Saturday, December 29, 2012

Ozoni: Japanese New Year's Soup - Cathy and Caity

Ozoni is a traditional Japanese soup eaten for New Year’s. It generally consists of a simple broth with a few simple ingredients.  There is great variation, however—if you Google it, you will see many, many different versions, but the one that my mother (Caity's grandmother) prepares is quite simple and we do it exactly the way she does.

Growing up, I was always told that ozoni must be the first thing consumed on New Year’s Day in order to ensure that one would have good luck in the New Year, and we have continued that tradition in our family--to sometimes varying degrees of enthusiasm, particularly when the kids were younger.  But now it’s become something that we look forward to preparing and eating on New Year’s morning, and we have a steady stream of friends dropping by to share in the good fortune of the New Year. It is also nice and soothing for a stomach that may have ingested a little too much champagne on New Year's Eve. 

Our version is just a clear broth (simple enough to make with dried konbu, or kelp, and bonito flakes; but we use Hondashi dried instant broth as my mother does), daikon, a few slices of carrot cut into flower shapes (this is a must, sorry), some fresh mizuna greens, and the most important part—mochi cakes.  (I also like to add a few dried shrimp, but only in mine; that’s where my family draws the line.) If you can't find mizuna, you could substitute fresh spinach perhaps, or maybe even arugula, or any green that you find satisfying that will bring a bit of green color and flavor to the soup. (If you are wondering what in the world hondashi, daikon or mizuna leaves are, see ingredient list below for more information.)

The mochi cake—purchased either fresh or frozen, however you can find it where you live—becomes nice and stretchy and delicious when it’s hot, and so delicious in the soup.  Eat it with much Good Luck in the New Year!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Panna Cotta - Cathy

Another one of Erin’s favorites, panna cotta is an Italian cream dessert—kind of like a cream jello, actually, though that’s not a particularly appealing description.  It’s a very simple dessert; just a creamy, vanilla-y, soft gelatin that’s usually served unmolded onto a plate or out of a nice wine glass—either way served with a fruit puree sauce or some fresh fruit.  

This recipe is the best version I’ve found, from the ever-reliable “Best of the Best” Cookbook II—written by those Canadian Best of Bridge ladies. I like to serve this with just a few fresh berries.  

Most American restaurants serve it with a raspberry or other fruit puree, but I think that fruit purees overwhelm the delicate panna cotta, but that’s just my humble opinion. What the Best of Bridge ladies say about it is “You’ll never make anything else that’s this good and this easy!  The texture is like velvet!"

We have it for dessert with Christmas dinner. It's great because you can make it the day before, then throw it in the fridge and you don't have to worry about it all day. It always comes out great! We have even served it to a large group for one of Caity's high school Christmas dance dinners, transporting it easily to another home to serve where it was a big success.

Makes approximately 6-8 servings depending on serving size.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Hot Chocolate Truffles - Caity

I am a hot chocolate addict and have been for a very long time. I would rather have hot chocolate in the morning than coffee. Most mornings, I'll make hot chocolate in my Starbucks to-go mug and take it to work. Everyone assumes I am a grown-up and drink coffee but really it's delicious hot chocolate! 

Last Christmas, Keegan and I made hot chocolate truffles on sticks and once I tried one, I knew I had to make them again. I love these truffles because they are so festive and they taste really good. Last year, Keegan and I dipped them in marshmallows, cinnamon/cocoa, and matcha green tea. The green tea looked really pretty and colorful. This year, I tried using crushed candy canes (because I LOVE peppermint hot chocolate) and holiday sprinkles from Target that cost a dollar (I love Target!). I also tried a "Mexican Hot Chocolate" truffle which basically involved adding a little cayenne to the cinnamon/cocoa mixture. I think dipping them in powdered sugar would also be really pretty. 

These truffles are really easy, basically melt the chocolate, chill, reform and dip. Things can get a little messy when you're dipping them but my friend, Karlee, had a great idea to put the finished truffles in a mini-cupcake tin to help hold their shape. I don't have one though so my truffles were slightly more.... oblong. But they still taste great! 

This recipe is from the "Your Cup of Cake" blog and makes approximately 15 truffles (depending on the size of your truffles). 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Beans and Toast - Caity

When we used to go visit Erin in the U.K., our bed and breakfast would always serve us a "Full English Breakfast" which (depending on location) can involve eggs, bacon (not bacon like we're used to in the U.S., the U.K. bacon is called "back bacon" in the U.S.), sausages, baked beans, white pudding, black pudding, kidneys (grilled or fried), potatoes, toast, soda bread, pancakes, bubble and squeak (the English are so strange with their funny names sometimes), fried mushrooms, fried tomatoes, oatcakes, and fruit pudding. 

After a breakfast like that, I never felt ready for the day, I felt ready for a nap. But my dad doesn't allow for morning naps. We usually powered on and walked the length of the city at least twice to work off some calories. 

Since Erin has moved back to the states (and I am very glad she's here), I was not getting any more authentic English breakfasts soooooo I started making my own once in a while. In Salt Lake City, you can buy back bacon and Heinz beans at the London Market by Trolley Square. It makes a nice Sunday morning brunch! 

When I don't feel like making the WHOLE thing, I like to make just beans and toast. It sounds like a strange combination (especially since I usually don't care for baked beans) but I really enjoy the combination in the morning. It fills me up enough to get through the morning but not so much that I feel the need to walk for hours to burn off some calories. And it only takes 2 minutes to make so its a good breakfast before a long day of work. 

Is anyone still wondering what bubble and squeak is? 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Lime Matcha Grinch Cookies - Caity

I've seen recipes for matcha cookies before and have always wanted to try them but I always chickened out because of the green color. But since it's Christmas time, I think green cookies will be more widely accepted. They're "festive"! In fact, they remind me of the Grinch which is my favorite Christmas movie ever. 

These have great flavor, and the lime compliments the matcha green tea flavor very well. These cookies are great straight off the plate or served with tea. 

This recipe is from Nicole Stich's cookbook "Delicious Days". 

Preparation time: 10 minutes plus 1 hour for cooling
Cook time: 10-15 minutes