Ritorno alla routine. Muffin con cuore di Nutella.

E mentre il mio racconto prosegue, in inglese, sulle mie meravigliose vacanze giapponesi, cerco di tornare alla routine ricettaria in italiano.

Anche se in questi giorni sono ossessionata con Claire Ptak, (la cui intervista per il podcast Flour Hour potete ascoltare qui) questa ricetta è tratta da “Cake Days” e non defrauda! Questi muffin sono buonissimi tiepidi e rimangono gustosi e soffici anche il giorno dopo. Personalmente sono molto generosa con la Nutella 😀


Muffin con cuore di Nutella


Ingredienti

  • 300 g di farina
  • 115 g di zucchero
  • 1 cucchiaio di lievito per dolci
  • 1/4 di cucchiaino di sale
  • 1/2 cucchiaino di bicarbonato sodico
  • 250 g  di latte intero
  • 1 cucchiaino di estratto di vaniglia
  • 2 uova grandi
  • 85 g di burro sciolto
  • 150 g di Nutella (ooops, crema alle nocciole 😉 )
  • 30 g di nocciole tagliate finemente (o come più vi piacciono)
  • 30 g di zucchero da spolverare sui muffin
  • Crema di nocciole extra per il ripieno dei muffin

Preparazione

  1. Accendiamo il forno a 170 gradi e prepariamo gli stampi per i muffin.
  2. In una ciotola grande, setacciamo gli ingredienti asciutti (farina, zucchero, lievito, bicarbonato e sale).
  3. In un altro bricco mescoliamo il latte, l’estratto di vaniglia e le uova e mescoliamo bene il tutto.
  4. Facciamo un cratere nel centro degli ingredienti solidi e aggiungiamo poco a poco gli ingredienti del bricco. Anche in questo caso possiamo mescolare gli ingredienti a mano o utilizzando un mixer elettrico a bassa velocità. Come sempre, dobbiamo solo mescolare gli ingredienti, senza strafare. Aggiungiamo il burro sciolto, mescoliamo, e aggiungiamo/mescoliamo la crema di nocciole.
  5. Riempiamo le capsule dei muffin fino ad un quarto della loro capienza. Ci armiamo di cucchiaio e pazienza, e aggiungiamo nel centro di ogni muffin un cucchiaino circa (al gusto) di Nutella, e copriamo con altro composto come sempre fino a 2/3 della capienza della capsula.
  6. Spolveriamo la superficie dei muffin con lo zucchero messo da parte.
  7. Inforniamo per 25-30 minuti, fino a quando, al toccare i muffin con un dito, questi sono elastici e ritrovano la loro forma. Li lasciamo qualche minuto nello stampo e poi li lasciamo raffreddare su una griglia.

Questi gioiellini non durano mai più di un giorno e mezzo, sono veramente buonissimi! Viva Hummingbird!


Japan, the food experience – 2 – Yufuin

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Despite my lack of Internet at home (thank you Eir, and Virgin), I will manage to publish this post about our second Japanese stop, Yufuin 🙂
Where is Yufuin, you ask? Well, it is a little village in Kyushu, the island south of Honshu (Tokyo’s island, just so you can vaguely picture it on your totally made up mental map). We wanted a little pause between cities, so we decided upon this onsen ridden place, the second best known spa town on the island after the very touristy Beppu. I would have loved to go to mount Aso and surroundings, but we just did not have time for everything (three weeks just seem like a lot of time…).

Off we went to Yufuin, then. The trip from Tokyo to Yufu was 8 hours, with no delays, of course. The last leg of the trip was aboard the famous (yes, in Japan there are lots of famous trains, more of this in another post) Yufuin-no-mori, touristic train that goes from Hakata station in Fukuoka to Beppu, through the lovely mountains and countryside of Kyushu.

A very nice waiter in the Kirinko lake area literally accompanied us to the door of our Airbnb place, which was unbelievable. We had a 12 people apartment for ourselves: a bedroom, two massive Japanese-style living rooms, and, most importantly, a private

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PRIVATE Onsen!!

onsen. Yes, it was as good as it sounds. The onsen area was divided, so we had at our disposal an indoor hot-hot-hot water pool, and an outdoor warm-warm-perfect pool, which was our first stop after a long, even if pleasant, trip.

