holidays

Easter brunch bunny bao (steamed buns)

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[From the archives: Easter bunny bao! One of the most successful recipes on JustHungry, these little light savory steamed buns are perfect for Easter. Originally published in April 2007.]

For a planned Easter lunch, I wanted to do something in the brunch realm, but with an Easter theme. Brunch purists may insist on eggs and pancakes and croissants and champagne for brunch, but for me ‘brunch’ means an early lunch feast after little or no breakfast, and so dim sum is my favorite kind of brunch.

Putting Easter and dim sum together, I devised these bunny shaped bao, or steamed buns. (The inspiration for the shape came from a pair of fluffy white bunny slippers I saw at a flea market last summer.) They are quite simple really: tender steamed bun dough is filled and formed into an oval, and the ears are cut with scissors. The faces are optional - for a minimalist bunny, you could just leave them blank and unadorned. Or, you could go all-out and add whiskers with slivered green onion, or whatever strikes your fancy.

The bunny bao could be stuffed with any kind of steamed bun filling (see my roast pork filled steamed buns), but keeping with the brunch theme, I’ve filled these with an egg, bacon and chive mixture. It all makes sense - eggs, and ham, and bunnies, plus spring chives. So very Easter.

You could of course omit the bunny-shaping part if you want to avoid the cuteness. continue reading...

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Osechi (New Year's Feast): The Next Generation

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This year’s New Year’s feast back home in Japan was taken over by the next generation of women in our family. continue reading...

Galettes Bretonnes, golden butter cookies from Brittany

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[From the archives. I’m not making a lot of cookies these days, but when I do these are still big favorites. They are quite plain but buttery-good, rather like shortbread but a little less rich. They are great Christmas cookies. Originally published December 2008.]

When it comes to cookies, I like them rather plain and not overly sweet. This traditional cookie from the Bretagne (Brittany) in France is so plain and simple, that the ingredients really shine. It is made of flour, sugar, egg, and the famously delicious salted butter (beurre demi-sel) of the region. Somewhat related to shortbread or sablé cookies but not as rich, for me they are almost the perfect cookie, and very more-ish.

The salted butter is the key to this cookie’s distinctive nutty, buttery sweet-salty flavor. The best salted butter from the Bretagne and other regions along the Atlantic in France are creamy-fresh and rich, with little glistening crystals of salt still visible. If you can get a hold of really good salted butter, you can use traditional recipes and the cookies will turn out the way they should. If not, some adjustments need to be made. So, I would recommend following the variation of the recipe that meets your butter quality.

(You might see something called galettes bretonnes au sarrasin. These refer to a thin crêpe or pancake made out of buckwheat (sarrasin) flour, usually served with a savory filling. I love those too, but these article is about the cookie galettes bretonnes.) continue reading...

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Setsubun and beans article in the Japan Times and food superstitions

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This month’s Japan Times article is about the traditions and superstitions surrounding Setsubun, which is coming up on February 3rd. continue reading...

Monday photos: This little pig is not a guinea pig

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Why do we have a problem with eating things with faces? continue reading...

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Mochi and New Year's article in the Japan Times, plus a very rich buttery mochi dish

Mochi with brown butter, green onions and nori

All about mochi and New Year’s in the Japan Times, plus a ruinous-to-your-waistline buttery mochi recipe. continue reading...

Monday photos: Santa

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My stepfather: accountant by day, Santa by nights and weekends. continue reading...

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Hinamatsuri (Girl's Festival) article in the Japan Times, plus my aunt's antique hina dolls

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A new article and recipe for Hinamatsuri (Girl’s Festival) in the Japan Times. continue reading...

Everything in osechi ryouri (Japanese New Year's feast food) has a meaning. (And a confession..)

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Take a look at some homemade osechi ryouri, or traditional New Year’s Day feast food. continue reading...

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Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year! 明けましておめでとうございます。 continue reading...

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Homemade mochi (pounded rice) the modern way

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How to make fresh mochi, or pounded rice, at home, with ease, and without a mochi making machine. continue reading...

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Toshikoshi Soba (year-end soba) article in The Japan Times, plus a bit about my niece and nephew

img: a hot and steamy bowl of soba noodles to end the year

A new article in The Japan Times about toshikoshi soba. Plus, a little about my favorite food-eating model, Lena-chan, and her brother Lyoh. continue reading...

Pound cake with brandy soaked raisins for a low-key Christmas

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A recipe for a very simple yet delicious cake, suitable for the holidays or any time of the year. continue reading...

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Happy Valentine's Day from Japan!

Happy Valentine’s Day to you from Japan!

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Happy Easter!

Easter bunny bread

A bit too late already for many people I know...but I just wanted to share this bunny bread from my favorite patisserie in Zürich. :)

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Ozouni or ozohni or ozoni: Mochi soup for the New Year

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Happy New Year! I wanted to post this a little earlier, but better late than never I hope!

