Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Italian-style squid salad イタリアンカラマリサラダ

When I was getting our usual filet of salmon, I could not resist getting cleaned squid. Since I did not have much time to deal with the squid when I got home, I decided to boil the entire one pound (tubes and tentacles).   Since cleaned squid we can get here is previously frozen and thawed ("for your convenience"), it can not last long and needs to be cooked immediately.  From the prepared squid, I made two dishes. One is Italian style squid salad. I made a similar dish before without any recipe. This one is loosely based on the recipe I saw on line.

The base green is our home grown arugula. It was getting a bit tough but it has so much flavor even without any dressing. I let the squid marinade for several hours in the refrigerator before serving.

This must have been the next day. I just made it to our usual sumiso 酢味噌 dressed Japanese-style salad with cucumber and wakame seaweed.

Ingredients (this will be 4 servings for us as a small appetizer).
2/3 lb cleaned squid
1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon red-wine vinegar (I used balsamic vinegar)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
salt and black pepper to taste
1/4 sweet (Vidalia) onion, halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced crosswise
1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved lengthwise
Skinned Campari tomatoes (4-5), halved or quartered if large
1 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
Parsley, several sprigs, stem removed, chopped

Preparation of squid:
Rinse squid under cold running water. Halve tentacles lengthwise and cut bodies  crosswise into 1/3-inch-wide rings.

Cook squid in a boiling salted water with a splash of sake, uncovered, until just opaque, 40 to 60 seconds. Drain in a colander and immediately transfer to a bowl of ice and cold water to stop the cooking. When squid is cool, drain and pat dry.

Directions for salad:
Whisk together lemon juice, vinegar, oil, garlic, salt, and pepper in a small bowl, then stir in onion, squid, olives, tomatoes, celery, and parsley in a large bowl. Toss with dressing and season with salt and pepper. Let stand at least 15 minutes to allow flavors to develop (I refrigerated for several hours).

Both preparations were good. The Italian-style has more complex flavors with a burst of saltiness when you bite into the olive. For this we choose to have American brewed G-sake on the rocks.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Cheesy muffins with prosciutto and chives プロシュートとチャイブ入りチェダーチーズママフィン

This recipe came from the Washington Post. Since we had some prosciutto, my wife pounced on it and made these muffins. The first time around, we quickly devoured the muffins then when they were all gone we remembered that we forgot to take any picture. So this is the second batch my wife made. This is a self-contained breakfast in muffin form with prosciutto and cheddar cheese. We added scrambled eggs and sautéed rapini (pre-blanched) and had it as a lunch. Actually, the plate below is the serving dish for the two of us. After the photo shoot, we divided this into two portions.

Cut surfaces show prosciutto  and chives.

This is few minutes after it came out of the oven. Melted cheddar is visible.

The top has a nice crunchy crust.

Ingredients (made 1 dozen muffins):
(See #2 below)
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
1/4 cup packed (50 grams) light brown sugar
2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
1 cup low-fat (or regular) sour cream
2 cups (270 grams) flour
1 tablespoon (8 grams) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon (2 grams) baking soda
1 teaspoon (4 grams) table salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (original recipe called for black pepper).
6 ounces shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese, loosely packed (a generous 1 3/4 cups)
3 ounces prosciutto, chopped (2/3 cup; see #1 below)
About 15 chive stems, minced (1/4 cup) (or to taste)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Generously grease the wells of the muffin pan with softened butter or cooking oil spray. Melt the 6 tablespoons of butter in a large microwave-safe bowl, covered with paper towel, on LOW in 15-second bursts. Add the sugar and whisk until well incorporated (#3), then add the eggs and egg yolk one at a time, whisking after each addition (#4). Add the sour cream, whisking a final time.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper. Pour the wet ingredients into the butter-egg mixture (#5). Add the cheese, prosciutto and chives, folding just until incorporated to form a shaggy batter (#6) Do not over mix.

