Friday, August 31, 2018

Cheese muffin チーズマフィン

This is another one of my wife's baking. The original recipe is from the "Beard on Bread" cookbook. This is a very cheesy muffin and we really like it.

Since this is very cheesy, it is best suited as a dinner roll rather than a breakfast roll. But it works for us either way.

 1 package yeast
1/4 cup warm water + 1/2 tsp sugar to bloom the yeast
4-6 cups bread flour
1 Tbs. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cup water
1/4 cup (one half stick) butter softened
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (more or less depending on taste)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (or slightly more to taste)
3/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese.

Bloom the yeast in the 1/4 cup water and 1/2 tsp sugar. Add 4 cups of the bread flour (to start) to stand mixer with dough hook. Add the sugar, salt, 1 1/2 cup water. While mixing on speed 2 add the butter cut into smaller pieces, the pepper, the cheeses and amalgamate after each addition, . Keep adding flour until a soft smooth dough is formed around the hook. Then knead for 7 to 10 minutes.

Place the dough in a warm bowl and coat it with a small film of vegetable oil. Let rise until doubled. Punch down the dough.  If making loaves form dough into two loaves of equal weight and put into heavily greased loaf pans. Cover and let rise until dough is slightly higher than the edges of the loaf pan. Bake in 375 degree oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.

 If making rolls use a heavily greased medium sized Pyrex baking pan. Make rolls weighing 2 1/2 oz. each. Bake at 400 for 18 to 20 minutes until golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. For both the loaves and rolls immediately remove from the pans and cool on a rack.

These rolls are full of savory flavor. First the cheesy, parmesan flavor steps forward followed by the pleasant zing of the cayenne pepper. They have a lovely tender texture.  This is a great accompaniment for brunch or lunch

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Steamed nagaimo with bonito flakes 蒸し長芋のおかかがけ

This is a very simple recipe I saw on the E-recipe site. Nagaimo 長芋 is usually "slimy" which makes it difficult for some to like. Once nagaimo is cooked, however, it looses the "sliminess" but the texture also changes from "shaki-shaki" シャキシャキ or crunchiness to "hoku-hoku" ホクホク. I am not sure how to translate "hoku-hoku" but it is a texture of cooked potato such as "Yaki-imo" 焼き芋.

Just before serving, I added a good amount of bonito flakes which are called "okaka" おかか or  "kezuri-bushi" 削り節 i.e. thinly shaven "katsui-bushi" 鰹節. I just used the pre-shaven kind that comes in one serving sized packages. We added some soy sauce just before eating.

Ingredients and directions:
Nagaimo, skin removed, cut in half lengthwise and then sliced into 1/4 inch slices (below).

Place the nagaimo in a steaming basket after a strong steam started. Cook it for 8-10 minutes.

Just before serving, add bonito flakes and soy sauce.

This is an interesting and simple dish. My wife, has no trouble getting past the nagaimo "sliminess" and thought the crunchiness of raw nagaimo is nicer. She liked another nagaimo dish I recently made with daikon and dressed in "Yukari" red perilla salt and sweet vinegar.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Corn bread with raw corn and sage セージ味コーンブレッド

This is another one of my wife's baking. The recipe is based on one from La Brea Bakery Cookbook. We had this cookbook for many years but we did not really made anything from it until now. This is an interesting corn bread which uses raw corn and also fresh sage (from our herb garden). My wife also used corn flour instead of cornmeal which made the texture of the bread much more tender.

I did not take a special serving picture and we couldn't restrain ourselves so we nibbled the nice crunchy top crust off one of the loaves right after the bread came out of the oven and before taking this picture which explains the missing crust portions in the picture below.

The interesting part of this recipe is that you cook graded raw corn, butter and sage (almost polenta) to make dough for this bread. We liked the first batch so much my wife made a second batch and we restrained ourselves from eating the crust so the picture below is intact.

The recipe called for putting sage leaves in the bottom of the bread pan. The notation suggested this was better than putting it on the top where it would burn while the bread cooked. The end result as shown below may add to the sage flavor but at the very least it is decorative.


