31 Mar 2011

Ito's Dorayaki Roll-ups (for 'Crawling at Night')

"so much pain packed into a single capsule of space, his heart, chomped down and swallowed, eaten, smothered, covered, lied, disguised, he cries, he cries" (p.138)

For Ito, I wanted to make something traditionally Japanese but with a twist. Dorayaki are sweet pancakes, stacked in pairs, with azuki bean paste sandwiched in the middle. My reason for breaking with tradition and serving these rolled has to do with the shocking revelation in Chapter 13. (Sorry, no spoilers). The flavour variations are symbolic of the three most important women in Ito's life, Tomoko, Xiu-Xiu and Miss Ling Yu.

Tomoko, Ito's wife
(Azuki bean cream with mirin-soaked prunes)
     Ito can't face Tomoko's illness and slowly abandons her. In a way, Tomoko is like the prune, an overlooked fruit which deserves more of a staring role. In this combination the azuki bean flavour is mild and perfectly complements the plummy sweetness of the mirin-soaked prunes.

Xiu-Xiu, the prostitute he frequents in Japan.
(Mirin and ginger cream with peach slices)
     This fusion tastes fresh and exotic, just what you might expect from a Flower Farm girl who goes by the name of Peach Blossom. The zing from the ginger is the first thing to hit your palet but is nicely mellowed by the cream. The peach adds a burst of juiciness.

Miss Ling Yu, the lounge singer / prostitute he stalks in NYC.
(Custard cream with azuki bean paste)
     This combination goes together like lounge and singer. It may not be terribly sophisticated but it will make you want to shout 'bravo' and 'encore' and clap until security arrive to escort you off the premises. Like Ito, you may need a restraining order to keep your hands off this one.

How would you interpret Crawling at Night by Nani Power? All cakes and comments welcome.

Ito's Dorayaki Roll-ups
Makes 6 rolls, serves 3-6

Dorayaki Recipe:
Shizuoka Gourmet. Step-by-step instructions with photos and a recipe for making your own azuki paste too.

Tip: Pouring the batter in a straight line across your frying pan makes each pancake easier to roll without cracking. (I saw this in a post for Matcha and Red Bean Dorayaki Roll at tune-in-tokyo)

The amounts given below fill 2 rolls in case you want to try all 3 fillings with one batch of dorayaki batter. If only one appeals to you then multiply it as necessary. Add all ingredients for your chosen flavour into a bowl and whip until stiff peaks form. Leave in small containers in the fridge until the dorayaki have cooled. To fill, smooth a spoonful of cream onto a strip of dorayaki, place the prunes, peach or azuki bean paste at one end and roll gently making sure the seam is on the bottom for plating.

Azuki Bean Cream:
4 tbsp whipping cream or double cream
1/2 tsp sugar
1-2 drops vanilla
1 tsp azuki bean paste, sived or smooth 

Mirin and Ginger Cream:
4 tbsp whipping cream or double cream
Custard cream and azuki bean paste
1/2 tsp mirin
1/2 tsp finely grated ginger

Custard Cream:
4 tbsp whipping cream or double cream
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp custard powder, mixed to a paste with 1/2 tsp warm water
1-2 drops vanilla

Again, these are the amounts to fill 2 rolls. Depending on what you've decided to make, you may need to multiply the amounts here too.

4-6 dried prunes, depending on size, de-stoned and soaked in 2 tbsp mirin for a couple of hours until plump
2 slices of peach, fresh or tinned (well drained)

Recipe, Dessert , Pancakes, Mirin

29 Mar 2011

Sake, silence, and the tsunami

When I chose Crawling at Night by Nani Power for this month's book was filled with enthusiasm and brimming with ideas for sake-infused desserts. Then the tsunami hit Japan on March 11th. I was struck silent, feeling awkward and lost in the media outpour. One of my favourite blogs, Just Bento, sprang into action setting up Bento4Japan. Many other food bloggers held baking events or posted links to the RedCross on their site. All I managed to muster was the recipe for Mariane (the book's American protagonist), before preocuping myself with hours of template tinkering. I've snapped out of it now and am back to concentrating on content, rather than aesthetics. I have a fantastic dessert in mind for Ito, which I will post by the end of the month. I'd better get baking...

Need ideas on using sake in your desserts? Check these out:

Chocolate Sake Cinnamon Cake from Cooking Light
Sesame-crisp pear with sake-poached cranberries and miso ice cream from The Free Library
Ginger Sake Ice Cream from The Frozen Fix

18 Mar 2011

Mariane's Cranberry, Lime & Vodka Cupcakes (for 'Crawling at Night')

"Mariane built her own papery lantern of excuses, reasons ... words like, party, drinkies, fun-loving, good times, living life to the fullest ... she ignored the sounds or possibilities of problems, fucked up, dead end or alcoholism." (p.173)
"Mariane, a woman, who drinks too much, who leads an unexamined life, but who still seeks redemption."(p.201)

I wanted to make cupcakes for Mariane to illustrate her lost childhood and her need to do things right by her baby daughter, Daisy. The trouble is, Mariane can't get herself together. She loves to relax with a stiff vodka, cranberry and lime. She tells herself everything's ok, that there's time, but it may already be too late.

How would you interpret Crawling at Night by Nani Power? All cakes and comments welcome.

Cranberry, Lime & Vodka Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes

100g butter
100g sugar
2 eggs
zest of 1/2 a lime
2 tbsp cranberry sauce or jelly
30g dried cranberries + extra for decoration if desired
100g self-raising flour (or 100g plain flour + 3tsp baking powder)
60ml cranberry vodka (or regular vodka)

For the drizzle icing:
150g icing sugar
juice of 1/2 a lime

Pre-heat oven to180*C
Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and mix well to combine. Stir in the lime zest, cranberry sauce and dried cranberries then fold in the flour.
Line a bun tray with paper liners and fill each 2/3 full. Bake for 12-15min.
Once out of the oven, poke holes in the cupcakes with a fork and pour a teaspoon of vodka into each one. Wait until cooled completely before making a thin paste with the icing sugar and lime juice. Drizzle icing over cupcakes and decorate with dried cranberries and lime zest.

Inspired by Cosmopolitan Magazine
Modified from Butcher, Baker
Recipe, Dessert , Cupcake, Cranberry, Lime, Vodka

16 Mar 2011

Idea Munching: Crawling at Night

Finally, the sake has arrived! It's cooking sake (mirin) so I won't be taking a swig or two while baking but it should add a little something-something to to this month's goodies. In order to encapsulate the overarching emotions of loneliness, longing, regret, and shattered dreams I want to create two desserts, one for Ito and another for Mariane. These desserts will be symbolic of their deepest psychological traumas and the ways in which they cope with the pain.

Mariane: The baby she lost custody of and her alcoholism.
Ito: The death of his wife and his obsession with a prostitute.

6 Mar 2011

Crawling At Night by Nani Power

                                                                                           Shattered Dreams

How do you turn it into a cake? I've got some ideas... but first I'll need to find some Sake.

Read, Bake, Eat along with me!

Check out the author's website at www.nanipower.com
Crawling At Night is published in the UK by Vintage Books