January 04, 2011
Tropical Fruitcake

I realise it is a little late (or very early) to be posting a holiday fruitcake recipe, but I wanted to be sure it turned out OK before I shared the recipe. It was delicious!

This cake features tropical dried fruits, coconut and spiced rum. There's not a glace cherry in sight! It is very dense and moist and contains four times as much fruit as flour. I allowed the cake to mature for six weeks in the fridge, but I think it would be fine without the extra storage. Making it ahead does save you from a smidgen of holiday stress, though.

Tropical Fruitcake
makes 1 cake

2 cups mixed dried fruit (pineapple, papaya, mango, raisins, currents, cranberries, etc)
1/2 cup grated dried coconut
1/2 cup spiced rum (enough to cover fruit)

Combine the fruits and coconut, making sure to separate any stuck-together bits of fruit. Pour in the spiced rum. Allow to sit at room temperature overnight. Drain the excess liquid before adding to the cake.

75g butter
1/4 c light brown sugar
1 tsp molasses
2 eggs
1/2 orange rind, grated
scant 1/2 c flour
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp clove
1/4 tsp ginger
1 Tbsp spiced rum

Line the bottom and 5cm up the sides of a loaf pan with two layers of baking paper. Heat the oven to 140 C.

Cream the butter, sugar and molasses. Add the eggs (if the mixture separates a little, don't panic). Stir in the orange peel, drained fruit and coconut. Mix in the flour and spices. Spoon into the loaf pan and spread evenly.

Bake for about 90 minutes to 2 hours. The cake should be slightly under-baked and very moist, but not wiggly. You may need to cover the pan with foil to keep the cake from browning too much. You can add a small pan of boiling water to the oven to help keep the cake moist, especially if you have a convection oven.

Remove from the oven and brush with 1 Tbsp of spiced rum. Allow to cool, then remove from pan. Peel off the outer layer of baking paper. Wrap the cake in plastic and then in foil and store in the fridge until you are ready to eat.

Posted by kuri at 08:15 AM [view entry with 0 comments)]
June 10, 2010
Raw Carrot Cake

The last piece of cake standing after a vicious two-day assault. Dehydrated and looking shabby, but still delicious.

Raw desserts are some of my favorites, especially in the heat of summer. Their sweetness comes from dried fruit and non-refined sugars, and they are packed with nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables, too. They are full of nutrition and almost virtuous. They still pack a calorie wallop, though - one serving of this cake is about 300 calories. But it's filling and one slice is usually enough.

The salt in the recipe helps to wilt the carrots so that they're not too crispy. Finely grating the carrots would give the cake a smoother texture. I love the orange flavour, but if you aren't a citrus fan you can leave it out and substitute water for the orange juice.

This recipe comes from Julie, who is Tracey's mom's friend. Thanks for sharing it.

Raw Carrot Cake
makes 10 servings

3 cups grated carrots
2 cups ground walnuts (or pecans)
1/4 cup chopped raisins
1 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp mixed spice (or 1/2 tsp each cinnamon, ginger and clove)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp orange zest
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup dates blended
1/2 cup orange juice

Blend the dates and orange juice into a wet paste. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and squeeze with your hands to mix well before pressing firmly into an ungreased cake tin. Put it in the fridge for an hour or so to firm up a little. The chilled cake is quite moist.

1 cup raw cashews (soaked)
1/3 cup water
2 Tbsp agave syrup
1 Tbsp coconut oil
pinch of salt

Process cashews until finely ground, then add the wet ingredients, adjusting the water to get an thick glaze-like consistency. Spread over chilled cake.

Posted by kuri at 09:53 AM [view entry with 1 comments)]
May 08, 2010
Baked Eggplant Parm

I walked in the door after a dinner meeting last week to the scent of baked tomatoes and garlic. "Tod, you ordered a pizza again, hey?" I called out as I dropped my bag at the door. But no. So inspired by this recipe in the NY Times, he had cooked for himself. I was so inspired by the heavenly scent that I had a taste of the leftovers right then and there. It was good. Really, really good. We made it again tonight and I wanted to record our minor variations for the Japan kitchen.

Baked Eggplant Parm
serves 4

1 cup panko (bread crumbs)
1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese
2 Tbsp parsley, minced
3 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 cup red grape tomatoes
1 cup yellow grape tomatoes
1 can (400g) diced tomatoes
10 Japanese eggplants (~900g), quartered lengthwise and cut into cubes
2 springs basil (~14 leaves), roughly chopped
3 huge cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
scant 1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 whole milk buffalo mozzarella (~1 cup), sliced into matchsticks

Combine the first six ingredients (panko, pecorino, parsley, oil, salt and pepper) until you have a nice, even crumb. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine everything else except the mozzarella and crumbs. Toss well to coat, then stir in half the crumbs. Spread into a 9x13 baking dish or large nabe. Sprinkle with remaining crumbs. Top with mozzarella and bake at 170C for about an hour. It will probably need to be covered with foil or a lid halfway through the baking.

Let rest for ten minutes before serving. Is almost better the second day.

Posted by kuri at 07:53 PM [view entry with 0 comments)]
February 17, 2010
Spicy Coffee Soup

We barely made a dent in yesterday morning's pot of coffee. I couldn't bear to toss it to make some fresh coffee today, but reheated coffee it is pretty blah so I decided to experiment.

I'd made soup. Coffee and Indian curry spices go well together, as it turns out. The coffee adds an interesting depth to the usual flavor of a curried soup. Toss in some lentils, rice and a few vegetables and you have a nice lunch that will perk you up for the afternoon.

I'd like to try it again in a creamed variation using potato instead of lentils. Thanks to the enormous amount of coffee we didn't drink yesterday, I certainly can.

Spicy Coffee Soup
serves 2

1 cup coffee
2 cups water
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground corriander
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp dried garlic
2 dried chilis
1/3 cup brown lentils
1/3 cup brown rice
1/4 cup frozen corn
1/4 cup frozen peas
salt and pepper to taste

Put everything except the corn and peas in a pot. Bring to a rolling boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until the lentils and rice are soft - about 30 minutes. If you let it simmer longer, you may wish to add a little more water. Add the corn and peas for long enough to heat them through, then serve the soup.

Posted by kuri at 02:35 PM [view entry with 3 comments)]
December 08, 2009
Miracle Cough Syrup

Last night at 2 am, I had coughed myself awake for the 10th time and I needed some help. My medicine cabinet is pretty scant and there is no cough medicine. But the Internet rescued me with this cough syrup from a 1999 posting about a recipe in Herbally Yours by Penny C. Royal. I mixed some up, drank a tablespoon of it and went back to bed to sleep through the rest of the night. Miracle. It did the trick again this afternoon when I started hacking. I don't want to lose this recipe, so I am republishing it for myself.

The syrup is full of natural botanic medicine - anti-inflammatory, antihistamine, antiseptic, pain reducer. The mixture is spicy and sweet. The fiery cayenne warms the throat, the vinegar soothes the scratchy feeling, and the honey is delicious. In addition to cough suppressing, it might make a tasty marinade.

Miracle Cough Syrup
makes 4 doses

1/4 t cayenne pepper
1/4 t ground ginger
1 T honey (manuka, if you have it)
1 T vinegar (apple cider, if you have it)
2 T water

Put all ingredients in a jar with a watertight lid. Shake until blended. Take by the tablespoon to soothe and suppress your cough.

Posted by kuri at 04:51 PM [view entry with 2 comments)]
November 28, 2009
Everything Stuffing

Not eating turkey for the holiday? This stuffing makes a great main dish. It's hearty and flavorful with plenty of nuts, seeds and beans to add flavor and texture. Vegetarian, of course. Served with mushroom gravy, this is a meal that will appear on my table even on regular days.

This recipe is handy for using up the bits and bobs of things in your pantry, too. Toss in whatever nuts you have on hand; finish up the last few figs, dates or raisins from your holiday cooking. Use more mushrooms, fewer beans, substitute parsley for celery leaves. I leave out strong seasonings like sage and use them in my gravy, but feel free to add herbs and spices to your liking.

Everything Stuffing
serves 6-8

2 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, diced
1 cup mushrooms, quartered or sliced
olive oil
1/4 cup celery leaves, chopped
1 cup edamame beans
1 cup mixed beans (tinned kidney, garbanzo, pinto, etc)
1 cup mixed nuts, seeds and dried fruit (walnuts, pinenuts, almonds, flax, sesame, cranberry, etc)
1 loaf crusty white bread, cubed and allowed to dry
1 loaf fruited or grained bread, cubed and allowed to dry
1 cup vegetarian broth or water with 1 T each soy sauce and sherry
salt & pepper to taste

Grease a casserole or 9x13 baking dish.

In a wok or very large pan, saute the onion, celery and mushrooms until the onion is translucent. Remove from heat. Stir in the celery leaves, beans, edamame, nuts, seeds and fruit. Add the bread cubes and mix well to combine. Using your hands to stir, slowly pour in the broth, stopping when the bread is damp and a little sticky but not soggy. Season with salt and pepper.

Press the stuffing into the baking dish or casserole. Bake, covered, for 20-30 minutes at 180/350. If you like a dry, crispy top, uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Posted by kuri at 07:47 AM [view entry with 0 comments)]
November 27, 2009
Mock Pumpkin Pie (Kabocha Custard Pie)

Pumpkins as we Americans know them are not easily available in Japan. Even butternut squash, which is the basis for most canned pumpkin, isn't in supermarkets, and its canned form is rare. But it is possible to satisfy a holiday desire for pumpkin pie with Japanese pumpkin, kabocha.

In most supermarkets, kabocha comes in quarters neatly plastic wrapped. Even though they are relatively small for squash, a whole kabocha is more than most families need. When you are choosing your pieces, pick ones with lots of flesh and not too many seeds.

Mock Pumpkin Pie (Kabocha Custard Pie)
makes 2 pies

3 "quarter cuts" of kabocha
1 can evaporated milk (420 ml)
60 ml milk*
3/4 cup honey or 1 c sugar**
1.5 t cinnamon
1 t clove
1 t nutmeg or allspice
1/2 t ginger
1/2 t salt
4 eggs

First you need to turn the raw pumpkin into mashed pumpkin. Remove the seeds and prepare to cook. I steamed mine for about 30 minutes until I could easily stick a fork in it. If you don't have a steamer, you could boil, bake or microwave the kabocha.

After it cooled a bit, I peeled/pried off the black skin in pieces. The orange flesh mashed up beautifully with the testing fork and made about 3 cups of kabocha.

Put the mashed kabocha and all the other ingredients in a powerful blender or use your mixing tool of choice. Blend until perfectly smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.

Pour into buttered pie plates or ramekins. Or pour over pie shells if you prefer. Bake at 210/400 for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 170/350 and continue baking for about 40 minutes or until the pie is puffed and slightly cracked and a knife inserted comes out clean. If you are using deep dishes, you may need to bake up to an hour.

*You want a total of 480ml of liquid. Any ratio is ok, but more evaporated milk makes a slightly richer custard.

**A mix of honey and sugar works well, too.

Posted by kuri at 07:49 AM [view entry with 0 comments)]
November 18, 2009
Gougere Casserole

Here's a recipe you can show off to your friends or use for a holiday treat. my pictures of the dish weren't very good, but it looked impressive with a shiny, puffy brown crust surrounding a tomato red filling. The original came from my current go-to cookbook for special meals, the out-of-print Encyclopedia of Vegetables and Vegetarian Cooking.

Gougere is an upscale French cheese bread and in this recipe it is used as the pastry in a casserole. The pastry is a cross between choux pastry and a souffle. Making it is easy and fun and very likely fail-proof. The casserole filling is a tomato-based cauliflower stew, but any slightly sour or bitter mixture will work to balance the richness of the pastry. We brainstormed over dinner and came up with alternatives: a thick putanesca sauce, a spicy Indian curry with a tomato base, or some sort of savory citrus sauce. This version is vegetarian but you will find ways to adapt it for carnivores (think ham or bacon).

Gougere Casserole
serves 4

1.25 c water
120 g/4 oz butter
140 g/5 oz flour
4 eggs
120 g/4 oz Gruyere, shredded
1 t dijon mustard
salt & pepper to taste

1 can whole tomatoes
1 T olive oil or butter
1 onion, chopped
120 g/4 oz mushrooms, whole or halved
1 small head cauliflower, broken into florets
dash herbes de Provence or a sprig of thyme
salt & pepper to taste

Butter a large round or oval baking dish. Preheat the oven to 200/400.

Bring the water and butter to a boil and heat until the butter melts. Remove from heat. Dump in all the flour at once. Stir hard with a wooden spoon until a smooth ball of dough forms. Allow to cool for a few minutes before adding the eggs, one at a time, beating until glossy after each addition. Mix in the cheese, mustard and seasoning. Form a the dough into a ring around the inside of the casserole dish, leaving a hole for the filling.

Crush or puree the tomatoes and add enough water to equal 1.5 cups. Sit aside. Bring the oil or butter to heat in a wok or deep fry pan. Fry the onions until translucent but not brown, then add the mushrooms and cook until slightly browned. Add the cauliflower and fry for a minute before adding the tomato liquid. Cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat, or until the cauliflower is just turning tender.

Pour the filling, including all its liquid, into the center of the casserole. Bake for 30 -40 minutes or until the pastry is puffy and dark golden brown.

Posted by kuri at 10:00 PM [view entry with 0 comments)]
August 19, 2009
Vanilla Goes with Eggplant

The other day I tossed some scraped out vanilla pods into a half a bottle of vodka. The vodka is turning all carmel colored and smells beautiful. It's not as strong as extract, but definitely Vanilla...and it makes a great screwdriver variation.

Making a simple eggplant and cherry tomato steam-fry this weekend, the eggplant chunks weren't steaming quickly enough, so I grabbed the vanilla vodka, splashed some in the pan and the result was delicious. The vanilla scented the eggplants but didn't overwhelm them. The cherry tomatos were picquant. I added a bit of salt and pepper and that was a third of our dinner.

Nothing was measured, so I can't give you a proper recipe. It was equal quantities of tomato (half a dozen largish cherry tomatoes from a farm stand) and eggplant (2 small Japanese ones) and maybe a 1/4 cup of vanilla vodka.

The other two dishes that night were green beans with fried garlic and dried chilies, and asparagus and mushrooms with lemon and black pepper. All three cooked sequentially in the same pan using the steam-fry technique. (Except the garlic which was fried in oil to make it brown and crispy)

The whole dinner was the gleanings of our vegetable drawer. Just odds and ends and leftovers turned into something memorable. We eat like this a lot and most of the time it is nothing special, but this vanilla eggplant dish was worth noting for future meals.

Posted by kuri at 08:02 AM [view entry with 0 comments)]
August 07, 2009
Sugarpaste Fondant

My first fondant cake

Tracey had a birthday yesterday and I offered to make her a cake. I wanted to do something special, so I had my first go at fondant. I made it myself using the recipe below and though it took some time and physical effort, it wasn't too difficult at all. This is technically a sugarpaste or rolled fondant, as traditional fondant is cooked like a candy. This one is uncooked - just mix and knead. Making fondant is like making pasta from scratch. This fondant was moist and tasty, easy to roll and color. Due to the gelatin, it is not vegetarian.

The rest of Tracey's cake, in case you wonder, was two layers of cardamom and ginger scented sponge, filled with plum jam and coated with white chocolate ganache before layering on the fondant. It was delicious.

Kristen's Sugarpaste Fondant
makes enough for a two layer cake with decorations and leftovers

1 T unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup hot water
1 t almond extract or flavoring of your choice
1/2 c + 1 T light corn syrup
1 kg confectioner's (powdered) sugar
1/2 tsp shortening (white, not butter or margarine)

In a small bowl or pan, mix together the gelatin and water. Allow to sit for a minute to soften the gelatin. Add the corn syrup and flavoring. Stir until the gelatin is dissolved and the mixture is not cloudy. You may need to reheat the mixture to aid this process - you can do it on the stove (being careful not to carmelise the syrup) or in the microwave if you have one. Set aside.

Dump 750 g of the sugar into a large bowl. Make a well in the sugar and pour in the gelatin mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until you have a large, sticky ball.

Dust a clean work surface with some powdered sugar. Tip out the remaining sugar into a pile nearby - you will be working this sugar into the fondant. Measure out the shortening and have it handy. Make sure you have removed your rings and bracelets because this is seriously sticky stuff. Transfer the ball from the bowl to the work surface and begin to knead. Slowly work in as much of the sugar pile as you can. (Dipping your sugar coated hands into the pile is a good way to do it, I found.) As the fondant is kneaded, it will form a nice soft ball. When that happens, you can stop. Rub the shortening on the ball and work it in with a last bit of kneading. Divide fondant into two or three discs, wrap the fondant tightly in plastic wrap. You can store the wrapped fondant in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days.

Coloring the fondant
The ideal colorant is gel color, but regular liquid food coloring or coloring powder will work, too. Start with a little bit of coloring and knead it in. Pulling and twisting, ala taffy, helps the color spread through quickly. Repeat with more color until you get the shade you want. Liquid color can make the fondant too soft, so you may not achieve the intensity of color you want. Gel color is concentrated and will make very bright, deep colors. Powdered color can be mixed with a bit of oil to make it easier to work with.

Rolling the fondant, forming shapes, and assembling the cake
Bring the fondant to room temperature if it has been refrigerated. Sprinkle the work surface with powdered sugar. Place one unwrapped disc on the work surface and roll with a pin. Turn the disc to keep the circle even, but do not flip the fondant over. Work this way until the fondant is stretched evenly and flat and is at least as wide as the cake plus allowance for the height of the sides.

Carefully lift the rolled fondant from the work surface. Lay the fondant over the cake (which you have already filled and possibly coated with ganache or smooth frosting) and smooth it across the top and sides, stretching and smoothing it gently to create a wrinkle-free surface. Trim at the bottom along the plate- the fondant may contract a little bit. Allow to dry.

You can use cookie cutters or a knife to cut out shapes from the flattened disc or trimmings. To mount a shape on a stick or skewer, either use royal icing to glue the skewer to the shape, or cut two shapes, dampen them slightly on one side and press them together with the skewer between. Allow to dry. To stick shapes to the cake, either use royal icing or dampen the shape and stick it to the main cake before it dries.

Posted by kuri at 08:47 AM [view entry with 1 comments)]
July 16, 2009
Fruit & Vegetable Smoothies

Smoothies are my solution to not liking fruit as much as I should. Blending together a couple of kinds of fruits evens out any unripe or bitter fruit flavors. Adding vegetables, herbs and other seasonings makes them even more delicious, and a good dose of ice turns it from a thick juice into a slushy. Mmmm.

I whiz mine in a heavy-duty blender. If your blender can crush ice, it'll be fine. Start with the fruit ingredients and any liquids, blend until smooth, then add the vegetables and extras. Blend until it's not chunky anymore. Then add about 2 cups of ice, if desired, and blend until the ice is crushed fine. The method is the same for all of these, so I'll just list the ingredients below. They all make enough for 2 large drinks.


2 cups of pineapple chunks
1 bunch spinach, rinsed and stems trimmed
5 cm fresh ginger root, peeled and cut into chunks
2 cups ice (optional)

Peach and Pepper
1 ruby grapefruit, peeled and halved
1 peach, stone removed
1 green bell pepper, halved and deseeded
2 cups ice (optional)

2 peaches, stone removed
1 bunch spinach
2 cups ice (optional)


1 mango, peeled and sliced
1 passionfruit, just the pulp and seeds
1 banana, peeled
2 cups ice (optional)

Berry Bliss
1 cup blueberries
1 cup raspberries (frozen ones work well)
1 apple, stem and seeds removed
2 cups ice (optional)

Tomatoes R Fruit
1 large tomato
1 mango, peeled and sliced
1 apple, stemmed and cored
2 cups ice (optional)

Soy Milk

Monkey Breakfast
2 bananas, peeled
1 cup soy milk
1 T cocoa powder
2 dashes cinnamon
2 cups ice (optional)

Elephant Breakfast
2 bananas, peeled
1 cup soy milk
2 T peanut powder
2 cups ice (optional)

1 cup frozen raspberries
1 mango, peeled and sliced
1 cup soy milk
3 T cocoa powder
2 cups ice (not optional this time)

Notes and Tips
Wash the blender before you drink your smoothie. The blender will be very easy to rinse clean immediately after you use it and becomes increasing difficult as bits of fruit pulp and soy milk dry to it.

Smoothies freeze well. If you make too much freeze it for later and thaw it when you want to drink it. Or put your smoothie in the freezer to freeze it semi-solid like ice cream or sorbet.

It is best to use fresh, fully ripe, organic ingredients when you can. They have the best flavor.

Posted by kuri at 12:12 PM [view entry with 1 comments)]
July 12, 2009
Beer Battered Eggplant Parmesan

Traditional recipes for Eggplant Parmesan include a lot of cheese, but this uses beer to add depth of flavor to an "almost vegan" interpretation of a classic. It isn't completely cheese-less or it wouldn't be Parmesan, but the cheese is confined to the batter and topping.

This is not a quick meal; it requires a bit more than an hour from start to finish for prepping the sauce, then battering, frying, and baking. The results are worth the effort, though! As as decadent as it seems, each portion is about 500 calories for a large serving so it isn't a complete diet blowout.

Beer Battered Eggplant Parmesan
serves 4

2 eggplants (medium-sized American ones)
1 tsp salt
1 cup flour
1/4 cup + 2 T Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp black pepper
1 cup beer
1 can diced tomatoes
1 large onion
1 clove garlic
1/4 tsp dried basil, oregano or herbes de provence
4 T safflower oil
3 T olive oil
1 bunch spinach

Slice the eggplants into 2 cm rounds. Rub with salt and allow to sit while you prepare the batter & sauce.

Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Saute in 1T of olive oil until the onions are translucent. Pour in the tomatoes and simmer until slightly thickened. Season with salt, pepper and basil.

Mix together the flour, cheese and black pepper. Stir in the beer. Check the consistency and adjust with more flour or beer as necessary.

Rinse and trim the spinach. Set aside.

Heat the remaining oils in a skillet. Pat the eggplant rounds dry with a towel and dip them in the batter. Fry them on both sides until golden brown. Drain on paper towels while you cook each batch.

In a baking dish, spoon a bit of sauce on the bottom, then arrange a layer of eggplant. Cover with sauce. Lay in all the spinach leaves. Continue adding layers of eggplant and sauce, ending with a thick layer of sauce. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese.

Bake at 170c for 25 minutes or until the cheese is browned and crispy.

Posted by kuri at 10:53 PM [view entry with 0 comments)]
July 09, 2009
Ultra Healthy

A little while ago, a friend asked me to help him out. He wanted to lose some weight and more importantly, feel healthier. He asked me to help him set up a 6 week vegetarian food plan for himself and his wife who are not vegetarians.

Although I do a pretty good job of managing my own vegetarian-sometimes-vegan diet, setting up a whole system for someone else was really a challenge. Not only did I have to ensure they were getting decent nutrition, but I also had to take into consideration the availability of offbeat ingredients, the ease of preparation, and how to use leftovers as lunches.

And because I wanted this to be a good education for them as well as a healthy and tasty series of meals, I started off with a long manifesto of food and diet theory. These days I lean towards whole grains, minimal dairy, and portion control as my main ways to stay healthy. so I wanted to help them understand why.

The project was harder than I thought and I only managed five weeks of the plan. The general idea is to eat three 450 calorie meals and up to three 150 calorie snacks per day (depending on your caloric needs). That goes for 6 days a week, with one "free day" to eat whatever you like.

The Ultra Healthy PDF (1.5Mb) contains four pages of diet theory, 30 days of menus, a list of interchangeable breakfast items, thirty 150 calorie snack suggestions, and 34 recipes adapted from my favorite cookbooks. Plus a sprinkling of typos for your proofreading pleasure.

Posted by kuri at 03:49 PM [view entry with 2 comments)]
June 30, 2009
Jujube Sweets

Jujube sweets and their namesakes

Jujubes are an Asian cousin of the date fruit and are also called red dates or Chinese dates (なつめ in Japanese). Jujubes are about the size of a date, but lighter in color with a crisp skin and slightly tart flavor. I first encountered them in Chinese sweets and they are sometimes brewed into tea to help fight colds.

In this recipe, I've combined them with dates and walnuts to make a raw vegan treat. Ideal for summer, since it requires no cooking. They are only 45 calories each, but it is very difficult to eat just one.

Jujube Sweets
makes 24

15 sun-dried dates
15 sun-dried jujubes
1/2 cup walnut pieces
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

Pit the dates and jujubes and put them in a food processor with a little water. Process for just a few seconds to break them up, then add the walnuts. Process until you have a thick, lumpy mass. Form the paste into marble-sized balls and roll in the coconut. Store in an airtight container in the fridge or on the counter where you can more easily sneak a couple when nobody is watching.

Posted by kuri at 09:53 PM [view entry with 2 comments)]
May 25, 2009
Pistachio Biryani


This is an adaptation from a wonderful cookbook called The Complete Encyclopedia of Vegetables and Vegetarian Cooking. I saw it at the library recently and had to have my own copy because I knew if I borrowed it, I'd never take it back. Every recipe in the book looks great; this is the first one I tried. I selected it at random and it was as good as I'd hoped. It's called "Pistachio Pilaf in a SpinachCrown" but it is really a biryani with pistachios. I've adapted it slightly for Japanese ingredients.

Pistachio Biryani
serves 4

Rice Part
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 tsp ground corriander
1/4 tsp saffron threads
2 onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp ginger, grated
2 green togarashi, minced (or fresh green chiles)
2 T olive oil
2 carrots, grated
1 1/4 c basmati rice
1/4 c pistachios
1/2 tsp salt

Spinach Part
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp garam masala
3 bunches spinach (~250g/1 lb), roughly chopped
1 T olive oil

Mix together the stock, coriander, cinnamon stick & salt. Crush the saffron threads through your fingers and add to the stock. Set aside while you prep the carrots, onions and other bits.

Fry the onion, garlic, ginger and togarashi/chiles in olive oil until the onion starts to turn translucent. Add the carrot and rice. Cook for a minute or two, then pour in the seasoned stock. Bring the rice mixture to a boil, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and allow to stand uncovered for 5 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and stir in the pistachios.

While the rice is resting, prepare the spinach part. Fry the onion and garlic in the oil until the onion is slightly browned. Add the spinach and garam masala. Cook until spinach is tender. Drain.

Arrange the spinach around a platter; mound rice inside the ring. Goes well with a tomato salad.

Posted by kuri at 09:46 PM [view entry with 0 comments)]
May 07, 2009
Mung Bean Breakfast

Morning Mung

This recipe comes from my friend Abhijit in Delhi so I am sure it has a proper Indian name, but we call it Mung Bean Breakfast. Sprouted mung beans burst with vitality - just the thing to get your day off to a good start. You'll need to start the beans sprouting a few days before breakfast, so plan ahead.

Mung Bean Breakfast
serves 3-4

150g mung beans
1 onion
1/4 lemon
1/2 tsp salt
dash chili powder
dash cayenne pepper
drizzle sesame oil
oil for frying

Slice the onion into thin strips. Fry in a bit of oil until just soft. Toss in the mung beans and cook for a few minutes. Season with salt, chili, cayenne, lemon. Finish with a tiny bit of sesame oil.

How to sprout mung beans

Rinse the dust off of the beans. Soak them in water for four hours or overnight. Drain the beans, wrap them in a damp towel and set them in a dark place. Twice a day, rinse the beans and redampen the towel. The beans will sprout in a day and continue to grow. For this recipe, I like to use them at about 3 days when the roots are just 2 or 3 centimeters long.

Posted by kuri at 03:15 PM [view entry with 0 comments)]
April 07, 2009
Brussels Sprout Pot Pie

This pie is inspired by yummy Polish and eastern European foods. It is simply carmelised Brussels sprouts and onions with a garlicky crust, but each piece comes together to make something more than the sum of its parts.

Brussels Sprout Pot Pie
makes 2 pies

12 Brussels sprouts, cut in half
1 onion, sliced into strips
olive oil
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp dried garlic chips, crushed
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 stick (50 g) butter or margarine
1-2 Tbsp ice water

Slowly pan fry the Brussels sprouts and onions in a bit of olive oil until they are carmelised. Divide into two ramekins or oven-proof serving dishes.

Make the crust by pulsing the flour, salt and spices in the food processor. Add the butter, cut into pieces, and process until the mixture is the texture of oatmeal. Turn out into a bowl and add the ice water, mixing with your hands until a dough forms. Chill the ball of dough for 30 minutes (or toss it in the freezer for ten minutes), then roll into two disks and top the ramekins.

Bake at 180/350 for 30-40 minutes or until the crust is golden.

Posted by kuri at 09:33 AM [view entry with 2 comments)]
April 06, 2009
Beet and Carrot Curried Pie


This is a vivid and happy dish with its turmeric yellow crust, bright beet filling and fresh cilantro green topping. I wouldn't recommend it if you don't like the earthy taste of beets or the tang of cilantro (so, Mom, not for you!) but otherwise, it is worth a go.

Beet and Carrot Curried Pie
serves 3

1 beet
1 carrot
cumin, chili powder & cardamom to taste (1/4 tsp each?)

Cook the beet (I use the pressure cooker for 20 minutes) until done but not mushy. Allow to cool. Grate. Grate the carrot. Add spices to taste & mix.

1/2 cup white flour
1/2 cup wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp each chili powder, cardamom & cumin
1 stick (100 g) butter or margarine, very cold
3 Tbsp ice water

Mix the flours, salt and seasonings in a food processor. Add the butter cut into chunks and pulse until the mixture resembles oatmeal. Dump the flour-butter mixture into a bowl and add the water. Mix with your hands until a nice dough forms. Add more water if needed. Chill 30 minutes (or 10 in the freezer) then roll into two thin crusts.

Lay bottom crust in pie plate, spoon in the beet filling. Top with upper crust. Bake at 180/350 for 30 minutes or until crust is golden and crispy.

Cilantro pesto:
3 cups cilantro
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (roasted and salted)
1 clove garlic
olive oil
1/2 lime, juiced

In food processor, combine cilantro, seeds, and garlic. Drizzle in oil and lime juice in turns until the pesto is creamy. Serve on top of baked pie.

Posted by kuri at 11:33 PM [view entry with 1 comments)]
Eggplant Pie

This pie is a scrumptious mix of eggplant, zucchini and a little bit of cheese. It requires two steps of cooking - sauteing the eggplant, then baking the pie - but isn't at all difficult. And with less than 400 calories for half the pie, you can throw in a green salad and a slice of bread and a have a really delicious & healthy vegetarian meal.

Eggplant Pie
serves 2

5 Japanese eggplants (*)
1 medium zucchini
6 sun-dried tomatoes, sliced or minced
olive oil
1/4 to 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 to 1 cup soy milk (**)
1/4 cup Sbrinz cheese (***), shredded

Cube the eggplants with the skins on. You should have 4 to 5 cups. Saute the eggplant in a bit of olive oil until they are softened and about half their original volume. Add in the sun-dried tomatoes and cook until the scent of the tomatoes is released. Stir in the Parmesan and soy milk, cooking briefly to let the soy milk tighten. Season with salt and pepper.

Slice the zucchini into rounds or diagonals. Line the bottom of a pie plate with the zucchini as your crust. Pour the eggplant mixture over the zucchini and top with Sbrinz. Bake for about 20-30 minutes at 180/350 or until the cheese is toasted and the zucchini is soft.

(*) 5 Japanese eggplants = 1 large US eggplant. But US eggplant is more bitter, so you might want to soak the cubes in salt water for a few minutes.
(**) My soy milk is unadulterated - no sugar or wheat. If you prefer real dairy, you can make your favorite white sauce (milk and roux, usually).
(***)Sbrinz is a hard, flavorful cheese from Switzerland that is similar to Parmesan, but more piquant. If you can't find Sbrinz, substitute shredded Parmesan or an alternate Swiss cheese.

Posted by kuri at 09:18 AM [view entry with 1 comments)]
January 13, 2009
Black Bean Stew

Tod picked up a bag of Bolivian black beans yesterday and made this wonderful stew in our pressure cooker. If you don't have a pressure cooker, you could try pre-cooking the beans or using canned beans.

Black Bean Stew
serves 4-6

250 gr black beans, soaked
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
1 bell pepper (any color)
1/2 carrot, diced
900 ml water
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp paprika
2 potatoes, diced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tomato, chopped
cilantro, chopped
lemon wedges

Saute the onion, garlic, peppers, mushrooms and carrot until soft and wilted. Add spices, beans & water. Close the pressure cooker and bring to recommended bean pressure and cook for the recommended bean time. (Its 2nd ring for 20 minutes in ours; check your manual). When the beans are cooked, depressurize the pan and add in the potatoes, salt and black pepper. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are soft. Serve topped with tomatoes, cilantro and a lemon wedge.

Posted by kuri at 08:17 AM [view entry with 0 comments)]
December 24, 2008
Persephone's Spinach Tart

One of my favorite myths involves the change of seasons and pomegranate seeds. The Greek goddess Persephone was tricked into eating some pomegranate seeds in the underworld which forced her to return there every year for four months. Her mother, Demeter, was so distraught during this period that that she failed her duty to the green and growing Earth and instead cried cold tears of snow.

So I think this tart of spinach topped with pomegranate seeds is the ideal dish to usher in winter. Plus it is quite delicious and my own modern adaptation of a 1615 recipe by Gervase Markham.

Persephone's Spinach Tart
makes a 9" pie

600 gr spinach, chopped (frozen or fresh)
200 ml sour cream
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp garam masala
pie crust of your choice
handful Italian parsley, chopped
1/4 cup (or more) pomegranate seeds

Cook the spinach, drain well, and squeeze out all excess water. Mix spinach with sour cream, onion, walnuts, butter, sugar and seasoning. Press into an unbaked pie crust. Bake at 180/350 for about 30 minutes or until the edges of the crust and top of the pie are lightly browned. Allow to cool to room temperature. Sprinkle liberally with parsley and pomegranate seeds.

Posted by kuri at 08:17 AM [view entry with 1 comments)]
November 13, 2008
Chickpea Cutlet Burgers

I derived these delicious veggie burgers from traditional Indian veg cutlets and from Heidi Swanson's Chickpea Burgers in Super Natural Cooking. Veg cutlets are made with mashed potato as a base for a mixed of minced vegetables and strong bitter seasoning. Heidi seasons her chickpea burgers with cilantro and lemon and stabilises them with egg and a clever cooking method. I borrowed the chickpeas and method from Heidi and the seasoning and veggies from the cutlets.

Heidi's recipe also suggests using the patty as a bun for a vegetable sandwich by making the burgers thick and cutting them in half like a bun. This works really well.

My recipe calls for "mixed vegetables" and you can use a convenient frozen mix but this is also a thrifty way to use up those slight wilted bits of vegetable in your crisper drawer. Half a carrot here, a forgotten parsley there and you'll have half a cup before you know it.

If you need to substitute seasonings, you can use fennel seed instead of aniseed; lemon zest instead of dry mango powder. Unfortunately, nothing quite substitutes for the bitter pungency of fenugreek leaf, but I tried dried dill and cilantro with interesting results.

Chickpea Cutlet Burgers
serves 2

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 pinch turmeric
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 pinch garam masala
1/2 tsp aniseed
1 tsp fenugreek leaf (methi)
1 pinch dry mango powder
1/2 onion, minced
1/2 cup mixed vegetables, small dice or minced
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (panko or toasted crumbs)

In a food processor, blend the rinsed chickpeas, eggs, salt and seasonings until you have a slightly chunky, gooey paste.

Pour the chickpea paste into a bowl and stir in the onion and vegetables. Add the breadcrumbs, mix well and allow to stand for 5 minutes. This allows the crumbs to soak up the moisture and turns the paste into a soft dough.

Form 6 or 8 balls. Flatten them slightly when you put them into the pan, but you want them to be fairly thick so you can halve them for buns. Cook them - covered - in a pan with a bit of olive oil on medium low heat. The low heat and cover give the burgers a partial steaming which sets up the egg and makes the texture just right. 7 minutes a side usually does it but if they aren't brown and crispy on the bottom, give them a few more minutes or turn up the heat a little.

Posted by kuri at 08:01 AM [view entry with 0 comments)]
November 06, 2008
Crazy Bread

I learned this recipe from a very early love of mine, Sam, who got it from his neighbors when he was a kid. It has always been a favorite with everyone who tries it. Who can argue with a cheesy variant of garlic toast? There isn't exactly a recipe, since quantities vary depending on what you have on hand, but here is how I make it:

Crazy Bread
never makes enough

1 loaf Italian bread or French bread
butter (or olive oil)
lemon juice

First you make the garlic butter (or garlic oil or garlic butter/oil) by mashing, mincing, or pressing a clove of garlic into the fat of your choice. Mix well. Finely chop the parsley. Grate the cheese. We usually use mozzarella, but just about any cheese will work.

Cut the loaf of bread lengthwise. Butter both halves. Generously layer with parsley. Sprinkle liberally with lemon juice. Lots of lemon is good; it cuts the fat from the butter and cheese. Top with cheese - how much depends on your dairy tolerance and whether you consider this a side dish (sprinkle) or a main dish (pile).

Grill, broil or toast until the cheese is bubbly and browned. Cut into bite-sized servings. Wish you'd made a second loaf.

Posted by kuri at 11:31 PM [view entry with 2 comments)]
October 30, 2008
Mango Self-Saucing Pudding

I have been waiting for the weather to cool before pulling out the recipes for self-saucing puddings that I copied down from Jo's recipe collection when I was in Adelaide in July. But as it turns out, the first one I made isn't either of hers, but a variation I devised last night.

Self-saucing pudding is a great treat. You can mix one up in 5 minutes and pop it in the oven while you eat dinner. It finishes into a steamed cake with a gloopy sauce. Delicious as-is, but even better if served with whipped cream and/or fruit.

Mango Self-Saucing Pudding
serves 4

1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 c sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 c milk
2 dashes cardamom

1 cup water
1/2 cup mango juice
1/8 c butter
1/8 c sugar

Mix the pudding ingredients together and spoon into a greased casserole dish. Boil together the sauce ingredients and gently pour over the pudding. Bake at 190/375 for 30-35 minutes. The cake should be soft and springy with a slight browning on top.

