Archive for January, 2011


January 29, 2011: Broccoli w/ Lime-Mayo Sauce

January 29, 2011

Here’s one of my favorite Japanese dishes: Steamed Broccoli with a Lime-Mayo Dressing. Another dish that is easy, fast, delicious and healthy. This is a cold dish so you want to steam the broccoli ahead to give it time to cool. This is wonderful and fresh side dish to any meal.

  • 1 Head Broccoli (washed and sectioned into bite sized pieces. Florettes only.)
  • 1/2 Mayonnaise (I used Japanese style which is a tad sweeter)
  • 1/2C. Plain Yoghurt
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • Dill Weed
  • Matchsticked Peppers (for accent)

Whisk together yoghurt and mayo with a sprinkling of dill weed and cool. Steam broccoli so that it still has a bit of crunch to it, immediately immerse in iced water and drain. Cool.

Assemble just before serving. I used a pastry bag (above) to apply sauce to the plate. Lay down broccoli, accent with peppers. I usually have this in the center of the table so that guest can serve themselves with hashi (chopsticks.)


    January 25, 2011: Egg Custard Soup

    January 25, 2011

    Here’s my version for a healthy, fairly quick, and tasty Japanese soup: Egg Custard with Vegetables. The following recipe serves two.

    • 2C. Broth [I used my veggie broth or you could use  chicken broth or “dashi” (Japanese soup stock)
    • 1 Egg
    • 1/4 Block (3.5 oz.) Firm Tofu (pressed to remove H2O & cubed)
    • 2″ of “Konbu” (Japanese seaweed)
    • 3 Button Mushrooms (sliced 1/4″)
    • 1 Leaf Bok Choy (sliced thin)
    • 1 Scallion (sliced 1/4″)
    • 2Tblsps. Vegetable Oil
    • 1/2Tblps each Shoyu (soy sauce) and Mirin

    In a small pan, heat broth, 1 Tsp. each or shoyu and mirin, and konbu together. In a skillet heat oil, 1 Tsp. each of shoyu and mirin and sauté bok choy, tofu, and mushrooms until mushrooms are browned slightly and remove from heat. Beat egg and split into two oven safe bowls. [REMOVE KONBU FROM BROTH] and add warmed broth to egg while stirring evenly (try not to froth.) Also, add broth/egg only 2/3rds to top of each bowl. You need to steam the broth/egg mixture. I did this on stove top with 2″ of covered hot water OR you could heat an 425°F oven in a ovenproof pan with 2″ H2O [either way you want the H2O to be a steaming temperature before adding the soup bowls.] Steam for 15 minutes. Add a little more broth on top and divide the veggies between the bowls. Top with scallions and serve warm.


    January 14, 2011: Grilled Olive Sandwich

    January 14, 2011

    When I think back, I feel so sorry for my mom. Poor lady. Not only did she have to cook and try to please the individual tastes of a family of ten, but she had this brat of a son, who was to grow up to be an amateur  chef, who even in childhood had discriminating tastes. Not finicky, so much…I tried just about everything, including the horror of my dad’s favorite: pigs feet. Whoa! No wonder I’m a vegetarian today! Not to say mom couldn’t get some things spot on: I’ve only recently mastered her homemade pizza and vegetable soup, and her deviled eggs were quite good.

    Her daily lunches needed work, ‘tho. I remember her foisting her “meatloaf sandwiches” on me. Yeah, a thick slab of cold, congealed, tasteless meat on white bread. Right. They got flung to the back of pantry…purposely…knowing full well that it was my sister Mary Lou’s job was to clean the pantry and that she absolutely hated mold (you’re beginning to see what a brat I really was!)

    Two sandwiches  mom did right quite well were grilled cheese and…(bear with me, if you’ve never had one)…cream cheese and olive. These seems to be either regional (east coast) or from that period of time, because I never see them offered anywhere! I decided to blend both of mom’s best and make a grilled cream cheese and olive.

    These sandwiches couldn’t be easier: take two slices of bread (I used a rye and pumpernickel blend) and put a layer of spreadable cream cheese on each. Next, on the cream cheese, put a few slices of stuffed manzanilla olives (really a common misspelling of “manzanillo” olives: the small, green spanish olives stuffed with pimento.) I added a sprinkling of white pepper and Herbs de Provence. Then, cook as a grilled cheese sandwich (on medium heat, melt a pat of butter, add sandwich, flip when cooked, serve hot.) Delicious, easy, and quick!

