Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Blueberry bread with rolled oats 押し麦入りブルーベリーパン

To celebrate the season (this was in July), my wife is on a quest to test all possible blueberry bread recipes. This is another variation she made. The difference between these blueberry breads is rather subtle.  This variation includes rolled oats 押し麦. For breakfast, we served this with yogurt and cherries.

Actually, if you look carefully, you can see the rolled oats in the bread.

2 cups blueberries
4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
2 cups Greek yogurt
2 eggs
1 cup butter melted
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup oats

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter and dust 2 loaf pans with flour. Toast the oats in the toaster oven until they become brown and fragrant. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix the wet ingredients in a bowl. Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Fold in the blueberries (the batter will be stiff so it may be difficult to get them evenly distributed as indicated by the picture above.) Bake for about 50-55 minutes. 

This bread tastes like a very rich pound cake with moist texture and a crunchy cookie crust (at least when it just comes out of the oven. Over time the crust is not as crunchy but is still good.) The oats kind-of disappear, although they do add some nuttiness because of the roasting and some additional texture. This bread is an appropriate celebration of blueberry season. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Shrimp and cucumber salad with "Kimusu" egg yolk vinegar sauce 黄身酢の和え物

When I made shrimp balls (which required egg whites), I was left with two egg yolks. I was pondering how to use them. The yolks were from regular not from pasteurized eggs, so making mayonnaise was not feasible. Hollandaise sauce was another possibility but I settled for Japanese "Kimisu" 黄身酢 sauce. I have posted "kimisu" previously. That one came out a bit thinner than I wanted. This time, my kimisu sauce came out very thick and creamy. I made a small starter salad with shrimp, cucumber, wakame sea weed 若芽 and Campari tomato.

Since I had, tobiko roe とびこ I used it as a garnish on the top.

As you can see the kimisu sauce did not just run down the sides and had almost a soft mayo texture.

I used salt-preserved (not dried) wakame which tasted better.

Chef Kitayama of Sushi Taro told me that he froze the eggs he used for his sauce and then removed the egg yolks for kimisu to make a thick creamy texture. It was too late for that and, rather than winging it, I looked up recipes to accomplish thick and creamy kimisu sauce.  Among the many variations of recipes I settled on this recipe by a professional Japanese cooking teacher. He suggested to use a whisk and double boiler and whisk in air to make it creamy. In addition, the seasoning was slightly different from what I was doing. The original recipe used 3 egg yolks but I had only two. I had to make proportional changes in other ingredients to accomodate. I also reduced the sugar (my instinct told me otherwise it would be too sweet).

Ingredients (enough to dress 6 of these small salads):
Egg yolks, two
Rice vinegar 2/3 tbs
Mirin 2/3 tbs
Sugar 1 tsp
Light colored soy sauce  2/3 tbs
Dashi broth 1 1/3 tbs
Salt to taste

In the upper pan of a double boiler, I combined all the ingredients. When the water in the lower pan started boiling, I turned it down to simmer and put the upper pan over the boiling water and started whisking vigorously.  I occasionally removed the upper-pan to prevent the sauce from becoming scrambled eggs. After it started thickening, I kept it on the heat and kept whisking for two more minutes. I cut off the heat and kept whisking for another minute or two and let it cool down. After it cooled, I put the sauce in a small seal-able container and kept it in the refrigerator until I was ready to use it  (According to this recipe, it will keep 2-3 days refrigerated).

Shrimp: I thawed frozen shrimp, then cooked it by gently boiling it in salted water with a dash of sake for 2-3 minutes. I sliced the shrimp in two lengthwise and cut the resulting strips in half.

Cucumber: I used one American mini-cumber washed and salted, rolled on the cutting board and let stand for 10 minutes, then washed and dried using a paper towel and sliced thinly. I salted it and kneaded it and let it stand for another 10 minutes. I squeezed out the excess moisture and dressed the cucumber in sushi vinegar. I squeezed out the excess dressing before assembly.

Wakame seaweed: I used the "raw" salt preserved kind. I washed off the salt and soaked in filtered water for a few minutes. I squeezed out the excess moisture and dressed it in sushi vinegar.  Excess dressing squeezed out before assembly.