Posted by kuri at 09:11 AM [view entry with 1 comments)]
August 31, 2008
Roasted Eggplant & Tomato Sauce

This is a delicious way to run through some of your in-season eggplants. Roasting them and the garlic adds richness to this thick and hearty sauce. I used tinned tomatoes to cut down on the cooking time, but if you have an abundance of tomatoes on the vine, go ahead and simmer up your own passata. That's definitely better.

Roasted Eggplant & Tomato Sauce
serves 4-6

15 Japanese eggplants (5 American ones)
1 head of garlic
1 can whole tomatoes
3-4 anchovies
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Wash the eggplants, pierce each one with a sharp knife and spread them in a large baking tray (or two). Lightly oil the garlic head and add it to the tray. Roast the eggplants and garlic whole in a 250C oven for 20-30 minutes or until the skins turn wrinkly and brown. Remove and allow to cool.

When they are cool enough to handle, remove the meat of the eggplant (easily done by halving the eggplant lengthwise and scraping with a spoon) and squeeze each garlic clove from its skin. Mix the eggplant and garlic together with the tomatoes and their juice, in a saucepan. Add in the anchovy fillets and oil.

Blend with a handheld mixer (Bamix) directly in the pot until the texture is evenly chunky. Alternatively, you can also use a food mill or even a pair of scissors or your hands to smush everything up. Heat the sauce until it boils, being sure to stir frequently and avoid burning because it is thick and not too liquidy. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve over your favorite pasta and garnish with fresh basil and Parmesan, as desired.

Posted by kuri at 07:31 PM [view entry with 2 comments)]
August 25, 2008
Beet & Walnut Spread


I can't get enough of beets. I love their earthy flavor, the crispy texture and especially their color. Fresh beets are the best and when we see them in Tokyo, we buy them. This weekend I had a beet in the fridge and a plan for tapas on Saturday night. But how to incorporate the beet into the tapas?

Beet and Walnut Spread
makes about 2 cups

1 large beet, cooked*, peeled, & roughly chopped
3/4 cup walnut halves
1/4 cup verjuice, or somewhat less lemon juice
10-12 fresh basil leaves

Put everything in the food processor. Blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve on toast, crackers or with vegetables.

*We usually use the pressure cooker, but you could boil, steam or roast your beet.

Posted by kuri at 05:02 PM [view entry with 2 comments)]
August 19, 2008
Eggplant & Pesto Gnocchi

Tod grates Parmesan cheese over the plates before serving

In Liguria, Italy (which is in the cuff of the Italian boot bordering France), there are many interesting culinary traditions. One is that they boil vegetables in their pasta water, serving everything together in one vegetarian feast.

Before harvesting our eggplants tonight, I had a look online for some eggplant pasta sauces and found a Liguarian one that looked interesting. I adapted it a little bit and came up with this recipe. In addition to being delicious, it has the bonus of needing only one pot of boiling water and 10 minutes of cooking time on a hot summer evening...

Eggplant & Pesto Gnocchi
serves 2

2 small eggplants
500 g gnocchi (commercial or homemade)
21 green beans
4 Tbsp basil pesto
Parmesan cheese to taste
3 sprigs basil

Put the pesto in a large bowl, ready to be mixed with the pasta. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cut the eggplant and beans into bite sized pieces. Drop into the boiling water. In about 6 minutes, or when the vegetables are just starting to soften, add the gnocchi. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the pasta is cooked. Remove the pasta and vegetables and mix together with the pesto, adding a bit of cooking water as needed for texture. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and garnish with fresh basil leaves.

Note: our homegrown Japanese eggplant have thin skins. If you are using a thicker skinned eggplant, you may wish to peel it before boiling.

Posted by kuri at 09:39 PM [view entry with 4 comments)]
June 30, 2008
First harvest salad


Tonight we harvested the bulk of our first crop of baby lettuce, an eggplant from the nursery plant we bought yesterday and some of the tiny onions that needed to be thinned. It wasn't much bulk at all, but I turned them all into a delightful salad. Eating food from our own land (collection of pots) was exceptionally satisfying.

First Harvest Salad
serves 2

1 handful baby lettuce
1 tiny eggplant
10 minuscule green onions
1 tsp sesame seed
1 lime wedge
olive oil

Cut the eggplant into 1 cm cubes. Mince the onions. Wash and dry the lettuce.

Saute the eggplant in some olive oil. Add the sesame seeds & cook until toasted. Add the onion and squeeze in the lime wedge. Remove from heat. Dress the lettuce with a bit of oil, salt and a few drops of lime juice. Top with the eggplant.

Posted by kuri at 10:37 PM [view entry with 1 comments)]
June 21, 2008
Solstice Breakfast

Lemon amaranth pancakes with homemade peach jam

We celebrate the summer solstice today and began the happy day with a breakfast of pancakes, jam, and the luxury of precious butter (the butter crisis is still in full swing here).

The jam was made by Kasada-sensei, my Friday afternoon Japanese teacher. It is really excellent - full of peaches and not too sweet. Tod said it was "wonderfully tart." We spread it generously atop these pancakes:

Lemon Amaranth Pancakes
Makes 8 pancakes

2 cups white flour
1 heaping tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
dash nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground fenugreek
2 eggs
juice and zest of one lemon
2 Tbsp cooked amaranth grain

Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whip together the lemon juice, zest and eggs. Mix the eggs into the dry ingredients adding enough water to make a batter. Stir in the amaranth.

Pour ladles of batter onto a medium-hot non-stick or oiled grill or pan. Cook on the first side until bubbles form and burst in the center. Flip and alow to cook another minute or two. Serve hot.

Posted by kuri at 11:41 AM [view entry with 1 comments)]
June 07, 2008
Anchovy Quinoa and Steamed Vegetable Salad

There is quinoa under this pile of vegetables!

We shared the kitchen and ended up with a meal neither of us intended. I thought we'd have steamed vegetables with a dipping sauce and a side salad of grain. Tod imagined an integrated grain-veg salad. Instead we topped a wonderfully flavored quinoa with dressed steamed vegetables.

Anchovy Quinoa and Steamed Vegetable Salad
serves 2 as a main dish

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 onion, minced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
3-4 anchovy fillets
oil (olive or from the anchovy tin)

vegetables of your choice, cut to serving size
(we had 4 baby potatoes, 2 enoki mushrooms, 5 spears of asparagus, a big handful of green beans, one carrot, a green pepper, and tomatoes for garnish)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
olive oil

Boil the quinoa for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, sautee the onion, garlic and anchovy in oil until very soft. Combine the two finished products.

While you're doing the quinoa, steam the vegetables. Toss steamed vegetables and any raw garishes (like tomatoes) together with lemon juice, salt and olive oil. Serve over the quinoa.

Posted by kuri at 12:00 PM [view entry with 0 comments)]
June 02, 2008
Tandoori Cauliflower


This looks worthy of center stage at Sunday dinner, doesn't it? There is nothing like an entire head of spicy cauliflower on a platter looking delicious and tasting so very wonderful. If you are cooking for two hungry vegetarians, one head will be enough. Any more people, though, and you might want to consider making two or three cauliflowers.

Tandoori Cauliflower
serves 2-4

1 medium cauliflower
1 cup yogurt
1.5 tsp coriander powder
1.5 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp fenugreek
1/8 tsp clove
1/8 tsp cardamom
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1 Tbsp oil

Drain the yogurt in cheesecloth for 30 minutes. Wash the cauliflower, trim leaves and stem, but leave whole. Steam cauliflower for about 10 minutes or until cooked but still firm. Drain well. And transfer to an oven-safe platter for cooking and serving, because you don't want to move it around too much after it is steamed. Mix yogurt, spices, salt, garlic and oil. Rub all over cauliflower, working into crevices and up underneath. Allow to marinate for at least an hour (longer is better). Bake at the highest heat your oven reaches for 5-10 minutes or until the marinade browns and bubbles.

Serve plain, or with onions sauteed with cumin seed and chilis as pictured above. Or make a basic curry for gravy.

Nutrition info: 375 calories for the whole thing! Also 19 g fat, 19 g protein, 37 g carbohydrates, and a full day's salt ration. You might want to cut back on the salt...

Posted by kuri at 09:47 PM [view entry with 0 comments)]
May 08, 2008
Fenugreek Chickpea Curry

I spent this morning cooking for my friends who are new parents (and ones who are abut to be). I wanted to do a hearty main dish that could be frozen easily and that was tasty but not too spicy for a nursing mother. I decided on chickpeas over bulgar wheat.

As I was poking around my spice box, I found my fenugreek seeds and recalled the stunning fenugreek tomato pasta Ken made at camp. Fenugreek, tomato and chickpeas - perfect! This is hearty, healthy (it's vegan) and smells so good that I nearly portioned some out for myself.

Fenugreek Chickpea Curry
serves 2-3

1 can whole tomatoes
1 can chickpeas
1/2 onion
1 clove garlic
2 sundried tomatoes
1/2 tsp whole fenugreek seeds
pinch cumin seeds
salt to taste
olive oil

Mince the garlic and chop the onion, Saute in olive oil until the onion is becoming translucent. Add in the fenugreek and cumin and cook for a minute to release the spices' oils. Add in the tomatoes and liquid, crushing the tomatoes through your fingers as they go into the pot. Drain the chickpeas, rinse well, and add to pot. Chop the dried tomatoes into bits and stir into stew. Add a bit of water as needed. Simmer for 20 minutes or until chickpeas are a little bit soft and the flavors are fully developed.

Posted by kuri at 12:33 PM [view entry with 3 comments)]
May 07, 2008
Fern, Farro & Feta Salad


I like the idea of eating wild foods even when I can only discover them in grocery stores. Yesterday I spied some fiddlehead ostrich ferns, kogomi in Japanese, and bought them to try. Full grown ferns are toxic, so you have to be cautious about your preparation of fiddleheads - boiling for 10 minutes is necessary and you want to make sure that the curled up ferns are nice and tight.

If you can't find ferns in your market you could substitute asparagus, which is similar in taste but without the earthy overtones.

Fern, Farro & Feta Salad
serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side

1/2 cup farro
1 cup fiddlehead ferns
2" square feta cheese
1/2 onion
1 lemon
1/2 tsp sesame seeds
1/4 tsp sesame oil
olive oil
salt to taste

Boil the farro in water for 20 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.

Chop the onion into bite-size pieces and prepare to steam them over the fern water. I use a metal strainer that sits nicely over my small saucepan.

Clean the ferns by scraping off any loose brown bits and cutting the stems close to the curls. Wash and rinse well. Drop into a pan of boiling water and cook for ten minutes. Steam the onions.

Zest the lemon and juice half of it. Combine the lemon zest & juice, sesame oil, sesame seeds. Adjust with salt and olive oil as desired.

Combine the farro, ferns, onion in a bowl. Crumble in the feta and drizzle the dressing over everything, giving it a good stir. Serve at room temperature.

Posted by kuri at 08:27 AM [view entry with 2 comments)]
May 05, 2008
Buttercream Roux Frosting

I never seem to get the standard butter/powdered sugar buttercream right, and I really don't like the too sweet taste or the heavy texture, so yesterday I went searching for a new method. I learned about buttercream roux, traditionally used on Red Velvet cakes. I think I will be using this cooked frosting for a while; it is soft and fluffy and not too sweet. Even though is it a bit more effort than whipping together butter and powdered sugar the result is worth the extra pan to wash.

I would like to try it with soy milk instead of cow's milk, but of course that will change the texture and flavor - perhaps in a good way, certainly in a more healthy way. I am sure other flavourings could be substituted for the vanilla and I wonder if you melted chocolate into the roux if that would work. I foresee many cake experiments in my future.

Buttercream Roux Frosting
covers a two layer cake

1/2 cup milk
2 -3 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
vanilla to taste

Heat the milk and flour until it thickens, stirring vigorously. Remove from heat , pour into a shallow bowl and allow to cool completely. Cream butter and sugar until light. Check the roux for lumps; strain if necessary. Add in the cooled roux and beat until creamy and fluffy. It is possible to do this with a whisk but an electric beater is certainly less effort.

Posted by kuri at 07:24 AM [view entry with 2 comments)]
April 24, 2008
Fennel Fruit Salad

We spied a bulb of fennel at the supermarket the other day - just one, sitting overpriced and alone in the corner of the vegetable display - and snatched it up for salads. Last night I combined fennel with fruit for a surprisingly good dessert course salad. The licorice flavor of the fennel complimented the sweetness of pineapple and tangelo. Fresh basil, ginger and a touch of red onion pulled everything together. It is one of those salads that is definitely more than the sum of its parts.

Fennel Fruit Salad
serves 2-4

1/2 bulb fennel
1/2 fresh pineapple
1 tangelo
1 slice red onion
2 leaves fresh basil
1/4" slice fresh ginger

optional dressings
fresh black pepper
balsamic vinegar (cherry flavored)

Chop the fennel, pineapple and tangelo into bite sized pieces. Mince the ginger, onion and basil. Toss everything together. Sit it on the dinner table and ignore it while you eat your main dish and enjoy a lively conversation.

Remember the fruit. Grab the pepper grinder and some balsamic to drizzle on individual portions for variety.

Posted by kuri at 09:30 AM [view entry with 1 comments)]
April 03, 2008
Beet and Tomato Soup

Fresh beets are a favorite special treat as they aren't often available. When we can find them, they are expensive (400 yen each) so we usually only have one at a time and roast them for salads. Last night, I changed gears and made soup. It was simple and delicious and a stunningly bright red.

Beet and Tomato Soup
serves 2

1 medium onion, chopped fine
1/2 clove garlic
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
1 beetroot, cut into large bites
1/2 can whole tomatoes
500 ml water
salt and pepper to taste

Sautee the onion and garlic in olive oil until lightly browned. Deglaze the pan with white wine. Add the beetroot, tomato and water. Simmer, covered, for about 90 minutes, or until the beetroot is no longer crunchy. You may need to add liquid as the soup cooks. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

Posted by kuri at 09:48 AM [view entry with 2 comments)]
March 29, 2008
Orange and Chocolate Granola Candy


Tod wanted to take granola bars to a hanami picnic, so I made these. As I often do these days, I consulted Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian" for the basics, then changed it all around to suit myself. These turned out to be more like candy than granola bars! Packed with energy (85 calories per piece) Tod has declared that he wants to have them on his 60km weekend bike rides.

Orange and Chocolate Granola Candy
makes 48 bite-sized pieces

3 cups (~400 g) organic granola (the kind without dried fruit)
1 cup chopped dried fruits and nuts (raisins, apricots, currents, mango, almonds, pinenuts, etc)
zest of 1 orange, peeled and chopped
50 g unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup oil

Mix the granola, fruits, nuts, zest, chocolate and spices. Boil the honey, maple syrup & oil. Drizzle the hot syrup over the granola, mixing well. Press into an ungreased 9x12 pan. Refrigerate until firm. Cut into bars and store in an airtight container. They won't last the four days that Bittman claims they stay good for.

Posted by kuri at 07:20 PM [view entry with 0 comments)]
March 02, 2008
Fruited Tea Cake


Here is another recipe to use up some leftovers - in this case the too strong dregs of the teapot and some odds and ends of dried fruit.

Fruited Tea Cake
makes 2 small loaves

2 cups strong brewed tea
400 g dried fruit (raisins, figs, prunes, dates coconut, etc)
1/2 cup nuts
250 g white flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp quatre epices (or cinnamon, etc)
200 g brown sugar
1 egg, beaten

Soak the fruit and nuts in the tea for two hours or as long as overnight. Mix together the flour, sugar, spices and baking powder then add the egg, along with the soaked fruit, nuts, and tea. Pour into two greased and floured loaf pans (or line your pan with baking paper) and bake at 150C for about 45 minutes. The cake is done when a pick is inserted and comes out clean.

Posted by kuri at 11:04 AM [view entry with 0 comments)]
March 01, 2008
Eggplant with Pomegranate Molasses

This eggplant spread received raves at a dinner gathering last night and the bowl was scraped clean, so I thought I'd better write the recipe out so I don't forget it. I decided to add some pomegranate molasses, which I only seem to use for muhammara, and that was the key to deliciousness.

Eggplant with Pomegranate Molasses
serves 4

10 small eggplants (maybe 2-3 big American ones?)
1 large onion
olive oil
1 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
salt and pepper to taste

Pierce the eggplants with a knife. Roast them whole in the oven at 180-200C for about an hour. Allow to cool. Scrape the flesh from the skin. You should have about 2 cups of eggplant flesh. You will wish you had more.

Chop the onion. Carmelise the onion in olive oil. Add the eggplant and stir together until soft and smushy. Add the pomegrante molasses and season with salt and pepper.

Serve warm or room temperature as a spread or sandwich filling.

Posted by kuri at 12:58 PM [view entry with 1 comments)]
February 22, 2008
Mujadara Veggie Burgers


I always make too much mujadara to eat in one sitting but the rice and lentil dish is so delicious that it's never a problem. Tonight I turned some of yesterday's leftovers into patties. I drew on Heidi Swanson's "Ultimate Veggie Burger" for inspiration but mine is really nothing like hers, except for the lemon zest and cilantro.

Leftover hummus would be an ideal addition or could replace the chickpeas and tahini altogether. If you have some, experiment.

I baked up some buns to serve the patties on, using a variation of Seriously Good's Whole Wheat Buns. I omitted the butter and egg, and used water instead of milk, making these somewhat less rich but entirely vegan. The black pepper and garlic added a nice kick to compliment the veggie burgers.

Mujadara Veggie Burgers
makes 8-12 patties

1 can chickpeas, drained
1/4 cup tahini
3 cups mujadara (including the onions)
zest of one lemon
1/2 bunch cliantro leaves and stems, cut fine
4-5 scallions, cut fine
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp turmeric
2 dashes ground cumin

Smush up the chickpeas until they are only slightly lumpy (by hand or in a food processor as you choose). Add the other ingredients and use your hands to squish it all together. Form into patties. Fry in a bit of olive oil for 6 minutes on a side, or until the patties are crispy and brown on both sides.

Serve on buns with greens, tomatoes and the sauces of your choice.

Cook's note: Although the flavor is great and the patties moist and tender, their structural integrity is a little bit too soft. I need to figure out a way to make them hold together better. Eggs would do the trick, but I want this to be vegan. Perhaps breadcrumbs or a different cooking method.

Posted by kuri at 07:36 PM [view entry with 2 comments)]
February 21, 2008
Vegan Cherry Cobbler


Last Thanksgiving my sister made us a raw cherry cobbler that was out of this world. Today I saw a jar of sour cherries at the supermarket and bought it, hoping that I could replicate the cobbler at home. What I ended up with isn't quite what Jenn served us, since hers used dates and I didn't have any, but it is truly good and worth sharing.

This is recipe not raw food, because the cherries are heat treated when they are jarred. If you wanted to be properly raw, you would use frozen cherries, thawed.

Vegan Cherry Cobbler
serves 4

crumb layer
1 cup coconut
1 cup mixed walnuts and almonds
3 prunes
4 dried apricots

Process everything until crumbly. Set aside.

fruit layer
2 cups jarred sour cherries, drained very well
2 prunes
6 dried apricots
dash of cinnamon
dash of cardamom
honey or sugar (optional)

Process everything until smooth or only slightly lumpy. Sour cherries can be a bit too sour, so sweeten to taste with honey or sugar.

Layer the fruit and crumb mixtures into clear glasses for a fancy individual presentation, or make a big bowl for family style pig-out.

Posted by kuri at 06:33 PM [view entry with 2 comments)]
February 11, 2008
Food Days Continue

This weekend has turned into a festival of food. Though I hoped to get out and about and to catch up on some creative projects, I really cannot fuss much about spending my time in the kitchen. Especially when the process is fun and the results are so delicious.

Around dinnertime, Tod offered to do the shopping while I worked on starters but the trip destroyed his bicycle. A Morsbag full of ingredients dangling from this handlebars got caught in his front wheel. Fortunately, Tod was spared injury and the bottle of wine that did the damage was opened with the help of tin snips and pliers. The bike will be replaced later today.

Dinner was a feast and we were happy to have Rob over to share it with us. We made crackers from Heidi Swanson's recipe and they were fabulously light and flavorful. I whipped up an avocado spread with dried tomatoes, and we served mohamara and oat crackers, too. And that was just the opening.

Our main was aqua pazza with clams, red snapper and Chilean sea bass served with green rice, which seems to be short grain brown rice and cooks up beautifully nutty and robust. Tod made an amazing salad of strawberries and rocket. I don't think we had dessert; we certainly didn't need it.

Oat Crackers
makes about a dozen

1 cup rolled oats (not instant)
1/4 cup warm water

Mix the oats, salt, and water with your hands until a dough forms. Press the dough into a disc, sprinkle with oats and roll out thinly between sheets of waxed paper. Cut into cracker shapes and bake at 170C for about 15 minutes, or until the crackers are thoroughly dry and crispy. Store in an airtight container.

serves 1-6

2 or 3 large sweet red peppers
1 Tbsp water
2/3 c. walnuts, lightly toasted
2/3 c breadcrumbs
1/4 c olive oil
1.5 tsp ground cumin
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt

Roast the peppers until charred all over. Peel, stem and seed them, then chop coarsely. Place everything in the food processor and process until smooth. Taste for salt. Rest at least a few hours, ideally overnight, and at most 7 days. Serve at room temperature.

Aqua Pazza
serves 4

Normally in aqua pazza the vegetables are removed from the liquid and discarded before the fish is poached, but I like to serve the vegetables so I leave them in.

1 carrot
1 stalk celery
5 small tomatoes
1/2 yellow bell pepper
3 cloves garlic, halved
1 bunch mitsuba (or parsley)
2 Tbsn black olives
3-4 firm fleshed fish fillets, skin on
2 dozen small clams
cheap white wine and/or water
salt & pepper to taste

Chop the vegetables into serving size pieces. Put all the vegetables and seasonings into a heavy pan with a lid. Pour in wine to a depth of 3 cm - or a little more if you like. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 10-15 minutes to soften the vegetables. Add the fish and clams, cover and simmer another 5 or 6 minutes until the fish is cooked and the clams are open. Serve with rice or bread to sop up the broth.

Strawberry Salad
serves 4

This was inspired by Tod"s love of strawberries and black pepper and Mark Bittman's strawberry salad recipe which incorporates both, plus balsamic vinegar and arugula.

1 pint strawberries
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
fresh black pepper
1 blood orange
1 Tbsp goat cheese
5 stems fresh spearmint
2 cups rucola/rocket/arugula
olive oil

Quarter the strawberries, mix with balsamic & lots of black pepper and marinate ten minutes. Peel, section, remove the inner skin, and chop the blood orange. Mix with the strawberries, crumble goat cheese over, and toss with rocket and spearmint leaves. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle with your best olive oil.

Posted by kuri at 11:54 AM [view entry with 4 comments)]
February 09, 2008
A Food Day

Today is my first weekend off in what seems like forever, and it is a long weekend to boot, so Tod & I celebrated a lazy Saturday by spending most of it in the kitchen. After so many weeks of dinners at the office, I have access to my own kitchen and pantry. I am in heaven.

We started off our culinary day with "Wilty Frittata" made with three eggs and a leftover lettuce, tomato and parmesan salad with croutons that I found in the fridge. Leftover salad (undressed, of course) has a lot of possibilities and we often use it as sandwich filling or as the base for a fresh salad, but this is the first time I've made a frittata with lettuce. It was worth remembering.

Wilty Frittata
serves 2

1 Tbsp olive oil
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups of leftover salad, mostly greens
1 Tbsp parmesan
salt & pepper to taste
1 small tomato, diced
drizzle of salad dressing

Heat the oil in a fry pan that has a lid. Pour in the eggs, and arrange any non-lettuce bits of the salad and the parmesan evenly over the eggs. Reserving a few leaves of greens for the garnish, place the rest in the pan with the eggs. Cook, covered, over medium heat for about 10 minutes. The eggs should be cooked through. If not, slide the frittata out of the pan onto a plate, then invert the pan over the plate, turn the pan-plate over and remove the plate. Cook another 5 minutes or as needed to firm up the eggs.

Top the finished frittata with the reserved leaves, diced tomato, and a drizzle of salad dressing.


For lunch we had a surprisingly tasty fusion of Japanese "ganmo" tofu and shiso pickles with carrot and lettuce wrapped in flour tortillas. After lunch, I baked some oat crackers and made red pepper and walnut dip for tomorrow. Later on in the day, we tried making oven-roasted beet chips from Mark Bittman's excellent "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian", but they failed - they were either burned to a crisp or soggy. It was a sad mistake. However, Bittman redeemed himself with a recipe for popcorn brittle that I vamped on to make a spiced movie snack.

Spiced Popcorn Brittle
serves 4 or more

2 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
1/2 tsp each: ginger, cinnamon, cardamom
6 cups popcorn, salted
1/2 cup sesame seeds
oil for greasing

Grease a cookie sheet or baking pan and set aside. Mix together the spices, sugar and water in a saucepan. Simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until the sugar carmelises. Drizzle the sugar syrup over the popcorn, stirring to coat. (Take care not to actually stick your hands into the bowl to mix this - hot sugar hurts!) Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Spread in the greased pan and allow to cool.

Posted by kuri at 07:14 PM [view entry with 0 comments)]
January 10, 2008
Kristen's Crispy Bean Curd

Chatting with an old Pittsburgh friend last week, we reminisced about "Tony's Crispy Bean Curd," one of our favorite tofu dishes at a local Chinese restaurant. It inspired me to make my own crispy bean curd that night. This one has a fruit-based sweet & sour sauce over deep-fried tofu.


Kristen's Crispy Bean Curd
serves 2

1 block (200g) tofu (momen/firm/cotton style)
2 Tbsp cornstarch
oil for deep frying
1/2 cup orange juice (or juice of 3 mandarin oranges)
1 Tbsp onion paste (or 1 tsp minced ginger + 2 tsp minced garlic)
2 fresh red chili peppers, minced
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup water
2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1/3 cup vinegar
pomegranate seeds
minced green onion

Press the tofu under a weight for 20-30 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Cut the tofu into bite sized cubes. Set aside.

Saute the onion paste & chili in a little bit of oil. When lightly brown, add the juice. In a separate bowl, mix 2 Tbsp cornstarch with 1/2 cup of water. Add cornstarch mixture to pan and stir to thicken the sauce, adding more water to thin as it cooks. Season with vinegar, salt and sugar - adjust to taste. Remove from heat.

Lightly coat the tofu cubes in cornstarch and deep fry at 190-200 degrees until the tofu is light brown all over.

Pour sauce over tofu and top with pomegranate seeds and onions.

Posted by kuri at 10:34 AM [view entry with 2 comments)]
January 07, 2008
7 Spring Herb Porridge with Crab


Nanakusa, the seven spring herbs, are a traditional Japanese medicinal meal. On January 7th, people eat rice porridge flavored with the first bitter wild greens of spring. It's refreshing and delicious (plus it's supposed to strengthen the immune system and prevent colds) so I try to remember to do this. It is hard to miss, since all the grocery stores sell packages of nankusa around this time.

The herbs are mainly all weeds: purslane/shepherd's purse, chickweed, dropwort, nipplewort, cudweed, plus turnip (root and tops), and daikon (root and tops). They are the first things to peek out green in the early spring.

This year, I went a little bit upscale and added some crab and other seasonings. It turned out so well, I'd like to share the recipe (and to not forget it for next year). If you're outside Japan, the nankusa herbs may be difficult to find, but feel free to substitute whatever edible wild herbs grow at hand.

7 Spring Herb Porridge with Crab
serves 2-4

2 cups sprouted brown rice
7 cups water
1 small turnip, cubed
2" daikon, cubed (or 2-3 radishes)
1/4 carrot, minced
1 cup wild herbs, chopped fine
1 tsp yuzu kosho (citrus chili paste)
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup crab (real or imitation)
1" ginger, shredded

Boil the rice (or use a pressure cooker) until it is soft. Add the turnip, daikon & carrot and simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Remove from heat and stirr in the herbs and seasonings. Serve topped with crab and ginger.

Posted by kuri at 10:44 AM [view entry with 2 comments)]
January 03, 2008
Khadai Curry

This is a basic stir-fried curry that I learned from Shakti's Indian Spice Box cooking school in Udaipur when we went to India in 2006. I included it in Almost Vegan, so you may already have see this one, but I fear losing the photocopied recipe I got from Shakti, so here it is again!

Home-style Indian food is not as heavy as the ghee-rich dishes you get in restaurants. This curry is flavorful and light. Although it may seem complicated because it is prepared in several steps, each step builds on the next one, and can be set aside or varied along the way. I can whip up this curry while the rice cooks and it's always good, no matter what I decide to throw into it.

I specify tofu or cauliflower in this recipe, but you can use paneer, potato, eggplant or any other vegetable (or meat) that you like. If you're using chicken or meat, parboil it first or it won't cook through.

Khadai Curry
serves 1-2

Onion Paste
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
2” fresh ginger

Blend in processor with a bit of water. Keeps in fridge for a week. Can be used in all sorts of dishes.

Basic Curry Mix
2 Tbsp oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
5 black peppercorns
2 cloves
1 whole cardamom
2” cinnamon stick
½ tsp brown cumin seeds
1 Tbsp ground coriander
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp chili powder
2 Tbsp onion paste (above)
¼ cup water
salt to taste

Heat oil in pan and add onion slices. When onions begin to brown, add the whole spices. When onions are caramelized, add the powdered spices, onion paste and ¼ cup of water. Simmer on low heat for 3-4 minutes until the mixture thickens; the oil will separate and float on top of the mixture. This is basic curry mix and can be used as a base for many curry dishes.

2 small tomatoes, crushed
2 small green peppers, in bite-sized pieces
1 small onion, quartered
100 gr tofu or cauliflower, in bite-sized pieces
dash garam masala

To the basic curry, add the crushed tomatoes and cook until the mixture thickens and the oil floats to the top. (This is a basic tomato-based curry). Add green peppers and onions (and cauliflower, if using it) and cook for two or three minutes. Add tofu and cook for one minute, mixing well.

Remove from heat and serve with a sprinkle of garam masala.

Posted by kuri at 09:30 AM [view entry with 1 comments)]
December 24, 2007
Christmas Eve Dinner, 1570

We've recently finished reading Bill Buford's book, Heat. He tells the tales of a mid-life career change from editor to cook and everything along the way - including learning Italian and several long trips to Italy to learn to cook. One of his tutors is a 16th century Italian named Bartolomeo Scappi, who wrote a Renaissance cookbook called Opera dell'arte del cucinare.

Buford mentions in passing Scappi's mixture of beets and spinach as a tortellini filling and this intrigued me. Beets (yum!) and spinach (yum!) together? Wow. I wanted to try it. So I found a reference to Scappi's recipe. It wasn't beetroot, as I'd assumed, but beet tops, also known as chard. Still, it looked to be a delicious recipe with a surprising twist of cloves and cinnamon, so we tried it.

Scappi's beet and spinach ravioli

Here's Scappi's recipe (translated by Helewyse de Birkestad with my notes in []):

Per far minestra di tortelletti d’herba alla Lombarda Cap CLXXIX Piglinosi biete, e spinaci, taglianosi minute, & lavinsoi in piu acque, e strucchisi fuori l’acqua, faccianosi soffriggere con butiro fresco, & con esse ponasi a bollire una brancata d’herve odorifere, & cavinosi, & pongasi in un vaso di terra o di rame stagnato, & giungavisi cascio Parmeggiano grattato, & cascio grasso, tanto dell’uno quanto dell altro, & pepe, cannella, garofani, zafferano, uva passa, & uove crude a bastanza; & se la compositione fosse troppo liquida pongavisi pan grattato, ma se sarà troppo soda, mettavisi un poco di butiro, & habbiasi un sfoglio di pasta fatta nel modo che si dice nel capitolo 177. & faccianosi i tortelletti piccioli, & grandi, facendoli cuorcere in buon brodo di carne, & servanosi con cascio, zuccaro, & cannella sopra.

To make a dish of tortellini of herbs in the Lombard style, Chapter 179
Take beet (beet tops or swiss chard), and spinach [1 bunch each], chop very finely, and wash in more water and then drain out all the water. Put the greens to fry in fresh butter and with them add to boil a hand full of odoriferous herbs [we used parsley, chervil and oregano]. Take them out and put them (herbs and greens) into a jar of pottery or of tinned copper, and add grated Parmesan cheese and fat cheese [no fat cheese for us], more of the one than of the other. Also add pepper [1/2 tsp], cinnamon, cloves [dash of each], saffron [5 stamens softened in 1/2 tsp water], dried currants [we used about 10 raisins cut in half] and enough raw eggs [1/2 an egg, beaten]. If the mixture becomes too soft and bread crumbs, but if it is too hard, add a little butter. Have a sheet of pasta made in the way that is described in chapter 177. And make small and large tortelletti, and cook them in good meat broth, and serve them with cheese, sugar and cinnamon on top.

We made a few substitutions from the original recipe. Chard is not available in Japan, so we used a Chinese vegetable called ta-sai, which is related to mustard and broccoli. We made ravioli rather than tortellini, and we boiled our ravioli in vegetable broth instead of meat broth. With those substitutions in place, we found the recipe wanted no other changes. It was outstanding.

I'm looking forward to tracking down some other Scappi recipes and trying them.

Still, I want to try beets and spinach together. I think it would be interesting. Experimentation in the new year, I think!

Posted by kuri at 10:28 PM [view entry with 2 comments)]
December 09, 2007
White Chocolate & Cherry Drunken Figs


In the West Village of New York City, I bought something called a drunken fig. It was a whole dried fig, stuffed with port-infused fig and chocolate filling and dipped in dark chocolate. It was pretty good, I liked the fig and chocolate combination, but the filling wasn't drunken enough and the whole thing was a little bit too dry. I thought I could do better. Tod & I brainstormed a luscious variation.

In our version the figs are soaked in cherry brandy, filled with white chocolate ganache and dipped in dark chocolate. The result is sweet, fruity and sinfully rich. At about 200 calories each, you might want to serve them split in half to reveal the pretty insides.

White Chocolate & Cherry Drunken Figs
makes 9

9 dried Turkish figs
cherry brandy
100 grams white chocolate
50 ml heavy cream
pinch salt
pinch nutmeg
100 grams dark chocolate

Cover the figs with brandy. Soak for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Finely chop the white chocolate and place it in a metal bowl. (Metal helps conduct the heat to melt the chocolate in the next step.) Add the salt and nutmeg tot the cream and bring to a simmer. Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and whisk until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Refrigerate to cool.

When the ganache is cooled and the figs are soaked, drain the figs and gently squeeze out any excess liqueur. Remove the ganache from the fridge and whisk it into a slight fluffiness.

Using your pinky, carefully poke a hole in the fig on the flat bottom where there is probably already a small crack. You'll be able to open up the cavity inside the fig with your finger. Stuff in a teaspoon or two of ganache. This is messy, but kind of fun. You can use a pastry tube if you prefer, but I find the ganache too stiff to press through easily.

Any leftover ganache can be made into white truffles by forming them into balls (make sure the ganache is well chilled or it will melt in your hands) and rolling in minced nuts or cocoa powder.

Finely chop up the dark chocolate. In a double boiler, melt 2/3 of the chocolate, then remove from the heat and add the remaining chocolate, stirring until it melts. Dip or roll the figs in the chocolate to coat them and dry /cool on waxed paper.

While researching for this recipe, I came across this helpful and excellent madly scientific article on tempering chocolate.
I understand the mystery of heating chocolate now!

Posted by kuri at 09:55 AM [view entry with 4 comments)]
November 22, 2007
Feasting at Home

Mom asked me to share some well-seasoned vegetarian recipes with her. She doesn't eat a lot of meat and wanted to learn a bit more about the tasty stuff I'm always going on about. So I made her a little cookbook. I called it "Almost Vegan" because although the emphasis is on vegan things, there are a couple of recipes with optional shrimp and one with non-optional eggs.

We cooked quite a few of these together, and I think she liked them. I used the recipes while we were in North Carolina, too, and the dishes were well-received. Everyone at the NC beach house claimed they don't have time to cook. I think maybe they just don't enjoy it enough to make time for it. I love to cook and it takes up too much of my time, sometimes.

Anyway, I wanted to share the little cookbook with you, in case you're looking for some nicely spiced, healthy, vegetable rich homemade foods. It's divided into sections based on region - Middle East, India, South Asia, and Europe - with a few recipes in each section. You might recognise a few from past Recipe Thursdays. Hope you enjoy it!

Almost Vegan 132KB PDF

Posted by kuri at 08:21 AM [view entry with 1 comments)]
November 08, 2007

This is one of my favorite rice and bean recipes. It's a bit troublesome, as you have to cook the lentils and rice separately, so you need enough pans, but they can be cooked at the same time, so it doesn't really take long and the results are worth the minor effort. Fluffy rice, earthy lentils and a topping of carmelised onions. Comfort food from the middle east.

I usually make more onions than I call for here, because carmelised onions are so good. The black pepper and allspice is a mixture called baharat and there are many regional variations. I prefer this version for its simplicity.

serves 3-4

1 cup brown lentils
1 cup long grain rice
2 onions, thinly sliced
¼ tsp black peppercorns
¼ tsp whole allspice
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp ground cardamom
olive oil
4 cups water

Fry the rice in a little oil, until it starts to change color. Add the cardamom and two cups of water. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from heat and let stand 20-30 minutes.

Fry the lentils in a little oil until they start to brown. Add the peppercorn, allspice and cumin. Pour in two cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils have absorbed all the water.

Carmelise the onions in oil. Make sure they get really brown and soft.

Combine cooked rice and lentils. Top with carmelised onions.

Posted by kuri at 09:06 AM [view entry with 0 comments)]
October 25, 2007
What to Feed a Vegan (spicy beans)

This recipe is a part of one of our standby quick meals along with some tortillas and chopped vegetables. There's no need for an Old El Paso spice mix when you can easily make your own (and tailor the blend to your tastes, too!)

