Posts Tagged With: lemon

Baking Marathon With Tomomi

Sometimes I wonder what is wrong with my generation. We are terrifyingly obsessed with our technology (yes I am one of those people who checks my Facebook multiple times a day, I confess! Guilty as charged!), and yet it’s like the wild wild west with zero etiquette or common curtesy!

If there is one major pet-peeve I have, it’s when a friend expresses interest in doing something, so we agree on a day, I schedule it into my calendar, and then when I text them just a few days later to confirm the specifics (like oooh time, or location)… silence.  If I text someone in the morning the day we are supposed to meet, and just never hear back from them period, whether it’s to confirm, to cancel, or the next day to apologize, I feel a bit like Godzilla ready to rampage Fukui and stomp on things.

The only thing worse…when I text an entire group of people, and not a single one has the common decency to reply. RAWWWWWR!

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Maybe Calvin was onto something here…excellent anger therapy!

Luckily for me I have my friend Tomomi.  Tomomi understands how frustrating dealing with other ALTs can be and has always known how to cheer me up when I’m having trouble coping with their flakiness. One of Tomomi’s finest qualities, and one of the reasons we are both such good friends, is that we understand the importance of commitments. I can always rely on her, and that’s something invaluable in a friend in my opinion. I don’t know what I’d do without her!

So Sunday we decided to have a baking marathon and challenge ourselves by making some difficult recipes! We’re both very skilled cooks and bakers, so every now and then it’s fun to push ourselves out of our comfort zones, and it’s less stressful trying complicated recipes when you have a partner with baking skills you can trust.

Our last month together is precious, and I want to see her as much as possible before I leave.  We made not only delicious desserts yesterday but special memories that I’ll have forever. Talk about a great way to spend a day!

Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 9.33.14 AMOur first challenge was a pie. I was determined to learn how to replicate Tomomi’s incredibly fluffy and flaky pie crust.  One of the best things about this recipe, is that just like my Grandmother’s recipe, it contains no shortening; just good ol’ natural butter.

Tomomi’s pie crust is pretty darn simple as far as ingredients go, just flour, butter, and ice water. The real trick though is in the technique of mixing them together. The secret to making flaky pastry is cold butter and never-ever over-kneading the dough. Always work with the pastry when it’s cool and firm to the touch. That means often having to pop it back into the fridge for a bit, which is a pain, but so very much worth the extra time.

Next we made the filling, which was 2 bags of frozen mixed berries (because fresh berries in Japan cost a small fortune), a pinch of brown sugar, a spoonful of honey, and sprinkling of corn starch. Easy-peasy! Because the berries would release a lot of juice we opted for a lattice-style pie top and got to town making it look gorgeous! What do you think? Pretty snazzy looking eh?IMG_3949 IMG_3958

We were both very pleased with the end result! I hate to torment you any more, but let me just say that is was so good my tastebuds felt like fireworks!

Our next dessert challenge was inspired by my recent wanderlust obsession with the Amalfi Coast. I went to Cinque Terre and Sorrento 4 years ago and adored it. I want very desperately to go back to that magical place, full of colourful houses, kind people and the smell of lemons and the sea lingering in the air….
amalfi coast2Tomomi has been attempting to master the art of chiffon cake making lately, so we decided to try making a lemon chiffon cake. One of the best things to eat in the Amalfi Coast area is lemon desserts, they’ll blow you away!  There’s nothing quite as summery as a little fluffy lemon cake in my opinion, unless it’s pie and we had already made that!

Getting a chiffon cake out of the pan not looking butchered is tough. It takes surgeon hands and nerves of steal, it’s the equivalent of a baking surgery. I chickened out, and let Tomomi do this part because I couldn’t bear the idea of ruining the beauty of our masterpiece.

Tell me that isn’t the fluffiest-looking chiffon cake you ever saw!? Tomomi did a wonderful job, and I thought it looked beautiful! 
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We then drizzled lemon chocolate all over the top and spooned a dollop of homemade lemon jam on each slice. It was like eating a zingy lemon-flavoured cloud. Mmmmmm….