Fill the muffin pan wells (#7). Bake (middle rack) for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a moist crumb or two. Remove from the pan as soon as they are cool enough to handle (#8).

This is probably one of the most decadent muffins ever. (We found it humorous that the original recipe called for low fat sour cream and then went on to add almost a full stick of butter, almost a full block of cheese and oh yes an extra egg--hold the egg white). But they were also ridiculously good. These are great for breakfast. The prosciutto, cheddar and chives permeate the muffin with savory flavor. My wife added cayenne pepper (1/4 tsp) which gave a light zing to the muffin. Adding the scrambled eggs and rapini with its slight bitter taste made this a very satisfying breakfast (or lunch in our case).

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Nectarine bundt cake ネクタリンバントケーキ

We received a gift for New Year which was a one-year-membership to Harry's & David monthly fruit club.  Although some of it is a bit hit-or-miss, most of the fruit was excellent.  This month was Dulcevida nectarines. A card with the recipe for nectarine pound cake came with the fruit. (It specified the use of a bundt cake pan, so it could be classified as a bundt cake). In any case, my wife made this cake one day using the last three nectarines.

We cut a wedge to taste.

I added fresh blueberry and mint sprig just for a photo shoot.

This is a quite good cake. Nice fresh nectarine taste.

For fruit
2-3 nectarines (she used 3), peeled, pitted, and cut into slices.
2 tbsp, AP flour
2 tbsp light brown sugar (my wife used white sugar with molasses)

For cake batter
3/4 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
2 1/2 cup of AP flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
8 oz lemon yogurt (my wife used plain yogurt with the addition of lemon extract)(lemon zest would also work)
1 egg
1 egg white

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease a 10 inch Bundt pan and dust with flour (My wife only had an 8 inch bundt pan, so she made additional cakes using some mini Bundt pans she had).
Blend 2 tbsp flour and brown sugar together, add nectarines and toss until well coated. Place the mixture in the bottom of the pan. In a bowl mix the the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a mixer, cream the butter and white sugar. Add the egg and egg white and blend until mixed. Add the vanilla, yogurt and lemon flavoring (or lemon zest) beat for 3 minutes at medium speed. Add the liquid mixture to the dry mixture and mix until combined. Distribute the batter over the nectarines (the recipe said pour the batter over the fruit. Don't know what they were using but pouring was not an option. The batter came out very thick and stiff and had to be dolloped into the bundt pan.) Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes clean.  Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes. Invert onto a wire rack and cool completely before serving.

The cake is not too sweet and is very moist. The nectarines are nicely sweet and refreshing. This is a good cake. We can eat this even for breakfast.

Monday, July 8, 2019

"Tsumami" appetizers 酒のつまみ

I am still cooking Izakaya-style small dishes but generally nothing particularly new. The dishes below are what we had after the perilla wrapped chicken dish 鶏胸肉の青紫蘇巻き. Often, we roast pork (loin or shoulder) in our Weber grill, but sometimes, the roast is really big so I divide it into two roasts; one to roast in the Weber and another to make into  Chinese style "Nibuta" 煮豚. For the dish pictured here I just served small pieces of one such nibuta, with ajitama 味玉 (a soft boiled egg marinated in concentrated noodle sauce) and blanched sugar snap. After a few days the egg yolk of the ajitama becomes more congealed but maintains a nice soft texture.

For the third  dish of the evening, I used one of the chicken breast halves left over after making the perilla wrapped chicken. Both are marinated in the same way but this one I pounded further into thin slices, coated in potato starch and gently poached (called "suisho” 水晶).

I cut it into small bite size pieces and served it with a side of thinly sliced cucumber (American mini-cucumber) dressed in ponzu sauce. Because it was coated with potato starch before poaching, it has a nice smooth (slippery) texture. Marinating with sake, soy sauce and potato starch made the meat moist and tender.

