Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Wafu (和風)

Pumpkin Soup With White Miso PasteDSC_5072

Something about warm soup on a chilly night, so comforting, loving…it’s like someone put a blanket over someone who dozed off on the couch…oh, thanks honey…no, I’m not sleeping…just closed my eyes for a second…that show is so fascinating to watch…what? it’s over?

Wafu means Japanese style. And this very successful remake of western pumpkin soup done by NHK’s Today’s Cooking. OK, basically it’s pumpkin miso soup but it’s more done than that. It has surreal deep umami flavor, pairs well with naan or rice. My husband adds a dollop of sour cream into the soup to westernize it…a little … So tell me whodunit? Really? … wow that’s wicked.

Ingredients and Instructions for 4-6 servings (Print Recipe here)

  • 600g of Kabocha (Japanese pumpkin, recommended)DSC_5044
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3-1/2  to 5 cups dashi stock -  I used 2 No-MSG dashi packs to extract strong dashi soup. See picture below. Option: Of  course you could make your own dash stock. I like Alton Brown’s version  I found it uncomplicated.
  • 130-160 g of white miso paste (Saikyo 西京 miso is preferred)DSC_5064
  • 1-2 teaspoons of Tamari light soy sauce
  • Mitsuba 三つ葉 (Japanese honewort or Japanese parsley) for garnish if you have it
  • Seven spices 七味唐辛子 (optional)
  1. How to cut pumpkin - Remove top and bottom stems by notching with knife heel around stems first then inserting deeper with the knife tip. Wrap in plastic wrap and microwave 4-5 minutes on 60% power. The pumpkin is still hard but much easier to cut than raw. Cut in half and remove seeds and the stringy part with large spoon. Cut in sections, cube and peel off skin with vegetable peeler. See video on other method.DSC_5046DSC_5048DSC_5053DSC_5054
  2. Place 600g of pumpkin  in a pan and pour plenty of water and
  3. salt to cook for 15 to 20 minutes until soft. Option: cook and puree all pumpkin and use 600g for this recipe and keep rest in refrigerator for later use.
  4. Drain the water. Put cooked pumpkin back in the same pan, puree with hand held mixer while it’s still hot.
  5. Gradually add dashi stock stirring constantly until the desired thickness is achieved. I used 4 cups of dashi stock 
  6. Cook for 5-7 minutes. Whisk in half of miso paste and do a taste test. Add 1 Tablespoon miso paste at a time to adjust flavor. I used about 150 g of miso paste.
  7. Add soy sauce, top with mitsuba, sprinkle 7 spices if you like. Serve warm. I used only 1 teaspoon of soy sauceDSC_5071DSC_5078

Variation – Make it hearty – add pork, burdock roots and matsutakeDSC_5095With connections, we got cheaper (almost $20 per pound less than in store) Matsutake mushrooms. Lucky! DSC_5037

Pumpkin JOY! Since we were left with plenty of pumpkin puree, I made a pumpkin pudding…DSC_5081FABULOUSE! DSC_5085And my husband tackled Salted Caramel Pumpkin buns…Touchdown!DSC_5090

Hi Punkin….

My daughter just had a birthday. Here she was a year old, observing my husband at a church basketball game.IMG

That was many years ago…time flew by way too fast. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Thai Style Tofu Salad

With left over Summer vegetables

DSC_5002Some Summers, we don’t get good crops from our garden for various reasons and this past Summer fell into that ‘some’ year category. We are bit bummed about that. The only half-way decent yield we got was tomatoes. My favorite cherry tomato variety ‘Sweet 100’ was not bad yet in my opinion it got up to only 85…oh come on!IMG_1974  

A vegan meal night over the blue moon, the petite tomatoes support this Thai salad’s weight well. We may be carnivores but today, we enjoyed a bowl full of greens. The small changes were made on the recipe from a book Vibrant Food by Kimberley Hasselbrink.You will fall in love with her photographs.

Ingredients and Instruction for 4 servings (Print Recipe Here)

  • 1 (16-ounce) package extra-firm tofu, drained

For marinade

  • 1/4 cup low sodium tamari soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons roasted red chili paste ( I used Tobanjan soy paste)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

For the dressing

  • 2 limes
  • 4 Tablespoons tamari soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil or sesame oil
  • 4 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

For the greens – practically anything but here are some suggestions. It does not have to be exact measurements.

  • Cherry tomatoes, halved 1-2 cups
  • Okura, thinly sliced about 1/2 cup
  • Sugar snap peas, sliced 1 cup – I cooked in salted  boiling water for 1 minute, drained then plunged in ice cold water. It can be raw if you prefer.
  • Cucumber, cubed 1 cup
  • Fresh mint  leaves, roughly chopped 1/4 cup
  • Fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped 1/4 cup
  • Butter lettuce, torn 3-4 cups
  • Cilantro leaves and blossoms for garnish Option: white radish sprouts is great too.
  • 1 small Thai red chili, seeded and thinly sliced for garnish
  1. Place the tofu on a cutting board and weight it with another cutting board (or heavy plate) on top to extract water from tofu for 30 minutes.DSC_4973
  2. While the tofu is pressing, make marinade sauce – In a medium bowl, whisk together the tamari, rice vinegar, olive oil, red chili paste and sugar until the sugar is dissolved and smooth. Note: I put everything in a zip lock bag, closed tight then massaged the bag. DSC_4976
  3. Dry the pressed tofu with paper towel and cut into 1-inch cubes. Put into the bowl or zip-lock bag of marinade. Toss gently to coat. Cover with plastic sheet (if using the bowl). Lay flat (if using bag). Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Turn over once in a while to evenly marinated.
  4. Meanwhile make dressing – Zest 1 lime, put in the small bowl. Cut the lime you just zested and another lime in half and squeeze the juice out and add to the bowl. Add rest of dressing ingredients to the bowl and whisk until the brown sugar has dissolved. Set aside.DSC_4985
  5. Combine the greens except cilantro and Thai red chili. Toss with about 2/3 of dressing. Serve the remaining dressing on the side. Chill in the refrigerator until needed.
  6. Set oven for broi.l Arrange the tofu in a single layer on a lightly oiled small baking sheet discarding marinade sauce. Broil for 15- 18 minutes. turning every 3 minutes until deeply browned.DSC_4986
  7. Place greens on plate, top with tofu and garnish with fresh cilantro leaves and Thai red chili.DSC_5000DSC_4996

