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Sweedish

I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of these crunchy open-faced crackers topped with sharp creamy cheese and fresh tomatoes sprinkled with a little salt. The friend who introduced me to them calls them “Swedish sandwiches” and after the first bite, they are forever a part of my summer cravings. I moved coasts recently, and find myself back in the land of humid sticky summers. Any meal that doesn’t involve turning on the stove or heat is bound to become a part of my regular rotation. Particularly as tomatoes are currently plentiful and cheap, not to mention in season right now.

For one “Swedish sandwich”

– a piece of knackerbrod or crisp bread

– hushallsost ( or any kind of semi-hard cheese, I like Dubliner or a sharp cheddar)

– butter (softened)

– a slice of tomato

– salt

– fresh parsley or black pepper ( if desired)

———

1. Spread a thin layer of butter on the crisp bread.

2. Add thin slices or shards of cheese

3. Top with pieces of sliced tomato. Sprinkle a little salt over the tomatoes.

4. Top with fresh parsley or black pepper (if you like)

And..crunch!

 

 

 

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Do you know the happy feeling you get when you dream about eating something all day…and then your dream becomes reality?

For some reason I woke up this morning craving scrambled eggs and toast, but I had to run off to work with just a mandarin orange thrown into my bag. I thought about fluffy just slightly set eggs and crunchy toast until lunch, and though today’s lunch of soup and pasta was good, it did nothing for my craving. So when I got home, I was on a mission to make eggs and toast for dinner, and ended up eating them as I edited some of my grad school essays.

I like my scrambled eggs to be just set and with plenty of salt, pepper and butter.

Here are the steps to how I make scrambled eggs:

Ingredients

  • 2-3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp salted butter
  • salt and pepper

1. In a frying pan, set on the lowest possible heat, melt a generous amount of butter. I usually use about a tbsp of salted butter. Yes, I know that seems like a lot, but I never said my scrambled eggs were healthy >:)

2. While the butter is melting, lightly beat 2-3 whole eggs in a bowl.

3. Once the butter is melted in the pan, swirl the pan to make sure the butter is evenly coated and then sprinkle in salt and pepper.

4. Gently pour in the eggs (Yup, no milk to be found in this recipe)

5. Do not raise the heat, and using a wooden spatula, continuously scrape around the edges and stir the eggs.

6. Cook for about 4-5 minutes or until the eggs seem to be halfway set. Turn off the heat and move eggs to a plate. They might seem a bit underdone, but they will continue to set a bit more as they cool. Add more salt and pepper if you like.

—–

 

 

 

 

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sugar cookie
Sometimes things happen in life that kind of knock you out of your regular routine, and it takes you a little bit to get back into the swing of things. Baking delicious things that simultaneously heat my apartment and make it smell like warm butter, sugar and vanilla is my way of getting back a sense of normalcy.

This recipe makes sugar cookies that are slightly crisp on the outside and soft in the middle. They are simple and not perfect, but exactly what I wanted to munch on while curled up with some tea and watching back episodes of Good Eats.

Ingredients:

  • 100g butter, salted, softened
  • 200g powdered sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 250g flour
  • 20g baking powder
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

—————
1. Preheat oven to 170C. In a medium bowl, cream softened butter and powdered sugar together until well combined, and until it lightens in color and is slightly fluffy. (use a stand mixer if you like)
2. Mix in eggs, one at a time until well combined.
3. Stir in vanilla extract, almond extract and nutmeg
4. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking power and salt, then add it to the butter and sugar mixture. Stir well.
5. Use a spoon or cookie scoop to drop roughly golf ball sized balls of dough onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet, and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cookies are just about to turn a pale golden brown. Bake less for softer cookies, and a bit longer if you like your cookies crisp.

**while I tend to just eat these cookies as they are, I’m pretty sure they would be fantastic frosted, or rolled in sugar as well.

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Cheese crackers
Living in Japan, I have a love and hate (but mostly love) relationship with Costco. They have a food court that brings me back to the states, and the sight of 100 count boxes of Tootsie pops and 5 lb boxes of chocochip cookies makes me nostalgic about college and the all mighty purchase order.

The area where I grew up didn’t have a Costco nearby, so when I went for the first time, I was romanced by the tasty polish dogs (only a buck fifty, and it comes with a drink!) and the sheer fact that I could buy a 10 pound can of ketchup, 50 black Sharpies, a sofa, and pumpkin pie the size of a large pizza if I so desired. In college, I had a job that required me to buy food to feed large quantities of people at a time, and for a while, purchasing 4 flats of muffins, and 2 lb cans of hot cocoa mix was normal. Oversized food is one thing, Costco sized food is another. For some reason, I find ridiculously large food, or large quantities of food inherently comical and interesting. (on the flip side, I also find extra small food funny and amazing as well :P)

 So what does Costco have to do with cheese crackers? As my mother says, I sometimes have eyes bigger than my stomach. The last time I went to Costco in Japan, I was persuaded into buying a 2 lb brick of sharp cheddar cheese. (they didn’t have to try hard) I think you can guess where this goes…but the short of it is I ended up having a half a block left, and needed to use it all quickly before the cheese spoiled. I did think about just gnawing on the block, but decided that cheese crackers were the more socially acceptable option.

