Mucho Matcha, Mushipan and More

 

Today my piece on what do with matcha purchased at Minnano Japanese Grocery here in San Antonio debuted on the SA Current’s website. At the time of writing the article, I had yet to even consider matcha might go in lemonade. It makes sense – tea + lemons = very normal combo, hot or cold – but it just never occurred to me to make it. That was until I stumbled into Cha Cha Matcha this Monday in Manhattan’s Little Italy. Coming off a day of the BRAT diet, the fresh mint, fresh lemon and antioxidant rich matcha green tea felt like a tonic for my soul. Plus the interior was very Instagrammable.

All that being said, making mushipan (蒸しパン) steamed cakes are another fun way to use your matcha in a way that isn’t just drinking it old-school style.

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Below is the recipe I provided here, just with pictures:

Green Tea Mushipan
Recipe makes about three 4-inch inch round size cakes, or about 10 muffin size mushipan

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Special equipment needed:
Bamboo steamer
Vessel for batter (I used creme brulee ramekins, but any baking vessel that fits into the steamer should work. Minnano carries some cookware so ask the staff for the mushipan advice if you have concerns).

Ingredients
3 teaspoons matcha green tea powder
¾ cup steamed bun or bao flour (can be substituted with cake flour)
¼ teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs
½ cup sugar
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon water

Begin by sifting together the matcha, flour and baking powder.


Afterwards, separate the yolks and whites of the eggs. Be especially careful not to get any yolk in the whites, as it will prevent the whites from whipping properly.

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Put the yolks in a large bowl along with the vanilla, water and sugar. Beat the ingredients until they take on a pastel yellow hue, then fold in the flour mixture. Continue reading

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Last Minute Christmas Cookies

Happy Winter Solstice, though having been able to break out the coat a few days back for a drop below freezing (which I find remarkable and wonderful in the Alamo City) it does feel like winter got a start already. Earlier this year, somewhere between summer and autumn I noticed that the squirrels seemed more active this year. Hoarding more nuts, as though they expected the foraging season to be cut short. I mentioned to a few that I thought it was a sign of a truly cold winter ahead, and I’m happy to say that compared to last season that has been the case so far.img_1073

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The best part of winter is smelling like a fire.

Sunday Josh and I were invited to Six Flags to enjoy the park in its holiday state. It seemed like good time to end up in a theme park decked for Christmas given we were married in one four years on the 15th.

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We picked the location of Silver Dollar City and date because I love holidays, celebrating, decorating and festivities in general. My Christmas tree went up before Thanksgiving this year, and Halloween decorations started before October. I celebrate holiday seasons to their fullest, thus why I ended up making Christmas sugar cookies two nights ago without any occasion.

The recipe I used for the royal icing can be found here. Like the recipe I used for the cookies, I halved it, but really I would have been better off with just an eighth of what it made.

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Rather than using lemon extract, I squeezed a fresh lemon. I also added vanilla bean, giving it the speckled look. Infusing the lemon juice with the bean would have given it a stronger vanilla flavor.

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Since I was in a hurry and just baking last minute fairly late in the evening, I found a recipe for the cookies that wouldn’t require chilling the dough here. Instead of vanilla just for fun, I used orange flower water.

Not owning any cookie-cutters, I made the shapes with objects found in my kitchen drawers. I got some nice ornament shapes from an upside down creamer, as well as flowers from bento vegetable molds that I bought in San Francisco’s Japantown a few years back.

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I tried sorting my multi-color jimmy sprinkles by color, but it was far more time consuming than anticipated so I gave up after getting about 30 into separate piles. It is worth it to buy the already sorted kind I now know, and promise.

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For a quickly whipped together batch of cookies, I was pleased with the result. Especially the part where I accidentally matched them to the pastels of the Christmas tree with it’s handmade decorations – paper snowflakes I made specifically for the tree, as well as paper flowers I made for Fiesta.

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Christmas in San Antonio.

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And in case you were just scrolling through quickly and missed them the first time around, the recipes are Continue reading

Thanksgiving in Hill Country

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Despite the fact that my phone fell from a tall bed Wednesday night finally finishing it off along with most of my recent photos, as well as the fact that half of my visiting family (and I) were varying degrees of sick all throughout the weekend, Thanksgiving 2016 went by smoothly. The perfect weather lured us outside each day to hike, stargaze, and walk beneath trees of twinkling Christmas light-lit oaks.

By popular demand: the link to the recipe for the “Rosemary Corn Cake with a Honey and Brown Butter Buttercream” is further down, along with some of my own notes.

About a five-minute walk from my apartment on South Flores in San Antonio is the 1851 Guenther House. Known for brunch and being home to the Pioneer Brand baking mixes, I usually see a lot of people coming and going around noon when I walk by. Yet before this weekend, I had not visited myself.