That night, we went and explored a little bit of the town. A word of warning here: Yufuin is mainly a day-trip or, at best, a one night stay place, since it is very small. Most of the travelers stay in their own very nice and luxurious ryokans for the night, so it is not too easy to find a restaurant open after dark (that being around six thirty in the afternoon).

And that was when it started to rain.

It was the only night it caught us while we were outside and it did not help the restaurant search. We headed to the area close to the train station and we were turned down from a couple of places. When starting to feel desperate, we found this tiny little restaurant. Not only they didn’t turn us down, but they were so nice we almost started crying: as soon as we sat down, they handed us the menu that was, for the first and last time since, in Japanese with no pictures. When trying to figure it out, a woman who was clearly the cook’s wife explained to us that we could use a QR code to have it translated into English. The frustration was at its peak then, since we had no internet. That’s when, with the kind of sigh that only a mother could produce, she went away and came back after a minute with her own phone, where the app was open to order everything online, in English. And of course, the food was just heavenly. Yakitoris of different types started flowing (I’m looking at you, chicken skin yakitori), and when we finally headed home, we were happy again.

Our second and last day in Yufuin saw us stewing for a while in our private onsen (I can’t express enough smugness at having a private onsen for 20 eur a night) and then, relaxed, heading out to the centre of town. Yufuin’s main streets are full of little shops selling everything artisan (clothes, orange juice, ice cream, shoes…) so it was very nice to just stroll, visit shops and buy souvenirs. There was a Snoopy shop and café (the first sign of Japan’s obsession with the pooch), various animal cafés and flower town, where you could find Heidi’s goat (if you don’t know what I am talking about it’s ok, it’s an old Japanese cartoon that everyone in Italy had the misfortune of watching at some point or another… that little Heidi brat!).

Most importantly, we had lunch! We found another teeny tiny place close to the train station where a couple owned a nice ramen restaurant. And boy, that ramen was good. I think it was actually the best one I had while in Japan. It was a chilly ramen packed full of flavour and deliciousness. Spicy and earthy, I just loved it from beginning to end, when we dunked the rice in to finish it up. Lieutenant Cookie had a smoked pork ramen that also looked delicious (she confirmed that it also tasted yummi 😀 ).

After this very satisfying lunch we headed back to explore the town. We had a lovely ice cream from one of the many, many, street vendors and we went to the Floral Village. We did not have big expectations about this place, but it turned out to be a lovely little corner of this lovely little town where you could find Heidi’s goat (yup), some owls, some more nice shops (Studio Ghibli is also high up in Japanese most favourite things ever) and a couple of ducks thrown in for good measure.

The night in Yufuin was very quiet. We decided we wanted to stay in and enjoy some beers in our private onsen (Did I say that we had a private onsen? Oh, yes, I did 😀 ).
Before going home, we went to a convenience store in order to try another staple of Japanese cuisine: convenience store fried chicken. It’s very normal for Japanese people to eat in these places that are cheap and fast, but I must say that the face of the ladies at the till when we started ordering food was hilarious. Normally you eat a couple of little pieces of chicken, you don’t buy the whole shop like we did and bring home beer and a banquet worthy of a Roman emperor.
Their faces can be summarized in the following fashion:

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After causing such interesting reactions, we retreaded with our dinners and nice Japanese beers to the apartment, where we relaxed in the therapeutic waters of Yufuin before getting a well deserved night’s sleep.

 


Japan, the food experience – 1 – Tokyo

I am back!!

I know you were all worried, but holidays came for me as well. And what holidays they were! I was able to roam around Japan for 3 weeks! I will try and tell you everything about those 3 weeks, as always focused on food (plus trains, and Japanese nerdness).
Let’s go then!

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After a very long trip (VERY long trip consisting of a jump to Amsterdam followed by an inexplicable jump to… Paris and a 12 hour flight to Tokyo Haneda) we arrived at our Airbnb in Asakusa. We dropped everything and decided to go exploring to beat the jetdav-lag. We went to the Sensō-ji, a very famous temple in the area, and then to dinner, where I experienced my first Japanese toilet. Of course, it was a fail. Sergeant Lunch and Lieutenant Cookie teased me for days after I headed back to our table defeated by the toilet and unable to flush it (It had no visible handles and at that moment, I could not  figure out what all the buttons meant. Or else, I was just very tired). Most importantly, we had eel! Eel with rice (unagi), which was delicious.