Spicy Mexican Beans
serves 2
(suitable for vegans, vegetarians, omnivores, low/no fat and gluten-free diets)

1 can beans (navy, pinto, black, etc)
1 pickled jalapeño, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 onion, minced
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
salt and pepper

In a deep frying pan or pot, sautee the onions and garlic in a bit of oil until the onions are translucent. Add the beans and stir vigorously to smush them up a bit. Additional oil will make the beans creamier, but isn't strictly necessary. Mix in the spices & jalapeño. Salt and pepper to taste.

Posted by kuri at 06:42 PM [view entry with 1 comments)]
August 25, 2007
Butternut Squash with "Sausage" Stuffing


Flavorful Italian-type sausage is difficult to come by in Tokyo, so I learned to make my own with ground meat and the right seasonings. Now I've learned to substitute faux meat for regular meat to make a low-fat vegan version.

I use this odd stuff called Pino Konnyaku or "Vegetarian Meat" that's a mixture of okara (soybean fiber) and konnyaku (jelly-like starch) and grinds up to a texture similar to cooked ground beef.

This recipe can be adapted easily for meat eaters by substituting real meat sausage (and breadcrumbs or rice as filler).

Butternut Squash with "Sausage" Stuffing
serves 4

1 butternut squash
1 onion
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup edamame
1 1/2 cups of "vegetarian meat"
seasonings: fennel seed, cayenne, onion powder, garlic powder, sage, thyme celery seed, salt, pepper, MSG

Mix the meat with the seasoning and allow to marinate for several hours. You should do this to your own taste - I like lots of fennel and a fair amount of cayenne with the other seasonings creating a flavorful background. MSG helps the flavors to blend. Do yours as as you like.

Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Roast on an oiled surface in a 180C oven for about 25 minutes, or until the squash can be easily pierced with a knife. Coool to room temperature. Remove seeds; scrape a channel for the filling, setting aside the scraped bits for the filling mixture.

Chop the onion & garlic finely, saute in oil. Add the seasoned "meat" and cook until slightly browned. Mix in the squash and edamame. Season to taste with salt and pepper and/or a splash of soy sauce.

Spoon the filing into the squash shells and bake at 180 for about 15 minutes, or until the top of the mixture is lightly browned. Serve with rice and salad.

Note: if you are using meat sausage, brown it and drain the oil before adding to the filling mixture. You may want to use rice or breadcrumbs as a filler, since 1.5 cups of cooked sausage is a lot!

Posted by kuri at 11:50 AM [view entry with 2 comments)]
August 23, 2007
Camp Saba

I think my favorite meal at camp was the lunch Tod & I cooked together. We bought two whole salted mackerels (shiosaba) at the fishmongers', wrapped them in foil, and cooked them over a gas stove "fire" to share with all of our camping companions.

Camp Saba
serves 12

2 50cm salted mackerels, gutted & scaled
3 small zucchini
2 onions
2 tomatoes
black pepper

Cut the head, tails, and fins off the fish, split each into two lengthwise. Leave the bones in, they are a lot easier to take out after cooking.

Cut the vegetables into bite size pieces but not too small as they will be steaming with the fish for a while.

Lay a piece of fish on a large piece of foil. Top with 1/4 of the vegetables; drizzle with oil & season with pepper. Wrap the fish tightly in the foil, using extra pieces to patch as necessary. Repeat for the remaining three fish pieces.

Place the foil packets on a grill surface over a flame or other heat source. We used a portable gas ring but a charcoal grill or campfire would be equally effective, as would an oven if you're not camping. Cook until you can smell fish and see steam escaping from the cracks in the foil armor, then carefully open a packet (beware of steam) and test for doneness. The fish should be juicy and soft but opaque all the way through. The vegetables will be cooked and fragrant.

After peeling back the foil, find the two fishes with bones, push the veg out of the way, and carefully peel the bones out of the fillet and discard. Serve the fish and vegetables with rice, a salad, and a view of the ocean (optional).

Posted by kuri at 02:41 PM [view entry with 0 comments)]
August 11, 2007
Peach & Piman Fruity Drink

Tod showed me the peaches (yum) then held up a green pepper, "What do you think?" He said I looked dubious, but I was just imagining the combination, along with the ginger that we'd already agreed on. "Yeah, go ahead," I granted.

Wow! The green pepper is a fresh top note, then you taste the sweetness of hte peach, bit not it's flavor so much, then the ginger brings it home. I couldn't even tell there was rum in the drink until I started to type up this recipe...

Peach and Piman Fruity Drink
serves 2 generously

2 overripe peaches, cut into chunks
1 Tbsp chopped ginger
1 piman (small green bell pepper), seeds & pith removed
130 ml white rum
ice to fill the blender (~3 cups)

Put everything in the blender and whirl until smooth and drink-like. Pour into glasses with more ice as desired.

Posted by kuri at 09:15 PM [view entry with 2 comments)]
August 02, 2007
Lemon Cucumber Pickles

Pickle press in action

These are a refreshingly light side dish and go very well with the Lentil Tagine previously posted. Start the pickles about an hour before you plan to eat and they will be ready for you to serve. These don't keep well, so enjoy them all at once.

Lemon Cucumber Pickles
serves 2

2 Japanese cucumbers, or 1 American cuke
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 lemon
1 tsp olive oil

Cut the cucumbers into 1 cm rounds or quarter the American cucumber and cut into 1 cm slices. Sprinkle the cukes with salt, allow to sit until they start to weep. Press gently and pour off any dark liquid. Squeeze lemon over the cucumbers, drizzle with olive oil and press (in a pickle press or under a plate weighted with a can of soup) for 30-60 minutes.

Posted by kuri at 12:35 PM [view entry with 2 comments)]
August 01, 2007
Lentil & Vegetable Tagine

Tagine on the table

A tagine is a kind of terracotta cooking pot with a conical lid, and also the food cooked in it - a stew. Normally a tagne has soft, falling off the bone meat and vegetables, but this version is meatless. It cooks at low heat for a long time. I don't have a tagine pot, but I use my cast iron pot or Japanese ceramic nabe and they both work fine. The Moroccan spice mix can be made ahead and stored.

Moroccan Spice Mix
makes about 4 tsp

2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp clove
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp cumin

Lentil and Vegetable Tagine
serves 4-6

2 cups yellow lentils, soaked for an hour
1 tsp olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp Moroccan spice mix (or up to 2 tsp for more intense seasoning)
2 dried apricots, cut fine
4 cups water (adjust as needed during cooking)
1 carrot, large diced
3 cups eggplant, zucchini, etc., large diced
1 cup green beans, broad beans, asparagus, etc, cut into 2 cm pieces
1 cup mushrooms, large diced
6 plum tomatoes, halved or quartered

In a tagine or heavy casserole, saute the onions and garlic in olive oil until lightly browned. Add the drained lentils, spice mix, apricots, and 4 cups of water. Cover and simmer until lentils are about 1/2 cooked. Yellow lentils take about 25 minutes to this point; red or brown lentils will take a little less time. Check the package and schedule accordingly. You may need to adjust the amount of water, too, so keep an eye on it.

Add in the carrots, cover the pot and cook for ten minutes. Add the remaining vegetables except the tomatoes and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the vegetables and lentils are both done. Mix in the tomatoes and serve.

Posted by kuri at 12:51 PM [view entry with 1 comments)]
July 26, 2007
All About Home Baking

In another "I'll give your ephemera back after I've used it" moment, I snagged This 1935 edition of General Foods seminal baking book, All About Home Baking from Greg.

It's an excellent primer on the fundamentals of baking from scratch. 23 Easy Picture Lessons promise to cover the keys to baking success. And they really do, not only through the recipes, but in the hints illustrated in Key Steps picture lessons.

Tod's promised to scan the book for me, so that I can return it to Greg for artistic repurposing. When I have the scans I will post them. But until then, I want to share some of the useful knowledge this book imparts.

Butter is generally preferred for greasing because of the good flavor it imparts to the crust. Melt the butter in a cup over hot water and use only the oil on top. Do not use the salt that sinks to the bottom, as salt tends to make the baked product stick to the pan.

I never knew that. I guess that greasing the pan with solid butter will make the cake stick because of the salt. Here's another tidbit.

Divide the baking time into quarters. It will help you controlling your oven heat if you know just when you ought to look at your cake and what you may expect to see. For that purpose, baking time for cake has been divided into quarters as follows:

1st quarter - Cake mixture begins to rise.
2nd quarter - Rising continues; surface begins to brown
3rd quarter - Finished rising; cntinues to brown
4th quarter - Finished baking; shrinks from sides of pan

Take a look at your cake at the end of each quarter and, if you find that it is not baking according to this schedule, adjust the heat.

This was written in a time when ovens didn't always have thermometers or good heat regulation. Here's a practical test suggested for checking your oven's temperature:

Set a pan sprinkled with flour in the oven and if the flour becomes a delicate brown in five minutes, the oven is slow (250 F to 350 F). If the flour turns a medium golden brown in five minutes, the oven is moderate (350 F to 400 F). If the flour turns a deep, dark brown in five minutes, the oven is hot (400 F to 450 F). If the flour turns a deep dark brown in three minutes, the oven is very hot (450 F to 500 F). These same tests may also be done with white tissue paper or white unglazed paper.
Posted by kuri at 11:10 AM [view entry with 3 comments)]
July 19, 2007
Yuba Kara-age

I'm not keen on substitutes for meat, dairy and eggs in my vegetarian diet. I don't really miss them all that much, and am quite content to eat vegetables, beans and other tasty whole foods without disguising them as "meat." However, a few weeks back in Kawagoe, we picked up a bag dried yuba (tofu skins) that was bunched into ugly little dessicated balls. The health food store lady told us they were delicious if breaded and fried. She was right. The texture is uncannily like chicken breast and this recipe makes a delicious meat-like side dish.

Yuba Kara-age
serves 2

6 dried yuba balls
warm water
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp black sesame seeds
chili powder
coriander leaf
1 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp corn starch
Chinese mustard

Soak the dried yuba in warm water for about 45 minutes to an hour. When completely reconstituted, it will be doubled in size and spongy with no hard bits in the middle. Squeeze the water out. Drizzle the yuba with soy sauce then sprinkle with sesame seeds, chili powder, coriander and cumin. Toss to coat. Dredge in flour and allow to marinate for 20 minutes or so.

Heat oil quite hot in a fry pan or deep fryer. Coat the yuba in corn starch and fry until golden brown. Drain (or blot) and serve with spicy Chinese mustard.

Posted by kuri at 09:02 AM [view entry with 2 comments)]
July 12, 2007
5 Ways to Top Tofu

Chilled tofu salad is a popular summer dish in Japan. Hiya-yakko traditionally is topped with soy sauce and ginger paste, green onions and bonito flakes. But that's not the only Yakko option. In Tofu and Beans Recipe 176, there are 10 more ideas for topping your tofu.

Some of them are unspeakable (squid guts with citrus peel - yuck!) but here are five that will make a delicious light meal on a hot night. Each of these recipes serves two people as a side dish or light main.

200 g silken tofu
2 anchovy fillets
1/2 clove garlic, sliced
1 tsp olive oil
1 sprig parsley

Cut the tofu in half. Mince the anchovies and place on top of tofu block. Fry the garlic slices in olive oil. Arrange on top of anchovies. Garnish with parsley.

200 g silken tofu
30 g grilled unagi (eel)
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp pickled sansho (sichuan pepper)

Cut the tofu in half. Slice the unagi into 1 cm pieces. Heat the oil and lightly fry the unagi and sansho. Server on top of tofu.

200 g silken tofu
1 bulb myoga (young ginger)
1 leaf aojiso
1 umeboshi (pickled plum)
bonito flakes

Cut the tofu in half. Finely slice the myoga and aojiso, allow to rest in a bowl of salted water. Pick the plum into small bits. Drain the herbs, mix with the plum and spoon onto the tofu. Garnish with bonito flakes.

Octopus & Kimchi-Yakko
200 g silken tofu
30 g boiled octopus legs
30 g kimchi
sesame oil
soy sauce
sesame seeds

Cut the tofu in half. Cut the octopus and kimchi into bite-sized pieces. Sautee briefly in a little bit of sesame oil. Season with soy sauce. Spoon onto tofu and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bleu Cheese-Yakko
200 g silken tofu
20 g bleu cheese
1 stem chives or green onion
bonito flakes

Cut the tofu in half. Crumble the bleu cheese. Finely slice the chives. Top the tofu with the cheese and chives and sprinkle with bonito flakes.

Posted by kuri at 08:47 AM [view entry with 3 comments)]
June 09, 2007
Redacted Perl recipes

You might scratch your head over this, but Perl hackers like food so much that they add recipes to their source code. But the new maintainer, Andy, has deleted the recipes. Horrors! To preserve these two tasty vegetarian Middle Eastern ones, I'm republishing them here. Thanks to Sean Burke for including them in the first place.

Tangy Moroccan Carrot Salad
formerly found in Locale::Maketext

6 to 8 medium carrots, peeled and then sliced in 1/4-inch rounds
1/4 teaspoon chile powder (cayenne, chipotle, ancho, or the like)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon honey
juice of about a half a big lemon, or of a whole smaller one
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon of fresh dill, washed and chopped fine
Pinch of salt, maybe a pinch of pepper

Cook the carrots in a pot of boiling water until just tender -- roughly six minutes. (Just don't let them get mushy!) Drain the carrots.

In a largish bowl, combine the lemon juice, the cumin, the chile powder, and the honey. Mix well. Add the olive oil and whisk it together well. Add the dill and stir.

Add the warm carrots to the bowl and toss it all to coat the carrots well. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

The measurements here are very approximate, and you should feel free to improvise and experiment. It's a very forgiving recipe. For example, you could easily halve or double the amount of cumin, or use chopped mint leaves instead of dill, or lime juice instead of lemon, et cetera.

Easy Hummus
Adapted from a recipe by Ralph Baccash (1937-2000)
formerly found in HTML::Element


juice of two smallish lemons (adjust to taste, and depending on how juicy the lemons are)
6 tablespoons of tahini
4 tablespoons of olive oil
5 big cloves of garlic, chopped fine
salt to taste
pepper to taste
onion powder to taste
pinch of coriander powder (optional)
big pinch of cumin

2 16oz cans of garbanzo beans
parsley, or Italian parsley
a bit more olive oil


Drain one of the cans of garbanzos, discarding the juice. Drain the other, reserving the juice.

Peel the garbanzos (just pressing on each a bit until the skin slides off). It will take time to peel all the garbanzos. It's optional, but it makes for a smoother hummus. Incidentally, peeling seems much faster and easier if done underwater -- i.e., if the beans are in a bowl under an inch or so of water.

Now, in a blender, combine everything in the above list, starting at the top, stopping at (but including) the cumin. Add one-third of the can's worth of the juice that you reserved. Blend very well. (For lack of a blender, I've done okay using a Braun hand-mixer.)

Start adding the beans little by little, and keep blending, and increasing speeds until very smooth. If you want to make the mix less viscous, add more of the reserved juice. Adjust the seasoning as needed.

Cover with chopped parsley, and a thin layer of olive oil. The parsley is more or less optional, but the olive oil is necessary, to keep the hummus from discoloring. Possibly sprinkle with paprika or red chile flakes.

Serve at about room temperature, with warm pitas. Possible garnishes include olives, peperoncini, tomato wedges.

Variations on this recipe consist of adding or substituting other spices. The garbanzos, tahini, lemon juice, and oil are the only really core ingredients, and note that their quantities are approximate.

For more good recipes along these lines, see:
Karaoglan, Aida. 1992. /Food for the Vegetarian/. Interlink Books,
New York. ISBN 1-56656-105-1.

Posted by kuri at 01:23 PM [view entry with 0 comments)]
June 08, 2007
Vegan Blueberry Cobbler

It's blueberry season and the American imported blueberries are too tempting to pass up even though they come from much farther than 150 km away. This is a vegan, low fat dessert in case you don't want to eat your blueberries plain. Only 175 calories per serving, so it won't ruin your diet, either.

Vegan Blueberry Cobbler
serves 4

2 cups blueberries
1.5 tsp cornstarch
1/8 c honey
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
pinch cinnamon
pinch nutmeg
pinch salt
1.5 tsp canola oil
1/4 c unsweetened soy milk

Cook the berries, cornstarch, honey and lemon juice over medium heat until the mixture boils and thickens. Pour into an ungreased baking dish.

Mix the remaining dry ingredients, then stir in the oil and soy milk to form a thick batter. Drop by tablespoons onto the blueberries. Bake at 425F/220C for 15-20 minutes or until the topping is beautifully browned.

Serve warm with ice cream, if you like.

Posted by kuri at 06:48 PM [view entry with 0 comments)]
June 07, 2007
Tofu Steak with mushrooms

Years and years ago, our friend Tak taught us how to make tofu steak topped with soy sauce and bonito flakes. I loved it, but made it infrequently. Now that real steak is off the menu, this vegan variation topped with sauteed mushrooms will appear on our plates more often. It's takes about 30 minutes from start to finish, but ten minutes of that is pressing the tofu, which leaves you time to make a salad and steam some veggies.

Tofu Steak with Mushrooms
makes 2 servings

400 g tofu (firm, cotton type)
2-3 Tbsp corn starch
1 Tbsp oil
6 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp mirin

Drain the tofu and press under a weight for ten minutes to squeeze out the excess moisture. Slice in half horizontally to form two thin slices (like a layer cake). Pat dry with kitchen paper.

Dredge the tofu slices in corn starch on all sides. Make a slurry of the remaining startch and some water. You'll use this to thicken the sauce at the end.

Fry the tofu in oil on medium high heat for about five minutes on a side, or until they get crispy. After the first flip, add the mushrooms to the pan.

Mix together the soy sauce and mirin with about 1/4 cup of water. Remove the crispy tofu from the pan and plate. Deglaze the pan with the soy sauce mixture. Add the corn starch slurry and any additional water necessary to bring the sauce to a consistency you like. Pour mushrooms and sauce over tofu.

Notes: For Tak's version, skip the mushrooms. After removing the tofu from the pan, drizzle it with soy sauce and sprinkle katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) on top. • More alternate toppings: soy sauce with daikon oroshi, ginger paste or wasabi paste. • My pan is seasoned with turmeric from cooking Indian curries and my tofu steaks were slightly colored as a result. Bonus tasty!

Posted by kuri at 06:32 PM [view entry with 2 comments)]
June 03, 2007
Molasses Muesli Cookies

Molasses Muesli cookies looking all healthy

For the last couple of weeks, I've been testing the vegan waters. In many ways, I am loving the increase in vegetables, lack of animal products, and the weight loss, too, but there are some drawbacks.

Sweets are one of them. When I had a sugar craving this afternoon, I searched around for recipes and ended up inventing my own based on a few that looked not too bad. These are exactly the sort of sweets that my mother mocked our vegetarian health-food fanatic neighbors for making. But now that I'm eschewing eggs, dairy and meat, I'm reduced to doing my best with these healthy ingredients.

The cookies turned out soft and chewy with a lightly oat-y texture. Mine have a slight overemphasis on the molasses flavor because I only had dark molasses on hand; I think light molasses would be a better choice.

Each cookie is 66 calories, is very low in fat and has a 3% of the US RDA of iron. Tod says they are evil because it's very easy to eat three of them for a total of nearly 200 calories. I just say "Aaaahhh, sweets. Please pass another cookie!"

Molasses Muesli Cookies
makes 24 cookies

1 banana
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup muesli (I used Dorset Luury Muesli)
1 sp baking soda
1 tsp ginger
1.5 tsp cinnamon

Mash the banana and stir together with the molasses, honey and sugar. Add the spices and baking soda, then the flour, mixing well. Stir in the muesli.

Drop rounded teaspoons onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 175C/350F for about 8 minutes.

Posted by kuri at 06:36 PM [view entry with 2 comments)]
May 06, 2007
Tod's New Spice Cake

Tod's New Spice Cake
serves Tod

2 1/3 cups flour
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1.5 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cardamom
1 tsp salt
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
2/3 cup butter
1 cup milk
3 eggs

In a large bowl, mix together flour, white sugar, baking soda, spices and salt. In a medium bowl, cream butter and brown sugar, then add milk. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until smooth. Pour into prepared round layer pans and bake at 350/175 for 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

I filled this year's cake with a layer of maple syrup flavored frosting and sprinkled the top with powdered sugar mixed with a little chai masala.

Posted by kuri at 05:51 PM [view entry with 0 comments)]
May 03, 2007
Walnut & Sun-Dried Tomato Ravioli


I was putting my new ravioli press to the test earlier this week and it did a good job once I'd figured out some of its secrets. Press the filling in tightly, don't overfill even a tiny bit. Allow the dough (rolled to indicator 5 on the Imperia) to dry slightly and/or flour it thoroughly so it doesn't stick to the press. Roll firmly with the rolling pin, being especially careful to cut the edges and use a bench knife on any inside seams that don't perforate sufficiently.

I cooked up three batches of ravioli that night: herbed cottage cheese; four mushroom; & today's recipe, walnut with sun-dried tomato. I'm sorry there's no photo of the ravioli made up but it was too quickly eaten for me to even think about the camera. It was gooooood. The walnut recipe is salty, bursting with umami and vegetarian (even vegan if you substitute for my egg-based dough). I didn't measure anything as I cooked, so this is an approximation. Adjust as desired.

Walnut & Sun-Dried Tomato Ravioli
stuffs 48 ravioli with a bit left over

1.5 cups walnuts
8-10 sun dried tomatoes (not in oil)
olive oil
black pepper

Put the nuts in a food processor. Snip the tomatoes into slices with your kitchen shears and add to nuts. Sprinkle generously with fresh ground pepper. Drizzle with oil. Blend until you have a rough paste - the mixture should stick together but still have texture. You may need to add a bit more oil as you go.

The Perfect Pasta Dough works well with this filling - good tooth and flavor to balance the boldness of the filling. I used about 2/3 of the dough recipe to make 48 ravioli (2 pans' worth). The leftover dough cooks up great as a side dish the next day or can be frozen. I topped the ravioli with an herbed tomato sauce, but a cream sauce would have been equally delicious.

Posted by kuri at 10:49 AM [view entry with 3 comments)]
April 26, 2007
Chai Tea Bread


This bread is a variation on my basic white bread recipe but the addition of tea and spices transforms it into a completely different loaf. The spices bring out the honey flavor, the tea makes it interesting. Delicious as breakfast toast, I'd hoped to fry some up some as French toast, but we ate it up before I had time to try!

Chai Tea Bread
makes 1 loaf

100 g bread flour
200 g all-purpose flour
1 c warm milk
1.5 Tbsp hot water
1 pkt instant dry yeast
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp oil
1 tsp Assam tea leaves
2 tsp masala chai spice (a mix of cardamom, ginger, black pepper, clove, mace & nutmeg)
1 egg

Mix milk, water, honey and tea. Add yeast and proof for 5-10 minutes. Mix flour and spices. Add yeast mixture and oil to flour and stir. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead about 10 minutes or until the dough passes the windowpane test. Place in an oiloed bowl, cover and allow to rise in a warm or room temperature place until doubled. Shape into loaf pan, rise again for an hour. Wash with beaten egg. Bake at 180C for 30 minutes.

Posted by kuri at 12:21 PM [view entry with 1 comments)]
April 19, 2007
Cottage cheese (paneer)

Pressed cheese ready for curry

Cottage cheese is a simple thing to make - they don't call it cottage for nothing. It takes a bit of your attention, to ensure the milk doesn't scorch or boil over, but other than that, it's almost as easy as boiling water.

You need only two ingredients: whole milk and an acid like lemon juice or vinegar. Your yield will be about 15% of the weight of the milk. So a liter of milk makes about 150 grams of cheese and a gallon of milk makes a little more than a pound. The cheese will have a faint taste of the acid that you choose - lightly lemon-y if you use lemon juice. Of course you can season it with herbs or spices as you like. Do that after the cheese is drained.

Cottage cheese can be pressed to make a firm paneer for curries, or left in curds like Miss Muffett always liked.

Cottage Cheese
makes about 150 grams

1 liter whole milk
an acid: 1/2 lemon or lime, juiced, or 1-3 tsp vinegar

Bring the milk to a boil over medium heat, stirring to prevent scorching. When it comes to a boil, stir in the acid and cook for another 2-3 minutes. The solids will clump together (curds) and the remaining liquid will become a thin watery white (whey). Turn off heat and allow to sit a few minutes to cool.

Strain through cheesecloth (or thin cotton cloth). When the liquid is mostly drained out, lift the cloth by the corners and twist to squeeze out remaining liquid. This is cottage cheese.

To make firm paneer, press the cloth-covered cheese under a 5kg/10lb weight for up to two hours. I usually fold the cloth around the cheese, press it into a pancake shape, sandwich it between two cutting boards, then balance the bowl of whey on top, adding water to increase the weight. After an hour, the cheese is firm enough to cut into cubes.

Posted by kuri at 06:48 PM [view entry with 5 comments)]
April 10, 2007
Perfect Pasta Dough

We splurged on an Imperia pasta machine for Christmas. It was a good investment - we've been enjoying making our own spaghetti, fettuccine and ravioli nearly every week.

The basis of a good pasta is the dough. This semolina and egg recipe never fails to make excellent dough that can be rolled and cut by machine or by hand. It's yolky yellow, with a chewy tooth and firm texture. It's such a joy to work with that I hardly every make anything else. And since it's usually just me and Tod, I make the whole recipe but freeze half the dough for another night. The frozen dough thaws quickly and rolls out like it was freshly made. Honestly, this is the perfect pasta dough.

Perfect Pasta Dough
makes 4 servings

125 g all-purpose flour
165 g semolina flour
3 eggs
1 Tbsp olive oil
pinch salt

Combine the flours and form them into a mountain on your counter. Poke a deep well into the center. Crack the eggs into the well and add the oil. Use a fork to whisk the eggs and oil, slowly incorporating the flour into the mixture. When the mixture gets thick, abandon the fork and use your hands. Knead for ten minutes, then wrap tightly in plastic warp and allow to rest for 30 minutes. (This is a just enough time to tidy the kitchen and get a sauce started!) To finish, roll out by hand or with a machine and cut into desired noodly shapes. Boil in salted water 2-8 minutes, depending on how thick the noodles are and how al dente you like them.

Posted by kuri at 11:29 AM [view entry with 2 comments)]
February 15, 2007
Cabbage & Bacon Fettuccine

Homemade fettuccine topped with cabbage & bacon

Cabbage & Bacon Fettuccine
makes 2 enormous servings

10 slices bacon
1/2 large onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 head cabbage
olive oil
black pepper
freshly made fettuccine

Cut the bacon into bite-sized pieces. Slice the onion, roughly chop the cabbage. Thinly slice the garlic.

In a wok or large pan fry the bacon until crisp. Remove meat to towelling and drain bacon grease from pan but leave any crispy bits. Add some olive oil to the pan and sautée the onion and garlic until the onion turns translucent. Add the cabbage. Allow to cook while you boil the pasta. The cabbage will be completely wilted but still slightly crisp in the ribs.

Put the water on to boil for the pasta. Add fresh noodles, boil for about 3 minutes or until they are cooked through but still al dente. Drain, then drizzle with olive oil.

Return bacon to pan and mix with cabbage. Serve over noodles. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.

Posted by kuri at 08:37 AM [view entry with 0 comments)]
February 01, 2007
Bake Off

The morning after - leftover breads cosy up on the cutting board. JIm's white, my wheat.

Jim and I got together yesterday to trade bread-making secrets. His bread is always chewy and crusty. Mine is small crumbed and even. I like his better; he prefers mine. So we baked a loaf each and I took notes. His secrets: no oil, bake at a high heat for a short time. My secrets: I don't have any, but it seems to be the oil that gives the bread its fine crumb.

After we baked, we watched a great video on bread making, produced by a community college in Pennsylvania near where we grew up. It has some great tips in it, and a lot of silly local jokes: You're The Chef, #712: Bread Baking .

Here are recipes for both loaves. Jim's White Bread and Kristen's Wheat Bread.

Jim's White Bread
makes a very large loaf

2 cups water at about 40 degrees
2 tsp instant yeast
sprinkling of flour
6 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt

Mix the yeast and water, sprinkle with flour. Allow yeast to bloom for about 10 minutes. Add flour. Stir until the dough forms a ball that pulls away from the sides of the bowl (add more flour as necessary). Knead for about 4 minutes, or until you stretch a small ball into a translucent pizza without breaking it. Let rise at room temperature for about an hour (or until doubled) in an oiled bowl covered with a cloth. Punch down and form loaf. Allow to rise until doubled again. Slash bread and dust with flour. Starting from a cold oven, bake at 250C/480F for about 20 minutes.

Kristen's Wheat Bread
makes one huge loaf

2 cups warm water
2 tsp yeast
1 Tbsp flour
4 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 cups whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

Combine water and yeast, sprinkle with flour and let yeast bloom for ten minutes. Add flours, oil and salt. Stir until dough forms a ball that pulls away from the sides of the bowl (add more flour as necessary). Knead for about 4 minutes, or until you stretch a small ball into a translucent pizza without breaking it. Let rise at room temperature for about an hour (or until doubled) in an oiled bowl covered with a cloth. Punch down and form loaf. Allow to rise until doubled again. Slash bread. Bake for 20 minutes at 250C/480F.

Posted by kuri at 09:47 AM [view entry with 2 comments)]
January 25, 2007
Basic White Bread

Dense bread makes great toast - soaks in lots of butter!

This bread isn't the most exciting loaf ever, but it's simplicity is going to make it a staple in my kitchen. The crust is a tiny bit sweet, the bread is finely grained and neutral in flavor. It takes 3 hours from start to finish.

Basic White Bread
makes 1 loaf

2 cups bread flour
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp instant (quick) yeast
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp oil or melted butter
2 Tbsp honey
1 cup milk (heated very warm)

MIx the dry ingredients together. Add the wet ingredients and stir to form a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for ten minutes. Allow dough to rise in a cloth covered, oiled bowl for an hour or until doubled. Punch the dough down and shape into a loaf. Allow to rise in oven (with the light on or with a pan of warm water) for about an hour. Bake at 180C for 40 minutes.

Posted by kuri at 08:58 AM [view entry with 6 comments)]
January 18, 2007

Rosemary and cheese focaccia ready for dinner

This focaccia is a breeze to make and comes out soft and chewy on the inside with a crispy top. From start to finish it takes under 2 hours. I used instant yeast, which can be mixed directly into the flour and makes the dough preparation quicker, but I'm not 100% thrilled with the flavor of that yeast. Next time, I'll try active dry yeast and see if that improves the recipe. Regardless of the yeast, this bread was yummy and gone in two days. Can't go too far wrong with rosemary, pepper and grana padano!

makes 16" round (8-12 servings)

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups bread flour (strong flour)
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1 pkt instant yeast (11 g)
1 1/3 cup warm water (45C/110F)
2 Tbsp olive oil (plus some extra for oiling the top)
1 Tbsp rosemary, chopped
1 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated

Mix together the flours, salt, sugar and yeast. Stir in the warm water to activate the yeast. Add the olive oil and continue stirring to incorporate all of the flour.

Knead on a floured surface until the dough is smooth but still quite soft, maybe 4 or 5 minutes. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat the dough with oil. Allow to rise, covered with a cloth, for 30-45 minutes or until doubled.

Punch down the dough. On a large oiled baking sheet, flatten the dough into a large disc about 1 cm thick. Spread with about a half tablespoon of oil. Use a rounded spoon handle (or a large cooking chopstick) to dent the dough all over at 3 cm intervals. Sprinkle with rosemary, pepper and cheese.

Sit a shallow pan of hot water in a cold oven. Put the bread pan on a shelf above the water. Close the oven and allow to rise about 20 minutes, or until doubled. Turn the oven on to 190C/375F and bake for 20 minutes or until browned on top. Cool on a wire rack.

Posted by kuri at 09:26 AM [view entry with 2 comments)]
January 04, 2007
Garlicky Tuna-Potato Salad

Here's another quick and delicious tapas side dish to server with your favorite glass of Spanish sherry. This can be made in about 5 minutes entirely from pantry items, so no excuse not to show off a little next time someone drops in unexpectedly in the evening. You could also take this to the proper level and do it all from scratch. It woudl certainly taste fresher and more vibrant, but it will take longer than 5 minutes. Despite the ready-made ingredients, this is quite tasty.

Garlicky Tuna-Potato Salad
makes about 1.5 cups

50 g instant mashed potatoes
150 ml hot water
50 ml milk
1 can tuna, drained
1 tsp garlic chips, crushed
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp capers (or green olives or pickles), chopped
salt & pepper to taste

Prepare the potatoes by combining with hot water. Add milk and stir until smooth. Mix in the remaining ingredients. Season to taste. Serve on toasted bread or in small dishes as an appetizer.

Posted by kuri at 01:43 PM [view entry with 3 comments)]
December 28, 2006
Amoroso Bolognese

This is the base of the meat sauce at Amoroso - a mixture of meat, wine and tomatoes. Maeda-san adds rosemary to the sauce to reduce the scent of the meat - nutmeg would also work, but nutmeg doesn't pair well with wine.

Maeda-san makes a huge batch and freezes it. He finishes it by adding extra ingredients if he feels it needs something special to match his menu. The original recipe calls for 2kg of beef and filled a huge saucepan. Since I don't have a pot that big, I've cut it to a more manageable size.

Amoroso Bolognese

100 g onion
100 g carrot
100 g celery
olive oil
1/4 tsp fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp salt
500 g ground beef
1/2 bottle (or so) red wine
1 can (250 g) whole tomatoes and water to rinse can

Mince the onion, carrot and celery. Cook over medium-low heat until onions are translucent (about 20 minutes). Add ground beef, increasing heat slightly to brown beef. Season with salt and rosemary. Pour in enough red wine to cover the meat mixture completely. Simmer slowly until the wine is reduced and the meat is no longer covered (it will look dry on top, but will be wet if you stir it). Crush the tomatoes and add to the meat. Simmer on low for two hours.

This is the base sauce which can be frozen.

To finish: Heat a ladle of sauce in a skillet. Add a big lump of butter (maybe 2 Tbsp) and cook until the sauce looks creamy. Toss in your cooked pasta. Salt to taste. Remove from heat and stir in a handful of grated Parmesan cheese.

Posted by kuri at 08:02 AM [view entry with 0 comments)]
December 21, 2006
Curried Salmon Spread

Curried Salmon Spread would look even tastier with grapes.

I wanted to celebrate the solstice with a spread of tapas, so I went to the store and bought a bunch of unrelated ingredients, then came home to turn them into little dishes to top toast points. Here's one that made me shout "Wow!" to myself as I tasted it. Like everything I make, it's super simple.

Curried Salmon Spread
makes 1 1/2 cups

1/2 onion, minced fine
1 clove garlic, minced fine
1 can (about a cup) salmon, picked clean of bones
1/2 cup walnuts, minced fine
1/4 tsp curry powder
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
olive oil

Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil until they are brown. Mix in the salmon and walnuts. Sprinkle the curry powder over everything, then stir in the mayonnaise. Serve warm or chilled. If you have grapes, they'd make the perfect addition on the side or mixed in.

Posted by kuri at 05:28 PM [view entry with 0 comments)]
December 14, 2006
Fruit(cake) Cookies

Bite-sized nuggets of fruity goodness

Here's a cookie recipe to use up all the leftover dried fruits and nuts from your other holiday recipes. I included shredded apple and cream cheese to give the cookies a moist and dense texture. I left the choice of spices and flavouring up to you and what's in your pantry.

The cookies pictured include walnuts, raisins, dates and figs because that's what I had in the cupboard. I mixed cinnamon and cloves for my spicing, and for the flavouring, I used one tablespoon each of freshly squeezed mandarin juice and a sweet-spicy digestif called Managlore.

Fruit(cake) Cookies
makes 4-5 dozen

1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup dried fruit, chopped
1/2 cup shredded apple
2 Tbsp flavouring (juice, liqueur, etc)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup cream cheese
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp spice (cinnamon, cloves, etc)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups flour
(optional) glace cherries

Cream the butter and cream cheese. Stir in the sugar. Add the eggs and mix until smooth. Stir in the "flavouring liquid" and vanilla. Mix in the apple. Add the spices, baking powder and salt, mixing thoroughly. Stir in half of the flour, then all of the nuts and dried fruits. Add the remaining flour to form a soft slightly sticky dough. Be careful not to overmix the flour, or you you will have baked cookie-rocks.

Drop by rounded teaspoons onto a baking sheet. Top with bits of glace fruits, if desired. Bake at 180/350 for 10 minutes.

Posted by kuri at 07:21 PM [view entry with 1 comments)]
December 07, 2006
Whole Carrot Soup

Whole Carrot Soup from "My Precious"

I can imagine this soup being served in a rural Japanese restaurant that was trying hard to serve posh Western dishes. It may be the strangest recipe I've come across this year. It's from a food gift catalog, opposite the page selling carrots and sesame oil.

Whole Carrot Soup
serves 2

2 carrots
1 packet consommé (bullion)
700 cc water
dash salt
dash black pepper
dash sesame oil

Peel the carrot. Add to a pot with the water and consommé. Simmer over medium heat until done. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle sesame oil over each serving.

Posted by kuri at 11:18 AM [view entry with 3 comments)]
November 30, 2006
Date and Fig Baked Karanjee

Karanjee pastries smell like India's sweet shops

I noted down this recipe from Sanjeev Kapoor's "Quick Cook" column in the November 16th issue of Gomantak Times as I sat reading it at breakfast in Panaji, Goa. Half moon shaped pastries filled with cardamom spiced dried fruit and nuts seemed like a perfect holiday baking project.

The pastry is crisp and thin. The filling is sweet but without any sugar - all the fructose goodness from the dates. It's a heavenly combination of flavor and texture.

The recipe calls for ghee, which you can buy easily in India, of course. If you don't have ghee handy, make your own by melting butter and cooking until the solids separate. Then skim the white foam, or strain through cheese cloth. The golden yellow liquid is ghee. It's semi-liquid at room temperature (like butter left out in the summer) and solid when chilled.

