Sunday, July 29, 2018

Homegrown arugula salad 自家製のルッコラサラダ

Leafy salad is not one of our favorite foods. Among the green leafy vegetables, however, we do like arugula. In Japan, this is best known as "Rukkora" ルッコラ (phonetic translation of "rucola" in Italian) or ロケット (roquette  or rocket in Europe). Arugula has a nice peppery fresh taste even without any dressing. Store-bought arugula, however, especially "baby" arugula, does not have much taste. So, this spring, when we were updating our herb garden, my wife bought a small seedling of arugula. It grew to the point where we had to harvest it or it would bolt and the season would be over before we even tasted it. So, we made this salad with our home grown arugula.

Besides the arugula, I added cucumber (American minicucu), skinned Campari tomato, avocado and toasted walnuts.

Since I also had blanched sugar snaps, I added them too.

For dressing, I made my usual honey mustard dressing without shallots or garlic (Dijon mustard, honey, rice vinegar, salt and pepper). I dressed all ingredients except the arugula itself. I didn't dress it so we could enjoy its own taste. This was very nice. This arugula had such an intense peppery taste even without the dressing.  Of course, as we were eating some of the dressing got onto the arugula which was also nice. This homegrown arugula was so much better than any arugula we would get from the grocery store.  It was well worth planting. Once we finish with this batch of  arugula, we may have to plant another batch to enjoy in the fall.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Perilla tea and perilla rice 大葉茶と大葉ご飯

Our green perilla (a.k.a "Aojiso" 青紫蘇 and "Ooba" 大葉) is proliferating vigorously in our herb garden. Since we have so many plants and this is similar to the family of mint, my wife asked me if we can make a tea from it like mint tea. I quickly checked the Internet and found a few recipes/descriptions. The recipes are slightly different for red versus green perilla. (The red one requires acid to make the pink color to develop). I chose a recipe that specified the torn green perilla leaves should be boiled in water for 15-20 minutes with an addition of salt.  I made this green perilla tea and was surprised to find that it tasted just like "Umeboshi" 梅干し or "salted" plums.   I was not sure if this was supposed to be a drinking tea or a "health tonic". My wife tasted it and because of the umeboshi taste suggested we should make rice using this perilla tea. So I obliged and made perilla rice.  Since we got a whole Spanish mackerel the day before and I made my usual miso simmer mackerel 鯖の味噌煮 and also mackerel dumplings in a broth 鯖のつみれ汁, I served this perilla rice as an ending "shime" dish one evening.

I further fortified the perilla flavor by adding a chiffonade of green perilla and store bought "Yukari" ゆかりsalt which is made of dried red perilla and salt.

This time, I used match sticks of daikon and carrot in the mackerel dumpling soup.

The miso simmered mackerel is our favorite dish.

Ingredients for perilla tea:
20 green perilla leaves, washed and torn (amount appears to be arbitrary)
1/2 tsp salt
8 cups water

Add hand torn perilla leaves and salt to the water when it starts boiling then turn down to simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes. I let it steep until cooled to room temperature and remove the perilla leaves.

Although I did not take pictures, the resulting "tea" has a slight brown color with a strong perilla smell. We just used the perilla tea instead of water in our rice cooker to make the perilla rice. When the rice was done, it definitely smelled like perilla although the taste did not come through. By adding a chiffonade of fresh perilla leaves and "Yukari", this was a quite pleasant seasoned rice. Of course, my wife added a pat of butter to her rice to make it "better"(or maybe "butter").

Monday, July 23, 2018

Beef tongues: Gift from our friend 牛タン、友人からのプレゼント

One of our friends who has a farm in the area and raises cattle, chickens and other livestock gave us two fresh grass-fed beef tongues. The cattle were never stressed in the process and the tongues were promptly vacuum packed and frozen before we received them. I was concerned that we may be depriving her of a delicacy but she assured me that the tongues otherwise would have been discarded. Since she read our blog about beef tongue, however, she decided to send them to us. She told me that the smaller one was from a 3/4 Dexter* and 1/4 Angus and the larger one from a half Dexter and Angus. We decided to cook up the small on the morning we received them. I prepared it exactly as before. After it was boiled, we tasted the slices and made a beef tongue stew and later we made tongue sandwiches.

