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)


Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Spicy Crab And Coconut SpaghettiDSC_4730

Days are getting short...I wish I could hang on to Summer a bit longer. I miss being in Japan..but the reality of that,  I have to tackle my lengthy ‘to do’ lists …no moping is allowed…one on the list - up the blog post, I must! IMG_1915
Relic of Summer…Spontaneous sun flower still blooming in our back yard.

When I came across this crab and coconut spaghetti recipe which is now a crumpled newspaper clipping, no way they go together. The deciding factor is that this is not a complicated dish, also coincidentally I only have to get coconut milk, everything else is in my p-o-w-e-r! (pantry)! And I love new challenges (recipes).

Ingredients and Instruction for 4-6 servings (Print Recipe Here)DSC_4719

  • 1 pound spaghetti.
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes, less or more depending on your heat tolerance.
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 pound crabmeat
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk  Note: I add closer to 1/2 cup
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh basil
  • 1/3 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
  • Freshly ground back pepper
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Cook pasta until almost al dente in a large pot of salted boiling water. How to cook pasta fast – break pasta to fit in a large frying pan (see the photo above), add cold water to cover the pasta, cook uncovered. 
  2. Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a large frying pan over medium heat, combine olive oil, garlic, chili flakes and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is soft but not browned.
  3. Pour wine in and cook until reduced by half at medium–high heat.
  4. Drain pasta reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Add pasta to sauce, crab, coconut milk and 1/4 cup reserved pasta water. Simmer gently, stirring for 1-2 minutes. Note: Add more reserved water if you feel pasta is dry.DSC_4723
  5. Remove pan from heat and stir in the lemon juice, basil and parsley. Seasoned with pepper and sprinkle with the cheese.DSC_4733

Other good eats -

Food tastes better in bento form…and it’s fun!DSC_4890Today’s menu – chicken and tofu croquets, kimpira gobo, Japanese style omelet. On top of rice balls, I put Midas touch with gold bits I bought at Kanazawa city - 98% of gold production in Japan.

My husband’s B-day last week – I made a strawberry shortcake. DSC_4886

One of his ‘honey-do’ list - harvesting the last of the crop – Asian pears- small but tasty!IMG_1900IMG_1903

This was a very interesting experience (in Karuizawa)…Those tiny fishes exfoliate your legs…ticklish…strange… and a bit gross.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Porcupine Meatballs

Sweet rice Shumai / もち米の焼売DSC_4871

Our plane landed at the tail end of summer. The sun setting in the west is rather spectacular, I let out a sigh of relief… but we also felt somewhat blue.
Getting back into my routine is a bit of a task and slow. I inspect things we purchased during our journey…ahhh…the wappa (輪っぱ) bento box…such a nice find!

What I could fill the box with? I dunno…two thirds of our vegetables were wilted, some liquidized in the refrigerator and the milk had a sour taste…Darling, I think this has gone bad…he grabbed the car keys, and headed off to the store for fresh milk. His supper – the peanut butter sandwich -  would not be complete without it. Anything else you want me to get? he asked…completely jet lagged…thinking is way too hard.

This popular Chinese dim-sum requires no wrapper. Quick and satisfying recipe from Seattle pastry maker Setsuko. Her fabulous looking confections you can order through her website.DSC_4873

Ingredients and Instruction for 10 to 15 Shumais (Print recipe here)

Necessary equipment – Steamer (I used bamboo steamer)

  • 1/2 cup sweet rice
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 of medium size onion finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons ginger finely grated or juice  Note: I like to grate skin and all first then wrap in paper towel to squeeze juice out.DSC_4849
    Here, my husband demonstrating
  • 2 teaspoons each of sake, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil
  • 2 Tablespoons potato starch or corn starch
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Vegetable oil
  1. Wash sweet rice quickly, perhaps 2-3 rinses changing water each time – sweet rice absorbs water fast so do not soak in water. Leave washed rice in sieve until needed. Get steamer ready with at least 2 inches of water at the bottom of steamer pan.
  2. Put ground pork, finely minced onion, grated ginger (or juice) in a medium bowl and combine well.
  3. Add seasoning – sake, soy sauce, oyster sauce and sesame oil and mix well.
  4. Add cornstarch and knead until it comes together. Salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Make balls (approximately 1 and 1/2 inch in size). Roll in sweet rice.DSC_4858
  6. Brush the steamer bottom with vegetable oil to prevent the meat balls from sticking  Lay the meat balls without crowding, put the lid on, steam for 12 to 15 minutes. Watch out for the hot steam when you remove the lid. Serve with gyoza sauce if you like.DSC_4859 DSC_4863

Also great is to put in Chinese soup. I short cut by using Chinese soup granule base, with soy sauce and vinegar to adjust flavor. See, easy does it!DSC_4879

Here are some photos we took in Japan in random order…Amazing Kyoto Tower view from our hotel room. 01a741d1c81a16a7bdf2c1edf121e642c1ed59be90
My  husband loves ‘drinking yogurt’. The bakery in town of Akitsuki (秋月/Autumn Moon), Fukuoka called Pan (Japanese name for bread)…that works.
We indulged in many good eats! Even bad for you foods but tasted so good!
We flew from Narita Airpot to Fukuoka
The first thing we ate in Fukuoka is Hakata ramen – famous for rich, pork based soup at Ippudo (一風堂) for about 10 bucks. On contraire, we had the most expensive 5 course lunch at a French restaurant near Matsumoto Castle.
…by accident. 1st course is red turnip soup...Wow!
Pose with samurai warrior at well preserved Matsumoto Castle. The peek –a-boo view from tiny opening. I think that is the coolest castle ever!
Took over an hour but we made to the top of Happo Peak in Hakuba.   In fact, we walked most everywhere, a little break at Kanazawa’s samurai residence.

Hakuba rice fieldIMG_1771

HairJam..yummy?!              We loved the museum and the artist, this in Azumino, there is a Tokyo museum also.
My son and his wife Joined us to Karuizawa. We love Karaoke!
Sacred Lotus flower in Toji temple in Kyoto.

Kuzu noodle with real gold syrup at Kanazawa.
Blueberry soft serve ice cream, reward for climbing Happo Peak (八方家根) – A Japanese blogger Mnoru posted beautiful photos of the area. It was a pleasure to meet him and his wife in person in Tokyo…honey, where is the photo we took with them?
01c2a773d2ce60c0fae9aa5bbcda7d7accf67edab5IMG_1763Scan_20140922 (2)

Kiso Bridge (木曽の大橋) In Narai and near by Café Miyama for the famous 100 years old curry (not really, just the recipe) for lunch. 

Asakusa, Kaminarimon in Tokyo, the young rickshaw driver who studied at San Jose University for 2 years, speaks fluent English.

World’s 2nd tallest building – Tokyo Skytree 019a88ebf0e77168033e3dd1e5719e6d7f2eab25fd….saw this view.019905dd82b54804c3fb7fbb8c62e5ed020f4587dc

Enjoy the famous fire works at Lake Suwa.