(more…)

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My friends know that I have a strange dislike for the gyoza commonly found here in Japan. Something about the inordinately large quantity of cabbage vs meat in the filling and lack of real flavor just makes me unlikely to order gyoza at a restaurant. I think I’ve been spoiled by Chinese style jiaozi and Korean mandoo to ever be satisfied with the Japanese equivalent. So now I just make my own 🙂

Ok, so I need a bit more practice frying up gyoza ^^;;
Appearance aside, I love this recipe! These slightly sweet and salty pork filled gyoza based off of my mother’s guotie filling recipe.
Ingredients:

  • 200g lean ground pork
  • 4 stalks green onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 20-30 store bought gyoza skins
  • 1 tsp each:

  • cumin powder
  • garlic powder
  • sesame oil
  • rice vinegar
  • powdered hon dashi (fish stock) or nuoc mam
  • 1 tbsp each:

  • sweet kecap manis or dark soy sauce+5g sugar
  • oyster sauce
  • —————
    1. Combine all ingedients other than the gyoza skins in a large mixing bowl.
    2. Mix well using your hands ( or a spoon if you like, but by hand is much faster)
    3. Wrap gyoza. If you don’t know how to wrap or cook gyoza, About.com has a great tutorial here.

    I always double this recipe and make a batch to pop in my freezer. You can cook frozen gyoza the same way as fresh gyoza.

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    nytcookie
    The weather is cooling off, and the constantly cloudy typhoon season has got me thinking about baking all the time. Specifically baking chocolate chip cookies like the ones back home in the states. In Japan, “cookie” usually refers to some sort of crunchy butter sable, good in it’s own right, but does nothing for you if you are craving golden brown, crispy, chewy, chocolate studded cookies the size of your hand. This sort of chocolate chip cookie doesn’t exist where I live now.

    Nothing to do but to make them myself. I used David Leite’s amazing chocolate chip cookie recipe, and after (im)patiently waiting 24 hours to chill the dough, made some cookies that are way too tasty and way too big for my own good.

    I don’t have a stand mixer, so I used room temperature butter and hand mixed everything. I also used regular chocolate chips and whole wheat and all purpose flour instead of the bread and cake flour that the recipe calls for.

    David Leite’s NYT Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted to metric, substituted ingredients, methods)

    Ingredients:

    • 240g all purpose flour
    • 240g whole wheat flour
    • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
    • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1 1/2 tsp salt
    • 250g butter, room temperature
    • 280g brown sugar
    • 240g white sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 160g chocolate chips
    • sea salt for topping


    1. Stir together all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl and set aside.
    2. Stir together brown sugar, white sugar and butter until it is evenly mixed in a separate bowl.
    3. Stir in eggs and vanilla extract.
    4. Stir in dry ingredients, then fold in chocolate chips.
    5. Wrap dough in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours.
    6. After 24 hours, divide dough into roughly 80g balls, place on baking paper or a baking sheet, sprinkle with a small (very small) pinch of sea salt, and bake for 14-18 minutes or until golden brown at 170 degrees Celsius.
    7. Remove from oven and cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Eat while warm 🙂

    Great with some milk, and makes plenty to share.

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    applesauce
    Apologies for the not so pretty picture (^_^;)
    If you didn’t know, it is difficult to find pre-made applesauce in my city, so silly me, I had just been going without! Then a friend, 3 huge Fuji apples, cinnamon and a blender came and showed me the joys of fresh homemade applesauce. I like it so much that I may never buy the premade kind again 🙂

    Ingredients:

    • 3 large apples, peeled, cored, and diced (i like Fujis)
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
    • optional 1/4 cup brown sugar, if needed

    ——–
    1. Combine apples, water, cinnamon, and sugar (if you like) in a medium pot. mix well, and then bring the water to a boil on high heat. Cover and simmer on low heat for 15-20 minutes until apples are tender, stirring every 5 minutes.
    2. Remove from heat and cool for 10 minutes.
    3. Blend in small batches in a blender (or immersion blender if you have one) until smooth. Be careful if the apples are still hot when blending!

    Eat while warm, or refridgerate. makes 4-6 servings.

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