Date and Anjeer Baked Karanjee
makes 12

1 cup white flour
2 Tbsp semolina flour
2 Tbsp ghee
1/4 cup milk

Combine ingredients for dough. Divide into 12 parts, roll into circles on semolina-dusted surface. Allow to rest while you make filling.

3/4 cup finely chopped dates
3/4 cup finely chopped dried figs
15-20 cashews, crushed
15-20 pistachios, crushed
1 tsp green cardamom powder
1 Tbsp roasted poppy seeds (white is better, but black's ok)
2Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp ghee, melted

Chop and crush as necessary, then combine the filling ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Fill each circle with a heaping tablespoon of fruit mixture, fold in half and pinch edges shut. Brush with ghee and bake at 180C/350F for 20-25 minutes.

Posted by kuri at 10:31 PM [view entry with 4 comments)]
November 23, 2006
Masala Chai

recipe thursdayI think the most important of all Indian foods is masala chai, a sweet milky spiced tea. The chai wallahs who sit on street corners are surrounded by men sipping the strong stuff from tiny disposable cups or real glass glasses. You can get chai (masala or plain) whether you are at a restaurant or sitting on the beach. You can also make it at home.

There are as many combinations of spices as cooks, but every mix includes ginger, cardamom and clove. Some also add cinnamon, black pepper, nutmeg and/or mace.

I learned two different techniques for making masala chai: one with whole spices started in cold water, the other with ground spices added to boiling water. In both methods, the milky tea is repeatedly brought to a boil before being served.

The tea should be Assam granules/powder (not leaf), because it can be boiled without losing its flavour. Delicate teas like Darjeeling won't work as well.

Alu's Masala Chai
serves 2

3 cardamom pods
2 cm cinnamon stick
1 cm fresh ginger root
2-3 cloves
2-3 black peppercorns
1 cup ml water
1 tsp Assam tea powder
1/2 cup milk

Bring the water and spices to a boil. Add the tea and allow to boil for two minutes. Add the milk and bring to a rolling boil. Remove from heat to stop the boil. Return to heat and bring back to a boil. Repeat several times. Strain and serve with sugar to taste.

Shakti's Masala Chai
serves 2

Chai Masala spice mix: 1 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp ground cardamom, and a generous pinch each of ground black pepper, clove, mace, and nutmeg. This makes enough for four pots of chai. You can buy this mix ready made from Shakti's Indian Spice Box if you happen to be in Udaipur.

250 ml water
1/2 tsp chai masala spice mix
1 tsp Assam tea powder
2 tsp sugar
125 ml low fat milk

Add spice mix to boiling water. Boil one minute then, add tea and sugar. Boil one minute, then add milk. When the chai is likely to boil over, lift it from the heat to stop the boiling, then put it back on the flame. Repeat 5-7 times. Remove from heat and allow to steep, covered, for 2 minutes. Strain and serve with additional sugar to taste.

Posted by kuri at 09:49 AM [view entry with 2 comments)]
October 26, 2006
Caramel Corn

recipe thursdayCaramel corn is an American autumn tradition and turned into popcorn balls, a classic Halloween treat from my childhood when neighbors could still be trusted not to poison us kids.

This is a particularly good recipe, creating buttery caramel that cools to an uneven but crispy coating on the popcorn. Making the caramel isn't too difficult, but you need to understand the stages of candy making. Alternately, you can use a candy thermometer, but that's not nearly as much fun.

This is not a quick recipe - making the caramel takes a good long half hour and lots of stirring. But it is entirely worth the time and effort.

Caramel Corn
makes 10 cups

10 cups freshly popped corn
1 cup peanuts (optional)
200 g (2 sticks) butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

Spread the popcorn and peanuts evenly on two non-stick baking trays. Keep warm in a 120°C/250°F oven.

Over medium heat, bring to a boil butter, sugar, corn syrup and salt. Cook to firm ball stage (245°F), stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add in the baking soda. The caramel will foam.

Drizzle caramel over the popcorn and peanuts, mixing to coat as evenly as possible. Return to oven and bake for 30-45 minutes, stirring well every 15 minutes or so. Cool to room temperature to crisp the caramel. Store in an airtight container.

If you want to make popcorn balls, form the coated corn into fist-sized balls after removing the caramel corn from the oven. Be careful not to burn yourself. Cool them to set the shape and wrap in a twist of waxed paper.

Posted by kuri at 08:22 AM [view entry with 0 comments)]
October 19, 2006
Real Home Soup

recipe thursdayI post a lot of recipes here and many of them are my own original dishes. Perhaps I have misled you into believing I am careful in the kitchen, a stickler for measuring, and always prepared at mealtimes. That's not real life in my kitchen. Most nights, I make do with what's around me because I am too lazy or busy to go shopping. For Tuesday dinner, I made a soup that is the ideal example of how I truly cook.

Real Home Soup
Serves 2-6, probably

Take a two-day old chicken carcass from fridge. Use your fingers to pick off any edible meat bits, cutting them into bite-sized pieces as needed and setting aside in a bowl. Decide not to make stock; toss picked-over carcass in garbage.

Open vegetable crisper bin. Remove contents and array on kitchen counter. Separate into two piles: Safe and Bad. Consider whether the Bad pile has anything salvageable by cutting, washing or peeling. Reconsider the wilting carrot, as it's only black at the pointy end (the rest would soften in the soup anyway, right?). Rearrange piles accordingly and dump the discards into the garbage. Prepare the Safe vegetables for soup. Use everything, including unlikely candidates such as the heart of lettuce and half a cucumber. Add chopped vegetables to chicken bowl.

Open freezer. Remove plastic container of stock you made last time you roasted a chicken. Regret tossing the carcass - now you won't have stock in stock. Run container under hot water to thaw the edges, then slide contents into soup pot. Turn stove to high and wait for stock to liquefy, stirring when you feel like it.

While the stock thaws, root around fridge for possible side dishes. Find an unopened package of Havarti cheese. Wander into office and chat Darling Husband to ask him to pick up some bread on the way home. Get distracted checking mail. Take a call from a friend asking if there's an extra place at the table tonight. Tell him yes, of course, then consider what will extend the soup a little bit.

Return to the kitchen when you hear the stock boiling. Dump in the chicken and vegetables. Add some cold water to bring the soup to a suitable veg-liquid ratio. Stir in a dash or two of salt and MSG, cover the pot and simmer.

About 20 minutes before Darling Husband and the guest arrive, rummage around the pantry for that half package of egg noodles from 6 weeks ago. Perfect soup extender! Crush nests in your fist to make spoon-sized noodle bits. Toss into simmering soup adding a little more water then a little more again just in case the noodles expand more than you remember (They do).

Put on your apron and smile when DH and the guest walk in the door. You've just slaved over their dinner, lucky guys.

Posted by kuri at 08:53 AM [view entry with 2 comments)]
October 13, 2006
Mushroom-Nira Gnocchi

recipe thursdayI'm really fond of gnocchi as a base for sauces of all sorts, but if you prefer a different pasta, this sauce will work well on pretty much anything. You might even try it over beef or chicken.

Nira is a sort of garlic-y chive that's very popular in Japan. Sold in large bunches, they are often used in Chinese foods, like ramen and gyoza. In this dish, little flakes of nira coat the pasta like confetti!

Mushroom-Nira Gnocchi
serves 2

3 cups mixed mushrooms (shiitake, eringi, shimeji, etc), chopped
1 clove garlic
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup nira, chopped into 1/2 cm bits
1 Tbsp soy sauce
250 g gnocchi

Saute the chopped mushrooms and garlic in butter while the gnocchi boils. Add nera and shoyu just before draining the gnocchi. Toss the gnocchi with the mushrooms and serve.

Posted by kuri at 11:26 AM [view entry with 1 comments)]
October 05, 2006
Spicy-Sweet Barbecue Sauce

recipe thursdayThis was adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe for Bourbon Barbecue Sauce. I had no bourbon on hand, well none that Tod would let me cook with, so that's where the deviations began. On top of that, I'd just received some Mexican Guajillo chiles from a friend. There are a lot of changes to the orriginal, and it turned out to be quite delicious on our grilled pork ribs, so here is the recipe for you to try.

Spicy-Sweet Barbecue Sauce
makes 1 cup

1 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp dark molasses
1/4 cup corn syrup
3 Tbsp brandy
2 Tbsp wholegrain mustard
1.5 Tbsp Chipotle hot sauce
1 Guajillo chile, minced
1 Tbsp Worchestershire sauce
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder

Combine everything in a saucepan, bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer (stirring freqently) for about 15 minutes, or until thickened.

Posted by kuri at 05:39 PM [view entry with 0 comments)]
September 14, 2006
Fresh Fig with Spiced Cheese

recipe thursdayFigs are in season now. I love the big dark figs we get here - beautifully pink and sweet on the inside, the skin is a little tart. Mmmmm. This recipe adds just the right extra touch, whiskey, to turn a fresh fig and a dollop of cheese into a light but luscious dessert. And it's only 81 calories - go ahead and make a double serving!

Fresh Fig with Spiced Cheese
serves 1

1 large fresh fig
1 Tbsp Marscapone or cottage cheese
1/4 tsp powdered sugar
1 dash quatre epices (or white pepper, clove, cinnamon)
1/2 tsp whiskey
1/8 lemon (wedge)

Mix together the cheese, sugar and spice. Stem and quarter the fig. Plate with the cheese. Drizzle with whiskey. Serve with a lemon wedge to squeeze over.

Posted by kuri at 01:33 PM [view entry with 2 comments)]
September 07, 2006
Acqua Pazza

recipe thursdayAcqua pazza means crazy water in Italian. It's a delicious way to poach fish to add lots of flavor. How can you go wrong with garlic, anchovy and a lot of vegetables? I made this version the other night .It's healthy as well as delicious, see the recipe analysis.

Acqua Pazza
serves 2

200 gr swordfish fillet or fish of your choice
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
2 anchovy fillets
1 cup tomatoes, diced
50 g carrot, diced
50 g green pepper, diced
4 button mushrooms, chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley
1/4 cup wine (red or white)
1 cup water
salt & pepper to taste
1 wedge lemon

Saute the onion, garlic and anchovy in olive oil. Add tomatoes, carrot, pepper, & mushrooms, Cook until just tender. Splash in the wine and water, allow to come to a boil. Lay fish in broth, cover and allow to simmer until cooked through. Top with parsley and season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon.

Serve over spinach egg noodles.

Posted by kuri at 08:35 AM [view entry with 0 comments)]
August 24, 2006
Lemon-Walnut Shortbread Cookies

recipe thursdayI'm beginning to believe that I can bake with a nearly empty larder, the same way I can make a meal from what Tod calls "nothing in the fridge." I wanted to bake a treat for the Matsudai folks who will be dancing in the Kinseees program on Friday, but my fridge was a little bit lacking.

I'm all out of eggs. That's one strike against baking. There wasn't enough butter for a full recipe of anything. But I found some walnuts so I took advantage of the walnut oils to shorten my cookies. And I had a lemon to flavour the dough. So I decided on a variation of a holiday favorite: balls of walnut shortbread.

And the cookies are lovely: delicately lemon scented, strongly walnut flavoured, and when rolled in powdered sugar, they are just sweet enough.

Lemon-Walnut Shortbread Cookies
makes 48 cookies

3/4 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 cup powdered sugar

Cream the butter and sugar. Add the lemon zest & juice, mixing throughly. Stir in the walnuts. Add the flour a cup at a time, stirring until just mixed. The dough will form a soft ball. Roll 1" balls and bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 180°C for about 12 minutes, or until not-even-lightly-brown.

Remove from cookie sheet while hot and roll in powdered sugar. Be careful not to burn your fingers. Cool completely on trays.

Posted by kuri at 09:35 AM [view entry with 1 comments)]
August 17, 2006

recipe thursdayAnother South African classic in my new repetroire. I wasn't sure I'd like this - it's a fruity meat curry topped with a layer of savory custard. Sweet main dishes have never been a favorite. But this was delicious - delicately flavoured and not too sweet at all - and Tod loved it ,so it will be seen on our table again.

serves 4

1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp oil
1 whole dried chili
400 gr beef-pork mince
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 slice bread, ripped into crumbs
1/2 lemon, juiced & zested
1 Tbsp chutney *
1 Tbsp raisins
1 Tbsp milk
1 egg, well beaten
1 bay leaf (or 1/4 tsp thyme)

1/2 c milk
1 egg
salt & pepper to taste

In a large frying pan, saute the onion, garlic and chili in oil until the onion turns translucent. Add in the meat and cook until lightly brown and crumbly. Remove from heat. Mix in the spices, lemon juice & zest, chutney, raisins, bread, milk & egg.

Pack into a greased, covered casserole and bake at 180C for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, carefully smooth the meat flat with a spoon to form an even base for the custard.

Whip together milk, egg, salt & pepper to taste. Pour over meat and return to oven, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until the custard is golden brown.

Serve with yellow rice and a salad.

* Variation: instead of chutney, try a mix of 1/2 grated apple, 2 minced dried apricots, and 1 tsp sliced almonds.

Posted by kuri at 08:48 AM [view entry with 2 comments)]
August 10, 2006
Spiced Pumpkin

recipe thursdayThis week I've discovered South African foods and flavours thanks to some very tasty boerewors sausage from The Meat Guy, a specialty meat purveyor in Nagoya. I was trying to figure out what to serve with our corriander-clove spiced sausages, and started reading South African recipes and cuisine information. There are lots of sweet potato, corn and bean dishes in various combinations, so I decided to improvise with a Japanese pumpkin (kabocha). This was truly delicious, with a subtle hint of cinnamon that made the dish almost sweet.

Spiced Pumpkin
serves 2-4

1/4 kabocha (Japanese pumpkin)
dash cinnamon
dash white pepper
dash onion powder

Cut the pumpkin into large chunks. Put chunks in a saucepan and just cover with cold water. Sprinkle in the spices. Boil until soft. Remove the pumpkin from the water, reserving the water. Rice or mash the pumpkin and mix in a little bit of the cooking liquid to adjust consistency.

Posted by kuri at 08:44 AM [view entry with 3 comments)]
August 03, 2006
Smoked Salmon Cream Sauce

recipe thursday This is another one of those quick sauces you can make while the water boils and the pasta cooks. I served this last night over gnocchi but it would be good over just about any shape of noodle.

Smoked Salmon Cream Sauce
serves 2

120 grams smoked salmon, cut into bite sized pieces
5-6 white button mushrooms
2 tsp capers
2 Tblsp butter
1 Tblsp flour
1-2 cups whole milk
black pepper to taste

Slice the mushrooms and saute in 1 Tbsp butter. Remove from pan and set aside. IN the same pan, melt the remaining butter, add flour and allow to cook until the roux is light brown. Very slowly and steadily add in about 1 cup of milk, stirring briskly to prevent lumps. When your sauce is acceptably smooth, return the mushrooms and any mushroom liquid to the pan of cream sauce and add the capers. Allow the sauce to simmer gently, thickening while the pasta cooks. Add more milk as needed. At the very end, stir in the salmon and adjust the sauce with a little milk to your preferred consistency. Season generously with black pepper.

Posted by kuri at 03:47 PM [view entry with 0 comments)]
July 27, 2006
Japanese Potato Salad

recipe thursdayAs much as I love the 1902 potato salad, I love this one, too. It's texture is smooth potato interspersed with bits of fresh vegetables. You'll find this kind of potato salad in every supermarket deli in Japan - sometime spread thinly as a sandwich filling on crustless white bread. Starch heaven.

Japanese Potato Salad

4-5 potatoes
1/2 cucumber (thin Japanese type)
1/2 carrot
optional: mustard, salt, pepper

Peel and boil the potatoes. Mash roughly, leaving lumps. Thinly slice the cucumber and carrot (a mandolin works perfectly for this) and sprinkle with salt in a bowl. Allow to stand until the vegetables begin to sweat, then rinse and pat dry. Mix potatoes and vegetables with enough mayonnaise to hold the mixture together. Season to taste with salt, pepper and/or a little mustard if desired.

Posted by kuri at 09:07 AM [view entry with 0 comments)]
July 20, 2006
1902 Potato Salad

recipe thursdayFrom "Popular Amusements for Indoors and Out of Doors," published in 1902. This is my all-time favorite picnic salad. It combines all the best elements of cole slaw and potato salad into one bowl.

4 potatoes, boiled and chopped
1.5 cups cabbage, chopped
6 eggs, hard boiled & sliced
1 tsp ground mustard
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp sugar
7 Tbsp vinegar
1/4 c butter, melted

Stir spices, sugar and vinegar together. Add melted butter. Pour over potatoes and cabbage, tossing to coat. Add in egg slices, reserving some for garnish.

Posted by kuri at 10:12 AM [view entry with 1 comments)]
July 06, 2006
Yuzu Chicken Marinade

recipe thursdayThe new Weber grill has been busy. John & Tod cooked up a whole chicken using this marinade - it was succulent and citrus-y. I've included the grilling directions Tod supplied, too. I can see many grill-roasted chickens (and lots of chicken soup) in our future.

Yuzu Chicken Marinade

1 yuzu, green/unripe
1 lemon
6-10 thin scallions
2 cloves garlic
1/4 onion
olive oil
salt & pepper
3 Tbsp honey

Grate the rind of the yuzu. Juice the lemon. Slice thin rings from a couple inches of the green end of the scallions. Puree the onion and garlic together. Combine zest, juice, scallions, and garlic-onion mixture with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Rub solids inside and over the chicken, and marinate for a few hours, turning once or twice. Before grilling, insert 1/8 of the yuzu into the cavity.

"Throw that bad boy on the grill - coals on one side, chook on the other, for indirect heat," Tod directs.

While the chicken is roasting, mix the honey with the remaining marinade. Every 20 minutes or so, baste the chicken with the honey-laced marinade. Rotate the chicken on the grill as needed to prevent too much browning on one side. A 1 kg chicken takes about an hour to roast. After removing from the grill, allow to "set up" before carving.

Posted by kuri at 12:30 PM [view entry with 1 comments)]
June 29, 2006
Lemon Cake with Lemon Curd & Coconut

recipe thursdayAshley's birthday is today and I wanted to bake a cake to celebrate. It had to be carried across town and survive a dinner cruise before we tucked into it, so I decided on a sheetcake, simply decorated. It was well-received - even cake-hating Troy ate a piece (or he tossed it out the window while I wasn't looking).

Lemon Cake
makes 1 round layer or a thin sheet

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs, separated
1/2 cup milk
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1/2 tsp vanilla

Cream the butter with 1/2 cup of sugar. Beat the egg yolks and add to butter mixture. Sift together flour and baking powder. Measure the lemon juice & zest. In a separate container, measure enough 1/2 cup milk minus the quantity of lemon juice. Alternate adding flour and milk to butter mixture, beating well. Mix in lemon juice and vanilla. IN a clean bowl whip the egg whites until stiff. Add 1/2 cup sugar to the whites. Fold into batter. Bake at 170C in a greased and floured pan for about 20 minutes.

Lemon Curd
This is a nearly clear, sweet-sour spreadable jelly to top the cake. It would also go great between layers. The amounts are dictated by the juiciness of your lemon, but I've given some guidelines in parentheses

1 lemon, juiced and zested (3 Tblsp)
sugar (9 Tblsp)
water (6 Tblsp)
2 Tblsp cornstarch
2 Tblsp water

In a small pan over medium heat, mix the lemon juice with about twice that quantity of water. Add twice that in sugar and allow sugar to dissolve. As the mixture comes to a simmer, dissolve the cornstarch in an equal amount of cold water. Whisk into the simmering mixture, being sure to avoid lumps. Remove from heat and whisk til smooth and thick. It will thicken a a little more when it cools.

Coconut Frosting

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup coconut
1 tsp rum
~2 cups powdered sugar

Sprinkle the coconut with rum and allow to sit until the coconut softens. Cream the butter, add the sugar until you get a spreadable consistency. Add the vanilla. Mix in the coconut.

To put the cake together: spread the lemon curd over the cooled cake. Freeze until firm. Spread the coconut icing on top, sprinkle with more coconut. Top with chocolate pastilles. Sing happy birthday very loudly.

Posted by kuri at 11:47 PM [view entry with 2 comments)]
June 22, 2006
Tod's Favorite Beef Stroganoff

recipe thursdayJust about every time I want to have a special dinner, romantic candlelight, or fancy occasion meal and I ask Tod what he'd like to have, he answers "beef stroganoff." And this is the one he means.

Tod's Favorite Beef Stroganoff
serves 4 or Tod

650 gr beef tenderloin, cut into 2x2x4 cm strips
olive oil
2 Tblsp butter
6 shallots, minced
40 white button mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 cup beef broth
2 Tblsp cognac or brandy
150 ml heavy cream
1 Tblsp dijon mustard
1 Tblsp fresh dill, minced
salt & pepper

Sprinkle the beef with salt & pepper. Heat a couple tablespoons of oil in a heavy skillet until very hot, then brown the meat on both sides. Work in small batches so you don't overload the pan, and transfer the browned beef to a baking pan.

Reduce the heat to medium and melt the butter. Saute the shallots, scraping the pan to release the beef drippings. Add the mushrooms and cook about 10 minutes, or until the liquid evaporates. Add the cognac or brandy and the beef broth. Simmer 15 minutes or until the liquid is reduced by about half and coats the mushrooms. Stir in the cream and mustard. Add meat and any juices from the pan. Cook until beef is heated through, about 2 minutes. Season with dill, salt & pepper.

Serve over buttered egg noodles and garnish with paprika.

Posted by kuri at 09:02 AM [view entry with 6 comments)]
June 15, 2006
Three Salad Dressings

recipe thursdayI can tell summer is here because I'm making a lot of salads now. The secret to good salad dressing is enough salt--don't use too little or your dressing will be flat.

Here are three dressings I whipped up this week. Nothing was measured carefully when I made these, so adjust to your liking. These recipes make enough salad dressing for 2-4 people, depending on how much dressing you use.

Umeboshi-Garlic Dressing

1/4 carrot
1 clove roasted garlic
1 soft umeboshi (Japanese pickled plum)
olive oil
white wine vinegar

Press the garlic and ume through a garlic press. Grate the carrot very fine. Add olive oil and vinegar in your preferred ratio. Season with salt and pepper.

Creamy Ginger Dressing

fresh ginger
3-4 Tbsp mayonnaise
1/2 tsp soy sauce

Finely grate about 2 cm fresh ginger root. Mix together with mayonnaise and soy sauce. Thin with milk to dressing consistency.

Green Lemon Dressing

1 lemon
2 stems parsley
1 clove roasted garlic
1/2 tsp capers
olive oil

Juice the lemon, removing seeds. Mince the parsley. Run the roasted garlic and capers through a garlic press. Mix together with olive oil to your liking and season with salt and pepper. This was especially nice on a salad with smoked salmon in it.

Posted by kuri at 08:10 AM [view entry with 2 comments)]
June 08, 2006
Marinated Seafood

recipe thursdayAnother summer dish I tested out on a party crowd. Couldn't be much simpler and need no heat at all - just start it the night before to ensure you get enough marination time.

It's easy to find bags of mixed seafood in Japan, and it's already cooked and prepped for salads like this. If you can't find something similar, frozen shrimp alone would be delicious, too.

Marinated Seafood
serves 12

1 kg bag frozen seafood mix (shrimp, squid & octopus)
2-3 small colored peppers
3 lemons
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 bunch chervil, minced
dash of msg

Juice the lemons. Mix with olive oil, salt, msg and minced chervil. Use a mandoline (cabbage slicer) to thinly shred the peppers. Add to dressing.

Run the frozen seafood under cool water to dislodge any ice crystals and to partly defrost it. Combine dressing and seafood and allow to marinate overnight.

Posted by kuri at 12:04 AM [view entry with 0 comments)]
June 01, 2006

recipe thursdayI made this as part of a menu for a dinner party last weekend. The recipe came from Peter Why via the LibriVox forums but I made some conisderable changes to his original - including skipping a cooking step and substituting anchovies for garlic. The results were raved over and I'll be making this all summer.

serves 12 - 15

2 large onions, cut into bite size pieces
4 bell peppers (2 green, one yellow, 1 red), cut into bite size pieces
2 sprigs fresh thyme, destemmed
5 small Japanese eggplants, cut into bite size pieces
2 stalks celery, cut into bite size pieces
1/2 can pitted black olives, rinsed
2 cans (800gr total) crushed tomatoes
6 anchovy fillets
2 Tblsp capers
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 tsp sugar

Saute the onions and peppers in olive oil until the onion turns translucent. Remove from pan and set aside.

Heat about 1/2 cup of oilve oil in the pan, the add the eggplant and saute for about five minutes. The eggplant will soak up the oil completely. This is good. Don't allow to overcook.

Add the tinned tomatoes, celery, thyme, onion/pepper mixture, olives, anchovies and capers. Allow to simmer for about 20 minutes, uncovered.

Stir the sugar into the vinegar and pour into the pan. Mix well and allow to cook another minute or two. The consistency should be "jam-like."Remove from heat. Allow to cool. Serve at room temperature.

Posted by kuri at 02:06 PM [view entry with 0 comments)]
May 25, 2006
K Stew

recipe thursdayWe chuckled as we chopped the ingredients for this "cleaning out the fridge meal", because most of the ingredients start with a |k| sound if you mix the English and Japanese names.

I wasn't sure cauliflower and kabu (turnip) would go well together, but these mild Japanese turnips were an excellent match. Komatsuba, a bitter green leaf similar to spinach but more astringent, and mini tomatoes added a nice acidity to the dish. Kinoko (mushrooms), beef and garlic rounded out the flavors. There's no special seasoning except a splash of leftover Cabernet.

Although it's really beyond the end of stew season, I can't help making them on chillier early summer evenings. I love making them in the oven. After you put them in, covered so they steam themselves cooked, you can leave them alone to do their stewing and there's no worry of an unattended open flame on the stove top.

K Stew
serves 2-4

2 small turnips (kabu)
1/4 head cauliflower
1 carrot
1 bunch komatsuba
1 cup mushrooms (kinoko)
4 mini tomatoes
1/2 cup Cabernet
300 gr stew beef
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Cut the ingredients into bite sized pieces.

In an oven-proof casserole with a lid, brown the beef in a bit of olive oil. Add the garlic and allow to brown. Pour in the cabernet. Add all the vegetables and mix well. Add enough water to barely cover the vegetables. Simmer until the komatsuba wilts.

Cover casserole with the lid and put into a 160 C oven for about an 90 minutes, stirring once or twice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Posted by kuri at 11:31 AM [view entry with 0 comments)]
May 18, 2006
Chocolate-coated Peanut Butter Pie

recipe thursdayI tried this for a friend's "American Comfort Foods" theme party (also on the menu were Buffalo wings, macaroni & cheese, and eggplant parmesan.) This smooth, light peanut butter cheesecake with a crispy chocolate topping was a decadent ending and very American. We let it come to room temperature before serving, which was a mistake - it softened too much and was difficult to serve in slices. Still delicious but next time I'll serve it chilled.

Chocolate-coated Peanut Butter Pie
serves 8-10

1 graham cracker crust (ready-made of home-made)
250 gr cream cheese, softened
240 ml peanut butter
240 ml sugar
200 ml whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla
100 gr semi-sweet chocolate
4 Tbsp butter

Beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add sugar and peanut butter 1/2 cup at a time and mix well. In a chilled bowl, whip cream and vanilla until firm. Gently incorporate into peanut butter mixture. Pour into pie crust. Chill for abut an hour.

Melt butter and chocolate over low heat (or double boiler). Allow to cool slight, then pour over peanut butter and spread evenly. Chill until firm. Serve chilled.

Alternate: skip the crust. Pour peanut butter into individula serving dishes, topping each with chocolate. Serve at room temperature with a spoon.

Posted by kuri at 10:21 AM [view entry with 2 comments)]
April 27, 2006
Vinegared Daikon Pickles

recipe thursdayI decided to try a home delivery service for (primarily) organically grown vegetables. The "trial box" arrived today, packed with dirt-covered root vegetables, a lovely lettuce, spinach, mini tomatoes and other goodies. And a sheet of recipes. So today's recipe is one from the sheet for daikon, a vegetable that I like but never know what to do with.

Vinegared Daikon Pickles
makes as much as you like

kombu (dried seaweed)
soy sauce
red togarashi (dried red peppers)

Cut the daikon into "rhino eye" slices or "wooden clapper" chunks and pack into a glass jar. Add the kombu and togarashi. Mix together equal quantities of soy sauce and vinegar and pour into the jar to cover the daikon. Pickle for 2-3 days.

Posted by kuri at 07:49 PM [view entry with 1 comments)]
April 20, 2006
Japanese Rice

recipe thursdayIn addition to the cookibook I read from last week, I've been enjoying the other old (pre-1923) cookbooks at Project Gutenberg. The prefaces are gems, the prose is brilliant to read, and the recipes reflect the times and tastes in which they were written.

Here's a recipe from Mrs. Wilson's Cook Book (1920). The instruction on How to Cook Rice American Style concludes with "It is now ready to serve, either as a vegetable to replace the potato or prepared into many delectable dishes that our Oriental neighbors relish so keenly" and leads right into this:


Wash and chop fine two medium-sized leeks and then cook tender in one-half cup of water. Drain. Now add

Two cups of cooked rice,
One teaspoon of salt,
One teaspoon of soy.

Mix thoroughly and then dish on a hot baking dish. Cover with slices of hard-boiled eggs. Sprinkle with finely chopped parsley and garnish with slices of smoked salmon. Place in the oven for a few minutes to heat. Soy may be purchased at fancy grocers.

That's not a Japanese recipe. I think it might be a very distant relation to ikura-don (salmon eggs on rice)!

Posted by kuri at 01:51 PM [view entry with 2 comments)]
April 13, 2006
Pound Cake & podcast

recipe thursdayThis is from Elizabeth E. Lea's 1866 cookbook Domestic Cookery, Useful Receipts, and Hints to Young Housekeepers. This pound cake recipe is the basis for the method of many of the other cakes in the chapter. This is not such an extravagant cake - the fruit cake recipe calls for 30 eggs and a pint of brandy.

Cakes back then were somewhat larger than contemporary cakes and were baked in very large ovens. They also had odd ingredients, though none are evident in this recipe. Saleratus is baking powder. Rose brandy is made by steeping rose petals in white brandy.

I read this chapter for LibriVox today, and thought I'd share not only this excellent foundation recipe, but also the whole of the Cakes section in the form of an mp3. This will be put together with the other chapters to make a full audio cookbook.

Pound Cake.

Wash the salt from a pound of butter, and beat it with a pound of loaf sugar till it is as soft as cream; have a pound of flour sifted, and beat ten eggs, the whites and yelks separately; put alternately into the butter and sugar the flour and eggs, continue to beat till they are all in, and the cake looks light; add some grated lemon peel, a nutmeg, and half a wine-glass of brandy; butter the pan, and bake it an hour; when it is nearly cold, ice it. If you want a very large cake, double the quantity.

You can tell when a cake is done by running in a broom-straw, or the blade of a bright knife; if it comes out without sticking, it is done, but if not, set it back. You can keep a cake a great while in a stone pan that has a lid to fit tight.

Note: if you don't want to weigh the ingredients here are the equivalents in cups.
1 lb butter = 2 cups
1 pound loaf sugar = 2 cups granulated
1 pound flour = 4 cups sifted
1/2 wine glass = 3 ounces

play mp3Domestic Cookery, Useful Receipts &tc. "Cakes" 22'36" MP3 (20.7 MB)

Posted by kuri at 07:33 PM [view entry with 0 comments)]
April 06, 2006
Roasted Pork

recipe thursdayI'll warn you right up front, be prepared to air out the house after this meal - the scent of slow-cooking cabbage and sauerkraut really permeates everything. But the results are worth the odor. Tod, who is not usually a big fan of sauerkraut, nibbled the leftovers out of the pot.

Halfway through the cooking, the pork roast will tighten to an unappealing, tough lump of meat. Keep cooking it. It will become juicy and wonderful. The cabbage and sauerkraut turn brown with carmelised sugars. Mmmmmmmm. I'm going to make this one again soon and then I'm going to wash the curtains and carpets.

Roast Pork with Cabbage
serves 2-3

500 gr pork roast
1/2 head green cabbage
1 cup mild sauerkraut
1 pinch celery seed
1/4 tsp fennel seed
salt & pepper

Slice the cabbage into 1 cm wide pieces and pile it into the bottom of a covered casserole. Spread the sauerkraut on top, then lay the pork roast in, fat side up. Sprinkle with seasonings. Cover and put in the oven at 140 for about 2 hours or until the meat is tender and the cabbage and sauerkraut completely camelised. You may want to mix the cabbage once or twice throughout the cooking time; it tends to stick to the sides of the casserole.

Posted by kuri at 11:12 PM [view entry with 3 comments)]
March 30, 2006
Green Peppercorn Sauce

recipe thursdayI whipped this up the other night to go with grilled beef. Yum yum yum. Green peppercorns have a hint of turpentine flavor. I'm not sure why I enjoy this so much, but I do. . Be sure to have some crusty bread on hand for dipping in the extra sauce.

Green Peppercorn Sauce
makes about 1.5 cups

1 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp scallions, minced
1 scant cup beef or vegetable bullion
1 cup heavy cream
3 Tbsp brandy
2-3 Tbsp green peppercorns, drained

Saute the scallions in butter, add the remaining ingredients and simmer until thickened to sauce-y goodness, about ten minutes.

Posted by kuri at 09:56 AM [view entry with 0 comments)]
March 16, 2006
Niku Jaga

recipe thursdayThis is tomorrow night's dinner: potatoes and beef stewed in a soy-flavoured broth. Mmmmm. Served with rice, miso soup and pickles, this is a tasty home-style Japanese meal.

Niku Jaga
serves 4

100 g thinly sliced beef
4 potatoes
1 onion
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 Tbsp soy sauce
4 Tbsp sake
4 Tbsp mirin
1 Tbsp sugar
2 c dashi broth
12 snow peas, green soy beans or peas, steamed or boiled (optional)

Peel and quarter the potatoes and onion. Heat the oil in a deep, lidded frying pan, and saute the onion, meat and potatoes for 3-5 minutes. Add the dashi, ensuring there is enough liquid to cover the poatoes and meat. Add the soy, mirin and sugar. Simmer, covered, for 20-30 minutes.

The broth should be mostly absorbed during the siming, absorbed into the pottoes and meat. Garnish with a green vegetable as suggested in the ingredients.

Posted by kuri at 12:23 PM [view entry with 1 comments)]
March 09, 2006
Gnocchi with Portabello & Artichokes

recipe thursdayThis luxurious pasta dish is utterly simple to make if you use pre-packaged (frozen or fresh) gnocchi. The seasoning is minimal to allow the flavours of the mushrooms and artichokes to predominate.

Gnocchi with Portabello & Artichokes
serves 3-4

2 large portabello mushroom caps
3 Tblsp butter
1/4 cup olive oil
150 grams ground chicken
1 small red pepper
1/2 cup marinated artichokes
16 oz gnocchi
dash MSG
salt & pepper to taste
grated parmesan cheese

Slice the portabellos to about 1 cm wide, and halve the slices. Cut the pepper into similar sized pieces. Chop the artichokes into eighths or bite-sized pieces.

Put a large pot of water on to boil.

Melt the butter in a large pan, add the oil, and sautee the mushrooms until they begin to soften. Add the chicken, fry gently to brown the meat. Add the pepper, artichokes and MSG, reduce heat and allow to simmer. The mushrooms will continue to reduce and the peppers will soften while the pasta cooks.

Add the gnocchi to the boiling water, using a small strainer to remove the pieces as they float to the surface. Put the gnocchi directly to the pan of sauce ingredients and stir gently. Season to taste. Serve topped with grated parmesan.

Posted by kuri at 10:11 AM [view entry with 0 comments)]
March 02, 2006
Lemon Sauce

recipe thursdayThis recipe comes from a Japanese cookbook called "Tare, Sauce, Ajitsuke" published by Ikeda Shoten. It's a chunky sauce more like marmalade then mustard and good change of pace to a lemon wedge next to your fish.

Lemon Sauce
serves 4

1 lemon
1 clolve garlic
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp white wine
salt & pepper to taste

Wash the lemon, slice it into very thin rounds and sprinkle with a little bit of salt. Mince the garlic. Melt 1 tablespooon of butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the lemon slices and garlic, mix with butter and add the wine. Remove from heat before the lemons or garlic begin to brown. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with remaining butter. Serve over pan-fried fish.

Posted by kuri at 05:46 PM [view entry with 0 comments)]
February 16, 2006
Coughing Chicken

recipe thursdayCold season continues in the McQuillin household. I'm hungry for home-cooked food but lacking energy to do anything challenging so I made a simple but delicious baked chicken. The ginger-lemon marinade is based on a tisane I like to drink when I have a cough, but I don't think eating the chicken is going to help the same way.

Coughing Chicken
serves 2

2 chicken breasts
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp honey
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
2 tsp brandy

Mix the marinade ingredients together and pour over chicken, turning to coat. Allow to marinate at least 30 minutes. Bake skin side up (if you leave the skin on) at 180°C for about 25 minutes or until chicken is done. Pour any extra sauce over the chicken when serving.

Serving suggestion: baked sweet potato and steamed green beans.

Posted by kuri at 06:27 AM [view entry with 0 comments)]
February 09, 2006
Beef Tea

recipe thursdayTod came home with a cold this evening, his first in many months. How fortunate for me that I'd just discovered the "Invalid" section in the old Argonaut Bookshop cookbook. I passed over the recipes for Fricasseed Brains (there were two different versions) and Treacle Posset, to settle on beef tea as a curative for tomorrow.

Standard Beef Tea

1/2 lb lean, juicy beef
1/2 pint water
salt (if allowed)

Wipe the meat with a damp cloth. remove skin, gristle and fat. Shred with a knife against the grain. Put into a jar with salt and water. Cover and let stand for half an hour to draw out the juices. Place the jar in a saucepan of cold water and slowly bring to a boil. Simmer for two or three hours. Stir and squeeze well. Strain through a coarse strainer and remove fat.

