Fêtes . Dinners of Holiday. Many IDs, change of style.

A few ideas for holiday menus. Japan has a month to celebrate the end of the year with Bonenkai (funerals of the old year) parties. In other places, Yule, Noël, Xmas and New Year in many places. Add, yours…
I like trying different dishes and meal styles.

Take a hot cup of thé de Noël and enjoy :

Rétro Christmas, candlelight and rustic.

Simple appetizers.
Jambon en croute aux marrons (chestnut ham pie)
Provence’s style : 13 desserts of Christmas night
Nougat glacé (iced nougat)

Kani Nabe (crab hot pot)
Winter Japanese home parties are often nabe (hot-pots)
Japanese hot pot with Winter crab
Other nabe (hot pots) :
Nikomi Udon
Duck and veggie nabe

Noël blanc
Everything white, and French flavors…
Full Menu White French Christmas
Boudin blanc (white pudding sausage was little people’s Xmas treat, DIY)
Blanc-Manger (Middle-Age style, not a dessert)
Canard aux airelles (duck with cranberry sauce)
Gateau Mont-Blanc (coconut Antilles’ whiteness)

A Japanese Christmas menu
chicken and sesame cooking class
marmalade and sesame wings
chicken slices with wine sesame sauce
tofu with wine sesame sauce
decorative potato sarada. (pote sarada)
sesame fruit cake

Mexican Navidad, Tamales
pickles and chicken tamales
yellow grits tamales
tamale pie

Christmas ham, from the Antilles (French Caribbean islands).
Petit jambon antillais (pineapple baked ham)
féroce d’avocat (cod fish spicy guacamole)

Classic French
potage Choisy
Le poulet de Gaston – Dijon chicken (mustard sauce)
bûche aux marrons glacés
Douceurs de beurre et marrons…

Osechi Ryori, a feast of good luck dishes for Japanese New Year, with the recipes. Click here.

Alsace influence. French and light.
Full Menu
Blinis with smoked salmon
Choucroute de la mer (seafood Sauerkraut)
Bûche forêt noire Blackforest log Yule cake
Bredele (season cookies)

Petit Jésus en brioche…
About this one, posts showing up soon :
Colorful first dish
Saucisson en brioche au safran (salami saffron pie)
Red wine red cabbage in rice cooker. The same in cocotte.
Chestnutty no-bake croquettes
Flocon de neige (streusel flocken-sahne). Berry Flockensahne.
Black sugar Nonnettes Kaki nonnettes. Mandarin nonnettes.

Pickles and chicken tamales, a shopping challenge

When I read :

Maranda of Jolts & Jollies was our January 2012 Daring Cooks hostess with the mostess! Maranda challenged us to make traditional Mexican Tamales as our first challenge of the year!

Daring CooK Challenge
That looked like a great idea.

Do you know how easy it is to find ingredients for Mexican cuisine outside the Americas ? Surely the quickest would be making the trip to Mexico to do you shopping. I don’t know how other Japanese Daring Cooks could do. I got masa a few months ago, I don’t know how to get some today. The shop was 600 km from here, and they’ve got out of business soon after I bought it (not my fault, I swear).

How do ethnic restaurants buy ingredients ? Well, the cheap ones substitute any ingredients they don’t have, sometimes to the point you can’t even the dishes. Those that can charge higher prices import directly their ingredients. Can’t we also do that ? No, due to sanitary regulations, food can’t be shipped without control, and we’d need to order quantities worth the price of the control. Restaurants have deals with wholesalers that do the things for them. Grocers that have shops of exotic foods or that mail inside Japan make you pay their efforts, but that’s not enough to allow them to maintain stocks in rare products. So they will import a product once only, make some promotion to sell their stock, and when it’s sold out, they wait years to reorder. If you are really courageous, check all those small shops and you’ll end up finding one that has your product in stock.

Substitutions gives something different. Some of you have seen some Gourmande tamales made “without the ingredients” on this blog :
yellow grits tamales

tamale pie

Getting just that was incredible. The masa harina is NOT corn flour and it’s not even made from the corn we have here, it’s a different type (read this).

Well, my chiles are pickles. I cut and refried them with onion.

I diluted lard in hot water and mixed the masa harina by hand. That takes 1 minute.

That’s raw ground chicken. Herb mix from my balcony garden (last ones this year). The wraps are bamboo leaves, and I have tied them by 2. I’ve put the steam basket on top of its lid, inside a high pot with water in the bottom, of course.

A steamed tamale.

Served with pickles, red beans (azuki refried with a little oil and cumin) and avocado.

Recipe from the challenge (source Daring Cook Challenge )
Green Chile Chicken Tamales:

Servings: About 24 tamales

1 – 8 ounce (225 gram) package dried corn husks (If you cannot find corn husks, you can use parchment paper or plastic wrap.)

