Monday, June 22, 2009
Sweet corn on the cob, husked and de-silked
garlic salt (the kind with a green cap, big garlic chunks, and parsley flakes)
slivers of pats of butter, or a big chunk of butter.
Put an inch or two of water in the bottom of a big pot, and place a steamer rack in it. Don't boil the corn directly in water--it loses flavor and nutrients! Sometimes I add a bay leaf or a lemon to the water before putting in the steamer tray. Put the corn in, turn it to high heat, cover, and steam until you smell the corn from across the room or until it changes color slightly and looks done, but still crispy and firm. I never time it...maybe five minutes? a little more?
Put a few pats of butter on a plate about the diameter of the length of the corn cobs, and roll the hot cobs in the butter pats, covering nicely. You might want to use tongs or a fork since the corn will be very hot. Sprinkle garlic salt to taste on your corn. EAT!
Sunday, June 21, 2009
I baked this in 2 pie pans so I can give one to my dad tomorrow for Father's Day in a pretty glass dish.
I took my recipe from http://www.browneyedbaker.com/2009/06/17/seven-layer-bars/ after seeing the luscious photo on photograzing.com. It had to be slightly modified, I think because of the 2 pie pans.
The 7 Magic Ingredients (Makes 2 "pies")
- 2 sticks butter (1/2 lb.)
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1 can condensed milk
- 30 graham crackers (how the original recipe called for just 7, I will never know)
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup butterscotch chips
- 1 1/2 cup flaked coconut
- Preheat oven to 350. Put graham crackers in a plastic bag and smash them with a rolling pin. Or do what I did and use a bowl and a big dowel like a giant pestle and mortar. It takes forever!! Melt the butter. Mix with graham crumbs in the bowl. Grease your pie pans with oil. Press graham crust into bottom.
- Smash walnuts using the same procedure. Sprinkle on top of crust.
- Sprinkle on all the chocolate/white/butterscotch chips. Top with coconut.
- Pour condensed milk over the whole thing.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until top is golden brown.
Anyway, this time, I made a winner. Sometimes, a disregard for all the fancy spices and flavor enhancers actually detract from the heady natural flavors of fresh produce. Corn chowder has always been one of my favorite things to eat. It was actually the very first thing I ever cooked all by myself. I was about ten and I think I used the JOy of Cooking book. I had to walk to the store and ask my mother for money. Those were interesting days.
The success of this chowder comes from the enormous amount of fresh vegetables, and the enormous amount of thick sliced, slow-fried, crispy bacon. I used an entire pack of bacon, minus 4 slices that were mysteriously eaten beforehand....
You also have to give credit to the dubiously large amount of onions. When I added them, my big ole soup pot was literally half full of onions and bacon. But never fear, little dears. I drained the bacon fat before getting dirty with my chowder. If I ate this in a restaurant, I would have no qualms about licking the bowl.
1 pack of bacon
1 big russet potato, cubed
1 red potato, cubed
1 jumbo-sized onion (the size of 2 normal), chopped
1/2 bunch celery (about 7 stalks? including the heart?), sliced/chopped
1 can creamed corn
8 mini bell peppers, diced (about 1 cup)
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
organic chicken broth to cover, about 3-4 cups
1 cup whole milk
plain yogurt for garnish
cheddar cheese for topping
garlic salt, cayenne, and black pepper
- With scissors, cut the bacon into strips (1/2") into a big fat soup pot. Turn on medium heat. Let sizzle until crispy, draining liquid when it gathers. I drained it twice. Bacon should be carmelized and crisp crisp.
- Add onions. Stir occassionally and let cook. Add celery, potato, bell peppers. Let them get about halfway done. Then add corn and broth to just cover ingredients. Simmer or boil until potatoes are done. Turn off heat. Add parsley, pepper, garlic salt to taste, and milk. Stir. Serve with shredded cheese and/or yogurt. I eat it with both.
Friday, June 19, 2009
I didn't take any pictures because the consistency is nothing to brag about. It looks like tumeric-colored mashed potatoes with chunks of vegetable. The real secret is in the taste.
