Sunday, February 26, 2017

Squid in beer sauce tapa イカのビールソース煮タパ

We like squid. The only type of squid available in our regular grocery store is relatively small, cleaned and previously frozen. We can occasionally get a frozen, larger whole squid (probably "Surume-ika" スルメイカ) at the Japanese grocery store. In any case, here again, I got a pound of squid from our grocery store. I asked my wife how I should cook it and she reminded me of a tapa dish I used to make frequently but have not made in a long time. So, I consulted my tapas cookbook  and made this squid in beer sauce.

The recipe calls for small squid (less than 4 inches long). Many of the squid I had just bought were that size but some were larger so I cut them into two or three pieces. I served the dish at (room temperature) garnished with a wedge of Meyer lemon and chopped parsley as a small starter dish.

This went well with the Tempranillo we were enjoying (Ribera del Duero 2010 Matanegra Vendimia Seleccionada, WA 92 points).

1 lb small squid tubes and tentacles, cleaned. If much larger than 4 inches long cut into several pieces.
1  medium sweet onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed and peeled
1 bay leaf
1 medium tomato, skinned, seeded and chopped (I used 5 skinned Campari tomatoes)
4 tbs olive oil
Salt, pepper and sugar (1/4 tbs)
1/2 cup beer (I used rather hoppy Samuel Adams Brown ale)

1. I put 2  tbs of olive oil in a sauce pan on a low flame and added the garlic stirring until fragrant and starting to turn color and added the onion and let it gently cook for 10 minutes with a lid on (#1 below).
2. After the onion was cooked, I added the tomato, bay leaf, sugar, salt and ground black pepper (#2) and kept cooking for another 5 minutes uncovered.
3. In a shallow casserole (I used my antique Pyrex ware), I added 2 tbs of olive oil and heated on a medium flame and sautéd the squid (#3) for 2-3 minutes and added the beer (#4), covered, lowered heat, and simmered for 10 minutes.
4. I added the onion-tomato sauce (#5), covered and cooked another 25 minutes (#6).
5. I removed the squid to a plate and set aside. On a medium flame, I reduced the sauce in half or until thickened (#7).
6. I returned the squid to the pan and cooked 10 more minutes (#8).

The squid was very tender and the sauce was great. My wife reminded me that we used to use this as a pasta sauce.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Artichokes hearts アーティチョークハーツ

While we lived in California, fresh artichokes were so readily available. We enjoyed them often. But after moving East, we do not frequently see good artichokes in our grocery stores. The other day, I spotted some good small (not "baby") artichokes. I have posted several artichoke recipes;  large ones, baby ones but this one falls in-between.  I served this simply with mayo, a wedge of lemon, skinned Campari tomato, and some pork meatballs that I made. I served this as a starter dish with red wine.

I did not take pictures of the preparation of the artichokes but it was prepared in a manner similar to the large artichokes I posted before.  Using a long sharp knife, I went around the outside of the artichoke to remove the hard petals. I then removed the top and removed the skin of the stalk and the base. I immediately placed it into acidulated water (lemon juice added to water) to prevent discoloration. I added wedges of lemon (after squeezing the juice), a medium onion, peeled and quartered, whole pepper corns, a splash of olive oil, and a few bay leaves. I boiled the artichokes on a medium low flame of 40 minutes or so or until the base could be easily pierced. I let them cool down in the simmering liquid. After they cooled to the room temperature, I  cut them in half. Using a spoon, I then removed the chokes (see below).

These were not baby artichokes so the chokes had to be removed. The young inner petals, however, were edible and I did not remove them (see below).

Since we have not had artichokes for a long time, we decide  to have it simply with lemon and mayo. The artichokes hearts have such a unique flavor. During our time of eating artichokes in California, we discovered chasing a bite of artichoke with a swig of water enhances the unique artichoke flavor for a second time and really adds to the enjoyment of the dish. As we may have said before, whomever first ate this huge thistle bud known as artichokes must have been really hungry but it turned out to be a delicacy. This was perfect starter for us.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Three cheese Jalapeno cheddar roll ハロペニョとチェダーチーズロール

At the near-by Whole Food grocery store, Jalapeno cheddar rolls are only available on weekends when the local football team is playing. My wife really likes this cheese bread. The last time we happened to be in the the store, the bread was available. My wife went "wild" and bought four loaves thinking she would cache them in the freezer, so they would be available on non-game weekends. Unfortunately, unlike previous batches, the person who made this batch was extremely heavy handed with the jalapeno. The heat was so intense, it could have caused spontaneous combustion of the mouth. We couldn't eat it. With great regret my wife gave away the loaves to friends with asbestos tongues who thought the heat was wonderful.

