Food & Cooking

Mini Egg Tarts

Years ago when I studied abroad in Japan, we took a field trip to Kobe for my Japan & Globalization class. One of the primary focuses of the trip was to observe the China Town in Kobe, and while we were there we sampled different kinds of food. One new food I tried was Egg Tarts. They were served mini-sized, two on a skewer. I loved them so much that when I moved to Kobe years later, I looked for them everywhere! Alas, my search was in vain. Luckily, (even more years later!) I came across a recipe for Egg Tarts so that I could try making them myself–just in time to fulfill another check off my summer bucket list.

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To make the egg tarts, you only need a small collection of some everyday ingredients: powdered sugar, white sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla, flour, evaporated milk and water.

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You start off mixing the powdered sugar and flour together, and then you add the butter. The recipe suggests using a fork to do this, but let’s be real; your hands or a Kitchen Aid mixer will probably be much easier. I cut my butter up into chunks to help the mixing go faster.

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Next you add a beaten egg and a bit of vanilla, mixing until you get a dough that’s not too moist or too dry. You can see how mine turned out in the picture above.

20130919-171830.jpgThe recipe says to use tart molds for the dough, but a muffin tin works just as well. I used a mini muffin tin so I could make smaller tarts like the ones I had tried back in Kobe. To form the crust, I balled small amounts of dough, placed them in the tin, pressed in the middles with my thumb, and then pushed the dough up the edges with a fork to add a decorative edge.

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Next, you preheat the oven and start on the filling. First you’re going to boil the sugar and water together until the sugar dissolves, and then wait for the mixture to return to room temperature. I was in a hurry, so I put the mixture in the refrigerator to get it to cool down faster. While you’re waiting for the temperature to drop, you can beat your eggs and put them through a strainer. Then, add them to the room-temp water/sugar mix before adding the condensed milk and vanilla. As you can see above, that mix gets strained one more time after it’s been whisked.

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From there, you just fill up your dough with the filling (my little tartlets got about a tablespoon each, but some overflowed when I brought the pan to the oven). Since my egg tarts were smaller than normal-sized tarts, I decreased the baking time to 12 minutes, and they turned out perfectly. I sprinkled a little powdered sugar on the finished ones as a garnish, and once they were cool, indulged on like 5 of them a few.

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It’s best to let these little guys cool before eating them because they taste sweeter and less eggy that way. Enjoy!

Egg Tarts

(Recipe originally posted on sassyhongkong’s blog)

Ingredients

Dough
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup butter
1 egg, beaten
1 dash vanilla extract

Filling

2/3 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups water
9 eggs, beaten
1 dash vanilla extract
1 cup evaporated milk (whole milk can be substituted for evaporated milk)

12 tart molds

Directions
1.In a medium bowl, mix together the confectioners’ sugar and flour. Mix in butter with a fork until it is in small crumbs. Stir in the egg and vanilla until the mixture forms a dough. The texture should be slightly moist. Add more butter if it is too dry, or more flour, if the dough seems greasy. Shape dough into 1 1/2 inch balls, and press the balls into tart molds so that it covers the bottom, and goes up higher than the sides. Use 2 fingers to shape the edge into an A shape.

2.Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Combine the white sugar and water in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Cook until the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Strain the eggs through a sieve (strainer), and whisk into the sugar mixture. Stir in the evaporated milk and vanilla. Strain the filling through a sieve (strainer), and fill the tart shells.

3.Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown, and the filling is puffed up a little bit.

Monday Matters

Home, Sweet Michigan

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard

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After nearly five years of living abroad in Japan, we’re finally home to Michigan. It’s strange, at the moment–the feeling that we’re on vacation for a while and going back to Japan soon is starting to fade, and yet being here permanently hasn’t quite sunk in yet either. It is so good to see family so often now, and difficult to explain how at the same time I so dearly miss my friends and “family” in Japan. How do you describe a life abroad for that long, where you start calling a different location home, too?

20130701-101410.jpgAn ema, or prayer card, I filled out about a week before leaving Japan.

I’ve said before that whether in Japan or the US, we’ll always be homesick for one place or the other. I can’t lie and say I don’t miss Japan, but I also can’t say that I’m not incredibly happy to be home. Life in Michigan is so comfortable–I love being in America!

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We lived in Kobe the last half of our time in Japan.