Quickly Made Beef Tea

1/2 lb lean, juicy beef
1/2 pint water
salt, if allowed

Prepare meat as for Standard Beef Tea. Place in a saucepan with salt and water and allow to stand for half and hour. Squeeze and stir well. Heat over a slow fire til a pale brown color, stirring and pressing well with teh back of a wooden spoon. Strain through a coarse strainer.

Raw Beef Tea

Half gill of water (70 ml)
2 oz meat

Prepare the meat as for Standard Beef Tea. Add the water and let stand for an hour. Squeeze well and strain.

Posted by kuri at 10:36 PM [view entry with 5 comments)]
February 02, 2006
Canadian War Cake

recipe thursdayThis is a recipe from an old cookbook published in Adelaide by the Argonaut Bookshop. Probably around 1945, but since the cover and several pages are missing, I can't tell for sure.

The recipe is for an eggless, butterless, milkless cake, but it isn't vegetarian as it uses lard for levening. It's made by boiling and baking, and though I haven't tried it yet, I suspect it comes out rather dense.

Unfortunately like many old recipes, quantities are a bit sketchy--how much was a "packet" of raisins in Canada during the war? Two ounces, like the little boxes of Sunmaid raisins we can still buy today? A bigger box?

I did some researching on the 'net to discover the correct measure, but this trivial tidbit is not surfacing easily. I wrote to Sunmaid to see if they could tell me (they've been making raisins for over 90 years) but the reply was only a variation of this same recipe--with the quantity "1 box seedless raisins"

I may have hit paydirt, though. M.F.K. Fisher wrote the delightful How to Cook a Wolf in 1942 and includes a War Cake recipe. The ingredients list 1 cup of raisins or other dried fruits. The excerpt I found doesn't include method, just ingredients.

I've included all three recipes for your reference.

Canadian War Cake (Argonaut recipe)
"large cake"

2 c brown sugar
1 packet seedless raisins
2 c hot water
2 Tbsp lard
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp salt
3 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp hot water

Boil the sugar, raisins, lard, spices and salt in two cups of water. Allow to boil five minutes. Remove from heat and cool. When room temperature, dissolve baking soda in 1 teaspoon hot water. Add to mixutre. Stir in flour.

Bake in a "meat tin" (a loaf pan?) for 40-50 minutes at 375/190.

CANADIAN WAR CAKE (Sunmaid recipe)
3 layer cake

2 c. light brown sugar
2 c. cold water
4 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. allspice
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 box seedless raisins
4 c. flour
2 tsp. soda
1 c. hot water
No eggs
No milk

Cook sugar, water, butter, spices and raisins for 5 minutes. Cool and add flour. Put soda in 1 cup hot
water and add to above mixture. Beat well, bake slowly 325 degrees. 3 layer cake.

2 c. brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
1 c. butter
3/4 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. black walnuts
1 c. cold water

Cook butter, sugar, milk slowly until it forms a soft ball. Remove from heat, add vanilla and nuts. Beat
until thick. Spread on cake.

War Cake (M.F.K. Fisher recipe)

1/2 cup shortening (bacon grease can be substituted)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon of other spices: cloves, mace, ginger
1 cup chopped raisins or other dried fruits such as prunes or figs
1 cup sugar, brown or white
1 cup water
2 cups flour, white or whole wheat
1/4 teaspoon soda
2 teaspoons baking powder

Posted by kuri at 06:49 PM [view entry with 2 comments)]
January 26, 2006
Blue Cheese Cheesecake

recipe thursdayThis recipe came about after a discussion with Adrian, a friend and former coworker of Tod's. He'd had a bad experience with a too-blue blue cheese cheesecake, but we agreed that if you toned it down, blue cheese might be a good enhancement for a cheesecake. And it is.

I started my experiment with the Three Cities of Spain cheesecake recipe from Gourmet and embellished it with blue cheese and dried cranberries. I considered walnuts on top, but they were too polarizing. There are still improvements to be made; Jeremy discovered how difficult it is to cut throught he cranberries (they bored tunnels into the cake). Next time I make this, I will create a sauce of dried cranberies to serve on the side.

Like most cheesecakes, this one needs a good long time to chill. Starting the night before is a good idea.

Blue Cheese Cheesecake
serves 10-12

15 McVities digestive biscuits (~140 grams)
6 Tblsp butter, melted
1/4 c sugar
pinch salt

Crush the digestive biscuits (or graham crackers). Mix with the sugar and salt. Add the melted butter, working through with fingers. Press into the bottom of a well-buttered springform pan.

750 gr cream cheese, softened
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 c sugar
12-20 dried cranberries

Beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, incorporating each fully before adding the next. Mix in the sugar and vanilla. Arrange the dried cranberries over the crumb crust so that each finished slice will get a berry. Pour the cheese mixture over the crust.

Bake at 180/350 for about 45 minutes. The cake will be done around the edges, but wobbly in the middle. Remove from oven and top with:

400 gr sour cream
2-3 Tblsp mild blue cheese (danablue works well)
1 Tblsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 c dried cranberries

Cream the blue cheese, then stir together with the sour cream, sugar and vanilla. Drop by spoonsful around the edge of the cake, spreading towards the middle. Sprinkle with dried cranberries. Bake for another 10 - 15 minutes.

Allow cake to cool to room temperature, running a knife around the edge to release it from the sides, then refrigerate for 6 hours in the pan. Remove pan when the cake is completely set. (If you take the pan apart before the topping sets, it will run down your arm and burn you. Please learn from my mistake.)

The cake is even better the next day, if there is any left.

Posted by kuri at 09:04 AM [view entry with 3 comments)]
January 19, 2006
Citrus-Chili Chicken Balls

recipe thursdayThanks to Tod for the inspiration about the sauce.

Citrus-Chili Chicken Balls
makes 80 balls

500 gr ground chicken
1 egg
1 lemon, juiced
1 mikan, juiced
1/2 cup onion, finley chopped
1 Tblsp cilantro, minced
1 Tblsp parsley, minced
1 anchovy fillet, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 cups panko (bread crumbs)
Olive oil for frying
Sweet chili sauce (rooster sauce)

In a small bowl, whisk the citrus juices, onion, herbs, anchovy salt and pepper. Beat in the egg. Pour over the chicken and mush together with your hands until well-distributed. Add crumbs and mix again. The consistency will be soft, but not too wet--you may need to add more crumbs depending on how juicy your fruits were.

Form into small balls and working in small batches, brown in a little bit of olive oil, then transfer to a baking dish or casserole and bake at 180 for about 15 minutes. Drizzle with sweet chili sauce and toss to coat, then return to oven for about 15 minutes or until the sauce is sticky and brown. Serve with sweet chilli sauce on the side for dipping.

Posted by kuri at 05:38 PM [view entry with 0 comments)]
January 12, 2006
Exeter Stew and Savory Balls

recipe thursdayThis recipe comes from a cookbook published in Adelaide by the Argonaut Bookshop. Judging by the type, ads and other clues, I'm estimating it was released around 1945, but since the cover and several pages are missing, I can't tell for sure. I've preserved the format and wording of the recipes as they are interestingly casual.

I wonder if this stew was served at the Exeter Hotel on Rundle Street? Perhaps so, though I don't believe it's on the menu these days. All I ever have there is pints of Coopers and packets of Smith's crisps.

Exeter Stew

Two pounds blade steak or chuck steak, an onion (large), 1 oz drippings, 1 oz flour, a pint and a half water, four cloves, one small piece mace, quarter teaspoon pepper, one teaspoon salt.
Cut the onion in thin slices and cook in the hot fat til brown. Add the flour and brown well. Stir in gradually the water, and boil for three minutes. Slightlly cooll and put into a saucepan with mace and cloves (tied in muslin), salt pepper and meat cut into suitable pieces. Simmer slowly for two hours.

Savory Balls

Six ounces flour, one teaspoon baking powder, 2 oz. suet, one pinch salt, one teaspoon chopped parsley, one pinch dried herb.
Chop suet finely, add other ingredients, and mix to a soft dough with water. Form into balls and cook in the stew for 20 to 30 minutes.

UPDATE: I made this with modern ingredients but the same methods as above and the results were excellent. This feeds two people. 300 gr beef, 1 med onion, 1 Tbsp olive oil, 2 Tbsp flour, 350 ml water, 1/8 tsp ground cloves, 2 whole allspice, 1 piece mace, pinch white pepper, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp salt. For the balls: 1/2 cup flour, 2 Tbsp butter, 1/2 tsp baking powder, pinch salt, 1 tsp mixed herbs (basil, corriander, herbes de provence)

Posted by kuri at 10:08 AM [view entry with 2 comments)]
December 28, 2005
Indonesian Braised Pork

recipe thursday This is not for the faint of heart! We prefer to use homegrown dried chiles in place of the innocuous "crushed red peppers" which is probably what makes it so very hot.

Indonesian Braised Pork
serves 8

4 lb pork, cut into bite size pieces
1 onion, chopped
2 T crushed red peppers
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 T lime juice
2/3 c soy sauce
3 T brown sugar

Fry pork, onion, peppers and garlic over high heat until browned (about 20 minutes). Add lime juice, soy sauce and brown sugar. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Transfer to a covered dish and put in warm oven for 30 minutes or until your side dish of choice is done. We usually have rice or lentils with this and sometimes make chapatis, too.

Posted by kuri at 10:36 AM [view entry with 0 comments)]
December 22, 2005
Delectable Cookie Torte

recipe thursday This is a layered torte -- 14 cinnamon-scented cookies layered with chocolate whipped cream. It's another clasic from the Telerama days--I first made it for Doug's birthday in 1992. It was a great success became the "fancy dessert" of choice anytime Doug was involved in a celebration. It takes a bit of effort and a good deal of time, but it is worth it!

Delectable Cookie Torte

2 c sugar
1.5 c butter, softened
2 eggs
2 T cinnamon
2.5 c flour
3 sq. semisweet choclate
4 c whipping cream
3/4 c cocoa

Cookies: Tear off 14 sheets of waxed paper. Onto one, trace the bottom of a 9" cake pan. Stack the sheets up, and cut out along the traced circle.

In a large bowl, mix sugar, butter, eggs, cinnamon and 2 cups of flour with a mixer on low speed until blended. Increase speed to medium and beat three minutes or until very light and fluffy. With a spoon, stir in the remaining flour to make a soft dough.

Moisten 1 or 2 large cookies sheets with a damp towel so that the waxed paper will stick to them. Place one or 2 circles on the sheets and spread with about 1/3 cup of dough. Bake at 375 for 8 - 12 minutes or until lightly brown around the edges.

Allow to cool on tray for 5 minutes, then remove from tray with the waxed paper still on the cookies. Repeat process until all dough is used. At this point you can store the cookies until needed by stacking them and covering with plastic wrap.

Filling: Beat cream and cocoa until soft peaks form.

Construction: Carefully peel off the waxed paper from one cookie. On your nicest cake plate, place the cookie and spread with about 1/2 cup of whipped cream. Repeat with all the cookies, ending with cream on top. Grate the semisweet chocolate squares and pile on top of torte.

Next is the most frustrating part: chill the torte for three hours. This helps to soften the cookies and makes them easier to serve.

Variation: Substitute 1/2 of the white sugar with brown and add 1/2 bag of mini chocolate chips to the dough, omitting the cinnamon. Fill with plain (or chocolate) whipped cream and top with remaining chocolate chips. The dough does not spread as easily and you will have fewer cookies (10 or 11 instead of 14).

Posted by kuri at 10:30 AM [view entry with 3 comments)]
December 15, 2005
Doug's Mom's Barbecue Sauce

recipe thursday This is a delicious, simple barbecue sauce and another of Doug's mom's recipes. It's savory and not too hot. I think it is perfect as is, but Doug and Tod used to sneak in a little extra tobasco and chili powder. Either way, it's the best!

Doug's Mom's Barbecue Sauce
makes about 2 cups

1 c catsup
1/3 c worchestershire sauce
1 t chili powder
1 t salt
2 dashes tobasco sauce
1.5 c water

Combine ingredients, bring to boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, cool.

Posted by kuri at 10:26 AM [view entry with 2 comments)]
December 08, 2005
Doug's Mom's Chili

recipe thursday We collected quite a few recipes from Doug's mom back in the early 90s. Her chili is one of my favorites and it can be spiced to your preferred degree of pepperiness. I rediscovered this recipe when I was looking for Jean Englehardt's meatloaf recipe. A few other favorites surfaced, and you'll see them in upcoming Recipe Thursdays.

Doug's Mom's Chili
serves 4-6

1/4 c oil
1 onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1.5 lb ground meat
1/4 c flour
4 T chili powder (or more to taste)
1/2 T onion powder
1/2 t garlic powder
1 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
2 cans red kidney beans (16 oz size)
2 cans tomatoes, whole (16 oz size)

In a large pot, saute onion in oil until golden. Add garlic. Crumble meat into mixture and brown. Remove pot from heat and add flour and spices. Stir thoroughly. Pour in beans and bean liquid, then add tomatoes (crush them with your hands to break into chunks) & liquid. Stir. Return to heat and simmer 30 minutes or more. Add water if the chili thickens too much. Serve over rice.

Posted by kuri at 09:30 AM [view entry with 2 comments)]
December 01, 2005
Portabella Cream Sauce

recipe thursdayPortabella mushrooms are not so easy to find in my grocery store so when I found baby bellas on the shelves the other day, I grabbed them up quick. Here's what I made them into--rich, flavorful, glossy brown cream sauce. I wish I'd made more.

Portabella Cream Sauce
serves 4

3 baby portabella mushrooms, halved and sliced
2 whole sundried tomatoes, slivered
1/2 onion, minced
6 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
3-4 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 c whole milk, heated
salt to taste

Sautee the onion and sun-dried tomato in 4 Tbsp olive oil. When the onions turns translucent, add the mushrooms and continue cooking until they shrink and turn dark brown. Remove vegetables from pan.
Add the butter and remaining olive oil to the pan. Mix in the flour to form a roux, cooking to a pale nut brown. Add the milk, whisking to remove any lumps. Return the vegetables to the pan and simmer to reduce to about 1/2 the liquid's volume. Salt to taste.

Serving suggestion: over gnocchi with a garnish of shredded prosciutto

Posted by kuri at 09:00 AM [view entry with 3 comments)]
November 24, 2005
Jean Englehardt's Excellent Meatloaf

recipe thursdayJean was a co-worker of Tod's at Weld Tooling back in the early 1990s. This juicy, flavorful meatloaf is one of her specialities. I love all the vegetables that go into it. The pan drippeds make excellent gravy.

The original recipe called for 6 1/2 pounds of meat--enough to feed Jean's extended family and the people who worked in the family business. I've cut it down to feed a more reasonable number of people, but it's still a big meatloaf.

Jean Englehardt's Excellent Meatloaf
serves 8-10

2 lbs ground meat [80% beef (or beef/pork), 20% turkey/chicken]
1 carrot, grated
2 celery stalks, grated
1 green peppers grated
1 onion, chopped (not grated)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp parsley flakes
pinch basil flakes
2 pinches MSG
2 pinches oregano
pinch celery salt
pinch ground sage
pinch tarragon flakes
1/4 tsp garlic powder
4 Tbsp oil
1 c Italian style bread crumbs
1/4 c Parmesan cheese
1/2 t salt
1 egg

Saute vegetables and spices in oil for 20 minutes. Allow to cool. Combine bread crumbs, parmesan, salt and eggs. Mix in cooled vegetables. Blend thoroughly. Add meats and form meatloaf. Bake at 350 for an hour.

Posted by kuri at 06:01 AM [view entry with 0 comments)]
November 17, 2005
Mint Patties

recipe thursdayWhen we were little, Mom & Dad would take us to dinner at a nearby motel with a not-too-bad restaurant. The owners befriended our family and my sister and I played outside with their kids while the grown-ups had coffee. I can't remember the names of the kids, their parents, or even the motel but I do remember the mints that Mrs. Motel used to make.

They were tinted pale green, buttery and soft in the middle, and they dried to a slightly crispy texture on the outside. She penned the recipe for us, but it's long gone. This one is simliar, but not quite as good as I remember.

Homemade Mint Patties
makes 3 dozen

1/2 cup butter, softened
3 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon peppermint oil or extract
2-3 drops green food coloring

Cream the butter and sugar together until perfectly smooth. Blend in the cream, mint oil and coloring. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper. Allow to set for an hour or so. Store in airtight container.

UPDATE: Mom sent me the original recipe. The Hide-a-Way Inn mints use a different butter-liquid ratio, but are essentially the same.


Posted by kuri at 10:31 PM [view entry with 2 comments)]
November 10, 2005
Pantry list

recipe thursdayRecently, I've run out of some of the basic items in my pantry and I feel naked without them. But before I restock, I thought I'd take stock and see how many different meals I can create with my basics.

In the pantry cupboard:

  • Whole tomatoes (canned)
  • Tuna in oil
  • Anchovies
  • Green olives
  • Black olives
  • Cream of mushroom soup
  • White and brown rices
  • Pastas of various shapes
  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Soy sauce, rice vinegar, mirin
  • Salt, pepper, dried garlic chips
  • Olive oil, basalmic vinegar
  • Bullion cubes

And in the fridge:

  • Eggs
  • Onions
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Butter
  • Mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise

From these items, I can make

  1. Pasta Putenesca
  2. Pasta with garlic oil and anchovies
  3. Spaghetti with tuna and olives
  4. Tuna noodle casserole
  5. Risoto
  6. Rice casserole
  7. Tomato soup
  8. Onion soup
  9. Omelettes
  10. Biscuits
  11. Onion rings

And I imagine there are more dishes to be found in that list.

What invaluable items are in your pantry? Do I need to revise my list?

Posted by kuri at 06:18 PM [view entry with 2 comments)]
November 03, 2005
Sachi's Birthday Beans

recipe thursdayWe had an impromptu dinner party the other day and it turned out to be our friend Sachi's birthday. I was testing this recipe on the guests and it was good enough to give a name. So it's Sachi's Birthday Beans.

Sachi's Birthday Beans
serves 4-5

2 cans white beans
1 2" wide slab unsliced bacon or pancetta
1 carrot
1 onion
8 button mushrooms
1 clove garlic
1 1/2 cups broth
1/2 tsp herbes de Provence
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp vinegar
1 Tblsp olive oil
pepper to taste

Cut the bacon into 1" cubes. Cut the carrot, onion and mushrooms into similar sized pieces. Mince the garlic.

In an oven-safe casserole dish, heat the olive oil. Fry the bacon until slightly crispy. Add the carrot, onion and garlic, sautee until the onions begin to turn transparent.

Deglaze the pan with some of the broth. Drain the beans and rinse them well before adding to the casserole. Toss in the mushrooms and stir. Season with herbs, sugar, vinegar and pepper.

The casserole can be cooked on the stovetop over a low flame or in a warm oven (100 C) for several hours. The longer the better, as it allows the smoky bacon flavor to permeate the beans. Three hours worked nicely on Sachi's birthday.

Serve with salad, crusty bread and a bottle of wine.

Posted by kuri at 09:35 AM [view entry with 0 comments)]
October 27, 2005
Japanese fish stew

recipe thursdayYou've been practicing cutting carrots and mushrooms according to last week's video, right? Well, now you'll get to use them. This nabemon is a one-dish meal. I usually incorporate Japanese seasonal items that you might not be able to get, so I've listed substitutes in the ingredients. If you have dashi, that makes better broth than water with bullion, but the last time I made it, I had run out of dashi-makings.

Feel free to vary the quantities, experiment with different fishes, add in some scallops or other vegetables. This is a flexible dish and everyone makes it a little bit differently.

Japanese Fish Stew
serves 4

4 shiitake mushrooms, decoratively cut
1/2 large carrot, cut into flowers
1 bunch chrysanthemum leaves (or other bitter green), cut into 10 cm lengths
1 long onion (or small leek). cut into 5 cm slices on the diagonal
6 cm lotus root, sliced into thin rounds
1 block firm tofu, cut into cubes
300-400 grams fish filets (salmon, whitefish, etc), cut into bite sized pieces
4 large shrimp, peeled
dash olive oil

300-400 cc hot water
1 bullion cube with MSG
3 Tblsp soy sauce
2 Tblsp yuzu juice (or lemon juice)
1 1/2 tsp rice vinegar
1/2 tsp mirin (or a good pinch of sugar)

Mix together the broth ingredients. In a large ceramic pot, heat the olive oil. Sautee the onion briefly, then toss in the other vegetables (except greens) and add broth to cover. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook for abtou 15 minutes, or until the carrots are slightly softened. Add the fish, shrimp and tofu, cook until the fish and shrimp are firming up. Top up with broth as needed. Wilt the greens into the stew. Allow to simmer for a few minutes longer to mellow the flavors, but be careful not to overcook the fish.

Posted by kuri at 06:46 PM [view entry with 0 comments)]
October 20, 2005
Carrot Flowers and Starred Shiitake

recipe thursdayIn preparation for next week's recipe--a Japanese winter stew--here's a video to show you how to do some of the decorative cuts that make nabe as lovely to look at as it is delicious to eat.

playicon.gif Simple Japanese Decorative Cutting 3.7 MB 1'41" MP4

Posted by kuri at 01:41 PM [view entry with 2 comments)]
September 15, 2005
Nut Encrusted Salmon

recipe thursday I promised this to Yuka for dinner as a repayment for a favor. We haven't managed to get together to enjoy it, but Tod & I had it last night. Takes about 30 minutes, start to finish, and is wonderfully light and delicious. The secret is quatre epices, a French spice mixture of white pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon & clove.

Nut Encrusted Salmon
serves 2

2 salmon fillets
1/2 lemon
1/8 cup of panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/4 cup of mixed nuts (almonds, pistachios, macadamias, walnuts, brazil nuts, etc)
dash quatre epices
salt & black pepper to taste
1 tsp butter

Squeeze the lemon over both sides of the fish fillets and set aside while you prepare the crumbs. Chop or grind the nuts finely. In a baking pan large enough to contain the fish, mix nuts with breadcrumbs and season with a liberal dash or two of quatre epices then salt & pepper to taste.

Press the fish into the crumb mixture, turn the fillets over and mound the remainder on top of the fish. Dot with butter. Bake in a 350/160 oven for 20 minutes.

Posted by kuri at 03:43 PM [view entry with 5 comments)]
September 08, 2005
Fried Saba & Lettuce Salad

recipe thursday This is my translation of a seasonal recipe from Kyou no Ryouri, NHK's daily cooking show and monthlly magazine. Saba, mackerel in English, is a dark-fleshed fish full of good-for-you oils. The salad incorporates fragrant Japanese herbs and is topped with a garlicy dressing. The original recipe by Kentarou says it takes only 10 minutes to prepare and is 340 calories per serving.

Fried Saba and Lettuce Salad
serves 2

2 slices saba (mackerel)
4 leaves bibb or Boston lettuce
1 Japanese cucumber
6 leaves shiso (similar to basil or cilantro)
1 bulb myoga (a type of leafy, young ginger)
3 green onions
white sesame seeds
flour, frying oil, salt & pepper

pinch garlic, grated
pinch ginger, grated
1 Tblsp sesame oil
1 Tblsp vinegar
1 Tblsp soy sauce
1/2 - 1 tsp Korean kiso (Kochujan)
1 tsp mayonnaise
1/2 tsp sugar
salt to taste

Tear the lettuce into bite-sized pieces. Cut the cucumber and green onion into 3 cm lengths. Thinly shred the shiso and myoga.

Cut the saba into 1 cm slices and dust with flour. Fry in 1Tbsp frying oil on boh sides until browned and barely cooked through.

Mix together the ingredients for the dressing.

Toss the greens with the dressing and divide evenly onto two plates. Place the fried fish on the salad, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and enjoy.

Posted by kuri at 09:32 PM [view entry with 0 comments)]
September 01, 2005
Beef Stroganoff ala Thredgold

recipe thursdayThis is Ashley's family recipe for beef stronganoff. Like all good recipes, it isn't exactly measured, so I'm guessing on quantities. We had this tonight and it was delicious!

Beef Stroganoff ala Thredgold
serves 4

1/2 onion, minced
2 strips bacon, minced
olive oil
2-3 filet steaks, cubed
1/4 cup red wine
12 mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 pint cream
salt & pepper to taste

Sautee the onion and bacon in a bit of olive oil until the onion is translucent; remove from pan. Sear the beef, browning on all sides. Deglaze the pan with the wine. return the onion and bacon to the pan, add remaining ingredients and simmer until the mushrooms are soft and everything looks done.

Serve over egg noodles.

Posted by kuri at 04:34 AM [view entry with 1 comments)]
August 18, 2005
Coq au Vin

recipe thursdayThis is my own recipe for coq au vin. I don't like the bacon that's featured in the authentic version, so I leave it out. And since I'm usually making the dish with leftover wine from the night before--or sometimes a bottle that just wasn't worth drinking--the quantity of liquid is variable. Stewed chicken in wine is quite forgiving, thankfully.

Coq au Vin
serves 4-6

1 chicken, cut into pieces
6 small onions, peeled and halved
1 large carrot, cut into thick rounds
2 cloves garlic, slightly squashed
1 can chicken broth (low salt)
1 cup red wine (or more)
6 sprigs fresh thyme
3 cups mushrooms, stemmed and halved
salt & pepper

In a heavy sauce pan, brown the chicken in butter until the skin is crispy. (Depending on the size of the pot, you might need to do it in two batches.) Remove the chicken from the pan. Add the garlic, onions and carrots and cook over medium heat until the onion starts to carmelise.

Pour in the chicken broth. Place the chicken back into the pot and add red wine to barely cover the chicken. Toss in some fresh thyme. Simmer for about 45 minutes.

After 30 minutes of simmering, saute the mushrooms in butter until they relase their liquid but are not yet shrivelled. Add the mushrooms to the chicken pot, reserving the butter in the pan. To the mushroom butter, add an equal amount of flour to form a roux, stirring to remove lumps. Scrape the roux into the chicken pot and stir to thicken the gravy. Allow to simmer a few more minutes to cook the flour. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a loaf of French bread and a salad.

Note: If you like a thicker gravy, dredge the chicken in flour before frying it and add the roux at the end, as well.

Posted by kuri at 11:24 AM [view entry with 2 comments)]
August 04, 2005
Grilled Trout with Oregano

recipe thursdayThis is what we ate for dinner last night. It hardly seems like a recipe at all...

Grilled Trout with Oregano
serves 4

4 10"/25cm whole trout, gutted
1 lemon, juiced
12 sprigs fresh oregano
1 Tblsp sea salt
olive oil

Chop 4 sprigs of oregano, mix with oil and salt. Rub mixture over fish skin. Stuff the remaining oregano into the fish. Douse with lemon juice inside and out. Arrange in a fish rack and grill over medium hot coals, turning once, about 5 minutes on a side.

We served ours with grilled portabella mushrooms and steamed kale.

Posted by kuri at 11:33 PM [view entry with 1 comments)]
July 28, 2005
Yaki Omusubi

recipe thursdayI learned a great trick for making grilled rice balls from my friend Elizabeth of Taste of Culture fame. It's not exactly a recipe, but a procedure.

When you have leftover rice (the slightly sticky, short grain Japanese kind), make rice balls by pressing the rice in your hands to form a ball or a triangle about two fingers thick and the size of the center of your palm. You can tuck some pickled plum or other tidbits inside if you like. Wrap them individually in plastic wrap and freeze them. They will survive about six weeks in the freezer.

When you're ready to eat them, take them from the freezer and place them on a stove top grill pan. The Japanese ones have a wire mesh over a square pan to diffuse the heat. Cook the omusubi on one side until they no longer stick to the grill (you have to be patient and not test them too often or they will fall apart), then flip them over and toast the other side. Brush with soy sauce, grill another few seconds to let the sauce mellow. Serve with a sheet or slice of nori.

This is explained in more detail with better delivery in Elizabeth's forthcoming book, Washoku, Recipes from the Japanese Kitchen, to be published this fall by Ten Speed Press.

Posted by kuri at 09:51 AM [view entry with 1 comments)]
July 21, 2005
Broccoli & Shrimp Salad

recipe thursdaySummer heat has me wishing that cooked food were never invented. Here's a dish that's easy and tasty on a hot night and can be preapred in advance. In Japan, broccoli is often served with mayo on the side, and though it first seemed really strange and rather gross, I've learned to love them together.

Broccoli and Shrimp Salad
serves 3-4

1 head broccoli
200 g raw shrimp, cleaned
2 Tbspl mayonnaise
black pepper
white pepper

Cut the broccoli into florets & slice the stem if desired. Tip into lightly salted boiling water and allow to bubble cook two or three minutes. Add the shrimp, turn off the heat. Stir and allow to cook for another minute or until the shrimp are almost done. Drain well. Mix with mayonnaise and season with liberal dashes of balck and white pepper. Chill.

Posted by kuri at 05:52 PM [view entry with 1 comments)]
July 14, 2005
Tuna Mornay

recipe thursdayStaying with my friend, Jon, in Beijing, I promised to return his hospitality by cooking a meal for him one night. When I inquired into what he'd like, he thought a moment, then asked if I could do "a tuna and pasta-y baked dish." Of course I can, that's Tuna Mornay!

So that Jon can satisfy his future Tuna Mornay cravings, here's three-phase recipe I produced last night.

Tuna Mornay
serves 4

250 g egg noodles
2 cans tuna packed in water
1/2 onion, minced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 cup peas and/or corn
4 Tblsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
600 ml milk
1/2-1 cup breadcrumbs
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onion and mushrooms in 1 tablespoon of butter in a saucepan. When golden, remove from pan. Add 2 Tblsp butter and lower heat. Sprinkle in the flour, stirring to form a roux. Pour in the milk, whisking to prevent lumps. Allow to simmer to thicken until it coats the back of the sppon. Add the tuna (drained), mushrooms, onions, peas/corn. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Boil the egg noodles until they are al dente. Drain. Pour the sauce over the noodles, mix well and transfer to an oven-proof dish. There should be a fair amount of liquid; the noodles will soak it up.

Melt the remaining tablespon of butter in a frypan. Add the crumbs and mix until coated. Spread evenly over the noodles.

Bake at 160C for about 20 minutes or until the crumbs are browned.


  • If you are using fresh peas, you will need to cook them before adding to the sauce.

  • Egg noodles absorb the sauce with more or less intensity depending on the shape of the noodle. If the dish turns out a bit dry, whip up some additional white sauce with milk, butter and flour to pour over it.

  • The crumbs can be seasoned with garlic, lemon or your favorite dried herb.

  • The measurements are flexible. My rule of thmb is to fill the baking dish with noodles (I usually use nests of wide cut noodles) and use the same volume of milk plus a little extra...

Posted by kuri at 07:04 PM [view entry with 1 comments)]
July 07, 2005
Cardamom cream

recipe thursdayI threw this together last night as a topping for fresh blueberries. Although it's very simple, it transformed the fruit into an elegant dessert.

Cardamom cream
serves 4

1 cup heavy cream (35% milkfat)
1 Tblsp powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 whole cardamom pods

Pour the cream into a jar with a tight lid; add the other ingredients. Seal the jar and shake until the cream becomes fluffy and softly solid. Stop before it turns to butter. Remove the cardamom pods. Spoon over blueberries.

Posted by kuri at 11:07 AM [view entry with 1 comments)]
June 30, 2005
Sweet-sour vegetable pickles

recipe thursdaySearching for more pickle recipes for my podcast, I found this in one of my Japanese cookbooks. It's quite simple.

Sweet-Sour Vegetable Pickles

1/4 cauliflower
1 cucumber
2 onions, small
4 radishes
1 cup water
1 cup white wine vinegar
3 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 laurel leaf
1 dried chili pepper

Trim the cauliflower into florets. Blanch. Peel the onions, blanch, then cut in half. Cut the cucumber in to 4 cm sticks. Trim the radishes.

Mix the remaining ingredients and pour over vegetables. Refrigerate for at least three hours. Keeps up to 1 week.

Posted by kuri at 03:58 PM [view entry with 3 comments)]
June 23, 2005
Thai Watermelon Soup

recipe thursdayAdapted from a recipe at Epicurious, this soup was the showpiece of this week's Candle Night solstice dinner. I will be making it again, only next time I'll try to find a Thai chili pepper to add to the mix with the lime juice.

Thai Watermelon Soup
serves 6

1 medium-sized watermelon
1 Tblsp olive oil
1 Tblsp garlic, minced
2 Tblsp ginger, minced
1 stalk lemongrass, minced
2 Tblsp green onion, minced
1 lime, juiced
1/2 tsp salt
300 gr crab meat
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped

Juice the watermelon. I used an oroshi grater to good effect but you could use a juicer or a food processor (take out the seeds first, though) Strain the pulp and seeds. You want to end up with about a litre of watermelon juice.

In a large pan, cook the garlic, ginger, lemon grass and onion in oil over low heat until soft and golden. Pour in a cup of the watermelon juice and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.

Pour the gingery watermelon mixture into a blender or use a handheld blender to puree the solids. Strain back into the pan.

Add the remaining watermelon juice, lime juice and salt. Chill for two hours.

Mix the crab and cilantro, seasoning with salt if desired.

Serve the soup by portining the crab into mounds in each bowl, then pouring the chilled soup around the crab.

Posted by kuri at 11:30 AM [view entry with 1 comments)]
June 16, 2005
Bachelor's Special

recipe thursdayThis was a dish...perhaps I should say concoction...introduced to us by our friend Doug way back when we were all struggling to make ends meet. The original recipe was simply a box of Kraft dinner, with added lima beans, sliced up deli ham and a good dollop of horseradish. When I saw fresh horseradish in the market last week, I reworked the recipe to a more luxurious version. It's as strange as ever, but it really does taste wonderful.

Bachelor's Special
serves 4-6

1 cup soy beans (or lima beans)
1/2 cup diced ham
2 Tbsp freshly grated horseradish
500 gr pasta tubes (macaroni, ziti, etc)
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup grated mozzerella
1 cup milk
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp flour
salt & pepper to taste

Blanch the soybeans in salted water. Dice the ham. Grate the horseradish.

Boil the pasta until it is al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, prepare a simple white sauce. Melt the butter in a pan and add the flour to form a roux. Slowly pour in the milk (to prevent lumps, it should be heated but I never do that, I just whisk like crazy to break up the lumps). Set aside.

To the drained pasta, add the white sauce, 1 1/2 cups of cheese, ham, beans and horseradish. Season with pepper and salt.

Spoon the mixture into a casserole and top with the remaining cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese is browned. (No oven? You can skip the baking, just mix all the cheese into the pasta and allow the dish to sit for a few minutes to melt the cheese, heat the ham and mellow the horseradish.)

Posted by kuri at 09:48 AM [view entry with 0 comments)]
June 02, 2005
New Potato and Avocado Salad

recipe thursdayLooking for an interesting potato salad to serve at your next barbecue? This fusion of Japanese and western flavors will knock their socks off; the secret is the wasabi mayonnaise. I've adapted this recipe from the May issue of NHK's Kyou no Ryouri.

New Potato and Avocado Salad
serves 4

400 gr new potatoes (aka baby potatoes)
1 cucumber
1 avocado
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 tsp wasabi (freshly grated or paste)
1/4 tsp soy sauce
salt & pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes (scrubbed but with skin on) in salted water until just soft. Cool and cut into quarters. Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise (if it's a thick American cucumber) and thinly slice. In a separate bowl, mix the mayonnaise, wasabi and soy sauce. Mix mayonnaise, potato and cucumber. Salt and pepper to taste. Halve the avocado, remove the pit and use a small spoon to scoop pieces into the salad. Mix gently and serve.

Posted by kuri at 11:39 AM [view entry with 2 comments)]
May 26, 2005
White Pepper Poundcake

recipe thursdayI made this cake for Tod's belated birthday party a couple weeks ago. It's spicy--Sachiko said she's never had a cake that burned afterwards. My original attempt used Quatre Epices, but I reworked the recipe with plain white pepper because it's easier to find.

White Pepper Poundcake
serves 8

100 g butter, softened
150 g sugar
2 eggs
80 cc milk
200 g flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp clove
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Cream butter and sugar; beat in eggs; add milk. Sift dry ingredients and stir into wet mixture. Bake in a non-stick (or buttered & floured) loaf pan for about 40 minutes at 180/350 or until a pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Serve plain, glazed, with custard sauce, or whipped cream.

Posted by kuri at 01:36 PM [view entry with 2 comments)]
May 19, 2005
Daikon Pancakes

recipe thursdayThese daikon pancakes were developed at camp on Niijima. I started out with the idea of making daikon mochi, a Chinese dim sum favorite, but after pureeing one daikon, I realised there wouldn't be enough to feed ten people. So I improvised and ended up with these wonderful starchy pancakes. This served ten people as a hearty breakfast and I haven't cut the quantities yet.

I created the puree (oroshi) with an special grater that has large round holes studded with spikes. I think you could do something similar with the fine side of a box grater. Or perhaps a food processor or blender would puree well, but I've never tried that.

Daikon Pancakes
serves 10

3 daikon
2 onions, large
2 carrots
2 shiitake mushrooms
1 egg
2 tsp sesame seeds
1/2 c corn starch (or katakuriko)
1/2 c flour
oil for frying

Oroshi one daikon, set aside to drain. Peel and chop 2 daikon into cubes and boil until soft, then drain and mash until about half is still lumpy (imagine doing this at camp at dawn in a high wind with a fork and stop when you get tired.). Thinly slice carrots & onions (I used the blade side of the oroshi grater) & chop into rough strips. Mince the shiitake. Squeeze out most of the remaining liquid from the daikon oroshi. Combine all daikon, vegetables, egg & sesame seeds. Add starch & flour until the mix is a thick batter. Fry in oil until brown on both sides and firm to the touch. Top with Tabasco or sweet chili sauce or serve seasoned to taste with salt & pepper.

Posted by kuri at 08:41 AM [view entry with 3 comments)]
May 12, 2005
Niijima Salad

recipe thursdayA pile of vegetables, three cutting boards and a handful of hungry choppers inspired this hearty lunchtime camp salad. The soft tofu, fresh from the shop, crumbles into a creamy dressing that contrasts nicely with the tang of the pickled carrots and cucumbers. Our crunchy frill lettuce came from a local friend's own garden and the seaweed was gathered from the ocean that morning.

