Monday, October 20, 2014

Lasagna


In the morning, make the white cheese by straining 1½ C yogurt. I do this by putting the yogurt in a thin handkerchief (that I keep for this purpose) in a sieve over a pitcher, and then covering it with a small plate.

At least 4 hours before you want to eat dinner, make the noodles:

Put in a bowl and mix together:

⅓ C white flour
⅓ C whole wheat flour

Mix:

1 egg
1 T water
½ t salt
1 t olive oil

Make a hollow in the center of the flour and add the egg mixture. Mix and then knead the dough for 10 minutes. Let it rest, covered, for an hour. Break off small pieces and roll them on a very lightly floured surface until they are paper thin. 


Hang them from a wire rack to dry for 30 minutes or more.

Cook for about 7 minutes in boiling salted water, depending on the thickness of your noodles.

While the noodle dough is resting, make this meat sauce, but double the amount of tomato paste. 





You will also need:

250 gm grated mozzarella cheese

To assemble the lasagna

Place your ingredients in thin layers in a large oven dish in the following order:

Sauce, noodles, white cheese, mozzarella, repeat; end with noodles, sauce, and top with cheese.

Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Bake the lasagna for about 40 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned. Remove from oven, and allow to cool for 10 minutes before cutting. Serve with parmesan cheese.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Fried Satsuma Potatoes


2-3 Satsuma sweet potatoes
¼ C cornstarch
Salt
Canola oil

Peel or thoroughly scrub a few potatoes. Slice ½ to ¾ cm thick. Soak in a bowl of water for 20-30 minutes.

Remove from water and blot the potatoes dry. Put ¼ C cornstarch in a disposable plastic bag. Put a few slices of potato in the bag and shake them around to coat them with the cornstarch. Wipe off any extra starch, and place the potatoes on a wire rack. Continue until all are lightly coated.

Heat about 1 cm Canola oil in a frying pan. When a wooden chopstick put into the oil bubbles a little, the oil is hot enough for cooking. Turn the fire to medium-low.


Place a layer of potatoes gently in the oil. When golden brown on the bottom, gently flip them and cook until the other side is done.

Take them out and let them drain and cool on a wire rack over newspaper.

Salt and serve.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Mabo-dofu


1-1½ packs firm tofu - rinsed and cut into cubes
100-150 gm minced (lean) beef or chicken
1 T canola oil
(½ pack shimeji mushrooms)
1 T minced ginger (or ginger paste)
2 cloves garlic - finely minced
½-1 t tobanjan (Chinese hot chili sauce)
2 T miso paste
2 T sake
1½  T soy sauce
1 T brown sugar
¼ t konbu dashi powder (you can use the more common fish dashi, if you prefer)
1 t sesame oil
1 small red pepper, cut into small squares
(6-12 snow peas with tips and tails removed)
2 T chopped green onions (negi)
1 C water
1½-2 T cornstarch 
  1. Heat oil in frying pan and cook minced meat, (mushrooms), ginger, and garlic.
  2. Put in a tall cup and whisk: ¾ C water, sake, soy sauce, tobanjan, miso, and dashi powder. When the meat is crumbly, add this to the pan. Bring to a gentle boil.
  3. Using the same cup, mix cornstarch into ¼ C water until smooth, then add. Mix in well. (If it's too thick, add a little more water. If it's too thin, you will need to take a little sauce out and mix in a little more cornstarch into it, then mix it back in.)
  4. When the sauce thickens, stir in sesame oil and chopped red peppers.
  5. Gently fold in tofu. (Sprinkle the snow peas on the top. They take less than a minute to cook.) 
  6. When the tofu is heated through, add green onions. Serve on rice. Some people may like to add a little rayu (chili oil) to theirs.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fried Tofu


blocks relatively firm tofu

Rinse and slice each block into 4 slices. Set them aside to drain on a wire rack while you prepare the other ingredients.

Sauce

Put in a small sauce pan:

¼ t konbu dashi
50 ml soy sauce
50 ml sake
75 ml mirin
25 ml water

Bring to a boil. Then whisk in:

50 ml water whisked together with 1 T corn starch

Boil and stir with a whisk until thickened. Turn off fire and add:

2 T chopped green onions (negi)

Now, back to the tofu

Place in a bowl and mix together:

¼ C flour
½ C corn starch

Coat each piece of tofu with the flour/cornstarch mixture.

Heat in a frying pan:

1 cm of canola oil 

When a wooden chopstick put into the oil bubbles a little, the oil is hot enough for cooking.

