahead.

In a pan set the peanuts, cover with ample water, add one tea spoon of salt and set to a boil. When it boils cover and let cook for 3-4 hours a low heat, checking once in a while that there is still water. And that it! Let cool and start eating!

I kept them refrigerated, but they were gone in a few days!!!

The disappointing fruit: akebi

Every day brings surprises, those you’ve worked hard for, those you were dreaming of and those that the cherry on the top, but also its share of disappointments. For example, after almost 3 years since our stray cat Holly disappeared and the little Ephy very brief passage, what a surprise to see that stray cats are back and we have three coming now. They are very shy and still scared of us, but one now arrives when hearing us parking home for the weekend and waits to be fed… It took us 6 months to be able to approach and touch Pablo, so I am expecting not less for these ones too… though Pablo was more interested by company than food… time will tell us…

Other surprises are often in the small things of daily routine… and when the other day at a local products store I found a fruit I never saw before but knew about and immediately identified; akebi あけび, chocolate vine. I couldn’t help remembering Little Forest when they put so much efforts in trying to harvest akebi and then delightfully eat them (watch here!!)… so I grabbed the bag of fruits and went to the cashier, and back to A. who was waiting outside, so proud of my finding!!!

It was the first time ever to see akebi for real, so I did my homework and studied how to eat it and possibly cook it. I also searched a bit why it is bot so common in Chiba… then opened the first fruit. the skin was not too thick and the inside less white than I imagined it would. And the first fruit was really tedious to eat, so tedious that A. said he would not eat a second akebi in his life ever!!!!! I persisted and became more fluent at eating them, but the promised sweetness etc… was definitely not here. So over all it is a huge disappointing experience.

Recipe book also said that the skin is good in tempura, but looking at the one of my fruits, I lost confidence and decided I wouldn’t try further…

So overall, akebi is a beautiful fruit, but not as delicious I expected it would be, so either the fruits from Chiba are very much less good than those from Yamagata, or Someone is lying about akebi deliciousness!!!

In any case have a very good weekend!!!!

Cruising in the kitchen

Not that I have been more busy than usual, nor that I have less inspiration these days… but I’ve been cruising in the kitchen… probably because of the season sudden change and this in between moment when you don’t want to shit to the new seasonal staples too quick, but yet you have explored enough with the past season ones… eggplants, okras and cucumbers are slowly making way to pumpkins, carrots and lotus roots.

And by cruising I mean Saturday ravioli, Sunday quiche, Monday chocolate cream, Wednesday steam buns etc… etc… hopefully Sunday was rainy, so after a nice bodyboarding session in a rough ocean I spent the afternoon browsing some of my very old cookbooks that were left in Paris 20years ago, and that I just received with our cargo…

The Reboul, a must for Provencal cooking, the first edition dating back to the 19th century, that I have been using to check basic recipes when my grandmother or mother were not available… I read it with a new eye and learned many many things!

Les recettes faciles, also plenty of basic ressources that help a lot for remembering how to make a good roux, or a creamy sauce… it’s nice to go back to the basics again once in a while.

Les recettes de la table franc-comtoise is probably the most alien to me. It was a gift from A. grand mother who was from Franche-Comte, a place in France I have never stepped foot, and where cooking is based on cream… but there are some great recipes and inspirations to gather from there too and the food A. grand mother would prepare for us!

In the meantime, Japanese seasonal cooking has never been more attractive to me and I have been thinking about how to level up… while I don’t feel like going to in-person cooking class yet, I still think about Shojin cuisine…

I tested new ways of using Koyadofu, I mean new may not be the right word, but at least without any cookbook nor guidelines and made this soya sauce based stew of vegetables and koyadofu that was just a hit! The recipe yet needs a bit of polishing before I can share it with you.

The other big hit this week was my classic persimmon and cucumber tofuae. A. often complains about all these persimmons we have in our garden… and doesn’t seem too happy when I serve one for dessert, but with the less ripe ones when I make this simple dish I learned at my Chakaiseki classes, he surprisingly always asks for more!!!

I’m hopping to be able to share a few new recipes in the coming days/weeks and in the meantime I’ll continue to cruise in the kitchen with all the classic recipes and the new ones that’ll pop in my head!

See you soon!

Autumn ravioli

Last Friday a strong windy typhoon passed nearby, and we had a few things to fix in the garden Saturday when we went on our usual inspection. The wind chopped a palm tree in two, many dried branches felt and a bit of cleaning was more than necessary. While doing so, A. found a few chestnuts fallen from our tree that animals haven’t had time to touch yet. A few meaning exactly 5.

But that was perfect. With the butternut squash I had and the dried porcini I just bought at an Italian grocery store newly found in Tokyo, dinner was all decided. It would be ravioli. And that came to a more satisfying recipe for A. when I told him I could use some local sausages too. We were so hungry and happy with ravioli for dinner that I didn’t even take 1min to take a picture!!! The only I had taken was the ravioli before cooking them.

So here is my recipe, simple as usual and very very tasty! I opted for super jumbo ravioli to enjoy the filling, but you can make smaller ones too.

Autumn ravioli (2 servings)

  • Same as usual for the pasta: 100g of flour, 1 egg, water
  • 5 chestnuts
  • 200g of raw pumpkin, butternut squash…
  • Dry of fresh porcini (10 pieces dry, 2 mushrooms fresh)
  • optional: fresh sausage (I use local sausage)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Start by boiling the chestnuts. While they gently do, prepare the dough for the pasta, and let it rest while you prepare the rest. Which is to peel and chop the butternut and boil it with very little water or best steam it, until soft. Return the dry porcini in tepid water, or if you use fresh ones, wash and slice them. By then the chestnuts should be ready, and after cooling down a bit peel them. If you use sausage, remove the skin if the sausage. Then in a pan mix together he butternut, the chestnuts chopped, the sausage, salt and pepper, cook at low heat while stirring, mashing to obtain a rather puréed filling.

