Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Rosemary Pine nut cookie ローズマリー松の実クッキー

Christopher Kimball, who is a founder of America's test kitchen, left there and started a new cooking site/publication called Milk Street. We started subscribing to his quarterly Milk street magazine. This cookie is from one of those issues. We always like savory and not sweet cookies like anchovy black pepper cookies and chili cheese shortbread, so this was a natural for us to try, so we made this one weekend (I did the grating and chopping and my wife did the rest).

It is topped with pine nuts and honey butter glaze.

Ingredients: Pictures #1 and #2 (by accident I included sesame seeds in the picture. They are for another dish).
1 1/2 cup AP flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 tsp grated orange zest
16 Tbs (2 sticks) salted butter softened
1 cup pine nuts
3 Tbs. honey

In an electric mixer with a paddle, mix the sugar, rosemary and orange zest until the moisture from the orange zest and rosemary makes the sugar form coarse clumps (#3, 2-3 minutes).
Add small pats of unsalted butter one-by-one until they are well incorporated making a wet paste (#4)
Add the flour gradually until a dough ball forms on the paddle (#5)
Break up the dough into small chunks and place them in an aluminum foil lined 13 x 9 inch baking pan  (excess edges all around to facilitate the removal of the cookie)(#6)
Press the chunks (using fingers) into a flat sheet (#7)
Place the pine nuts in a single layer and press them hard into the dough (#8)
Coat the surface with the honey butter (#9)
Bake it at 325 F for 45 minutes (#10)
Let it cool for 15 minutes and lift out the sheet of cookies to the cutting board
Cut into small rectangles and let it completely cool on the cooling rack.

The aroma of the orange and rosemary while these were cooking was quite strong and very pleasant. The combination of orange, rosemary and pine nuts all works. It is sweet/savory with very complex flavors. The honey butter glaze is a nice finish. This cookie can be enjoyed while sipping wine.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Ginger lemon frozen yogurt 生姜レモンフローズンヨーグルト

A long time ago, we used to make ice cream and frozen yogurt. We first used a "Frozen cylinder" device which we kept in the freezer to chill. Then to make ice cream, we added the mix and hand cranked until the ice cream formed. We felt, at the time, that the effort and quality of the resulting ice cream was not worth it; never mind that the cylinder took a big chunk out of our precious freezer space. Then, we came across a self contained (with compressor) mini-ice cream maker on sale and bought it. This was much better. We have made ice cream and frozen yogurt a few times, but them we forgot about it for a long time. While we were trying to find more space in the cupboard, we came across this old ice cream maker occupying valuable cupboard real estate. We were not sure if it still worked and decided if it did not work it was "gone/history".  But, miraculously, we flipped the switch and it still worked after all these years of neglect. So, we made, ginger lemon frozen yogurt. We served a few scoops with our favorite girl scout cookies.

We did not make it too sweet. The lemon and ginger flavor was very refreshing.

The recipe came from Alton Brown (Food network). We made some changes and also reduced the portions to fit our ice cream machine (maximum is about 2 cups).

Greek yogurt 2 cups (my wife drained plain whole milk yogurt).
Lemon juice from one lemon
Lemon zest from one lemon (micrograted).
Grated ginger, 1 tsp
1/8 cup sugar
1/8 cup corn syrup
Crystalized ginger

Mix the ingredients together and place in the ice cream machine container #1.
Put in the paddle #2, Put on the machine's lid #3.
Stir about 20 to 25 minutes with the chill unit on. #4 and #5.
When the ice cream is formed fold in the crystalized ginger, put into a container and then put into the freezer #6.

This ice cream came out nice and creamy. After few days in the freezer, it was so hard, we could not scoop it out of the container and had to microwave it for 20-30 seconds to loosen it up. Nonetheless it was very good. The lemon ginger flavor was very refreshing and would be perfect on a hot summer day.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Natto with canned mackerel in miso sauce 納豆さば味噌

I saw this recipe using canned mackerel in miso sauce サバの味噌煮 and natto 納豆.  Since I had one can of mackerel in miso sauce and one package of frozen natto, I decided to give it a go.  We had this with cold sake.

Since I made this from my memory of the recipe. When I finally found the recipe again I saw I had modified it a bit.

I garnished this dish with chopped chives.

