Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Hot Soba Soup

Warning: This broth, like the other kombu broth is めんどくさい (mendokusai) - troublesome or bothersome and not for the lazy cook.

Japanese food should look simple. Clear broth, buckwheat noodles, a few condiments, but it is probably very Buddhist, or very Zen (not sure on my Asian religions) for the simplicity of the end product to come from struggle. Food, after all, is a metaphor for our own mortality so add your thoughts on that here.

Ingredients: (serves 4)
  • 8 cups water
  • large piece of good quality kombu
  • 2 large handfuls of katsuoboshi (dried bonito flakes)
  • 4 T. mirin
  • 2 T. sake
  • 4 T. shoyu
  • 3 bundles soba noodles
  • Condiments like:
    • kamaboko
    • par-boiled greens like pak choy, choi sum (nothing too strong so not mustard cabbage)
    • leftover fish, tako, tempura
    • negi including the whites (Japanese green onion)
Note: I did not have the amount of time I needed to get the broth where I wanted it to so I also added 2 packets of kombu dashi powder, a few pieces of dried daikon, and after I strained it, I used some misoshiru no gu that I had in the pantry (which added  some ebi, wakame, dehydrated kamaboko and iriko)

  1. Soak the kombu in water overnight. (Remember, kombu should not be boiled because it gives off a naturally occurring chemical like MSG)
  2. Transfer the water and the kombu in a pot and heat it up. Just before it starts boiling, take the kombu out. 
  3. Add the katsuoboshi and simmer for 30 seconds. Turn off the heat and let it simmer in the pot for about 10 minutes. Most of the flakes should sink to the bottom as it rehydrates and flavors the dashi.
  4. Set a large strainer lined with paper towels over another pot and strain the liquid. Squeeze the paper towel to get all the broth out. You now have your base stock. 
  5. Add the mirin, sake, shoyu and heat the broth up again to boiling. Taste and salt as needed. Cover and let it sit on simmer until the noodles are ready.

Soba directions:
  1. Get two pots of boiling water ready plus one colander and one large bowl for rinsing
  2. Cook the soba in one pot (about 3 1/2 minutes)
  3. Drain the water and put it in the large bowl.
  4. Rinse the soba by hand to get the film off of the noodles.
  5. Put the soba in the 2nd pot of water to heat it up again.
The finish:
Prepare your condiments, place warmed up noodles in bowls and let everyone put in their condiments and broth.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Pinterest Project: Orange Sauce

I am guilty of "pinning" and creating Pinterest boards without even trying it, so since I have an open 3-day weekend, here's to the start of the Pinterest Project - try something, if it works it out, I'll repin it.

Orange Sauce for Pancakes

I tried a chocolate dutch baby from Pinterest, thought the recipe was suspect, "fixed" it and didn't like it. But that recipe also called for fresh strawberries that I didn't have. I did have "naked" oranges. Big Spazz used the orange zest to create triple sec so I decided to try this orange sauce from Pinterest to use with the chocolate dutch babies. The original Pinterest recipe is here.

  • Fresh squeezed orange juice
  • Equal part of sugar

  1. Juice the oranges and pour into a measuring cup
  2. In a medium pot, add the juice and the same amount of white sugar. 
  3. Heat on medium until the sugar is dissolved. It tastes great served warm over pancakes.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Garlic Ginger Shrimp

We had a little over a pound of cleaned shrimp from our tempura making on New Year's eve so I found a garlic ginger shrimp stir fry recipe on Steamy Kitchen and adapted it here.  Wish I had some baby pak choy and a lot more green onion - there is definitely enough sauce for more greens. 

  • 4 T. oyster sauce
  • 2 T. shoyu (used low sodium)
  • handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 4 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 lb. shrimp, peeled with tail intact and deveined
  • enough cooking oil for the wok
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 4 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 bunch baby pak choy, chopped
  1. In a small bowl, mix the oyster sauce and shoyu and set aside.
  2. Pat the shrimp dry and mix it in a bowl with cornstarch to lightly coat the shrimp.
  3. In a wok, over high heat and a little oil, add the shrimp in a single layer and leave it for a minute until it gets crisp and flip it over. The shrimp does not need to be cooked all the way, just get it crispy, take out of wok and drain on a rack. It took me about three rounds to crisp the shrimp.
  4. Turn the heat down to medium, stir fry the pak choy, green onions, garlic and ginger with a little more oil until the pak choy is a little soft.
  5. Pour in the sauce mixture and the shrimp back into the pan. Stir fry for another minute until the shrimp is cooked through. Serve immediately.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Grandma Ikeda's Chocolate Mac Nut Cookies

These are Grandma Ikeda's signature cookies. I tend to make it smaller than she does because I must be more pake or something, haha!