This was certainly a nice thick and creamy kimisu sauce. When I took it out of the refrigerator, the sauce was stiffer than I wanted it too be, so I added a small amount of broth and mixed it in to loosen it. In retrospect, I should have added more vinegar to loosen the sauce. I could have used a more assertive vinegar flavor in this sauce. In any case, using a whisk and introducing air made this kimuzu sauce very thick and creamy. The entire small salad tasted great.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Shrimp balls, two colors エビ団子の二色あげ 

It was getting to be a corn season (it was July when I made this dish). Fresh local corn in husk was reasonably priced and plentiful in the grocery store.  Last week, I got 10 ears of corn. My wife made fresh corn pudding (amazingly, 10 ears only made 5 small ramekins of pudding, so each ramekin had 2 ears worth of corn in it, but it was the pure concentrated essence of corn). This week I bought 5 ears. I did not know what I would make, so I just boiled them in salted water briefly and removed the kernels (by cutting them off using a chef's knife) (see #1 in the composite picture below). I found this recipe on line and decide to try it. It is essentially ground/chopped shrimp made into a ball covered with chopped corn kernels and soybean (called two tone shrimp balls since one is green and the other yellow). The oil I used may have been a bit too hot since the balls browned quickly. I served them with two kinds of salt; green tea salt and ukari ゆかり(dried powdered red perilla with salt).

This was much more difficult to make than I had thought especially forming the shrimp paste into balls. This may be due to the imprecision of the amount of egg white and potato starch I used.

Ingredients: (the amounts are from the original recipe which reportedly makes 8 small dumplings)
Shrimp, shell off, 120g (I used about 8 medium count frozen shrimp, thawed in running water. I salted them and let them stand for 10-15 minutes before using) 
Egg white:10g、potato starch:1/2 tsp (this was how the amount of specified in the original recipe. I ended up using egg white from one egg and much more potato starch.)
Corn kernel 60g (I just used a part of what is shown in #1)
Soybeans, boiled, shelled 60g (I used frozen soybeans and used only part of what is shown in #2)
Egg white, potato starch, salt

Directions: (I modified the recipe as usual, especially as I had no idea what 10 grams of egg white was. I probably added too much egg white which then forced me add more potato starch).
1. I chopped up both the corn kernels and soybeans. I squeezed out any excess moisture using a paper towel.
2. I finely chopped the shrimp until it stuck together with a paste-like consistency. I added the egg white (about 1 egg worth). After adding the egg white, the shrimp paste became very soft. I added about 2-3 tsp of potato starch and a pinch of salt. 
3. Wetting my fingers, I made small balls (total of 8), dredged them in potato starch, then coated with egg white. I then covered the surface with either the corn or soybeans. It was still rather soft and difficult to make into a ball.
4. I dropped the balls into a 350F oil (#3), which immediately started browning (#4). The oil may have been too hot.
5. I fried them turning several times for 3-4 minutes.

This was a nice dish. It essentially had the nice firm texture of shrimp. The corn variation was the better of the two--the sweetness of the corn perfectly complemented the sweetness of the shrimp. We are not sure about the soybean version. The soybeans did not add much flavor to the dish.  We tried both types of balls with two kinds of salt, green tea and red perilla flavors, both were good. We also tried with soy sauce but the soy sauce overwhelmed the subtle shrimp flavor of the dish. If I make this one again, I may simple mix the corn and/or soybeans into shrimp paste and fry it.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Parmesan Broccoli Balls パルメザンチーズ ブロッコリー ボール

We had some blanched broccoli left over from last weekend and my wife found this recipe on line. This appealed to her since it is basically bread stuffing in ball form. It is amazingly good, although it is not dietetic. 

You can see small florets of  broccoli are embedded in the ball. I also served it with more blanched broccoli and skinned Campari tomato topped with mayo and Dijon mustard.

This was baked in the toaster oven but still developed a nice crunchy crust. Since it has a good amount of butter, even baked, it is like oven fried.

We made some adjustment to the original recipe, since we did not have garlic salt or margarine (we do not use margarine in any case). We also sautéed onion and garlic before mixing in.

One head of broccoli, thick stem removed and discarded, separated into florets, blanched in salted  water and cooled (original recipe calls for frozen broccoli).
1 (6 ounce) package flavored dry stuffing mix.
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (it was a bit of work to grate this much).
1 medium onion, finely chopped
5 eggs, beaten (original recipe calls for 6)
3/4 cup butter, unsalted, melted (original recipe calls for margarine)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
One clove of garlic chopped and 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt (original recipe calls for garlic salt)
Olive oil for cooking onion and garlic

  1. In a frying pan with olive oil, saute the onion and garlic until soft and onion is semitransparent (#2).
  2. In a large bowl, mix broccoli, stuffing mix, Parmesan cheese, onion, garlic, eggs, butter, pepper, and salt (#1). 
  3. Cover, and chill in the refrigerator approximately 1 hour, until moisture has been absorbed.
  4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  5. Roll the chilled mixture into 1 inch balls, and arrange on a medium baking sheet (#3 and 4). We used a medium sized ice cream scoop to portion out.
  6. Bake 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, until browned.

