Mochi Making 2013 - My Family's Annual Mochitsuki

Monday, December 30, 2013

Mochi 2013
Mochitsuki 2013
Making thousands of mochi for New Year's with my family and friends

On Saturday, it was time for my family's annual Mochi Making day! We thought they started this tradition in 1955, but my dad remembers it even earlier - sometime after they returned to the Los Angeles area after World War II (the family was interned in Jerome, Arkansas and Gila River, Arizona because they were Japanese American) so it was probably even before 1955. It is a long family tradition to make mochi for the New Year.

I've posted about our mochi day on the blog several times, and my friend JustJenn writes about joining us and then making all the yummy Japanese New Year's foods (along with some Southern California Japanese American classics). Here is a pictorial view of my family's mochi day that included many special friends and guests - including my friends from Connecticut who were adopted into the family immediately.

Mochitsuki making posts:  2012, 2011, 2010, 2008, 2007

Mochi 2013
130 pounds of rice. So much rice. It's a Koda Farm California special premium sweet rice that has beautiful large kernels. After soaking overnight, it is steamed and then placed in a grinder with extruder. The pounded rice that comes out is boiling hot.

Mochi 2013
After it comes out of the machine, a catcher quickly rolls it into a ball and places it on a tray. This year, we debuted a new system - Muffin Tins! This kept our mochi more consistent. Over the last few years, our mochi was spreading out too much, resulting in a too thin mochi. The muffin tins solve that problem! And yes, that was me at Target mid-day buying up all their tins.

Here is a quick little Instagram video of the process I made:

The mochi cool for a bit in the tray and then are placed on a table sprinkled with mochiko powder (rice flour). Yes, there are six tables (each 6 foot long) covered in plastic for this process...and it keeps repeating itself all day!

The cool mochi are gathered up and await packaging into boxes for delivery to friends and relatives.

Photos can't really detail how many hands you need for this operation. It's a full-on production line. We have a minimum of 20 people working a shift at a time - from kids to grandparents!

And what happens when we take a break? We eat!

Mochi 2013
There are two tables of savories. All Japanese American gatherings in Los Angeles have a boatload of Mexican food. We had two types of enchiladas, chili and tamales (that we cooked in the rice steamer - so fusion, no?) I made a ton of Spam Musubi - always a favorite. I'll post the recipe and details soon. My aunt makes a killer Chinese Chicken Salad and my cousins made awesome Kalbi BBQ beef. And then there was the Mac and Cheese, Chow Mein, Fried Chicken, Sushi, Sushi Rice with Toppings, another homemade chili, and much much more. You didn't go hungry!

But you have to save room for dessert too!

JustJenn's famous red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Cousin Emily's homemade cookies

Auntie Linda's delicious cookie tray

We picked up some sweetened mochi from Fugetsu-do Japanese confectionery store

JustJenn also made a delicious Jello treat

...and we also had some lovely 7 layer Jello too!

The day is long. The preparation is exhausting (my cousin and I need to clear out three rooms of the house), but continuing a tradition to the fourth generation of our family is awesome.

Happy New Year to you and your family! May you have a wonderful 2014 filled with happiness, family and friends!

Mochi - Homemade An (Red Bean) MochiNote: The mochi we made is NOT sweet mochi - it is a savory, plain mochi mostly used in a special new years soup (ozoni) or toasted and eaten with soy sauce, sugar or soybean powder (kinako).

However, lots of people end up at this post looking for more sweet mochi dishes, so here are a few I've made on the blog:

Dessert mochi treats (gluten free!):
Sweet Mochi with Red Bean Filling (pictured)
Blueberry Mochi Cake
Chocolate Mochi Brownie Squares
Zunda Mochi
Cherry Mochi Cakes
Matcha Mochi Cupcakes

Also, be sure to buy JustJenn's cookbook: Mochi: Recipes from Savory to Sweet! Vol. 1 for more recipes and ideas!
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Gingerbread Scones

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Gingerbread Scones
Gingerbread Scones

One of my favorite cookbooks is the Art & Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet and Sur la Table (find it on Amazon or your library) and they have a great basic scone recipes with lots of variations. I saw that Tracey's Culinary Adventures made the Gingerbread Scones and topped it with a maple glaze. Sign me up!

Gingerbread Scones
It's really easy to make. I used a food processor, but you can totally do this by hand too. See the little bits of butter? That's really necessary for good scones. If I remember all the stuff I learned in my baking class...when the dough hits the oven, water contained in the butter steams up and causes the flakey goodness of scones and yummy stuff like pies and croissants.

Gingerbread Scones
I made the scone dough the night before my work meeting. I cut them into squares and placed them onto a baking tray, covered with plastic wrap and then popped in the freezer.

In the morning, I pulled them out of the freezer and placed on the countertop. I preheated the oven and then popped them into the oven. If you are going to glaze them, be sure to give yourself time to let them cool off before glazing them.