1 1/2 cup grated corn
1 stick butter
6 large sage leaves (or several sprigs of rosemary)
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 corn flour (or corn meal)
2 cups All Purpose (AP) flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup sugar

Grate the ears of corn on a stand grater. Scrape the ears with the back of the knife to get the remaining "corn milk" (#1).  Melt the butter in a saucepan (do not allow it to boil or brown). Mix in the grated corn, salt, and sage leaves. Cook until creamy and thickened, making a kind of polenta (shown below). Remove the sage leaves and allow the mixture to cool. Add the buttermilk and eggs and mix until blended.

In a large bowl sift together the corn flour (#2)(or corn meal), AP flour, baking soda, baking powder, and sugar (#3). Add the liquid ingredients (#4) and stir until blended. Add to greased loaf pan. (either small individual sized loaf pans or one large pan) (#5 & #6). As suggested by the original recipe, I put a sage leaf on the bottom the the loaf pan (#7) and poured the batter on top (#8). (I'm not sure if this added to the sage flavor or was just for decoration.) Cook in 400 degree oven for 18 to 20 minutes for muffins, 20 to 25 minutes for small loaves and 30 to 40 minutes for large loaf or until a skewer comes out clean and the loaves are nicely browned.

This bread is lovely. As it cooked the smell of corn, butter and sage filled the house. It's flavor reflects these smells and is a very pleasant combination of corn and sage flavor. The texture is very tender. It is wonderful lightly toasted with melted butter.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Sardine dashimaki イワシの出汁巻

Some time ago, when I was at our Japanese grocery  store, I bought a package of simmered and seasoned small sardines or anchovies ("Katkuchi Iwashi" 片口鰯). We ate some of the sardines as a nice snack to go well with sake. We still had some leftover, however, so I made Japanese "dashimaki" omelet 出汁巻 with the sardine inside. I also had a small portion leftover from sous vide cooked chicken breast. which I served as though it was a piece of sashimi, with wasabi and soy sauce. I also served blanched sugar snaps soaked in seasoned dashi broth cut lengthwise.

The sardines were rather strongly seasoned with soy sauce and mirin (and sugar?) but they went very well with the slightly sweetened egg omlet. This is similar to "U-maki" 鰻巻き in which cooked and seasoned eel is used.

This was a nice small dish to start the evening and went well with cold sake. The combination of soft omelet and slightly crunchy fish made a very satisfying bite. The heavy seasoning of the fish also amalgamated nicely with the slightly sweet taste of the omelet.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Sous vide chicken breast salad 低温調理の鶏胸肉のサラダ

I have not cooked chicken breast with sous vide for some time. One weekend, I decided to try it again and consulted "the food lab" website. This time, I used bone-in skin-on split chicken breast as recommended. Both halves were cooked identically in sous vide after I seasoned them with salt and pepper. Both were cooked at 140F for 4 hours (actually close to 4 and one half hours). One of the chicken breast haves was browned using a frying pan and olive oil on the skin side after it was taken out of the sous vide cooking pouch, slightly cooled and the surface patted dry. After browning, the bone was removed and the meat sliced. We enjoyed this as lunch but did not take any pictures. The meat was very succulent and juicy and somehow better than the last time I tried this cooking method. The other half was immediately soaked in ice water (ice cubes and water) still in the bag. After 30 minutes, it was then stored in the cold meat bin of our refrigerator. The next day, I made the cold chicken meat into salad. I flavored it with curry powder and served with cantaloupe on a bed of home grown arugula. I also added thinly sliced American mini cucumber just before serving (I added the cucumber just before serving because then the salad itself would last longer than if I include the cucumber into the salad just after it was made).

I cut the chicken into good sized cubes.