    I’m sitting for the girls tomorrow and I am excited to see if they like this sandwich as well as I did when I was their age. It would be good to “pass the baton” with this unique American comfort food!


    January 07, 2011 Goma-Dare Dressing

    January 7, 2011

    Here’s a variation of a traditional Japanese dressing that is wonderful on fresh (or cooked) vegetables, tofu, meat, fish…the works!

    My variation started a couple of weeks ago when my good friend Lisa, on a visit, requested only two things: steamed veggies and a Thai peanut sauce. I blended a number of peanut sauce recipes and then reformed the traditional goma-dare sauce to include what I had learned from the Thai recipe. To get closer to the original, simply substitute tahini instead of peanut butter. I prefer the stronger flavor of peanut butter, but that depends on what you are serving it with.

    Goma-Dare Dressing:

    • 1/2 Chili Pepper (minced fine)
    • 1/2 Clove Elephant Garlic or 1 Clove garlic (minced fine)
    • 1/2 Shallot (minced fine)
    • 4 Tblsp. Corn Oil
    • 2/3C. Peanut Butter (smooth)
    • 2 Tblps. Rice Wine Vinegar
    • 1 Tblsp. each: mirin; shoyu (soy sauce); concentrated shiitake broth (or Dashi)
    • 3/4C. Broth or H2O
    • Dash of pepper and salt
    • 1 Tsp. Miso

    I knew I was going to love this dressing, based on my trials with the Thai sauce, so this recipe makes twice as much. It keeps for about a week and you may find it complements other meals. If not, simply cut the recipe in half. Also, for cold dishes (like my salad) you need to make it ahead of time, so that it cools.

    In a small pan, on medium high, heat oil, and add all the minced vegetables with salt and pepper. Sauteé until veggies are soft. Lower heat and add peanut butter, rice vinegar, mirin, shoyu, shiitake broth and veggie broth and wisk. I added my own veggie broth (but H2O will do, if you don’t have any). Continue heating until flavors are blended. Take off heat, let cool for 10 min. and wisk in miso. Serve immediately for hot dishes or cool for salads and cold veggies.

    My salad above is matchsticked carrots, cucumber, celery, red onion and, after the sauce was added, sliced scallions. All on a bed of Romaine leaves.


    January 04, 2011: Kinpira

    January 4, 2011

    Japanese cooking has such a large range; from the detailed and complex recipes that Chef Saito can design to the most simple and basic dishes like “kinpira,” a style of cooking which could be translated as “simmer” or “sauté.”

    Simple, healthy, and quickly made, this dish is just green beans, matchsticked carrots, chili pepper, oil and spices. I took a bag (12oz.) of (washed) green beans and clipped off the ends at 20°. I skinned and matchsticked one large carrot, each matchstick about 1-1/2″. If you have fresh chili peppers, deseed and trim into thin strips. I had only dried peppers, so I took about 1″ and soaked it into the kinpira “sauce” which is 1 Tblsp. each of mirin, rice wine vinegar and soy sauce for one half hour and then cut into thin strips.

    In about 2 Tblsp. of corn oil, sauté the beans, carrots, and pepper in the oil with 1/4Tsp. each of sal de mer and pepper, in a wok at medium high heat until browned. In the final seconds add the kinpira sauce. Serve immediately.

    There are a plethora of things you can change or add: tofu, meat, other veggies. Try a sprinkle of nori fumi furikake (rice seasoning) or strips of nori (seaweed) for another Japanese taste variation.


    January 03, 2011: Smiley Cakes

    January 3, 2011

    Photo via IPhone

    After a fun New Years Eve with lots of wonderful company and good food (Dan brought sous vide steak for kabobs cooked over the grill. I made pasta e fagioli and Katie and I made a fruit “boar’s head”) we also did some Scottish New Year’s celebrations like “snapdragons” (making a New Years wish and plucking a raisin from a plate of lighted brandy) and “First Footing” (where a someone…in our case, Nicole, is sent out to guard a lighted candle for a time and is let in to light all the candles in the house.)

    In the morning, on New Year’s Day,  I made “smiley cakes” for Teja and the girls. These are whole wheat pancakes made with flour ground right down the road from me at Longfellow’s Wayside Inn Grist mill: and decorated with fruit.

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