Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Burdock and Beef


Jubilation! I feel that and at the same time things get hectic when the holidays are approaching. Our meal selection moves to the ”No-Fuss” zone often (like every day).

A quick inventory of my refrigerator indicates I need to use burdock very soon. This root vegetable is a fairly long survivor in the vegetable bin though, the flavor might diminish and the nutrition value may be questionable…yada yada yada…the bottom line is that I don’t want to throw it away.

It’s not exactly a 30 minute meal but for me it uses the familiar nikomi (煮込み/stewing) method, so no need to see the recipe. It resembles sukiyaki, the sweet beef flavor is just what you need to quiet down your hunger before jumping into the car to catch that new movie starting in 15 minutes!

Ingredients and Instruction for 4 servings (Print Recipe Here)

Necessary equipment: drop lid – use one size smaller pan lid or make with foil

  • 1 burdock
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 300g thinly sliced beef (At the Asian market it is called sukiyaki beef) cut in 2 inch strips
  • 2 cups dashi stock (I used 1 packet of powdered dashi dissolved in 2 cups hot water)
  • 4 Tablespoons of sugar or 4 packets of pure stevia for a sugar-free version
  • 3 Tablespoons of sake
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of soy sauce or tamari sauce for gluten-free version
  • Toppings -1-2 stalks of green onion or mitsuba (三つ葉/Japanese honeywort) chopped for garnish (optional)
  1. Prepare burdock – Do not peel the skin. Scrub and wash burdock with a vegetable brush under running water thoroughly. Slice in 1/2 inch diagonally. Soak in water for 5 minutes, drain. Set aside.DSC_5397
  2. Heat oil in a pan at medium heat. Add prepared burdock and sauté for 3 -4 minutes.
  3. Add beef and dashi stock. When it starts boiling, lower the heat to low. Scoop out scum that appears on top with a spoon and discard into a bowl filled with water to rinse the spoon.DSC_5403DSC_5407
  4. Add sugar and sake and place the drop lid on top. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Add soy sauce and cook for 20 minutes. until the liquid is nearly evaporated.
  6. Heat the pan to high and stir the burdock and beef to intensify the saltiness about 1 minute (All the liquid should be gone at this point).
  7. Serve hot over cooked rice and garnish with chopped green onion or mitsuba, dropping an egg yolk is also a nice move.DSC_5413

Variation – Because I like to have some sauce in rice bowl, I shorten the cooking time – see step #5 and I skip # 6.


For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
or everything Thy goodness sends.

                                                   - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Apple Croustades

From Bon Appétit magazineDSC_5372

I am a recipe hoarder! Now I have hundreds of clipped recipes from the newspaper. I don’t mind waiting for my appointment…it gives me a chance to catch up on gossip… I mean Housekeeping magazine. If I saw a good recipe I just write it down on the back of the some crumpled receipts…my turn already? Just a moment, I’m almost fini… the kind receptionist offer to copy the page and some luck, she allowed me to take the magazine home.

Try to pare down ever glowing old issues of Bon Appetite magazine I subscribe to is a futile effort. I always re-discover the recipes I wanted to try since the first encounter. It sounds Truly Scrumptious! While the song is playing in my head, I checked for the ingredients…need apples yay?

By coincidence, my husband had jury duty that day, there was a tiny mom and pop produce store proximate to the court house. He stopped to get a few new variety apples.You’re the answer to the wishes, Never never ever go away!


May seem presumptuous  but I think this could be great alternative to usual apple pie on Thanksgiving Day. Honest truly, I do.DSC_5381

Ingredients and Instruction for 12 croustades (Print Recipe Here)

For the filling

  • 3 pounds apples Magazine suggested Honeycrisp variety. peeled cored, cut into 1/2 inch cubes. I soaked in lemon water to prevent browning. Note; I sliced horizontally and cut core out with 1 inch round biscuit cutter. See picture below.DSC_5307
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoon water
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, roughly sliced
  • 1/2 vanilla bean pod, split lengthwise and scrape the bean seedsDSC_5318
  • 1-1/2 Tablespoon brandy (optional)
  • ! Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt I used 1/2 teaspoon
  1. Stir sugar and water gentry in a large heavy skillet over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, swirling pan frequently until caramel is golden brown, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Immediately whisk in butter then vanilla and stir well.DSC_5313 DSC_5319
  2. Add apples to pan (do not panic when the caramel ceases up). Return skillet to medium–high heat and cook, stirring occasionally but resist the urge to stir them often so they won’t get too mushy. Add brandy if using. add lemon juice and salt. Toss to coat. Spread out filling on a large rimmed baking sheet. Let cool completely
    DSC_5321 DSC_5323