3 sticks butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup macadamia nuts, toasted and cooled
1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Cream butter with sugar then slowly add the flour and baking soda. The dough will be a little coarse. Hand mix the mac nuts and chocolate chips, then make balls of cookie dough. 

Place dough on cookie sheets with parchment paper and flatten the dough a little. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Cool the cookies and store in an air tight container with wax paper between layers.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Keeper Project: Easy Smashed Potatoes

I had a HUGE mashed potatoes failure about ten years ago - so bad that we had no mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving one year, so when mashed potatoes were assigned this year, I got a little panicky.

Luckily, for my family, this less ambitious recipe got thumbs up, especially from boy 3.

  • 3 pounds medium red-skinned potatoes, scrubbed
  • 2 tsp. course sea salt, plus more for salting the water
  • 3/4 - 1 cup heavy cream (just check texture)
  • 4 T. butter
  • black pepper
  • 4-6 stalks green onion, including whites, finely chopped
  1. Put the potatoes in a saucepan and cover with cold water seasoned with salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until potatoes are very tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. Heat the cream and butter in a small saucepan until hot, not scalding.
  3. Drain potatoes and with a potato masher, rough smash the potatoes while adding the hot liquid. 
  4. Stir in half the green onions, season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. The rest of the green onions can go on top before serving.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving Note to Self: the right pumpkin filling

My mother-in-law used to always do Thanksgiving. She cooked everything and we would take care of the sides, but as she gets older, more and more of the Thanksgiving dishes have moved to us. This year has been a change year for her. She stopped driving and that has been the start of stopping other things until this Thanksgiving, the whole thing was given over to us. The pies, which were always her thing went to me without any recipe so I have to battle memory of taste as well as my procrastination that comes with not having a plan.

The verdict on my very first pumpkin pie (seriously, I have been married for 27 years and I have never made a pumpkin pie because my mother in law has ALWAYS made it):
Thumbs up on the filling - work on the crust. My mom took the leftover pie home.

Note to self for next year: if I don't want to use store bought pie crust, mix the crust ahead of time and put it in the refrigerator. Also, practice before the "show."

The filling was a keeper, so I just need to work on crust.

From: Suzanne's Old Fashioned Pumpkin Pie (original recipe here)

  • 2 cups canned pumpkin puree (the original recipe talks about making fresh sugar pumpkin pulp, but in my small town in the middle of the Pacific, it is not something locally available)
  • 1 12oz. can evaporated milk (or 1 1/2 cup heavy cream)
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs plus one yolk
  • 3 1/2 - 4 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I make my own)
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
You also need a good deep dish crust, which I don't have yet. But when I do, I will link it here.

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. 
  2. Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Mix in the sugars, salt, spices and lemon zest. Mix in the pumpkin puree. Stir in the cream and beat together until everything is mixed. (I like the dark color of the filling, probably from the brown sugar, but I really despise lemony orange colored pumpkin pies.)
  3. Pour the filling into an uncooked pie shell.* Bake at 425 for 15 minutes. **After the 15 minutes, lower the temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for 45 - 55 minutes more, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. 
  4. Let the pie rest for about 2 hours and serve with whipped cream (traditional, but my family does not like whipped cream so I cannot rely on the whipped cream to hide any flaws)
* I had much more filling than my one 9" deep dish pie crust would hold, but not enough to make another pie, so I put it in an oven ramekin and baked it alongside my pie so I could try a crustless pie. Next time, I am going to put it in smaller ramekins, put it in a water bath and see if I can make it more brulee custard ish.

** After 15 minutes (I think my oven is running hot), I had to already put foil on my crust because it was at the right color.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Giving Thanks Together Invites

I was wandering through my Pinterest board after work and saw some fabulous ideas for outdoor Thanksgiving table setting ideas.  Beautiful and way over my league, but I saw this card that gave me an idea to create a postcard invitation (above) to send to our guests (really it's just our usual Sunday dinner family, but they are still guests)

But since it is a postcard, I figured instead of the usual you're invited, I would choose a grateful poem and give each person a part of the poem. I chose "Invocation" by Jeanne Lohmann as a way to share a piece and enjoy some choral reading. 

I hope they like it. Here's the back of the postcard ( I took the addresses off)