None of these are new but we still enjoy having many small dishes.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Chicken breast wrapped in perilla 鶏胸肉の青じそ巻き

This is inspired by a recipe in one of the food blogs I follow. I have previously posted yakitori 焼き鳥 dishes made with a combination of chicken meat, perilla and "umeboshi" 梅干し salted plum paste (this is a classic combination). One such dish used chicken tenderloin  another used chicken made into a roll with shiso and umeboshi paste, cut into medallions and skewered. This is the same combination of flavors with some different twists.   I cut the chicken into bite sized pieces, pound the pieces to break down the fibers, and marinate them before making the skewers as the recipe suggested. This preparation really made the chicken breast much more moist and tender. (My wife asked if this was sous vide chicken breast). I served the pieces un-skewered and instead of adding plum paste in the marinade as suggested in the recipe I put it on the top which has a more direct impact.

Ingredients (For the three skewers seen here):
One half of boneless and skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces, pounded with a meat mallet to break down the fibers.
Perilla leaves (We have a forest of perilla in our herb garden, 4 feet tall!)
Light olive oil for cooking.

For marinade
2 tbs sake
1tbs light colored soy sauce
1 tsp potato starch (katakuri-ko)

I placed the chicken in a Ziplock bag with the marinade ingredients. I kneaded the bag to mix the meat and the marinade. I removed the air as much as I could before closing the bag. I refrigerated it for a few hours.
I cut the perilla leaves to the width of the meat and long enough that it wrapped the meat all the way around (some of our perilla leaves were quite large and had to cut them into several pieces). I wrapped the chicken pieces and put them on a skewer. (Althouhg I cooked the chicken in a frying pan rather than over charcoal, it was much easier to flip the skewers and keep the perilla leaves on the meat) (#1).
I added a small amount of light olive oil to a non-stick frying pan on low flame (#2), Put on the lid and cooked it for several minutes and then turned them over (#3). I used an instant thermometer to make sure it read 165F and the chicken was done before taking the skewers off the heat.  (#4).

I was going to use a tube of salted plum paste but it was near-empty and looked old. So, I made plum sauce or "Bainiku" 梅肉 sauce from "umeboshi" 梅干し salted plums (my mother's last batch sent to us a few years ago) (#5). I removed the meat from the stones and chopped it finely and put it in a Japanese "suribachi" すり鉢 mortar (#6). I gradually added mirin みりん until the ground plum became a thick saucy consistency. I smeared the sauce over the chicken (the first picture).

Although this is a variation of a "golden" combination of chicken meat, perilla, and salted plum sauce, this variation was really good because of the tender and moist texture of the chicken.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Morel mushroom pasta and pork scaloppini モレルマッシュルームパスタ

We like mushrooms in general (except for button mushrooms). Shiitake is our main stay. Occasionally we branch out to maitake 舞茸 or enoki えのき茸 or shimeji しめじ. Of course, once a year, matsutake 松茸 is a must have. This time my wife found a package of fresh morel mushrooms at our near-by Whole Foods. So one weekend evening, we had morel mushroom pasta and a pork scaloppini-like dish.

The pasta was PA dutch egg noodle. My wife made a sauce. This is a simple sauce with sautéed fresh morel in butter and cream simply seasoned with salt and pepper. Pork scaloppini was just pork tenderloin cut into medallions and pounded very thin, seasoned with dried basil and oregano, salt and pepper. I dusted with flour and cooked in olive oil. I did not make the traditional sauce that goes with scaloppini. The pasta had a lovely morel mushroom taste that was absorbed and extended by the pasta. The creamy sauce added an unctuous element. This was a great way to eat pasta. The pasta also went very well with the pork scaloppini.

Since we have started to open up the old wines we collected over the year, this bottle was up next. This is Barnett Vineyard 2006 Pinot Noir.
We got this bottle when we visited the vineyard. This was a reserved personal tasting and the guide (a bit grumpy guy) let us taste their wine in a gazebo on the top of the mountain on their property overlooking surrounding vinyards and mountains. The view was spectacular. We bought several bottles of cabernet and a few Pinot. We must have had them send to us but I do not remember the details. Long time ago, we finished all of their cabs but this pinot was left. This bottle was kept in our wine refrigerator not in the basement. So we were hoping this was better kept and aged.

