Crunchyroll #90: Bamboo Shoot Gratin from “Today’s Menu for the Emiya Family”

Shirou from Today’s Menu for the Emiya Family, of Fate/Stay Night fame, is quite the cook. I’ve remarked on this before, but I think it’s pretty awesome. In the Fate/Stay anime, he’s so cool and battle-ready! It’s fun to see him in the kitchen cooking up something delicious, and this week he coincidentally gives us the PERFECT dish to make for your mom this Mother’s Day- Bamboo Gratin, a creamy, cheesy, pasta and bamboo dish.

This recipe is simple, delicious, yet elegant at the same time. If you’re stuck on what to do for Mother’s Day, I’d really recommend this. It’s like a Japanese- inspired version of mac n’ cheese, using some truly Japanese ingredients to produce a unique baked pasta dish that still has that familar, home-cooked comfort to it. And, if you want to do something with her, why don’t you show her the anime as well? You can bond together over non-violent, pure-hearted cooking tutorials.

In terms of home-cooking, this spinoff is absolutely the winner. The meals are easy to make, don’t take an obscene amount of time, and the ingredients themselves aren’t too hard to come by. Even the bamboo shoots, which this dish utilizes, I was able to find canned in my local Japanese supermarket. What I love about this spinoff is the treatment of the food. Where a show like Food Wars is hardcore when it comes to making food and appreciating the food, Today’s Menu for the Emiya Family is much more considerate, more caring to the process. It’s relaxing, which Food Wars totally isn’t, and it’s also more instructional and functional in terms of teaching us how to cook. Shirou explains everything so clearly and concisely, it’s more about the process of putting together delicious food, rather than the fantastic ingredients or amazing technique.

The idea behind this particular dish is great, too. It’s a bamboo gratin. Until this point, I’d only ever heard of potato gratins, which are sliced potatoes bathed in cream and butter and topped off with cheese. I mean, sounds good, right?? As it turns out, pretty much anything can be a gratin as long as it’s topped with cheese and breadcrumbs. Theoretically, you could have a gratin grilled cheese, or gratin steak, or gratin soup. Oooooh….what if you made a gratin tomato soup? That would be fun. HOWEVER this dish is comprised of chicken, onion, macaroni pasta, and, of course, bamboo shoots. Which…if you’re familiar with traditional mac and cheese, which has bread crumbs on the top…is SORT OF similar to this bamboo gratin. Hence, Japanese inspired mac and cheese!!!

My friends, it’s not just the Japanese mac and cheese in name- the sauce base is a creamy roux, made with a Japanese cream stew mix, similar to a cheese based roux in American mac and cheese. The addition of the onion, asparagus, and the chicken bulks it up and makes it into a full-blown meal, and the toppings- cheese and bread crumbs- take it to the next level, upping the textures of the overall dish to make it multi-faceted.

Is this dish worth trying? Undeniably. Make it for a large group of friends (The below recipe would feed 4 EXTREMELY hungry people, or 6 with maybe a side of salad), or just make it to share with your mom (and give her tasty leftovers for the week ahead!). Whatever you choose to do, watch the video below to get more pointers on how exactly to make this dish!

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Crunchyroll #87: Sakura’s Bento from “Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card Arc”

If you’ve been watching Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card Arc or even the original series for any amount of time, you’ll recognize that Sakura and Syaoran are the IT couple of anime in 2018. They were able to confess their love to one another in the first series, but in the new arc we are finally able to see them come together and go through a romantic relationship together. It’s like everyone’s CCS fanfiction dreams come true, except better because it’s all 100% canon.

Sadly, Sakura is always busy capturing Clear Cards, and Syaoran seems to always be dealing with the stress of living alone and sorting out his own magical abilities. They hardly have time to be together and be a couple! So when they got to visit the aquarium together again, I, as a humble viewer, was very excited for what was basically their first date since Syaoran moved back. Finally, we could have a moment to ooh and awww over their adorable middle-school love.

And THEN a Clear Card showed up and there went all their lovely plans to look at various fish together. Even worse, Sakura had made a delightful bento for them to share.

If you’re unfamiliar, bento boxes are essentially Japanese lunch boxes so “making a bento” typically means making a packed lunch. In Japan, bentos can get quite creative- and competative. When I was living in Japan, my host mom used to compete with other mothers to see who could make the more adorable bentos for their children. I received a Doraemon, a Totoro, and a very cute penguin in a few different bentos. I felt very lucky to have such a creative host mother.

Sakura’s bento, by all appearances, was going to be very delicious. According to her, she’d been practicing tamagoyaki and chicken karaage, both of which feature in this bento. They are accompanied by some fried sausages, rice, and what looks to be a medly of cherry tomatoes and mozzarella balls (even though the later ingredient isn’t exactly common in Japan. I really wasn’t sure what else it could be.). If it’s one thing I’ve come to learn through anime, it’s that Japanese schoolgirls tend to want to impress their crushes with their fantastic home cooking, so this bento box fromo Sakura is truly a triumph.

Or, was a triumph.

The bento got ruined by a Clear Card, so they weren’t able to eat it. I found this to be a particular kind of food tragedy, so decided to recreate it for you here, so that we could realize Sakura’s dream even if she couldn’t eat it herself.

