Kinako, Sesame and Muscovado Financiers

While some people seem to struggle to get their head around Japanese sweets, I fell head over heels in love with mochi, matcha and black sesame anything and everything when Alessandro and I went to Japan 5 years ago.  Unlike matcha or black sesame, kinako was never the star of any of the sweet confections we tried yet it was still present, dusted over glutinous rice flour dumplings or ice cream, adding a deliciously nutty flavour. Kinako, better known as roasted soybean flour outside of Japan, means ‘yellow flour’ in Japanese and that is exactly what it looks like.  It is made by pulverizing roasted and skinned yellow soya beans (although you can also buy kinako made from whole soya beans).  Apparently you can also buy kinako made from green soya beans which has a greenish hue.  Although you can make your own kinako, it is much easier to pick up a small bag at a Japanese supermarket (especially as

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Black Sesame Loaf with a Kinako Glaze

 Alessandro and I came back from our trip to Laos and Thailand a few days ago.  We have been back in Rome just long enough to take care of mountains of laundry but are still fighting our jet lag on a daily basis.  The day after we arrived the packing materials for my move to Brussels arrived and thanks to surprisingly decent day-time TV (House MD, Gilmore Girls, Friends re-runs) one of the walls of our living room is now made up of stacks of boxes, some taped shut already, others waiting to be filled. I have moved a lot in the last few years and far too many of those moves have been of the international kind.  I love having had the opportunity to live in so many different places and countries but let’s just say that international moves are even more fun (read: stressful) than moving already is.  It inevitably starts with flathunting in a different country and

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Coconut and Garam Masala Oatmeal Cookies

Although we were not as lucky with the weather as last year, we had a wonderful time on the slopes week before last. There was a lot more snow this year. In fact so much fresh snow started coming down towards the end of the week that we lost out on our final day on the slopes as the ski lifts were shut. Yet as much as I tried to be annoyed about this day we spent doing not very much at all besides going for a walk in the fresh snow and picking up a few souvenirs, I could not help but smile every time I stopped to take it all in. The snow flakes coming down in a thick carpet from the cloudy sky, some smaller, some larger. The half metre of fresh snow almost, just almost, sliding off the rooftop of the village church, the dad starting a snowball fight with his two kids. I have always

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Roasted Hazelnut, Sea Salt and Date Brownies

Alessandro and I are spending this week on the slopes. Such a ‘settimana bianca’ (a ‘white’ week) is by now a yearly tradition for us. After my first tentative steps on skis on a schooltrip to Austria as a teenager I am now able to tackle almost all slopes and dare I say, even enjoy myself a good deal doing so. While there are a few small slopes not too far from Rome, once you have mastered the basics, they are a bit short and boring. So our yearly ‘settimana bianca’ now takes us up to Northern Italy, to the Dolomites, to San Cassiano in Alta Badia to be precise. A trip we are now doing for the second time with a group of about 10 or so friends. While I feel sorry for anyone else staying in our small hotel given our inevitable loud chatter in the bar after a long day on the slopes (no doubt fuelled by

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Coffee and Toast … a dacquoise fit for breakfast

  Dacquoise. A French cake traditionally made from three disks of nut-studded meringue, filled and frosted with a coffee custard mousse and decorated with chocolate ganache, clusters of caramelised hazelnuts and crushed hazelnut praline. I had been meaning to bake a dacquoise for a while but kept on putting it off because it sounded like a lot of faff. But a combination of seeing how manageable it actually is thanks to the Great British Bake-Off and just wanting to finally give it a go had me start this on a Tuesday night the other week, assembling the various components on Wednesday night, just in time to have a dessert to follow homemade pumpkin ravioli (another one of those recipes I had put off too long until I was desperate for pumpkin recipes to use up a monster of a pumpkin in my fridge). Someone’s tweet about breakfast (Coffee! Toast!) is what ultimately decided I was going to use breadcrumbs instead of

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