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MickiYam's Profile

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What are some of your favorite kitchen tricks that you'd be hesitant to admit to foodies?

LOL, once in a while, my meringues have a Deflate Gate. Sounds like a perfect time to try something fluffy and difficult -- and if it fails, put ice cream on it and declare, "Deflate Gate!"

Jan 25, 2015
MickiYam in Home Cooking

Armchair Food Travel in Japan

Oh, the snacks I'd eat in a proper arm chair. (-: Wouldn't that make a fabulous kissaten theme?

If anyone makes it as far as Obihiro in Hokkaido, there's a really great bakery. Masuya's Mugioto. I really like their chicken karaage sandwiches, and their "chocolate bar" is perfection in stick form. (The brownie is something else, and is an average to dry brownie.) I also recommend the pizzas and paninis.

Of course you can buy the baked goods and take them home, but they have a cafe area, and in the summer there's a nice picnic area.

Jan 25, 2015
MickiYam in Japan

What do you put in your chicken stock to make the most flavorful soup?

New bones/meat and veggies, right? If that's the case, yes, it works and makes a more intense stock.

I tend to make a two-carcass stock, and then when it's time to make the real dish, I add more onions, carrots, meat, etc.

Jan 11, 2015
MickiYam in Home Cooking

Lemon/Lime Curd - does it need that much butter?

This is just a guess, but if you substitute cream or even milk, then you wouldn't have lemon/lime curd -- you'd have lemon or lime pudding. Which is fine, but it isn't the same. With cream or milk, you'd need to refrigerate it to keep it. Higher water content is the first thing that springs to mind.

When I made lemon curd, I stirred in the butter after. Wouldn't cooking butter destroy some of the delicate butter taste? All I know is that it was smooth, smooth, smooth, and absolutely delicious. The hot mixture really is quite hot, and should melt the butter so much that there's nothing lumpy about your mixture.

By all means, you should experiment, but take notes (and date them) on the recipe page so you can decide what to do the next time you make lemon curd (or lemon curd-like substances).

Jan 04, 2015
MickiYam in Home Cooking

What do you put in your chicken stock to make the most flavorful soup?

I think this is the first answer to address water ratio. To me, that's the most important thing to making a good stock.

I need to have a neutral stock because we make something soupy nearly every day during the winter months. Pot au feu one night, nikomi udon a different night, maybe ramen the next. I prefer to put the final flavorings in the real soup, not the stock.

So, I usually stick to onions (sauteed about seven minutes), carrots, poultry bones and maybe leeks. Scrape up the fond before adding enough water to cover the ingredients.

Also, we're not afraid to use the old stock as a sort of "starter" for the next batch. The stock gets more flavorful the more meat and veg you cook in it.

So, for example, I might make up a big pot of stock, and use half of it with more onions, carrots and seasonings for ramen on night one.

Night two, poach some chicken in it and use the chicken for hot sandwiches. (I love this with fancy salt, some umeboshi paste and mayo, and some sliced cukes and perilla leaves.)

Night three, add chicken wings, weiners, boiled potatoes, more onions, carrots and leeks and some salt for pot au feu.

I haven't noticed vinegar actually making my stock gel more; it's not enough to make the soup sour either. I think you just get an invisible calcium boost from the addition.

My most memorable stock was when I made one with two and a half turkey carcasses after a Thanksgiving party. Whoa! I barely covered the bones, and I had a pot of gelatin the next day! Absolutely amazing, and the mouth feel was wonderful. I can't remember what we did with it . . . maybe turkey udon. It was so good, though.

Sorry so long, but a good stock is a wonderful ingredient to have on hand.

Jan 04, 2015
MickiYam in Home Cooking

thermometer... making toffee?? Candy makers??

I make the Better Homes & Gardens Christmas toffee, and have destroyed accandy thermometer or two with it. I've gotten to the point where I play with ice water while I am waiting for those telltale brown bubbles. Also, the hot mess begins to cling to the spoon at 290. I get by, but I wish I knew how to use a thermometer properly. YouTube?

Dec 30, 2014
MickiYam in Home Cooking

Shinjuku near Yotsuya Station; Kurashiki; Onomichi, Miyajima

I'm going to have to remember that.

