Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Main Dishes

Fajita Chicken
Spicy Peanut Chicken
Chicken Cacciatore
Chicken Mole Sandwich
Parmesan Chicken
Midevial Chicken Salad
Soysauce & Balsamic Chicken
Penguin Chicken
Turkey Baking Basics

Tofu & Moyashi Itame
Renkon Nimono
Simple Udon/Soba recipe

Shepherd's Cheeseburger Pie

Lebanese Lamb Stew

Takenoko Pasta
Cold Tomato & Basil Pasta
Quick Tuna Pasta

Basil Rice

Jamaican Rice & Peas

Italian tomato & egg torta

Pies, Tarts, Cakes & desserts

Pie Crusts
Basic Pie Crust
Cookie crumb crust

Non Bake Pies
Avocado Pie
Irish Cream Pie
Grasshopper Pie
Mom's Cheesecake
coconut cream pie
pumpkin chiffon pie
Peanut butter Torte

Baked Pies
Fresh Pumpkin Pie
Honey Crunch Pecan Pie
Pumpkin Chiffon Pie
Pear & peach Galette
Buttermilk Cheesecake
*Caramel Pumpkin pie

French Pear Almond Tart

Bill's Big Carrot Cake
Cinnamon Chocolate Cake
German Chocolate cake
Vanilla Poppy Seed cake
Caramel Peanut topped brownie cake

Coconut & Cardomon Rice Cereal
Sweet Potatoe Cassarole
Berry Cobbler
Coconut Bread Pudding

Cardamom Sugar Cookies
Four Spice Cookies
Chewy Oatmeal Cookies
Pistachio Cookies

Frozen Desserts
Olive Oil Ice Cream
Frozen Yogurts
Watermelon Sorbet
Frozen Bananas (rocket science)

Salads & Vegetables
Chilled eggplant salad
Roasted Rosemary Potatoes
Corgettes & carrots "a scapece"
Tomato & Mozzarella salad
Apple Shiso Salad
Breaded Cauliflour
Sticky Saucepan Carrots

Breads, biscuits & scones
Maine Pumpkin bread
savory scones
Al's messed up stuffing
Honey Nut Scones
Apple Muffins
Soup Dumplings
Pumpkin Muffins
Corn Fritters

Yeast breads
Sticky Cinnamon Rolls

Avocado Milkshake
Rum & Coconut Water
Coco C0pacabana
Thai Me Down
Ves-Frenchie's Chill Pill
Macha Ole
Lemon Mint Green Tea

Basic Poultry soup stock
celery soup
Iced tomato & bell pepper soup with salsa verde
Roasted Pumkin Garlic Soup
Carrot & Miso Soup
Carrot & Ginger Soup

Side dishes/Sauces

Avocado Salsa
Miso Mayo Dip
Pumpkin Seeds
Pesto Mayo
Labne (Yogurt cheese)
Caramel Sauce

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Quick Fix #1 -- Tofu Moyashi Itame

Simple food is really the greatest. There’s nothing that irritates me more than a cookbook full of recipes with a list of ingrients and instructions as long as an obi. So I figure I ought to share some of my favorite quick recipes.

I dare not wax poetic or grab a soap-box but you don’t need a lot to make something wonderful. I think that’s why I find Japanese home cooking & Italian home cooking to be so wonderful. ---Simplicity!!

I just had to post this ultra-simple-cheap-healthy recipe, and really, for all of us in Japan, this couldn’t be a friendlier meal. This has become a staple lunch at my house.

They call moyashi, “poor man’s veggie”. But you couldn’t possibly get a more nutrition packed food. (I shall not rant!) Suffice it to say, if I had only 200Y to feed my family on a day, Moyashi would be the daily veggie offering. So here it goes. Credit goes to “Harumi’s Home Cooking” cook book. This recipe is easy enough to make on the fly after a few tries. Here’s how it goes:

3 tbsp of goma oil & 2 of cooking oil
5 packs of momen-dofu (cotton type, you know, the kind that no one seems to like)
2 packs of moyashi
2 heads of chingensai (optional but, worth it!!)
4 blocks of bullion crushed or 2 tbsp of consume (gosh, I hope ambie doesn’t read this)
Salt, pepper & shoyu (to taste)
3 Tbsp shiro goma
Now for the disclaimer about the moyashi. Generally Japanese “top & tail” the moyashi. I’ll admit that it’s mostly cosmetic, but then again the actual sprout of bean has very little nutritional value in it. (most of it is in the stem) So, that being said, if I have the time (sometimes when I’m doing school w/ the kids in the morning). I’ll admit it’s neurotic but I love it.

To prepare the chingensai. Separate the white, thick stem from the leafy green. And cut the stem into 3-4 strips.

