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Baked sweet potato with miso butter

I have had so many potatoes this winter that I’m ready to just chuck the rest of them out the window. But until thin little spring asparagus starts peeking up out of the dirt and tomatoes swell up with sun on the vine, I’ve had to make do by reinvigorating some of my winter staple foods, potatoes especially.

This big baked sweet potato dripping with salty homemade miso butter really hit the spot.

Baked sweet potato with miso butter

Have you ever made a compound butter before? You know, flavored butter? Maybe an herb butter or a honey butter or one of those fancy jam butters for spreading on a scone? Well if you haven’t, you should start with this one. Making compound butters is incredibly easy, but makes for a really impressive result. Seriously, you just mix room temperature butter with your flavoring of choice, wrap it up, and then let it firm back up in the fridge or freezer. Honestly, it’s so easy that it’d make a for a fun project to do with kids. Kids love butter, right?

miso butter

miso butter

miso butter

miso butter

Compound butter is one of those things that as soon as you make it for the first time you wonder why you’ve never made it before. It’s just so darn simple! This miso butter added the perfect touch of saltiness to the creamy sweet potato. I ended up eating the whole thing for lunch right after photographing it. Luckily this recipe makes enough miso butter to use several times. Try melting some over a juicy seared steak or roasted pork tenderloin. OMG, I bet it would be really good on sweet corn bread.

Baked sweet potatoes with miso butter

Sweet and salty combine as homemade miso butter melts over a hot just-baked sweet potato.

Cook Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • half a stick of unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. red miso paste

Cooking Directions

  1. Wrap each potato individually in aluminum foil and bake directly on the rack at 400 degrees for one hour.
  2. Stir together room temperature butter and miso paste until well combined.
  3. Transfer butter mixture onto a sheet of wax paper and roll up into a log. Twist ends to close.
  4. Refrigerate for 4 hours or freeze for 1 hour before use.
  5. To use, slice off a pat of butter and allow to melt directly over just-baked sweet potato.

 

Oh, before you go, I wanted to point out to anyone who hasn’t heard that I’ve finally made a Facebook page for my blog. Soooo behind the times, I know. Anyway, follow me for updates and discussion!

While we’re on it, you can also follow me on Pinterest, Twitter, or subscribe to my RSS feed if you haven’t already. Linky, linky, linky.

Tell me your dream compound butter flavor and how you would use it.

 

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Broiled grapefruit with ginger sugar

Ok, I need a break from talking about the book for a while. I’m sure you guys are ready for something new too. 😉

Who’s ready for spring?!! I don’t know about you guys but I am counting down the days until short sleeves, sunny walks, and refreshing warm-weather fruits. I’m craving berries. Every time I go to the farmer’s market and pass the table packed with those little green plastic cartons overflowing with plump red strawberries, I have to force myself to keep walking and not fall for their ruse. It is not berry season. Those strawberries will be watery and sour and unsatisfying.

Right now I’m combatting this need for refreshing fruit flavors with the last of winter’s citrus. I just annihilated an entire red grapefruit with lunch, sliced into wedges like an orange, making little smiles of rind as I chomp down on each one. I never eat grapefruit like that for some reason. I always see grapefruit served so preciously, either sliced into thin naked supremes on top of a fragile salad, or as I’ve chosen to serve it in the recipe I’m sharing with you today – broiled with a sugary crust, each shining bite precisely carved out with a sharp little spoon.

sliced grapefruit

But you guys know I can’t just broil a grapefruit and be done with it, right? I’ve gotta find a way to insert one of my favorite asian flavors in there somehow. This is a common springboard for me as far as recipe creation goes – I take an already delicious food and make it marvelous with a fun new flavor.