Dec 23, 2014
MickiYam in Japan

New Profile Setting: Collapse Previously Read Comments (also defaults to "See All" page)

Doesn't really need bumping, but I did want to say how grateful I am to everyone who kept bumping it up. The clue-shoe finally dropped today, and thanks to y'all, I got rid of that horrible pagination!

YET ANOTHER CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE PROBLEM

Jumbo eggs makes mine really flat. I need to buy large eggs (just plain large eggs) especially for these cookies.

Dec 21, 2014
MickiYam in Home Cooking

YET ANOTHER CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE PROBLEM

I like a puffier, sturdier cookie, so I stopped using AP and started using bread flour. But since you want flat and chewy, I don't think this will work for you.

Is there any chance that the butter has more water? Or the eggs are a different size? Both would also be part of the "too much water" problem that humidity is also a part of.

Dec 21, 2014
MickiYam in Home Cooking

Pear desserts

I had a really delicious pear/cream/saffron sorbet last year. IIRC, you just poached the pears in saffron and a little sugar, then added cream, and poured them into cups and stuck them in the freezer. Super-rich, so they needed to be small amounts, but absolutely unforgettable.

If I had a bunch of pears I didn't want to eat out of hand, I'd make a tiramisu base (just sugar, eggs and cream), ladyfingers, and some poached pears (possibly poached in saffron!), layered.

I just love pears, though, and we've been having them every evening for dessert (sometimes with some almonds and gorgonzola).

Dec 21, 2014
MickiYam in Home Cooking

cheese making

Many, many years ago, I got some cheese kits from New England Cheesemaking, and they were a big help for a beginner. I also used David Fankhauser's site for more information. When I made cheese semi-seriously, I used Fankhauser's recipe with modifications using NEC cheese culture. I also wound up using a pasta pot with a removable strainer to hold my cheesecloth, and some old dumb-bell weights to press the cheese when needed.

I have access to raw milk, so you may need different methods if you are using store-bought milk.

Ricotta is probably one of the easiest cheeses to get started with since it needs very little to start -- milk, vinegar, a pot and a strainer (maybe with some gauze or cheesecloth lining it).

Dec 21, 2014
MickiYam in Home Cooking

Rec on solid "not fancy" Ryokan in Kyoto that might surprise also with food ?

That's really good advice. I'll look into temples, too, next time I go.

Dec 17, 2014
MickiYam in Japan

Rec on solid "not fancy" Ryokan in Kyoto that might surprise also with food ?

Ah, Yabai Antoinette chimes in with a "let them eat buerre" in another post, then dooms us to Lotteria in this one. (I've got this Monty Python skit going through my head about certain Chowhounders oppressing the simple masses who want to eat well without robbing bystanders to do it.)

I didn't have the research tools in those days; I ate adequate meals, but not great ones. Certainly not memorable ones. Surely, a city like Kyoto must have a range of great, reasonable food.

So, do you have any recommendations, or not? I could google it, but I don't want to pass on second-hand hearsay to the OP.

Dec 16, 2014
MickiYam in Japan

Rec on solid "not fancy" Ryokan in Kyoto that might surprise also with food ?

I just wanted to say that I applaud the direction this post is going. I rarely get to Kyoto, and the only memorable foodie experience I've had there is shaved ice half way up some mountain on a hot day in August. But if I ever go again, I'd love to stay at a ryokan that works with seasonal food in a surprising yet reasonable-budget way.

I hope some kind Kyoto-ite helps you out.

Dec 16, 2014
MickiYam in Japan

Anyone else bummed out by the butter shortage in Japan?

yabai, ojisan, yabai yo.

Dec 15, 2014
MickiYam in Japan

Anyone else bummed out by the butter shortage in Japan?

Well, I've made my own, and I have to say, it's probably worthwhile to pay for the French buerre if you go by hassle. The biggest problem I have is that I get about 1 to 1.5 cups of cream from 2 liters of milk. This is hand-skimming. So, what can I do with 1.8 liters of low-fat, day-old milk? It really turns into a full-time job at that point, unless one is willing to feed it to the dogs. After all, there's only so much home-made, low-fat mozzarella one family can eat.

It's a bargain at 400/200g, but, I'm kechi-kusai and don't like paying it.

I read an article about the butter shortage today that seemed riddled with errors -- that said, I think they got one thing right. It's the Christmas cake causing the shortage. Things will probably get better around January 1. (-: Not a lot of butter in osechi. (Although, that other big butter holiday, Valentine's Day, is coming up, so who knows?)

