Friday, May 21, 2010

Tea Time in Tokyo

I still haven't gotten around to posting everything from our trip to Japan last month. One thing I love about Tokyo is that there are cafes everywhere. And not just boring places like Starbucks or Coffee Bean. There are plenty of cafes that offer a variety of cakes, pastries, teas and coffees. We wandered around for a little shopping in Ginza and took a break for high tea at a fancy little cafe called Tsubakiya. I just love having tea with dainty & elegant tea cups. I was excited to have my freshly brewed tea served in Royal Copenhagen china.
This cafe was no joke. They were very particular in the way they brew their coffee and tea. There was a professional barista behind the counter looking like he was conducting science experiments. The cafe has a retro European feel to it and was really calming after a day of walking.
With my lemon tea I had a cherry blossom chiffon cake that was so modestly scrumptious. It was light and airy with a floral undertone to it. Hubby of course had his favorite, rare cheesecake. Everything was so perfect and delicious! I wish we had more cafes like this back home!
TSUBAKI-YA
東京都中央区銀座7-7-11 管原ビル 2F・3F
Tokyo, Japan
Tel: 03-3572-4949

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Mother's Day Dinner

Sunday, May 9th was mother's day. It's become a sort of tradition in our family to cook mom dinner on mother's day. I know it's usually breakfast in bed for mom on mother's day. But a fancy homemade dinner just seems more special to me since dinner always takes more time and preparation than breakfast usually does. Hubby, bro, and I spent the afternoon slaving away in the kitchen that Sunday. It was the least we could do for the best mom ever.
This mother's day, hubby came up with the fabulous idea to pamper my mom with fancy caviar and champagne!
So for appetizers we had a cheese plate, mini toast crackers, caviar, champagne, and Grey Goose vodka. Very fancy indeed.
For our side dishes we had artichokes with garlic butter, french bread, and cheesy mashed potatoes.
The main course was ginger-scallion crusted salmon with ponzu butter sauce, served on a bed of cucumber salad. I didn't really know what to make for dinner so I simply googled "best salmon recipe ever" and this recipe popped up on allrecipes.com. The recipe did not disappoint. It was a fusion dish with a Japanese twist and tasted like something you might order for $20+ at a restaurant (if I may say so myself). Only the best for mom!

GINGER SCALLION CRUSTED SALMON RECIPE
(borrowed from allrecipes.com)

Ingredients:
  • Cucumber Salad:
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup mirin (Japanese rice wine)
  • 1 teaspoon white sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black sesame seeds
  • 2 cucumbers, halved, seeded, and cut into very thin slices

  • Ginger Crust:
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh ginger root
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup peanut oil

  • Salmon:
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 4 (8 ounce) center-cut salmon fillets
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons honey

  • Ponzu Butter:
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons ponzu sauce
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • Kosher salt to taste

Directions:
  1. To make the cucumber salad, stir together sesame oil, dill, rice vinegar, mirin, and sesame seeds in a glass or plastic bowl; add cucumber, and toss until well coated. Cover, and refrigerate for 2 hours. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
  2. To prepare the ginger crust, stir together the ginger, green onions, and garlic in a sturdy, metal bowl; set aside. Heat 1/4 cup peanut oil in a small saucepan over high heat until it begins to smoke. Remove from heat, and carefully stir in the ginger mixture; set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons peanut oil in a large, ovenproof, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Season salmon fillets to taste with salt and pepper. Sear salmon until golden brown on both sides, 30 to 40 seconds per side. Transfer to a plate, and wipe excess oil from skillet. Spread honey over top of fillets, then evenly spread with reserved ginger crust.
  5. Replace salmon into the skillet, and place into the oven. Bake until the center of the salmon turns opaque, 6 to 7 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, stir in shallots, and cook until softened and translucent, about 2 minutes. Pour in white wine, then simmer until nearly evaporated. Add the ponzu sauce and heavy cream, reduce by 1/2. Remove from heat, then whisk in cold butter pieces until dissolved; season to taste with kosher salt.
  7. To assemble the dish, season the cucumber salad to taste with salt. Divide the salad evenly onto four plates, spreading it out into a 4 to 5-inch circle. Drizzle the ponzu butter onto the bare area of the plate, around the cucumber salad. Place a salmon fillet, crust-side up, on top of the salad, and serve.

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