Mackerel in miso sauce, one can (#1).
Nattou, 1 package (#2), the original calls for 3 packs but that would have been too much (especially for my wife).
Miso paste, 1 tbs
Sugar, 1/2 tbs
Sake, 2 tbs (this was not in the original recipe).

1. Add the mackerel with its sauce to the pan (#3) and add the miso and sugar (#4).
2. Add the sake and stir mashing the fish into small pieces (#5).
3. When the mixture starts to simmer add the nato (#6).
4. Keep stirring until the liquid evaporates and the desired consistency is attained (about 10-15 minutes on low flame).

The original started with dark sesame oil and finely chopped ginger. It also included the addition of Japanese dried red pepper which could have added more complexity to the flavor. While I was cooking the mixture with the kitchen exhaust fan on high, my wife came back in from the deck where she had been sitting and told me it smelled pretty bad out there (apparently all the smell of natto was expelled into the outside air over the deck--sorry neighbors). I served this warm with a garnish of chopped chives. This was ok but the smell of natto was still there albeit faint. My wife suggested it would probably be pretty good served cold which may reduce the smell a bit.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Chicken beer stew 鶏のもも肉のビールシチュー

This is my wife's valiant effort to "save the day" while I was at work. I bought some chicken thighs the previous weekend but I ran out of time and could not cook them. I was afraid they would go bad but my wife came to the rescue. She had a day off during the subsequent week and she had this dish steaming hot ready to eat when I got home. What a pleasant surprise! She looked up chicken thigh recipes on the internet and found one using beer and bacon. She figured this could not go wrong and made this chicken beer stew.

It is a complete meal on its own but we served it over rice and topped with crumbled bacon. My contribution was to add florets of rapini and to make a semi-dark roux to finish the dish (this portion is not in the original recipe). My wife also made a number of alterations to the original recipe.

4 slices of thick cut bacon
2 onions sliced
4 chicken thighs
1 (12-ounce) bottle beer (preferably brown ale)
3  potatoes peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
4 sprigs fresh thyme
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Cook the bacon until browned in a pan over medium high heat.
Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate.
Add the sliced onions and cook until translucent in the bacon drippings.
Add the chicken thighs and cover with the beer, making sure it is fully submerged. add the mustard, and potatoes.
Simmer until the chicken is cooked through and fork tender. Serve with the crumbled bacon as garnish

This was quite good. Although we were not sure the beer did much of anything. (My wife, not being a beer connoisseur, thought she had a very dark beer but it was actually a pale ale--she used Samuel Adams pale ale).  Probably a stronger dark beer would have had more impact. The original recipe called for skinless thighs which dredged in flour and then browned. Instead, I finished with medium dark roux (flour 2 tbs cooked in 2 tbs of melted butter until light brown and added liquid from the stew to make the roux and then put int back into the stew and mixed). This was a very good comfort food. My wife can make this dish for me again anytime.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Cinnamon bread シナモンパン

This is another one of my wife's baking. She is always on the look out for interesting bread recipes. Finally she found a block of time to make this one weekend. This is an interesting bread. It is a cross between a quick bread and a yeast bread containing both yeast and baking powder as leavening agents. The original recipe came from King Arthur flour web site.

I forgot to take a picture of the loaf when it came out of the oven.

Ingredients: (My wife doubled the recipe and left out suggested cinnamon chips and cinnamon sugar topping.)
6 cups All-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
4 Tsp yeast
2 Tsp. cinnamon, ground
2 Tsp. salt
2 Tsp. baking powder
2 cups warm milk
1/2 cup melted butter
2 large eggs

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, yeast, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, butter, and egg. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, beating until smooth. Let the batter rest at room temperature for 1 hour, covered. Towards the end of the resting period, preheat the oven to 350°F. Spoon the batter into 2 greased 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pans.
Bake the bread for 35 to 40 minutes, until it tests done; a cake tester inserted into the center will come out clean.
Remove the bread from the oven, let it rest in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer it from the pan to a rack to cool completely. Note: Don't slice the bread while it's hot! It'll slice much better when it's completely cool.

(Yield: 2 loaves)

I am not sure about the rationale for using yeast and baking powder but the dough was very soft and sticky and no kneading was required. It had the consistency of quick bread. It was let to rise for an hour (below).

Then, it was punched down and scooped  into the loaf pans like quick bread.