Dec 14, 2014
MickiYam in Japan

Anyone else bummed out by the butter shortage in Japan?

Ooh-la-la-la-la-la. I had hard enough time accepting 400 yen for 200 g. of butter. Sometimes you need a good butter that provides enough flavor, but not too much. Otherwise, you might as well use canola.

Yotsuba makes "churned" butter, and also a "fermented and churned" butter. I do like the fermented butter very much, but it is only delicious in very plain settings. The perfect potato, or a very nice chunk of baguette. Anything with more flavor, and I find that the fermented flavor gets lost. I feel it's a waste to use it in something like "died and went to heaven" chocolate cake. Also, I don't want to use it in toffee.

I haven't seen any French (or Irish) butter in my town; they may have it in Sapporo. (-: Going to Tokyo for butter would be total decadence, in my book.

Update: *cultured, not fermented. urgle. Sorry.

Dec 11, 2014
MickiYam in Japan

Anyone else bummed out by the butter shortage in Japan?

It's putting a serious crimp into my Western style Christmas prep. I'll have to hoard some for the Japanese-style Christmas cake . . . .

Is it doing bad things to your restaurant experiences? Butter isn't a traditional part of Japanese cooking, but the more modern chefs have done wonderful things with it . . . .

Dec 09, 2014
MickiYam in Japan

What's your go-to method for roasting a chicken?

This is just a data point, but I bought Costco celery recently, and had a lot on hand. I started roasting the poultry on a "rack" of celery (just put the long ones across the bottom of the baking pan). I was amazed by the flavor it adds (I put chunks of onions and carrots between the "racks", too).

As for cleaning the oven, if you do it once or twice a week with baking soda paste (left on the surfaces overnight), it shouldn't be too terrible. (Ymmv, of course.)

Dec 09, 2014
MickiYam in Home Cooking

Dumpling disaster, any ideas?

I think you might want to look for a recipe that's more Vietnamese in style. They make wrappers out of rice for lovely fried goods like nem ran or the delicious summer rolls. Officially, there are different wrappers for different uses, but since you are experimenting, you can fudge on this until you know more about what you like.

You are steaming the potstickers, so you don't need 1/2 a cup. You want all that water to evaporate in about two or three minutes. When I'm using wheat wrappers, I tend to steam covered for two minutes, then take off the lid and let it evaporate then fry for three to five minutes. (I probably use about a tablespoon of water and a teaspoon or two of oil -- I like sesame oil for potstickers.)

I'm not sure how Vietnamese rice wrappers would do being boiled in water like sui-gyoza (boiled pot stickers) but it might be OK if you watched them super carefully. If you want them boiled, then make up a big pot of hot water. Half a cup is not enough.

You can find YouTube video showing you how to do Vietnamese rice wrappers, I'm sure, but basically, you dip the hard rice sheet in water, let it sit on a surface for 20 to 40 seconds until it is flexible, then pile on your fillings, fold, wrap, and put aside in a single layer until you've got everything you want for the frying (or experimental boiling). (Or if you are eating them as-is, they are ready to eat -- cover with a damp towel, and don't wait too long.)

I once watched people making rice paper wrappers on TV. It looked tedious and you need a lot of space to dry the wrappers.

Dec 07, 2014
MickiYam in Home Cooking

Help me use 12 peeled oranges, please!

Poach them in a little sugar syrup, and then make up some milk tofu with agar-agar. (Annin dofu, almond jelly, or a host of other names.) http://www.quora.com/What-is-the-secr...

Personally, I like the kind made with almond essence and kanten/agar-agar. I've never had it with almond kernel powder, and I think gelatin makes it too bouncy. But, what you do is pour it into a sheet pan for cakes, let cool and then cut it into diamonds. Put it into your cooled oranges and syrup. Garnish with some mint.

It's supposed to be a summer dish, but with the oranges, it can be a light alternative to all the heavy winter sweets. Very nice with a cookie (-:.

Dec 07, 2014
MickiYam in Home Cooking

Marmalade Fiasco

Too much fruit at a time? I know the instructions for jams like strawberry say that you should only make up four or five pints at a time.

