Saturday, February 19, 2011

Lunch With Girl Friends

Pre Valentine’s Day celebration

DSC_0016The Friday before Valentine’s Day, I had a few Japanese friends over for lunch. Valentine’s Day was only a few days away so I looked through a few magazines and my newspaper clipping of recipes to find what I thought was perfect recipes for Valentine’s Day theme. Beet soup (pinkish red color was great start for Valentine’ Day lunch), follow by Kale Salad and Short Rib with Chocolate Sauce (Valentine’s Day without chocolate is unthinkable don’t you think?). Finishing out with chocolate ganache cake with chestnut cream. I know that it is not a good practice to try new recipes when guests are coming but I love adventure and challenge (of course there is the chance that guests became victims, but why worry). Anyway, it sounds good on paper. I shopped the day before and was somewhat surprised that quality short rib with bone on are not as cheap as I thought. I had planned to make almost everything a day before but I had oil painting class on Thursday and tons of errands afterward. I’m so exhausted by the time I got home. I fixed cold buckwheat noodle with tempura shrimp for dinner and crashed on the sofa watched ‘Wipeout’ on TV. Yeah I’m really wiped out.

My friends are very polite and kind about the short rib with chocolate sauce so I couldn’t figure out truthfulness of the dish until my husband come home and had left over. Although he didn’t say anything negative he was beaming ‘Please don’t make this again’ via his aura. Using my telepathy power, I sent him ’All right I won’t’  right after I sent him ’Come on, this is not that bad' message first. I confess this was too peculiar taste (I didn’t hate it, perhaps they didn’t hate either but…  not much care for? ) and I felt like I had wasted good beef short ribs and chocolate.


DSC_0061This recipe is from Bon Appetit magazine January 2011 issue. My husband likes kefir which taste like yogurt, he makes from kefir starter (comes in small box at Whole Foods in the dairy section).

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped fennel bulb
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 2 large beets-cut into 1/2  inch cubes
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup unflavored kefirDSC_0052
  1. Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add chopped onion, fennel and fennel seeds. Sauté until soften about 5 minutes.
  3. Add beets and stir to coat. DSC_0054
  4. Add chicken broth and bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium–low. Cook until beets are tender about 20 minutes.
  5. Puree soup in batches in blender. Return to same pan.
  6. Whisk in 1 cup kefir and season soup with salt and freshly ground black pepper .
  7. Rewarm soup.
  8. Ladle soup into bowls. Add a drop of kefir onto soup. Run the tip of a paring knife through the center of drop of kefir to crate a heart shape.


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • Warmed honey (optional)
  • Kale-washed and torn into small pieces, discard woody parts.
  • 1 apple* diced. Soak in lemon water to prevent browning. 
  • 1 red or yellow pepper diced
  • Pine nuts or slivered almond lightly toasted
  1. Mix well olive oil and lemon juice in small bowl using fork.
  2. Put kale leaves in bowl and drizzle olive oil mixture over the top of it.
  3. Add apple, pepper and nuts then mix well to coat.
  4. Salt and pepper to taste. Chill.

* There are new varieties of apple in the market here - Pacific Rose and Opal.DSC_0026DSC_0035

Both are very good but I still like Honey Crisp the best.



  • 10 beef short ribs with bones
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 8 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 stalks celery chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 750 milliliter bottled of dry red wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • Zest of lemon and juice of 1 small lemon
  1. Season ribs with salt and pepper.
  2. In pressure cooker (I used our electric one), brown ribs about 3 minutes then remove from pressure cooker, set aside.
  3. Add garlic, celery,onion and carrots to the pressure cooker. Stirring often, cook for about 6 minutes.
  4. Stir in the wine and broth.
  5. Return ribs to cooker, add bay leaves and thyme. Distribute chocolate over the liquid.
  6. Cover and cook on low pressure about 45 minutes.
  7. Check for tenderness, if the rib is still tough, pressure cook for another 15 minutes on low heat.
  8. Remove ribs to a platter and cover with foil tightly to keep warm.
  9. Pour remaining pan mixture through a strainer into a bowl. pressing out as much liquid as possible from vegetables, skim off fat.DSC_0085
  10. Return liquid to cooker, cover and cook on high heat for about 5 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half.
  11. Return ribs to sauce. Cook until heated through.
  12. Stir together parsley, lemon zest and lemon juice.
  13. Transfer ribs and sauce to the platter, spoon parsley mixture over rib.