Niijima Salad
serves 5

1 large carrot
2 cucumbers
1/2 tsp ginger, minced
1 slice lemon
1 tsp salt

Thinly slice the carrot and cucumbers (a cabbage grater works perfectly). Sprinkle with salt and allow to stand for 5 minutes, then gently squeeze and drain. Mix in the ginger and squeeze the lemon over. Press under the weight of a soup can while you prepare the rest of the salad.

(adjust quantities to suit yourself)
1 or 2 heads crisp lettuce
1/2 bunch spinach
handful of parsley
1/4 onion
6 shiitake
1 cup takenoko (fresh bamboo shoot), boiled and cooled
1/4 daikon
1/4 cup seaweed, boiled & rinsed
15 ginkgo nuts
1 stalk celery
1 block fresh soft tofu
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
black pepper to taste

Slice the vegetables to your preferred serving sizes. Cut the tofu into chunks and toss well to incorporate into the salad. Top with pickled carrots and cucumbers, sesame seeds and black pepper.

Posted by kuri at 08:25 AM [view entry with 0 comments)]
April 28, 2005
Wafu Mushroom Sauce

recipe thursdayI picked up a little book of sauce and tare recipes the other day. It's got all the Japanese sauce standards that I've grown to love. This mushroom sauce appears in restaurants all over the country. Serve it over grilled steak or hamburgers.

Wafu Mushroom Sauce
serves 4

100 gr Japanese mushrooms (shiitake, enoki, shimeji, etc)
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp mirin
1/3 cup dashi broth

Cut the mushrooms into small bite-sized pieces. Bring the other ingredients to a boil, add the mushrooms and remove from heat.

Posted by kuri at 02:31 PM [view entry with 3 comments)]
April 21, 2005

recipe thursdayRandomly selected from one of my Japanese cookbooks, here's a classic Japanese side dish that you probably won't often see outside Japan. It's a cooked salad with tofu dressing but one of the ingredients, konyaku, is not commonly available in the States so check at an oriental grocery.

Konyaku is a gelatinous block of starch made from "devil's tongue." It has basically no flavor; it is used for texture and color. Shiro-ae uses white konyaku, but it's normally pale purple with brown speckles.

serves 4

400 grams tofu (silk style)
1/2 block white konyaku
6 green beans
80 gr carrot, shredded
1/2 wood ear mushroom, shredded
100 cc dashi
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp sugar
2.5 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sake

Soak the dried wood ear mushroom for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the konyaku into matchstick lengths. Blanch the green beans the slice diagonally into 2 cm shreds. Shred the carrots and mushroom into similar sized pieces.

Bring the dashi, 3 Tbsp soy sauce and 2 Tbsp sugar to a simmer. Add the konyaku and carrot; simmer for 1 minute then add the mushroom slivers. Cook until the konyaku starts to pick up the color of the sauce. Add the beans and turn off the heat. Stir carefully and drain.

Cut the tofu into six pieces. Simmer over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to cheesecloth. Twist the cloth into a sack, and press down with a wooden spoon to squeeze the liquid from the boiled tofu. When no more water runs from tech sack, put the contents into a large mortar (or a bowl). Add the remaining sugar, salt, soy sauce, and sake mixing with the tofu to form a soft paste.

Mix the konyaku and vegetables with the dressing, salt to taste, and serve at room temperature.

Posted by kuri at 01:22 PM [view entry with 0 comments)]
April 16, 2005
Sun-dried Tomato Pilaf

recipe thursdayThis is a recreation of the lunch I ate at a Tokyo restaurant on Thursday. It sounded great on the menu--Sun-dried Tomato and Olive Tomato Pilaf--but the dish was flat, too salty, and not as interesting as I had hoped. My version improves the original by reducing the saltiness and adding the zest of a lemon, lightly pickled zucchini and more dried tomatoes.

Sun-dried Tomato Pilaf
serves 3-4

1 small zucchini
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
olive oil
2 cups rice
3 whole sun-dried tomatoes, minced
1 cup crushed tomatoes
16 black olives, cut in half
1 lemon, zested

Slice the zucchini into thin rounds and mix with balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt; set aside.

Sautee the onion and garlic in olive oil until the onion is translucent. Add the rice to the pan stirring well to coat with oil and brown slightly before adding the water and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and allow to cook (covered) for about 30 minutes.

When the rice is soft, stir in the zucchini. Serve as is, or with a sprinkling of shaved Parmesan or a drizzle of anchovy sauce.

Posted by kuri at 08:48 AM [view entry with 2 comments)]
April 07, 2005
Tuna Jelly

recipe thursdayThis is from the Three Rivers Cookbook, vol 1, a wildly popular cookbook series of recipes contributed by Pittsburgh's finest citizens. I do not recommend that you make this, it is merely an illustration of the horrors that await you at picnics in western Pennsylvania.

Cranberry Tuna Mold
serves 8

1 envelope Knox unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1/4 cup boiling water
2 cans tuna
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped

1 box lemon gelatin
3/4 cup boiling water
1 can whole cranberry sauce
1/4 cup orange juice

Soften unflavored gelatin in cold water, then dissolve in boiling water. Mix tuna, mayo, celery and onion. Spoon into 8" square pan. Chill until firm. For topping, mix lemon gelatin with boiling water, cranberry sauce and juice. Spoon over chilled tuna mixture. Chill overnight.

Posted by kuri at 09:58 PM [view entry with 1 comments)]
March 27, 2005
David Byers' Horseradish Fish

recipe thursdayThis recipe was related to me by David Byers, an old family friend. When I was a little girl, he drove me home in his convertible Ferrari (it was the shortest ride home I've ever had) and a gave me an amythest crystal from his rock collection. How could I not idolise this man? As an adult, I've discovered he has great taste in wine and food.

David Byers' Horseradish Fish
serves 4

4 oz butter (1 stick)
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 Tblsp dill (or more as desired)
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
3 oz Gold's Hot Horseradish (1/2 jar)

4 swordfish fillets

Melt the butter and mix other sauce ingredients. Simmer over medium flame until the sauce starts to reduce. Remove from heat. Marinate the swordfish for 30-45 minutes, then pan fry.

Posted by kuri at 02:12 AM [view entry with 0 comments)]
February 24, 2005
Chicken in Coconut Gravy

recipe thursdayThis is a recipe I first encountered in Singapore. It's in the Nonya tradition--the Straits Chinese who settled early in the area and mixed their culture with the Malaysians.

There's a lot of paste-making to do and though you can use a knife to chop everything extra fine, a small grinder makes it easier.

If you can't find fresh lemongrass, you can use dried; if you can't find either, try a few strips of lemon peel. I've seen lengkuas labeled "grater galangal" and "laos"; it looks like big, pink ginger. Pandan leaf doesn't seem to exist outside SE Asia but if you can find it, use it. It imparts a subtle, sweet, grassy flavor to the dish.

Chicken in Coconut Curry
serves 4-6

1 chicken, cut into pieces
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 in fresh ginger
16 shallots (or 1 onion)
2 cloves garlic
3 stalks lemongrass
6-8 fresh chilies
2 slices lengkuas
3 Tbsp oil
3 cups thick coconut milk (coconut cream)
1 pandan leaf (optional)
1 tsp salt

Mix the turmeric with a little water and rub the resulting paste on the chicken pieces. Grind ginger, shallots, garlic, lemongrass, chillies and lengkuas into a paste. Fry the paste over medium heat in a wok for 5 minutes, then add the chicken and fry for 5 minutes, making sure the chicken is well coated with the spices. Add coconut milk, pandan leaf and salt. Coconut milk needs to be stirred constantly as you bring it to a boil so that it doesn't curdle. When it boils, turn down the heat and simmer 30-45 minutes until the chicken is tender and gravy has thickened.

Posted by kuri at 02:04 PM [view entry with 1 comments)]
February 17, 2005

recipe thursdayWhile on vacation this week, I watched a famous Japanese cooking show called "Today's Food". They made carbonara and I liked their techniques, so took notes to share with you.

Today's Food Carbonara
serves 1

100g pancetta, cut into sticks
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp brandy
1 egg
2 egg yolks
4 Tbsp cream
4 Tbsp fresh parmesan, grated
pasta of your choice
1 Tbsp parsley, chopped
black pepper

Whisk together egg, yolks, cream and cheese. Chill. This will prevent the egg from scrambling when you add it to the pasta.

Fry the pancetta in olive oil until crisp. Remove half of the bacon from the pan. Drain the oil from the pan and discard. If grease still remains, wipe the pan carefully with a paper towel.

Cook the pasta until slightly softer than al dente. remove from water, reserving some of the cooking liquid.

Reheat the bacon pan and deglaze with brandy (or white wine). Add the pasta and a couple tablespoons of the pasta water, stirring to incorporate bacon.

Remove from heat and pour the egg mixture over the pasta, stirring well. The heat from the pasta will cook the egg. If the sauce gets too thick, adjust the consistency with some more of the pasta water.

Garnish with the pancetta you set aside, plus parsley and plenty of coarsely crushed black pepper.

Posted by kuri at 07:04 AM [view entry with 1 comments)]
February 03, 2005
How to Cut

recipe thursdayNo matter how many recipes you master, if your knife skills are lacking you're not going to cut it in the kitchen.

Today, take an inventory of your knives. You must have one good chef's knife (8-10"), a utility knife, a paring knife and a bread knife. More than that is a luxury. Less than that and you're cutting yourself short. Do not try to cut everything in your kitchen with a serrated steak knife, like I remember doing as a kid. Go to the best knife shop you can afford and fill the gaps.

Next, sharpen your knives! A dull knife will cut you worse than a sharp one. You use more pressure on a dull knife and it's easier to slip when you're pressing hard. The test for me it tomatoes. If you can't slice a tomato like butter, then your knife is too dull. Manually sharpening knives takes some practice; for most people, it's easier to buy a knife sharpener that holds the blade at the correct angle. Whichever way you do it, be vigilant. Don't let your knives get dull.

If you're not sure what to do with your razor sharp knives, this utterly useful illustrated essay on How to Cut will get you started, or refresh your memory. Peter Hertzmann also shares French recipes on his website, a la carte.

Posted by kuri at 07:32 PM [view entry with 3 comments)]
January 27, 2005
Coconut Cheesecakes

recipe thursday These individual cheesecakes are almost effortless if you remember to take the cream cheese out to soften. A quick mix, a short bake and you have a creamy underlayer for a topping of fresh fruit. Plus, they satisfy the guidelines of South Beach and Atkins (if you use isomalt and not sugar) You could substitute low-fat cream cheese, though I didn't bother.

Coconut Cheesecakes
makes 12

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup unsweetend coconut flakes
1 egg
1/2 cup cream
3 Tbsp sugar or isomalt
1/2 tsp vanilla

With a fork, mix the coconut, egg and cream cheese until the cheese is smooth. Pour in the cream and vanilla and stir well. Spoon into 12 muffin tins or papers. Bake at 160 for about 17 minutes or until the tops are just golden. Serve with sliced fresh fruit. Store in an airtight container.

Posted by kuri at 09:40 AM [view entry with 0 comments)]
January 20, 2005
Lamb Saag

recipe thursdayI love Indian food but my successrate on INdian recipes is rather low. However, I did this one the other night and it was easy and cmae out tasting just right. The trick is to let it cook a long time--just like a pot roast.

Lamb Saag
serves 4

1 onion, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
500 gr lamb, trimmed of fat & cubed
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp ground corriander
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp chili powder
2 large bunches spinach, sliced thin
3 Tbsp plain yogurt
1 tsp grainy mustard

In a lidded skillet, saute the onion in oil. When the onion is soft, add lamb and dry spices. Brown meat, then stir in spinach, yogurt and mustard. Cover and cook until lamb is fork-tender--about 30 minutes. Add water as needed to keep the dish moist.

Posted by kuri at 10:33 PM [view entry with 1 comments)]
January 13, 2005
Chickpea Chili

recipe thursdayChili is a wonderful cold weather food. I love the balance of beans and meat in this recipe and the spicing is perfect--not too hot, but not at all bland, either. If you're serving it to folks who like flaming-hot chili, offer some habanero sauce on the side. Chipotle sauce is also a nice touch. As a bonus, this is a low-carbohydrate recipe appropriate for phase one of the South Beach Diet.

Chickpea Chili
serves 4

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp garlic, roughly chopped
1 onion, chopped
1/2 shiitake mushroom, thinly sliced
3 nasu (Japanese eggplant), 1" dice
200 gr ground beef
200 gr sirloin steak, 1" cubes
1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1/2 cup red lentils, uncooked
1 can Italian tomatoes, whole
2 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated

Heat the oil in a deep pot, briefly fry the onion and garlic then add meat, browning well. Add the eggplant and mushroom. Cook for a few minutes until the eggplant just starts to soften. Reduce heat. Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans until the water stops bubbling; add to pot. Run the tomatoes through your fingers to break them up as you put them into the mix. Toss in the lentils and one can of water. Season with chili, cumin, salt and black pepper. Allow to simmer for about 40 minutes or until the lentils are soft. Serve topped with grated cheddar cheese.

Posted by kuri at 06:54 AM [view entry with 5 comments)]
January 06, 2005
Bagna Cauda

recipe thursdayIt's difficult to go wrong with garlic and anchovies and if you warm them up with a bunch of good olive oil, you've got a winning dip. Banga cauda is perfect for winter parties or those evenings when you want to graze your way through dinner.

Bagna Cauda
makes a bit more than a cup

1 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 Tbsp butter
10 cloves garlic
2 tins anchovies

Mince the garlic and cook on low heat in the butter and olive oil until soft. Add the anchovy and cook until everything is smushy. Remove from heat and allow to cool for two hours or more to allow the flavors to mellow. Reheat, whisking to incorporate the oil and solids. Serve the bagna cauda hot with a variety of vegetables (lightly steamed) and breadsticks for dipping.

Posted by kuri at 10:47 PM [view entry with 5 comments)]
December 30, 2004
Meat Cookies

recipe thursdayYou never know when people are going to pop in for a holiday drink or two, so it's good to be prepared. These quick appetisers will impress them with items you probably already have in the fridge.

Tod started calling them "vesuvios" but everyone else thinks of them as meat cookies! I've seen them elsewhere called "puffs" but they are pretty much just a savory cookie or a really soft cracker; meat cookie is quite appropriate. How Tod chose "vesuvio" I'm not sure, but they are tasty regardless of what you call them.

And they take just about no time at all to make, so you can whip them up as soon as your friends call to say they're on their way over. Or be really prepared and make a bunch and freeze them.

Meat Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1.5 cups cheese*, grated
2 slices deli ham, minced
1/2 tsp worchestershire sauce
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup flour

Mix the butter, cheese, ham and seasonings together, then add the flour in two parts. Work the dough until it forms a ball; I like to work with my hands for this. Pinch off marble-sized pieces and bake at 160/350 for about 12 minutes or until lightly brown. Serve warm of room temperature.

* Cheddar is good, or a combination of different cheeses.

Posted by kuri at 11:07 PM [view entry with 1 comments)]
December 23, 2004
Masala Chocolate Cookies

recipe thursdayThese are inspired by a bar of Belgian chocolate I tasted earlier this week. They are exotically spicy and not terribly sweet.

Masala Chocolate Cookies
makes about 4 dozen

2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp garam masala powder
1/2 tsp ginger powder
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Combine dry ingredients (except almonds) in a small bowl. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Whisk egg and vanilla together, then add to butter mixture. Add dry ingredients in two parts, then add almonds.

Form into a snake about 2 inches thick, wrap in plastic or waxed paper and chill until hard (or freeze).

Slice into 1/4 inch rounds and bake for 10 minutes at 160/350.

Posted by kuri at 10:39 PM [view entry with 2 comments)]
December 16, 2004
Aussie meat pies

recipe thursdayLast week in Australia, I was the pet American and treated to a feast of Australian foods from crayfish to lamingtons.

My favorite thing (and this probably says something about my modest palette) was the pies. Meat pies are the staple fast food, just like hamburgers are in the US. At certain times and places (Port Augusta at 9 pm comes to mind) they are the only food you can get.

So here's my take on them. These are not authentic; I doubt that real pies use Chuka-aji, but I like the flavour enhancement of the MSG.

Kristen's Aussie meat pies
serves 5

200 gr thinly sliced beef
300 gr ground beef
1 cup onion, small diced
1 Tblsp ground black pepper
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 Tblsp olive oil
2 Tblsp flour
300 ml beef stock or consomme
1/2 tsp chuka-aji or MSG
pie crust dough (2 crusts' worth)
1 and 1/4 pie sheets (puff pastry)

Mix up your favorite pie crust recipe. Thaw a pie sheet.

Sautee onion in olive oil until transluscent. Sprinkle the beef with flour. Add beef and pepper to pan. Brown beef, then pour in consomme or stock. Simmer until all liquid is reduced. Sprinkle with MSG or chuka-aji. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Allow beef mixture to cool.

Divide pie dough into five pieces. Roll out to fit individual pie tins (I use glass custard cups). Line the pie plates, then fill with beef mixture. Roll the pie sheet out, cut into squares and cover the beef filling. Pinch edges of the pies together.

Bake at 400 degrees until the pie sheet is golden brown. Serve with sauce (tomato ketchup) on top and a side dish of peas.

Posted by kuri at 09:01 PM [view entry with 4 comments)]
December 02, 2004
Chocolate Coated Chocolate Cake

recipe thursday This isn't just chocolate cake, it's flourless chocolate cake. And it's not just flourless chocolate cake, it's the cake you will compare all other cakes to. After you have this cake, all other cakes (chocolate and otherwise) will pale in comparison. So bake at your own risk.

This is adapted from an Epicurious recipe. It is one of the few recipes in which I will specify brands, but the chocolate matters.

Chocolate Coated Chocolate Cake
serves 1-20 depending on the people

5 100 gram Lindt Excellence 70% Coaco bars
3 75 gram Cote d'Or "Noir et Noir" chocolate bars
3/4 c butter
6 eggs
12 Tblsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 c cream
1/2 c corn syrup

Break 4 Lindt bars into pieces. Chop butter into pieces. Melt them together over low heat, stirring frequently. Allow to cool to lukewarm.

Separate the eggs. Beat the yolks with 6 Tbsp sugar until light and frothy. Add vanilla. Spoon in the melted chocolate and stir until smoothly incorporated.

Whip the egg whites into medium peaks, adding remaining sugar (6 Tblsp) gradually. Fold into chocolate mixture.

Pour into a greased spring-form or loose bottomed cake pan. Bake at 350 for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with crumbs.

Alow the cake to cool; it will fall a bit. Release sides of the pan, flatten the cake to a consistent thickness, and invert onto a serving plate.

Chocolate coating:
Chop remaining chocolate (1 Lindt bar and three Cote d'Or bars) finely. Simmer cream and corn syrup. Remove from heat. add chocolate and stir until it melts.

Spread the top and sides of the cake with about half the coating. Freeze cake for ten minutes to set the glaze, then coat with the rest of the chocolate. It's thick and makes nice swirls.

Allow to chilled for about 2 hours. Serve at room temperature.

Posted by kuri at 11:59 PM [view entry with 4 comments)]
November 25, 2004
Tangy Cranberry Sauce

recipe thursdayI love cranberries but I'm not so crazy about very sweet sauces for meats. So this low-sugar cranberry sauce is just the thing. Best if made a day or two ahead so that the flavors can blend.

Tangy Cranberry Sauce
makes about 2 cups

350 g (12 oz) fresh whole cranberries
1/4 c sugar
3 mikan (mandarin oranges)
1/4 c water

Wash the cranberries and remove any mushy ones. Put the cranberries, water and sugar together in a pot and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 6 minutes, until the cranberries are all split open. Juice the mikan and add the juice to the pot. Turn off the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

In a blender or food processor, or with a handheld blender or food mill, puree the berries, allowing a few lumps for texture. Chill overnight or up to three days.

Posted by kuri at 09:28 PM [view entry with 0 comments)]
November 18, 2004
Goya Chijimi

recipe thursdayGoya is the Okinawan name for a bitter gourd that's called "balsam pear" in English and niga-uri in Japanese. I've eaten it many times as "goya chanpuru, a scrambled egg dish, but found this recipe for goya chijimi on Suntory's Macadia site.

Goya Chijimi
serves 2

1/2 goya
1/2 mentaiko (spicy cod roe)
2 eggs
2/3 c flour
pinch salt
1/2 Tbsp oil

Slice the goya in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds, then slice into thin crescents. Separate the mentaiko. Mix the eggs, flour and salt in a bowl. Add the goya and mentaiko. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Divide the batter into four pancakes. Fry on both sides until golden brown.

Posted by kuri at 05:51 PM [view entry with 3 comments)]
October 28, 2004
Hoagie, Hero, Grinder, Sub

recipe thursdayAh, the joy of a well-made sandwich, whether you call it a submarine, a grinder, a hero or a haogie, is not to be underestimated. A meal in one hand. A feast of texture, flavor and colors.

When I was a kid, hoagies were long, squashy rolls, drenched with Italian dressing and stuffed with the palest green lettuce you've ever seen. They were wrapped tightly in plastic and sold by fundraising cheerleaders in the school cafeteria.

Here's a more sophisticated version of the lunchroom hoagie.

Grownup Hoagie
serves 2-4

1 batard French loaf
5 slices "white roast" ham
5 slices mortadella (or baloney)
5 slices sopressata (or your favorite salami)
5 slices provolone cheese
1/2 tomato, sliced paper thin
1/4 onion, sliced paper thin
1/4 cup shredded lettuce
3-4 Tblsp Italian dressing

Slice the bread lengthwise, being careful not to cut all the way through, so you leave a hinge to close the sandwich.

Drizzle some dressing on the bread, reserving a tablespoon or so. Layer the ham, sausage, salami and cheese. Bake in a hot oven for about 7 minutes. Top with tomato, onion, lettuce and remaining dressing.

Use the flat side of a long knife to press the fillings in while closing the bread. Slice into thirds or quarters and serve.

Posted by kuri at 08:20 PM [view entry with 0 comments)]
October 21, 2004
Year of Rice

recipe thursday2004 is the UN's International Year of Rice. Rice supports half the world's population. Yeah for rice!

I lived on mainly rice during my junior year at university in PIttsburgh. I had my first apartment and not much money. Rice was the cheapest staple in the grocery store and I discovered how versatile it is. I was creative with combinations of rice, eggs and milk for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Here's one of my favorite frugal treats--usually made with the rice leftover from a rice omelet or plain fried rice.

Simple Rice Pudding
serves 2

1/2 cup cooked rice
2 cups milk
2 eggs, very well beaten
2 or 3 Tbsp sugar
optional: cinnamon, raisins, grated apple, and/or black pepper

Heat the milk (do not boil) and add the rice, stirring to separate. Stir in the sugar. Whisk in the eggs. Add any additional seasonings you desire.

You can either cover the pot and continue cooking over very low heat until the milk and eggs form a soft custard (about 30 minutes to an hour), or put the pot in the oven (if it is oven-safe) and bake at 300 degrees for an hour or so.

Can be served warm or cold.

Posted by kuri at 05:24 PM [view entry with 2 comments)]
October 14, 2004

recipe thursdayFijian cooking is influenced by the island produce and fish. Kokoda is a citrus-pickled fish in spicy coconut sauce. It makes a great appetiser. Here it is:

serves 2

1 filet firm white fish (walu, tuna, swordfish)
juice of one lime
juice of one lemon
1/2 small onion, minced
1/2 green pepper minced
1 green or red chile, minced
1/2 can coconut cream/milk
salt & pepper to taste

Cut the filet into 1 cm cubes. Soak in the lemon and lime juices for 2 hours to pickle the fish. Rinse the juice off. Mix the fish with the remaining ingredients. It's fine to eat immediately, but refrigerate a few hours more, or overnight, for best flavor.

If the fish doesn't pickle all the way through (if you cut it to large like I did yesterday), you can convert this into a tasty fish curry by bringing it to a simmer and heating for about 10 minutes.

Posted by kuri at 01:23 PM [view entry with 0 comments)]
September 30, 2004
Umeboshi sweet potatoes

recipe thursdaySay "mashed satsuma imo with umeboshi" to any Japanese person (well, all the ones I know at least) and you'll get a doubtful look. I think the combination of sweet potatoes (satsuma imo) and pickled plum (umeboshi) is like putting peanut butter with pickles. But I did it anyway and served it to guests who were surprised at how well they go together. Just goes to show you that sometimes mixing unconventional ingredients works.

Umeboshi Sweet Potatoes
serves 2

1 satsuma imo (sweet potato)
2-3 umeboshi - the soft squishy type

Peel the potato and chop into large hunks. Boil in salted water until soft and mashable. Drain. Use your fingers to pick the meat off the umeboshi, discarding the pits. Add to the potatoes. Mash with enough milk and butter to moisten the potatoes and to satisfy your cravings for fat. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

Posted by kuri at 09:30 PM [view entry with 5 comments)]
September 16, 2004
Polenta Pie

recipe thursdayWe first enjoyed this delicious vegetarian entree last December when Jo came over to make holiday cards. We reprised it again tonight at her house for a crowd. A classic from the Moosewood Cookbook.

Polenta Pie

1.5 cups cornmeal
1 tsp salt
1.5 cups cold water
2 cups boiling water
olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup green pepper, sliced
10 mushrooms
1 zucchini, thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
fresh black pepper
1/4 lb mozerella cheese, grated
2 small tomatoes, sliced

Combine cornmeal, salt and cold water in a small bowl. Add the cornmeal mixture to the boiling water, whisking to avoid lumps. Cook 10 minutes over low heat, stirring frequently. It will thicken. Remove from heat and cool.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Oil a 10 inch pie pan. Press the polenta into the pan to create a smooth thick crust. Brush the surface with olive oil and bake uncovered for 45 minutes.

Sautee the vegetables in olive oil, starting with the onions and then pepper, mushrooms and zucchini. Stir in the garlic and herbs.

Sprinkle half the cheese on the baked crust, spread vegetables over and top iwith remaining cheese. Broil until the cheese bubbles.

Posted by kuri at 11:26 PM [view entry with 1 comments)]
September 09, 2004
Broccoli and Carrot Salad

recipe thursdayThis week, I've ended up with a bunch of carrots in my fridge. I keep buying them, forgetting that I already have some. This salad helped me reduce the inventory a bit and added a nice green side to a simple ham sandwich lunch.

Broccoli and Carrot Salad
serves 2

1 small head of broccoli
1 carrot
1/4 cup walnut pieces
glug olive oil
glug soy sauce
glug rice vinegar
dash yuzu-su (citrus vinegar)
pinch sea salt

Cut the florets off the broccoli. Blanch in boiling water, then shock in ice water to cool. In a large bowl, grate the carrot, add the walnuts and dressing ingredients. Toss with the broccoli. Serve.

Posted by kuri at 07:52 AM [view entry with 1 comments)]
September 02, 2004
Cutting definitions

recipe thursdayHave you ever been confused about the differences between chopping, dicing and mincing? Here's the skinny on what's what.

Chop: irregular shapes but generally the same size. There are no specific rules about size but pieces larger than an inch (3 cm) are often called "chunks."

Mince: very finely chopped. To properly mince, first chop the product, then change the position of your knife--hold the handle and the tip of the blade and rock it back and forth over the product to mince.

Dice: perfect cubes of prescribed sizes:

small dice: 1/4"
medium dice: 1/2"
large dice: 3/4"

At the culinary school I attended, the chef measured our diced potatoes with a ruler. We were also tested on julienne (1/8 x 1/8 x 2 1/4"), batonet (1/4 x 1/4 X 3), and the evil tourne--7 sided 2" long potatoes.

Posted by kuri at 07:49 AM [view entry with 2 comments)]
August 26, 2004
Trail Mix Cookies

recipe thursdayJo brought the most excellent trail mix on our camping trip--dried figs, dates, apricots, bananas, ginger, papaya, raisins, and sultanas mixed with peanuts, almonds, pistachios, and cashews. There was a bit more than we needed, and I snagged a bag to bring home.

I turned them into bar cookies--oat-rich, chewy, slightly crumbly nuggets of camping memories. They make a delicious breakfast, too.

Trail Mix Cookies
makes 20 cookies

1 cup trail mix (fruit and nut mix, no chocolate)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 tsp baking powder
pinch salt

Chop the trail mix until everything's about the size of a raisin. Add to the dry ingredients. Cream the butter, sugar and egg. Combine the wet and dry mixtures. Spread in a greased 8 x 10 pan and bake at 350/180 for about 15 minutes. Cut into bars or squares while still slightly warm.

Posted by kuri at 06:36 AM [view entry with 5 comments)]
August 19, 2004
Camping Soup

recipe thursdayThis weekend I'm off to Sado Island to camp for a few days with friends and attend the taiko drumming festival. We're splitting up the cooking duties so that everyone makes one meal. I'm bringing along everything needed for lentil soup. Except for the optional cheese topping, nothing needs refrigeration.

Camping Soup
serves 4

1 cup lentils
3 cups water
1 carrot
1/2 onion
2 Tblsp dried garlic chips
2-3 dried red chilies
1 Tblsp oil
salt & pepper
8 tortillas
1 cup grated cheese (optional)

Small dice the onion and carrot. Over the camp stove, heat the oil and sautee the onion and carrot until just browned. Add the garlic and chilies and cook until the scent wafts up to greet you. Add the lentils and toast briefly, then pour the water in, cover the pan, and allow to boil for about 20 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Top the soup with grated cheese and serve with flame-toasted tortillas.

Posted by kuri at 03:12 PM [view entry with 6 comments)]
August 12, 2004
Orecchiette with bacon

recipe thursdayLooking for a quick dinner the other evening, I threw together this pasta dish. I would have used pancetta, but it's not available in my grocery store. They do carry "fresh bacon block" which is unsliced bacon and worked quite nicely instead of pancetta.

Orecchiette with Bacon
serves 3-4

250 g orecchiette pasta (or shells, sprials, penne)
1 zucchini
1 red pepper
12 white button mushrooms
10 cm bacon block
grana padano or parmesan cheese to garnish
salt and black pepper to taste

Put the water on to boil the pasta. Slice the vegetables and bacon into sticks about 3 cm x .5 cm. Heat a frying pan and add the bacon, stirring frequently to cook until brown and nearly crispy. Remove from pan, leaving bacon grease. Fry the peppers, mushrooms and zucchini in the grease. When soft but not mushy, remove vegetables from pan. Cook the pasta, drain and mix with the bacon and vegetables. Season with black pepper and salt; garnish with cheese.

Serve with salad and garlic bread.

Posted by kuri at 03:48 PM [view entry with 2 comments)]
August 05, 2004
Coffee jelly

recipe thursdayThis is a quick and easy gelatin dessert that requires no cooking and is low in calories. Coffee jelly is a popular dessert in Tokyo. The coffee jelly sold in the stores is usually sweetened, but this version delivers a sharp contrast between the bitter coffee jelly and the sweet milk.

Coffee Jelly
serves 2

5 g gelatin
50 ml hot water
200 ml cold coffee (for softer jelly, use 250 ml coffee)
1 tsp sweetened condensed milk

Thoroughly dissolve the gelatin in the hot water. Add the coffee and stir. Pour into two small bowls or glasses. Chill and allow to set. Serve drizzled with condensed milk.

Posted by kuri at 03:39 PM [view entry with 0 comments)]
July 22, 2004

recipe thursdayTokyo's heat wave got me thinking about ices and I've mixed up a lot of granitas this week. They're simple to prepare and taste delicious.

Viennese Coffee Granita
serves 4

2 cups coffee
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix the coffee, cinnamon and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Pour into a shallow pan and freeze. Once an hour until it freezes, use a fork to stir and scrape the ice, breaking up the lumps.

In a separate pan, mix the milk, vanilla and remaining sugar. Freeze, scraping hourly as above. The milk will take a little longer to freeze than the coffee.

Serve the coffee granita topped with the sweet milky granita.

Blueberry-Ginger Granita
serves 4

2 cups blueberries
1/2 tsp grated ginger
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 lime, juiced

Whirl the blueberries, ginger and sugar in a blender. Strain the solids from the liquid, using a fine sieve. To the liquid, add the water and lime juice. Pour into a shallow pan and freeze. Once an hour until it freezes, use a fork to stir and scrape the ice, breaking up the lumps.

Shiso Lemon Granita
serves 4

8 leaves shiso
2 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
1 lemon, juiced

Roughly chop the shiso leaves, then whirls in a blender with the water and sugar. Strain the solids from the liquid with a fine sieve. add the lemon juice. Pour into a shallow pan and freeze. Once an hour until it freezes, use a fork to stir and scrape the ice, breaking up the lumps.

Posted by kuri at 06:00 PM [view entry with 1 comments)]
July 15, 2004
Banana-Cointreau Lassi

recipe thursdayIt's too hot to eat, but not too hot for fruity drinks. I invented this one last night. The garam masala adds a subtle spice and the Cointreau sweetens the bite of the yogurt.

Banana-Cointreau Lassi
Makes 2 generous servings

2 or 3 cups ice
2 bananas, peeled
1 cup plain yogurt
1/4 tsp garam masala powder
2 oz Cointreau

Put it all in a powerful blender. Blend until smooth. Serve over ice.

Posted by kuri at 12:10 AM [view entry with 0 comments)]
July 08, 2004
Cucumber and Peach Salad

recipe thursdayInspired by a recipe for cucumber and peach salsa and my recent trend towards fruit with pepper, I added a Japanese flair and served this salad at a dinner party last week with Eric Gower, author of the Breakaway Japanese Kitchen.

Cucumber and Peach Salad
Makes about 6 cups

4 Japanese cucumbers
3 peaches
1/4 cup pistachios
3 leaves shiso
1/2 bulb myoga
1 or 2 limes, juiced
1/2 tsp yuzu vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Peel and chop the cucumbers and peaches into bite-sized pieces. Mince the shiso and myoga, whisk together with lime juice and yuzu vinegar. Pour over salad. Toss in the nuts. Season with salt and plenty of freshly crushed black pepper.

Note: if using American cucumbers, two should be enough. You may want to de-seed them, though.

Posted by kuri at 07:10 AM [view entry with 2 comments)]
July 01, 2004
Fruit and pepper

recipe thursdayTokyo's turned hot and humid early this year (making up for last summer's unseasonable coolness, I imagine) and I don't want to cook. It's time to dine on raw fruits and vegetables, icy drinks, and chilled soups.

But fruits get boring, even when they are delectably ripe. Tod discovered a new way to enjoy them--dusted with freshly cracked black pepper. The sweetness of the fruit with the earthy tang of pepper is a surprising combination, but ever so wonderful.

Fruit with Black Pepper

Seasonal fruits: strawberries, sweet plums, peaches, etc
Whole black peppercorns
Pepper mill

Slice (or bite open) the fruit. Grind pepper generously on top. Enjoy.

Vary the recipe with pink, white, brown or green peppercorns. Each has its own flavor that enhances the fruit in delightful ways.

Posted by kuri at 07:30 AM [view entry with 1 comments)]
June 24, 2004
Lovely sandwich

recipe thursdayThis makes a fabulous lunchtime picnic. At least it did for me. It can be assembled al fresco if you bring a knife.

If you can't find bread with figs in it, use a chewy grain-studded loaf and slice up some figs. If you can't find peppered smoked chicken, I think you might be out of luck with this recipe.

Smoked Chicken and Blueberries on Fig Bread
serves 2

2 small loaves fig bread
2 fillets peppered, smoked chicken
2 oz full-milk soft French cheese from an obscure village
1 handful fresh blueberries

Slice open the fig bread, tuck two chicken tenderloins into it, smear with cheese and garnish liberally with blueberries smushed into the cheese.

Posted by kuri at 09:26 AM [view entry with 2 comments)]
June 17, 2004

recipe thursdayThis lemony Greek chicken soup is a good choice when you're sick and tired of chicken noodle.

serves 3-4

4 chicken filets, or 1 skinless breast diced
2 cans chicken broth
1/2 can water
1/2 c rice
2 lemons, juiced
2 eggs
2-3 Tblspn milk
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

In a stock pot, cook the chicken quickly over high heat until seared. Pour in the stock and water. Add the rice, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the rice is cooked.

In a bowl, beat together the eggs and milk until very well blended.

When the rice is cooked, pour the egg mixture into the boiling soup in a thin drizzle, stiring to form egg threads. Remove from heat, add lemon juice and parsley.

Variation 1: use 10 finely sliced shiso leaves instead of parsley.
Variation 2: add some diced carrot with the rice. Add 1/2 cup chopped spinach after the rice is done and allow to cook down, then do the egg threads.

Posted by kuri at 03:45 PM [view entry with 0 comments)]
June 10, 2004
Savory French Toast

recipe thursdayThis was a surprise. We had a half a French loaf and some eggs, but it was dinner...aha! A jar of pasta sauce, a few sausages and a dish of spinach with mushrooms, voila, dinner was done.

Savory French Toast

1/2 loaf french bread
3 eggs
3 Tblsp parmesan cheese (grated)
olive oil

Beat the eggs until smooth, blend in the parmesan, season with salt and pepper. Slice the bread into 1 or 2 cm slices. Dip the bread in the egg to coat, allowing excess egg to run back into the egg mixture. Fry on both sides over medium-high heat in a little olive oil.

Heat up some pasta sauce, serve on the side instead of maple syrup.

Posted by kuri at 07:07 AM [view entry with 3 comments)]
June 03, 2004
Garlic Tonic

recipe thursdayOn the same day Tracey & I made ume shu, we also put together a batch ninniku shu--garlic tonic. It will be ready at the end of October, just in time to ward off chills, strengthen our blood, test on my visiting mother and mother-in-law, and all the other healthful benefits it's said to bring. Really it was just too unusual (and tasty sounding) a combination of flavors not to try it!

Ninniku Shu

500 gr garlic
50 leaves shiso
4 lemons
60 gr white sesame seeds
80 grams fresh ginger root
1 cup honey
1.8 litres white liquor (35% alcohol)

Peel the garlic and trim off the ends. Steam for about 5 minutes. Rinse the shiso leaves. Slice the ginger root. Peel the lemons and slice into 2 or 3 pieces. Put all the ingredients into a 4 litre jar, and cover with the white liquor. Store in a cool dark place for about 5 months. Drink straight.