When I make marmalade, I'm usually working from the kumquats from my undernourished little tree, so I only make a pint at a time. I usually have no problem getting the temps up to where they need to be.

BUT, I have to say, don't get frustrated and let it burn!! Even if it's only syrup, it can be used in a lot of marvellous ways. Put a little in with hot water for citrus tea, or soda water for homemade soda, or drizzle it on ice cream. Or dip your toast into it.

Try it in smaller batches. First, I think it will solve your problem. Second, if you ruin one batch, you haven't ruined it all -- and you can try something else while the mistakes are fresh in your mind. If you divvy it up into three batches, then you could possibly do two batches on the front burners if the first batch is successful (if you understand what I mean).

Oh, and try to make sure you have a heavy-bottomed pot.

Dec 07, 2014
MickiYam in Home Cooking

Looking for dried fruit compote recipes...

I thought it'd be easy to google up a Bombeck fruit compote, but it's amazing how many funny things she had to say about fruit. I think the most famous is, "If life's a bowl of cherries, what am I doing in the pits?" I did find her Christmas Dip recipe, though (-:.

Cheers to Erma Bombeck!

Dec 06, 2014
MickiYam in Home Cooking
1

Why do my cookies go flat?

Most recipes, I don't care about a precise result. As long as it's edible, I'm good. But with chocolate chip cookies, I want a good, puffy cookie, and I have had trouble getting the right texture. Here's what I've learned:

1. Measure precisely. Weighing can be even better for precision.
2. I learned to use bread flour (hard flour) for chocolate chip cookies. I think the gluten is a big factor.
3. This goes back to number one, but make sure the eggs are standard eggs, called for in the recipe. Even if you are in a foreign country, this info should be available somewhere on the internet. If you can't get standard eggs, you can tweak them a little with water (if they are too small) but not too much.
4. Keep good notes on your recipe; date, the changes you made, and the results.

Other than that, be prepared to make them a lot until you get a recipe that's tailored to your situation. I only make chocolate crinkle cookies once a year (if that), so I haven't got them perfected yet. (Maybe I should make them my Christmas cookie of the year.)

Dec 03, 2014
MickiYam in Home Cooking

Tokyo - stumped - what to bring onboard for plane food back to States

Yeah, most convenience stores will have an array of hot snacks. I'm also partial to steamed bean dumpling (an-man), but not everyone likes them. I haven't had them for a very long time, so I can't say.

Also, from the Japan side, I think you can take in bottles of liquid as long as they check it. Not so sure about stuff like drinkable yogurt, but that's something virtuous to have on the plane. If you can get it through security.

Dec 03, 2014
MickiYam in Japan

Food Omiyage to Bring To Japan

No . . . I have a co-worker from the Seattle area and he might have mentioned salmon jerky. I've only had the Hokkaido stuff, which I like a lot.

Oh, but speaking of that, Costco is from the Seattle area. There *are* Costcos in Japan, but I often see co-workers bring back Costco "omiyage" from Sapporo. The mixed nuts seem to be very popular, and the jars of chocolates are also appreciated. It would be a conversation starter.

Dec 03, 2014
MickiYam in Japan

Food Omiyage to Bring To Japan

What do y'all think about salmon jerky? Would Seattle salmon jerky fade in comparison to Hokkaido toba?

Dec 02, 2014
MickiYam in Japan

Tokyo - stumped - what to bring onboard for plane food back to States

(-: You know what I like, rather guiltily? Those chicken skins stuffed with good things at Lawson's -- they call them "gyoza" but they are like Atkins gone mad. They have a certain bounciness to the grind that I love, and the flavor is pretty good. They are served hot, though. I don't know what they'd be like after going through security and all the other waiting games.

BTW, I believe there's a Lawson's right there in the airport. Could be in both airports, actually.

Dec 02, 2014
MickiYam in Japan

Thanksgiving for one - What would you make?

I don't think anyone mentioned roasting a chicken instead, and now I know why.

I just roasted chicken thighs on top of aromatic veggies with salt, pepper and sage. I had just done this with turkey legs and wings on the 16th, and it had been the BEST thing ever. Golden and good and so wonderful!

I could have cried last night. It just wasn't the same with chicken. It would have been good at any other time of the year, but chicken just isn't turkey.

Too close, too soon.

Nov 26, 2014
MickiYam in Home Cooking