Category Archives: Recipe

K’s Kitchen – Macarons

I’ve been making a lot of ice cream this year, and I usually make them with a custard base. My usual ice cream base recipe calls for 3 egg yolks.  What to do with the egg whites?  I decided to try my hand at making macarons!  They are very popular in Japan right now and sold at many “hip” stores, but I wanted to see how they would turn out if I made them myself.

 

Macarons are notoriously hard to make.   This is not a recipe I suggest for beginner bakers, nor for people who are pressed on time.  Google was a great resource while I made this, and I often googled things such as “why do my macarons crack/become lopsided/not rise”  to see what people suggested.

 

Tools necessary for making macarons

  • kitchen scale (this is a must, as egg yolks differ in size)
  • piping bag and nozzle
  • parchment
  • standmixer or hand mixer

 

This recipe is from Cookpad, a popular Japanese recipe site. This recipe also includes many tips on what could happen with your macarons and how to fix them.

 

Ingredients:

Egg whites (Weigh the egg whites. The amount of all other ingredients depend on the weight of the egg whites. I used 2 egg whites which were a total of 70g)

Granulated sugar, 85% of egg white weight (in my case, 60g)

Powdered sugar, 115% of egg white weight (in my case, 80g. Use powdered sugar which does not contain added corn starch)

Powdered almonds, 107% of egg white weight (in my case, 75g)

If using cocoa for chocolate macarons, 5g. (reduce powdered almond weight by 5g)

 

Instructions:

1. Freeze the egg whites overnight, and defrost at room temperature. Apparently this makes the meringue more stable. Weigh the egg whites after defrosting, and use that weight to calculate the rest of the ingredients.

2. Sift together powdered sugar, powdered almonds, and cocoa if using

3. Whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form, adding sugar gradually while doing so.

4. Mix together the dry ingredients with the egg whites.

5. Now you need to continue mixing until it becomes the appropriate texture. Scrape batter from around the bowl, turning it over and over, until the mixture falls continuously from your spatula.  This is the most difficult step, because too much mixing will cause your macarons to not be able to rise, and too little will make the tops crack.

6. Pipe your macarons onto a parchment. Then leave the macarons out to dry for at least 1 hour. This is essential to make the “foot” of the macaron.

7. Bake your macarons in a preheated 160 degree Celsius oven for 1 min, then reduce the temperature to 130 degrees and continue to bake for 18 minutes.

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 Notes:

  • Yes, this is an incredibly labor-intensive recipe!
  • I found that my macarons had lopsided feet.  Apparently this is a sign of uneven drying. Because my apartment has a window only on one side, I found that that side dried faster.  Now I am sure to rotate my macarons half way through the drying process.
  • If you are not familiar with how to use a piping bag and nozzle, be sure to check out some youtube videos before trying.
  • I like to put some sour jam between the macarons, to give the sweet macarons a different flavor profile.

 

Hope you enjoyed this recipe!

xoxo, K

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K’s Kitchen – Homemade pumpkin puree

In a previous recipe, I mentioned that canned pumpkin puree is hard to find in Japan. Therefore when I want to make pumpkin spice muffins or anything else using pumpkin puree, I need to make my own.

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American pumpkin puree is usually made with butternut squash, but I made this recipe with Kabocha as it is the most popular type of winter squash available in Japan. Kabocha has a texture that is similar to sweet potatoes, and the recipe below will result in a drier pumpkin mash than the canned variety.  Add some millk or other liquid to achieve the correct “puree” consistency.

Instructions:

1. Cut pumpkin in quarters. Cutting into smaller pieces means a shorter cooking time, but the cut surface can easily dry out.

2. Discard stem and pulp.  I find that using a large spoon makes it easy to remove the stringy insides.

3. Wrap each piece tightly in foil, and place in an oven preheated to 375 degrees Fahrenheit / 190 degrees Celsius.  Bake for 1.5 hours, or until a toothpick goes in smoothly.

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4.  Cool slightly, and remove skin.  Puree or mash.

(and yes, my kitchen surface is really that small)

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I froze the resulting pumpkin puree in freezer bags so that I can continue to use it this fall.  With no additional ingredients, this is a super healthy recipe!

 

xoxo, K

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K’s Kitchen – Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Every year around this time, the blogger world starts buzzing about pumpkin spice.  Whether it is the well-loved Pumpkin Spice Lattes or pumpkin spice candles, the sweet and spicy blend of ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg seems to be ubiquitous in the fall.

Although I don’t have access to pumpkin spice mixes or canned pumpkin, I can still make these yummy punpkin spice muffins!

