Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Butter Shortages

The first time I heard about this issue was in a brief mention in the blog of another foreigner living quite nearby me. Then I made a (delicious) quiche that exhausted all the butter in our fridge. When Minako went to get some more she found that our local supermarket Santoku, normally a veritable cornucopia of comestible delights from around Japan and overseas, had almost no butter on the shelves. Single stick packages of pre-sliced pats was all they had in stock.

I had some time to check out the situation yesterday and found that margarine has almost entirely replaced butter on the shelves of two high-end supermarkets near my office: National Azabu and Meidi-ya. What they did have was predominantly imported and they both had signs describing their policy of one package of butter per customer. Naturally the prices were higher than usual as well.

After being used to American and Japanese abundances, this was pretty shocking. Apparently increased costs for dairy food stocks as well as higher demand for dairy products is to blame.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Friday Quiche

On Friday I made a version of quiche lorraine from the Ultimate Recipe Book that Minako bought me last year. It's an interesting volume of what are apparently classic recipes in Britain. Each begins with a synopsis of the author's attempts to refine these recipes and which well known chefs she consulted along the way. The second half of each recipe describes the perfected process with accompanying photos of the steps. The ingredients are printed in bold in a sidebar so you can choose to skip right to the chase if you've already read the introduction.

I particularly enjoyed this approach because it gave me some small windows into the way other cultures approach food. Several of the recipes included were not previously familiar to me, such as the British version of flapjacks which are more like cookies than pancakes. Last year I also made the French onion soup from this book which turned out quite a lot stronger than expected— even on the second attempt.

In making the quiche I substituted some chopped spinach and cheddar cheese I had on hand for the bacon and gruyere the recipe called for. The crust came out far better than I had expected, although I did use the food processor to mix the dough as called for in the book. The final result was quite rich indeed, improving from something like an egg custard to a more substantial quiche with chilling.

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