I know that our time spent abroad was invaluable. It definitely wasn’t always easy, but Chad and I learned so much about each other, about cultures all around the world, and about life in general in our time away from Michigan. We had some hard lessons, some fascinating lessons, and many once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Now that we’re home, we’re onto the next journey in our lives–a new beginning, so to speak. We’re not sure what that means for us exactly, and I think that’s okay. Through it all we’ll be together, with our past experiences to look back on and remember.

Here are a few pictures from our last few weeks in Japan–though there are so many more and it’s hard to choose only these to share!

20130701-101420.jpgGreen tea soba, at a restaurant with my beautiful kimono-wearing friends, a pretty coaster, a matcha parfait

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Standing in our kimono in Kyoto (except my lovely pregnant friend, who is still just as cute!).

20130701-101454.jpgPirikura (Japanese photo booth)

20130701-101752.jpgOn our last day in Japan, we got this message on our drinks from Starbucks! I decided to try the matcha flavor frappuccino for the first time since I didn’t know if it would be offered in the US.

Thank you to everyone in both Japan and in Michigan for all of your support and love over the past four and a half years. We couldn’t have made it through our adventures without you, and will keep on needing you in the future! Here’s to new beginnings!

Monday Matters · Projects

My Day in Photos & My Summer Fun Bucket List

Yesterday we went to a Hanshin Tigers baseball game, followed by a judo farewell party for Chad (one of his teachers started the party by saying, “Ladies and judo-men, thank you for coming. Kanpai!). Both events were really fun, but drinking in the sunshine followed by drinking at a small izakaya led to two sleepy friends this morning. So, we slept in and then lazed around all morning. Chad played League of Legends online and I drank coffee on our balcony while reading blogs, twitter and the news.

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We finally got going in the early afternoon, walking from our apartment to Nunobiki waterfalls, down through Kitano (spotting a woman with a monkey!) and to Starbucks, to Sannomiya for a little shopping, and then all the way to HAT Kobe for some more shopping and sushi.

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We ate sushi at a kaiten sushi restaurant called Kurazushi, and while we were waiting for some of our specially ordered sushi to come zooming down the sushi train, Chad surprised me with a Rilakkuma stuffed animal! Yay! Just looking at it makes me so ridiculously happy. You can’t deny Rilakkuma is one of the cutest characters ever, not to mention the fact that our favorite things are the same in life: eating sweets and relaxing.

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I know. I look tired. Focus on my cute Rilakkuma & the striped bag I got for only 300 yen instead!

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We tried some new sushi today, as well as some yummy sweet potato sticks (top left corner, above). You can see sushi with grilled bacon and mayo on the bottom left, and lemon steak sushi on the bottom right. In the upper right corner is my handsome husband with his cheeks full of sushi, and in the middle you’ll see more normal types of sushi (crab salad, tuna salad, shrimp mayo and cucumber salad, shrimp, and tuna).

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Chad expertly making green tea with the powder and hot water.

All in all we had a really nice day. We’re both feeling sad about leaving Japan, despite our excitement about going home, so I made a summer fun bucket list to help cheer myself up! The warm weather was a welcome reminder that summer is on it’s way, so I thought I’d share my list (so far!) with you!

