Archive for August, 2010

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August 26, 2010: Irish Cuisine at Showa

August 26, 2010

Photo by Ayuka; student at Showa

Thanks to Yoshio for once again inspiring me to push my ideas about cooking..and yes, Yoshio…you are truly the master in any style of  cuisine! Your corned beef and cabbage was perfect! Thank you to Showa for having me, and special thanks for the young women of Yoshio’s class that were so cordial listening to my talk about Irish-American and Irish cuisine. I really enjoyed meeting you all and your help with the setup and breakdown of the meal was especially gracious! I had such a fun day!

Here the recipes (and the influences) we made for you:

Corned Beef and Cabbage (Irish-American, a variation of New England Boiled Dinner)

  • 4 lb “Corned” Brisket of Beef (“corned” is Anglo-Saxon for “salted”)
  • 6 Large Carrots-peeled, ends taken off
  • 3 Small Parsnips-peeled
  • 3 Large Turnips-peeled and halved
  • 1 Head of Cabbage-cored and quartered
  • 6 Medium-sized Potatoes-peeled (Yoshio had a variety of types)
  • Spices/Flavors: 1 heaping Tablespoon of each: Whole Pepper, Juniper Berries, Cloves and Corse Salt. A few sprigs of fresh Parsley-chopped

What you want to do is get each of the harder veggies (carrots, parsnips, turnips and potatoes) in about 2-3″ chunks. Yoshio cooked this dish in a pressure cooker. If you’ve never used a pressure cooker before, please, PLEASE get someone who knows, to show you!!!! You can get same results with a steady boil & simmer in an open pot, but this takes about two hours! Either way, please consult “The Joy of Cooking (JOC)”, p.412 for cooking all the ingredients, in their proper  order for both pressure cooker and open pot.

Colcannon (Irish: “cál ceannann” a truly Irish dish. Essentially, mashed potatoes, onions and/or leeks and kale or cabbage.)

  • 2 Lbs. Potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 Lb. Kale (best) or Cabbage (OK), washed, cored. chopped well
  • 2 Leeks OR 1 Leek+1 Medium Onion, peeled washed really well (see below);  chopped well.
  • Spices/Flavors: Salt & Pepper, 1/4 Lb Butter, 1/4C Milk

I love leeks, but they can be the most dirty of the onion family. It takes a couple of washings, but they are worth it. First chop off the “beard” end (roots) and the green top (save for soup broth…yumm!) and wash stalk well in H2O. Chop well and wash the pieces in a colander and dry by putting colander in bowl for 10 minutes. When leek and kale are dry (I use a salad spinner) fry in wok with a little oil or butter until leeks are wilted…almost brown. Put aside. Boil cubed potatoes until soft. Remove from H2O and dry potatoes in a pan in 300°F oven for 10 minutes. Add to a bowl with S&P, butter and ,milk, mash, then beat until whipped. Fold in kale/leek. Put in buttered pan and bake @ 350°F oven until top is browned.

“Quick” Soda Bread (Irish: “arán sóide” a traditonal Irish and Irish-American dish.) I was pleased how this came out. I followed JOC p. 575 verbatim. Why fool with success?! Remember to cut a cross to “let the fairies out” and find someone else (like me!) to drink the rest of the buttermilk!

“Codling” Cream (also: “Coddling” Cream; f/ 1600’s; Irish w/British influence)

  • 8 medium peeled, cored, sliced green apples
  • 1+1/4C Wine (recipe called for white, I used port for that pink color)
  • 1+1/4C H2O
  • 3 Tblsp. Sugar (I used brown sugar)
  • 1 Pint Heavy Cream
  • 2 Egg Yolks
  • 1 Tblp. Rose H2O (optional, if you can find it)

Again, while working cutting the apples, I keep them in H2O to keep from browning. Heat H2O and Wine with apples until they are soft. Strain and discard liquids. Add sugar to apples, mash and cool. Whip cream until stiff. Whip egg yolks separately until foamy, fold into whipped cream. Fold egg/cream into cooled apples. Add rose H2O last. Keep cold.

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August 25, 2010: Frozen Mikan Cocktail

August 25, 2010

Today’s custom cocktail from Okonomy is Chef Saito’s Frozen Mikan Cocktail. Chef Saito combines sake, vodka, lemon liquor with crushed ice, raspberry and Mikan (a citrus fruit indigenous to Japan, like a seedless Mandarin Orange) for liquid splendor!

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August 25, 2010: The Flavor of Green Tea Over RIce

August 25, 2010

I was pleased to have Isaac, Sarah, and Matt over for dinner, last week. In keeping with my “Summer on a Stick” unconscious theme I have going, I made:

  • Grilled Fennel and Papaya Skewers in Lime-butter
  • Grilled Onion and Chicken Skewers in Lemon-Pepper Sauce
  • Greek Pasta Salad
  • Chilled Chai sweetened with Coconut Milk

In addition to their wonderful company, these guys really know their movies and in addition to taking some well deserved teasing about Netflixing “Furry Vengeance” I walked away with a list of really good films to add to my list. Seeing Isaac reminded me of a wonderful movie he bequeathed to me a while back, Yasujiro Ozu’s  1952 “Ochazuke No Aji” or “The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice.”