My wife was very discouraged because she didn't think she could have faith that the bread she purchased would be an edible batch. I encouraged her to make Jalapeno cheese bread herself. I told her that I could remove all the veins and seeds from the Jalapeno before mincing so that we would have only fresh pepper flavors but no heat. I also pointed out that she could then have the cheddar rolls whenever she wanted them, not just on football weekends. (I didn't mention that I too secretly looked forward to the availability of homemade cheddar rolls). So, one weekend, she made her own version of  Japaleno Cheddar rolls or,  I should say,  Japapeno double cheddar, triple cheese rolls. They were double cheddar because the bread itself had cheddar cheese in it as well as the filling. Triple cheese because she used two different kinds of cheddar as well as a gouda. She decided to include cheese in the bread itself because she had noticed one of the reasons the Jalapeno rolls from Whole foods was so hot was because the bread itself had jalapeno in it. So she decided if the goal was cheesy flavor go all out and include cheese in the bread too.

My wife also added finely chopped and caramelized onion.

(for bread dough)
4 cups of bread flour
1 3/4 cup milk, scalded
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons butter, unsalted
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tbs salt
2 packages dry yeast
2 cups shredded Irish cheddar

(for stuffing)
4 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and deveined, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped and caramelized in olive oil
2 cup total, grated smoked gouda and double Gloucester cheese

Put bread flour in mixing bowl. Combine the milk, butter, sugar, and salt in a sauce pan.
Scald milk and dissolve the butter, sugar, and salt. Let cool to about 110 degrees.
Meanwhile proof the yeast in the 1/2 cup water with a 1/2 tsp sugar added.
Turn on the mixer and add the liquid ingredients.
After they have been incorporated slowly added the grated cheese until it is incorporated. Add additional flour a little at time until a dough clings to hook and cleans the sides of the bowl.
Continue kneading on speed 2 for 7 to 10 minutes.
Place in greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled.
While dough is rising caramelize the onions, prepare the jalapeno and grate the cheeses.
Punch down dough and roll out into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick.
Spread the onions, jalapeno and cheese evenly over it making sure to get to the edges (#1 and #2).
Roll the dough into a log (#3). Cut crosswise (#4). Put in a heavily greased pyrex pan. Let rolls rise until doubled in size (#5).
Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes (#6).

This was a resounding success and decadent beyond belief! While baking, we could smell cheddar and fresh jalapeno.  This was a very good roll. It had a soft texture with a nice cheesy cheddar-y bread and fresh jalapeno pepper taste but no significant heat (thanks to my careful removal of veins and seeds). You also can't go wrong adding the flavor of caramelized onions. Although we are not a football fans, this could have been a perfect snack for watching the Super bowl.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Salmon salad sushi 鮭のサラダ寿司

After my wife had sushi made with tuna salad ツナサラダ (canned tuna dressed in mayo) in Japan, she was convinced that mayo and sushi rice are a good combination. We tried hand rolls of sashimi tuna dressed in mayonnaise which was quite good. I also made "imitation" negi-toro 擬制ネギトロ from low quality frozen yellow tail tuna using mayonnaise. I then made a "donburi" with it  ネギトロ丼 which was also very good. One evening, my wife, all of the sudden, asked me to make sushi out of my salmon salad as an ending dish. I often make salmon salad from leftover salmon after we have a salmon dinner. The version of salmon salad we had was made from  flaked cooked salmon, chopped sweet onion, celery, and fresh dill dressed with mayo, Dijon mustard and the Greek yogurt my wife makes. We usually eat this as a sandwich or a canapé.  I complied with her request and made salmon salad sushi.

I garnished it with thin slices of cucumber.

I made it in "Gunkan" 軍艦 or battle ship style. I just used our frozen rice which I microwaved and then dressed with sushi vinegar. This is not the best sushi I have ever had but it was certainly quick and more than just edible.

Having this dish, further confirmed my wife's belief that sushi rice and mayo are an excellent match, and I have to agree. This was an impromptu "shime" 〆 ending dish and it was quite good. Now, she is lobbying me to make "egg salad" sushi, we will have to see.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Butter bit rolls バターロール

This is another of my wife's baking "specials". She is always on the look out for a new and interesting baking recipe. This is based on the recipe she saw on-line. It was a bit complicated but the end result was really good.

