Sweet Spicy Pork Loin

pork tenderloinIn Japan, pork loin is relatively cheap and often goes on sale. One of the small-sized pieces of meat are great for a 2-person dinner with leftovers for lunch the next day. I love the flavors in this recipe, which I originally saw here.

Ingredients
1 small pork tenderloin
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp each cumin, chili powder, and cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp chopped garlic
1/4 tsp chili oil (In Japan I use ラー油, raayu.)

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

Mix the salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Rub the spices all over the outside of the pork tenderloin. In a skillet over medium-high heat, brown the pork on all sides. Then place in a small oven-save pan (use something with edges).

Mix together the brown sugar, garlic, and chili oil. Spread the mixture evenly over the top of the pork tenderloin.

Bake for 25 minutes until cooked through. Let meat rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

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Coconut Cashew Curry

IMG_7439I’m always trying out new recipes for curry. This is my latest one, and we really enjoyed it. It ended up being very flavorful and a good, inexpensive, filling dinner that included plenty of leftovers for the next day’s lunch. I sometimes leave out the chicken or replace it with tofu, in which case this recipe is vegan.

Ingredients
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, sliced
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped tomato (canned diced tomato is fine)
3/4 cup cashews, divided
2 cups (480 mL) vegetable broth (chicken would be OK too)
2 to 2-1/2 cups vegetables of your choice, sliced or chopped into bite-size pieces
2 chicken breasts (optional – leave out or replace with cubes of 木綿/firm tofu)
1 can coconut milk
1/2 tsp each cumin, coriander, cardamom, turmeric, fennel, and kaffir lime powder**
1/4 tsp each cayenne pepper, allspice, cinnamon, and black pepper
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp cornstarch (optional; see recipe)
Rice for serving

* Vegetables: really, you can use whatever you like here. I always use what I have on hand or what is on sale or in season at the moment. Some of my favorites are asparagus, green beans, zucchini, carrots, and… daikon, which is great in curry and has a similar taste and texture to potato when cooked.

** Kaffir lime powder is a seasoning I found here in Japan but have never seen elsewhere, so i don’t know how common it is. You can leave it out, or add a little extra lemon or lime juice if you like instead.

Instructions

Heat the vegetable oil in a 2 or 3 quart saucepan. Saute the sliced onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes until the onion is translucent, then add the tomato. Cook for about 5 more minutes, stirring frequently, until the tomato has broken down and most of the juice is gone.

Meanwhile, toast the cashews in the oven or in a dry pan over medium heat on the stove.

Let cool for a few minutes, then scrape the mixture into a food processor or blender. Add 1/2 cup toasted cashews and some of the vegetable broth (depending on how much your appliance can hold) so the mixture will blend. Process until smooth.

Return to the pot with the remaining vegetable broth and heat to a simmer. Add any vegetables that need time to cook (for example, daikon, carrot). Simmer for about 10 minutes.

Add the sliced chicken and coconut milk and stir. Simmer for about 10 more minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

Add the spices and lemon juice and mix well. If the curry is not thick enough, you can add the cornstarch, mixed with a tablespoon of water, and cook for two to three minutes until thickened.

Taste and add salt if necessary (it depends how salty your broth is).

Serve over white or brown rice, with the remaining 1/4 cup toasted cashews sprinkled on top!

Pumpkin Spice Steamer

pumpkin spice steamerI’ve heard a lot about pumpkin spice lattes this season, and I can imagine the popularity. I don’t drink much coffee, though, so I thought about creating a similar drink without the coffee. It was surprisingly easy, and is much cheaper (and probably healthier) than buying it at a coffee shop. I imagine you could add coffee, too, if that’s your thing!

Ingredients (serves 1)
240mL (1 cup) milk (low fat or whole are both fine; I haven’t tried any other varieties)
2 tsp brown sugar
a sprinkle each of: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, salt (OR a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice)
1 thin slice fresh ginger (OR a sprinkle of powdered ginger)
2 tbsp pumpkin puree*
a few drops vanilla extract

*Pumpkin puree is not easily found in Japan. I have seen canned pumpkin once at an import store. It’s also available online. Leftover pumpkin puree can be stored in the freezer in a ziplock bag for months.You can use frozen puree in this recipe, since it’ll thaw in the hot milk.

Instructions

Put all ingredients in a small saucepan and whisk to combine. Heat over medium-low heat until steaming – do not allow the milk to simmer or boil, or a skin will develop on top.

Biscuit Cinnamon Rolls

biscuit cinnamon rolls8This recipe for cinnamon rolls uses a different dough from most cinnamon rolls. As a “biscuit”, the dough is not very sweet, and is more firm. However, when contrasted to the sweet filling, the result is a not-overly-sweet treat. Originally from here.

Ingredients
Dough:
3 cups flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
113g (1/2 cup) butter
50g (1/4 cup) shortening
1 egg
180mL (3/4 cup) buttermilk (in Japan: use 175mL milk + 1 tsp lemon juice and let sit 5 minutes before using)
1 tsp vanilla

Filling:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
pinch of salt
30g (2 tbsp) butter

Instructions

For biscuit dough: Sift dry ingredients together. Cut in the butter and shortening with a pastry cutter or two knives. In a small bowl, mix together the egg, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture and stir until combined.

For filling: melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Stir and cook until the butter turns brown. Let cool slightly. In a small bowl, mix sugars and spices.

Roll the biscuit dough into a rectangle 10 by 12 inches (25 by 30 cm). Spread or brush the browned butter onto the dough, then sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly over.

Roll up the biscuit dough tightly, with the seal on the bottom. Slice with a sharp knife into 1″ (2.5 cm) slices. Lay the slices on a baking sheet and bake at 200C / 400F for 13 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. (If the dough is too soft to slice neatly, chill the dough in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes and try again.)

Chai Tea

I love chai tea, and often make it at home. If you mix a larger batch of the spices in advance, it cuts down on the time to make the drink.

Makes 1 large mug of tea.

Ingredients
1 cup (240mL) cold water
1/4 tsp chai spice mix (see recipe below)
1/4 star anise
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 bag black tea
1 cup (240mL) milk
1 tbsp sugar or honey

Instructions

Put water, chai spice mix, star anise, and ginger into a small saucepan and bring to a low boil over medium heat.

When the water is bubbling, add the teabags and milk. Return to a simmer, and allow to simmer uncovered for 8-10 minutes.

Strain through a fine mesh strainer and add sugar or honey. Enjoy!

Recipe for chai spice mix
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp ground cardamom
4 tsp ground cinnamon

This makes about 1/4 cup spice mix, or about 45-50 servings.