It was a good opportunity to try these easy bento foods out. The challenge here is really taking the time to make it all. You can definitely make some of this food in advance, because putting it all together the day of would be quite a challenge. The tamagoyaki does require some special equiptment, but was surprisingly easy to get the hang of. The egg roll I make below is actually my first try. The only thing I would change would be to use a light soy sauce for the eggs, as the dark soy sauce I used altered the flavor a bit. Chicken karaage is also easy, as long as you’re not afraid of deep frying things. The oil can be intimidating, but once you get the hang of it goes along pretty easily. Overall, I was surprised at how simple each individual component was! Here is a template for the little flags in the food if you want to make it totally authentic.

A final note- this makes a lot of food, so definitely gather some friends together to try this out- consider taking it for a picnic in the park, especially as the weather is beginning to change (at least in California)! I really hope you can try this out! Watch the video below to get more pointers on how exactly to make this bento!

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Crunchyroll #83: Angel Food Cake from “Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card Arc”

When was the last time you went to a tea party? I mean, for real, does anyone do those things anymore? Actually, hard truth comin’ at you- I’m a party junkie. By that, I mean that I love throwing unique parties. Examples? Murder mystery party, handcrafted and NOT from a kit- check. Done that. A literary party where I made my friends collect pieces of literature that spoke to them and we sat in a circle and recited said literature. Check. It was a great party! How about this? A tea party with three kinds of sandwiches, scones with all the fixings, over 5 kinds of tea, AND VEGAN CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES? Check. It was FANTASTIC, I highly recommend it.

So when I ask who has tea parties anymore, the honest answer is me. I do. I have tea parties. But I’ve never had a tea party with such a delicate and superb treat as angel food cake complete with whipped cream and strawberries. Now, if you’ve been with me long, you’ll know I almost universally hate sponge cake. However, angel food cake is the rare exception. It’s incredibly fluffy, moist, and pairs well with my favorite combination ever- strawberries and whipped cream. So, when I saw Sakura eating this at her friend Akiho’s house, I knew I had to try it.

Ya know, Sakura knows what’s up- go over to your rich friend’s house, take advantage of their butler’s astounding cooking skills, and then go ‘splorin to find a new Clear Card. This cake is a great accompaniment- it’s light enough to please, but is also surprisingly sweet and filling, supplying the consumer with copious amounts of energy for any magical doings yet to come. Better yet, if you can get past the semi-terrifying cake pan, it’s a really easy cake to make. This was the first time I ever made it, and let me just brag a little here when I say: it came out PERFECTLY.

This cake is called an angel food cake because it’s lightened and leavened with egg whites, making it pillowy soft and incredibly fluffy. As a result, the final flavor is driven strongly by the kind of extract you put in, as well as the sugar. It results in a sweet, airy treat which pretty much perfectly describes every single Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card episode. The only time I got worried while making this cake was when it came to actually removing the fluffy treat from the pan. Before that, as long as you can hold a hand mixer for about five minutes straight, you’re pretty much in the clear. Another trip to make the perfect cake- cool this sucker upside down. Either on a rack, on the little stands that accompany some pans, or over a wine bottle (be careful it doesn’t come crashing down around you, though). This will prevent the cake from falling and will ensure its fluffiness is maintained while it cools down.

With Spring on the way, you can’t miss with this cake. Like Sakura and Tomoyo, you can enjoy it too! Maybe even hire a butler to make it for you- spice up your life a little bit. Or just do it yourself- make some for your friends, invite them over to your very own tea party, and enjoy with copious amounts of whipped cream and berries. You won’t regret it!

I really hope you can try this out! Watch the video below to get more pointers on how exactly to make this dish!

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Crunchyroll #78: Soma’s Venison from “Food Wars!”

Learn how to make it here.

Here we are again, another one of Soma’s recipes, another chance for me to lose my mind, cooking my life away in my non-professional grade kitchen. I gotta say, I love cooking food from Food Wars! because of the challenges it presents, but I also have to say that it can be really tough trying to recreate the food from this show using a kitchen that is barely adequate for more than the basic home cook would need, let alone an aspiring gourmet chef.

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Crunchyroll # 77: Pineapple Ramen from “Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen”

Learn how to make it here.

Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen, at the outset, seems like an innocent and harmless anime. It is a nice little show about a girl, Koizumi-san, who, you guessed it, LOVES ramen. A lot. I’m honestly not sure how she’s able to consume so much ramen, sometimes up to an estimated 5 times a day. I mean, I’m a fan of ramen, but that seems… a little extreme.
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Crunchyroll #71: Welcome Cupcake from “Black Clover”

Learn how to make it here!
Honestly, I don’t know about you guys, but cupcakes make me so happy. I’m on a first name basis with the lady who runs the local cupcake shop in my town. I visit at LEAST three times a week just to satiate my cupcake cravings. I’ve wracked up so many frequent customer points that I barely have to shell out money for these treats any more and you know what? Sadly, cupcakes just don’t really show up all that often in anime, so I never have much of an excuse to make them at home! That and the fact that my local cupcake shop is convenient, delicious, and perfect in every way. But, when I saw this episode of Black Clover I knew in my heart that this was going to have to change. I couldn’t buy this cupcake from my local cupcake shop, so I’d either have to make it, or go without.

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