Gently tap any excess flour from each slice of tofu, and then gently place however many fit comfortably into your pan. Cook each piece of tofu until golden brown on the bottom, then carefully turn them and cook the other side. Drain on a wire rack over newspaper. Continue until it's all cooked.

Place tofu on plates and pour on the sauce. Sprinkle more green onions on the top. Serve with rice.

This also makes a handy addition to an obento. For this, cut the tofu into bite-sized cubes either before or after frying.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Oyako-donburi - Chicken and Egg over Rice


Place in a frying pan:

1/3 C water
½ t dashi powder
2 T soy sauce
2 T mirin
1 T sake
2 t sugar
1 medium onion, sliced into thin wedges

Boil until onions are soft, about 2 minutes.

Add:


500 gm chicken thighs* cut into bite-sized pieces (trim off anything you don't want to eat)

*(If you happen to use chicken breast instead of thigh, slice it thinly against the grain. It cooks more quickly than chicken thighs.)

Simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Scramble in a bowl:

3 eggs

Pour 2/3 of the eggs over the chicken. Cover and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Add the remaining egg. Cover and simmer for 10 seconds or until the egg is set to your liking.

Serve over rice. (Sprinkle with sesame seeds.)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Burritos Method 2


6 large flour tortillas
2 C meat/bean mixture
¾ C strained yogurt or Greek yogurt
¾ C shredded cheese
(¼-½ C chopped red peppers)
(1 C "Mexican rice" made by mixing 1 C salsa with 1 C cooked rice)
(¼ C chopped black olives)

Lay tortillas on the counter. Divide the ingredients evenly among the tortillas in this order: cheese, strained yogurt, (olives), (red peppers), meat/bean mixture, (rice). Fold sides in, then fold bottom and top over and secure with a toothpick. Place seam-side down in an oven pan. Coat very lightly with olive oil. Bake at 200ºC for about 10 minutes, until lightly browned.


In a pinch these can be slightly heated in the microwave and then cooked in a toaster oven. The idea is to heat the inside, melt the cheese, and lightly brown all sides of the tortilla.

Serve with salsa.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Quesadillas


Meat

Remove the fat and skin from: 

2 large chicken breasts

Place in a pan, and add: 

300 ml water
1 chicken bouillon cube

Boil on a low flame, covered, for 5 minutes. Turn off fire, and leave until cool.

When the chicken breasts are cool, shred them with a fork on a plate. Save the broth in a container in the fridge to use later for soup or stock (in place of bouillon and water in another recipe).

½ T olive oil
½ onion - minced
1-2 cloves garlic - minced
2 t taco seasoning (or chili powder)
1 t cumin powder
¼ t salt
(¼ red pepper - cut into small pieces)

Heat olive oil in a frying pan, and add the onions, then garlic and spices. Stir fry over a low flame until the onions are soft and the spices are fragrant. 

Add shredded chicken breasts and red pepper to the pan and mix thoroughly. Set aside.

Instead of chicken breasts, you can make this using 300 grams minced chicken, although the quesadillas will be a little messy as the meat might crumble out. Add the chicken to the onion and spices above, right after you add the onions and garlic.

Beans

250 grams cooked beans (black, pinto, whatever)
1½ T butter
1-2 cloves garlic - minced
¼ t salt


Heat the beans, butter, garlic, and salt in a ziplock bag (not airtight) in the microwave until the butter melts. Gently pound the beans (through the bag) with a rolling pin to mash the beans.










More ingredients

6 large flour tortillas
1 C shredded mozzarella or other natural cheese
olive oil

Heat a large frying pan. Lay 1 tortilla in the heated pan, cover ½ with a very thin layer of cheese and the other ½ with a thin layer of meat and bean mixture. When the cheese is melted, fold it in half. Press it gently with a spatula. After about 30-60 seconds, take it out and place it on a serving plate. Add a tiny bit of oil to your pan, carefully spread it with the paper towel, and repeat the process. Continue until all your ingredients are used.

Cut each one into quarters. Serve with salsa and/or guacamole.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Burritos Method 1


Meat

Remove the fat and skin from: 

2 large chicken breasts

Place in a pan, and add: 

300 ml water
1 chicken bouillon cube

Boil on a low flame, covered, for 5 minutes. Turn off fire, and leave until cool.

When the chicken breasts are cool, shred them with a fork on a plate. Save the broth in a container in the fridge to use later for soup or stock (in place of bouillon and water in another recipe).

1 T olive oil
1 onion - minced
2-3 cloves garlic - minced
1 T taco seasoning*
2 t cumin powder
¼ t basil powder
1 laurel leaf
 t cinnamon powder)
¼ t salt

*If you don't have taco seasoning, substitute 2 t chili powder and increase the cumin to 1 T cumin.