I carefully decanted it one hour before. Although, edge was brownish indicating age, it had surprisingly fresh fruit; cherry and a bit of strawberry and tannin was mellow. We really enjoyed this aged Pinot. This was particularly good paring with morel mushroom pasta and the pork scaloppini. Since I did not make any sauce (like caper and lemon) but just herbs, salt and pepper, it went better with this wine.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Shrimp and avocado salad 海老とアボカドのサラダ

One of our favorite "salads" is tuna sashimi cubes and avocado but for a change I decided to substitute cooked shrimp for the tuna sashimi. We decided to dub this our version of shrimp cocktail.

For color I added Campari tomato (skined) on the bed of babay arugula.

This could have been an easy dish to make since we had a bag of frozen shrimp in the freezer, but complications arose. The frozen raw shrimp we had was a bit old. I prepared it but it had some off taste (iodine flavor common in cheap take out shrimp dishes). While I may have thought the taste wasn't that bad and considered using the shrimp they did not pass my wife's taste test so "that was that". I had to get some new shrimp for this dish. In our grocery store, I found shell-on but deveined red shrimp from Argentina (#1, below). This is the same kind of shrimp we used to have as sashimi at Tako grill.

Ingredients (4 appetizer servings):
6 large shrimp (frozen) shell on (#2), thawed by running water.
Avocado, half, skinned, stone removed and cubed
lemon juice from half a lemon

For dressing
Wasabi (as much as you like, mayo tames the spiciness down) and light colored soys sauce (1tbs) (#6)
1 tbs mayonnaise
Fresh dill, chopped (optional)

Boil salted water with a splash of sake added. Turn off the flame and add thawed shrimp with shells on, place lid on and let them steep for 15 minutes.
Drain and peel shells and cool to room temperature (#3)
Cut into a bite sized pieces (#4)
Add avocado and lemon juice and mix (#5).
Make dressing by mixing mayo, soys sauce and wasabi (#6). Taste and adjust the ingredients.
Dress the avocado and shrimp mixture.

This was really good. Although I may prefer the tuna cubes and avocado slightly more, the combination of wasabi, soy sauce and mayo is a good one. The new shrimp was certainly better than the old frozen ones. They were sweet and succulent and I am glad I did not use the old one.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Fastnacht bread with sweet potato サツマイモ ”ファストナハト” ケーキ

My wife is a devotee of Japanese sweet potato "Satsuma-imo" サツマイモ. Whenever she sees it at our near-by Whole Foods, she will get some. The most common way we enjoy Japanese sweet potato is cooking it wrapped in aluminum foil on the Weber grill when we are cooking either chicken or pork roast (using indirect heat). She usually mashes the potato and adds soy sauce and butter. Then using the left-over mashed sweet potato, I make croquets (with ground pork, onion and shiitake mushroom) which is great (I have posted it). She has also used the mashed sweet potatoes to make gnocchi. This was a really good preparation because the sweetness combined with the saltiness of the soy sauce comes through very nicely. This time, my wife decided to make her "Fastnacht cake" using the mashed sweet potato. Her thinking was 'the recipe used regular mashed potatoes so how would it taste if I substituted the sweet potato?' She also modified the way she incorporated the "rivels*".

*According to the wikipedia definition of rivels, they are a type of spaetzle like small dumpling put in a soup. In the context of this fastnact cake, "rivels" are a sweet sugar crumb topping. (My wife did not make up this terminology. According to the ancient Pa Dutch cookbook she uses they specifically say "top with rivels" then give explicit instructions on another page under the heading of sugar topping. These include brown sugar topping, streusel topping and rivels. The main difference between them being the ratio of sugar, butter and flour).