Like the pie crust, Tomomi’s recipe for chiffon cake is very natural. Just eggs (lots and lots of eggs!), flour, sugar, a drizzle of sesame oil, plus lemon juice and zest to add flavour. The secret to success is folding the merengue in oh-so tenderly and softly. You want to mix that merengue in, but you still want fluffy streaks of it throughout the batter. If not, the cake won’t be like eating a cloud.

We drank tea and chatted until it was time her her family’s dinner, at which point I headed home with my heart lighter, mind trouble-free, stomach happily stuffed, and very much ready to unwind, relax, and watch a funny movie (Bridesmaids).

Categories: Life in Japan, Lifestyle, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Citrus Cranberry Ginger Muffins

I’m pretty sure lemon + orange + cranberry + ginger = ambrosia muffins! Talk about a killer flavour combination!

When I was a little girl my mom used to make this absolutely wicked orange-cranberry loaf.  It was so delicious I don’t think it ever survived in our house for more than a day before being completely devoured. The cranberries were an explosion of flavour nestled like hidden gems in a fluffy citrus batter.  It was pretty addicting to eat to say the least and accompanied by a seductively-sweet aroma that would bring my brother and I scurrying to the kitchen in record time.

After my mom and my dad left Japan and returned home to Canada I found myself thinking about them often, and feeling more than just a little homesick.  This loaf was a taste of home that I missed, and so to welcome in spring I decided to celebrate by making muffins and modified my mom’s recipe. I had to modify it because, of course, I could never make the original recipe taste as good as hers, so I decided that I wasn’t even going to try…

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

What You’ll Need To Do:

1) Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F) . Place muffin liners inside a muffin tin (or grease muffin tin using butter lightly and then add a little flour to coat like this)
2) Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3) Zest your orange, lemon and ginger.  Add to dry mixture. Set aside.
4) In a large bowl, cream butter.  When butter looks light and fluffy add sugar and mix together.
5) Add egg to the butter&sugar mixture and mix until smooth. Stir in orange juice and fresh lemon juice.
6) Pour liquid mixture into dry ingredients. Mix together until just moistened.

IMG_91297) Add in whole cranberries. Fold batter over them gently.
8) Pour into prepared muffin tray until about 3/4 full. Bake for 20-30 minutes until an inserted toothpick can be removed cleanly.
I personally prefer mine a little crunchy on the outside so I tend to let them brown up quite a bit before taking them out. 
9) Let the muffins stand for at least 10 minutes before turning them out onto a wire rack to cool.
I ended up giving the majority of this batch (I think it made about 18 generous-sized muffins) away to two very good friends of mine celebrating their birthdays this weekend.  I have of course have finished the left-overs far too quickly and I think these muffins were so delicious they might have to be made again soon…very soon…possibly as early as this upcoming long weekend!
Categories: Dessert Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Simplest Salmon Recipe Ever

This very well may be the simplest recipe for cooking salmon I have ever tried.  It’s pretty much fool-proof and was incredibly tasty for how little work it required to prepare. Therefore, it’s a recipe star in my opinion. I live a pretty busy life so simple+quick+healthy recipes are always appreciated.  I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I did when I made it for my little romantic dinner for one!

What You’ll Need:

  • Salmon fillet
  • Fresh lemon slices
  • Butter
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Aluminum foil

What You’ll Need To Do:

  • Place a piece of aluminum foil on a baking tray
  • Slice lemon into quarter-inch thick slices.  Place enough lemon wedges on top of the foil to support the bottom of your salmon fillet (I needed 3).
  • Place salmon fillet on top of lemon slices.
  • Cut a bit of butter and place on top of the salmon (how much is up to you! I was wanting a extra-healthy meal so I only put about half a tbsp)
  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Wrap the aluminum foil very tightly up around the salmon.
  • Bake in your oven at 175°C (350°F) for about 15-20 minutes. Open aluminum foil after 15 minutes to check how salmon is doing.  It’s really important not to over-cook the salmon, the salmon is finished when it flakes when you stick a fork into it, and it should not be squishy or look like “jelly” anymore. It should be a light pink color, and feel firm when you press the back of the fork into it.

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Categories: Savoury Recipes | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

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