Heat olive oil in a frying pan, and add the onions, then garlic and spices. Stir fry over a low flame until the onions are soft and the spices are fragrant.

Add shredded chicken breasts to the pan and mix thoroughly. Set aside.

Instead of chicken breasts, you can easily make this using 300 grams minced chicken. Add the chicken to the onion and spices above, right after you add the onions and garlic.

If you prefer to use ground beef, cook the meat separately first, drain the grease, then add it to the pan.

Beans

250 grams cooked beans (black, pinto, whatever)
1½ T butter
1-2 cloves garlic - minced
¼ t salt


Heat the beans, butter, garlic, and salt in a ziplock bag (not airtight) in the microwave until the butter melts. Gently pound the beans with a rolling pin to mash the beans.










"Mexican Rice"

1 C cooked rice
2 T chopped red peppers
(2 T corn)
¼ C salsa OR ¼ C minced onions and garlic, sautéed in olive oil

Mix together. Set aside.

You will also need:

¾ C shredded cheese
(¾ C strained yogurt or Greek yogurt)

How to Assemble


Burritos ready to be baked
Lay tortillas on the counter. Divide the ingredients evenly among the tortillas in this order: cheese, (yogurt), beans, meat, rice. Roll them and secure with a toothpick. Place in an oven pan lined with cooking paper. Coat very lightly with olive oil

Bake at 200ºC for about 10 minutes, until lightly browned. 


Alternately, you could heat them one at a time briefly in the microwave, then toast on both sides in a toaster oven.

Serve with salsa, avocados, guacamole, or strained yogurt infused for several hours with garlic paste, cumin, and a little salt.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Vanilla Extract


Rivaling ice cubes for simplicity of making, here is a recipe for vanilla extract.

1 bottle vodka
6-12 vanilla beans

Remove a little vodka from the bottle to make room for the beans. Split the beans carefully down the middle to expose the seeds. Put the split beans in the bottle with the vodka. Close tightly and place in a cupboard out-of-the-way. Every once in a while, take it out and shake it a bit. After 2 months, you should have very tasty vanilla. 

This lasts for a long time. When you start to run low, pour the remaining vanilla into a small clean bottle and add more vodka and beans (if you have them - even 1 or 2 would be fine) to the bottle. Repeat the above process. Using beans twice works fine. Then it's time to start afresh.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Fried Chicken Tenders (Sasami)


Cut off any white tendon from:

6 tenders

Then marinate for 30 minutes or more in:

2-3 t sake
2-3 t soy sauce
1 garlic clove finely minced
(and/or ½ t ginger paste, and/or ½ t sesame oil)


(The amount of soy sauce and sake depends on the size of your tenders. You don't want a bunch of excess liquid, you just want to flavor the tenders.)

Put 5 T flour in a disposable plastic bag. Add the marinated tenders and shake bag to coat them.


Put 1 egg in a wide bowl and mix it. Dip the tenders, one at a time, in the egg.  

Put 1 C panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) in a disposable plastic bag. Shake the tenders, one at a time, in the breadcrumbs to coat. Lay the coated tenders on a tray, ready to cook.

Heat about 1 cm of canola or grapeseed oil in a small frying pan. When the oil is hot, turn the fire to low and add 3 of the tenders, making sure the are straight in the pan. (To test the oil temperature, put the end of a wooden chopstick in the oil. When the oil is the right temperature, the oil on the chopstick will bubble.)

Cook until golden brown on one side, gently turn and cook the other side until golden. Drain on a rack over newspaper (to catch any dripping oil). Repeat with the next 3 tenders.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Tonjiru (Pork and Vegetable Soup)


150 gthinly sliced pork
1 T minced ginger or ginger paste
2 t sesame oil
2  liters water
1 t konbu dashi
3 chicken bouillon cubes
5 cm daikon - peeled and sliced into thin rectangles
1 carrot - peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 Satsuma sweet potato - scrubbed and chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 potato - scrubbed and chopped into bite-sized pieces
(1-2 shiitake mushrooms - thinly sliced)
4 T white miso paste
200 gm atsu-age tofu (blanched and cut)
    OR 200 gm firm tofu (rinsed and cut) 
    OR 100 gm of each type of tofu
1 pack of tied string konnyaku (rinsed and/or blanched)
3 chopped green onions (negi) or long onions

In a heavy, deep pot, stir fry the meat with ginger in the sesame oil. When the pork turns whitish, add the water, konbu dashi, bouillon, daikon, carrots, (and mushrooms). After a minute (to give the carrot and daikon a head start on cooking), add the potatoes. 

