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Natto is a traditional Japanese food made from soybeans, fermented with Bacillus subtilis. It might have an acquired taste because of its powerful smell, strong flavor, and slimy texture-all the same it is the most popular breakfast food in the eastern regions of Japan, including Kantō, Tōhoku, and Hokkaido. The latter where I lived.
The discovery of the natto
Sources differ about the earliest origin of nattō. The materials and tools needed to produce nattō commonly have been available in Japan since ancient times. There is also the story about Minamoto no Yoshiie who was on a battle campaign in northeastern Japan between 1086 AD and 1088 AD when one day they were attacked while boiling soybeans for their horses. They hurriedly packed up the beans, and did not open the straw bags until a few days later, by which time the beans had fermented. The soldiers ate it anyway, and liked the taste, so they offered some to Yoshiie, who also liked the taste. It is even possible that the product was discovered independently at different times.
One significant change in the production of nattō happened in the Taishō period (1912–1926), when researchers discovered a way to produce a nattō starter culture containing Bacillus subtilis without the need for straw. This simplified production and permitted more consistent results.
Last week I participated in the Matsuri festival in the English garden in Münich and at lunch time I wanted to eat something with natto so that I chose a yakitori plate since this is one of the most popular Japanese dishes. I have many Japanese friend so they handed on the authentic recipe to me. Their additional instruction was that the tasty ginger and rice wine marinade can be used for meat or fish. This recipe can also be made on the grill using the marinade as a basting sauce. You should serve hot with rice or noodles.
Ingredients: 1 whole chicken, cut into pieces, 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root, 1 clove garlic, crushed, 3 tablespoons white sugar 2/3 cup soy sauca, 1 tablespoon sake, 1/4 cup mirin (Japanese sweet wine), 2 tablespoons cooking oil
Directions: Rinse chicken and pat dry. In a glass baking dish or bowl, stir together the ginger, garlic, sugar, soy sauce, sake and mirin. Place the chicken into the mixture to marinate. Refrigerate, covered for several hours, or overnight.
Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Place chicken pieces into the pan skin-side down, reserving marinade. Cook until light brown, then flip and brown the other side. Drain off grease, and pour the marinade into the pan.
Cover, and reduce heat to low, and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the lid and continue cooking, shaking the skillet occasionally, until marinade is reduced to a nice thick sauce and chicken pieces are fully cooked.
- ¼ cup scallion
- 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
- 3 granny smith apples, peeled and diced
- 1/8 cup oil
- 4 lbs ground turkey breast
- 2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
- 1 lemon, juice of, after zest is grated
- 1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup major grey’s chutney, pureed
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 2 tablespoons black pepper
- 1 pear, peeled and diced
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 1/2 cups major grey’s chutney
- Saute the scallions, celery and green apples in the canola oil until tender. Let cool.
Place the ground turkey in a large mixing bowl. Add sauteed items and the pepper sauce, lemon juice and zest, parsley, chutney.Shape into 8-8 oz burger patties, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.Season the turkey burgers with the salt and pepper. Place on a preheated, lightly oiled grill and grill for 7 minutes each side or until the meat is thoroughly cooked.To make the side of pear chutney, toss peeled and diced pear with cinnamon and sea salt.Place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Let cool.Add pear to chutney and currants/raisins.Serve alongside turkey burgers. This can also be made into meatballs. To make cocktail meatballs, brush or dip into pear chutney and broil quickly to glaze. Slap mini burgers into mini burger’s bread and let sit 5 minutes before serving.
Baklava is a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of filo, filled with chopped nuts and sweetened and held together with rose syrup or honey. It is characteristic of the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire, but is also found in Central and Southwest Asia and in Europe. Although the history of baklava is not well documented, there is evidence that its current form was developed in the imperial kitchens of the Topkapı Palace in Istanbul based on a Central Asian Turkic tradition of layered breads.
At baking baklava is normally prepared in large pans. Many layers of phyllo dough, separated with melted butter, are laid in the pan. A layer of chopped nuts—typically walnuts or pistachios, but hazelnuts are also sometimes used or placed on top, then more layers of phyllo. Most recipes have multiple layers of phyllo and nuts, though some have only top and bottom pastry.