Gingerbread Scones
I followed Tracey's lead and topped the scones with a maple syrup and powdered sugar glaze.

Gingerbread Scones
These were enjoyed at the meeting. It's a lovely taste of the holidays.
Gingerbread Scones. Make them today!

Gingerbread Scones
Adapted from The Art & Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet

2 cups (10 oz) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (2 1/2 oz) packed light brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (5 oz) cold buttermilk
2 tablespoons molasses

1 egg, lightly beaten (for egg wash)

3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar

Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat.

Place flour, brown sugar, ginger, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, and salt to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine the ingredients. Scatter the butter pieces on top of the flour and pulse 5 times until the butter pieces are the size of peas. Whisk the buttermilk and molasses together in a measuring cup. Pour into the food processor (all at once) and pulse until the dough comes together (it took me about 20 pulses, but don't overmix the batter).

On a lightly floured work surface, turn the dough out. Quickly, but gently, bring the dough together into a square that is 1" thick. Of course, you can also shape into rounds to make triangle scones. Use a sharp knife to cut the scones. Transfer to a baking sheet.

At this point, you can freeze the scones and bake at a later time. When you bake them, allow them to sit on the counter while the oven is preheating.

Brush the tops of the scones with the lightly beaten egg wash. Bake for about 15-17 minutes, or until they are golden brown and firm to the touch. Move onto a cooling rack and allow scones to cool completely before glazing.

Glaze: Whisk the maple syrup and powdered sugar in a small bowl until combined. If you need to, add more maple syrup or milk to thin. Drizzle over the scones. Let icing set for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!

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The Food Librarian's 2013 Holiday Gift Ideas

Friday, December 6, 2013

Ho ho ho! Season's Greetings!
It's holiday gift guide season! Last year, I listed a few things that I thought would be good gifts and I'm back again. Some of them are repeats from last year because they rock! I've bought everything mentioned on the list (unless noted) and thought you might want to get some of them for your friends and family...or for yourself (self-gifting is an important part of the holiday season!)

Cookbooks are always fun to give and get! Here are some favorites:

Flour, too - Boston's most delicious bakery came out with a second book, this one has more savories in it than the first Flour Bakery cookbook (this one has the best yellow cake recipe ever).

Lemonade - Filled with salads, braises, and desserts from this Southern California delicious restaurant. I made the Lemon Poppyseed Bundt and have cauliflower in the refrig to make their salad. (Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher - but I would have purchased it because I really like the restaurant)

Dahlia Bakery - When I ate at Tom Douglas' Dahlia Bakery and Dahlia Lounge in Seattle recently, I almost cried it was so delicious. This cookbook has a great Sour Cream Coffee Cake (post coming soon) and the rest of the book is mouthwatering with very clear instructions. It's a winner.

JustJenn's Mochi Cookbook - My friend JustJenn has compiled her best mochi recipes in this cute cookbook/comic. Mochi rice is gluten-free and oh so delicious!

Gastronomy blog's soon-to-be-released book: Food Lover's Guide to Los Angeles - Blog friend Cathy Chaplin knows how and where to eat in LA. She'll guide you to the best places. It's not out yet, but I know from reading her blog and LA Times pieces that this book is going to rock. Order it now.

Some other classics and ones I find myself turning to all the time are: Anything by Dorie Greenspan, The Art & Soul of Baking, The SoNo Baking Company Cookbook and The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion

bloom calligraphy
A personalized gift is something very special. And what's more personalized than your name and adress?! I recently purchased a custom address stamp for my friend who recently moved into a new place. Linda of Bloom Calligraphy can make them more "traditional" with all calligraphy lettering, or do the block print with a mix of calligraphy and lettering. In an era of emails, facebook birthday greetings, there is a longing to go back to old fashioned cards and letters. What better way to bring it back than a custom rubber stamp? ($45 on etsy)

I'm going to purchase some cut paper from Paper Source and stamp cards and envelopes for the gift recipient. I hope s/he enjoy it (they read the blog and don't want to give anything away!)

Food Librarian's Bundt Collection
Bundt Pans
Dude, of course I'm going to mention this. Actually, although there are a ton of bundt pans on the market, one or two are just find to have (really, you need to have space for all these). The Classic 12-cup Bundt pan is essential (Nordic Ware Bunds are the real thing - they invented it and have the best curves in town). I also like a 10-cup pan such as the new Jubilee Bundt pan and the wonderful Heritage Bundt pan. Or, you could always add some mini-bundts to the collection

iPad Air
Yeah, this is a huge one - about $500. But if you have the means or have been saving up for a self-gift, I highly recommend the new iPad Air. I was using the iPad 2 and the Air is sooo much lighter. It's just so much better. And the speakers are great. You won't be DJing a wedding with these speakers, but they are good enough to listen to music while reading a book (what I do 80% of the time) or watch some NetFlix movie in bed. Anyway, if you have some cash laying around and want to upgrade (or get on the iPad bandwagon), I'm really happy with the new iPad Air.