During the New Year holiday period, traditionally rice is not cooked, to give a rest to the cook. Instead, dried mochi cakes were used as the carbohydrate. Ozouni (お雑煮 おぞうに), which literally means ‘mixed stew’, is a soup with mochi cakes in it. There is no one set recipe, and there are lots of regional variations. This one is a simple Kanto (Tokyo area) style ozouni, the way my mother makes it. It’s very simple, not to mention economical - just clear soup, greens, chicken and mochi. Garnish is optional. continue reading...

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Mochitsuki in your neighborhood?

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Mochitsuki photo by Ivva continue reading...

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Just to get you in a holiday mood...

Sweet Christmas ornaments

Some spun-sugar candy Christmas ornaments being sold at the Christmas market in Zürich.

Have a great weekend! I’ll be off exploring more Christmas markets over the weekend.

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OMG, Turducken

From the archives. I did this 3 years ago, and will likely never do it again. This is offered as a cautionary tale should you be contemplating creating a Turducken for your Thanksgiving or other holiday feast. Originally published on December 28, 2005, and edited slightly.

I am not sure what came over us. We were planning a quiet, simple Christmas dinner - maybe roast a goose, or a nice chicken or two, or something. But then someone blurted out the infamous words.

"Hey, why don't we try a Turducken?"

In case you are not familiar with turducken, it is basically a Tur(key) stuffed with a duck(en) stuffed with a (chick)en. It supposedly originated in Louisiana, and has been popularized by famed New Orleans chef Paul Prudhomme. continue reading...

The easiest Christmas thing to make right now: macerated dried fruits in liquor

I am suddenly behind on everything - work, holiday tasks, shopping, etc. etc. I was planning to do a lot of Christmas food related thing - you know, make a stollen or six, maybe a Christmas pudding (should have been made a month ago), cookies, etc. I may still have time for the cookies, the rest I’m not sure.

There is one thing that I have done that took me maybe 10 minutes max, and part of that time was spend let’s say, sampling the wares. continue reading...

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Do you think about the carbon footprint of your holiday feasts?

As I’ve mentioned her before several times, I’m not a diehard locavore. But I do try to keep an eye on how far my food has travelled to get to me. Admittedly, many of my seasonings and such have travelled a long way, because I need my Japanese food and I’m here in the middle of Europe. For fresh produce and meats and things like that I do try to buy things that haven’t travelled too far as much as I can. I think I’ve fairly typical in that respect these days. continue reading...

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Happy Labor Day

Happy Labor Day to everyone in the U.S.! Labor Day is sort of the unofficial end of summer, which makes me a little sad, but it’s also the start of the best season for foodies - fall/autumn. Fall is known as the season of the appetite in Japan - as the hot weather recedes and the fruits of the harvest start to come in, the tummy gets hungrier. In Switzerland we have the hunting season to look forward to, not to mention wild mushrooms in the markets. And the old grape vines in our garden are already yielding dark, small, sweet fruits.

I know things have been a little quiet around Just Hungry lately, but it will get busier as I get out of tomato-salad and cold cucumber soup mode…stay tuned!

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For your 4th of July party

If youre in the U.S. or anywhere in the world celebrating the 4th of July tomorrow, I hope you’re having better weather than we’re having here, where it’s cold and rainy! If you’re having a party, here are some useful recipes from the archives: Japanese potato salad, which in my opinion is the best kind of potato salad - rich tasting, not too vinegary. With homemade mayonnaise it’s heaven - though be careful to refrigerate it properly before serving, and to eat the leftovers (if there are any) as soon as possible. For a much lighter salad (no fat added!), Scandinavian cucumber salad goes very well with the rich flavors of grilled meats. It’s sort of like a fresh relish. By saving calories with the salad you can then splurge on the Red, white and blue mess for dessert, which looks quite spectacular and even feels sort of virtuously healthy because of all the fruit. Happy 4th! continue reading...

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Cute yet modern Swiss Easter bunny bread

Swiss people love cutely formed bread, just as much if not more than Japanese people. Behold, this masterpiece of adorable yet modern design, in the form of an Easter Bunny bread. (click on the image from the web page to see it larger).

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The almond slices scattered on top were a bit misleading. I was rather anticipating some kind of sugar-almondy filling, but it was just slightly sweetened white bread all the way through. Perhaps the cuteness is enough sugariness for one small bread.

For more Swiss Easter Bunny goodness, read about the chocolate Easter Bunny making class I took last year. continue reading...

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A feast of genuine Irish recipes

If you are planning a St. Patrick’s Day feast but still haven’t decided what to make, European Cuisines has been posting a new real Irish recipe every day since the beginning of the month. There’s everything from colcannon to Irish Stew to boxty (potato pancakes) to crubeens, which are “crunchy Irish pig’s trotters”, and a whole lot more. They also have a rant about how corned beef is definitely not the Irish national dish. I wasn’t planning on anything Irish myself this weekend, but those, um, crunchy pig’s trotters sound interesting…. [via Diane].

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Irish stout cake for St. Patrick's Day

If you will be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this weekend, and are looking for a great dessert to serve, try this one out from the archives: Irish Stout Cake with Whiskey Sour Icing.

It’s a light yet very assertive chocolate cake with beer undertones, topped with whiskey flavored lemon icing. How can you go wrong with that? :)

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