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(adapted from Chris in Canada)

Ingredients:

  • 220g flour (1 3/4 cups)
  • 150g brown sugar (3/4 cups)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 120ml pumpkin seeds (1/2 cup)
  • 2 eggs
  • 185g canned pumpkin (6 fluid oz, 3/4 cup)   I used homemade pumpkin puree
  • 60ml vegetable oil (1/4 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 60ml orange juice (1/4 cup)

Note:

  • The original recipe used milk. I found that using orange juice gives it a lighter flavor, even though I couldn’t taste the orange.
  • The original recipe came with instructions on making a cream cheese frosting, which sounds delicious with these muffins!

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit / 190 degrees Celsius. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners

2. Whisk together first 9 ingredients. Roughly chop half of the pumpkin seeds and mix together.

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3. Separately mix together eggs, canned pumpkin, oil, vanilla extract, and orange juice.  Pour into dry ingredients, and mix until just combined.

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4. Fill muffin cups about halfway. Sprinkle with remaining pumpkin seeds. Bake 20-25 minutes at 190 degrees Celsius.

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5. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, before removing to a wire rack.  Cool completely before storing.

 

These muffins were light in texture, but also substantial and filling enough for breakfast.  Hope you enjoyed this recipe!

 

xoxo, K

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K’s Kitchen – Ume jam

The spring before I moved to China, I made some Ume syrup from green Ume.  To celebrate being back in Japan, I made Ume syrup again this spring, and used the Ume fruits to make Ume jam later.

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Ume (Japanese plums) are not commonly eaten as is.  Usually they are made into Umeboshi (sour, salty pickled ume, commonly eaten with rice) or steeped in alcohol to make Umeshu.  The Ume syrup I made this year is made by steeping Ume fruits in rock sugar, resulting in a sweet-sour syrup.  I like to add some to carbonated water as an alternative to soda.

For directions on how to make Umeshu or Ume syrup, take a look at this blog post.

Here is how the Ume syrup looked like after a week or so.  See the liquid in the container? This is all coming from the fruits, and I did not add any liquid at all.

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Making Ume jam is extremely labor intensive.  First, I removed the pits from the fruit.  Since Ume is a kind of plum, these small fruits have pits very similar to plums.  The pit does not detach easily, so I needed to scrap the pits out.

IMG_5475_final(and yes, that is how much counter space I have in my current kitchen.  It is extremely small)

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Next, I chopped the fruit into small pieces and weighed it. Then, I simmered the fruit with enough water to cover, skimming off any scum that formed. Then I added some sugar and continued to reduce the jam.

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Finally I poured the jam into sterilized containers and let it cool.

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Because I like my jam to be quite sour, it does not keep very well.  I usually divide it into small containers and keep it in the freezer.

Hope you enjoyed this recipe!

xoxo, K

 

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FAQ about cooking

For the last few years, I have been posting a variety of recipes on this blog.  Cooking is one of the things I miss most when I live abroad – for some reason, I did not enjoy cooking in either China or Indonesia.  Here is to answer a few common questions from you!

 

1. Do you develop your own recipes?

In general, I do not develop my own recipes. What I post on this blog are recipes that I found online and tested.  All posts refer to the original recipe.

2. Where do you get your recipes?

My Japanese recipes are mostly from Cookpad, a Japanese website with recipes from readers.  Cookpad has a function called “Tsukurepo”, where readers post pictures and thoughts of the Cookpad recipes that they have tried out.  A high number of Tsukurepo on a certain recipe means that it is popular, and hence, there is a good chance that it is yummy (and also easy to follow).

3. Why do you provide the weight of sugar/flour/etc instead of volume?

The first things I made when I started cooking were baked goods. Baking is a science and requires more precise measurements than other kinds of cooking.  I always weigh my dry ingredients when I bake, as the weight is more precise than volume.

Because I started out weighing my ingredients, this is the easiest way for me to cook.

4. Why do you provide metric measurements?

I live in Japan, which uses metric measurements for everything. If you would like to convert my metric measurements to US/Imperial measurements, you can use google. I often type in something like “what is 1 pound in grams?” on google.

By the way, 1 US cup is not the same as 1 Japanese cup, which is not the same as 1 cup of rice.

  • 1 US cup = 237 ml
  • 1 Japanese cup = 200 ml
  • 1 “go” of rice or sake = 180 ml (a “go” is a traditional Japanese unit, now used primarily for rice or sake.)

5. Can you provide measurements in volume?  Can you provide US measurements?

As mentioned above, I prefer to weigh my dry ingredients. If you need measurements in volume or in US/Imperial units, I suggest the following websites.

Weight / Volume conversion at Online Conversion

Another online converter for weight/volume conversion

A converter for butter (Japanese butter is not sold in sticks… so I am at a loss when the recipe tells me to add “one stick of butter”)

 

Please let me know if you have any additional questions!

xoxo, K

 

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