First, place eggplants (I used Japanese) right under the broiler on some foil. Don't remove anything, just rinse them, prick them with a fork, and stick them under there. Wait about ten minutes until the skin is black, then turn them over to get the other side. They're done when they smell delicious and when the skin is blackened. Be sure to prick them, or they will quite literally explode in your oven! Remove when done and set aside to cool. When cool, peel skin off easily. Chop.
At the same time, boil a big pot of water. Cut 2 potatoes in half. Salt the water. Add potatoes. Boil for half an hour or until a fork goes all the way through the potatoes easily. This always takes longer than I expect. Remove and peel potatoes. Mash.
Whilst the eggplant and potatoes and cooking, heat some olive oil in a pan with a whole chopped onion and several minced cloves of garlic. Add about half an inch of minced or mushed ginger, as well. Proceed to dump in 2 generous heaping teaspoons cumin, 1.4 teaspoons coriander, 1 teaspoon garam masala, 1/2 teaspoon cloves, 1 spoon tumeric, cayenne pepper to taste. Add four coarsely chopped mushrooms and a handful of chopped carrots. Cook til tender. Shake a few generous shakes of garlic salt. Add the eggplant.
Mash potatoes with a masher and add the vegetable ingredients. Add chopped or shredded cheddar cheese. Continue mashing. Add crumbled feta cheese, if desired. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve the gloriousness!
We started a vegetable garden! It has neat rows and everything! I've never had a real garden before, and this one is quite promising.
What do we have? Parsley, cilantro, jalapenos, thyme, rosemary, chives, green onions, spinach, basil, mint!
Start with good ingredients and everything wonderful is possible.
super onion bagel toasted, grilled onions, bacon, avocado, smoked salmon, lettuce, cream cheese, vine-ripened grape tomato.
Sundried-tomato roasted turkey breast, feta cheese, avocado, grilled msurhooms and onions, lettuce, tomato, milton's bread, plain yogurt, taro and sweet potato chips.
First of all, Guy and a few other Israelis came over to our apartment and had an epic falafel-making session. I can tell you that it was enlightening and very, very tasty! I have a few dozen pictures of the process that I'm too lazy to upload right now.
Second of all, on the Israeli Independence Day, there was a big festival downtown. They had food, food, food, and a bad guy singing folk songs accompanied by a girl in a blue evening gown who looked much better than she sang.
I had falafel in a pita from the guy who used to own the falafel place in Manoa! (eg the only kosher place in Hawaii. It has since closed). I also got to try a lot of other Mediterranean food, which apparently was not as good as the real thing.
I'd had a bag of jumbo Alaskan sea scallops sitting in my freezer for about a week (thank you, Costco). I'd just not yet had the chance to make them. Yesterday left me starving by evening, because I'd eaten my new favorite breakfast of pineapple cottage cheese, sliced apple banana, handful of blueberries, plain yogurt, and quaker oats granola. It beats the Jamba Juice Acai Bowl as far as ingredient quality and taste are concerned. I love it to snack on, too. Anyway, I had just the bowl and one piece of fried chicken snuck ravenously from Safeway around noon. In between, I'd had a 3-hour business meeting, run errands, went shopping, and went to my turbo kickboxing class. It was 8 p.m. and my Guy wasn't going to be home until 9 or 9:30.
Great! Time to make myself even more starving by wafting delicous cooking smells all over myself! I took two very well-reviewed recipes for scallops and edited them a little to my liking. What turned out was surprsingly simple to make, and dare I say restaurant quality. The pasta was my first experience concocting a non-tomato-sauce-based pasta, ever. My mother always, always made pasta as "spaghetti," and it always, always, involved stretching a store-brought can of tomato sauce with her own ingredients. Never had I known that you could make tomato sauce from scratch with ease, and never had I known that you could eat pasta with something other than marinara! My first attempt turned out so well I ate it for breakfast this morning :)
This meal is very impressive and deceptively easy to make. Try it!
Seared Alaskan Scallops
Deceptively delicious for something so easy to make
8 jumbo alaskan sea scallops, thawed
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Preheat oven broiler. melt butter and mix with lemon juice. Drench scallops in mixture.
- Place in shallow baking dish. Sprinkle liberally with garlic salt. Broil for 7 minutes or so. Do not overcook! Scallops become rubbery and unappetizing when overcooked!