The stew was made from the middle and back portions of the tongue.

We made sandwiches from the remaining tip portion with pumpernickel bread. I served this as a lunch with green salad consisting of our home grown arugula, blanched broccoli, sugar snap, skinned and sliced  Campari tomato, feta cheese. Dressing is my usual honey mustard with rice vinegar and olive oil.

As before, I simply toasted the bread with one side smeared with mayo and the other whole grain Dijon mustard.

This is a cut surface of the tip portion of tongue. I think it is leaner than the store-bought.

I sliced rather thinly to make this sandwich.

This was an extremely (meaning only) rare occasion on which we had access to fresh tongue from totally organic and grass-fed happy cattle. When I started preparing the tongue, the first thing I noticed was that the slightly unpleasant gamey smell usually associated with store-bought tongue was (thankfully) absent.  Also, another sign of the freshness of the meat was that I had some difficulty removing the skin after boiling. Generally it is very easy to remove the skin from a store-bought tongue.

While we mentioned in previous blogs how good the store-bought tongues were, we had no idea how really good beef tongue could be until we tasted this. The difference between store-bought and this was amazing; This made clear what beef is really all about. In both the stew and sandwiches, especially the sandwiches, the flavor was a bright, fresh, strong (in a very pleasant way) clean taste of beefiness. (While it may sound like the flowery language used to describe wine I don't know how else to describe it.) I would say compared to this, the taste of even steak is cloudy. In both dishes, the meat maintained its integrity but it was so tender it seemed to melt in your mouth. Especially with the simple tongue sandwich, the difference between the store-bought and the one gifted to us became much more prominent. My wife was ecstatic. She said, while the store-bought was good, this one really tasted exactly like the one she remembered and transported her back to her childhood in rural Pennsylvania. This has become a new flavor benchmark for us. Many, many thanks to our friend for this wonderful gift. We really enjoyed it and will savor it while looking forward to eating the second one.

* Dexter: I had never heard of Dexter cattle before my friend mentioned it. It is an Irish origin breed described as friendly and the smallest in Europe. It is versitile serving triple-pourposes; milk, beef and drafting.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Tofu cutlet with scallion sauce 豆腐のカツレツねぎソースのせ

This was inspired by the "Perfect Pairings" book. The original recipe is a tofu cutlet with scallion sauce. I happened to have several thick rectangles of marinated tofu that I would use to make spicy marinated tofu which I usually cook in a pan frying. Since I had heated up some oil and had breading ingredients all ready to deep fried egg whites for my wife's deviled eggs, I decided to bread and deep fry the marinated tofu too. Since the tofu was on thick side, I cut it in half  before  serving.

The sauce in the recipe appears to be a variation of a Japanese scallion "negi" sauce ねぎソース with  chopped scallion, vinegar and olive oil. I reduced the amount of oil and added light colored soy sauce to make it closer to the "negi" sauce.

One block of firm tofu, cut in half horizontally, and cut into equal sized rectangles.
Oil for deep frying

Marinade (optional):
2 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs mirin
1tsp rice vinegar
1tsp dark sesame oil
1tsp (or more) Suriracha hot sauce
1/4tsp grated ginger root

AP flour for dredging
1 egg and water for egg water

2 finely chopped scallion, white and green parts
2tbs rice vinegar
2tbs light olive oil
1tsp light colored soy sauce

For the American tofu I used, I boiled it in water for a few minutes with a dash of sake to remove the "smell". I drained it and let it cool to room temperature (for better quality firm tofu, this process can be skipped).
I placeed the marinade in a Ziploc bag and added the tofu. I removed as much air as possible, sealed the bad and let the tofu marinate in the refrigerator overnight or for a few days (optional).
I removed the tofu from the marinade and dredged it in flour, then the egg water and roll it in panko to coat.
I deep fried it in 350 F oil turning once. When all sides developed a crust, I lowered the oil temperature to 250 F and fried it for 5-7 minutes.
Then I raised the temperature to 350 F again and cooked for 1-2  minutes more.