Posted by kuri at 08:57 AM [view entry with 4 comments)]
May 31, 2004
Let's Make Ume Shu

play videoLet's Make Ume Shu 4'38" (28.7 MB MP4)

umeshu.jpg...starring Tracey Northcott as the barkeep...

As promised, here's a how to video with everything you need to know to make ume shu (Japanese plum wine). Learn how to choose plums, wash and dry them, sterilse the bottles, layer the fruit with sugar and fill. It's surprisingly easy.

For your shopping and kitchen convenience, here's a recipe to print out.

Ume Shu

1 kg green ume (Japanese plums)
1 kg rock sugar
1.8 liters white liquor (35% alcohol)

Sterilise a 4 liter glass jar by filling it with boiling water, rinsing and drying carefully. Wash the ume, culling any fruit with bruises or broken skins. Dry the ume and remove the waxy bit in the stem end. Dry the fruit again. Layer ume and sugar in the jar, pour in the liquor. Seal tightly. Upend theh jar once a month until the sugar is completely dissolved. The ume shu is drinkable after 6 months, and fully mature at the end of a year.

Posted by kuri at 05:29 PM [view entry with 11 comments)]
May 27, 2004
Chevre-stuffed chicken with macadamias

recipe thursday We invented this the other night to cheer up an ailing friend. It's a bit more complicated that my usually dash-things-together style, but it's not at all difficult. Just take everything in stages.

We served this to five people after a hearty round of cheese and crackers and a pasta course, so two chicken breasts were plenty. We followed up with bread and salad and some fruit. I waddled home with a happy tummy.

Chevre-stuffed Chicken with Macadamias
serves 4-5

1 medium white onion, minced
5 plum/roma tomatoes, seeded and small diced
1/2 yellow pepper, minced
1 large bunch fresh basil, chopped
100 gr chevre (goat cheese)
1/2 cup macadamia nuts
splash Basalmic vinegar
2 skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup white wine
olive oil
salt & pepper

Saute the minced onion, yellow pepper and tomato in a little olive oil until soft. Season with salt & pepper, spread on a serving platter, and set aside.

Mash the chevre and basil together. Pepper to taste.

Blanch the macadamias, then chop them into large bits. In a small pan, toast until they turn golden, the splash in some balsamic vinegar and cook for 30 second. Remove from heat and set aside.

Cut a pocket into the center of each chicken breast, starting at the wide thick end and cutting towards the pointy end. Be careful not to cut through--only one hole is required.

Stuff the pocket with the chevre mixture. Use your fingers and tuck it in firmly, pushing it away from the opening. The cheese will melt as the chicken cooks, so you want to give it some room in there.

Dredge the chicken in flour. Saute in olive oil until the chicken is browned. Splash in the wine and allow the pan to settle, then add some water and cover the frying pan to steam the chicken. Depending on the thickness of the breast, this will take about 5-10 minutes. It's fine to lift the lid and check the progress by poking the chicken with your finger.

When the chicken feels done, remove the chicken from the pan. Slice the chicken into rounds to display the cheese and serve on top of the sauteed vegetables. Garnish with the macadamias.

Posted by kuri at 05:26 AM [view entry with 1 comments)]
May 20, 2004
Curry lamb marinade

recipe thursdayThis marinade is heavenly for grilled lamb chops. It's mild but flavorful and not at all heavy-handed.

Curry lamb marinade
3 lemons, juiced
2 Tblsp olive oil
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp garam masala powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp tumeric
2 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 inch fresh ginger, minced
1 tsp fresh parsely, minced

Combine ingredients and marinate lamb for at least 2 hours.

Posted by kuri at 02:31 PM [view entry with 3 comments)]
May 13, 2004

recipe thursdayI'm not sure whether I prefer this sandwich or its name. It's a heaven combination of olive salad and luncheon meats on a big round bread--a Sicilian style sandwich from New Orleans. Someday I'll get to Central Grocery on Decatur Street to try the original but until then, here's how I make a muffaletta. It's best to start a day ahead with the olive salad, but not necessary.

serves 4-6 depending on the bread

1 cup black olives, chopped
1 cup green olives, chopped
1 red pepper
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
1 loaf of round bread, Italian or "country" style
120 g (1/4 lb) or thereabouts:
mozzarella cheese
provolone cheese

Using a fork as a skewer, roast the red pepper over a gas flame until the skin blackens. Allow to cool, then chop into 1/4 inch pieces. Combine the olives, roasted red pepper, garlic and a generous amount of olive oil. Allow to sit for at least a few hours, and preferably a full day.

Slice the loaf in half, and shallowly scoop out the top. Toast both halves lightly. Drizzle the bread with some of the oil from the olive salad, then arrange the cheeses on the bottom half and put back under the broiler to melt. On top of the melted cheese, layer the meats and then top with a mound of olive salad.

You can also make this with regular Italian bread or baguettes, but the round bread is so much more fun that I never do. Leftover olive salad is the perfect base for Kristen's Putanesca.

Posted by kuri at 08:19 AM [view entry with 4 comments)]
May 06, 2004
Pork with Honey and Yuzu

recipe thursdayMay is the perfect month for al fresco dining in Tokyo. The weather is generally clear with nights that present a slightly cool contrast to the warm days. Needless to say, we've been busy with the grill this week and I have a great combination of flavors to share. It was inspired by a conversation with a friend but in my enthusiasm, I didn't measure when I put it together. Luckily for all of us, marinades are pretty forgiving so adjust to your liking.

Pork with Honey and Yuzu
serves 2

2 pork chops or cutlets
3-4 Tblsp yuzu vinegar
1/2 tsp dried yuzu peel
1/2 tsp dried red pepper (togarashi) rings
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

2 Tblsp honey
yuzu vinegar

Rub the pork with salt, pepper, sugar, yuzu peel and togarashi. Sprinkle with yuzu vinegar and allow to marinate for a few hours. Thin the honey with enough yuzu vinegar make it easy to brush onto the meat; and add a sprinkle of dried red pepper and set aside.

Grill the meat. Just before removing from the heat, brush with the honey glaze and allow to carmelise. Be careful not to burn the honey.

I served this with tarragon-herbed grilled zucchini and basmati rice pilaf.

Posted by kuri at 08:56 AM [view entry with 1 comments)]
April 29, 2004
Oatmeal thumbprints

recipe thursdayThese cookies came with us to Jim's birthday picnic last weekend where they were quickly consumed. The original recipe calls for raspberry jam, which I didn't have, so I experimented with pear, (good) lemon curd (too runny) and a mysterious Iranian red fruit jam. My recipe is adapted from one in The Good Cookie by Trish Boyle.

Oatmeal Thumbprints
makes 36

1 cup walnuts
1 1/4 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
1 cup cake flour
1/4 tsp salt
7/8 cup butter (that's 1/2 cup + 6 Tblsp)
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-fruit jam

Grind the walnuts into a medium fine powder. Set aside. Combine oatmeal, flour & salt. Set aside. Cream the butter until fluffy; add the sugar. Mix in the egg, then the vanilla. Add the oat mixture and stir until just blended.

Form 1" balls (the dough is soft), and roll in the ground walnuts. Place on greased (or non-stick) cookie trays. Flatten each ball slightly with your palm, then make an indentation with your thumb. Fill the hollow with about a 1/2 tsp of jam.

Bake at 350 for about 11 minutes or until golden brown. Take care not to overbake.

Posted by kuri at 07:42 AM [view entry with 3 comments)]
April 22, 2004
Ginger honey tea

recipe thursdayTod & I caught a springtime cold and have been coughing for weeks. When I'm ill, I tend towards medication cooked up in my kitchen from herbs and foods, rather than OTC or prescription drugs. I find that this tisane really helps to calm my cough and it tastes good, too.

Ginger Honey Tea
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 Tblsp honey
hot water
lemon (optional)

Grate the ginger into your mug while the water boils. Spoon in some honey. Pour in boiling water and stir. Add a squeeze of lemon, if desired. Sip.

The trick to making this work is grating the ginger--it needs to be nearly juiced; minced ginger isn't as effective. I use a flat grater with very fine teeth (not holes) that pulls the ginger fibers apart to release the juices.

Posted by kuri at 06:57 AM [view entry with 1 comments)]
April 15, 2004
Shiso-chorizo lasagne

recipe thursdayTod & I invented this one together earlier this week and have been eating it ever since. It makes good leftovers.

The fusion of Spanish and Japanese flavours surprised me. "Chorizo" in Japan is more like a slightly spicy frankfurter than the proper Spanish chorizo, so we added a little cayenne to the mix to pep it up. Shiso, aka perilla, is a piquant relative of basil but accept no substitutes. The mushrooms add an earthy flavor that tie the whole thing together--if you can't find fresh shitake or maitake, portabello would substitute. To make this simple, I use an Italian brand of jarred pasta sauce that's heavy on the garlic and contains no sugar.

Shiso-chorizo Lasange
1 pkg lasagne noodles, cooked al dente
300 g cottage cheese
1 egg
5 shiso leaves, shredded
2 cups mozzarella, grated
1 ball fresh mozzarella
8 fresh shitake mushrooms, sliced
12 button mushrooms, sliced
300 g maitake mushrooms, chopped
8 links "chorizo"
pinch cayenne
1 jar garlicly tomato pasta sauce
Olive oil for sauting
salt and black pepper to taste

Saute the mushrooms in olive oil, seasoning with salt and pepper. Evaporate off the liquid, remove from pan and set aside. Before adding to the lasagne, drain any additional liquid that has accumulated.

Slice the chorizo into thin rounds, sprinkle with cayenne and fry briefly.

Mix the cottage cheese, egg and shiso. Season with black pepper and salt.

In the bottom of a rectangular baking pan, spread a tablespoon of sauce. This will help prevent the lasagne from sticking to the pan. Place a layer of noodles over the sauce, then start layering the fillings, sauce and noodles to your liking. Top with a final layer of noodles, sauce and slices of fresh mozzarella.

Bake at 175/350 for 25 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and brown. Allow to "set up" for about ten minutes before cutting.

Posted by kuri at 09:32 AM [view entry with 4 comments)]
April 08, 2004
Lemon-oregano marinade

recipe thursdayHere's a refreshing marinade that goes beautifully with chicken done on the grill. It was recently enjoyed by Drew, who requested the recipe.

Lemon-oregano Marinade

3-4 lemons, freshly squeezed (1/4 c juice)
1/4 c fresh oregano, finely chopped
3 Tblsp garlic, minced
2 Tblsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
1/3 c olive oil

Chicken pieces for 4-6 people.

Whisk together and pour over chicken. Allow to marinate for at least an hour, up to 8 hours. Grill. Mmmmm.

Posted by kuri at 07:46 AM [view entry with 2 comments)]
April 01, 2004
Blood Orange Birthday Cake

recipe thursdaySpring is the time for birthdays in my family. My niece, sister and I have birthdays within a week of each other. Tod's birthday is at the beginning of May and before then we'll have several other birthdays to celebrate with friends. So I do a lot of baking around this time of year. Here's what I made today to celebrate my 38th.

Blood Orange Birthday Cake
2.5 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup + 2 Tblsp butter, softened
1.5 cups sugar
juice of 1 blood orange
grated peel from 2 blood oranges
1/2 tsp vanilla
4 large eggs
1 cup milk

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, cream the butter until fluffy, then blend in sugar. Stir in the juice, grated peel and vanilla. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add in the flour and milk in alternate steps. Pour into buttered, floured pans and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until a pick inserted into the center comes clean.

I spread lemon curd between the layers and smoothed some more on top, then whipped up cream with sugar and piped it on the top and sides, and decorated with fresh strawberries and chocolate swirls I made by melting down a dark chocolate bar. It was a little bit too chewy--3 eggs might be enough...

Posted by kuri at 11:37 AM [view entry with 3 comments)]
March 25, 2004
Baked Artichoke Dip

recipe thursdayThis really could not be easier and it receives raves. Must be all the fat--for those who are counting, it's about 640 calories and 50 grams of fat, mainly from the mayonnaise. Artichokes have no fat at all, which surprised me for some reason--I figured they were oily like olives and avocado.

Baked Artichoke Dip
serves 6-8
5 Tblsp freshly grated Romano cheese
3 Tblsp mayonnaise
3 Tblsp sour cream
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

Stir together the first 5 ingredients until creamy, then mix in the chopped 'chokes. Transfer to an oven-safe serving dish. Bake at 175 C until heated through, about 20 minutes.

After baking you can top the dip with a little more grated Romano cheese and some paprika, then broil. It looks prettier with the extra cheese, but tastes great either way.

You can make the dip a day ahead and refrigerate before baking--it takes a little longer to bake if it's chilled.

Posted by kuri at 08:22 AM [view entry with 2 comments)]
March 18, 2004
Chicken ala Antipixel

recipe thursdayLast night at the Japan Bloggers party, Jeremy was waxing poetic about food. "Imagine taking cilantro and mango and making a sort of Chicken Kiev..." he began. We tossed the idea back and forth a little bit before turning to other topics.

This evening, I filled in the gaps of our recipe and tried it. I added a salty prosciutto ham to the filling and opted for a wine-simmered cordon bleu method, rather than a deep-fried Kiev. The preparation is quite simple, but you need to pound the chicken quite thin so that you can roll it.

I'm so glad to have friends who love food. Such great inspirations!

Chicken ala Antipixel

2 chicken breasts, skinless & boneless
2 Tblsp cottage cheese
1 bunch cilantro
1 slice prosciutto
1 small mango (ripe)
2 Tblsp flour
2 Tblsp olive oil
3/4 c white wine
1/2 t chicken bullion granules
1/2 c water or chicken broth (optional)
1 Tblsp cream
white pepper and salt to taste

Lay the chicken breasts flat. Cut the thick side to form a flap and fold back. Pound the chicken until it is about a 1 cm thick.

Lay on the center of each breast - 1 T cottage cheese, about a quarter of the mango, thinly sliced, 1/2 slice of prosciutto, and 1/2 a bunch of shredded cilantro (I used kitchen shears to shred the cilantro directly onto the chicken.)

Carefully fold the chicken over the filling and secure with toothpicks or bamboo skewers. Dust with flour.

Heat oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Brown chicken on all sides, then reduce heat, add wine and bullion granules. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. You may need to add some additional water during the simmering...keep an eye out.

While the chicken simmers, mince the remaining mango very fine and season with a little bit of white pepper. Set aside. Blend the cornstartch and cream, set aside.

When the chicken is cooked through, remove the chicken from the pan and carefully remove the toothpicks or skewers.

To the simmering liquid, now thickened in the pan, add the minced mango and cook for a minute. If the juices are too thick, add up to 1/2 cup of water or chicken broth. Mix in the cream and cook until the sauce coats the back of a spoon.

Posted by kuri at 09:29 PM [view entry with 2 comments)]
March 11, 2004
Old cook's tales

recipe thursdayWhen I'm in the kitchen, all sorts of phrases come to mind. They are the procedural recipes that I've learned over the years.

"Hot pan, cold oil, foods won't stick" from Jeff Smith's Frugal Gourmet runs through my head every single time I put oil in my fry pan.

"Frequent turning makes crisp bacon," comes from my mother's best friend's mother, Mrs. Allen. I never met her, but I think of her every time I cook a big breakfast.

"Cold start soup." I made this one up myself. Vegetables started in cold water release their flavor to the water, like soup stock. Potatoes should be cooked from cold water, so they lose their starchiness, but grean beans and carrots should be dropped into boiling water to retain flavor.

"A pint's a pound the world around," doesn't come up too often anymore, but I used that to estimate weight. These days I'm more likely to recall "100 grams = candy bar and 1 gram = a paperclip."

"Measure twice, cut once" belongs in the wood shop, but sometimes I apply it to recipes. Have you ever put in a tablespoon of a seasoning instead of a teaspoon? Yeah, me, too.

What phrases, rhymes and kitchen wisdom do you love?

Posted by kuri at 08:32 AM [view entry with 5 comments)]
March 04, 2004

recipe thursdayA post on the Being A Broad forum prompted me to hunt for my pierogi recipe but I couldn't find it. The recipe below is a combination of online recipes and my own adjustments. They are good; we enjoyed them for dinner tonight. Tod says they are the best he's had in years, which is probably true, pierogies are impossible to find in Tokyo. Jim suggested we call them "Scranton-fu Gyoza" in honor of our childhood stomping ground.

Makes about 2 dozen large or 3 dozen small

1 cup "hard" all-purpose flour (plus some for rolling)
3/4 cup "soft" cake flour
2 eggs
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup water
2 Tblsp butter
1 cup onion, minced very fine
4 potatoes, peeled and cut in quarters
1/2 cup cottage cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 onion, sliced
4 Tblsp butter

Stir together flours in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix eggs, water and salt. Make a well in the flour and add egg mixture, gradually incorporating flour until a soft dough forms. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead, adding only as much additional flour as needed to keep dough from sticking, until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. (Dough will be soft.) Cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature at least 30 minutes.

While the dough is resting, make the filling.

Boil the potatoes in salted water until soft; drain. Cook the minced onion in butter over medium heat until soft and translucent. Mash together potatoes, onion and cottage cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Flour your work surface. Divide the dough in half and roll it out out thin. Using a cookie cutter or a glass, cut rounds about 4" across for large pierogies or 2.5" for smaller pierogies. You can re-roll the scrap dough, but the gluten really gets going and your pierogies will get tough and chewy if you work the dough too much. Any extra dough can be cut into strips and boiled as noodles.

Drop about a tablespoon of filling into the center. Fold the dough together to form a half-moon. (Bringing both edges up, rather than folding one side over, lets the dough stretch evenly and pulls it off the rolling surface at the same time.) Be sure that the filling is all inside and not on the edges, then wet your fingers or a fork and pinch the edges closed. Set aside on a floured paper towels until you're ready to boil them.

Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.

Boil the pierogies in salted water for approximately 10 minutes...they will increase in size and float to the surface of the pot as they cook. As they boil, saute onion slices in butter until translucent. Remove the pierogies from the water, drain and add to the onions. Pan fry until light brown. Serve with buttered, boiled cabbage and the scrap noodles (this is called haluski).

The uncooked pierogies can be frozen. Just boil them straight from the freezer.

Posted by kuri at 09:48 PM [view entry with 4 comments)]
February 26, 2004
Dagwood Sandwich

recipe thursdayWe're having a typical Tokyo spring--alternating warm and cool days. It's hard to decide what to wear, so I'm putting on (and taking off) a lot of layers. With that as a theme, today's recipe is has lots of layers, too.

The sandwiches that Dagwood eats in the comic Blondie are legendarily huge. He puts all sorts of unlikely things on them and really piles it high. This one fakes it a bit by stacking individual sandwiches on top of one another. You can substitute anything in this sandwich--the more ingredients the merrier--and it's agreat way to use up leftovers.

Dagwood Sandwich
serves 2-3 people or one comic strip character

6 slices bread (white, wheat, rye or any combination)
1 sandwich bun
2 oz/60 gr deli ham
2 slices swiss cheese
2 oz/60 gr roast beef
2 slices cheddar cheese
2 slices red onion
3 oz/80 gr salad filling: egg, tuna, chicken potato, ham, etc.
3 slices bacon
4 oz/100 gr deli turkey or turkey leftovers
1 tomato, thinly sliced
3 lettuce leaves
1 gerkhin, halved
2 olives
Mayonnaise, mustard, horseradish, butter, ketchup, as desired
2 long bamboo skewers


Tod thinks the round sandwich looks better on top. I like the whimsy of sandwiching it in the's up to you!

Posted by kuri at 03:38 PM [view entry with 1 comments)]
February 19, 2004
Corn Encrusted Pork

recipe thursdayWith a nod to Mike at's weekly Pork Chop Radio show playing this morning, here's a recipe that I used to cook back when times were tight but we liked to eat. It doesn't make our menu rotation too often anymore, which is a shame. I think I know what we'll have for dinner here tonight.

Corn Encrusted Pork
serves 4
4 pork chops or pork fillets
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs
1 cup corn meal (approx)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
salt & pepper to taste
oil for frying

Set up a breading station: salted flour, egg wash, corn meal mixed with herbs and pepper.

Lightly flour the meat, then dip in the egg wash, and finally coat well with cornmeal. Make the cornmeal coating fairly thick with no gaps. Depending on the size of your chops, you may need more than a cup of cornmeal.

Pan fry the pork in a little oil until the cornmeal is golden brown. Because the meat's encrusted, you can't easily test for doneness, so I judge by the "give" of the meat. When it's raw it feels soft and floppy; as it cooks it gets stiffer. Imagine a book made of rubber--that's what your shooting for. Still a little give, but not bendy.

Serve with garlic mashed potatoes, applesauce, and a green veg of your choice.

Posted by kuri at 10:04 AM [view entry with 0 comments)]
February 12, 2004
Garlicy Beef Stew

recipe thursdayTo celebrate payday, I created this luxurious beef stew. The roasted garlic and wine make it more festive than the typical stew pot. Served with warm rolls and a roasted beet salad with chevre and pistachios, this is one of the more scrumptious simple meals we've had in a while. And it's a almost one-pot meal, so clean-up was as easy as cooking.

Garlicy Beef Stew
serves 4

the roasted garlic:
8 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 Tblsp butter

the stew:
300 g (1/2 lb) stew beef, in 2 cm cubes
salt and pepper
2 Tblsp butter
1 Tblsp flour
1/2 large carrot, in 2 cm cubes
3 small potatoes, in 2 cm cubes
6 crimini mushrooms, quartered
1 medium onion, in 2 cm cubes
1 stalk celery, sliced
1 can (10 oz) beef stock
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp Chinese (brown) peppercorns

the thickening:
1 Tblsp butter
1 Tblsp flour

Preheat the oven to 175/350. Roast the garlic, unpeeled, with butter in small pan or cast iron skillet for about 15 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. When cool, slip off the peels.

Salt and pepper the beef well and dredge in flour. Melt butter in a pot over medium-high heat. Sautee the beef until brown on all sides. Remove from pan.

To the same pot, add vegetables, roasted garlic, wine, stock and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and allow to simmer until the vegetables are soft, about 25 minutes.

When the vegetables are done, return the meat and any juices to the pot. Rub together the flour and butter to form a paste, and add to the pot to thicken the stew. Cook for about two more minutes and serve hot.

Posted by kuri at 08:18 AM [view entry with 1 comments)]
February 05, 2004
Spinach with Pine Nuts

recipe thursdaySpinach is one of my favorite vegetables. It's quick to cook and makes a solid base for a wide range of flavors. Japanese spinach is flat-leaved and delicate compared to the curly kind found in America. This recipe will work with either, takes hardly any time at all, and dresses up any plain meal.

Spinach with Pine Nuts

1 bunch spinach
3 Tblsp pine nuts
1 Tblsp mirin
1 Tblsp soy sauce (the lighter brown usukuchi style)

Steam the spinach or boil briefly. Squeeze out the excess water, then chop spinach into bite-sized lengths. Coat the spinach with the mirin and soy sauce. Roughly chop the pine nuts and toss together with the greens.

Posted by kuri at 04:40 PM [view entry with 1 comments)]
January 29, 2004
Salmon with Green Peppercorns

recipe thursdayThis recipe is for Jim & Bob who have both mentioned cooking with salmon this week. This creamy sauce dresses up a simple pan fried salmon. It's heavenly and takes only a few minutes to prepare.

Salmon with Green Peppercorns
serves 4

1 Tblsp butter
3 shallots, finely chopped
1/4 cup white wine
6 Tblsp chicken or fish stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
2-3 Tblsp green peppercorns in brine, rinsed
4 salmon fillets
oil for frying
salt & pepper

Over medium heat, cook the shallots until softened, but not browned (1-2 minutes). Add the white wine and stock. Bring to a boil and reduce the liquid to 1/4 of the volume. Reduce the heat, add the cream and 1/2 of the peppercorns. gently crush the peppercorns as you add them. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes or until the sauce is slightly thickened*. Remove from heat. Strain the sauce. Stir in the remaining peppercorns.

Sprinkle the salmon with salt and pepper, and pan fry in a little bit of oil for about 4 minutes, or until the fish is opaque and the juices run clear when you pierce it with a knife.

Plate the fish, pour sauce over and serve. Goes nicely with a simple rice pilaf and a steamed green vegetable.

*To check your sauce the French way, dip a metal spoon into the sauce, turn it over and run your finger down the back of the spoon. If your finger leaves a mark that fills in slowly, then the sauce is perfect. No trail? Too thin. If the trail never fills in, your sauce is too thick.

Posted by kuri at 07:55 AM [view entry with 1 comments)]
January 22, 2004
Brazilian Banana Cake

recipe thursdayI found this recipe on when I was looking for something to do with overripe bananas. The cake is dense, sweet, and moist. The bananas slices on top sink partly into the cake and the cinnamon sugar topping produces a superb coffee cake. Tod, who loves neither sweets nor bananas, ate two slices.

The recipe calls for 6 bananas, but I used three I had on hand and it was sufficient. More would be better.

Brazilian Banana Cake
makes 12 servings

3 Tblsp butter
2 cups sugar
3 egg yolks
3 cups flour
1 Tblsp baking powder
1 cup milk
3 egg whites
1/2 cup walnuts (optional)
6 bananas
2 Tblsp brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp clove

Mix the butter and sugar until smooth, then add the egg yolks and beat well. Combine flour and baking powder. Add to sugar mixture, alternating with milk. Beat the egg whites until they are double in volume and fold into the batter.

Spread batter into a greased 9X12 pan. Sprinkle with walnuts if desired. Slice the bananas onto the top of the cake, spreading even across the pan. Mix the brown sugar, cinnamon and cloves--sprinkle over cake.

Bake at 350 F (175 C) for 30 - 35 minutes or until a pick inserted comes out clean. Store in the fridge, as the bananas will get gooey at room temperature.

Posted by kuri at 10:13 AM [view entry with 2 comments)]
January 15, 2004
Spicy tofu fry

recipe thursday It's cold in Tokyo this week, so I want warm spicy foods to heat me up. This easy, quick, and inexpensive recipe uses the Korean toubanjan you bought for the pajong recipe in November.

Spicy Cabbage and Tofu

4 cups chinese cabbage (hakusai), chopped (about 1/8 of a head)
1/4 cup scallion or leek (negi), sliced
1 block firm tofu (momen dofu), cubed
1/2 tsp toubanjan (Korean chili paste)
oil for frying

Heat your wok. Add enough oil to form a small puddle in the bottom. Toss in the onion, then the cabbage. Stirring constantly, cook for two minutes or until the cabbage just begins to soften. Add the tofu and cook another two minutes, stirring gently to keep the tofu intact. Spoon in the toubanjan and stir. Serve with rice.

Posted by kuri at 09:31 AM [view entry with 2 comments)]
January 08, 2004
Blue Cheese Dip

recipe thursdayThis is ambrosia for blue cheese lovers. Best when prepared a day in advance so the flavours can blend. It makes a lot, so try any leftovers as a sandwich spread, or thin it out for a luxurious salad dressing.

Blue Cheese Dip
makes approximately 1 liter

225 g cream cheese, room temperature
100 g Danish Blue cheese, crumbled
240 ml mayonnaise
240 ml sour cream
120 ml onion, minced
120 ml celery, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 cc celery salt
5 cc ground black pepper

Beat all ingredients together until creamy. Chill dip at least an hour. It tastes better the longer it stands. Serve with vegetables, crackers, bread, pretzels, etc.

Posted by kuri at 12:00 AM [view entry with 1 comments)]
January 01, 2004
Toasted Mochi

recipe thursdayMochi, cakes made of pounded rice, is an important part of the Japanese New Year. There are mochi-making parties at the end of December and everyone eats mochi in their soup on new year's day. Many people have "kagami mochi"--two round balls of mochi topped with an orange--as a holiday decoration that is cracked apart and eaten in early January. But you don't have to pound your own mochi, it's sold in precut blocks or small rounds. Here is a simple and filling snack of mochi.

Toasted Mochi
serves 1

1 cake mochi, round or rectangle
1 tsp soy sauce
1 strip nori (seaweed paper)

Brush the mochi with soy sauce. Arrange on aluminum foil in the toaster oven. Toast until lightly browned and puffy. Remove from toaster oven. Heat the nori in the toaster oven for a few seconds. Wrap the mochi in nori and enjoy.

Posted by kuri at 10:25 AM [view entry with 4 comments)]
December 25, 2003
Onion Toasts

recipe thursday This classic 1950's American appetizer is always a big hit at parties and it's very simple. It tastes a bit like French Onion Soup. Party rye is not available in Japan; I use whole-grain German rye and cut it onto quarters.

Onions Toasts
makes 12 appetizers

150 g onion, chopped (sweet onions like Vidalia work best)
120 ml mayonnaise
12 slices party rye bread (or 3 slices German rye, cut into 1/4ths)
50 g freshly grated parmesan cheese

Mix the onion and mayonnaise together. Broil the bread on one side until lightly toasted. Turn the toast over and spread with the onion mixture. Sprinkle with a generous topping of parmesan and a dash of ground black pepper.

Broil again until the cheese on top is lightly brown. They take only a minute or two, so be careful not to burn them. Serve these while still warm.

Posted by kuri at 12:38 AM [view entry with 1 comments)]
December 18, 2003
Frugal Chicken Soup

recipe thursday After roasting a chicken and enjoying the meat and leftovers, you have the best thing for making soup--the carcass. You'll get another meal's worth of chicken because simmering loosens the meat from the skin and bones.

And as for the rest, almost anything is good in chicken soup. Make soup on a day that you have bits of leftover vegetables. This is not the sort of soup you go buy new ingredients for...Today I have a 1/3 cauliflower and a broccoli stem so that's what's in mine.

Frugal Chicken Soup
1 chicken carcass
6 cups cold water
1 bay leaf
1 large potato
1/2 carrot
1/4 onion
1 to 2 cups of other vegetables--broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, cauliflower, tomato, corn, etc.
1/4 cup egg noodles (optional)
salt & pepper to taste

Put the chicken carcass in a medium sized pot. if the chicken is too big, cut it along the lower part of the breast and fold it to fit. Cover with 6 cups cold water and add the bay leaf. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook slowly for about an hour without boiling.

When the water is golden yellow with a nice layer of bright gold fat, carefully drain the stock into another pot. Put the bones aside to cool.

frugalchickensoup.jpgPeel and chop the potato, carrot, onion and other vegetables into bite-sized pieces. They should be approximately the same size to ensure even cooking. I usually make them 1 cm (1/2 in) or smaller. Add to the stock.

When the bones are cool enough to handle, pick off any remaining meat. Check the neck, under the thighs, around the joints. Avoid the liver and other innards; they taste nasty in soup. Chops the meat into small bits and add to the soup. Add a 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a pinch of white pepper.

Cover the pot and simmer the soup over low heat at least until the vegetables are soft (20-30 minutes) and as long beyond that as you like. Skim the impurities from the surface as needed and be sure to watch for evaporation if you simmer for hours and hours.

About 20 minutes before serving, add the egg noodles. Season the soup with salt and pepper at the table.

Posted by kuri at 05:35 PM [view entry with 1 comments)]
December 11, 2003

recipe thursdayKenchin is a soup of root vegetables and tofu. It's absolutely delicious on a cold winter day.

The burdock root, gives an earthy flavor; the taro is soft and sticky; and the konyaku is nice and chewy. It might be challenging to find these ingredients in a typical US grocery store, but an Asian market should have them.

serves 4
1/2 block firm tofu (momen dofu)
2 pieces thin fried tofu (abura age)
1/2 burdock root (gobo)
3 small taro potatoes (satoimo)
1/2 carrot
1 leek (naga negi)
8 fresh shiitake
2/3 block konyaku
10 cm dried seaweed (kombu)
salad oil
50 ml soy sauce
20 ml sake
5 c water

With the back of a knife, scrape the burdock root into shreds (like sharpening a pencil). Cut the taro into quarters. Put the burdock and potatoes into cool water to release tehir bittnerness (drain them just before adding to the pot). Cut the carrot and leek into 1 inch pieces. Quarter the shiitake. Boil the konyaku for 3 minutes then cut into bite sized pieces. Slice the fried tofu in half lengthwise, then cut 1 inch slices.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large pot. Add the leek and fried tofu and saute briefly. Remove from the pot. Add the vegetables to coat with oil. Then add 5 cups of cold water and the kombu and simmer until the vegetables are soft.

Add soy sauce and sake. Return the leek and fried tofu to the pot. Cut the firm tofu into large bite-sized pieces and add it in. When the leek is soft, remove from heat. Serve with rice and pickles.

Posted by kuri at 09:17 AM [view entry with 1 comments)]
December 04, 2003
Japanese-style Chicken Burger

recipe thursdayThis is another one from Lettuce Club--the "Pork and Chicken: 100 Yen Entrees" issue. The recipe below comes to 46 yen per serving according to their calculations, but I'm not sure where they're buying their meat--250 grams of ground chicken for 95 yen...not in my supermarket.

Japanese-style Chicken Burger
serves 4

250 g (1/2 lb) ground chicken
50 g lotus root, minced (about a 1/4 cup, I think)
2 dried shiitake, reconstituted and minced
2 tsp ginger juice
2 tsp sake
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp cornstarch
1/3 tsp salt
8 cm (3 in) green onion, sliced into thin shreds
1/4 red pepper, sliced into thin shreds
1 Tblsp oil for frying
4 Tblsp mayonnaise
pinch wasabi paste

Combine the chicken, lotus, shiitake, ginger, sake, sugar, sesame oil and cornstarch. Heat oil in fry pan and add meat mixture. Press into one large burger, about 20 cm (8 in) across and fry on both sides until done. Cut into 8 wedges and serve on a platter. Top with onion and pepper and serve with wasabi-spiked mayonnaise as a dipping sauce.

Posted by kuri at 10:21 AM [view entry with 2 comments)]
November 27, 2003
Scallion and Bean Sprout Pajong

recipe thursdayToday, a Korean recipe from "365 Days' Diet Foods" sent in by alert reader, UltraBob. Pajong is a savory pancake served with a fiery dipping sauce. It makes an exotic side dish to grilled meat or chicken.

Scallion and Bean Sprout Pajong
serves 2
1/2 bundle scallions (nira)
5 cm leek
1/4 carrot
60g bean sprouts
3 Tbsp flour
4 Tbsp water
1 tsp sesame oil

1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp vinegar
1/2 tsp toubanjan (Korean chili paste)

Cut the scallions to lengths of 5cm, cut the leek along the grain, and cut the carrot thin.

In a bowl, mix the flour and water. Combine the scallions, leek and carrots with the bean sprouts and gently stir into the batter.

In the frying pan, heat sesame oil over medium heat. Spread the vegetables in a thin layer to fill the pan and fry both sides until lightly browned. Remove from pan and cut into wedges.

Whisk the sauce ingredients together and serve as a dipping sauce.

Posted by kuri at 08:38 AM [view entry with 2 comments)]
November 20, 2003
Fish with Soy-Butter Sauce

recipe thursdayLettuce Club is a food magazine for housewives. It's full of recipes focusing on seasonal foods or economical cooking. Today's recipe comes from a recent issue that had a pull out section on fish.

Fish with Soy-Butter Sauce
serves 4

4 filets fresh fish
4 potatoes
1 tomato (sliced for garnish)
1 bunch cress (trimmed for garnish)
1/2 tsp parsley, minced
30 g butter

3 Tblsp water
2 Tblsp soy sauce
2 Tblsp men-tsuyu*
1 Tblsp lemon juice
2 tsp sugar
pinch powdered ginger

Peel potatoes and cut into bite-sized pieces. Boil until done. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and sit aside.

Whisk together the sauce ingredients and set aside.

Sprinkle the fish with salt, pepper, and dust with flour. Heat one tablespoon of oil in a fry pan and cook the fish on both sides. Reduce heat to medium, and add the sauce to the pan, cooking for 2-3 minutes to coat the fish. Remove fish from pan and plate.

Add butter and parsley to the sauce and cook until the butter is melted. Pour the sauce over the fish. Garnish each plate with potatoes, tomato wedges and cress.

*men-tsuyu is a strong, salty soup stock made with dashi, soy sauce, mirin and sugar for noodles. It's available in bottles in Japan, but if you can't find it, try substituting a 2:1:1 mixture of soy, water and mirin (sweet rice wine).

Posted by kuri at 08:52 AM [view entry with 2 comments)]
November 06, 2003
Breading Station

recipe thursdayLast weekend, we went out and bought a small electric deep fryer. We both love fried foods (who doesn't?), but I'm scared of the hot oil. This fryer is a good compromise.

Our first deep-fried treat was button mushrooms. They were delicious--juicy in the center with a crisp cornmeal coating on the outside.

Whether you're using a deep fryer or a frying pan, good breading is key to crisp and tasty fried foods. So this week's recipe is a procedure for breading--it's called a breading station.

Breading Station
Pan 1: Flour seasoned with plenty of salt and pepper.
Pan 2: Egg with a splash of milk, whisked to an even consistency.
Pan 3: Crumbs, plain or seasoned. Be sure to avoid salting the crumbs as salt makes the hot oil spit.

breadingstation.jpgLightly flour the food to absorb excess moisture. Then coat the floured pieces in the egg wash. Pat on (or roll food in) the crumbs, gently shaking off any excess. Fry at the recommended temperature.

- Quantities will vary depending on how much food you are breading.
- Substitute cornmeal in Pan 3 for a hard cripsy shell.
- Use one hand for the dry pans and the other for the egg. This keeps your hands from getting too gummed up as you bread.

Posted by kuri at 09:31 AM [view entry with 2 comments)]
October 30, 2003
Tod's Soft Ginger Snaps

recipe thursdayJust in time for Halloween or some early holiday baking, I'm offering you my recipe for the world's best ginger snaps.

This is a tried-and-true recipe handed down from Tod's mother, though I don't know where it came from before that. I've baked them a few times a year for the past 14 years. Absolutely scrumptious and easy to make.