1/2 box Barilla Medium Shells (or pasta of your choice)
1 or 2 onions, chopped (I used a jumbo costco-sized onion that must've been 3 lbs by itself)
4 mushrooms, sliced
8 cloves garlic, minced fine
1 tomato, diced
1 teaspoon Parsley flakes
Black pepper and/or cayenne pepper to taste
grated parmesan cheese (Optional)
- Boil a big pot of water. When it comes to a rolling boil, add seashells and a dash of olive oil and some salt, if desired. Stir occassionally to prevent sticking. When almost done, drain in colander.
- Meanwhile, heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of your widest pan. Remember that this will be the sauce for the pasta, for use more oil than usual. Fry onions on medium until translucent. Add mushrooms and garlic.
- Turn off heat and stir in tomatoes, parsley flakes, and pepper. Stir in seashells. Top with parmesan.
organic spring greens
italian herb dressing
tear greens, finely dice sundried tomato, and toss all in a large bowl with a drizzle of dressing.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Luckily, I was still hungry enough to eat the veggie burgers when they came out. Goes great with Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce, avocado, tomato, and pickles.
2-minute Avocado Sandwich Idea:
(makes 1 sandwich)
Milton's 7-Grain Sliced Bread
handful crumbled blue cheese
small handful lettuce
- Put 1 slice Milton's 7-grain bread in the toaster. I love this bread for the nutty sweetness
- Peel half an avocado with your fingernails
- slice avocado fast kine. Try not to eat it all before it makes it to the sandwich.
- Slice 1/4 tomato with the same knife
- Fold bread slice in half, and dump avocado, crumbled blue cheese, tomato, dill pickle, and spring lettuces inside. Devour.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Stuffed Blue Cheese Burgers
For the burgers:
ground beef (I got the organic 80/20 from costco)
ciabatta rolls (costco!)
crumbled blue cheese
salt and black pepper
For the Sandwich Construction:
more blue cheese
vine ripened tomatoes
Mush together blue cheese and a little yogurt until the consistency is creamy. Set aside.
Dice onions, and mix into meat by hand along with a little mustard powder, salt and pepper and maybe some parsley.
Form 2 thin hamburger patties a little larger than your ciabatta rolls to allow for shrinkage. Spoon blue cheese mixture evenly over center of patty. Put second patty on top and press edges together to seal. Repeat with all meat and blue cheese sauce.
Grill, broil, or fry burgers.
Meanwhile, sautee some chopped mushrooms and diced onions in oil on the side. Chop some salad, too.
Construct your burger! I love blue cheese, so I spread my ciabatta with the leftover blue cheese and plain yogurt mixture. I decked my burger with pickles, chopped salad greens, tomato, sliced lady apple, etc. Maybe add a potato chip or two.
Serve with a crispy beverage and hearty sweet potato & taro chips. Enjoy the blue cheese oozing hotly out of your burger. YUM
Mango season and lychee season are one of my favorite parts of living in Hawaii. We have two huge mango trees in the backyard, but it's a late-fruiting tree, so still no fruit. I'm a little worried because the house next door burned to the ground when the trees were still flowering, and the flowers might've gotten burned/smoked off.
Luckily, mangoes are 8 pounds for $10 at Safeway. I kid you not. I don't know how they can afford to sell them so cheaply, but everytime I go shopping I leave with two heaping bags full of mango. I'm a big lover of the ever-glroious breads disguised as cakes, most notably banana bread and mango bread. In Okinawa I made banana bread with monkey bananas at least once a month. Now that it's mango season in Hawaii, I can finally get some mango bread goodness!
I found this recipe called Hunky Bunch Mango Bread from the Honolulu Advertiser. Based on the name alone, I knew I had to use it. Just wait til you check out the backstory:
And here's the recipe, slightly adapted for my tastes by the addition of many yummy add-ins and even more mango:
Former Tiser-ite Paula Bender e-mailed to say that her favorite mango bread was one she recalled from some years ago with the intriguing name of "Hunky Bunch Mango Bread."
I delved back into The Advertiser files and never found the recipe — that showed up in an online search — but I did find out who the Hunky Bunch was.