As you can see, there are some layers and butter bits were incorporated in each layers.

Ingredients (Makes: 24 rolls)
2½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 (¼-ounce) packet instant yeast
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
6 ounces warm milk
1 egg
½ stick unsalted butter, softened, plus ½ stick, cold, plus ¼stick, melted, for brushing

1. Combine flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Use an electric mixer fitted with dough hook to mix on low speed as you slowly pour in milk. Once the dough pulls away from sides of bowl, add the egg and softened butter. Mix on medium until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.

2. Place dough in a lightly oiled large bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and then with a kitchen towel. Set aside in a warm place until dough doubles in size, 2-4 hours.

3. Pull dough up, then press down to release air bubbles. Turn dough onto a floured surface. Roll out into a 9-by-12-inch rectangle. Slice cold butter into 8 pieces and arrange over dough, leaving a wide border all around (#1 picture below).

4. Fold one-third of dough over center, then fold opposite third over first. Lightly flour dough, then roll out into a 9-by-12-inch rectangle. Lightly brush dough with warm water, then fold dough in half. Cover and place in refrigerator for 30 minutes. (#2 and #3 in the picture below).

5.Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough out into an 8-by-12-inch rectangle. Flour dough, then cut into 24 square pieces (#4, #5 and #6). Arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet, at least 1 inch apart. Let dough rise, uncovered, until doubled in size, about 20 minutes. Bake rolls until golden, 13-15 minutes (#7 and 8). Brush rolls with warm melted butter before serving.

The butter ended up unevenly distributed. We think it might be better to cut the butter thinly and distribute more evenly.

Nonetheless these rolls are pretty good. With nice soft consistency with butter flavor. Certainly good for the holiday dinners.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

"Sashimi at home" superfrozen tuna and salmon 超冷凍鮪と鮭の刺身

At the nearby Whole Foods grocery store, we saw a frozen case with packages of tuna and salmon sashimi. I immediately recognized the products which are from "Sushi At home". This company appears to be a fish whole seller. Although they advertise their tuna, salmon, imitation crab, butterfly shrimp, and wasabi products on their website, those products can not be purchased directly from them.  They have to be purchased from a retail outlet. Whole Foods in our area carried tuna, salmon, imitation crab  and wasabi. We bought the tuna and salmon to try them out. The picture below shows the tuna and salmon sashimi I served.

The difference between the frozen yellowfin sashimi block we get from our Japanese grocery store and this item are two fold; first, this is not carbon monoxide treated and second it is super-frozen* at -76F. To get the color right, the tuna needs to be thawed as per the instructions.

*"Fish for sushi" called the same or similar process "Proton frozen".

The Atlantic salmon was also super frozen.

The pictures below show both the tuna and salmon blocks thawed. The color of the tuna was more natural dark red instead of the bright red of carbon monoxide treated fish.

It was a very cold day (the high did not go above freezing) and we decided to have  warm sake.

As before we placed the sake container in hot water bath to keep it warm.

The tuna had a firm consistency and was better than the one we get from our Japanese grocery store. The salmon was very disappointing. It had a very soft mushy consistency and did not taste that good. The salmon sashimi from Catalina was much better. I decided to make carpaccio from the leftover salmon the next day rather than serving it as sashimi.  From the remaining tuna, I made tuna and natto.

Instead of "hikiwari" natto ひきわり納豆, I used whole bean natto. As before, using my natto mixing contraption, I mixed the natto very well and seasoned with the seasoning packets that came with the natto (this came frozen). The small cubes of tuna were marinated with soy sauce briefly before mixing.

We liked this dish. Somehow, the natto flavor was better and tuna in this preparation was quite palatable.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Crispy Mochi with cheese and nuts ナッツとチーズ入り餅せんべい

After New Year, it is always a challenge to finish the mochi. Although I bought the smallest bag of mochi available at the Japanese grocery store, we had several pieces leftover. We are probably not the only ones ending up in this condition because there are many recipes for leftover mochi. This is a variation of mochi and cheese I posted before. This one developed a more crispy crust than the previous recipe. This may be because I used too much heat. It may look better and a little less burnt if I used a very low flame and was more patient.  I served it with kinpira gobo きんぴらごぼう, my potato salad  ポテトサラダand datemaki 伊達巻 for a weekend lunch.

This one adds crushed nuts (the original called for peanuts but we used roasted pecan as per my wife's suggestion).

I made my datemaki again after the New Year. This time, I put the darker side inside the roll which looks better to me rather than the other way around.

