Sunday, January 27, 2019

A Hostel Take on a Green Tea French Toast Recipe

Green Tea French Toast came about when I was faced with a limited palette of ingredients in a Japanese hostel’s well equipped kitchen and wanted something homey but still foreign for brunch.

The hostel, the Emblem in Kanazawa, Japan, had a large and well equipped kitchen and a nice seating area. I had bread, butter, eggs, and milk. The hostel provided sugar and salt. All well and good, I could make perfectly good but possibly bland pain perdu with those ingredients, but my custardary, rich take called out for some flavoring agent. At home I’d use cinnamon and vanilla or orange zest. They were not in my larder here, so to speak. What I did have was fresh ginger and a green tea bag. The bag was matcha (powdered green tea) mixed with finely ground green tea. Doing this again, I would use all matcha tea, but the combo worked well for flavoring the custard. I only had enough day-old baguette to make two generous servings with a taste for the curious hostel staff. Usually I serve my French toast with a choice of maple syrup, jam and or yogurt, here I just skipped the toppings, but if you have them, they would work well. I think it would also be nice with a ginger syrup and whipped cream.

For my traditional French Toast recipe which uses challah, vanilla and cinammon, please click here.

Green Tea French Toast
Serves 2-3

½ cup milk
1 matcha and green tea bag (matcha mixed with green tea) or 1 tsp. powdered matcha
2 Tbs. sugar
1 large egg
⅛ tsp. salt
½ tsp. grated fresh ginger
About 10 slices day-old baguette, sliced 1” thick (about 90 grams)
1 Tbs. butter for frying, plus more as needed
Extra sugar or powdered sugar for garnish, as desired
Green tea or matcha for garnish, if available and as desired

Simmer milk (do not boil). Remove from heat once simmering. Add tea bag (or mix in matcha). Let steep until cool. Remove tea bag if using, pressing on it with a spoon to make sure all the liquid returns to the pot. (If using all matcha, stir to make sure it is fully dissolved.)

Beat together sugar, egg, salt and ginger. Slowly pour in the milk, beating constantly, until well mixed. Place bread slices in a rimmed dish, pour milk mixture over bread, covering completely. Let stand, turning slices over occasionally, about 5-10 minutes until custard is mostly absorbed by the bread.

Heat butter over medium heat until sizzling. Fry slices until browned on one side then flip and fry other side until browned, working in batches if need be. Sprinkle tops of finished French toast with sugar or powdered sugar if desired. Sprinkle with additional 1 tsp. matcha or tear open a fresh green tea bag and crumble some of the tea to a fine dust and garnish with about a teaspoon of that.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Smoky Tomato Freekah Soup with Red Lentils

I love soup, I love using whole grains and legumes, and I especially love foods that have a smoky taste to them.  This recipe combines several elements to build a (vegetarian) smoky taste -- the freekah itself (more about that later), fire-roasted canned tomatoes and smoked paprika.  (I give alternatives if necessary).

Freekah is an ancient way of processing green wheat. It is roasted while still in its chaff (straw) which is what gives it a smoky taste which can vary very mild to somewhat stronger. It is used throughout the Middle East, the Arab world and North Africa. Find it boxed in some supermarkets or in bags or bulk in Middle Eastern and other speciality stores.

This recipe calls for the whole kernel, not cracked. Cracked freekah is broken into pieces ranging from very fine to large. If you can only find the cracked, use the largest variety you can find in place of the whole but note that timing and other variables may change. 

A special shout out to Jill Levine, whose love of freekah inspired this recipe.

Smoky Tomato Freekah Soup
Serves 4

1/2 cup whole, raw freekah 
1/2 cup red lentils
2 Tbs. olive oil plus more as needed
1 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. smoked or regular paprika plus additional for garnish if desired
1/4 tsp. salt or to taste
About 5-6 cups vegetarian broth or stock, divided (plus additional if needed)
28 oz. can fire-roasted or regular diced tomatoes with liquid
2 Tbs. tomato paste plus more if needed
Sugar and or lemon juice as needed
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, parsley or mint, divided
1/4 cup plain yogurt (use non-dairy to keep vegan)
1/4 cup chopped red onion

Rinse and soak freekah in cold water. Pick out any floating or other debris. Drain. Pick over lentils, rinse in cold water and drain and towel dry.