It was the family of the late Dr. Hing Hua "Hunky" Chun and his wife, former legislator Connie Beltran Chun. Theirs was a second marriage and each brought three children to the union — Hunky's three boys and Connie's three girls. In the 1970s, when Papa Chun decided that it would be a great family-building exercise for the eight of them to run together in the Honolulu Marathon, they got tagged with the name "Hunky Bunch," a play on TV's "The Brady Bunch."
Reached at her Foster Village home, Connie Chun explained she would bake as many as 80 loaves of the bread and serve it with homemade liliko'i juice as a post-run snack for runners in various races. It was a standard recipe that she changed around to suit her tastes. She's got three mango trees in the yard and a freezer full of mango right now, but, she said, "I haven't baked mango bread since my husband died (in 2002) because I know I'd cry."
Hunky Bunch bread freezes well and makes good toast.
FAMOUS HAWAIIAN HUNKY BUNCH MANGO BREAD
Prepare four loaf pans (2 1/2-by-5-inch or larger) by buttering them or using nonstick spray.
Very important: DO NOT OVERMIX. Your bread will be dry and hard!!! Mix dry ingredients well: flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, cayenne, ginger and baking soda. In separate bowl, mix mango, raisins, walnuts, coconut. Mix well. add eggs, vanilla extract and vegetable oil until blended. Don't over-mix!Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Stir with your hand (yes, it's fun and messy and you get to lick your fingers!) until JUST BARELY mixed, meaning the flour just barely disappears. DO NOT OVERMIX!
Fill prepared pans two-thirds full and bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes for the smaller pans or 1 hour for the larger pans; tops should spring back when touched and a toothpick should emerge from the loaf's center clean.
Makes 4 loaves, about 10 slices each.
I actually made 12 muffins and 1 pie tin. I love the muffins because there's more of that much-savored crispy outside crusty layer. It was hard not to eat all the mango as I diced it! It took 4 big mangoes to come up with 3 cups of mango flesh, if that helps when you buy your mangoes. Here's another good mango bread blog post you might want to consult for proper mango-cutting techniques.
Saturday, June 6, 2009
I absolutely adore eggplant. NPR recently hosted a short story reading called "An Eggplant Alone," read by a well-loved author of Gourmet Magazine who had recently died. I've been making all kinds of wonderful eggplant dishes. One of my favorites is eggplant, onions, and garlic diced and stir fried in a pot with a little olive oil. Add feta or goat cheese at the end and stir. It is heavenly with just those ingredients and maybe a little salt and cayenne pepper. Perfect as a sandwich spread or yummy side dish. And so so simple!
I've also made pomodoro alla mellanzana, baked eggplant parmesan, miso glazed eggplant, grilled/broiled eggplant, eggplant in stir-fries, and roast eggplant. All of them tasting deliciously of eggplant.
For dinner last night, I made this simple miso eggplant stir-fry along with sunomono. The eggplant is reminiscent of an ongoing special they had at Yukino, my favorite neighborhood restaurant in Nago. I ordered it during my first "girl's night out" with a few young Okinawan teachers. I found it delicious, and I believe I've created a healthier (less oily) version that tastes just as good.
Note: During the cooking process, I probably consumed about 10 Gummy Bear Vitamins. These things are the best vitamin discovery of my lifetime. They are a multivitamin that tastes even juicier and more delicious than regular Gummy Bears at the store--to satiate my craving for vitamins, I brought a bag of real Gummy Bears, only to leave the package half finished because the real variety were small and hard and too unforgiving compared to my luscious children's vitamins. Buy them at Costco at $9.99 or Safeway for $19.99!
Simple Miso Eggplant (serves 2)
2 large Japanese eggplant (nasu), halved and cut into sixths (1.5" pieces)
1/2 an onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2" ginger, minced (you might want to grate this--I really love my ginger but feeling pieces of it in their food isn't for everyone)
3 large mushrooms, cubed
1 heaping tablespoon white miso
1 tablespoon oil (I use olive)
salt and pepper to taste
The "How To"
- Cut eggplant and salt it to drain the excess water. It will absorb flavor better. Chop the rest of the vegetables while the salted eggplant rests.
- Heat oil in a wok. Add garlic, onion, and ginger. Cook until onions are nearly cooked/translucent. Add eggplant to wok. Cook until half done. Add mushrooms.