DSC_0090My husband wonder why Japanese girls like chestnut cake (mont blanc) so much. I don’t know the answer to that. I like it and all my friends like it. It’s not a common cake in US and some Americans have never even heard about it which I wonder why.

Make Gateau Chocolat

I doubled this recipe to make sure there was enough.

  • 1 package of unsweetened chocolate 113g, break in small pieces.
  • 3 egg whites at room temperature
  • Super fine sugar 40g and 50g
  • 3 egg yolks at room temperature
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder 40g
  • Flour 30g
  • butter 70g at room temperature
  • Heavy cream 120cc
  • Rum flavor extract 1 teaspoon
  1. Line the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan the with parchment paper.
  2. Sift together flour and cocoa powder, set aside.
  3. In a double broiler, melt chocolate and butter, set aside.DSC_0041
  4. In a electric mixer, beat egg white for a few minutes. Add 40g sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Put in a another bowl, set aside.
  5. In the same electric mixer (no need to wash), put egg yolk in and scramble at  low speed  for  2-3 minutes. Add  50g of sugar and beat until lighter in color and texture.DSC_0043
  6. Add melted chocolate, rum flavor and heavy cream. Mix well.
  7. Add flour mixture and fold into the egg/chocolate mixture.
  8. Add half of egg white mixture to the batter, scrape from bottom of the bowl and fold in. After egg white is well blended in, add the other half of egg white and do the same to blend all together.
  9. Pour in pan and bake for about 50 minutes at 320F DSC_0047


  • 1 bag of purchased chestnuts cut in small pieces (about 100g)*DSC_0027
  • Heavy cream 200cc or more
  • Super fine sugar 35g
  • Rum flavoring 1 tsp
  • A jar of heavy syrup chestnuts                    DSC_0002
  1. Put the bag of chestnuts in a food processer and using pulse button, make paste.
  2. Add cream and sugar and mix until creamy. Add more cream if chestnuts are too stiff.
  3. Add rum flavoring and mix well.
  4. Strain through fine mesh then put in piping bag.


  1. Cut gateau chocolat out with round biscuit cutter (2 and 1/2 inch round).DSC_0079
  2. Put small amount of chestnut cream on the cake.DSC_0081
  3. Put sliced chestnuts on top of cream.DSC_0082
  4. Using a small round hole tip, pipe out cream over.
  5. Decorate with whole chestnuts on top.
  6. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

* A friend in Utah who makes fabulous pastries gave me tip about using the inexpensive bag of chestnuts (it only costs around $1 ) instead of expensive WS jar of chestnuts (about $12).


 DSC_0098My husband put all ingredients in our bread machine and rolled it out in morning before he went to work. I appreciate him sprinkling his genuine niceness here and there for me. Although, I was so busy making other stuff that I forgot to check the oven and burned it a little bit but his rolls were welcomed by my friends very much.


One of my friends brought these beautiful roses to me.

DSC_0076 Connecting with friends over lunch is always fun and I’m thankful for their friendship. Right after they left, I started brain storming my next menu. I hope they are not tired of me experimenting with my new recipes on them.


  1. I wish I could find red beets here in Japan and Kale...easily. I don't know why most Americans haven't heard of Macaron's or Mont Blanc (French Pastries).. why is that?

    Do you think as International America claims to be, it's really closed?

  2. i wanna be a japanese friend so i can taste everything on the menu! i'll be there for the next one!

  3. Dear elle marie, I know what you are saying. I wish I could find Japanese style pastries here.

    Dear FootPrints, I want to have a friend like you. We should get together, I will be in Hawaii in May.

    Dear Damaris, Thanks. I wish I'm thin like you so that I can eat more chocolate.

  4. Wow, if you invited the guys over to this party, you can be sure that these tasty treats would have been demolished! :)

  5. All the food looks amazing - and so does the roses and the orchids too.

  6. YES - Mariko and i have been hoping to meet too!!