And as a final treat for the day, we discovered a traditional dance festival near the river; we enjoyed the show before heading back for a well deserved 12 hours sleep.

The following day we started our explorations in earnest. Our routine always included breakfast bought at a local 7-Eleven, because as everyone knows, I can’t function without my coffee and something to eat. The status of Japanese convenience store pastries is good, although I must report that, since we usually bought them at night for the day after, the choice was limited.
Anyway, on the second day we explored Electric Town, Akihabara. We actually did not explore much, but we can say that we experienced it in the form of trying a lot of videogames in the neighbourhood’s arcades. 😀
I wish we had all those machines here in Europe. There was literally everything one could think of, from drum machines to dance games (old school ones and very modern davones) to a lot of rhythm games. One of the most popular was the “Washing Machine” one (I now discovered that it was called Mai-Mai, but our name is better and it gives a very clear description of the thing :D) to which we all became very attached. I don’t have to say how bad we were at everything, particularly in comparison with the locals, whose abilities with these things are almost supernatural.
As a snack, we had a lovely cheese cake, from a place called Pablo. Japanese people seem to be obsessed with cheese cakes, for whatever reason.
We then went to Shibuya, to see the famous crossing (and try and not strangle all the idiots filming themselves going from one side of the street to the other) and to have our dinner. Lieutenant Cookie pointed to us this lovely place, called Ichi-Ban-Kan (or something similar, I share with you the location on Google, so you can find it). Here we had a lovely and very cheap meal, destined to be repeated twice more. We really loved the “old men’s bar” atmosphere and the seemingly low quality food. The gyozas we had there were the best!

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Our second day in the capital dawned very, very hot. After what seemed like an eternal morning spent in the Ueno park, we went to Harajuku, where we were directed by the Lonely Planet to a gyoza place. The Japanese customers could be counted on the fingers of one hand, but the food was very nice. It is worth noticing that in Japan food is very very cheap. We rarely spent more than a tenner each for a meal, often including either soft drinks or beer.
After lunch we walked through the crazy Takeshita Dori, then went to the governmentdav tower for a (free) view of the city, where we had a weird ice cream from the 7-Eleven (tasted like… yuzu? Probably? I am not 100% sure 🙂 ), and finally we headed towards Shinjuku, where we really, really wanted to try some karaoke.
After failing miserably to find one, and with our feet sore with all the walking, we headed towards the only place we knew was not going to fail us, the HUB. This is an “English” pub chain that you can find in the major cities. It is still full of locals, and it is worth to notice that they have a happy hour that finishes at 7 pm which allows you to have very (very!) cheap drinks (we are talking about less than 3 euros for a Gin and Tonic!). In Japan beer is often more expensive that a mixed drink or a cocktail. Of course, this became very quickly our point of reference during our stay in Osaka and Tokyo (more of this in the following chapters).
After drowning our tiredness in a couple of Salty Dogs (my cocktail of reference), we managed to find a place for our dinner. This time, it was an okonomiyaki. I was probably very tired and I did not think the world of it. I didn’t even take a picture of it!

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Our last day of our first leg in Tokyo, we went to the Tsukiji Market, only to find it closed for a local holiday. We managed anyway to have a decent (not exceptional, but decent) lunch at a sushi place, a restaurant part of a very famous chain, called Sushizanmai. Idav just love the man in their signs, welcoming you to dine with them 😀
I ate some sea urchin, some cod roe and some raw squid, which I did not like at all! Not always the experiments come up right 😉
In the afternoon, we walked around the fancy Ginza and headed to the Tokyo train station to buy our train tickets for Yufuin, our trip for the following day. The station itself is massive and at its core you will find a lovely old building, surrounded by modern structures. Train station in Japan are endless (or so it seems).
Our last dinner in Tokyo was lovely tempura, after which we were all ready to head back to our apartment to get ready for our first train trip to Kyushu.