For filling:
1 pound (455 gram) tomatillos (can sub mild green chilies – canned or fresh)
4 – 3 inch (7½ cm) serrano chiles, stemmed and chopped (can sub jalapeno)
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 ½ tablespoons (22½ ml) Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cups (480 ml) low sodium chicken broth
4 cups (960 ml) (400 gm/14 oz) cooked and shredded chicken
2/3 cup (160 ml) (30 gm/1 oz) roughly chopped fresh cilantro (also known as coriander)

For the masa dough:
1 1/3 cups (320 ml) (265 gm/9⅓ oz) lard or vegetable shortening
1 ½ teaspoons (7½ ml) (10 gm/1/3 oz) salt (omit if already in masa mixture)
1 ½ teaspoons (7½ ml) (8 gm/¼ oz) baking powder (omit if already in masa mixture)
4 cups (960 ml) (480 gm/17 oz) masa harina (corn tortilla mix), I used instant masa mix
1 ½-2 cups (360 ml – 480 ml) low sodium chicken broth


1. Place the dried corn husks in a large pot and cover with water.
2. Place a heavy plate or a smaller pot full of water on top of husks to keep them in the water. Let soak for 3 hours or up to 1 day, flipping occasionally until husks are softened.
3. Once husks are softened, boil chicken about 20 minutes or until fully cooked.
4. Immediately place hot chicken into the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment. Turn mixer on high to shred chicken (this takes about 3-5 seconds).
5. Place an oven rack on the top setting. Turn the oven on broil. Peel and rinse the tomatillos.
6. Line a heavy baking sheet with foil. Place tomatillos on baking sheet and place under broiler.
7. Broil (grill) until black spots form on tomatillos, then flip and broil (grill) other side. This takes about 5-10 minutes per side depending on the strength of the broiler.
8. Place roasted tomatillos and juices from the pan into a food processor and allow to cool about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and chopped Serrano chiles and process until smooth.
9. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat.
10. Add the tomatillo puree and boil, stirring continuously, for 5 minutes (it should turn thick like a paste).
11. Add in the chicken broth, stir to mix well. Reduce heat to medium low and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally until mixture coats the back of a spoon and is reduced to about a cup (240 ml).
12. Stir in the chicken and cilantro. Salt to taste.
13. Prepare the dough. In the bowl of an electric mixer, on medium high heat, cream together the lard or vegetable shortening, baking powder and salt.
Mix in the masa harina, one cup (240 ml) at a time.
14. Reduce the mixer speed to low, gradually add in 1 ½ cups (360 ml) of the chicken broth.
15. If the mixture seems too thick (you can taste it for moistness) add up to ½ cup (120 ml) more of the broth 2 tablespoons (30 ml) at a time. (The dough should be a cookie dough like texture).
16. Take 3 large corn husks and tear them into ¼ inch (6 mm) strips. (I would suggest you put these back in the water until use because they dry out and start breaking when you try to work with them.
17. Take a large pot with a steamer attachment. Pour about 2 inches (5 cm) of water into the bottom of the pot, or enough to touch the bottom of the steamer. Line the bottom of the steamer with corn husks.
18. Unfold 2 corn husks onto a work surface. Take ¼ cup (60 ml) of dough and, starting near the top of the husk, press it out into a 4 inch (10 cm) square, leaving 2-3 inches (5 -7½ cm) at the bottom of the husk. Place a heaping tablespoon (15 ml) of the filling in a line down the center of the dough square.
19. Fold the dough into the corn husk.
20. And wrap the husk around the dough.
21. Fold up the skinny bottom part of the husk.
22. And secure it with one of the corn husk ties.
23. Stand them up in the steamer. If there aren’t enough tamales to tightly pack the steamer, place crumpled aluminum foil in the excess space.
24. Steam the tamales for about 40 minutes or until the dough deepens in color and easily pulls away from the husk.

Navidad experiment : tamales

It’s a grey and dark outside, the shortest day of the year… So let’s cook colorful. Tamales improvisation. I have no idea how they should be. I had fun making them and I found them delicious. The beef flavor in the masa was really great.

Some ingredients are from the freezer like the avocado and beans :

Avocado, red onion (salted, let 30 minutes, rinsed), sudachi lemon (with 1/3 of its peel) meli-melo.

Chocolaty black (soy) beans. These 2 side dishes are refreshing and sweet. The red salsa (tomato, red chili) is fierce.


Corn cob husks and colorful hot chiles.

The meaty flavor : carnitas and “lard”.
Well, it’s slow-cooked sliced pork with onion and sudachi lemon, and beef fat. They give the cubes of fat in supermarkets here, as it’s a necessary ingredient for the sukiyaki. At that price of zero yen, I sometimes take a few. That’s not so “sinfully fat” as you may think. I used 1/2 cube (4 grams) for the whole, the flavor is powerful.

The masa… I don’t have real masa powder. It’s a mix of polenta (grits) and corn flour, plus spices, salt, the melted beef fat, olive oil, water.

2 flavors, carnitas or green chili ‘n cheese.


After about 30 minutes of steaming.

Cal 721.8 F29.2g C95.2g P25.8g