One half split chicken breast, bone-in and skin-on.

for the dressing:
2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
1 small sweet (I used Vidalia) onion, finely diced
1/2 cup Greek (strained) yogurt (my wife made this by straining regular Danon yogurt)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Juice of one lemon
1/2 tsp curry powder (I used Japanese S&B grand or any curry powder) or as much as you like
1 tsp mango chutney (We used Major Gray's)
1 small sweet (Vaidalia) onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalk, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Season the chicken with salt and pepper, vacuum pack, and cook sous vide at 140F for 4 hours.
Immediately soak the package in ice water for 30 minutes (and keep in the refrigerator if used later, picture below).

Take out from the pouch and remove the skin and bone and cut into cubes (see below).

Mix the ingredients for the dressing together and add the chicken cubes. Toss until the cubes are covered with the dressing. Taste and season with salt and pepper and if needed more curry powder.

I do not know if using bone-in split breast instead of bone-off breast makes a difference but this time the chicken breast came out much better than before. It is most succulent breast meat ever. My dressing with curry flavor is always good. We really like it. Since we use yogurt and mayo in the dressing, the heat from curry powder is very muted.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Couscous with fresh mint ミント入りクスクスサラダ

This combination of greens and salads was our lunch on one weekend. Among the three salads, salmon salad and potato salad are our usual but couscous salad with fresh mint is new. The greens are home-grown arugula, blanched broccoli, and sugar snaps. For color, I added skinned Campari tomato. After taking the pictures, I added my honey mustard dressing on the greens.

The couscous recipe came from WP food section as a way to use mint from your yard which may be profusely growing at this time of the year. The original included frozen sweet peas but we omitted it. Since we planted mint late spring this year, this was a recipe we had to try. The lunch included cheese muffins my wife made some time ago.  (She just realized we did not post the muffin recipe).

Ingredients (2 servings, for us more like 4-6 servings)
3/4 cup dried plain couscous.
1 cup chicken broth (our usual Swanson no salt and no fat kind).
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbs butter
1/4 cup finely minced fresh mint leaves.
1/4 tbs chopped parsley.

For dressing
1/4 cup live oil
1/4 rice vinegar
black pepper

let the chicken broth with the salt, butter come to boil and add the couscous, remove from the heat and let it steep with the lid on for 15 minutes. Use a folk to fluff the grains and let it cool.
Add the minced mint and parsley (see below).

Mix the oil and vinegar together.

Mixed it into the couscous.

This is very refreshing couscous salad. Because of the dressing, it is not too dry and there is no danger of inhaling it (which can happen when eating dry couscous). Especially with the combination of other salads and greens, this is a really nice summer lunch. Once the salads are made up, it is a cinch to put together a lunch without having to do any cooking.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Nagaimo and daikon yukari-ae 長芋と大根のゆかり和え

These are small dishes we started the evening meal. Among the five items I served, only one is new which is in the blue bowl on the upper left. Upper center is squid stuffed with caramelized onion イカの飴色玉ねぎ詰 and tentacles, upper right is chicken liver simmered in red wine 鶏レバーの赤ワイン煮, lower left is sugar snaps soaked in dashi broth スナップ豌豆の塩びたし, and one in the small yellow container looking like a citrus fruit is uni or sea urchin "shuto" from Maruhide 丸秀のウニの酒盗.

This is a new item made from nagaimo and daikon. It is rather interesting and we like it.

As we mentioned before, when this squid dish is cold, I can slice it without separating the stuffing and the squid body. As you can see on the cut surface, quite few squid legs are stuffed. I drizzled our favorite spicy Spanish olive oil.

The below is another "teiban" 定番 in our household, red wine simmered chicken liver. This time I garnished with fresh thin slivers of ginger or "Hari-shouga" 針生姜.

Sugar snaps are good just blanched but this one was soaked in lightly seasoned Japanese broth. When you bite down, instead of water, you can get the subtle taste of the broth which makes an already good veggie nicer.

This is one of the five different kinds of sea urchin or uni "shuto" from Maruhide. When we got fresh uni last time, we also got these "shuto". Although frozen, they won't improve with age, so we have been hitting them regularly. This on is with hot chili and indeed the spiciness creeps up on you afterwards. This is almost as good as fresh uni.