The resulting bread had an interestingly pleasant tender texture. It was similar to quick bread but was firmer with larger holes which I assume was due to the yeast. With this process not much gluten was developed. This bread was flavored with cinnamon and is a perfect breakfast bread. Toasting made it a bit on the dry side and microwaving worked better.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Figgy cranberry sauce Version 3 イチジク、クランベリーソース V3

Last time I made "Figgy cranberry sauce", I could not get fresh or frozen cranberries and used dried and sweetened "Craisin". The other day, we were at a near-by Whole foods and I found frozen cranberries and decided to make figgy cranberry sauce from the frozen cranberries. I have never used frozen cranberries before. This time, I followed the recipe more closely and used orange peel during the cooking. We tasted the one I made from "crasin" and the one I made from"frozen cranberries" as an informal taste test. The consistency and the taste between them is a bit different but both are quite good. The frozen cranberry version is a bit more tart but has a fresh taste.

Frozen cranberries (10oz bag) (Do not thaw).
Dried figs, coarsely chopped (1 cup)
Sugar 1/2 cup
White wine 3/4 cup
Orange peel, 2 long strips without pith
Salt, a pinch
Orange flavored liquor (I used triple sec), 2 tbs

1. Soak the figs in hot water for 20 minutes.
2. In a sauce pan, add the wine and sugar on medium flame. Once it starts to boil reduce the heat and mix to dissolve the sugar.
3.Add, the cranberries, drained figs, orange peel and cook for 10 -15 minutes stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens.
4. Cut the flame and add a pinch of salt and the orange liquor and mix (I also added a bit of fresh orange juice since I had an orange from which the peel was made).

Below is after 10 minutes. You can see the sauce thickened.

Although finding frozen cranberries is a bit difficult (our regular grocery store did not have it), using it to make the figgy cranberry sauce is almost identical to the one made with fresh cranberries. The one I made from dried and sweetened "Crasin" is not bad either with less tart taste and a bit firmer consistency.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Rapini and scrambled egg 菜の花と卵のからし醤油あえ

I have posted a similar item before. When spring comes, one of the items many Japanese associate with the season would be "nanohana"菜の花  or rapeseed flower which I discussed to some extent before. Around here, nanohana is not available so we have to turn to two possible substitutes; rapini or broccoli rabe and broccolini. Broccolini looks similar to nanohana but does not have its bitter taste. While rapini does not quite look like nanohana, it does have a similar bitterness. This time I prepared rapini in the style of nanohana and served it with scrambled eggs.

The contrast of green and yellow feels like spring to me. The rapini is dressed in mustard soy sauce and the scrambled eggs have a slightly sweet seasoning.

For this dish, I cut off only the blossom end and blanched it in salted water, then shocked it in ice water to fix the green color. This process also tames the bitterness (since a lot of people don't particularly like the taste if it is too strong). I then squeezed out the moisture.

The dressing is a mixture of prepared Japanese mustard (from the tube), sugar and soy sauce. After tasting, I diluted it with Japanese "dashi" broth but that is optional.

Scrambled eggs were seasoned with sugar and salt.

This combination is a good one. The rapini has a sharp  mustard taste and a bitterness muted by the addition of sugar which was also carried by the scrambled eggs.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Udon with spicy miso sauce 肉味噌うどん

This is a re-purposed spicy red miso sauce with pork (niku-miso with red miso and pork 肉味噌) I made a few days ago. Since I made it a bit too spicy (I am not sure if it was due to the Sriracha sauce or the jalapeno pepper), but it was a bit much for my wife. So we added yogurt like we often do for Indian curry which made it much milder. That led me to come up with this dish as a final "shime" 締め one evening. I made the sauce for the udon noodles from the spicy red miso sauce with pork and yogurt.

Although adding yogurt may be somewhat unusual for more traditional Japanese recipe of "Niki-miso udon 肉味噌うどん", it went well. I also added spinach which my wife prepared from fresh spinach for spinach soufflé (which we did not make because we ran out of time and energy and were too full to eat it anyway).

For a impromptu dish made from re-purposed ingredients, as leftover control, this was quite good.

I warmed up my spicy pork red-miso sauce, added yogurt (did not measure, plain non flavored) and mixed. When it was warmed up, I mixed in the cooked spinach.

We used dried thin udon noodles, Sanuki undon 讃岐うどん, cooked as per the package directions and rinsed in cold running water after it was cooked and drained.

