Why am I writing about red azuki bean ice cream in the dead of winter? I’ve been invited (and so are you!) to a Sunday Supper birthday party. Plenty of cake is sure to be served. But birthday cake just isn’t the same without ice cream. And red azuki bean paste is what fills an-pan bread – a popular Japanese winter warming bun...
I’ve yet to see art from ancient Japan capturing the smile of a samurai as he munched on mozzarella. Cheese is not a part of traditional Japanese cuisine. However...
Sword in hand, a little boy sprang from a peach, bringing much joy to a barren grandma and her husband. They named him Momotaro. (Momo is Japanese for peach and Taro is a common boy’s name.) A sort of Robin Hood, this legendary folk hero stole back the gold from the devil’s lair. Justice and rewards for good behavior are strong themes in this story. But, it’s also about smarts and the power of yummy treats.
Go ahead. Confess. Instead of sampling the ambiguous cuisine surrounding you in your travels abroad, you chose a Big Mac at the Golden Arches. Understandable. McDonald’s offers certainty plus easy-on-the-pocketbook prices. You can exhale as you scan the menu; a parade of standards marching by…Until oh, so suddenly anomalies appear. In Japan, you may have seen Ume (plum) Nuggets.
En route to visit the Great Buddha in Kamakura, Japan, the Ninja Baker stumbled upon Ebisu-Ya, a 200-year-old sweet shop. (The seller of traditional Japanese cakes is located on Kamachi Road.) Celebrating spring, many Ebisu-Ya treats incorporate sakura cherry blossoms. As well as sake rice wine!
Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines are where the masses go to celebrate the holidays in Japan. Japanese partake in water rituals at the entrance. The Ninja Baker's YouTube features Ryo Shimizu who demonstrates the ritual. (Ryo-san and I met on a TV set in LA where Japanese-English bilinguals were needed.)
In addition to respecting the rituals of the Buddhist and Shinto religions, my family attended church on Christmas and Easter. After the inspirational songs and sermon given by the Australian minister at St. Alban’s, we often headed over to the Tokyo American Club buffet. Petit four cakes and artistic ikebana floral arrangements were the pièce des résistances of the day.
Spring ushers in showers, flowers and a slew of goddesses who bring renewal to the world...For those of us who are domestic goddesses, closets are cleaned out and windows are flung open to welcome in a new season. Along with the physical cleaning, many of us allow cobwebs of old thinking to be cleared from our minds. Such as throwing out any fears surrounding cream roll-cake-making.
Roxana of HomeBaking.com, and the monthly #Chocolate Party may be a hostess with the “mostest” chocolate recipes on the web. Her March challenge to fellow food bloggers is to marry caramel and chocolate in one treat. In my mind that translates to a sweet that’s cute and petite. Why? In my hometown of Tokyo, caramels and chocolates come packaged as pretty little presents.So, keeping with tradition, I produced petite banana cakes packed with mini chocolate chips and iced with caramel.
Hello from the Land of Cherry Blossoms, "cho oishii"(super delicious) food and Hinamatsuri. Japan's Hinamatsuri, Doll's Festival is also known as Girls' Day. For the occasion, I've created The Ninja Baker's Cherry Blossom Crescents.
As March winds blow in Tokyo, many Japanese remind themselves that strong winds of February and March are simply the precursor to Spring. (春一番強い風) I like to think of it as a clearing of all that is old so the new can be born.
And being pushed by the wind down the streets of Tokyo made me laugh. But, it was also fun to think about this month's #BundtaMonth topic: The Tropics.