Monday, March 21, 2011

Red & White: Strawberry Crepe Rolls and Aid for Japan

This past week, me and darling hubby checked CNN and BBC on a daily basis to follow the crisis in Japan.  Sometimes we even checked the news a few times a day.  My mom asked me if I still kept our Japanese friend's contact information.  I managed to reach one of them in Yokohama and knew that he was fine.  It was then that I wished that I had kept in touch with every single one of them, that I updated their phone numbers.  I didn't and I wish that I did.  For days I felt helpless.  You know that feeling that you wish you could do more although you're so but one person?  

Spring is almost here and Japanese Cherry Blossoms will be flowering soon, but what will be in the people's thoughts this year, I wonder?

While we have enough to eat and drink,
In our hearts -
Are those who do not.
While we are surrounded by families and friends,
In our prayers -
Are those whom you have lost.

I would like to dedicate this post to my friends in Japan.  I'm not even sure if all of you are alright and safe, but here's to all of you, your friends, your families, and your fellow country men and women.  Most of us can't be there in person to help, but know that our thoughts and prayers are with you.

There are plenty of ways in which many of us can lend a hand.  Times are tough for many of us, but I think right now, many Japanese who've lost their homes, work places, and most importantly, their families, are having a tougher time than we do.  I have given some, but through this blog, I am hoping that I can help even more.  Many groups and corporations have donation pages where you can donate to the charities that are currently helping in Japan.  Below are some links where you can help.

Some of the charities in the list:  American Humane Association, Doctors without Borders, International Medical Corps, The Salvation Army in Japan, IFRC, and UNICEF

Helene of Tartelette is selling her prints through her etsy's shop to help the effort in Japan.  Her photos are just wonderfully beautiful.  
"For each of my prints purchased through my etsy shop, I will donate $20 of its amount to the Red Cross for Japan.  ~ Tartelette"

For everyone who have clicked on the links or donated or helped in any forms, a big THANK YOU!!! from the bottom of my heart.  For everyone who have sent a little prayer to them, another big THANK YOU!!!  I have little to thank you but my words and my recipes, and I will do my best to keep posting and hoping that they're good enough.

1- When selecting strawberries, look for deeper colored ones with as little white areas around the top.
2- The crepe is made with a pancake recipe that's slightly modified from my grandmother's.
3- If you prefer, use half-and-half or whipped cream, instead of heavy cream.
4- Slice the strawberries as thinly as you can with a sharp knife, this will help the rolling part of the recipe.  Be careful when slicing, wear rubber gloves if you are new or not familiar to slicing food very thinly.
5- If you prefer, substitute cranberry jam with strawberry jam or raspberry jam.  I'm only using cranberry just because I have that on hand.
6- When pan-frying the crepe, do not worry about not having a perfect circle, it'll still look wonderful.

Strawberry Crepe Rolls
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 egg
pinch of salt
water (about 1-1/2 cup)
butter for pan frying (about 3 tbsp)
1 cup strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup cranberry jam

Combine flour, sugar, salt, and egg in a 2-cup measuring cup.
Then fill the measuring cup with water to the 2-cup line.
Whisk and combine well.
Heat up a frying pan over medium heat with a little butter.
When the butter has melted and started bubbling a little, pour some crepe batter into the pan (about 1/4 cup).
Tilt the pan around so that the batter forms a rough circle.
Fry until the edge is lightly browned and crisped.
Repeat the frying until all batter has been used up.
Smear a very thin layer of jam over half of the crepe.
Place the strawberries over the jam in a thin layer.
Drizzle over with about a teaspoon of heavy cream.
Fold the crepe into half along the jam line.
Smear another thin layer of jam on the crepe.
Place another thin layer of strawberries over the jam.
Drizzle another teaspoon of heavy cream over the strawberries.
Then, starting at one corner, slowly roll up the crepe.
Repeat until all strawberries and crepes have been used up.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Smoked Mozzarella Toast Breakfast

One of my favorite places to shop for groceries is Sunflower Market.  It used to be the place I shop for tidbits like dried apricots or peanut butter filled pretzels.  However, since I've been in charge of my own kitchen, it became the place I shop for cheap and fresh fruits.  Strawberries has been on sale for two weeks in a row.  I couldn't help getting a couple pounds of those babies of course.  One special spot I love to linger around looking for new finds is the cheese section.  They have a small basket filled with small leftover chunks of cheeses.  It is here that I found smoked mozzarella.  

I've always loved mozzarella, but smoked mozzarella was a first for me.  It was smoky, with a slightly browned outer layer.  Texture-wise it is similar to fresh mozzarella, except it's slightly more yellowish and has a full smoky flavor.  It lingered in my fridge for a couple of days, waiting for me to slice it up and do something with it.  I wanted to do something with it and strawberries, so here's my little adventure with it.  The result was a toast with crunchy sides and smoky, melty-cheesy center, accentuated with the sweetness of tomatoes and strawberries.

1- When selecting strawberries, look for deeper colored ones with as little white areas around the top.
2- I used white bread slices, just because I had some that needs to be finished.  Whole wheat works just as great.
3- I served the toast along with a slice of smoked mozzarella on sunny-side-up egg, sauteed mushrooms, and tomato slices.  You decide what works for you :D
4- If you do now own a rolling pin, use the flat side of a big serving plate, or a big bottle works too.

Smoked Mozzarella Toast Breakfast

~1/4-lb smoked mozzarella, sliced
2 strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced
4-6 slices of bread, crust removed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 roma tomato, sliced

Place a slice of bread on a flat surface and roll to flatten with a rolling pin.
Repeat to flatten all slices of breads.
Lightly brush the flattened bread with olive oil, and pan fry til lightly browned.
Place a slice of tomato over the center of the bread, then a slice of mozzarella, followed by a couple slices of strawberries.
Place the bread slices on a baking tray lined with aluminum foil.
Place the tray in the oven under low broiler setting for about 3 minutes or until cheese is slightly melted.
Serve while the toast is warm.