For "Nagaimo no yukari-ae" 長芋のゆかり和えfrom E-recipe. I changed the amount of Yukari thinking the original recipe will make this dish rather salty.

Ingredients (for 2 servings, for the amount shown probably make 4 servings):
1 inch long daikon, peeled, sliced thinly and cut into thin julienne.
1 inch nagaimo, peeled, sliced thinly and cut into thin julienne.
1/2 tsp Yukari salt
1 and 1/2 tbs  sweet vinegar (300ml rice vinegar, 120-150 gram sugar and 5-10 gram salt)

Put both the daikon and nagaimo in boiling water. When it comes back to a boil, drain and let it cool in a colander.
Dress with Yukari salt and sweet vinegar.

This is a nice dish. My wife thought everything was nagaimo but this is a mixture of daikon and nagaimo which give an interesting texture difference. Yukari (dried red perilla) salt and sweet vinegar combination is very good giving nice refreshing taste. This is another way to use nagaimo and more interesting than sushi vinegar and aonori combination. In any case, we had cold sake with these starters.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Squid stuffed with caramelized onion イカのアメ色たまねぎ詰

As usual, when I go to a grocery store and see cleaned small squid I end up getting it. I thought I should make something different with it this time. While I was searching for squid recipes I stumbled across a short video of a PBS cook show on YouTube by Jose Andreas. The video was a bit sketchy but I filled in some of the missing parts and made this dish.

I served this immediately off the frying pan and made a quick sauce by deglazing the pan with white wine. I garnished it with our favorite Spanish olive oil and parsley and served with wedges of lemon. My wife added small slices of baguette to soak up the sauce/juice.

This was quite good but when we cut into it while it was still hot the stuffing tended to separate and fall out. The next day, I served this cold. This time I sliced the squid before serving and the stuffing stayed put. We like this dish cold. The sweetness of the caramelized onion gets milder or smoother. I served it with a bit of the olive oil and our home grown arugula.

1 lb cleaned squid with tentacles (I got 11 bodies and tentacles)
2 medium onion, cut in half and sliced
1 jalapeno pepper, de-veined and seeded, cut into thick julienne (original recipe uses green pepper)
2 tbs olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced (original recipe calls for crushed garlic without removing the skin)
1/2 cup of white wine (I used sauvignon blanc from France), devided into two potions
Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté  the onion, garlic and pepper in olive oil on low-medium flame (#1)
Keep sautéing until caramelized (#2)
Deglaze the pan using 1/4 cup white wine (#3)
Add the tentacles (I cut them up into bite sized pieces) and sauté until done (1-2 minutes (#4) and season with salt and pepper.
Using a small spoon stuff the body of the squid with caramelized onion/tentacles mixture and close the end with toothpicks (original recipe does not closed the open end before cooking) (#5)
Add a bit more olive oil to the pan and cook one side for a few minutes and turn over and cook for another few minutes (#6)
I added 1/4 white wine and put on the lid to steam cook for 1 more minute. Remove the squid.
Reduce the wine while scraping any brown bits on the pan to make pan juice/sauce.

I used "Francois de La Roche Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 'La Coulée' 2016" in the sauce and also enjoyed "sampling" it while cooking. I served it with the squid dish.

Either warm or cold, this is a good and unique squid dish. The caramelized onion is very sweet and squid legs add additional texture. Using the same wine we are drinking somehow connects the dish and wine. Although we rarely drink white wine especially sauvignon blanc (sort of boring nothing wine usually). This one is not too bad. It had citrus and melons flavors and minerality with crisp acidity. By the time, we got to drinking this wine with the squid dish, the wine warmed up enough to have the flavors come alive. We really enjoyed the wine and the dish.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Polenta with tomato sauce and meatballs ポレンタとトマトソース

This was also inspired by a recipe in "Perfect Pairings" called "Baked Polenta Casserole".  The idea is to put polenta on the bottom of the casserole and add tomato sauce and pecorino cheese and bake it. In the" Perfect Pairings" book this dish was paired with Sangiovese. My wife makes polenta loaf every-now-and-then. She usually slices it into half inch thick slices, wraps it in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil and freezes it. So we usually have slices of her frozen polenta loaf in the freezer. I also made marinara sauce and meatballs several days ago. So we have all the ingredients to make this dish plus meatballs. We also added more vegetables (to make it healthier?) and used a combination of cheeses.  We had this with Cabernet from Napa (Do not remember which one) and the wine went very well.

