I’ve been stupid busy catching up on everything that got set aside while Kramer and I were in Asia, so my apologies if you were looking for new recipes but I hadn’t posted any since last week. This past weekend was really low key and relaxing, but that also meant that I set aside blogging in favor of finishing House of Cards and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt because it was our first weekend with no big commitments so I wanted to fully enjoy it. I hardly touched my laptop on Saturday or Sunday and it was delightful. I highly recommend doing that every once in a while. I’m addicted to my screens, as I’m sure a lot of you are, so I don’t really think about how they’re probably causing half of all of my random headaches and back pain from curling up in the standard position on the couch. I’m trying to be better. When the warmer weather finally gets here, then I really won’t have an excuse!
Anyway, back to our trip. These photos are from our last day in Tokyo, AKA the best place on Earth. We had a chance to sleep in, finally, so we enjoyed that, then headed out in search of some really good sushi. This was the day we told ourselves we’d bite the bullet and drop some serious change on a once in a lifetime meal. Of course, we hadn’t made any reservations. That would have made sense, of course, but we didn’t, so Kramer just looked up a few places and we figured we’d try our luck. The first restaurant had no room for us, but the second place was Kyubey and after a 30 minute wait, we were seated for lunch with only 6 other diners around a sushi bar. The chef and his sous got to work preparing us the best seafood I’ve ever had in my life. And talk about fresh. I watched the man kill the prawns we ate as nigiri right before my eyes. Watching this master chef slice tuna, make sushi, even just supreme citrus, was like watching someone create art. I didn’t take photos during the meal, really, because I just wanted to enjoy it and spend time with Kramer. I’m glad I didn’t – not everything needs to be photographed. Or at least that’s what Kramer keeps telling me and in the spirit of a fancy lunch, I obeyed. We had grilled yellowfin tuna, the creamiest sea urchin I’ve ever tasted, fatty cuts of a few different glorious kinds of fish, unbelievably good mackerel, the aforementioned prawns, a few expertly made rolls, countless pieces of sashimi, and to finish everything off, the reddest, plumpest strawberries I’ve ever laid eyes on. It goes without saying that Kramer and I enjoyed sake and beer during this meal, and left the restaurant walking on literal sunshine. After a nap, though, we were ready for more. Minaë met up with us to get some yakitori and beers, followed by what we needed to round out our eating adventures in Tokyo: okonomiyaki. Okonomiyaki is a savory, eggy pancake filled with all kinds of good stuff, from veggies to bacon to spicy sauces. You cook it together on a large flat top, pushing pieces around until they are crisped to your liking. Kramer and I struggled with this a bit, but got the hang of it after our second or third pancake. I wish they had bars like this in New York! We said goodbye to our friends, grabbed some Japanese candy (obviously) and headed back to the hotel for a few hours of sleep before it was time to go to the airport and explore Taipei!
I made these bars at least two months ago, but life had gotten in the way of my posting them until now. Seeing as how the warmer weather is nearing closer, I figured that we needed a few more cold weather recipes to enjoy before baking seems impossible in the heat. It’ll happen quicker than you think! I had a random jug of apple cider in my fridge from an impulse purchase at the farmer’s market (see: story of my life) and I wanted to make something that let the apple cider shine more than it does in a cake (though this was a delicious cake) or muffins. My plan was to take my tried and true lemon bar recipe and convert it into these apple cider custard bars. Why not? I was a little nervous that the custard wouldn’t set, but it did, and man these were good. If you’re an apple cider fan, nothing beats having apple cider custard on top of buttery shortbread. I brought these into my office and they were immediately devoured, which is what every cook or baker wants to see. Soon we’ll be cider-less, so enjoy it now. You’ve been warned.
Outside of Kyubey in Tokyo after an insanely delicious lunch.
Chef Minaë and her faithful subject, Will.
More okonomyaki – there’s never enough.
Your shortbread crust.
Pour in your filling.
Then bake, cool and slice!
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, cubed
- 1 cup apple cider
- 8 eggs
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- powdered sugar, for dusting
- First, make your crust. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium sized bowl, combine your 2 cups all purpose flour, ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and ½ teaspoon kosher salt and whisk. Add in the cubed butter and, using your hands or a pastry cutter, combine the butter with the flour mixture until a crumbly, coarse mixture forms.
- Line a 9x13-inch dish with parchment paper, then grease it well with butter (or just grease the dish liberally if you don't have parchment). Press the crust into the pan, and bake for 15 minutes or so, until lightly golden around the edges. Set aside.
- For the filling, whisk together the apple cider and eggs, then add in your flour, sugars and salt. Pour the filling over the warm crust and bake for another 20-25 minutes, until the top is set.
- Allow the bars to cool completely (around 4-6 hours) before dusting with powdered sugar (feel free to put the pan in the refrigerator to speed up the cooling process). Cut into bars with a warm knife, wiping down the knife between each slice.