I've been in the mood for cooking lately, lots of time spent in my little kitchen. Some of the things I've cooked have been low effort projects (garden veggie soup, banana muffins, gnocchi alla gorgonzola). But I've also been inspired by some cooking blogs to try new recipes.
I don't recall how I found the Kitchen Illiterate blog but I'm glad I did. There's a diversity of recipe types and the skill level is appropriate for me. I made the curried chicken, broccoli and basmati soup for my family - we all liked it. I also managed to make this chocolate caramel slice. I had been craving Sainsbury's caramel shortbread slice, a staple of my UK grad school essay-writing diet, so this was a necessary one to try. The recipe was much more involved than most things I would bother to bake. It was worth it for all the enthusiastic compliments I got from the lucky co-workers I fed. The usual reaction when I bring homemade baked goods to work is, "Why are you not married?". Shrug.
I also stumbled upon the Delicious Coma Japanese cooking blog and this recipe for kurogoma cupcakes. You may recall that I am an avid devotee of black sesame, a flavour which is especially popular for Chinese, Korean and Japanese sweets. When it comes to cooking, I feel that sesame seeds or sesame oil makes everything better. Kurogoma is not the same flavour as regular white sesame seeds. I'm not so good at describing taste but I'll say that black sesame is subtly sweet, nutty and exotic - does that sound right?
Last weekend, I made the cupcakes. I got matcha (green tea powder) for the icing from Sanko and a jar of roasted black sesame seeds from P.A.T. Central. At P.A.T., I also picked up a Slicky sesame seed grinder, the same model I'd seen on so many restaurant tables in Japan. That's right - I don't have a toaster but I own a sesame seed grinder! Priorities!
The cupcakes turned out very well indeed. I already knew I would like the flavour but I was not sure if all my co-workers would be into the very Asian matcha/kurogoma combo. The look of the green icing and grey cake together is also very unusual! In the end, everyone seemed to really like the cakes. Now I'm keen to try more black sesame recipes. If I can borrow my parents' ice cream maker, black sesame ice cream will be the next experiment!