When done, I drained the oil. When it was cool enough to handle, I cut the tofu in half horizontally.

I arranged the tofu alternating the cut surface and crust (the first picture).
I added a line of the "negi" sauce.

Although we did not taste much of the marinade (my usual, pan fried and then simmered in the marinade make the taste much stronger and spicier), the combination of crunchy crust and soft center and the "negi"sauce go very well. The cookbook suggested paring with Pino Grigio.  I do not remember what we had for wine.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Deviled eggs for 4th of July デビルドエッグ

For the 4th of July, we did not do any barbecue this year especially since we had lots of food we prepared in the refrigerator (we tend to cook more than we can eat). Instead, my wife wanted to make deviled eggs. We had already made potato salad, macaroni salad, and coleslaw so we decided to have these instead of our usual barbecue. This time my wife made two interesting variations on deviled eggs. Again, I made guacamole. Having guacamole is very convenient since a glob of it on the plate under the deviled egg makes a base so the eggs won't slide around on the plate and, of course, it provides additional flavors.

This is a new one. The egg white was breaded and deep fried.

This is the classic.

MY wife came up with this one by mixing in salmon salad.

Ingredients :
#1 with deep fried egg white

2 tbs of Greek yogurt
1 tbs mayonnaise
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp mustard
a sprinkle of onion salt to taste
Sriracha hot sauce to taste
Oil cured olive for garnish
Hard boil the eggs. Peel, cut in half and remove the yolks. Dredge the egg whites in flour, egg water, and panko and fry (See picture below).  Mix all the ingredients listed above into the mashed egg yolk, then put mixture back into fried egg whites.

#2 The classic

2 tbs of Greek yogurt
1 tbs mayonnaise
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp mustard
a sprinkle of onion salt to taste
stuffed olive for garnish
Hard boil the eggs. Peel, cut in half and remove the yolks. Lightly season all the egg whites with salt. Mix all the ingredients listed above into the mashed egg yolk, then put mixture back into egg white.

#3 with salmon salad.
Flaked cooked leftover salmon (about 1/3 lb).
Celery finely diced, 2 stalks
Vidalia onion (small, half) finely diced
Mayonnaise (2 tbs)
Greek yogurt (2 tbs)
Dijon mustard (1 tsp),
Fresh dill, finely chopped, 2 tbs
lemon juice (1 tsp), salt and pepper.
(mix the above, I made this few days ago. My wife took whatever amount appropriate for this deviled eggs)
Hard boil the eggs. Peel, cut in half and remove the yolks. Lightly season all the egg whites with salt. Mix all the ingredients listed above into the mashed egg yolk, then put mixture back into egg white.

All three types of deviled eggs were good. We really liked them. The one with breaded and fried egg white was very unique. The frying gave and interesting flavor and texture. If they are served soon after coming out of the fryer they are a bit crispy. Otherwise the fried breading gives a nice dimension to the flavor profile. These deviled  eggs are  perfect for starting the evening.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Bolivian spicy cheese cornbread ボリビアのスパイシーなチーズコーンブレッド

It would appear that my wife is "binge baking"...something I fully endorse. This recipe comes from "Milk Street". She decided to make it because we had several ears of fresh corn left over after making corn souffle and she thought this would be an interesting way to use them. We've never seen a corn bread recipe that used raw fresh corn this way.

On the cut surface, you can see the melted cheeses. You can also see the hole that is left when the cheese melts into the bread. The original recipe calls for Monterrey Jack. Maybe we will use that next time.