For Assembly

Necessary equipment – 12 regular size muffin tin, pastry brush

  • 1/2  cup (1 stick) unsalted butter melted and cooled.
  • 9 - 17x12 inch frozen phyllo pastry thawed according to package. I used this organic fillo dough, tastes better in my opinion.DSC_5393
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)
  1. Butter muffin cups and dust with flour, tapping out excess ( I just sprayed with non-stick spray). Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 375F. Unroll thawed phyllo pastry. Carefully transfer 1 sheet phyllo pastry to a clean work surface.- cover the rest with plastic sheet then a moistened towel so that phyllo won’t dry out – lightly brush a thin layer of melted butter onto pastry, then sprinkle with generous 1 teaspoon sugar. Top with another sheet of phyllo and repeat the butter and sugar process for a total of 3 layers.
  3. Cut layered phyllo sheets lengthwise in half, then cut each half crosswise for a total of 4 rectangles. Set aside.
  4. Repeat step #2 and step # 3 twice more with remaining phyllo sheet to make 12 rectangles total. If you have limited space, stack up those rectangles using plastic sheet between them until needed.DSC_5356
  5. Working with 1 rectangle at a time, insert phyllo pastry in muffin cups, gently pressing onto bottom and up the side. Fill each pastry with 1/4 cup apple filling. mounding in center, gather edges of phyllo together above filling to form a purse. Using the left over filing in pancakes is scrumptious as a cherry parfait, we’ve found.
  6. Bake for 27- 35 minutes (rotating pan halfway though) until golden brown on top (with my oven it took about 30 minutes). Let cool slightly before unmolding. Run a paring knife around each croustade. Using an offset spatula, support the weight of pastry from bottom to lift. Do not grab from top, it might tear. Serve with a scoop of ice cream or dust with powdered sugar or both. Do-ahead: Croustades can be made 2-days ahead. Let cool completely. Store airtight in refrigerator. Return to muffin pan and rewarm before serving.DSC_5387DSC_5368

Scrumptious as the breeze across the bay! When you’re smiling, it’s so delicious! ….Don’t you love the song?

Speaking of music, my husband and I plus a group of friends are grateful for the opportunity to have enjoyed a preview concert of Portland Youth Philharmonic the other night. They sounded absolutely fabulous!. My daughter was a member of  this orchestra in her teen years, played violin…again that seems like many moons ago. IMG_2032

May you always have a song in your heart.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Le Marron/栗

Baked Chestnut Rice

DSC_5282Tis the season of chestnuts? I think so… deep in Fall, yearning for chestnuts dishes intensify with love and hate. My feeling of discordance is of course, removing its shells…it’s so darn hard! However, our Autumn won’t pass by without welcoming the shiny brown petite friends.

Although there are many methods to remove the tough outer layer of skin Japanese call it onigawa (demon skin/鬼皮) and inner thin skin called shibugawa (bitter skin/渋皮), right now I prefer pressure cooker method because of no soaking time necessary and quicker…still I don’t feel the love yet at this point.

I say this is French because I borrowed the recipe from a Japanese chef of a French restaurant La Blance I saw in a magazine. I like the uniqueness…yep very original!

Ingredients and Instruction for 4 servings (Print Recipe Here)

  • 20 to 25 chestnuts
  • 3/4 cup multi grain rice (五穀米) I used 8 grain rice mix IMG_2036
  • 1/2 medium size onion minced
  • 3  to 4 slices of bacon roughly chopped
  • 2-3 leaves of cabbage roughly chopped (optional)IMG_2039
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parmesan cheese
  1. Prepare chestnuts – remove two layers of skins.
    Pressure cooker method – carefully  notch the peak of chestnuts in cross fashion first without going too deep. Put prepared chestnuts in the pressure cooker. Add barely enough water to cover the chestnuts. Cover with lid, set to low pressure for 6 minutes. when it finishes, release pressure and remove one with tong. The area you notched should now be opened up, pull downward to remove brown shell. Then with sharp knife peel the inner skin from bottom. Do this as fast as possible while it’s still warm. Repeat for the rest. Note: I leave chestnuts in the pressure cooker pan while I’m working on the others. It will be difficult to remove skin if chestnuts cool
  2. Prepare rice -  Boil about 3 cups of water and add rice. Cook until soft about 25 minutes at low heat. Do this step while you are peeling chestnuts. When the rice is ready strain thru fine mesh. Set aside.IMG_2046
  3. Heat oven to 390F.  Sauté bacon and onion until onion is transparent. Add cabbage if using (cabbage adds sweetness to the dish), cook till wilted. Salt and pepper to taste. Spread them in the bottom of an oven safe dish with at least 2 inch rim.
  4. Assembly – Place drained rice on top of the step #3. Then chestnuts, sprinkling chicken broth is next and finally grated cheese.
  5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.DSC_5273DSC_5279