We really like this dish. This may replace my wife's stuffing for the holiday dinners. The amount of butter, eggs and Parmesan cheese make this dish not particularly diet worthy. We wondered at the role the broccoli played in this dish but decided, although the flavor is subtle, it helps. There was too much for us to eat at once so we froze most of it. This reheated very well in the toaster oven. Having something like this to pull from the freezer as a quick hors d'oeuvre is really handy and can make a workday evening a little more special. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Cold pasta with cilantro Jalapena sauce 冷製パスタのハロペニョソース

This was a cold pasta dish I came up with for lunch using all the leftovers we had one weekend. When I made cold pasta with cherry tomato, I cooked too much linguine. Thinking of something similar to cold ramen noodle, I came up with this "fusion" cold noodle dish.

I added leftover  slices of barbecued and hot smoked pork loin,  spicy baked tofu,  simmered cold vegetables (I only used carrot for color), julienne of cucumber.

I garnished it with cilantro leaves.

The sauce was also made on a whim. In my immersion blender container, I added Dijon mustard, finely chopped seeded and veined Jalapeno pepper, fresh cilantro, olive oil with splash of dark sesame oil and ponzu-shoyu sauce (from the bottle) and emulsified using my immersion blender.  Because of the mustard, it stays emulsified for some time. I dressed the cold linguine with this sauce which is similar to the sauce used in cold ramen noodle with some additional flavors of Jalapeno and cilantro. For an impromptu leftover control dish, this was not too bad.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Flat iron steak with Chimichurri sauce with avocado フラットアイアンステーキのチミチュリソース添え

We only rarely eat beef. Chicken and pork are the main stays of meat for us. When we eat beef, we tend to choose filet mignon. Other steak choices may be skirt steak (for Fajitas), New York strip, hanger steak, and flat iron steak. Flat iron steak is from the shoulder and flavorful but is not known for tenderness. I had a package of flat iron steak in the refrigerator bought some time ago  (it was now a few days from the "sell-by" date). We also had fresh oregano and thyme left over from when we made baked cauliflower with chimichurri sauce. So, we decided to have flat iron steak with chimichurri sauce on one work week evening. I served this with grilled tomato and potato salad and my baguette.

I added small cubes of avocado to the chimichurri as well.

This time I did not bother with finishing the steak in the oven (this was a very hot day) and, instead, cooked the steak in a cast iron skillet. 

The steak (left to warm to room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking) was simply seasoned with salt and black pepper and cooked in the cast iron skillet with some melted butter. After searing both sides (smoke is inevitable, thank goodness for our efficient exhaust fan), I reduced the heat and cooked it for 7-8 minutes for medium rare. I cut the flame and let it rest in the pan for 10 minutes before slicing. Since this is a rather tough cut, I pre-sliced it thinly across the grain.

The chimichurri sauce I made was also very simple. I just whisked lemon juice, salt, black pepper and garlic (passed through a garlic press) and olive oil. I then added finely chopped fresh herbs (fresh parsley, oregano and a small amount of fresh thyme) into the mixture, mixed and let it stand for 30 minutes before using. Since I had ripe avocado, I made small cubes and also added it.

I would have thought that the acidity and garlic flavors may have been a bit too assertive but because of the strongly flavored meat, the sauce went well and did not compete with the red wine too much despite the acidity. The wine we had was a bit unusual called Bodegas Bioenos Pulchrum Crespiello 2011. The grape is called  Crespiello or Vidalillo. This was the first time for us to taste wine made from Crespiello.  The below is the quote from WA review by Luis Gutierrez. Rating: 92
"Drink 2015 - 2020 The 2011 Pulchrum Crespiello is sourced from a very old vineyard of the red grape Vidadillo -also known as Crespiello- one of the few remaining in the zone. The wine is aged in oak barrels for a long time as the wine maker feels the tannins of the fruit need it. It has smoky, balsamic oak aromas, with black, ripe fruit and some mineral hints. The palate is medium-bodied, with abundant, grainy tannins and flavors of chocolate, coffee and plums with a mineral finish. It should polish its tannins with a little bit more time in bottle. Bioenos is the consulting form of Pepe Gracia who also produces wines with his own label. He seems to be somehow specialized in Vidadillo/Crespiello an old, almost extinct red grape in the zone. Well-made, slightly technological wines."
We really liked this wine. We tasted nice minerals with mostly dark fruit and rather strong tannin.  This wine went very well with the grilled meat and chimichurri sauce. The sauce added multidimensional herbal bright notes to the wonderful flavor of the meat. The additional avocado added a different texture and almost seemed like another type of meat. This meal was quite the splurge!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Prosciutto rolls 生ハムロール

This is a quick snack to have with a glass of wine. We had leftover prosciutto from the previous day's cold pasta lunch. I decided to make rolls and served it with my baked spicy tofu (served cold).

