“Grilled As You Like It”

Okonomiyaki is a Japanese dish sometimes referred to as Japanese Pizza (although I had never heard of it as that). Actually I wasn’t familiar with Okonomiyaki at all; the name literally means “grilled as you like it” or “whatever you like, grilled”.

I ran across the recipe in an issue of Food&Wine (appropriated during a very long wait at the doctor’s office!) and was immediately intrigued. The dish was called Red Cabbage and Fried Mortadella Okonomiyaki. Mortadella! What’s not to love?! (I know. It’s just Italian Bologna with added fat. Again, what’s not to love?) Also, it gets topped with bacon, Kewpie Mayo, Sriracha sauce and Hoisin. Whaaaat?

Here is the photo from the magazine: img_6828

Here’s my version: img_2572

Not bad, right? The only change I made was that (here’s the irony), since I couldn’t find Mortadella at my local grocery store and I didn’t feel like driving to another store, I had to substitute fried Spam. Yeah, you read that right.

The Spam was for another Asian recipe that actually calls for it, that I made the night before.  But that’s for another post. I had the rest of my “Japanese Pizza” for lunch today and it reheats very well. Now I just have to figure out how to use half a leftover red cabbage. And the rest of the Spam.

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An old favourite rediscovered.

Recently there was an article in MacLean’s magazine about the UBC cinnamon bun. It was first created by Grace Hasz who worked in the UBC kitchens from the mid 50s to 1970, making 120 dozen cinnamon buns every day. After she retired, others at UBC started making the buns, and in 2010 they were “down-sized” to what people were calling “cinnamon snails”.

I never attended UBC, but in the 80s I did sometimes have to be there, and I did sample the buns from time to time. They were good but were soon eclipsed (I thought) by Cinnabon-style buns. I made a batch at home a few times from the “original recipe”, so it said, in the Vancouver Sun,  but they just seemed to be big bready things with some cinnamon in them. My best childhood friend’s mother used to make cinnamon buns that could have rivaled Cinnabon, but I never had that recipe.

The article in last month in MacLean’s cited Grace Hasz’s grandson, Eric Leyland, who said that Ms. Hasz never wrote down a recipe, that they were made “by instinct”. However, he has a blog in which he describes his attempts to recreate the buns that he remembers his grandmother making. After several attempts he seems to have nailed it. His own review of the buns is that they have the look, taste and texture that he remembers.

So how could I resist? Using his recipe I made a batch last night. Unfortunately I could not eat one because by the time they were done, I was fasting for morning blood work!  But my “other half”, who DID attend UBC for many years, declared them as close to what he remembers from way back when. And I must say, the bun I had this morning (after my blood work) was not just a big bready thing with some cinnamon in it!

img_2565

 

And I admit to “gilding the lily” by putting frosting on top of the gooey tops once I flipped the buns. They didn’t need it, but I did!

(P.S. If you do decide to use Leyland’s final recipe, I have one suggestion. For the glaze he advises to melt the brown sugar first, then add the melted butter and cinnamon. I did that and ended up with a lump o’ rock candy. I would not melt the butter before adding, so when I redid the glaze, I melted the sugar and butter together. Then added the cinnamon. Came out perfectly.)