Tod's Soft Ginger Snaps
3/4 cup shortening
1 egg
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups flour
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 t salt

Combine the shortening, egg, sugar and molasses. Add the remaining ingredients. Chill for 1 hour, then shape into 1" balls. Roll the balls in sugar and arrange on an ungreased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with a little bit of cold water to help keep the cookies moist and to form cracks on top. Bake for a scant 8 minutes in a 350 degree oven. They come off the cookie sheet much more easily if you let them sit for a minute after they come out of the oven. Makes 6 dozen, but it's never enough...

Posted by kuri at 12:00 AM [view entry with 4 comments)]
October 23, 2003
Fannie Farmer Brownies

recipe thursdayFannie Farmer was one of the first "scientific" cooks. Her landmark cookbook used precise measurements. When I make this recipe, she probably turns in her grave. I often stray from the strict measures and add various options and surprises. No matter what I do, they always turn out delicious.

Fannie Farmer Brownies
3 oz unsweetened chocolate (or 9 Tblsp cocoa + 3 Tblsp butter)
6 Tblsp butter
1.5 cups sugar
3 eggs
1/4 t salt
3/4 cup flour
1.5 t vanilla

(optional: 3/4 cup walnuts, chocolate chips, dried fruits or 1 t flavored liquor)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 9" square pan. Melt the butter and chocolate in a double boiler, stirring until smooth. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Spread in the pan and bake 40 minutes, until dry on top and almost firm to the touch. Cool 15 minutes and cut.

For chewier brownies, double the recipe and bake in a 9x13" pan

Posted by kuri at 06:52 AM [view entry with 2 comments)]
October 09, 2003
Goma-miso dressing

recipe thursdayThis salty-sweet and slightly nutty dressing is good with all sorts of vegetables--raw or cooked.

Goma-Miso Dressing
2 Tblsp toasted sesame seeds (goma)
2 Tblsp white miso
1 Tblsp sugar
2 Tblsp mirin (sweet rice wine)
1 t fresh lemon juice
1/2 t soy sauce

Grind the sesame seeds into a paste. Mix in the other ingredients. Serve as a dipping sauce or drizzle over salad or cooked vegetables.

Posted by kuri at 12:00 AM [view entry with 1 comments)]
October 02, 2003
Rosemary potato wedges

recipe thursdayI learned this one when I was working in an Italian restaurant while I went to culinary school. I was the lowly prep cook and the chef sang me love songs. A wretched place to work, but great food.

Rosemary Potato Wedges

potatoes cut into wedges (1 potato per person)
olive oil
fresh ground black pepper
garlic (optional)

It's difficult to give exact measures for this recipe, as potatoes vary in the amount of oil they will soak up. Put the potato wedges in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil and toss until they are evenly coated. Sprinkle liberally with rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper. Toss again to distribute the seasonings.

On an oiled cookie sheet or in a shallow pan, spread the potatoes in a single layer. Roast uncovered in a 375F oven for about 45 minutes. Again, this varies with the thickness of your wedges and the type of potato you use but when they are soft all the way through, they are done. You may want to turn them while they cook, to get them crispy on both sides of the wedge.

This dish complements just about any simply prepared meat or fowl.

Posted by kuri at 12:00 AM [view entry with 0 comments)]
September 11, 2003
Chicken Cordon Bleu

recipe thursdayThis easy variation of a classic entree is sure to impress at a party or quiet dinner at home.

Chicken Cordon Bleu

serves 2-4

2 chicken breasts, with or without skin
3 slices of deli ham, chopped
1/2 cup Swiss cheese, grate. I like Gruyere.
2 Tblsp white wine
1 clove garlic, minced
1 egg
flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
butter or oil for frying
wooden skewers or toothpicks

Mix the ham, cheese, garlic and wine. Lay the chicken breast flat, skin side down. With a very sharp knife, cut into the breast to make a pocket. You can do this from the side to make one big space, or make a slit down the middle, then open up smaller pockets to the right and left.

Stuff the pocket with the ham and cheese mixture. Close the pocket with a skewer or toothpicks and refrigerate the stuffed chicken for 30 minutes.

When the chicken is chilled, create a 3-pan "breading station". The shallow pan or bowl closest to your frying pan will have the crumbs, the middle pan will contain a beaten egg, and the pan farthest away contains the seasoned flour. Sit the chicken next to the flour.

Heat your frying pan to medium-hot and add 2 tablespoons of butter or oil.

To keep your hands from getting breaded as you work, you'll use the right hand to flour and crumb and the left hand to handle the chicken and dip into the egg wash.

Remove the skewer or toothpicks, and roll the chicken in the flour--use your right hand to dust the flour over the chicken. Next dip the chicken in the egg wash to coat thoroughly, and finally roll the egged chicken in the bread-crumbs. From there it goes straight into the pan. If you are doing a lot of breasts, you might want to sit them aside and add them to the pan at the same time.

Fry the chicken until done, turning frequently, for about 15-20 minutes. If the outside is getting too brown but the inside isn't cooked through, lower the heat and drop a lid on the pan.

To serve, you can place the chicken on the plate as is, or if you want to share one breast between two people, cut the breast into 1" slices to reveal the ham and cheese inside.

Posted by kuri at 01:05 PM [view entry with 4 comments)]
September 04, 2003
Banana Peach Fruity Drink

A simple, refreshing fruity drink--perfect for a late summer afternoon. Works great with slightly overripe kudamono, so clean out your fruit basket today.

Banana Peach Fruity Drink
1 banana, peeled and broken into chunks
1 peach, peeled, pitted and cut into chunks
1.5 cups apple juice
6 ice cubes
1 tot of rum (optional)

Put all the ingredients in the blender and puree. Adjust consistency with water, juice or more rum as desired. Pour over ice. Serves two.

This juice oxidizes (the banana turns brown), so it should be prepared just before serving.

Posted by kuri at 03:18 PM [view entry with 0 comments)]
August 21, 2003
French Omelet

Although I'm not fond of eating eggs, once in a while a properly cooked omelet really hits the spot. Carmel brown on the bottom, lots of savory fillings...mmmmm.

This recipe is more of a technique than a list of ingredients. You can put almost anything inside an omelet--cheese, vegetables, meats, fish, last night's fried rice--honestly, this is one of the tried and true McQuillin household tricks for using up leftovers.

French Omelet
for each omelet

2 eggs
2 Tblsp water
2 Tblsp butter
Fillings of your choice
1 fork or wooden spoon
1 slope-sided frying pan

Everything has to be ready in advance because start to finish, cooking an omelet takes about 2 minutes. So whisk the eggs and water together until they are evenly blended. Set aside. Prepare the fillings (chop, sautee, reheat, etc.). Set aside.

Heat the pan very hot. When it is on the verge of smoking, drop in the butter. Tilt the pan to spread the butter evenly across the bottom.

Pour in the eggs.

Immediately start stirring the eggs. You don't want to break the bottom surface too much, or you'll get scrambled eggs, but you do want to keep everything moving and push down any bubbles that form. When you break through, tilt the pan to let some of the raw egg fill the hole. I usually find myself shaking the pan, which helps to let the raw egg in around the outside edges. In about 60 seconds, the egg will have set; you can stop stirring and shaking.

The regular finish: place filling over one half of the omelet. Allow to sit for 30 seconds, then fold the other half over and slip or lift the omelet from the pan.

omelet-turn.jpgThe fancy finish: Place the filling in a line across the center of the omelet, perpendicular to the handle of the pan. On the side of the pan with the handle, fold over 1/3 of the omelet. Then grab the handle with an underhand grip, slide the pan right up against the serving plate and roll the omelet out of the pan, completing the fold as you serve. Be careful not to burn yourself on the pan.

Posted by kuri at 07:53 AM [view entry with 2 comments)]
August 14, 2003
Peanut Noodles

Here's a tasty way to dress up packaged ramen. It's cheap, filling and highly recommended when you are inviting the Zous for dinner.

Peanut Noodles

2 packets dried ramen noodles
2 Tblsp oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t dried red pepper flakes
1 onion, chopped
1/4 head green cabbage, chopped
1 cup peanuts, roughly chopped

Dressing 1 - Lemony
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tblsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tblsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemongrass or cilantro
1 fresh chili, chopped

Dressing 2 - Peanuty
1/4 cup peanut butter, room temperature
1/4 cup water
1 Tblsp vinegar
1 fresh chili, sliced into strips
1 clove garlic, minced
1" fresh ginger, grated

Cook the ramen noodles as directed on the package, omitting the dried soup flavoring. Drain.

Select a dressing. Whisk the ingredients together and set aside.

In a wok or large frying pan, heat the oil and saute the garlic, red pepper, and onion until the onion begins to soften. Add the cabbage, cook another two or three minutes. Add the peanuts and cook for 1 minute longer. Toss the noodles in the pan, mixing well. Stir fry to heat through.

Pour the dressing over the noodles and vegetables.

Serves 2 or 3

Posted by kuri at 09:40 AM [view entry with 2 comments)]
August 07, 2003
Balsamico Cucumber Pickles

Cool article!!!

Posted by kuri at 10:01 AM [view entry with 1 comments)]
July 31, 2003

Ushi no Hi, traditionally the hottest day of the year, has come and gone and the weather remains cooler than usual. But the thermometer and hygrometer are inching up into the hot and humid territory, so for today's Recipe Thursday, I'm going to head off the heat with a cool noodle recipe--somen.

Somen are very thin Japanese noodles made of wheat flour and just the thing for a hot summer day when you don't feel like eating.

Chilled Somen
serves 2

200 grams somen noodles (4 bundles)
water for boiling

1 cup water
40 ml mirin
40 ml soy sauce
sprinkling of bonito flakes (katsuobushi)

grated ginger
white sesame seeds, toasted
very, very thinly sliced strips of: green onion; shiso (Japanese aromatic herb, similar in taste to cilantro or basil); myoga (young ginger)

To make the broth, boil the mirin and soy sauce together briefly, then add the water. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with katsuobushi and wait two minutes, then strain broth and chill.

To boil somen, there is a trick because they cook quickly (under 2 minutes) Put the somen into boiling water, then add enough just cold water to stop the boiling without reducing the temperature very much. Bring the water back to a boil and remove the somen. Wash well under cold water to remove excess starch. This method cooks the somen without making them mushy on the outside.

To serve, arrange the somen in bowls and gently pour the broth over top. Garnish. Alternatively, you can put the somen in bowls of ice and serve the broth on the side for dipping.

Posted by kuri at 09:53 AM [view entry with 2 comments)]
July 24, 2003
Shrimp Scampi Po'Boy

My uncle George introduced me to shrimp scampi when I was 12 and I've loved it ever since. Slap it in a crispy-chewy baguette and you've got a heavenly po'boy sandwich. I make mine heavy on the garlic, so feel free to adjust to your own tastes.

Shrimp Scampi Po'Boy
serves 2

1 long baguette or loaf of French bread
2 Tblsp olive oil
1/2 cup minced onion or scallion
4 cloves garlic, minced
250 g (1/2 lb) peeled, steamed shrimp
big splash white wine
1/8 cup parmesan cheese (optional)
garnish (optional): lettuce, tomato, red onion
hot sauce (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Slice the round ends off the loaf, then cut two 15-20 cm (6-8 inch) pieces and slice them lengthwise for the sandwiches. Toast or not, as you desire.

Take the round ends make fresh bread crumbs by shopping or grating the ends, then toasting in the toaster oven or under the broiler. Be careful not to burn them.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet. Add onion and garlic, sauteeing until soft. Add shrimp and heat through. Splash with white wine. Stir in bread crumbs and optional cheese. Season to taste.

Pile the shrimp mixture on the bread and squash flat. The shrimp love to escape while you eat, so be prepared to chase them.

Your po'boy can be garnished with lettuce, tomato and thinly sliced red onion...or not, as you choose. Hot sauce optional but highly recommended.

Posted by kuri at 05:09 PM [view entry with 0 comments)]
July 17, 2003
Seafood Newburg

A simplified version of a French classic makes a rich, celebratory evening meal. Light the candles and uncork the wine!

Seafood Newburg

1/2 pint cream or half and half (one small carton)
3 Tblsp butter
1/2 cup onion or scallion, minced
8-10 button mushrooms, sliced
2 small fillets of fish, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 - 1 cup shrimp, fresh or frozen
1/4 - 1/2 cup crab, real or imitation
1/4 c peas, frozen
salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste
Sherry (optional)
2 slices of bread, toasted and cut into triangles

In a heavy frying pan, sautee the onion and mushrooms in butter. Add the seafood and allow to cook until about half done. Lower the heat and slowly stir in the cream. Season with salt, plenty of crushed black pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. A splash of sherry is optional. Add the peas. Reduce cream until the sauce coats the back of a spoon.

Arrange toast triangles on the plate and ladle the newburg over them. Serves 2.

Note: The classic newburg is lobster with a more complicated cream sauce. You can use just about any sort of mild, white fish in this recipe and the ultra-simple cream sauce means you can bring this dish from raw ingredients to table in about 20 minutes.

Posted by kuri at 12:26 PM [view entry with 0 comments)]
July 10, 2003

A cream cheese and avocado spread from the kitchen of UltraBob and his UltraGirl in Zushi.

UltraSpread with Avocado
1/4 box of Philly cream cheese
1/2 tomato, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 avocado, peeled and chopped
cilantro, chopped
lemon juice

Cream all ingredients together until smooth and pale green, using lemon juice to adjust the consistency.

"Put it on some bread with other stuff and put it in your piehole. Make sounds of appreciation," says UltraBob. "Would be really good with a chicken sandwich."

Posted by kuri at 03:44 PM [view entry with 2 comments)]
July 03, 2003
Kiwi Yogurt Drink

Yogurt is a healthy way to start the day, and this blender drink goes down easy, even on hot and sticky summer mornings.

Kiwi Yogurt Breakfast Drink
2 kiwi, quartered
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 - 1/2 cup orange juice
10 ice cubes

Blend the kiwi, yogurt and ice cubes until the ice is well crushed. Add the juice a little at a time until you reach a consistency you like. Serve over ice.

Notes: Unripe kiwi are pretty bitter, so be sure you use ripe ones. You can use any soft fruit--peaches, berries, bananas--but then you can't call it Kiwi Yogurt Breakfast Drink.

Posted by kuri at 10:20 AM [view entry with 4 comments)]
June 19, 2003
Garbanzo Salad

garbanzosalad.jpgThis is an easy dish for a hot summer night. Serve it with some bread, a green salad and a nice wine. No boiling, baking, frying, roasting or toasting required!

Garbanzo Salad
1 can garbanzo beans (chick peas)
1 can water-packed tuna (small size)
1 stalk of celery, diced fine
1/4 red bell pepper, diced fine
1/2 clove garlic, minced
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Drain the garbanzo beans and rinse thoroughly. Drain the tuna and mix with the beans. Drizzle with olive oil. Stir in the red pepper and celery. Flavor with garlic, salt and pepper. Lots of freshly cracked black pepper, please! Fine to serve immediately, but even better if you chill for 30 minutes or an hour.

Posted by kuri at 07:34 PM [view entry with 3 comments)]
June 12, 2003
Colorful Lunches

There is folk wisdom to help Japanese Moms pack healthy lunches. "Something from the mountains, something from the sea" is one guideline and another is to use a mix of colors and cooking styles: steamed broccoli, sauteed shitake mushrooms, pickled ginger, scrambled egg, batter-fried fish (meat-colored!) and, of course white rice.

So today's Recipe Thursday lays out a nice Japanese lunch. Maybe you can take this with you on your next picnic. These recipes are derived from "Colorful Obento" published by Toppan (in Japanese). I've tried to avoid the ones with esoteric Japanese ingredients...

All recipes are for 1 portion.

Sauteed Chicken Breast with Nori
80 gr cskinless chicken breast
2 tsp "aonori" (powdered, bright green seaweed)
1/2 tsp oil
pinch salt

Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Sautee in oil, add salt. dust with aonori, coating pieces evenly. If you don't have aonori, you could try crushed dried basil or your favorite green herb.

Ebi Mayo
5-6 small shrimp, frozen
1 tsp onion, minced
1/2 tsp butter
1 Tbsp mayonnaise

Sautee the onion in butter until it softens, toss the shrimp in the pan to heat through. Remove from heat, add salt and pepper. When cool, mix with mayo.

Sweet and Sour Cauliflower
40 gr cauliflower (3-4 florettes)
1 tsp vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt

Steam the cauliflower. Mix the vinegar, sugar and salt. Drizzle the drained cauliflower with the sauce.

Green Beans with Black Sesame
20 gr green beans
1/2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tsp crushed black sesame seeds

Steam the beans. Drain and toss with soy, sugar and sesame.

Red Cabbage Pickles
50 gr red cabbage, shredded
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vinegar
oil and soy sauce to taste

Mix the cabbage and salt, pressing firmly in your hands. allow to sit for five to ten minutes, until it starts to wilt. Rinse and pat dry. Top with vinegar, oil and soy sauce.

Rolled Omlette with Clams
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp canned clams
1 tsp sake
1/4 tsp oil

Mince the clams and mix them with the egg and sake. Over medium high heat, lightly oil a small frying pan. Spread he egg mixture evenly, and cook until done. Remove from pan and allow to cool slightly. Roll the omlette tightly and cut into bite-sized pieces.

Don't forget the rice!

Posted by kuri at 07:16 PM [view entry with 2 comments)]
June 05, 2003
Dhahi Rice

If I had to choose one cuisine to eat for the rest of my life, I think it would be Indian. So many styles and flavours! Such delicious, rich spices. Even thinking about Indian food it makes my mouth water.

The other night at Ajanta, we tried a dish we'd never even heard of before--dhahi rice. Chilled rice is mixed with yogurt, cottage cheese and spices. The perfect foil to a spicy chicken chettinadu.

Dhahi Rice
1 cup rice
1 cup yogurt
1/2 cup cottage cheese (small curd)
1/2 tsp ghee (clarified butter)
1/2 tsp black mustard seed
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
pinch asafetida powder
2 green chiles, split and deseeded
Salt to taste

Wash the rice and soak for 30 minutes, then bring to boil and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the rice breaks between your fingers but is not hard inside. Drain, then spread to cool.

In the ghee, toast the mustard seed and fenugreek until they pop. Mix with the yogurt and cottage cheese. Add the asafetida powder and salt to taste.

Stir yogurt mixture into cooled rice. The consistency should be similar to oatmeal with milk. If the mixture is too thick, add a little more yogurt or some milk. Top with the chiles and serve.

Posted by kuri at 08:23 AM [view entry with 4 comments)]
May 29, 2003
Yoshi's Chahan

flavor.jpgFried rice is one of my comfort foods but until Yoshi showed me his technique for chahan, I was never able to get it to taste right when I made it at home. So today's Recipe Thursday is not a recipe as much as a tsukurikata, a way of making.

Yoshi has one secret ingredient that I will share with you: Ajinomoto's Chuka Aji, "Chinese flavor." It's a mix of salt, pork extract, vegetable extract, oil, oyster sauce, and MSG. It looks a little bit like fish food, but it makes the fried rice taste right. And because it's a dry ingredient, it doesn't add any moisture to the frying.

Fried rice is a good way to use up leftovers. I try to use at least three times as much rice as other ingredients. The extra bits are for flavor and show, but rice is the star of the show.

This goes very quickly, so be sure to have all the ingredients ready before you begin. Total cooking time is about 5 minutes in the pan.

Yoshi's Fried Rice
for one serving:
1 1/2 cup cold cooked rice
1/2 clove garlic, minced
1 Tblspn onion, chopped
1 egg, well beaten
oil for frying
Chuka Aji
soy sauce
1/2 cup other ingredients: chopped pork, chicken, salmon, carrots, spinach, peas, mushrooms, etc.

Heat the pan until it is very hot. Medium hot will ruin your fried rice. HOT!

Coat pan with oil and don't be stingy--oil is good and the rice soaks it up. Fry the garlic and onion for about 15 seconds, then add your "other ingredients" and fry until just starting to get done, maybe 45 seconds.

Push everything over to the side and tilt the pan so the oil puddles in one corner. Add the egg and scramble. You want to incorporate the oil into the egg to keep it moist. Cook until solid but still soft--the egg will continue to cook as you go.

Now, put the pan back down and add the rice. Using a strong wooden spoon or paddle mix the oil and ingredients into the rice thoroughly. Lumps are not acceptable so be vigorous--this is good exercise. Attack that rice!

Sprinkle generously with Chuka Aji and keep stirring. The rice should be making crackling sounds now. The egg and other ingredients are browned. Splash with soy sauce to color the rice a pale brown. Mix well one final time and serve.

Posted by kuri at 08:56 AM [view entry with 7 comments)]
May 22, 2003
Blueberry Coffee Cake

blueberrycoffeecake.jpgPerfect for a weekend brunch and super-simple to put together. As pictured, I made it with blueberries and walnuts, but it's simple enough for a variety of berry and nut substitutions. Can hardly wait for cranberry season...

Berry-topped Coffee Cake

1.5 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup oil
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk

1 Tblsp butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar (brown works best)
1 Tblsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup walnuts or almonds, crushed
1 cup berries (blueberries, raspberries, etc)

Butter a 9" round pan. Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare the cake batter: Mix dry ingredients. Add liquids, beating well to form a smooth batter. Pour into pan. Create a crumb mixture with the butter, sugar, flour and cinnamon. Add in nuts and stir to coat with crumbs. Spread berries evenly over cake batter, then sprinkle with crumbs and nuts. Bake for about 30 minutes.

Posted by kuri at 12:00 AM [view entry with 3 comments)]
May 15, 2003

You might think that a recipe for toast is like a recipe for boiled water, right? But here I present you 5 ways for making your toast more interesting.

I make mine in a toaster oven but you could try a broiler if you have a slotted toaster.

Ham Cheese Pickle Toast
1 slice bread
1 slice ham
1 tsp sliced pickles (or relish)
1 slice cheese

Layer the pickles between ham and cheese, with cheese on top. Toast until cheese is bubbly. Make two, put them cheese-side together and you have a warm, not-too-greasy sandwich.

Garlic Anchovy Toast
1 slice bread, slightly stale works best
1/2 clove garlic
1/2 anchovy fillet
2 Tblsp olive oil
1 Tblsp grated Parmesan
black pepper to taste

Mince the garlic and anchovy, then mix with oil. Spread oil mixture over bread. Top with cheese. Toast until the cheese is lightly brown, but before the garlic burns. Season to taste with cracked balck pepper. A nice accompaniment to soup or pasta.

Toast with Lettuce
1 slice bread
2 leaves lettuce
1 Tblsp mayonnaise
salt to taste

The poor (dieting) man's BLT. This tastes best if you have good lettuce, but even iceberg will work. Make the toast the usual way. Spread with mayo and top with lettuce. Sprinkle with salt.

Orange Toast
1 slice bread
2-3 slices orange
1 Tblsp butter
1 Tblsp brown sugar

Peel an orange and slice into very thin round slices. Butter the bread, cover with orange slices and sprinkle with sugar. Toast until the sugar is bubbly.

Last Toast of the Evening
1 slice bread
1 Tblsp butter
1 tsp Vegemite
beer, as desired

Before beginning, drink a lot of beer; Vegemite is only good after too much. When you are ready to retire for the night, make toast the regular way being very careful not to burn yourself. Slather on butter and Vegemite. Munch before passing out.

For more toast recipes and other toast fun, see Dr. Toast's Amazing World of Toast

Posted by kuri at 08:01 AM [view entry with 6 comments)]
May 08, 2003

Here's a very simple Japanese recipe that is pretty, too. A don is a bowl of rice with stuff on top--gyuudon is the beef bowl that you can find in shopping mall food courts in the US. Soborodon is chicken and egg.

The seasoning for both the chicken and the egg mixtures is a classic mix of sake, salt and soy sauce. Many recipes use this combination and along with dashi fish stock, it gives Japanese food a distinctive flavor.

(serves 2)

2 servings of cooked rice, hot (about 1.5 cups)
Chicken topping:
250 grams ground chicken
1 Tblsp sake (rice wine)
1 tsp sugar
1 Tblsp soy sauce
Egg topping:
3 eggs
2 Tblsp dashi or water
1 Tblsp sake (rice wine)
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp red pickled ginger, to garnish

Over low heat, cook the ground chicken with the sake and sugar, stirring well to break the chicken into tiny crumbs. When the chicken turns white, add the soy sauce and simmer for a few minutes, until the liquid is reduced to a tablespoon's worth.

Beat the eggs well with water, sake, sugar & soy sauce. Scramble the eggs over medium low heat. Again, you want a fine grained effect, so stir well to break them up. Cook until the liquid is mostly evaporated. [NOTE: If you don't eat eggs, you can substitute a cup of plain cooked corn or peas. Frozen works great and it's really fast.]

Divide the rice into two bowls. Spread half of the rice with chicken, the other half with egg. Garnish with a teaspoon of shredded pickled ginger right in the middle.

Posted by kuri at 10:10 AM [view entry with 0 comments)]
May 01, 2003
Eringi Risotto

boletus.jpgEringi are delicious mushrooms. They have a rich, meaty flavor that is complemented by butter. Native to China and the Mediterranean, they are relatively new to Japan.

According to the research Tod's done, they're called "Boletus of the Steppes" or "King Oyster Mushroom" in English, but I just can't image a grocery store in the US putting all that on a sign! If you see these mushrooms outside Japan, could you let me know what they're called?

This recipe makes enough for three people as a main dish served with a big green salad and bread, just as we enjoyed it on Monday.

Eringi Risotto

100 grams eringi (2-3 medium sized mushrooms), sliced
100 grams chicken, cooked & diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 leek (or onion of your choice) sliced
2 cups short grain rice (arborrio, Japanese, etc), unwashed
1/2 cup white wine
4 cups chicken stock (hot)
3 Tblsp olive oil
4 Tblsp butter
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

(If you don't have any leftover cooked chicken handy, medium dice a chicken breast, dredge in flour, saute and set aside.)

In a large, heavy skillet, heat the olive oil and 2 Tblsp butter (reserve the rest for later). Saute the eringi, leek and garlic until soft and the eringi turn a lovely caramel color. Add the rice and mix well to coat with oil. Cook slightly, but do not brown the rice. Splash in the wine to cool things down. Allow the wine to evaporate.

1/2 cup at a time, add the stock. Allow each addition to be absorbed by the rice before adding the next--it should take about 3 minutes per 1/2 cup of stock. This is the "risotto method" that gives the dish its name. When you get halfway through the stock, add the chicken. Check the rice for doneness after the 7th addition. The rice should be firm but not crunchy when it's done, so be ready to adjust with more or less stock as necessary.

Turn off the heat and mix in the remaining butter and the cheese. Sprinkle with black pepper and serve immediately.

Posted by kuri at 08:08 AM [view entry with 3 comments)]
April 24, 2003
Crazy Bread

This recipe comes via the next door neighbor of an ex-boyfriend. I never met his neighbor, but her recipe is one of my stand-bys. It's nearly a meal in itself but I usually serve it with soup or a salad.

This recipe thrives on almost any adjustment you want to make to the recipe: double the garlic, reduce the butter, use whatever cheese you have on hand. But do be generous with the parsley, especially if you opt for more butter or cheese!

Crazy Bread
1 loaf French bread
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 stick butter or margarine
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 cup shredded cheese

Slice the loaf in half lengthwise. Melt the butter and stir in garlic. Spread garlic butter on bread. Pile on the parsley, sprinkle with lemon juice and top with cheese. Broil until the cheese bubbles and browns. Cut into slices and serve.

Posted by kuri at 11:16 AM [view entry with 3 comments)]
April 10, 2003
Sea bass with mango chutney

Recipe Thursday presents fish with a tropical flavor because it's mango season here in Tokyo. Tod invented this recipe two years ago and we've been making variations on it ever since.

Sea Bass with Mango Chutney
serves 4

4 sea bass (suzuki) fillets
1 onion, minced
2 small mangoes, chopped
1.5 cups (300 g) pineapple, chopped
1 inch (3 cm) fresh ginger, grated
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 teaspoons green peppercorns in liquid
2.5 cups water

In wide saucepan, bring 1 cup water to boil. Add onion and ginger. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Add mango and pineapple and simmer for 15 minutes, adding water as necessary to keep the sauce wet. Add red pepper, then lay the fish fillets on top. Cook until the fish is flaky, turning once. Toss in peppercorns and serve.

Variations: leave the pineapple out; substitute toasted pinenuts for peppercorns; substitute snow peas for red pepper; increase red pepper. For a drier sauce, sautee the vegetables and fruit instead of cooking in water.

Posted by kuri at 07:18 AM [view entry with 3 comments)]
April 03, 2003
Basil tapenade

This is one of my favorite party foods. I don't know if I like it becasue it tastes so good or because it's one of those rare grey foods. Serve it spread on rounds of toasted (or not) french bread. It's best made the day before so the flavors mellow a bit.

Basil Tapenade

1 cup pitted black olives
1 cup fresh basil
4 anchovy fillets
2 garlic cloves
1 Tblsp lemon juice
1/2 cup mayonnaise

Blend everything except the mayo in a food processor (I use my Bamix blender). The consistency should be even and spreadable, but a little bit lumpy. Add in the mayonnaise by hand. Allow to sit for at least few hours before serving.

Posted by kuri at 07:11 AM [view entry with 0 comments)]
March 27, 2003
Birthday cake

There are three birthdays within a week in my family. In honor of this festive occasion, Recipe Thursday features cake. I love dense cakes with fruit in between the layers, so that's what we're serving up today. Don't forget the candles!

3-Layer Birthday Cake

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour
4 egg yolks, beaten
4 egg whites
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F/175c. Grease and flour three 9 inch round cake pans. Cream the butter and 1 cup of the sugar in a large bowl, then add beaten egg yolks. Sift dry ingredients. Add to butter mixture alternating with milk. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form, then add 1 cup sugar. Fold into cake batter. Pour into pans. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a knife inserted comes out clean.

Decorating options
Kristen's favorite: Between the layers, spread your favorite "all fruit" jam. Sprinkle top with powdered sugar.
Elegant: Roll out marzipan or almond paste for between the layers. Coat with chocolate glaze and top with whole almonds.
Fresh: Arrange sliced strawberries and whipped cream between the layers; top with piped whipped cream and whole strawberries--eat immediately.
Dainty: Spread lemon-flavored buttercream between the layers. Ice with rose-flavored buttercream and top with fresh or candied flowers.
Zou's choice: Spread the layers with buttercream icing and peanut butter. Ice the top and sides with chocolate buttercream and decorate with peanut brittle.

Posted by kuri at 09:05 AM [view entry with 5 comments)]
March 20, 2003
Equinox grilling

Since tomorrow is the spring equinox, Recipe Thursday focuses on food to celebrate the equal length of night and day. In our house, that means the official start of grilling season--even when it's really too cold outside to do it.

Grilled Mushroom and Pepper Sandwiches with Herbed Mayonnaise

for grilling
mushrooms, portabello or shiitake
red bell peppers, sliced into wedges
olive oil
basalmic vinegar
salt and pepper
crusty rolls, or lengths of French bread

Destem the mushrooms and brush any dirt off. Do not wash mushrooms in water. If you're using large portabellos, cut them into quarters so they fit on your bread. Brush the mushrooms and peppers with oil, vinegar and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Allow to sit at least 15 minutes and up to 8 hours, covered in the fridge.

Before grilling, dampen the mushrooms with oil again, if necessary. You may want to arrange the vegetables on a mesh rack to keep them from falling through the grill.

Split the rolls and toast them on the grill just before serving. Slather with herbed mayonnaise (below) and tuck in the grilled vegetables.

for mayonnaise
2 egg yolks
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 - 2 cups salad oil
scant 1/4 c vinegar or lemon juice, chillled
1/4 c fresh taragon, chopped
1/4 c fresh basil, chopped
crushed black pepper, to taste

Whisk (or use an electric mixer on low speed) the egg yolks and salt until pale yellow and a little frothy. While still whisking, slowly pour a thin stream of oil into the eggs. Beat faster as the mixture emulsifies (turns creamy). It should be starting to look like mayonnaise now, but don't stop beating yet. Add the vinegar or lemon juice slowly while beating--taste to get the right level of tang. Finally add in the chopped herbs and black pepper. Refrigerate and use within a week.

Posted by kuri at 07:28 AM [view entry with 3 comments)]
March 13, 2003
Quick Japanese pickles

Starting today and continuing until I get tired of it: Recipe Thursdays at Media Tinker. Food's another thing I tinker with. Maybe you'll enjoy trying some of the things I like to cook.

To start off this series, I'm going to give you one of my favorite foods: pickles! I've always been a sucker for pickles (ask my mother about my childhood naughtiness of sneaking things off the relish plate before our big family dinners) and Japanese pickles are the best. We're not talking garlic dills or sweet gherkins here; Japan's pickles come in a wide range of vegetables and pickling methods. Even fish is pickled.

I took a pickling class at a few years ago and it was one of the most enjoyable and useful classes I've attended. I can make all sorts of Japanese pickles now.

The easiest one is a "quick pickle" made of cabbage, cucumber and carrot. It's a great way to use up the odds and ends of your salad things and it's very flexible in terms of time and ingredients. Go ahead an experiment a bit!

Quick Japanese Pickles

1/4 Chinese cabbage, sliced thin (round head cabbage works, too)
1 Japanese cucumber (the narrow kind), sliced into thin rounds
1/2 carrot, sliced into thin rounds
Salt - about 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon for every cup of sliced vegetables
2 inch slice of dried kombu (seaweed)
Optional seasoning herb: myoga, shiso, dried red pepper, basil, lemon peel, black pepper, basil

Mix the sliced vegetables together with the salt in a large bowl. Allow to sit for five minutes, then gently press the wilting vegetables to release the water and bitterness. The vegetables will feel wet and will reduce in volume. Drain the liquid (often slightly foamy and tan colored) from the bowl.

Now you need to put the kombu underneath and weigh down the vegetables for at least an hour. I have a nifty "pickle press" with a spring loaded lid and another with a screw-down plunger, but you can use a bowl with a plate on top and cans stacked on the plate. I've done it that way plenty of times and it works fine.

You can leave the pickles pressing for as long as a full day, so you can start your pickles in the morning before work, or even right after tonight's dinner. I ususally forget to do them until just before I want to eat them, so mine usually only get an hour of pressing. More pressing makes them more...limply crisp.

If you want to add a seasoning herb, do it about 15 minutes before you serve the pickles. Toss the sliced/chopped/cracked herb in with the pickels and put the weights back on. You're going for subtle here, a little goes a long way with these pickles, I've found.

To serve, rinse the pickles in cold water, squeezing tightly in your hands to drain and make a little mound of pickle on the plate. A drizzle of soy sauce is nice but not necessary.

Posted by kuri at 05:23 PM [view entry with 1 comments)]
March 02, 2003
Salad invention

We like salad. Here's one we made up, going back and forth with ingredient suggestions, as we were shopping.

Cress and Walnut Salad
1 bunch cress, trimmed
1 stalk celery, cut into 3 cm x 1 cm sticks
1/2 c walnuts, crushed
30 g (1 oz) feta cheese, in 1 cm cubes
1 large orange
2 T olive oil
1 T white wine vengar
salt & pepper to taste

Juice the orange; add oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Reserve the larger bits of the crushed walnuts and add the small fragments to the dressing. Allow to sit for about 15 minutes.

Toss together the cress, celery and larger chunks of walnuts. Top with feta and spoon dressing over all. Makes four small salads.

Posted by kuri at 12:01 AM [view entry with 1 comments)]
February 24, 2003
Warm sauce

Tonight, due to lack of shopping motivation (it's windy, wet and snowing out there!), we're eating a pantry favorite--pasta putanesca. It's a standby that's warm, filling and made entirely out of stuff in the pantry. No fresh ingredients required.

Here's how I make it, in case you're looking for something to cook tonight.

Kristen's Putanesca

1 can whole Italian (plum) tomatoes
4 or 5 anchovy fillets, chopped
1 teaspoon capers, smashed up a bit
2 tablespoons black olives, sliced or chopped
2 tablespoons green olives, sliced or chopped
minced garlic (as much as you like, the more the better in my opinion!)
1 teaspoon olive oil
red pepper flakes to taste

Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the garlic and anchovies. Cook until the anchovies are a soft paste. Drop in the olives and capers then add the tomatoes, squeezing them through your fingers to break them up. (Fun!) Pour in the remaining liquid from the tomato can. Allow to cook until the liquid is reduced, but not too thick. In the classic tradition, the sauce should be the consistency to lightly coat the back of a spoon. Red pepper flakes add some zing--especially important if you didn't use much garlic. Put them in while the liquid is reducing. Sometimes I leave them out. The recipe is very forgivin so you can vary the quantities of just about everything above to suit your tastes.

Serve over pasta of your choice--penne is good, or a nice thick spaghetti. Make enough for me and Tod to be bloated, or for four people to eat normal amounts accompanied with salad and bread. If you have salad and bread in the pantry. ;-)

Posted by kuri at 06:23 PM [view entry with 2 comments)]
January 11, 2003
Rice porridge

With a stomach bug going around my friends in the US right now, I thought I'd post a recipe for the Japanese equivalent of chicken soup--okayu (o-kah-you). It's a very simple rice porridge. It makes a great breakfast even if you're not sick.

::With raw rice
270 ml/1.25 cups short grained rice
3 l/ 3 quarts water
1/3 t salt
- Bring water to boil, add rice and salt. Cover and simmer for about 45 minutes. The rice should be very soft and the water mostly but not entirely absorbed. Think "watery oatmeal."

::With cooked rice
190 ml/.75 cup short grained rice (cooked)
1.3 l/5.5 cups water
1/3 t salt
- Bring the water to a boil, add salt and rice, cook for about 15 minutes. The rice should be very soft and the water mostly but not entirely absorbed. Think "watery oatmeal."

If you want a flavored broth, you can add some miso to the water as it cooks, or use chicken stock. You can add spinach or other vegetables and okayu's always nice garnished with an umeboshi, scallions, bean sprouts, grated ginger, bits of cooked meat or fish, or strips of fried tofu. For some bland protein, pour in a beaten egg to form egg threads.

Posted by kuri at 11:59 PM [view entry with 1 comments)]