2 1/2 cups cornmeal
1/3 cup white sugar
1 Tbs. aniseed
2 1/2 Tsp kosher salt
2 Tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (or more if a hotter bread is preferred)
3 cups corn kernels
1 jalapeno pepper diced
1 1/2 cups whole milk
4 large eggs
1 1/2 sticks salted butter melted and slightly cooled
8 Oz. pepper jack cheese cut into 1/2 inch chunks (we used double Gloucester, smoked Gouda and Gruyere)

Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish. (I greased the dish then added parchment paper cut to size and greased it as well. I have found this is a sure proof way to keep the bread from sticking.)

Put the cornmeal, sugar, aniseed, salt, baking powder, and cayenne pepper in a mixing bowl and stir to combine. Combine the corn, jalapeno and milk in a food processor. Process until very smooth. Add the eggs and butter and process until smooth again. Pour the corn mixture into the flour mixture and mix until smooth. Add half the batter into the prepared baking dish. Dot the surface with the cheese squares (#1) then cover them with the rest of the batter.

Cook in a 375 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes until a toothpick inserted at the center of the bread comes out clean (#2). Let the bread rest for 20 minutes before serving.

This is  a pleasantly spicy bread with a rich moist texture. The cheese chunks add a nice burst of cheese flavor. (We suggest using cheeses that hold their form when heated like the smoked Gouda. We found the melting cheeses such as Gruyere melted into the bread leaving a small hole behind.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Nattou and avocado salad 納豆とアボカドのサラダ

I had several ripe avocados in the refrigerator. Whenever we have extra avocados, I usually make guacamole. This time, I remembered a Japanese recipe I saw that used nattou 納豆 and avocado. Since I had frozen nattou which was getting old, I decided to make this dish. As usual, I took the liberty of changing the recipe using my common sense. Since nattou is involved, I served with cold sake (our house sake "Mu" daiginjou 八重垣『無』大吟醸) as a first dish .

As a garnish, I used a chiffonade of basil and dried nori strips. The only reason I used basil instead of perilla was that some cuttings of basil which my wife had harvested were sitting in a glass of water on the counter in front of me. I served more nori strips on the side so we could add more as we ate the salad and mixed the ingredients together.

The avocado and tomato were dressed with Mayer lemon juice (I happened to have one. We love the flavors of Meyer lemon), olive oil and Kosher salt.

Ingredients (for 2 small servings):
1 small package of nattou, previously frozen, thawed, prepared by adding the sauce and mustard that comes in the package with the nattou. Using my nattou mixing contraption, I mixed well (a few hundred times). This will reduce the smell making it to palatable for my wife.

Half ripe avocado, stone and skin removed and cut into bite-size cubes
2 Campari tomatos, skinned (by blanching) and cut into bite-size cubes

Kosher salt, olive oil (we used our favorite spicy Spanish olive oil), and lemon juice from one half of a Meyer lemon (it has the taste between orange and lemon juice).
Several leaves of basil, cut into fine chiffonade
1 package of seasoned nori sheets, cut into thin strips

Add the lemon juice to the avocado and tomato and coat well, season it with salt and drizzle olive oil.
Top it with half of the prepared nattou
Garnished it with chiffonade of basil leaves and nori strips

Before eating mix everything together and add more nori strips.

Although nattou was a bit sticky, at least, there was no strong smell (which is good for my wife). This is a really interesting combination and the addition of olive oil and Meyer lemon juice was a key to this dish.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Ravioli with wonton skin ワンタン皮のラビオリ

My sister-in-law gave me a cookbook called "Perfect Pairings"(special issue of "Food and Wine"). One weekend, my wife and I were browsing through it and found several interesting recipes. My wife really wanted to try this ravioli recipe which was paired with champagne in the book. Since it was a very hot summer day, we had this with a rather inexpensive rose wine from Provence called Domaine du Garde Temps 'Tourbillon' Côtes de Provence Rosé 2016 (made of 50% Cinsault, 30% Grenache, 20% Syrah). We started by trying to follow the recipe. When we realized the recipe used 12 oz. of cheese and made over 60 ravioli, I intervened and decided to "wing-it" in my usual style. I used most of the ingredients for the stuffing (without measuring) and took a shortcut using store-bought "wonton" skins instead of making a pasta dough. We served this as a first dish with the aforementioned (a bit over-chilled) rose wine.