When the vegetables are nearly cooked, whisk the miso into a portion of the broth. (You can scoop out a little liquid and do that in a separate bowl if you like. The miso needs to be thoroughly dissolved.)

Add the tofu. When the tofu is warm, it's done.  

Put a spoonful of chopped green onions in each bowl, and ladle in the soup.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Umeboshi (Pickled plums)


4 kg fresh ume 
500-600 gm salt
1½ C rice vinegar
(¼ C mirin)

Wash the plums thoroughly and remove the stems. Cull out any that aren't good. Dry them completely.

Mix the salt and vinegar. Put a big, new, plastic bag in a big bowl and add the ume carefully so you don't squish any. Pour in the salt and vinegar. Mix about gently so all the ume are covered with the liquid. Tie the bag shut with a minimum of air inside. 

Place the big bowl in an out-of-the-way place and put something flat on top, then a heavy weight on top of that to push the flat lid down. (I used an unbreakable plate with a dumbbell on top. Canned food works pretty well, too.)

Leave it to soak for a month or so until red shiso (Perilla leaves) come into season. 

(Optional:  Dry them for a day or two in the sun. Save the soaking liquid.)

2-3 big bundles of red shiso leaves

Remove the leaves from the stems, wash the shiso leaves, and dry them thoroughly. 

Open up your ume and take some of the liquid out and put it in a big bowl. Add shiso leaves and squeeze them together. Repeat this until your shiso is all used.


A few months after making.
Layer the ume with shiso leaves inside a big, clean, dry mason jar. (To be sure it's really clean, rinse it with a little vodka.) Then pour on the liquid. Put in an out-of-the-way place to store. They will be ready to eat in 2-3 months. These keep indefinitely, and they improve with age. You may want to turn them from time to time so all the ume get evenly colored.


Before they are ready to be served, dry them in the sun for a day. 




Thursday, October 2, 2014

Hummus


Put in the blender and blend:

¼ C lemon juice (about 1 small lemon's worth)
3 T tahini (sesame paste, nerigoma in Japan)

Add and blend:

1-2 garlic cloves
2 T olive oil
½ t salt
½ t cumin

Add a little at a time, blending after each addition:

220 grams chick peas, rinsed
2-3 T water

Blend and scrape sides of blender.

Add more or less water and blend until you have a smooth consistency. Put hummus in a bowl, drizzle on ½ T olive oil and sprinkle on a little paprika.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Spring Rolls (Haru-maki)


For 10 spring rolls

1 package spring roll wrappers
100-150 grams ground chicken (or pork or beef* - or a mixture)
Oil for cooking
350 grams minced vegetables, whatever you have, such as:
    1-2 cloves garlic
    ½ onion
    2 shiitake mushrooms (remove the stems)
    1 small carrot (finely grated)
    a few green beans
    ¾ C cabbage, Chinese cabbage, etc. (Beware, Chinese cabbage is really wet. You will need to drain some of the liquid before thickening.)

Heat a small amount of olive oil (or other oil you like) in a frying pan, and stir fry the meat and garlic. When it is about halfway cooked, add the vegetables and cook until they're soft. 

(*If you use ground pork or beef, cook it all the way and drain any excess oil before adding it to the mostly cooked vegetables.)

Season to taste with:

Salt and pepper 

Mix:

1 T soy sauce
½ t sesame oil
¾-1 t cornstarch

Add to the pan and stir around until the mixture is thickened. (The idea is to get those minced ingredients to hold together.)

If you want, add:

1 minced umeboshi (pickled plum)
and/or
A little sesame oil


Spread your spring-roll wrappers out like diamonds on the clean, dry counter. Put a rounded tablespoon of filling below the center of each one. Fold the bottom up, then fold the sides in and roll it up. You can seal the end by wetting your finger with a tiny bit of water and touching the end before closing it, but they stay pretty well sealed without doing that. Put them seam side down.







Heat about 1 cm of Canola oil in a small frying pan. When a wooden chopstick put into the oil bubbles a little, the oil is hot enough. Lower the flame.

Gently place 5 spring rolls in the hot oil, seam side down. When they are golden brown on the bottoms, flip them and cook the other sides. Place on a grill over newspaper to cool.

Serve with dipping sauce*:

3 T soy sauce
3 T apple cider vinegar
1 t chopped green onions (negi)
*or use the dipping sauce from Chijimi instead. 

Put rayu (Japanese chili oil) on the table for people to add to their sauce as desired.