Vestiges of the past Summer….  late comer fig…what took you so long?DSC_5030Black Plum tomatoes has good flavor and gorgeous color though I feel like I have to spit it out its thick skin…good news is that because of tough skin, it withstands bugs, mold and other diseases.DSC_5031The seedless watermelon stayed small. DSC_5004What the heck! It was not seedless?DSC_5036Second year thornless, bushy ‘Raspberry short cake’ variety tasted better than previous year.IMG_1935The roses…released pleasant scents all Summer long…really sweet..DSC_5027

The weekend blessing…My husband’s take on Saldkay Bulochaka by Cooking Melangery…everything on her blog is like wow!DSC_5010

He tweaked her recipe a little bit so it looks different…still nice. I often hand him the wish list…printed recipes from other food bloggers…A man in training I guess…try not to surpass the master…k?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


Peanut Butter French Toast Waffle


The sounds of the rustling of the newspaper, noise of blender swiveling, butter melting on toast…contentment…Saturdays mornings are my favorite time of day definitely …short but sweet. Many things are planned usually…after breakfast…the grass is getting longer, my husband noticed…perhaps I murmured it too loudly?

On weekdays, rushed breakfast of kefir or vegetable smoothies but on Saturdays my husband is all about carbohydrates. This hearty peanut butter French toast waffle is French, Belgium, international whatever.  Having one of those fills you up until 3 in the afternoon.   Read interesting facts about ‘waffles’ here.

Ingredients and Instructions for 4 waffles (Print Recipe here)

Necessary equipment – Waffle iron, blender or food processor

  • 8 slices of whole-wheat or white bread, crust removed.
  • 8oz of frozen mixed berries, thawed.
  • 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons seedless raspberry preserves
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 Tablespoons of smooth peanut butter
  • Nonstick spray
  1. The night before - Put bread on a baking rack, let stale overnight.DSC_4902
  2. Make berry sauce- Combine the fruit and sugar in a medium sauce pan, bring to boil, stir occasionally, until berries soften about 10 minutes.DSC_4907
  3. Transfer berry mixture to a blender or food processer. Add the raspberry preserves and lemon juice blend until smooth. Note: if you have a hand held mixer, blend directly in the pan – careful for the splat!
  4. Crack eggs into a medium baking dish and whisk lightly. Add milk. sugar, vanilla and salt. Mix well.
  5. Spread 1 Tablespoon of peanut butter on 4 slices of bread. Top with remaining slices to make 4 sandwiches, flatten slightly. Soak in egg mixture (process #4), 4-5 minutes per side.DSC_4915DSC_4919
  6. Heat waffle maker according to the manufacture’s directions. Spray top and bottom grates with nonstick spray.
  7. Remove sandwiches from the egg mixture and hold it over the baking pan for about 10 seconds so that excess liquid drips back into the  pan.
  8. Place sandwich on the grates. Press down and close completely. Cook until golden brown about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Serve immediately with Berry sauce
    . DSC_4921DSC_4924DSC_4939

More fabulous eats…

We have been trying to have a dinner at Nodoguro (means ‘ black throat’ in Japanese), for some time but our schedule prohibited it until now. A pop-up restaurant only open Fridays and Saturdays in borrowed space. IMG_1959My husband with young chef Ryan and local celebrity – Mr.Yoshida, the creator of Yoshida’s Marinade and Cooking sauce was one of the guests.

Ryan studied under some well regarded chefs also apprenticed work in Fukuoka, Japan. He speaks fluent Japanese.The restaurant offers 9 plus courses of creative Japanese cuisine. The dishes are prepared with high quality local produce, and the well developed flavor wowed us throughout the affair – we spooned out chilled charred white turnip, tofu mousse with salmon roe topped with matsutake mushroom shaving…the exciting start.IMG_1943 
Thinly sliced tender flounder. The yuzu paste enhanced the flavor. IMG_1946I adored –scallop, sea urchin and the beans, specks of red water pepper is visually effective and had nice kick.IMG_1947Matsutake clear soup…I feel so lucky!IMG_1950

Other dishes were equally fantastic but I don’t have good photos…the place had low light.

A friend shared her homemade miso paste.DSC_4967
Naturally, I made miso soup with Satsuma sweet potato and radish sprouts…the best miso paste ever!DSC_4969

My husband came through with my request – to make fruit tart for my birthday from scratch. See my other fruits tart recipe hereDSC_4952DSC_4962IMG_1965

In Karuizawa, we had a over $10 per slice fruits tart. I expected my husband to make one just like it and he did an amazing job! I think I must post the recipe in near future…Honey, can you make it again? And next time, don’t forget to take the process pictures…ok?IMG_1880
Nagano purple (tart) – name of large variety seedless grapes have thin skin.

Having good food like that is a
huge part of our trip…At the end of our holiday, I started get melancholy…how we were fortunate to have that experience but it’s time to say good bye…I think I’m going to cry…(Totoro shop in Old Karuizawa)