Before baking, the dough is cut into regular pieces, often parallelograms, triangles or rectangles. Syrup which may include honey, rosewater, or orange flower water is poured over the cooked baklava and allowed to soak in.
Baklava is usually served at room temperature, often garnished with ground nuts.
In Turkey, and Bulgaria baklava traditionally is made by filling between the layers of dough with pistachios, walnuts, almonds, hazelnut. In many parts of Turkey, baklava is often topped with kaymak or in the summer, ice cream (milk cream flavor).
My favorite that makes everyone think you are a master chef I didn’t know that it’s so easy to make! I taught a Turkish friend how to make the world famous Hungarian apple pie and she taught me this fabulous recipe. The phyllo dough is found in the freezer section of most grocery stores. I added a little lemon zest to the sugar sauce.
1 (16 ounce) package phyllo dough
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup butter
1 pound chopped nuts
1 cup water
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup honey
for the almond cream:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F(175 degrees C). Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9×13 inch pan.
- Chop nuts and toss with cinnamon. Set aside. Unroll phyllo dough. Cut whole stack in half to fit pan. Cover phyllo with a dampened cloth to keep from drying out as you work. Place two sheets of dough in pan, butter thoroughly. Repeat until you have 8 sheets layered. Sprinkle 2 – 3 tablespoons of nut mixture on top. Top with two sheets of dough, butter, nuts, layering as you go. The top layer should be about 6 – 8 sheets deep.
- Using a sharp knife cut into diamond or square shapes all the way to the bottom of the pan. You may cut into 4 long rows the make diagonal cuts. Bake for about 50 minutes until baklava is golden and crisp.
- Make sauce while baklava is baking. Boil sugar and water until sugar is melted. Add vanilla and honey. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
- Remove baklava from oven and immediately spoon sauce over it. Let cool. Serve in cupcake papers. This freezes well. Leave it uncovered as it gets soggy if it is wrapped up.
- For the cream you need: 3 gelatine leaves
- 80 gr marzipan massa
- 125 ml almond milk
- 2 tbs sugar
- 1 vanilla sugar
- 200 ml cream
- 1-2 cl Amaretto liquer
- Soak the gelatin leaves in cold water. Tear the marzipan massa into small pieces. Add sugar. Squeeze gelatin leaves and add to almond milk, heat it and cook until gelatin is dissolved. Add marzipan to it. Put it in the fridge and wait until it is solid or firm. Whisk cream with the Amaretto. When the almond cream is firm enough add to the whisked cream, fold it until homogen. Before serving the baklava cut into 4×4 rectangular or diamond shapes. Scatter some pistachios and orange peel on the top.
20 of July (this year) was not a typical weekend Sunday for me. Why? Because I woke up (I forced myself) at half past four so not to miss the once a year event, the famous Cook’s bal in Münich. When I woke my poor husband up first he grunted out saying that that we would be early. But he was wrong because when we arrived at 5 am around the Chinese Tower all the places had already been taken. At 5 am! I was a bit angry because I repeated him many times that that the cook’s bal is a very early morning dance-fest but it seemed he didn’t believe me. No worry because the beautiful sunrise, mysterious candle lights and a giant pretzel compensated me promptly.
The history behind the quaint little Münich tradition
Towards the end of the 19th century the city’s servants, cooks, nannies and other minions would get up early to meet and dance around the Chinese tower in Münich’s Englischer garden from about 5am to 8am. This was often the only time the lower-classes could get off work because their masters were still asleep. However, in a foreshadowing of Footloose, a party-pooping mayor banned the dance in 1904 due to “lack of morality”. But fortunatelly the Kocherlball was revived in 1989 for the 200th anniversary of the Englischer Garten and now it’s more popular than ever. I read in the today’s paper that yesterday 15,000 people flocked to the tower to recreate the old days. Yes I guessed because wherever I wanted to move I was squeezed. Many folks were dressed up, either in much-loved modern Bavarian Lederhosen or Dirndl dresses, or in period costume. Dances, including the polka, waltz and a local jig called the Münchener Francaise were performed.