The bottom is composed of one slice of the polenta loaf.

First, place three slices of polenta on the bottom of a small Pyrex baking dish, add sliced meat balls with marinara sauce. Add blanched broccoli and sugar snaps.

Top with slices of double Gloucester cheese and smoked Gouda.

This turned out to be a quite good dish. Since we already had all the ingredients ready to go, it was a synch to put it together. This went well with our red wine.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Cold "shippoku" udon noodle with simmered vegetables 冷製卓袱うどん

Since we had several hot and muggy days recently in the Washington DC area, I made this cold noodle dish from ingredients I had on hand. I had cold simmered vegetables and prepared udon noodles (which were leftover for making cold fresh tomato pasta dish). I call this cold "shippoku" udon 冷製卓袱うどん. This (warm version) is a popular dish in the Southern islands of Japan (Shikoku 四国 and Kyushu 九州). I do not know the exact definition of it but I take it as a noodle (either soba or udon) dish with lots of cooked veggies and other toppings. I made this all cold for a hot summer day.

Cold cooked vegetables included daikon, carrot, skinned Campari tomato and sugar snap. Since I had Chinese-style simmered pork or "Chashu" チャーシュー (this one is made from pork butt and has much more fat than meat made from pork loin), I cut it into batons and added it to the dish.

The original simmered vegetables included daikon, carrot, shiitake mushroom, Campari tomato (simmered in Japanese broth which was lightly seasoned with light colored soy sauce and mirin. After the veggies were soft/done, I let it cool and then refrigerated it). We ate the veggies by themselves for several days so by the time I made  this dish only a few pieces of daikon, carrot and tomato were remaining. The sugar snap was just blanched and cooled. For the broth, I added more concentrated noddle sauce from the bottle to the broth in which the veggies were cooked.

This was all leftover control but it was nice cold refreshing dish, perfect for our lunch over the weekend.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Indian-style pork "Vindaloo" curry with pickles インド風ポークカレー

I asked my wife to make this curry from leftover barbecued pork butt since it was getting to the end of it's life. This is my wife's version of pork "Vindaloo" which we posted few years ago. Instead of using uncooked pork, she used barbecued pork cut into cubes this time. Since I used dry rub (roasted cumin, smoked paprika, salt and pepper) for the barbecue, these spices were automatically added to the curry.

She added roasted mustard seeds, you can see the seeds in the curry which gave small pops and bursts of mustard  flavor. Instead of coconut milk, she used yogurt (since we do not particularly fond of the taste and flavor of coconut milk), it broke a bit but still tasted good. Despite the addition of yogurt and reduce cayenne pepper to 1/4 of the lower end of the amount suggested in the original recipe (about 1/4 tsp), this curry was hot enough for us. Despite using cooked pork, it was tender and quite enjoyable. This is another way for taking care of leftovers.

Since I had a fresh green and yellow zucchini (really yellow zucchini not yellow squash), I added panfried coins of zucchini seasoned with salt and pepper, grilled fig with balsamic vinegar. In addition, I added pickled cucumber and carrot I made.

I just used the sweet vinegar I used to make pickled myouga since we used up the pickled myouga from this container. I placed cucumber (American minicucu), carrot and skinned Campari tomato into the leftover sweet vinegar. I let it pickel for several days in the refrigerator.

We decide to have a store bought mini baguette (which was partially baked and frozen). I  finished baking in 350F toaster oven in convection mode for 15 minutes. This went well with the curry. Next time, we will make naan, though.