December has arrived already!

This year has been really warm; as a consequence,  the foliage didn’t change its colors properly. It’s dull all over. Quel domage! On the contrary, tastes of autumn fruits are sweeter and better this year due to the long hot summer. Apples are yummy, so I made a simple apple pie with a ready-made pie sheet and Kogyoku (red ball, if I translate in English.) which is similar to Mackintosh. I sprinkle some brown sugar and cinnamon for the taste.

And it’s a season for juicy succulent pears in different shapes and flavor.  In Japan, the most popular pear is called La France. We bought three boxes of it. And I made Pear & Parmigiano Reggiano tart and also this Pear-Caramel Entremet. This is my favorite cake which was served as our wedding cake as well.

I’ve made some cookies without butter (now in Japan, butter is scarce) , stollen,  some birthday cakes, a few anniversary tarts, French macarons, and madeleine with organic lemon zest.

Yuzu is in full season now. This fragrant citrus fruit is wonderfully flavorful. The scent is awesome! We usually use its skin to enhance a flavor, but this time I squeezed Yuzu to get some juice. The rest of its skins became home-made Yuzu peels. Anyway, its juice along with grapefruit and lemon juice has converted into pate-de-fruit. It’s somewhat like a gummy in texture (softer), and fruitier than that.

Another birthday cake. The cake is made of Damask-rose flavored white chocolate mousse with raspberry-lychee mousse and raspberry ganache (chocolate cream) inside.

This is a pastry called Religeuse in French. It’s made out of puff-pastries and cream and sugar fondant. I put strawberry cream in the bottom and the top with pistachio custard cream decorated with a collar-like chocolate disc. It has to be looked like a nun in a way like its French name.

When Fall comes, we make Cannele de Bordeaux which is a regional pastry of Bordeaux in France. Its unique shape is from a particularly-made copper Cannele mold. It needs to be baked in dark brown to enhance its flavor.

And the rest, preparation for Christmas! But in rural areas in Japan, Christmas atmosphere/spirit is a far-cry from the one in Western countries. I don’t feel any Christmas spirit at all here, which is sad…


Already November!

Time flies so fast! It’s already November. I’ve been always on the run this year, which I can’t handle the situation really well. At least not yet! My desire to master and control this chaotic life is far from the reality; I’m sort of a slave who is trapped in such a small world of going to work and coming back home late at night.

Well that’s enough. I shall catch up with where I last dropped in this blog.

I still create new things in pastry as well as the same old things. Sometimes it comes from a mistake, while the other things are coming from somewhere in my head.

When I feel “My imagination doesn’t go anywhere beyond”, I go out in nature finding some treasures, especially early in the morning. 

Especially, on this route out in the boonies, I usually find naturally adorable things.

Like a cabbage with a heart-shaped hole on one of the leaves.

Like Fall-colored berries and some Oriental plants.

And a snail stretching out to reach its aim. Why not!? We can do the same thing, can't we?

As a result, I created this Entremet cake for the 30th anniversary of a happily married couple which traveled to Shikoku, one of the four principle islands of Japan. Darn it, I never traveled so far in Japan! But my cake did.

In October, after work, we had a chance to watch the 2nd largest firework festival in Japan near our shop/restaurant. It was next door neighbor’s front yard where we went to watch such magnificent firework, which lasted for TWO hours!!!

In October, I had a demonstration of how to make a Halloween Macaron (French macaroon) tower and its decoration at the huge department store in Tokyo, the Ikebukuro Seibu.

So, I made many colorful (color-poisoned) Macarons for this event.

Pears are in season now. I prepare pears in different styles of cooking. Here’s an authentic poached pear in light syrup with white wine, vanilla, bay leaf, and some spices.

It’s a trial version of a Halloween Macaron tower. This is a mini version which can be made easily at home.

In autumn, the Japanese craves for chestnuts. It’s an amazing phenomenon. It’s a seasonal thing which they seriously look for. So, I make this cake called Mont-Blanc which resembles the shape of the famous French-Italian mountain. If you love chestnuts, you would love this!

Another version of chestnuts dessert. Chestnut mousse topped with chocolate mousse. Yum-yum…

This is yet another Mont-Blanc tart which I created. Three-differently-cooked-kinds of chestnuts are used and well-hidden inside. There are chestnuts cooked in Earl-Grey infused syrup inside the almond cream in the tart base. In the top part, under the crème de marron (chestnut cream), there is a block of chestnut mousse covered with rum-flavored crème Chantilly and Earl Grey flavored chestnuts. Also, I placed Shibukawani (chestnuts cooked with its inner skin attached in heavy syrup) all around outside. Everybody loves this.

In Japan, pumpkins come in many different shapes and colors in autumn. I like to use seasonal ingredients in pastry making. Here, I made pumpkin financiers with lightly-burned fermented butter and real pumpkin. The rich and profound flavor of beurre noisette (brown butter) and pumpkin is such a wonderful combination, needless to say.

This year, November is very mild and warm. We can still enjoy outside pleasantly.  It doesn’t seem foliage changes its colors properly this fall. Well, I don’t get used to Japanese winter, so I might as well enjoy the warm late fall.