- Add miso and turn off heat. mix well. Season to taste, maybe with some chili garlic sauce or black or white pepper. Serve!
1 costco-sized Japanese (English?) Cucumber
2 tablespoon rice vinegar or thereabouts
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
- Thinly slice cucmber. Paperthin if you can. Use one of those grater things if you have it to make very delicate slices. Salt cucumber and set aside for a few minutes.
- Come back and squeeze cucumber with paper towel to get out the excess water. Mix in rice vinegar, sugar, and sesame oil. Let rest in fridge or serve immediately. Simple and delicious! I ate the entire huge cucumber all by myself, it's that refreshing on a summer evening :)
Friday, April 10, 2009
Friday, March 13, 2009
GREAT BALLS OF MOOSE! IT'S SO DELICIOUS!
We got it in school lunch. Many of the kids wouldn't touch it. In fact, they told me it would be bitter and gross. Lies! I tried it, and it tastes nothing like spinach. It's a slightly strange/pleasant green color, and the name and ingredients are off-putting, but it's better than any packaged pudding I've ever had in America, save perhaps kozy shack. But I'm sure this one is much healthier than kozy shak--it has spinach! It tastes creamy, milky, and smooth. It's just plain good pudding.
I think this company just needs to find a way to market itself, so more people will eat it. The idea of "spinach mousse" is a little off-putting. Especially since it conjures ideas of truly moussey concoctions made of "pure" spinach at hoity toity restaurants experimenting with molecular gastronomy. This spinach mousse tastes so much better.
So, who knows where I can buy me some of this stuff? I have yet to see it in the store. I would seriously eat it every day if I could.
Monday, March 9, 2009
Organic Red Rooibos, Organic Spice Blend, Organic Chicory Root, Organic Rosehips, Organic Honeybush, Natural Flavor, Organic Lemongrass, Organic Peppermint, Organic Chamomile, Organic Orange Oil and Organic Orange Peel.*Red Rooibos is a red tea from Africa. I've had it by itself from other brands, and it's pretty good as a standalone, too.
And let me tell you this: after drinking the Good Earth Chai, I could barely drink the Starbucks version of a chai latte. It was worth bringing two boxes to Japan with me in my suitcase!
On top of the excellent tea taste, Good Earth teas try to be environmentally friendly, given that they're individually packaged bags of tea. The company makes their packaging from 100% recycled materials, and uses soy-based inks.
On a semi-related note, when you make hot chocolate, please use common sense and add milk to the powder packet instead of water. It will taste 100% better, believe me.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
In late high school, I took to piling my spaghetti on top of salad veggies. This made the vegetables more palatable. At the height of the "carbs are evil" media blitz, I began forgoing noodles altogether, and putting the sauce directly on top of the salad (usually lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, and cheese). I still prefer this method of downing raw vegetables, but I have not yet acted upon it in Okinawa.
Which brings me to another question: What is the difference between spaghetti sauce and chili? Meat sauce and chili? Tomato sauce and spaghetti sauce? Spaghetti sauce and meat sauce? Especially made local (Hawaiian) style, the different varieties are probably pretty interchangeable: all are a slightly tomatoey excuse for eating ground beef. With chili, I suppose you sometimes had the red beans, which most of my friends would pick out because for some reason they hated beans--I, on the other hand, hated meat).
I believe that after several attempts at tomato-based meat sauces, I have finally got it right. It is a big improvement over my mother's spaghetti, at any rate. (Spaghetti was probably my most-requested, and most-favorite food growing up. I always added extra sugar to my sauce...and I have always liked soft vegetables melding into sauce like beef stew, pot roast, spaghetti, etc.)
Anyway, I have a few slight edges over my mother with respect to the preparation of this favorite childhood food of mine. I've lived with an "Italian" (in scarequotes because this "Italian" only ever lived in Italy for medical school) for a few months, and I had the chance to both observe and taste some of the delicious pasta sauces that tasted better than any Italian restaurant on Kauai, and very different in theory from what came out of my mother's kitchen. I also have that vast and wonderful resource the internet. Most European-based pasta sauces are much simpler to prepare than I ever could have thought. With quality ingredients, simple can indeed be grand. However, I've recently been experimenting with so much Indian food, I can't stay away from the spices. And this, I believe, is where to find the terrific flavor I love so much. The final edge: a (for practical purposes) unlimited budget for herbs, spices, and other ingredients. What did I do?