For sauce, I simply made a brown butter sauce with capers and Meyer lemon juice with a side of basil leaves. I included a quarter of Meyer lemon just in case we needed more acidity in the sauce.

The next day, I made a sauce of finely chopped shallots sautéed in butter with basil leaves added at the end just to wilt them. I topped with grated Parmesan and just before eating squeezed on some Meyer lemon juice. This was a better sauce for the ravioli.

Ingredients (made about 32-35 ravioli):
For filling
1/2 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1/4 lb prosciutto, thinly sliced and then minced into small pieces (We used Boar's Head brand which appears to be imported from Italy).
1 whole egg
1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
One package of baby spinach, cooked without adding additional water, moisture pressed out and chopped.

Instead of using a pasta sheet I used one package of Wonton skins (We ran out of the skins leaving a small amount of filling which we cooked in a ramekin in the toaster oven).
Mixture of flour and water to form a glue to seal the ravioli

For sauce
3 tbs unsalted butter
1-2 tsp of capers, drained, roughly chopped
1/2 Meyer lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients for the filling in a bowl (#1).
Using a small ice-cream scoop, place the filling in the center of the wonton skin and paint the skin with the flour and water mixture (#2).
Take another wonton skin, paint one side with the flour glue and press both wonton skins around the filling try to not to trap any air (#3).
Using an appropriate sized cookie cutter cut around the filling making the square into a round  (#4).
Repeat until either all the filling or all the wonton skins are used up.  We ran out of wonton skins a tad earlier than the filling) (#5 and 6).
Boil the ravioli in rapidly boiling water (salt and olive oil added) for 2-3 minutes or until they float (#7).
Drain and let it cool briefly on metal rack (#8)
After they cooled we stacked the ravioli on a large square plate with parchment paper brushed with olive oil to make multiple layers and keep them from sticking together.  At this point, I suppose you could serve, refrigerate or freeze them.

For serving:
Melt the butter in non-stick frying pan until slightly brown, add the capers.
If needed season it with salt (prosciutto is rather salty, so do not over season).
Add the ravioli and warm it up, squeeze on the lemon and serve immediately.

Making ravioli even when using pre-made pasta skins is a bit of work. My wife and I worked as a team. I filled and sealed the ravioli and she cut them into rounds with the cookie cutter. She over saw cooking them and I prepared the "landing pad" so they would not stick together. But it was worth it. Although I thought I may have used a bit too much prosciutto when I was making the filling (I was trying to use it up), it was just the right amount.  It amalgamated into the Ricotta and spinach mixture adding a nicely complex meaty, salty flavor. The Meyer lemon added a bright note which was both lemony and orangey. This went well with our rose from Provence. The wine is very light with some acidity which went well with acidity provided by the lemons.  The fresh basil leaves were also great. Next time, I may just add few basil leaves to the butter sauce itself. Since we serve only a few ravioli at a time, we will be enjoying them for some time to come. (Good thing we didn't follow the recipe and make 60!)

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Pizza two kinds ピザ2種類

Although I posted my pizza recipes before, since I am running out of new dishes I decide to post these two pizzas I made recently which were really enjoyable with a glass of red wine. The dough was hand stretched (not rolled) then transferred to a wooden pizza peel coated with cornmeal (for easy sliding off the paddle). Then bushed with garlic infused olive oil (crushed garlic plus oil).  The first one is Pizza Margherita. Instead of plain Mozzarella cheese I used smoked Mozzarella for this (more details of the recipe have been posted before).