More chestnuts fair - Japanese style chestnuts nice, a staple fall dish. This with black beans is a little twist on our tradition. The matsutake mushroom savory custard, steamed pork belly with lotus roots and sweet potato was definitely something  to enjoy the full moon the other night.DSC_5255DSC_5259And last but not least, the Almond cream chestnuts bundles are uncomplicated if you use the store bought frozen pastry.DSC_5292DSC_5297I can feel the love finally! ~ Can you feel the love tonight ?~ that’s my favorite song in The Lion King!…wait,  Hakuna matata is my best?…Circle of life?… oh whatever! What’s a-motto with you?

Anyway, I hope you have no worries for the rest of your days!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


Salted Caramel Pumpkin BunsDSC_5231

Cinnamon, pumpkin, caramel…my favorite flavors condensed in this soft and gooey bun. My husband graciously - with little persuasion on my part - re-did this Saturday breakfast for my blog.

Still in the morning darkness, he start prepping for the buns. He has plenty of time to check his emails and game time on tablet while the aroma of cinnamon is working its way into my sleep..DSC_5199


The sweet and salty recipe came from the newspaper clipping. Whoever that author is I think it’s an excellent recipe. Short rising time is great for agenda filled Saturdays.

Ingredients and Instruction for 12 servings (Print Recipe Here)


For the dough

  • 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 and 1/2 cups milk, warmed slightly
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine all ingredients and mix on low until the dough is soft and elastic about 8 minutes.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and and knead several times. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes – use the resting time to make the filling.
  3. Use rolling pin to to roll it out into 12 by 18 inch rectangle. If the dough shrinks back, allow it to rest a little longer before continuing.DSC_5179
  4. Coat a 9 by 13 inch baking pan with cooking spray. Note; My husband just lines a rimmed baking sheet with non-stick parchment paper.

For the filling – make this while the dough is resting

  • 2 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup canned pumpkin He used left over kabocha puree 
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground dry ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together all ingredients. Spread the pumpkin mixture evenly over the rolled-out dough, going all the way to the edge except leave 1 inch of one long side bare.DSC_5174DSC_5183
  2. Starting with bare side, roll up the dough into a log like a jelly roll, pinching the sides to seal.
  3. Using a sharp knife (my husband uses dental floss, go under the log,cross the floss and pull), cut the log into 12 rounds. Arrange them on prepared pan cut side up. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until slightly puffy about 20 minutes.(start heating oven up to 350F after 10 minutes)
  4. Bake for 25 minutes to 30 minutes or until golden brown.

For the caramel glaze – make this while the buns are baking

  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 and 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light cream
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste - My husband used vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon flake sea salt

In a medium saucepan over medium- high heat, combine the butter, brown sugar, cream and cinnamon. Cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes or until slightly thickened. Stir in vanilla bean paste.and salt.DSC_5205DSC_5209

Final touch – Drizzle some glaze all over the buns that just came out of the oven. Sprinkle with more salt flakes if you like. Serve with left over glaze on the side for extra gooiness.DSC_5226If the buns get stale, warm up in microwave for 20 seconds.

I hope you had a fun Halloween. Our church had a Halloween party just two days before. That’s a lot of sugar for one week.
IMG_2020He wore same out fit for Halloween night. IMG_2021
I am not left handed! He thinks it inconceivable that I chose geek costume over dread pirate Roberts for him…Have fun storming castle!IMG_2019Night is long…calls for a great read with fine sandwich – sautéed matsutake mushroom, sliced apple, baby kale and feta cheese.

Have a pleasant Autumn!IMG_2030