Heat 2 Tbs. oil over medium heat in large pot. Sauté onions until soft and beginning to color. Add garlic. Sauté until golden. Add cumin, paprika and salt. Sauté 1 minute then add drained and dried freekah, turning until coated in oil (add more oil if needed). Sauté for 2 minutes then add broth. Bring to boil, then simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add lentils. Simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes with liquid, 1 cup broth and 2 Tbs. tomato paste. Simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until lentils and freekah are cooked through but not mushy (about 30 minutes but timing may vary greatly). Add stock as needed if soup is too thick. Add more tomato paste by tsp. as needed if it is too liquid and simmer a few minutes more. Taste and add salt if needed. If the soup is too sweet, add lemon juice by tsp. If it is too tart, add sugar by the 1/4 tsp. Stir in half the cilantro. Top servings with dollop of yogurt and a sprinkle of cilantro, onions and paprika.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Pastries from Nazareth

I have so much info and so many photos to share of my current trip, but I'll start with these luscious pastries from a generations old firm in Nazareth, Israel. The bottom left has a layer of cheese and is served warm. Above it are ones filled with nuts and soaked in sweet syrup. Consumed with lots of cold water on the side!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Panderia Haul

The pan dulce attendees sampled on my recent international food walking tour.  The drink is chumparrado, a hot chocolate thickened with corn meal. 

Friday, January 05, 2018

Making Mole with Ernestina

My friend, Ernestina, invited a few of us over to make Oaxaca-style mole. It's the first time I've made mole as a group activity, but it worked well. The mole recipe had 27 ingredients (not including making stock) and numerous steps. Ernestina (seen in top left) had us seeding and toasting three types of dried chilis (and then setting the browned chili seeds aflame prior to being ground into the sauce)

How did it taste?  Our immediate tastes were amazing with depths and layers of complex flavors. Ernestina, who originally hails from Texas and now lives in Northern California, says it tastes best after it rssts for a few days so th big dinner will be tomorrow night. 

Looking forward to the feast. 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Return of the Peppermint Candy Cookie

My boys are now men but during a time that seems like long ago and just yesterday I would entertain them by letting them browse a photo-laden Sunset cookie cookbook and let them pick out recipes for us to bake. This Peppermint Candy Cookie, kind of an oat crisp, was one of their favorites. 

I was fortunate to have both sons home for Chanukah dinner so in addition to the latkes, brisket and jelly doughnuts that are traditional holiday fare I made a batch of these cookies. 

For the recipe (and a few other peppermint-flavored treats), please see my version of the recipe here. For large or vegan versions, use a dairy-free margarine. This recipe is egg free. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Pick a Peck of Oven-Fried Peppers This Chanukah

This Chanukah try oven frying/roasting shishito or padrone peppers. Rinse and dry then toss in a bowl with lots of olive oil and coarse sea salt to taste. Pour peppers with oil on ungreased, rimmed baking trays. Place in preheated 450 degree oven. Roast, turning occasionally until soft and the peppers are blistered and browned on all sides

Let cool slightly and serve warm or at room temperature. 

These peppers have a slight bite and a nice grassy/herbaceous taste. Sometimes you will bite into one that's a bit milder or hotter. 
Hanukkah, Hanukah 

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Montserrat --The Confection Named After a Mountain

In Barcelona, a meringue cookie filled with hazelnuts is known as a Montserrat, after the famous moutnatin, with its rocky peaks, which the confection is said to resemble. I got to eat one today in its wild habitat, the cafeteria of the Montserrat monastery. I had a choice of lemon (which was pure white) or vanilla (yellow).  You can see my choice above.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

My Spanish Kitchen, Well Actually Just One of Them

Gary and I are on the road again. This time we are combining 10 days in London (son's wedding) with  a wide-ranging itinerary by train, car, boat and bus. Along the way we have been renting apartments with kitchens so I can cook and take advantage of the wonderful, fresh ingredients we have been finding throughout Europe. I am determined to share a lot of that here in the blog, so watch for updates on food and markets from England, France and Spain. More later.