The rivels are a crucial part of the cake. They are nice and crunchy and sweet. The problem is many of them fall off when they are put on the top and you end up picking up the crumbs eating them separately from the cake. She wanted the rivels to be a part of the cake. So, she decided to put a layer of rivels in the center. (pictured below). With this innovation, the rivels still come off the top and you still end up picking up crumbs (which apparently is just an inevitable part of enjoying this cake) but in addition there is now a guaranteed layer of lovely sweetness in each bite from the layer in the center of the cake.

She doubled the rivel recipe. Since the recipe makes two cakes she split the dough into quarters. Then put 1/4 of the dough in the bottom of the pan, sprinkled on 1/4 of the rivels and topped it with another quarter of dough (#1). She did that for both cakes. Then covered both with the remaining rivels (#2). The third picture shows the cake as it came out of the oven. And #4 shows the cake sliced.

Both the use of the Japanese sweet potato and adding rivels to the center of the cake worked out well. The sweet potato is completely substitutable for regular potatoes. The only difference may have been that the texture was a bit more tender and slightly sweeter. The rivels in the center amalgamated into the  texture of the cake. But they also provided a moist layer of sweetness that was very pleasant. This may be the primary way my wife makes this cake in the future. 

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Natto, squid sashimi and cold tofu イカ納豆と冷や奴

This was inspired by a post in an Izakaya blog I follow. The blogger Mr. Hamada 浜田さん is rather well-known Izakaya  aficionado in Japan. He frequents "tachi-nomi (Standing-up)" 立ち飲み izakaya called "Yakiya" やきや in Ogikubo 荻窪 in Tokyo.  On one such visit, he had this dish which was a combination of natto, squid sashimi and cold tofu いか納豆と冷奴 and his write-up  piqued my interest.

I bought both natto and squid sashimi frozen at our Japanese grocery store. I garnished the Squid-natto with chopped scallions and perilla from our herb garden. The cold tofu is from "otokomae tofu". It is comes in a package of three connected small squares filled with silken tofu called "san-ren-chan" 三連チャン. For this dish, I cut one of the tofu squares half and topped it with chopped scallion and bonito flakes.

I premixed the natto (one package divided among us) using my natto stirrer with the sauce that came with the natto and a bit of wasabi. I placed the squid sashimi next to it (below). I premix the natto to make it more palatable for my wife.  (A thorough mix will add air thus reducing the ripe...very ripe cheesy smell).

I then garnished it with chopped scallion and perilla (from our herb garden).

Instead of straight soy sauce, I added concentrated noodle sauce and mixed the squid-natto well. We ate the squid-natto as is but based on the advice of Mr. Hamada in his blog we mixed the natto with the cold tofu. He was right this is a good combination. My wife pointed out that the combination of round natto beans and long strips of squid made it difficult to eat with a spoon or chop sticks. (The spoon worked for the natto but not the squid while the chop sticks got the squid but made eating the beans very difficult. She suggested cutting the squid into shorter strips so that it is closer in size to the beans making it easier to eat with a spoon. According to Mr. Hamada, at Yakiya, they use a specific part of fresh squid to make their squid-natto. What I made probably is not quite up to that standard but, for us, it was still pretty good with our new house sake "tengu-mai" daiginjou 天狗舞大吟醸.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Simmered bamboo shoots and chicken

This is a small dish commemorating spring that I made recently. Since we cannot get fresh bamboo shoots, I made this from packaged boiled bamboo.

As a substitute for "nanohana" 菜の花 I used blanched rapini. For protein, I used chicken drumettes leftover from making "Teba-gyoza" 手羽餃子.

1 package of small boiled bamboo shoots, cut into small wedges.
6 chicken drumettes
Blanched rapini tips for garnish
1 cup dashi (made from kelp and bonito flakes)
3 tbs light colored soy sauce
3 tbs mirin

In a non-stick dry frying pan, I placed the drumettes on a low flame until the oil came out. Then I turned up the heat to medium and browned all surfaces. I transferred the drummettes from the frying to a sauce pan and added the bamboo shoots, dashi broth and seasoning. I simmered it with a "otoshi buta" 落し蓋 for 30 minutes or longer or until the liquid reduced somewhat, mixing several times. I refrigerated it overnight (although it could have been served immediately). Before serving, I warmed it up (either in a microwave oven or in a pan).
I garnished it with blanched rapini tips.