- 3-5 T. olive oil
- 277yen worth of leanish ground beef
- 298 yen of little sea scallops
- 1 onion 50yen
- 1 entire head garlic (~a dozen cloves)
- 2 small green peppers 128 yen
- 2 Japanese eggplant 128 yen
- 6 shiitake mushrooms 258 yen
- 140yen of micro cherry tomatoes (about 1 pound? or is it more like 1/2 pound?)
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1/4 of a quart of previously frozen ginger chicken carrot pumpkin soup
- 100 yen of sweet basil, about 20 leaves
- several tablespoons cumin
- black pepper to taste (1 T.)
- chili powder to taste (1/2 t.)
- at least 1 tablespoon paprika (has nice red color without the hotness)
- 1/4 t. tumeric
- 1 t. oregano (not sure how much I like it, so I only add a bit)
- small sprinkle thyme (I hate it, but I feel bad that I never use my jar of it, so I add just a little bit)
- 1 T. salt, or to taste
- 2 bullion cubes
- 1/4 cup sugar, or to taste (add it with the tomatoes, unless you like your sauce really sour)
- Dice garlic. Sweat on low heat in a large, flat, open-mouthed bowl-pan in olive oil. Using a large-mouthed pan reduces cooking time! Chop onion and add a bit at a time. While it's cooking, add cumin, black pepper, chili powder, paprika, tumeric to ground beef. Mix it up.
- When garlic and onions are translucent, add meat and spices. Brown the meat, breaking it apart into tiny pieces with a wooden spoon (I dislike chunks of meat. I prefer it to flavor the sauce). Take it all out of the pan and hold it in a separate bowl.
- Add salt to scallops. Add them to the already-hot pan with a bit of olive oil. Fry them for a few seconds until a bit undercooked. You can eat scallops raw, and they get stringy if overcooked. Save them to add to the finished sauce at the very end. Remove and set aside. Add meat onion garlic back to pan.
- On medium high heat, chop eggplant into 1/2" pieces. Add. Chop shiitake into 1/2" pieces. Add. Dice bell pepper. Add. Mix all every time you add a new batch. Cook.
- Remove tops from tomatoes, slice them in half. Add. Stir. Add canned tomatoes. Stir in sugar at the same time as the tomatoes. Add all other herbs and spices except for fresh basil (oregano, thyme, parsley more cumin or whatever you want). Stir, reduce.
- Let it simmer on low for at least half an hour or so, until all the vegetables and meat come together into a single stewy tomato sauce. I covered it and added the previously made chicken carrot kabocha soup and bullion cubes. When I saw it was too watery, I left it uncovered and evaporated away the liquid. I like my sauce full of chunky vegetables, and not watery at all. Remember, it won't have any pasta to absorb the liquid. Just lettuce. Plus, if it's chunkier, the flavor will be more condensed and overall more tasty.
- At the very end, add salt and pepper to taste. Then stir in scallops and torn basil. Serve over torn lettuce salad. I recommend a mild lettuce such as butter lettuce (which I just so happened to have in my fridge). Also great as a sandwich. Or, of course, with pasta. Or plain . . .
Saturday, March 7, 2009
There was also a big jar of Nutella! I have long loved Nutella, but in Okinawa, it has been a long lost love. I made a delicious nutella and lilikoi sandwich on toasted brown bread. The tangy kick of the lilikoi and the crunch of its seeds were the perfect offset to the heavy, creamy, chocolately, cloying nutella. Would definitely do that again! Sorry, I scarfed it down before I thought to take pictures.
...and then I was still hungry, because I was up late watching cooking videos from vahrehvah.com. I've decided that Indian food is the best food to eat out, because it's so complicated to prepare (and OH SO TASTY). I will be frequenting Indian restaurants more often (in the states, where they exist).
SO, I made some carrots and onions with pineapple, inspired by the Indian use of many many spices. This did not turn out very deliciously. Will probably not do this again--something is missing. Perhaps protein?
