Chocolate Chip Mug Cookie to the Rescue!

Last week was quite the week.

On top of saying “see you” to my friends and family back home, travelling the 29 hours back to my apartment in Japan, dealing with the awful jet lag that said travel has caused (seriously, it’s the worst I’ve ever had!), and getting back to reality after an entire month’s vacation, I also signed my paperwork about recontracting. Even though I knew my decision months in advance, it was still an emotional day for me when I officially placed the paperwork on my JHS Vice Principal’s desk. (No spoilers on my decision yet – my supervisor at the BOE still doesn’t know!)

Needless to say it was a gift from above (or, rather, from Mel!) when I came home from work one afternoon and saw a recipe for a 60-Second Chocolate Chip Mug Cookie on my favourite cooking blog! I really wanted chocolate, but was way too tired to actually bake anything, so this mug cookie was the perfect compromise. Turns out, it wasn’t so much of a compromise as it was me winning at life for once this week. It was perfect! So, for all you JETs out there dealing with “JET lag” (ha ha, see what I did there?), whether it be physical or emotional, or anyone who just wants an instant chocolate chip cookie… you’re welcome. :)

To Japan-ify the recipe, I made the following changes:

-1 tbsp butter = roughly 15 g. The resulting cookie tasted a little too buttery for me, so I might cut that back to 14 or 13 g next time. (Although, I also used butter-flavoured margarine because Japan is having a butter shortage – seriously – so that could be the cause of the too-buttery taste.)
-¼ cup flour = 3 tbsp.
-2 tbsp chocolate chips = 1 tbsp. (Personal preference – I prefer a more-cookie-than-chocolate-chip chocolate chip cookie!)

You can check out the recipe yourself on Mel’s Kitchen Café!

Brown Sugar… Brookies?!

After living in Japan for 13 months, I FINALLY found brown sugar!!!!

(And yes, being the avid baker that I am, this totally warranted a blog post.)

One of the first times I went to the supermarket here, I used my online dictionary and found what I thought was brown sugar. I guess it technically is – or, at least, it’s literally “black sugar” (黒糖, kuro sato) – but the taste is different and it threw off some of my Western recipes. That being said, I assumed it was the only brown sugar that my part of Japan carried, so I made do.

"Kuro sato" - the brown sugar I had been buying and using until today!

“Kuro sato” – the brown sugar I had been buying and using until today!

Fast forward to yesterday when I went to the big supermarket in my city and saw something suspiciously like the light brown sugar of Canada. It was called 三温糖 (sanontou), so I Google’d it and, sure enough, people said it was real brown sugar! Finally!!

Sanontou - REAL brown sugar!!

Sanontou – REAL brown sugar!!

Some of you have seen me gush and fawn over a cooking and baking blog that I’ve been reading over the past several months. I fell in love with Mel’s Kitchen Cafe on Pinterest and have since made a bunch of different recipes from her site. From dinner to dessert, I have loved every single one of them, and I highly suggest that you check her out!

One of her most recent recipes was for Brookies – literally, Brownies + Chocolate Chip Cookies. So, when I was trying to think of what to make with my new found discovery, Mel’s Brookies recipe immediately jumped into my mind, and thus my brown sugar test baking adventure began!

Making the chocolate chip cookie dough! I am so thankful for the extra "counter" space that my new kitchen table gives me! <3

Making the chocolate chip cookie dough! I am so thankful for the extra “counter” space that my new(ish) kitchen table gives me! <3

First of all, I want to say that this recipe required no adaptations* – despite living in Japan and using Japanese ingredients, I followed it exactly and they turned out perfect! I did use Japanese “cake margarine” instead of real butter, which softens very, very quickly. Combined with my hot, mid-summer apartment room temperature, my dough didn’t hold its shape enough to be able to roll and mould it with my hands, so I used the teaspoon drop cookie method to combine the two doughs together on the cookie sheet.

*No adaptations, but I did use Japanese-equivalent measurements – for example, I used my 200 mL measuring cup as 1 cup for the dry ingredients.

I used teaspoons to drop the dough on the cookie sheet and mould them together.

I used teaspoons to drop the dough on the cookie sheet and mould them together.

I cooked them in my oven-microwave at 170C for 10 minutes and they were perfectly slightly underbaked, like the recipe calls for. Being the slightest bit underbaked meant that they were scrumptiously chewy!

My precious oven-microwave!

My precious oven-microwave!

My cookies also spread out – a lot! And they rose while in the oven, but flattened when I took them out to cool.

The finished product! YUM!

The finished product! How delicious do they look!

This recipe made about 50 cookies (it was my first time making this recipe, so I had to taste test them, of course… and I may have forgotten to keep track of how many I taste tested, oops!), so it was spot-on with Mel’s recipe.

Slightly under-baked so they're rich and chewy and oh-so-good!

Slightly under-baked so they’re rich and chewy and oh-so-good!

These look complicated, but they’re really not – I promise! And besides, they’re so delicious that they’re totally worth the little bit of extra work! I’m actually supposed to bring these to a city ALT picnic on Sunday, but I can’t stop eating them! I might have to make something else to bring – oops. ;)

This recipe definitely makes the list for one of my all-time favourite cookies!

This recipe definitely makes the list for one of my all-time favourite cookies!

Seriously, Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. Go check her out!

Recipe: Pork Barazushi

When I lived at home, I never cooked for myself (unless you count microwaving frozen dinners as cooking). When I came to Japan, I had to cook for myself. Over the past ten months I’ve tried my hand at several recipes, from my favourites that Mom used to make to new Japanese-style meals. I’ve had some really great results and some not-so-great ones, but I’m learning with every recipe that I make.

Today at school, I was on Japanese Cooking 101 trying to find inspiration for supper when I stumbled upon their Barazushi recipe. I thought I would give it a try, but when I got to the supermarket, I decided to change up a few of the ingredients and even add cooked pork instead of the traditional sashimi. The result was delicious, so I wanted to share my recipe with all of you!

*****

Pork Barazushi
(Adapted from http://www.japanesecooking101.com/barazushi/)
Makes 2 servings.

Pork Barazushi

My first (delicious) attempt at Pork Barazushi!

Ingredients

Sushi rice

Vegetables

5 snow peas, blanched
1 cucumber
2-3 large shiitake mushrooms, fresh
1 carrot
½ cup dashi
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. mirin
2 tsp. sugar

Pork

½ cup dashi
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. mirin
2 tsp. sugar
160 g thinly-sliced pork

Toppings

Kinshi tamago (thinly sliced egg)

Directions

  1. To make the sushi rice, make 1 cup (uncooked) rice using 1 ¼ cups water in your rice cooker. When finished, add 2 tbsp. of sushi vinegar while the rice is still hot and mix well. Set aside.
  2. Slice the blanched snow peas and cucumber into small, thin pieces. Set aside.
  3. Remove the stems from the shiitake mushrooms. Slice them and the carrot into small, thin pieces.
  4. In a pot, bring 1/2 cup dashi, 1 tbsp. soy sauce, 1 tbsp. mirin, and 2 tsp. sugar to a boil. Add sliced mushrooms and carrot. Cook on medium heat for 5-7 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the liquid has almost evaporated. Set aside to let cool.
  5. Bring a second mixture of dashi, soy sauce, mirin, and sugar to a boil. Add the pork. Cook on medium heat until the pork is cooked through and tender, about 10-15 minutes.
  6. In a large bowl, mix cooked vegetables and pork with sushi rice.
  7. Serve the sushi rice mixture in individual bowls. Add sliced snow peas and cucumber, and top with kinshi tamago. Enjoy!