Inside the rolls, I included my wife's Greek yogurt (which she made by draining regular plain yogurt overnight in the refrigerator) mixed with olive oil and seasoned with salt and fresh cracked back pepper. I also included, cucumber, thinly sliced Vidalia onion and watercress.

I wanted the watercress to look like it was sprouting from the roll.

I suppose anything can be rolled in prosciutto. Blanched asparagus or cheese would be the common choice.  I added our favorite Spanish olive oil to the Greek yogurt. I spread the mixture on 1/3 of the slice of prosciutto added the onion and a button of cucumber (American mini-cucumber) and watercress. I simply rolled it and cut it in half and stood it up on the cut surface. I drizzled on more olive oil. Although there is no cheese on this plate but the combination of Greek yogurt and olive oil and tofu are almost like some type of cheese. This is indeed an excellent starter dish.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Grilled chicken wings simmered in Coke 手羽のコーク照り焼き

We have seen recipes which involve meat cooked in or sauce made of Coca Cola. This recipe, involving simmering chicken wings in Cola before grilling, is from a Japanese cooking website I follow. Although we almost never drink soda/cola and we do not have cola handy in our household, I thought this was  worth a try. So the next time I was at the grocery store, I made a point of buying a bottle of Coca Cola (regular Coke, not diet or the "Zero" kind). I served a wing and drumette with lots of veggies including cauliflower with chimichurri sauce, coleslaw, blanched broccoli and skinned and sliced tomato seasoned with salt and olive oil.

The skin of the chicken was nicely browned but not crispy (but not unpleasant) and the meat was very tender.

I followed the directions fairly closely but I did not bother browning the skin before simmering in Coke and I also used both drumettes and wings (The original recipe only used drumettes).

Chicken wings, 6 each wings and drumettes
Coca-Cola, regular, 1 bottle (16 fl oz or about 500 ml)
Garlic, 2-3 cloves
Japanese small whole dried red pepper, seeds removed, 2
Salt, 1/2 tsp
Sake 4 tbs

Soy sauce 5 tbs + sugar 2-3 tbs (I did not add sugar since Coke, to me, is very sweet.. a 12 oz can/bottle contains 52grams of sugar!).

1. Brown skin in a frying pan with olive oil (I did not see the point of make skin brown before simmering in liquid and omitted this).
2. Add the Coke and sake to the chicken wings in the frying pan. Skim off any scum (for some reason, "scum" developed immediately when the Coke mixture was added. After the scum is removed, add soy sauce and cover the pan with aluminum foil which was shaped to fit the opening of the pan.
3. Simmer for 30 minutes.
4. I let it cool to room temperature.
5. Since I was not ready to eat the chicken I put the simmering liquid and the chicken wings in a sealable container and in the refrigerator.
6. A few days later, I removed the chicken wings from the marinade and grilled them in the toaster oven for 10-15 minutes or until the skin was nicely browned.

This is rather good. Coca Cola* contains acid (phosphoric acid) which apparently tenderized the meat. The other ingredients added flavor. Compared to the other grilled chicken wings we make, the meat of this one is very tender with a nice sweet and sour flavor.  If you divide up the simmering and baking steps for different days, as I have done here, you can enjoy baked/grilled chicken wings very quickly even on a workweek evening. I wonder if I cook the wings in black vinegar, soy sauce and mirin mixture, will the effect be similar.

*It contains Carbonated Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Caramel Color, Phosphoric Acid, Natural Flavors, Caffeine (as per Coca-cola website). 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Chicken kara-age and lotus root nanban 鶏の唐揚げピリ辛南蛮漬け

I bought bone-in chicken thighs one weekend, thinking I would make something with it but it did not happen. A week later, when I checked the chicken, it was still good (some chicken we buy at our grocery store goes bad very quickly). So I decide to try this recipe which I saw on-line. It is essentially chicken nanban 鳥の南蛮漬けwith some interesting variations.

The marinade is a bit more assertive than my usual marinade for nanban but the high acidity cut through the oiliness of the fried chicken. The crispy renkon slices were also nice but, next time I will not marinade the renkon chips because they became soggy. I'll serve them crispy on the side.

