Tinker

Experiments in tinkering and thought


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Onigiri – Japanese Rice Balls

I first encountered these beauties when I was on my way back to Tokyo from Kyoto. I was about to go take the nozomi train and wanted

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Onigiri while waiting for the train.

to grab a bite on the go. Most of the convenient store (or supermarket) food over there ranged from decent quality all the way to good quality. I did not really encounter any bad food in Japan. That is not to say that absolutely everything was to my taste, but when it was not, it was not a matter of quality, it was just that I did not like the taste.

As far as I can tell, onigiri simply means rice balls Continue reading


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Steak Frites

Today we tackle a classic.  I am not going to claim that it is an improvement, or the best version ever, but I did have some fun trying variations around the batter used for making the fries.  For the steak, I usually try to go as simple as possible and let the meat speak as it should.

So I wanted to get fries that were ideally crispy and flavourful. Generally speaking, when I have made fries that are simply fried, or even double fried, they would end up crisp for a very short time, generally about 5-10 minutes, and then become moist.  Some of the best crispy fries that I have had were very crispy and nicely flavoured, over at Poulet Bronzé, strangely enough Sushi Saint Jean also had delicious fries (but terrible everything else).  So to get them to be crispy, we need to batter them, and I experimented a bit with some batter.

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Stuffed Peppercorn Squash with Cheese

I am going to start off by saying that I have worked through most of the apples we picked, and even if we still had some, I am tired of making apple recipes.  I still want to try making an apple soufflé at some point, but for now I will be content with just my chocolate soufflés (I have been basing them on this recipe, but the techniques seem to vary from one source to another… more experiments to do).  Regardless, all these sweet recipes are making me (and those around me) fat, so time to experiment with some savoury recipes.

This was a recipe that is mostly based on something my mother used to do.  It is a delicious mix of peppercorn squash and a meaty tomato sauce, all topped off with a grilled cheese layer.  For the moment, not much experimenting has been done (apart from having made it before), but I got a few ideas for variations on it to try out in the future.

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Apple Experiments – Apple Buttermilk Scones

I was trying to think of what to have for breakfast on this Sunday morning, and I thought some buttermilk scones would hit the spot, but then why not make it Apple buttermilk scones?

There was not much tinkering involved here, mostly just adding apple to the recipe.

Since normally dried fruits are used in scones, which are much more concentrated in sugar and flavour, these did not end up tasting much like apple.  A larger amount could be added to compensate for this, or maybe drying them beforehand.

Another thing is that since the margarine was salted, these ended up fairly salty (delicious) but it countered the apple taste somewhat.

All that being said, they were still quite delicious.  Bet you can’t eat just one!

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Apple Experiments – Apple Walnut Sugar Pie

Just when I thought we were out of apples and I could move on to some other ingredient as a base for my recipes, lo and behold, more APPLE PICKING!  We went with my wife’s family this time, picking a combination of Cortland and Empire.

This time I wanted to try making a cross between an apple pie and a sugar pie.

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Apple Recipes – Apple Jam Trifle

I have been watching Master chef and one of the challenges that came up was trifle.  I have never eaten a trifle, or really even seen a trifle in real life.  What I understood from the show is that it is a dessert with fruit in it.  As far as an exact composition, it is hard to get an exact recipe, and it seems to be mostly because I think the layers vary depending on what people feel like putting in it (if this is incorrect, feel free to let me know in the comments below).

What I eventually determined is that it typically starts from the bottom with a sponge cake layer at the base that can be imbibed with alcohol, usually sherry.  The next layer is some sort of fruit jelly.  The top two layers are then custard and whipped cream.  So the overall dessert is a nice pudding.  I am not sure if that is normally the way it is, but I thought it would be nice to have a gradient of sweetness: the upper cream layers being less sweet, then custard slightly more so, and the jelly most sweet (some of it soaks into the cake).

Finally, as an apple recipe, instead of the (what appears to be the standard fruit) berry jam, we go with apple jam!

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