The bamboo shoots absorbed all the flavors but were still crunchy in texture. The addition of chicken added a nice umami flavor. The drumettes were tender enough that the meat fell of the bone and could be eaten with chopsticks. This is a nice small side dish/appetizer.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Poke, sort of, and Champagne マグロとサーモンのポケもどき

We had something to celebrate but did not have a chance to get anything special and did not feel like going to a restaurant, either. So I got filet mignon and sashimi (salmon and yellowfin tuna) from a local gourmet grocery store. The quality of the sashimi was not great so I decided to make a "poke" like dish. The sashimi was in rather thick slices. I marinated it with Japanese concentrated noodle sauce for several hours in the refrigerator and then cut it into small cubes. In addition, I served some chicken tenderloin which I removed from a sous-vide cooked chicken breast I made earlier in the day. From right to left are tuna, salmon and chicken.

For the tuna, I used soy sauce, wasabi and perilla as dressing.

For the salmon, I used soy sauce, red pepper paste (from a tube) and dill.

For the sous vide chicken tenderloin, I used soy sauce and yuzu-kosho 柚胡椒 (from a tube) and garnished with sesame seeds.

These three starters borrowed from the concept of  "poke" which is getting popular here. Some fast food "poke" chains have even opened up. Instead of our usual cold sake, we started with champagne.

This was among the ones we happened to have on hand. I am not sure when and where I got this one but it is called Philippe Fourrier Cuvée Millésime Brut Champagne 2008. We made an ice bucket to keep the champagne cold. My wife somehow dug up a special cloth/towel we had tucked away somewhere with a representative champagne bottle depicted on it, to absorb the condensation from the champagne ice bucket.

This was vintaged (2008) and had a nice slightly yeasty/beady aroma with subtle melon and green apple taste with fine bubbles and went quite well with this appetizer I prepared.

After this, we had a filet mignon steak, green asparagus and some kind of potato. We switched to 2006 "the Maiden". This was one of the old wines we had stored in our basement. The conditions there, however, are is not really great for the enhancement of wine over time. We were afraid that the wine may have been way past its prime. I carefully decanted it and let it breathe for one hour before serving. There was a definitive brown hue indicating age/oxidization. As it had more contact with air, this wine opened up and we could taste good black  fruit, vanilla and chocolate. The tannin was quite mellow. We would have preferred to taste this wine a bit earlier but it did age quite well and went well with our impromptu celebratory steak dinner.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Asparagus stir-fry アスパラガスの炒め物

In our regular grocery store, we often find bags of colorful mini sweet peppers. My wife likes these peppers especially broiled with the skin and seeds removed. It is a bit of effort to prepare them this way.  I broil them in the toaster oven then place them in a Ziploc bag to steam. Once they have cooled I remove the skin and seeds. Despite the work, they are nice to have around because they are flavorful, colorful and when added to a dish can add a nice bright note. I made this dish just to use up some left-over vegetables  (I had green asparagus, some shimeji mushrooms, Campari tomatoes and the prepared mini sweet peppers).   I also added scrambled eggs for additional color. I did not follow any recipe.

I was not sure how I would season this dish when I started making it, Chinese? Italian? I ended up just using salt and pepper and let the vegetable flavors speak for themselves.

I used my wok and everything came together quickly.

5 fresh green asparagus, woody bottoms removed and skin of the bottom half peeled, tips cut across, and the stalk sliced on a bias.
1 small onion, halved and cut in thin strips.
1/3 package of shimeji mushroom, root potion removed and separated.
4 skinned Campari tomatoes, cut into quarters.
1 Jalapeño pepper, seeds and veins removed and finely chopped.
4 prepared mini-sweet peppers (see above), cut into thin strips.
1/4 tsp dried red pepper flakes.
1 tbs olive oil
2 eggs (for scrambled eggs, optional).