Roll your dough, and make the ravioli.

Boil enough water for the ravioli (if you used dried porcini add the water used to returning them in there too). In the meantime in a large pan sautéed in olive oil the porcini, add salt and pepper. Boil the ravioli and add to the pan. Stir gently and serve in the plates for immediate enjoyment!!!! Et voila!!!

Myoga!!!

This little wild flower bud is really too delicious and its distinctive flavor quite unique. As you know, from all previous posts, I love it!!!

We are lucky to have some growing wildly in the garden, and it’s quite easy to find some when going for a walk in the woods. Apparently there are two seasons for it, one in spring and one right now in the early fall. Our garden has more of the latter and for me myoga is a fall flavor!

There are many many ways of preparing it and eating it (again, check my previous posts on the topic!). Raw or pickled would be the most common and my favorite. Raw particularly. It is so simple and it goes well with so many things!

Today two super simple recipes with myoga, one is a classic, the second is more one of my classic.

Eggplant with myoga

  • 2 myoga
  • 2 eggplants
  • 1/3 tsp of salt
  • 1tsp of sesame seeds or a handful of katsuobushi

Normally for this you could do it with raw eggplants like I suggested here. But to male it faster, instead of waiting for the salt to slightly pickle the eggplants, I cook them.

Wash and cut the eggplants in their length, then in 4-5mm slices. In a tiny pan start cooking the eggplants, add the salt and stir often. I do not add water nor oil. When the eggplants have softened add the myoga washed and thinly sliced. Stir well. Add the sesame or the katsuobushi. Stir again. Serve and eat now or chilled.

Myoga potato salad

  • 2-3 myoga
  • 1 Japanese cucumber
  • 8 small potatoes
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tsp of mustard
  • 2tbs of olive oil
  • pepper

Boil the potatoes with the skin and the eggs. When done let them cool down. Wash the myoga and cucumber. Slice them thinly. Peel the potatoes and the eggs.

In a bowl, cut roughly the potatoes and the eggs, add the cucumber and myoga, the mustard and oil. Stir well and serve.

That’s really as simple as that!

Happy birthday Lois!

A year ago after many years of hesitation, I finally decided to prepare my first sourdough: Lois. Since then we’ve been living and working together to make breads, pizze, brioches, buns and the like, for the best and a few times the worst, but I must say that I am very happy with it.

Lois is a sourdough that behaves well. Seeing so many pictures on IG and www of sourdough overflowing really got me worried, as I hate the kitchen to be a mess, to throw away food, and waste time and energy cleaning a catastrophe that could have been avoided. Kept in a large enough bin has always prevented it from happening and that’s good news! I think also Lois may not be a very very active sourdough, even in a large bin only a few times I could see it grow quite dramatically, otherwise, it looks much more like some kind of pale mousse.

But when it comes to working, it is a steady and stable worker, regardless of the temperatures and the seasons, and I can’t stand the taste of yeast now. The richness of the sourdough flavor is really unique and it evolves with time, making the kitchen smell good as soon as the bread is out of the oven!

So you understand now, I will continue to cherish Lois.

Sourdough milk brioche on the beach

Chestnut rice – 栗ご飯

When autumn arrives, sweet chestnuts 甘栗 – amaguri are a must eat. We have a chestnut tree in our garden which usually produces just enough chestnuts for us and the rest of the animals: racoons, kions… A. doesn’t like chestnuts too much so it is usually the right number. Except this year, I wasn’t quick enough in harvesting them, and the other animals didn’t have the slightest pity for us, and left us nothing but empty spiky shells. I had two options: forget about chestnuts this year and be more greedy next year, or wait a bit and buy a bag of local chestnuts whenever I would find one. Bags of chestnut are usually much bigger than what I need, but still eating a few chestnuts, and in particular a bowl of chestnut rice was too tempting. Chestnut rice like many of the traditional Japanese rices, is just too delicious, and the perfect food to enjoy the transition between summer and autumn. This time of the year when days are still hot but shortening quickly, the sky has this special blue color, soft and bright at the same time, and evenings are getting chillier. The cicadas are becoming silent or distant and leave sound space for more delicate voices.

So, it wasn’t long beforeI found local chestnuts and start working with them. Though I had a few ideas of recipes in mind, I opted for the classic chestnut rice 栗ご飯 – kurigohan. It is a bit tedious to make, but not more than anything else with chestnuts, and it is super very delicious, packed with energy. So let me share with you my recipe.

Kurigohan (3-4 servings)

  • 2 cups of rice (I use new rice)
  • 10 raw sweet chestnuts
  • 2tbs of soya sauce

Start by preparing the chestnuts. In a pan put the chestnuts, cover generously with water and bring to a boil. Add a bit of salt if you have some. Bring to a boil and let cook at low heat for 50min. Let cool down. Then peel the chestnuts. You can do this step up to two days before actually.

Once you have peeled the chestnuts, it’s time to prepare the rice, and it’s really simple. Use a rice cooker or a regular pan, or a cast iron cocotte… wash the two cups of rice, set the amount of water you would for cooking it normally. Add the chestnuts, it is good to have some whole and some crumbled. Add the soya sauce, and cook just as usual. Enjoy while hot, and it is even better re-heated the next day!

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