After a long silence...

Summer has passed so quickly like just a blink. I didn’t have a chance to update my English blog, since my schedule was over-saturated. Now the huge typhoon has just been passing by, I have a time to catch up with this. Yesterday’s weather was very strange; at one moment, it was brightly sunny, then quickly thick bands of dark-swelling clouds came in and hang for a while, and poured all the water from the very humid air like a raging tidal wave crashing onto a shore. These sequences of weather melodrama have occurred repeatedly all day long! What a day!
Well, back to my pastry creations. I’ve made far more than these photos but of course, I can’t put everything on, so just a little. The first one is citrus florentin.  A typical French pastry is filled with sliced almonds, caramel, etc.  Here is with some orange confits.

On the Quatres-Juillet (the Bastille Day), I made this entremet with summer berries and layers of different kinds of mousses. Yum!

Then I made another French regional dessert called Crème d’Angers with fromage blanc, cream, Italian meringue, fresh cultured yogurt and homemade rhubarb-gooseberry jam.

French macarons are made with Shiso and red currents which suit for humid Japanese summer!

Rose entremet (layered mousse cake) consists of cream cheese, fromage blanc, Damask rose, lychee puree, strawberry puree, Rosé wine and pistachio dacquiose.

A little princess is made out of white chocolate mousse with Madagascar pepper, raspberry mousse, biscuit joconde-cacao and almond dacquiose.

Some more cakes.

These are not ordinary brownies. I made in a Japanese style with Kinako (roasted soybean powder) and Miso which give a mellow but deep flavor.

All in different shades of pink colors is peach and raspberry mousse cake.  If you like a fresh taste of succulent sweet peach, you would love this cake with a touch of acidity from raspberry.

I had a fun time creating this cold dessert. It looks vibrant and cute; indeed it was lovely to eat!

Another birthday cake. This is an Entremet with ginger-milk chocolate mousse inside, and rose-peach mousse and cacao nib mousse topped with glaçage chocolat.  I doodle some tempered chocolate to make some pretty design on the cake.  

Mont-Blanc. Almost all Japanese love this chestnut cake. Mine is special with 7 layers (inside) topped with a Shibukawani (chestnut cooked with inside skin in a syrup) . Inside is a beauty!

It looks like an ordinary apple tart. Apples are cored and cut and caramelized in sugar and butter with a dash of Ceylon cinnamon and lemon juice. But the secret is under these caramelized apple layers. I put Earl-Grey custard cream scented with Calvados. What a heavenly tart it is!
Summer seems gone now, though the temperature remains fairly high around 80’s. But the days are getting shorter and mornings and evenings are much cooler! Welcome to a fall season!


Apricot Fest!

I’m a newbie to Japan, though I am Japanese. This country is still strange to me sometimes. And one of the things I don’t get is that the Japanese doesn’t   seem to like eating apricots. I will never forget the first time I bought Japanese apricots and ate one of them! SOUR!!! It was bitterly sour! I thought it would be a mistake, and continued to try one more. The same result. One more time, and still the same!
I concluded no wonder the Japanese doesn’t like to eat them. It tastes horrible. Wherever I lived, except on the tropical Indian Ocean island, I had wonderful apricots in the US, France, and South Korea. So, I searched, and realized in Japan, they do cook apricots in forms of jam, compote, and such, but they rarely eat raw apricots. However, on the internet, I found sweet apricots especially cultivated for eating raw from Nagano.

The season of apricots is only 2 weeks in Japan, so before people would know about the season arrived, all apricots would be finished. What a pity! Its tangy sweet acidity makes this fruit something special in summer! Besides, I heard the popularity of this magical fruit is dwindling in my home country. Quelle domage!
Anyway, I ordered 3kg of apricots in 2 varieties: one for eating freshly and the other one for cooking.
We made various compotes, a simple jam, cooked in tarts with pistachio cream, and so on with apricots. And we simply enjoyed eating raw apricots!

Apricot jam.  Spread out on a piece of  butter-melted pain de compagne. This jam is also good with a plain yogurt.

A cool composition of lemon, lavender and apricots. Do you know that cooking lavender flowers with freshly squeezed lemon juice makes the liquid turning into reddish purple color? It’s beautiful to take a look at it.

In this mesmerizing reddish lavender pool which is still warm, I add some honey to taste and then melt gelatin in. Then I put in a fridge to make gelée at the bottom.
I then make blueberry-apricot jelly on top putting apricot liqueur  and fruits. You just keep it really cool in the fridge and serve!

Apricots and lavender. Truly a French provincial style!

If you would like the tangy-sweet combination of blueberries and apricots, here is a tantalizing macaron parisien with blueberry butter cream and apricot whipped cream with the fruits.

And these are macarons parisiens with Earl Grey and apricot butter cream.

I put apricot compote at the max for the juicy summery flavor in lightly whipped butter cream.

And this is lavender-flavored apricot compote. The lavender is smartly subtle so that it doesn’t kill the zesty apricot flavor.
The taste!? It’s like floating in a dreamy apricot bath!