But not everyone came to dance. Many were just there to enjoy the atmosphere the “darsein” (being there) and grabbed a bite to eat. I was really happy to hear of that cooks bal from my hairdresser because that wasn’t that sort of event that attracts a lot of international tourists so there’s a really authentic feeling to it all.
I can say it’s a unique and seldom experience of Munich history!
Mousse au chocolate is the best and well known French dessert. Recipes for foams both sweet and savoury ( mousse is the French word for foam) were recorded by 18th-century French cook book writer Menon. His book Suppers at Court, was published in 1755, describes Louis XV’s favourite chocolate drink as a mixture of melted chocolate, boiling water and beaten egg (white or yolk).
The 19th-century painter and fond of cooking Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec penned a similar recipe, calling it chocolate mayonnaise. These ideas were ignored by Escoffier’s Guide Culinaire (1903) with its 19 savoury mousse recipes and iced mousse desserts.
Nowadays we prepare choco mousse according to the classic ’60s chocolate mousse recipe so that we combine melted chocolate with egg yolks and beaten egg whites. The late Robert Carrier (1923-2006, American chef, culinair book author) added whipped cream, strong coffee and rum. Now, that’s my kind of choco mousse, here is the recipe:
- 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 large eggs, separated
- 1/4 cup super fine sugar
- 1 1/4 cups cold heavy cream
- 1/4 cup Grand Marnier
- Small chocolate shavings or chocolate nibs, for garnish
- 2 tbsp instant coffee Nestlé
- for decoration: Fresh raspberry
In the top of a double boiler or in a bowl set over a pot of hot water, melt the chocolate and butter, stirring. Remove from the heat and beat with a heavy wooden spoon until smooth. Return to the heat and 1 at a time, add the yolks, beating well after the addition of each. Remove from the heat and transfer to a large bowl.
In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks start to form. Add 2 tablespoons of the sugar and beat until stiff.
In a third bowl, beat the cream until it becomes frothy. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, coffee and the Grand Marnier and continue beating until it holds soft peaks.
Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture until no white speaks appear. Gradually fold in the whipped cream, reserving about 1/2 cup for garnish.
Transfer to a large decorative silver or glass bowl and refrigerate until well chilled.
To serve, spoon the reserved whipped cream on top and garnish with chocolate shavings or fresh raspberry.
The Kocherlball, a.k.a. the Cooks Ball, takes place in Münich-München every year on the third Sunday in July. The location is the Chinese Tower in the English Garden. This is a mix of carnival, party, and traditional costume ball. Over 10,000 usually attend for dancing, drinking, and celebrating. The party starts very early though. 5 am or even earlier! This is the tradition – the servants from times of old had to celebrate before being due in at work. The next dates is 20 of July 2014! Don’t miss it!
The dates are liable to change according to the weather. The Kocherlball tradition goes back to the year 1880. It is also known as the “Dotschen or Kocherlball”. Up to a police prohibition 1904 met here in good weather on Sunday from five to eight o’clock to the 5000 the soldiers, housemaids, cooks, hausdiener and house personnel to the dance. So early, because one had to appear timely again to the work with the rule. These old residents of Munich tradition revives today again. Thousands meet for dancing, celebrating or lunchtime drinking. In the past, the ball was only for the servants and the kitchen staff. That is why the ball is called the Kocherlball (“Koch” is German for cook). The official part of the ball starts at 10 o’clock sharp. But usually, people will go on celebrating. If you want to have a good view over the dance floor, you should be early at the Chinese tower in order to get hold of a good seat. 5 o’clock can already be too late. The Kocherlball is only put off when the weather is very bad! So CU there after 2morrow!
The courgettes have a delicate flavor and require little more than quick cooking with butter or olive oil, with or without fresh herbs. Quick cooking of barely wet zucchini in oil or butter allows the fruit to partially boil and steam, with the juices concentrated in the final moments of frying when the water has gone, prior to serving. Zucchini can also be eaten raw, sliced or shredded in a cold salad, as well as lightly cooked in hot salads, as in Thai or Vietnamese recipes. Mature zucchini are well suited for cooking in breads.
1 foccaccia bread with sesame seeds
30 g pecorino cheese
1 tbsp of good extra virgin olive oil
tomato pesto to smear the bread