If you have an iPad, this bluetooth-wirelessly connecting, battery operated keyboard is cheap, easy to hook up and good for someone who hates the Apple keyboard and wonders why you can't just Swype (yes, I'm an Android user and the Apple keyboard kills me). I've only been using the keyboard for a little bit (it's not ergonomic so i won't use it too much), but it's good for writing emails or drafting a blog post when you are away from the big computer. ($20 on Amazon)

One Line a Day Book
One Line a Day
This was a hit last year on the list (The Amazon report says that 10 people bought it from the link) and I think it is fun. This book has one page per year with lines for 5 years worth of a single date such as December 7th. You get enough space to write a sentence (or a tweet) about your day. I slacked off on mine for parts of 2013, but I'm getting back into it and it's nice to see what I was doing a few years ago. I saw one for a sketch a day for those who want to capture their memories in sketches. Again, many people capture life via twitter, facebook and instagram (I'm raising my hand), but there is something more interesting about seeing your own handwriting again and a daily slice of life that is personal and not "facebookie" - you know how everything is perfect on FB? You can cuss and rant in this book...such as:  "Ate oatmeal for breakfast and I had PMS so bad I almost drop-kicked the vending machine at work to get more salty snacks." Um, not that I've ever written that (just don't look at September 8, 2012 please). About $14 on Amazon.

Last year's ideas... There are some emergency safety, luggage and more cookbooks on last year's list (still good): Part 1 and Part 2.

Donations in their name...
You know that friend who has everything? Well, do they have a heifer? Do they deliver meals to thousands of sick people? Do they provide shelter to homeless youth and keep them safe? Well...they may not have or do all that, but with a donation from YOU, they can.
It's the best gift.

Happy Holidays!
Wishing you the best, Mary the Food Librarian

Full  disclosure: I'm part of the Amazon affiliate program and get a few cents if you happen to purchase items from the Amazon links...and I end up buying more cookbooks, eBooks to read on the iPad Air and stuff from Amazon :) I never know what you buy, and it doesn't add to your bill.

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Roasting a Chicken in a Bundt Pan - Bonus Bundt! :)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Bundt Chicken
Roasting a Chicken in a Bundt Pan

In my search for Bundt cake recipes, I came across this hilarious article on The Kitchn:

The Naughty Way to Roast a Chicken by Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan.

You've got to read it! She talks about roasting a chicken by plunging onto the... well, you get the idea.

Bundt Chicken

Bundt Chicken
I started by lining a sheet tray with foil and placing the bundt pan on top. I threw in a mixture of small potatoes (love that my farmers market sells a nice trio of baby potatoes).

I'll be honest with you. In the Kitchn article, they used a nice Nordic Ware Bundt pan...but I wasn't going to do that. Sometimes kitchen items should just stay sweet and not get into the savory, chicken fat and possible burning side of life. Besides, I cranked up the heat in the oven with the convection roast setting and, just to be on the safe side, I used an old second-hand bundt pan.

I got this Bundt pan at a second-hand kitchenwares place in San Francisco called Cookin': Recycled Gourmet Appurtenances.  It's crazy stocked full of stuff. If you are ever in the area, go visit. The owner has been there since fire was invented, and she's kinda, well, interesting, but she's got tons of merchandise...and knows where everything is located!

Bundt Chicken
This is a 3 1/4 pound chicken. I sprinkled on some salt and pepper. I hardly cook so I forgot that I should have buttered the thing until about 30 minutes into roasting...then I grabbed it and tried to put some on. Yes, I think I should stick to baking Bundts! Anyway, this is way easy to do...even I can do it! :)

Bundt Chicken
Of course, you can add parsnips, carrots, onions and other veggies to round out the collection. And the best part? When they are done, they have the flavors from the chicken. Yes!

Bundt Chicken
The bottom of the chicken doesn't get as brown as the top...but I was okay with that. And you might think that lots of juice ran down the center of the hole, but nothing ended up on the foil. I've seen beer can chicken set ups and this is like it...but better because it's in a Bundt pan. :)

The Other Mary's Frozen Bundt Wreath
Another Bundt pan idea: Frozen Christmas Wreath! My friend East Coast Mary made one in Connecticut a few years ago. Place "natural stuff" in a pan with some water and set outside overnight. I can't do this in Los Angeles, but those in Duluth with 28 inches of snow (Hi Sunshine!) might want to try it!

For the chicken, I roughly followed Sara Kate's humorous recipe. It's pretty much like other chicken roasting, but this time in a cool Bundt pan! Enjoy!

Recipe & more info: The Naughty Way to Roast a Chicken by Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan of the Kitchn.
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