This time, I’ve used spicy grated ginger to balance with the sweet sugar and bitter grapefruit. I debated for a long time wether or not to feature ginger as one of the highlighted ingredients in The Japanese Pantry, and ultimately decided to let it play a supporting role instead. It certainly shines in this recipe though.

ginger sugar

I loved the smell of the ginger sugar as I was making this. The fresh wetness of the grated ginger soaked right into the sugar, lightly dissolving it into the texture of wet sand. It makes a grainy slushing sound as it mixes together, like the sound of walking through melting snow.

ginger sugar

I ended up broiling this in a toaster oven. I tried it once before in a regular oven and the fruit was too far from the heating element, it just kind of melted rather than caramelizing. This time though, the toaster oven crisped the topping up nicely and just barely browned the edges. I love how the fruit blisters in the heat and bulges up out of the rind. The ginger flavor was definitely present but not at all overpowering.

Broiled grapefruit with ginger sugar

I must confess though, that even with this typically “precious” presentation, it was not eaten daintily. I hacked it up with my blunt little spoon before turning it inside out and biting the rest off in big chunks until only a ragged pithy peel was left. It definitely satisfied my desire for summery flavors. I see myself having this bright little breakfast weekly until my beloved berries are finally ready.

 

Broiled grapefruit with ginger sugar

Gingery sugar encrusts juicy bitter grapefruit for a sweet and lightly spicy treat.

Prep Time: 3 minutes

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 medium red grapefruit
  • 2 tbsp. white sugar
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated ginger

Cooking Directions

  1. Slice grapefruit in half, remove any large seeds, and place cut side up on a heat safe dish or tray lined with aluminum foil.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together ginger and sugar until it is the texture of wet sand.
  3. Top each grapefruit half with half of the sugar mixture and pat with the back of a spoon to spread it out to the edges.
  4. Toast in a toaster oven for 12 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned. (The toast setting on my toaster oven only goes up to 6 minutes, so I just left it in for 2 cycles.)

 

Are there any spring and summer foods you’re desperately craving?

 

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Teaser recipe: Crispy “Popcorn” Edamame

Thank you all for the incredible response I’ve received to the news of my cookbook, The Japanese Pantry, finally going on sale. It feels really good to hear that so many of you were excited about it and had been anticipating it for some time. And thank you to each of you who have already purchased a copy or intend to soon. Every sale feels like a validation that I’ve created something interesting and worthwhile. I’ve been very hypercritical of every recipe, every story, every photo that went into this book because I know that I’m still a novice at this and have so much to learn. Already, as I plan for the next two (yes two!) books that I have in mind, I see ways in which I can improve upon this first endeavor and produce something even more informative and beautiful next time.

I thought today I’d share a recipe from the book that’s incredibly easy to put together. These crispy “popcorn” edamame were so good that even though I nailed the recipe the first time I made them, I ended up making another test batch “just to be sure.” I might have eaten the whole batch in one sitting.

 

Crispy "Popcorn" Edamame

From the book:

“We all love crunchy snacks. For some it’s crispy chips, for others it’s crackers, and for still others only a bowl of buttery popcorn will do. But all that carb-laden junk food is just that – junk. It’s hard to find a healthy snack that satisfies the craving for salt and fat without busting your gut. These crunchy roasted “popcorn” edamame come close. They have all the crispiness of a potato chip and are endlessly poppable, but contain just a scant teaspoon of oil. The delightful texture and bright flavor will have you snacking happy.”

And here’s how simple they are to make…

Crispy "Popcorn" Edamame

A poppable snack that makes for a healthier alternative to chips or crackers, but with all the satisfying crunch.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: makes about 2 cups

Ingredients

  • one 12oz. bag of frozen shelled edamame
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • the juice from half a lemon (about 2 tsp.)
  • sprinkle of salt (to taste)

Cooking Directions

  1. Allow frozen edamame to thaw on the counter or under lukewarm running water.
  2. In a large bowl, toss edamame with oil and lemon juice.
  3. Bake at 375F degrees on a foil-lined baking sheet for 40 to 45 minutes or until lightly browned and crispy.
  4. Sprinkle over salt to taste while edamame are still hot. Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

I love that edamame (young soy beans) are found in almost all major grocery stores these days. They are a really tasty snack food that even children love, despite resembling other less yummy green vegetables. This is one Japanese ingredient that has definitely made its way into the mainstream. Maybe someday kids will be snacking on pickled plums instead of candy too. Seriously doubt that one though.