The addition of yogurt made the sauce mild and creamy without adding much additional taste but a nice smooth texture. It easily clung to the noodles and was a perfect small ending dish for us.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Chicken and pork miso sauces 肉味噌2種類

Nikumiso 肉味噌 is a rather common Japanese condiment meaning "meat and miso". It is used to top simmered daikon or furofuki daikon 風呂吹き大根 or warn cubes of tofu. I had leftover barbecued pork and chicken and decided to make two different kinds of miku-miso; one was spicy with Jalapeno pepper (left) and the other with Yuzu ginger flavor.

I topped simmered daikon (cooked in water with a pinch of raw rice to 20 minutes and then simmered with water and a piece of kelp for another 30 minutes) with a side of broccolini (we can not get "nanohana" in the US).  This version was made with white miso and chicken and had a gentle Yuzu citrus and ginger flavor.

The second one is much more assertive with red miso and pork and spiced with Jalapeno pepper, garlic and Sriracha hot sauce.

Niku-miso is usually made of uncooked ground meat but I used cooked pork and chicken since this was leftover control.


Niki-miso with white miso and chicken:
Barbecued chicken breast, finely chopped, 1/2 cup
White miso, 2 tbs
Sugar, 1tbs
Mirin, 1 tbs
Sake, 2 tbs
Grated ginger, 1/2 tsp
Sesame oil, 1 tsp
Yuzu skin, frozen, 1/4 tsp (or orange or lemon zest)

Niku-miso with red miso and pork:
Barbecued pork, finely chopped, 1/2 cup
Red miso, 2tbs
Sugar 2 tbs
Mirin 1 tbs
Sake 2 tbs
Garlic, 2 cloves, either pressed or finely chopped
Sesame oil, 1tsp
Jalapeno pepper, 1, seeded and veined, finely chopped
Sriracha hot sauce, to taste


Both are made similarly. Combine all the ingredients (except for Yuzu skin in the chicken version) in a small sauce pan and mix and stir until the mixture develops the consistency of miso. Add sesame oil and mix. For the one with chicken, take the pan off the heat and the add  theYuzu skin.

The white miso one was very gentle with nice ginger Yuzu flavor. The red miso one was much stronger and I made this a bit too spicy (especially for my wife). She mixed in yogurt which calmed the spiciness down. Both sauces went well with simmered daikon.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Figgy Cranberry sauce イチジク、クランベリーソース

I usually make some type of cranberry sauce during the Holiday season, although we no longer cook turkey. My first encounter with cranberry sauce was the "canned and jelled" kind. Later I learned it is very easy to make cranberry sauce from fresh cranberries and it is much better than the canned stuff. Last year, I made "figgy cranbery sauce" from a recipe I saw in the Washington Post. I did not post this and we finished eating it several months ago. It was a pretty versatile  sauce, however, and went well with chicken or even pork. My wife asked me to make some more even though it was not the Holiday season. It may not be the Holiday season but it is also not the season for cranberries--none were to be had. My wife suggested I make a similar sauce using just dried figs and balsamic vinegar. But I thought it was essential to have cranberries in cranberry sauce and made this using dried mission figs and "Craisins", which are sweetened/flavored dried cranberries. I served the sauce with my "Matsukaze" chicken patties 鳥の松風焼き as an appetizer with a glass of red wine.

Despite using only dried fruit, the sauce came out pretty well and went perfectly with this chicken dish.

Dried mission figs, coarsely chopped, about 1/2 cup (left below).
Craisins, about 1 cup (right below)
Japanese Yuzu citrus skin (frozen) about 1 tsp (or orange peel or zest)
Orange liquor (I used triple sec), 2 tbs
Sake (or white wine), 1/2 cup.

Soak the figs and Craisins in hot but not boiling water (I used hot water from our InstaHot) and let them sit for 20-30 minutes. I drained the liquid reserving 1/4 cup.
In a sauce pan, I added sake and when it came to a boil added the drained figs and Craisins. I stirred and mashed the fruit. During this process I thought it may need more liquid and added the reserved soaking liquid. After 10 minutes or so, the sauce thickened. I tasted it and decided no sugar was needed (Craisins are rather sweet). Off the heat, I added the triple sec and Yuzu skin and mixed well.

This was a success! Without using any additional sugar, it was just right. The yuzu and triple sec added a nice burst of citrus flavor. Now I can make my figgy cranberry sauce any time of the year.