1/4 of a pineapple
olive oil (should've used butter)
maple soy milk
thai sweet chili sauce (you know the one--red with the rooster on it)
1 cube bullion
I first sauteed the onions with some of the spices, then added carrots, then milk, then steamed it for a few minutes with the chili sauce and bullion, then added the rest of the spices, then the pineapple at the end. This particular pineapple was a bit too sour for me to eat plain, but it stayed sour in this concoction. I'm eating it anyway--there's so much of it!
Anyway, all that food made for a very large midnight snack!
Friday, March 6, 2009
Soft, sweet, and slightly salty. I made this one on the run and out the door!
It's a "stir fry," but I don't believe in wokking onions, because they just get burnt without getting soft and sweet. Same with carrots. So, here is my asian sautee of sweet root vegetables, adaptable to pretty much anything:
1 medium carrot
sugar (you probably don't need it if you don't have my sweet tooth)
a few big pinches of sesame seeds
- Heat peanut oil in a heavy pan. Chop onion. As you chop them, add them to the pan in batches, so it stays hot all the time. Do the same to the carrot. Small pieces cook faster, and that's what we're going for here. Cover for a few minutes and wash the dishes.
- When vegetables are about soft enough, stir in a dash each of sesame oil, soy sauce, and the optional pinch of sugar. Mix in sesame seeds for garnish and extra flavor. Serve!
Micro Cherry Tomatoes (see chopstick for size comparison), a big bag of cuteness of
One of my schools gave me fresh butter lettuce from their garden!
Here's my version of a BLT in about ten minutes:
- 1 slice bread
- salt, pepper, basil flakes
Meanwhile, fry bacon on low heat to make it extra crispy. If you use high, or even medium heat, the bacon will curl up and the fat won't dissolve. It'll just get soft and burn quickly. Bacon = low heat! It's worth the extra time. Bacon in Japan does exist. It comes packaged in 250g packages of neatly arranged half-slices. This is about half a pack:
About 10 minutes later, when brown and crisp, remove from pan and set aside.
Prepare your cheese! I love the taste of smoked cheese. Heck, I just love cheese. Cheese in Japan is very expensive, and comes in bite-sized morsels wrapped to resemble candy. And, all of it, no matter what, is simply called "cheese." There are no varieties of cheese. I am very disappointed in this. However, this cheese is a close approximation to smoked gouda, in miniature. Mini cheese:I sliced a few pieces to melt onto my bread:
Then I popped the bread into the "fish grill" part of my stove. This is a wire rack with flames that broil from the top perimeter. It's very useful (and FAST) for toasting bread. My cheese didn't appreciably melt, but what the heck, it's Japanese cheese, right? I halved some micro cherry tomatoes and added those: (notice how MINI everything is! Oh, Japan)
In the unwashed bacon pan, crack an egg. Sprinkle on some salt, pepper, and basil flakes. By the time you're done, so is the egg!
Slide the egg on top of the bread cheese tomato bacon layers:
Add lettuce as the top layer. I like open-face sandwiches, because I don't especially like the dryness of bread. This one required a knife and fork. I ate it with some fresh pineapple, a very good choice. Whoever invented the ham and pineapple pizza had the right idea!
After I'd mangled half of it:
Of note: this brand of preserves labels their stuff "Blueberry Jam," but actually puts blueberry JELLY inside the jar!
jelly, not jam (but I'm not complaining too much)
Friday, February 27, 2009
My first ever attempt to make chili from scratch wasn't very guided. I made it on the principles of spaghetti sauce, soup, and Indian food, coupled with all the lore I'd heard from the frequent chili cookoff contests in the media. I get the idea that chili elitists hate beans, and use only meat. Then there's the meatless vegetarian chili enthusiasts. I hear the latest chili contest winner made pumpkin chili, which sounds like something up my alley. Another cook swears by chocolate as the secret ingredient. Many believe you need to let the chili "rest" for a day or two in the fridge for perfect flavor. I made a combination of all these floating ideas through a very complex process spanning several days. It began with a trip to the store to get all the vegetables on sale. I used:
A whole head of garlic (10 cloves?)