I heated up the olive oil in a wok and added the red pepper flakes until the oil was hot.
I then added the onion and the Jalapeño pepper and stirred until the onion was slightly brown for 5 minutes, then add the asparagus stems and cooked for another 3 minutes. I added the asparagus tips, the shimeji mushrooms, the sweet peppers and the tomatoes.
I seasoned it with salt and pepper and cooked it for another 3-4 minutes.

The red pepper flakes and the jalapeno pepper gave a mild slow heat. You could taste all the flavors from the vegetables which also gave the dish a slight sweetness. This was a good side dish.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Crab cake sushi クラブケーキちらし寿司

 I made crab cakes, using a recipe I posted some time ago . From one container of crab meat,  I made 5 cakes. We ate two immediately but three were left (see below). This time, I made the crab cake with sautéed onion, shiitake mushroom, jalapeño pepper and fresh dill. I also added Meyer lemon zest (micro-grated), lemon juice and seasoned it with a splash of Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper and bound it with panko, dijon mustard and mayonnaise.

Since we had gotten the crab meat to make California roll, my wife suggested we could (sort-of) stick to our original objective by using the crab cakes to make scattered sushi ちらし寿司. Also, we had discovered, on our last trip to Japan, that ingredients such as tuna salad made with mayonnaise work really well with sushi rice. So since the crab cakes included mayo, my wife thought they should work well over the sushi rice. She made fresh rice for the occasion and I made it into sushi rice.  First, I warmed the crab cakes in the toaster oven and the broke them into small chunks on the sushi rice.

Taking the cue from California rolls, I also added cubes of avocado, dressed in lemon juice and a bit of mayonnaise.

Since perilla has started coming out in profusion in our herb garden, I added a chiffonade of perilla 青じそ.

Finally, I topped it with thin strips of nori.

We had this on our day off as an ending "shime" dish. As my wife predicted this was really good. We thought that since it was a shime, the amount of rice may be too much but it tasted so good we couldn't stop and ended up eating the whole thing. As opposed to just using crab meat as is done with classic California roll, using crab cake added more complex flavor dimensions and texture.  For this, we switched to our "Tengumai daiginjo" sake 天狗舞大吟醸酒.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Spinach and mint cake ホウレン草とミントの緑のケーキ

We posted green pancakes made with a combination of spinach and mint and we really liked them. We had some left over spinach that we had to use up. In addition, the mint was growing profusely in our garden. My wife found a recipe for cake made with spinach and she decided to make it. That took care of the spinach. Then she remembered the spinach mint pancakes and decided she would get the mint somewhat under control by substituting some mint for some of the spinach in the recipe. The cake is a bit like green tea cake  in appearance but the taste is completely different--and it is really good.

My wife made icing from cream cheese and honey.

The icing is not too sweet but added a nice taste and texture.

1 cup raw spinach (packed)
1 cup raw mint (packed)
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup olive oil
2 tbs. lemon juice
2 cup flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

1 block of Philadelphia cream cheese
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and then set aside (#1).  Put the spinach, mint, eggs, vanilla and sugar in a blender and puree. Then with the blender on a slow speed add the olive oil to make an emulsion (#2). Add the spinach/mint mixture to the flour (#3 & #4).  Put into the 9" x 13" inch baking pan that has been lined with parchment paper (to made it easier to get the cake out of the pan when it is done #5.) Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean (#6).

cream the cream cheese in a mixer. Add the honey and the vanilla and continue creaming until it becomes light and fluffy. Slather it on the the cooled cake.

This is a great cake. As with the green pancakes, the mint flavor predominates and is very refreshing. This is not too sweet and we had this even as a breakfast and was great with coffee. Although my wife found another way to use our prolific mint, it is still taking over.