These delicate Japanese cakes have a wonderfully nutty taste.
I’ve been intrigued by kinako ever since I first experienced its unique taste.
Take soybeans, roast them, then grind into a fine powder. What you get is this golden Japanese flour that has a roasty-toasty character with a whisper of sweetness. It tastes like a cross between chestnuts, barley tea and maple syrup.
You might blanch at eating flour right out of the bag. But with kinako, you can. In fact, it’s often used to garnish desserts, such as by sprinkling on shave ice or as a coating to roll mochi balls or chocolate truffles in. It also can be incorporated into the batter and dough of cakes, cookies, and another baked goods.
Find it on the shelves in small bags at Japanese markets, then give it a try in these cute little unfrosted cupcakes.
Roasted soy bean flour known as kinako.
“Kinako and Black Sesame Cupcakes” is from the new cookbook, “Cook Japanese At Home” (Kyle), of which I received a review copy. It’s by Kyoto-born Kimiko Barber, who teaches Japanese cooking and is the author of a handful of other Japanese cookbooks.
Newport, OR. — Dungeness crab would surely be part of my last meal, if I was given a choice. Sweet, fluffy, and succulent, it beats lobster any day in my book.
Though I’ve enjoyed it countless times, I’ve never fished for it.
On a recent trip to the lovely central coast of Oregon, my fellow food writers and I, who were guests of Salishan Spa & Golf Resort, were treated to our own private excursion through Yaquina Bay aboard the family-owned Marine Discovery Tours boat.
On a picturesque 70-degree morning, we boarded and set sail. Just be forewarned that the waters can get choppy the farther out you go. But none in our party — even a few who were extremely prone to motion sickness — were done in by the effects.
The dock area in Newport.
You may be richly rewarded for braving the waters, too. We saw whales. Well, at least their blow holes, if not their tails breaking the waves. Still, it made for an unforgettable moment.
Jacobsen Zinfandel salt, made with Clif Family wine.
Netart, OR. — Would you believe the artisan salts that have taken the chef world by storm are made in this bare-bones facility?
Jacobsen Salt, the first company thought to harvest salt in the Pacific Northwest since Lewis & Clark, is beloved by such acclaimed chefs as Matthew Accarrino of SPQR in San Francisco, April Bloomfield of New York’s The Spotted Pig and The Breslin, and Chris Cosentino of Cockscomb in San Francisco, Acacia House in St. Helena, and Jackrabbit in Portland.
They love its big, light, crunchy flakes that have a clean, pureness of flavor.
The shed where the salt water from the bay is boiled.
Netarts Bay is just steps away.
Twelve employees run this operation 24-7 to produce 16,000 pounds of salt a month.
Although Jacobsen’s facility is not usually open to the public, Tom Gibson, director of coast operations for the company, was happy to give a tour to our small group of media a few weeks ago.
A view of the Oregon coast.
Gleneden Beach, OR. — If all you know about this state is its artsy, quirky city of Portland, take a drive to the central coast to see a whole ‘nother side.
That’s just what I did when I was invited with a few other food writers a few weeks ago to stay at Salishan Spa & Golf Resort, following its multi-million-dollar renovation and opening of its new restaurant, Samphire.
The hotel is about two hours from Portland. Its 250 acres of forested land hug the rugged coastline that gets its share of sunshine and misty days at this time of year.
The view outside my room at Salishan.
The 500-case wine cellar at Salishan.
You’ll be relaxing in no time at the spa.
The 205-room property was developed in 1965. The cozy, rustic-chic hotel is decorated with $500,000 worth of art, created by Native American, and other Oregon and Washington artists.
Pair unusual grapes with an unusual cheese with delicious results.
Get a load of these grapes.
I sure did when I spied Moon Drops at my neighborhood Whole Foods recently.
How can you not notice these beauties that sport such an unusual tubular shape that do give them a rather otherworldly appearance?
They are juicy, sweet and with just enough tannin from their inky purple-black skin to keep everything in balance.
Moon Drops was developed by the Grapery in Bakesfield.
Incredible, edible Moon Drops.
After buying a bunch, I ate quite a few just right out of hand. But I also saved some for this recipe, “Haloumi with Grapes.”