1 yellow onion
2 ears fresh corn kernels
2 packets mushrooms (shiitake and that flatter flowery one...?)
cilantro (5 stems)
1 bag (about 4 cups?) dried kidney beans, soaked overnight
297yen worth of lean ground beef (maybe a cup?)
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 can whole stewed tomatoes
1 can Japanese spaghetti sauce base
I believe I added these spices at various intervals throughout the cooking process:
3 cubes bullion (chicken and beef)
2 cups chicken soup (from yesterday)
4 cups water
4+ tablespoon salt
4+ tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 cup (maybe more?) sugar
2 t. cumin
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (it scared me at first because it made the whole place smell like dessert)
whole red hot chili pepper
1 teaspoon red chili powder
2 teaspoon paprika
At least a teaspoon each of:
I honestly probably don't remember everything I put in the pot. My basic method:
- sweat minced garlic in olive oil on lowest flame. Add diced onions. Add lots of cumin, paprika, less coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove. Add meat. Brown meat on medium heat. Add tomato products. Add sugar. Cut carrots into small pieces, add. Add quartered mushrooms. Add beans. Add everything else, tasting as you go. Next time I will probably use a more even meat to bean ratio. It's harder to make things tasty when you have SO many beans and not so much meat, especially since chili kind of lacks the strong spice base of Indian food...I didn't want my chili to taste Indian. Still pretty tasty, but I did have to keep adding salty seasonings at the end like bullion and salt. I didn't know I would end up with so many beans! Add cilantro near the end.
To concentrate the flavor, next time I will not add as much water or broth. I will use more tomato product, and also real tomatoes. as well as cannned corn, which I believe is sweeter than fresh corn, which really is best eaten as buttery corn on the cob. I might not add the chocolate in as great a quantity. I will use more onion if I'm going to make so much. Perhaps some bacon. Cooking is still a big experiment, and I need experience. I'm glad it came out tasting good, but it was missing something. That something was satisfied by a sprinkle of grated cheese (the only type of cheese they sell in Japan, I might add). With cheese, perfectly acceptable, even good enough to be eaten very slowly, savored, and enjoyed. Tried it out on a few friends tonight because I made so much. They ate it, so it must be all right!
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Toast and slightly warm bananas. Half with chunky natural peanut butter and honey. Half with cream cheese and cinnamon sugar. Something I frequently enjoy variations on for breakfast and snacks. Also popular with small children.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Feeling a bit sick, so I made chicken soup with winter vegetables. Chicken Vegetable soup is really just about the easiest things you can make. I don't know why anyone would want a can of soup full of preservatives and lacking in vegetably nutrients when they can just throw a bunch of ingredients in a pot, add some salt, and serve. It's bound to make you much better than anything from a can with a shelf life of several years.
Seriously, it really is that easy.
Hot and steamy chicken winter-vegetable soup with chicken breast chunks, celery, kabocha (Japanese Pumpkin), carrot, fresh corn kernels, crimini mushrooms, garlic, onions, and cilantro.
I cut all the ingredients into small pieces, threw it in the pot, added enough water to cover everything, and let it simmer for a long time. You can add rice if you want to make juk/chuk/congee. Oh, and add some salt and whatever spices you want. I personally like miso, basil, and black pepper. I may also have added a bit of cinnamon, nutmeg, 2 bay leaves, and coriander. However, the natural goodness of the chicken and vegetables makes it unnecessary to add anything but salt if you're not in an herby mood.
Just after adding the mushrooms to the pot:
There is literally an entire wall of miso at every grocery store. I have no idea how to choose the "good" miso, but this one tastes pretty good, even if it doens't taste like your typical US restaurant dissolved-powder miso soup. Miso is very versatile and very healthy. Many Okinwans swear by it for breakfast. They also sometimes serve a spoonful of miso with rice for lunch. Add a scoop of it to stir-fries, or use some in your next marinade. Very versatile.I like this miso:
I was so excited to see fresh corn on the cob! This is the first time I've ever seen it on the shelves in Okinawa! At 100 yen/ear I got two. I like the way it's wrapped, with a peekaboo exposure so I can check the quality of the kernels on the ear I want to buy:
In conclusion, Join me--Let's boycott canned chicken soup as a cure for colds!