It seems many critics of this film attack the perils of arranged marriages, and while yes, that’s a part of movie, I think these critics are missing the larger points that Ozu is addressing about the everyday pitfalls of not only marriage, but relationships in general. The married leads Mokichi and Taeko have their issues:. Mokichi tends to be a rather distant to his wife, and for Taeko, nothing Mokichi does is OK. From the brand of cigarette he smokes, the 3rd class train that he travels in, even how he eats his food and the food he enjoys is 3rd rate. Her friends Aya and Takaka are little help. Themselves products of arranged marriages, one of their husband seems to have  a permanent residence in France, and the other is a liar and a cheat. Even the couple’s niece, Setusko who seems to dearly care for her aunt and uncle cannot bring them together.

The bulk of the film describes the relationship for the leads and everyone in their lives, along the way, one sees a lot of Japanese life and customs of, at least, the early 50’s: The spas, the pachinko parlors and the restaurant “Calorie House”, where they hang out. The entertainment of the race track (funny, it’s bikes they are racing. I wonder if this is a 50’s thing?) Home life and even a typical business is explored and worth watching, if only to catch the “Willy Wonka” theme played ad infinitum in the pachinko parlor, and I wonder if a modern Japanese launches into song so readily as they do in the film? I’ll have to ask Yoshio, Teja, Miguel, and Pam if these are true to life.

Mokichi and Taeko reach their biggest hurdle when Taeko goes away for some alone time at the same time Mokichi is given the dictate by his company to pack up and move away to S. America ASAP! As Taeko misses (or ignores) Mokichi’s telegram she returns home to find her husband gone, perhaps forever. Luckily, Mokichi’s plane is delayed, giving the couple one last chance for make or break.

The title of the movie is made clear as the couple struggle to make the dish without waking up their maid. Their final accord is a sweet and intimate encounter and a good example of how making and sharing food can communicate understanding and the importance of the familiar…and reliable!

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August 21, 2010: Welcoming Party for the Girls

August 21, 2010

Last weekend Teja and Barb held a welcoming party for Nicole and Katie. My part was food organizer from all the wonderful dishes people brought. Dan Winkler’s contribution was meat for grilled skewers. Dan came up with a very unique suggestion: he had just acquired a new cooking device called a Sous-Vide cooker. “sous vide” is French for “with vacuum.” The Sous-Vide relies on slow cooking to cook meat (vegetables, fish, etc.) thoroughly, yet to a desired doneness (from edge to edge) with much, much more control than conventional cooking techniques. You place the food, (in this case, meat) in a plastic bag and remove all air. Place the bag in the SousVide device and set the time and temperature.

What Dan suggested is to buy chuck steak (normally too tough for grilling) and cook slowly, in the meat’s own juices, in the Sous-Vide. He cooked the steaks for 26 hours at a precise 131° setting. What he got was a perfectly tender, rare steak, each in a neat plastic bag. Dan then put  each bag into a cooler with ice to transport to the party. When I cut the steak into cubes for grilling the skewers, I found that each steak was perfectly uniformly rare from edge to edge. I then interspersed the cubes with onion, marinated each skewer and grilled to perfection (tender and rare on the inside, grilled on the out). Thank Dan, for your suggestion, that showed me a wonderful new way to grill!

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August 12, 2010: A Slice(r) of Heaven

August 12, 2010

Photo by Kyocera

Yoshio (always generous) brought me back two of the coolest gifts from Japan. One was a t-shirt with the names of sushi written in Japanese calligraphy. The other was this Kyocera ceramic slicer. Kyocera, located in Japan, makes a variety of kitchen ceramic tools like knives, scissors, grinders, peelers, and mills as well as computer chips and other ceramic objects.

This slicer, made of white zirconia ceramic, is super-sharp, stays sharp, does not rust, can be bleached and is easy to store and clean. The blade is so sharp it’s easy to forget and go too fast, so be sure to use the finger guard that comes with the slicer!  Although 70% of Kyocera’s business is through Japan, Americans can order Kyocera products through Williams-Sonoma and Sur La Table. Kyocera sells this slicer for an quick mandolin-style cut and also an adjustable one with four thicknesses.

I just whipped up a carrot, cabbage, radish salad in about a minute using the slicer! Just the thing for a pre-run snack!

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August 02, 2010: Dinner(s) with Yoshio, Teja & girls

August 2, 2010

Photo by Yoshio Saito via IPhone

This weekend I had the pleasure of cooking for not only Yoshio, but also a second dinner (the same day) for Teja, Barb, Nicole and Katie. I also combined the meal with a visit to the lake for kayaking. Yoshio came on the first shift in the morning, and after a nice kayak around the lake, we settled into lunch, starting with a couple  of Margaritas, followed by chicken and veggie kabobs from the grill, my own potato salad, and ears of corn, cooked in their own husk on the ashes of the grill.

Later that afternoon, Teja came with the girls, who weren’t that into kayaking, but did have a good timing swimming in the lake. For dinner, we had a reprise of the earlier meal on fresh coals for the grill. I also added a baked bean dish and the girls toasted marshmallows in the grill for dessert.

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