The original recipe came from the Internet.

Ingredients (for 4):
Mochi cakes, 2
Melting cheese (I used smoke mozzarella), several slices, finely chopped (grating may work better).
Crushed nuts (original recipe calls for peanuts, we used roasted pecans), amount arbitrary.
Soy sauce and Japanese hot pepper flakes or ichimi tougarashi 一味唐辛子.

1. Soften the mochi by microwaving for 20 seconds in the plastic wrapping.
2. Cut each mochi into small cubes (I cut one mochi into 8 cubes, wetting the knife blade to prevent the mochi from sticking).
3.  Place 4 cubes together in the pan on low flame (I used a small amount of olive oil, the original recipe does not use oil). Put on a tight lid.
4. When the cheese is melted and the bottom becomes brown, turn the pieces over (#1).
5. Put the lid back on and keep cooking for several more minutes (#2).
6.  pour a small amount of soy sauce mixed with Japanese hot pepper flakes over the mochi (#3).
7. I served two (one mochi cake equivalent) per serving (#4).

The visual could have been better. I should have used a lower flame. In any case, this was good. Very crunchy crust on both sides and soft and chewy center with the taste of cheese, soy sauce and nuts. This might be a reason to make left over mochi on purpose.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Coleslaw with home-made ranch dressing ランチドレッシング コールスロー

This is a variation of coleslaw. Since my wife discovered a high octane buttermilk, she wanted to make salad dressing using it. She found a Ranch dressing recipe on line. This is not our usual or favorite dressing but with this buttermilk, it may be worth it. We simplified/modified it (removing fresh herbs so that the coleslaw would last longer) and made this coleslaw. This post is mostly to document our modification for the dressing.

Using this buttermilk and home-made Greek yogurt, the Ranch dressing came out rather thick and creamy (and hopefully more healthy than if we had used the sour cream called for in the recipe).

First I prepared the cabbage and carrot.

1/4 head of cabbage
2 medium carrots, skin peeled, sliced thinly on bias and then cut into thin julienne.

I hand chopped the cabbage and then soaked it in cold water for 10-20 minutes and drained.
I salted and massaged the cabbage and let it sit in a bowl until slightly wilted and some juice came out.
I pressed the cabbage and discarded the any juice accumulated. I mixed in the carrot and raisin.

1/2 - 3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
2-3 tablespoons home made Greek yogurt (the original calls for sour cream)
1-2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
1 red onion, finely minced
1 Jalapeno pepper, seeded deveined and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Few dashes Sriracha sauce
(1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce and optional suggestion from my wife based on her previous coleslaw recipe)

This represented 1/2 of the original recipe. The original recipe also called for 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh tarragon, dill, parsley, chives or celery leaves (or a combination) but we omitted it since we thought these fresh herbs may make the dressing more perishable. Instead, we added finely chopped Jalapeno pepper. The original called for Tabasco. One of the things my wife said is important is to premix the buttermilk in a bowl with a whisk since it tends to separate. Just shaking the bottle, in her opinion, will not do it.

We dressed the cabbage misture generously and seasoned it with salt and pepper after we tasted it.

My wife's original coleslaw dressing had Worcestershire sauce which gave some zing to the dressing. This ranch dressing version is milder and creamer and I sort of like it but my wife said she likes the original.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Japanese yam simmered with grated apple リンゴとサツマイモのみぞれ煮

I saw this recipe for Japanese yam and grated apple. This is one of a series of vegan cooking or shoujin ryouri 精進料理 by a Buddhist monk in Kyoto which appeared in Japanese news paper on line.  Since we got Japanese yams and it is a very simple dish, I decided to make it. It is called "Mizore-ni" みぞれ煮 or "simmered in sleet". Usually "sleet" is grated daikon but in this dish, it is grated apple.

The grated apple looks like sleet accumulating on the surface.

This is very simple to make.

1 Japanese sweet yam, satsuma-imo, cut into 1/3 inch half round.
1 apple, peeled, cored and grated (I used a fuji apple).
1 tsp sugar
water to cover the yam.
a pinch of salt.

Melt the butter and sautee the yam until coated
Add the grated apple, sugar and salt
Add water to cover and cook until the yam is done (10 minutes)

This is a simple but nice dish. The mild sweetness of the potato and the apple went well together. In addition to sweetness the apple added a light acidity that made the dish taste refreshing. The butter flavor also went well with this. The red skin adds to the color but the consistency of the skin and the flesh of the yam are so different it is probably better to remove the skin next time.