Caitlyn’s Summer Fun Bucket List

1. Drive-in Movie

2. Binder Park Zoo

3. Go fishing

4. Make S’Mores

5. Have a Star Party

6. Learn to play guitar again

7. Make a bird feeder

8. Make jam

9. Join a book club

10. Go mini golfing

11. Go bowling

12. Have a BBQ

13. Go on a picnic

14. Make banana splits

15. Make homemade ice cream

16. Tie Dye Shirts

17. Blow bubbles

18. Paint rocks with my niece

19. Cheese Fondue

20. Make Root Beer Floats

21. Board Game night

22. Milk Carton Boats

23. Go to a museum

24. Friendship Bracelets with my niece

25. Look at bugs/plants/nature under a microscope

26. Learn to make egg tarts

27. Get a cat!

28. Can tomatoes

29. Play badminton

30. Run at least one 5K

31. Have a fancy night dressed up around town (going to ordinary places)

32. Find a gym with yoga and zumba that’s reasonably priced

33. Volunteer

34. Pay it Forward by paying for someone behind me at a drive-through

35. Paint Balling

36. Wine and Cheese night

37. Make kimchi

38. Make homemade pickles

39. Make homemade Bloody Mary’s

40. Make pineapple upside-down cake cupcakes

41. Make sun tea

42. Dandelion Blowing

43. Make a sandcastle

44. Make/decorate pottery

45. Bon Fire

46. Celebrate 5th Wedding Anniversary at Guster concert!

47. Visit Green Dot Stables in Detroit

48. Go to our high school reunion

49. Traverse City & eating/drinking cherry-flavored things!

50. Shorts Brewery

51. Make waffles

52. Make homemade bread

53. Make cookies with my niece

54. Make trail mix and go for a walk with my niece & nephews

55. Make dreamsicle orange punch

56. Make strawberry mimosas

What fun have you been up to lately, and what fun things do you have planned for summer?

Around Town · Tried

Hysteric Jam

The other night we went out with some friends and got into a discussion about how we tried so many foods from different cultures for the first time while in Japan, rather than in our own countries. I mentioned in my post about 10 New Foods I Tried between March 2012 – March 2013 that we tried a lot since traveling while in Japan, but even before that we were introduced to many delicious foods from around the world while living here. For example, before visiting Korea, we tried bibimbap in Japan. Before visiting Italy, we tried carbonara in Japan. And before visiting France, we tried crêpes in Japan.

I think the first time I had crêpes was while living in Kobe, and after remembering that delightful experience, I decided we should make a trip to have some as a special Golden Week treat. We headed to a lovely crêpe shop called Hysteric Jam, and stood in front of the huge glass display case, debating between flavors before finally settling on our choices.

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Chad chose one with berries, chocolate and nama cream (bottom left, above), and I chose a heavenly one with brownies, chocolate and custard.

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Someday I want to try savory crêpes, but on the rare occasion we have crêpes I can never seem to convince myself to choose savory over sweet! Have you tried crêpes before? If so, what are your favorite toppings?

Monday Matters · Seen/Heard/Tried

Lately…

Today I spent a good portion of my day at work, which is kind of a bummer since I’m technically on holiday, but at the same time not too bad. Once I get started working it is so hard to stop, hence the reason I’m on my way home now, at around 8:00 on this super cold night. Anyway, I also had to work a bit on the weekend too, but on the side I watched two movies: Lincoln (slow, but interesting), and Argo (good, but super tense). I know it’s a very cliche thing to say, but with both movies I felt so saddened by what humans are capable of–saddened by killing and war.

I also started watching a new documentary “shorts” series with Chad called Crash Course World History. We’ve watched about 5 episodes so far and really like it. You can watch them for free, too, by going to Watch Documentary. (There is also a Crash Course series for biology, but it’s a bit over my head.)

We were able to meet some friends on Sunday for lunch, and one of them took this lovely photo of Kobe Tower with cherry blossoms:

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Later that day I saw this pretty cherry blossom wine I might have to try:

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And earlier that day I saw dancing dragons in the China Town:

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I indulged myself and bought a sparkly Rilakkuma pencil and these adorable socks:

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He’s like, “Look everybody! I’m super cute and I’m drinking coffee! Don’t you wish you had coffee?”

And saw these three confused station attendants:

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How was your weekend? Is your Monday off to a good start?

Monday Matters

Over the Weekend…

I watched my husband become a black belt in judo:

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Chad’s name on the list of competitors

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Opening Remarks

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After he won his third match & got his black belt

I saw these cute, pink construction worker signs:

20130211-181401.jpgI participated in an awesome nomihoudai, or all-you-can-drink at Rokko Diner to celebrate with Chad (they had a Valentine’s special–only ¥2000 for girls, ¥3000 for guys, for 2 1/2 hours, any beer!):

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Crystal Amber Ale & karaage (fried chicken) made with Rokko Pilsner

I bought really cute dessert forks and spoons:

20130211-181818.jpgWalked to China town with a pit stop to split a rice croquette:

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There was curry inside!

Saw huge lines at the China Town for nikkuman, or meat-stuffed buns, and other Chinese food:

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Many people were checking out China Town to see events related to the Chinese New Year.

And split a nikkuman and “burger” with Chad:

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And was generally happy because it was a much needed three-day weekend. Oh yeah, and because I saw this guy with a pig face:

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How was your weekend?