As before I put slices of Mozzarella on the dough and then placed my marinara sauce on the slices of cheese. (the sauce was made from garlic, onion, skinned Campari tomato and several spices).  I put the sauce on the cheese instead of vice versa to prevent the moisture from the sauce making the dough/crust soggy, I put half of the torn basil on top before baking and added more after the pizza came out of the oven. I brushed the crust with the garlic infused oil on the outer edge and added grated Parmigiano Reggiano on the top.

The second pizza included ingredients my wife's suggested. The cheeses were Mozzarella (leftover from making the Margherita pizza), Double Gloucester and smoked Gouda, all finely diced and mixed.  I topped everything with oil cured black olives (stones removed) and pimento stuffed green olive (these olives were ear-marked for the Martinis I have on occasion...oh well).

I garnished the pizza with torn fresh basil and grated Parmesan.

The oven I use; (Miele) has an "intensive" mode which is set at 480F with intense heat from the bottom. I preheated the oven for 30 minutes with a pizza stone on the lower rack. I then slid the pizza onto the stone. It took less than 5 minutes for the pizza to cook. We ate one slice each from each of the two pizzas and then (we couldn't resist) shared one more slice. Luckily, our gluttony still left us with enough slices for leftovers. We wrapped the remaining pizza into 2 slice packets wrapped in plastic wrap and kept them in the refrigerator.  The slices heat up very nicely in the toaster oven (we use "toast" mode with the pizza slices on the aluminum foil). This is a great snack with a glass of red wine to look forward to after we come home from work.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Cold chicken stew with fresh tomato sauce 冷製チキンシチュー

This started out as a leftover control and turned out to be a very nice cold chicken vegetable stew perfect for hot summer. Whenever we barbecue a chicken in the Weber grill, we often use up the breast meat (for sandwiches) but often the dark meat gets left behind. In addition to the left over chicken dark meat, I found a small portion of daikon and 1/4 head of cabbage in the refrigerator.  So, I made chicken and vegetable stew. I had previously made fresh cold tomato sauce  for cold pasta with prosciutto and some of the sauce and Campari tomatoes were left over. So, I combined both dishes and served the combination cold with a garnish of basil chiffonade and a drizzle of our favorite spicy Spanish olive oil.

The addition of the tomato sauce really made this dish. It was perfect for hot summer as a starter.


For Chicken vegetable stew
Cooked dark chicken meat, 2 legs, skin removed and meat torn into bite sized pieces
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1/4 head cabbage, core removed and cut into bit sized chunks
4 medium Russet potatoes, skinned and cut into bite size
2 inch long Daikon, skinned and sliced in to 1/2 inch thick and then quartered
2 medium carrots, skinned sliced and cut into small cubes
2 tbs olive oil
4 cups no salt chicken broth (Swanson)
Salt and black pepper for seasoning

For cold fresh tomato sauce
2 tbs olive oil
1-2 tbs concentrated Japanese noodle sauce (adjust amount depending on your taste)
6 skinned Campari tomato, quatered
1/2 clove garlic, through a garlic press

For chicken vegetable stew
1. Heat the olive oil in deep pan, sauté the onion, and cabbage until wilted. Add the remaining vegetables, cooked chicken meat, and chicken stock. Simmer for 20 minutes or until all the vegetables are cooked.
2. Season it with salt and pepper.
3. Let it cool to room temperature and then refrigerate (of course you could eat this as hot stew).

For tomato sauce
1. In a mixing container (for an immersion blender), add the olive oil, garlic, noodle sauce, and 3 quatered tomatoes.
2. Blend using a immersion blender until everything is emulsified.
3. Add the remaining tomato pieces to the sauce.
4. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

1. Put the cold stew in a glass bowl and add the fresh tomato sauce (the amount are arbitrary).
2. Lightly mix and taste, if needed add more salt or pepper.
3. Garnish with chiffonade of fresh basil or green perila leaves.
4. Drizzle with your favorite olive oil.

Although this was mostly left-over control, this is a very refreshing cold stew. This is perfect for hot muggy days of summer in Washington.