Maybe it was the menu or maybe the clientele, but we ended up dubbing it “fancy Cracker Barrel” complete with outdoor heaters and afghans for the mild autumn chill. Unfortunately my pictures of the grounds along the river and replica gingerbread house in the museum were lost when my phone bit the dust later that evening.

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Keeping with the theme of outdoor fancy heated seating, we visited Hotel Emma at the Pearl while on a mission to get the sea salt dark chocolate ice cream from Lick that my sister had fallen in love with during her stay in the summer  (though it cost as much as the five paletas we bought at El Paraiso for lunch). We also took time to visit the Japanese grocery store, the Japanese tea gardens, Southwest School of Art (to keep with theme of places established in 1851), and the Denman Estate Park pictured above.

Did I point out all the aforementioned activities went down on same day? (along with seeing the lights of “Light the Way” at University of the Incarnate Word and dining for supper at wood-fired all local Il Forno just past Southtown).

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As such, arriving at the peaceful 1851 Opa’s Haus in Kingsbury, Texas was the perfect foil to a full day on the town.

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“The house was originally built by German immigrants who used ‘fachwerk’ (half timber) construction with which they were familiar in Germany. Some of these original walls have been exposed to show the structural beams held together with hand-whittled pegs instead of nails. Between the beams you can also see the handmade bricks.”

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We heard a range of creatures during our stay – the cows that live in the field beyond this bathroom window, an owl, yipping foxes and definitely probably a few ghosts.

We did find that most (all but one) of the windows did not have full curtain coverings, maybe the German way?

Less than twenty minutes to Landa Park in New Braunfels, it was easy to stop by the Comal Springs, once home to the Natives who called it “Conaqueyadesta, meaning “where the river has its source”, for a little hike post Thursday’s dinner/brunch.

Not pictured is the very old Founder’s Oak, a tree with its on webpage.

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Because we had our turkey dinner while watching “Christmas Vacation” at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin Thursday evening, even featuring Aunt Janet-style green bean casserole and pecan pie – Thursday morning was host to a lunch/brunch centered around ham and hashbrown casserole.

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You can find the recipe for dessert at The Bees’ Knees. The batter makes a three layers rather the two pictured, and personally would recommend halving that recipe. Furthermore, I found the buttercream to be a bit grittier than I prefer, but I did mix it by hand. Browning the butter is wonderful idea however, and brown butter could incorporated into any buttercream recipe I believe.

An #optoutside hike on Enchanted Rock and a drive through the Christmas-ready town of Fredericksburg to the soundtrack of live polka music in the square capped off our Friday in Hill Country. There were plenty of leftovers to be had at Opa’s Haus for the meals that day.

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Needless to say, I slept 15 hours straight Saturday night – almost as long as drive for my family returning to Arkansas.

Tea Party, Just Because (With Recipes)

Breakfast for dinner is a beloved classic, why not tea party for dinner? Zhi Tea is one of the first places I really fell in love with in Austin. My first encounter with Zhi Tea came from a pot of their “Austin Breakfast” blend black tea that accompanied a hearty English breakfast served at the quirky British cafe, Full English in Austin, Texas.IMG_20223_editedBut here in San Antonio, Zhi Tea is still accessible at Central Market or Rosella Company in loose leaf form. If you really don’t want to commit to a whole box, Bird Bakery in Alamo Heights serves Zhi Tea, including the Austin Breakfast blend, at their bakery and cafe. But you should just commit to a whole box.

I recently chose to try their version of Earl Grey. Unlike your guilty pleasure Bigelow tea bag variety, Zhi Tea’s blend is more floral like a rose or orange blossom than moody like bergamot of lavender. Bergamot admittedly is a type of orange, but it seems more wintery in most blends as opposed to Zhi Tea’s summery version. I’ve never tasted a fresh Bergamot orange so I cannot speak to which is more true to taste.

However, I chose to have my little tea party as an excuse to bake more than as a reason to make tea. IMG_20224_edited

Using only what was already in my pantry, the menu consisted of:

Lime scented Apple and Blueberry Corncakes

Lavender Blueberry Drop Biscuits

Flourless Coconut Shortbread Cookies

Tamago Sashimi drizzled with Yamasa Sashimi Soy Sauce

Kumato Tomato Sandwiches

Crackers with Goat Cream Cheese and Pepper Jelly, and Hummus

Fresh Watermelon and Cherries

The tamago, or egg omelet, sashimi and accompanying sauce were purchased at Minnano Japenese Grocery. It was probably the most eclectic menu choice and it’s the only one we finished in one sitting.

All of the crackers and dips came from Trader Joe’s, adorable napkins from IKEA, and fruit from Central Market.

Below are the three other recipes. Continue reading