For onions, I used Vidalia onion.

The marinade clung to the crust on the chicken which created an interesting surface that delivered layers of flavor.

Ingredients (4 servings):
Chicken thighs, 4, deboned and excess skin and fat removed. Cut into a bite sized pieces.
Seasoning for chicken; Soy sauce  (1 tbs), sake (1 tbs) and roasted sesame oil (1 tsp)
Potato starch for dredging 
Oil for frying ( I used peanut oil)

Renkon (Lotus root), one package cleaned and boiled. cut into thin (2-3mm thick) rounds, excess moisture blotted out using paper towel.

For Marinade:
Lemon juice (2tbs), rice vinegar (2tbs), soy sauce (2 tbs)
Dried small Japanese hot red pepper (赤唐辛子), seeds removed, 2
Sugar (2 tsp)
Garlic, grated 1/2 tsp
Ginger, grated 1/2 tsp
Black pepper for taste
Onion, one small, halved, then sliced thinly, salted and kneaded and left for 5 minutes and then soaked in water (I used filtered water) for 10 minutes, drained and moisture squeezed out

1. I placed the chicken in a Ziploc bag, added the seasonings, massaged it, and removed as much air as I could and let it marinade for at least 30 minutes at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.
2. I mixed all ingredients for the marinade and added the onion in a flat sealable container.
3. Fried the renkon rounds in 350F oil for 1 minutes each side or until the renkon rounds got brown and crispy (it is a great snack as is with some salt, see below).
3. I removed the chicken and blotted the excess moisture from the surface. I dredged it with potato starch or katakur-ko 片栗粉 and fried in 350F oil (I used a shallow frying method. Some believe, this method will let the moisture evaporate more easily and make a crispy surface but I did it just because it uses less oil). This time I double fried the chicken using a higher temperature for the second frying but this is probably not necessary. Of course, we snacked on the chicken immediately after it came out of the oil and hit the draining rack.
4. I added the fried chicken and renkon to the marinade while they were hot and gently mixed (I just turned the sealable container upside down to make sure the marinade make contact with all the surfaces.)

This is a good dish, although frying the chicken is a bit of work. I will definitely not put the renkon chips in the marinade next time to keep them crispy. This dish will go well with beer or cold sake but the marinade is too acidic for wine.

P.S. Few days later, I served the remaining chicken with renkon chips which were not soaked in the marinade. The renkon chips were crisp and much better than the marinated soggy chips. Then, my wife said we should enjoy the chicken and renkon separately. I agree. The renkon chips are a great snack by them selves and we do not see the point of combining them with chicken nanban.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Blueberry scones ブルーベリースコーン

Local blueberries are in season and there was a special at the local grocery store. I bought 4 packages of blueberries and my wife made blueberry bread. But two packages of blueberries were left. So, she decided to make blueberry scones.

Here are blueberry scones on the left and blueberry bread on the right just out of the oven.

4 cups AP flour
4 Tbs. sugar (After tasting it, my wife thought maybe a bit more sugar and vanilla flavor would be good)
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
10 Tbs. cold butter
1 cup cold milk
2 large eggs
8 oz cheese (brie, goat cheese, or cream cheese) broken into bits
8 oz blueberries. 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl mix the dry ingredients from AP flour to butter. Use a pastry knife to cut the butter into pea sized pieces. Add the cheese and cut into pea sized pieces with the pastry knife. In another bowl combine the wet ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry (#1). Fold in the blueberries (#2). The dough was extremely stiff and it was difficult to mix in the blueberries. Some of them inevitably got crushed. Cut into triangles or circles (#3). Bake in oven for 15 to 20 Minutes until golden brown (#4). 

This is like a biscuit with blueberries in it. It is very different from blueberry quick bread. We like it very much. It is perfect for breakfast or , perhaps, afternoon tea.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Lobster Bisque with carb meat カニ肉入りロブスタービスク

When I went to our regular grocery store, they had a special on previously frozen (and just starting to thaw) lobster tails at the fish counter. I got two and made sous vide butter poached lobster tails. As usual, I made lobster bisque from the shell. Compared to whole lobsters, the amount of shells and resulting bisque was just enough for 2 small servings. I served this with a mound of lump crab meat as a part of weekend lunch which was proceeded by avocado tofu.

Since I had tobiko roe, I used it as a garnish and also small cubes of cucumber (American mini-cucumber).

We had this with my baguette. As my wife says, she likes the lobster bisque almost more than eating lobster itself because it is the distilled essence of lobster without the work of cracking the shell. The addition of crab meat and tobiko roe made this bisque a little bit special.