Open the tofu & drain it in a sieve. (if you wrap it in kitchen paper it helps keep it together) this is an IMPORTANT STEP: Drain for at LEAST 30 min. to get rid of excess liquid.

Put the goma oil in the pan & put the heat on HIGH. Didja hear that? HIGH!! Then break up the tofu with your hands (aren’t we so rustic) & fry it till it’s sizzling & golden. This will take about 15 min or so. You only have to stir it every once in awhile to get it to “unstuck” to the pan. (if you are using Teflon)
Move the tofu to a bowl, & put 2 tbsp of oil in the pan (lower heat to medium) & put in the chingensai stems & moyashi. Fry for about 1 min. Now drain out any liquid in the tofu & throw the tofu back in. Here's my "handy-dandy-bullion-crushing-instrument-of-science".

Add bullion powder/salt/pepper/shoyu (be liberal, my friends) add leaves of chingensai & fry a minute or two more &, Voila! Top w/ crushed white goma….or not!

Friends, you can’t get much healthier than this. Approximately 1/2 of my children are crazy about this.

Minor important note: Be careful not to try this with silky tofu (kinugoshi-tofu) or you’ll end up w/ a big mess when you fry it. Unless you dig that “soupy-over-cooked-mushy-tofu” look. Ewww!!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Oh lookie.....A link!

I finally found someone I wanted to have my blog linked to. This blog is meant to be a mass of mangled culinary thoughts mashed together like some fantastic Finnish summer veggie soup. And creative genius doesn't come without a price, and that is that it's about 2 steps shy of raging lunatic. Eh-hum. It's a lonely road

So all that to say, I now have a link. I'm not sure where this guy came from. All I know is, my children think that he once fell into a toilet & I'm pretty sure that he could whip cream/knead dough/mash potatoes & carry a 50 L pot of boiling water & pasta with one arm better than any of you. Respect, YO!!

My fellow foodies, I salute the "Muscle n' Meals" man.....JUNIOR. Check it out. Great photography credit goes to Christian. None of this, "one armed mom snapping blurry pics wildly while giving a spelling test" business.

Jr. seems like he's a force to be reckoned with in the kitchen. There is nothing I admire more than someone who dedicates time & energy to an art that at the end of the day ends up in someones intestines. And....he tackles Thai. So 3 cheers for you. I will frequent.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Chicken Mole Sandwich

If someone handed you a 2 kg bag of enourmous chuncks of chocolate what would you do with it? I take it back, I don't want to know.

Truth be told, I’m not terribly fond of making “chocolate” related foods. When it comes to cocao I like it dark & bitter & plain. I don’t actually love chocolate cake, I rarely "crave" chococlate infused sweets that much, I’m not even terribly fond of working with the stuff. Of course I went through the chocolate leaves, chocolate curls phase, but that was more like a science experiment. To be honest, I like something that won’t melt at body temperature. (Baker’s hands not Pastry hands)

My son asked me why we don't eat the cacao bean straight, so I launched into a diatribe about where chocolate came from & how the Incas first used it and how the Westerners first defiled it etc…. It is then that I am hit with a lightning bolt of creativity from the Food God. (Bless his name) I crack open my 100Y Better Homes & Garden’s Grilling Book (Basically a manual for manly men who like to stand outside in a haze of smoke from a burn pit with tongs in one hand & a beer in the other) and find this:

“Would you believe chocolate & Mexican Chili peppers could taste this good?”

So I checked my heart:

4 Chicken Breasts (check)
Giant bag of chocolate (check)
Empty agenda except baby, dinner & oldest 3 kids for school (check-check and double check)

So it basically went like this, this is not word for word “by the books” but this is how it worked for me:

For the Mole
- 1 onion diced
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3 (not Mexican but Korean) dried, deseeded & minced peppers
- 2 tbsp oil
- 85 grams of chocolate
- 1 c water

So you fry the onion & garlic in a skillet till tender & then add the pepper & water. When that comes to a simmer add the chocolate. Oh….there it goes….can’t turn back now. Simmer uncovered for about 3-5 min till it’s thick & throw in the blender & BLEND, baby!

Now stand there with a gleeful smile on your face as your whole household comes down one by one to try to “bum” chocolate off of you & instead discover that you mixed it with garlic. Nya ha ha!!

So the rest is easy as pie:

Set about 2 tbsp of the “mole mix” aside for each Chicken breast. Now cut a slit in your chicken breast horizontal like. This I enjoyed immensely. If you use a sharp knife you can slit the chicken starting at the fatest side & bring the knife around in a half circle but still only leaving a 2 inch incision where the knife when in. Next (forceps, nurse), spoon the chocolate mole into the chicken. Lather the reserved mole mixture on the bottom of the chicken breast (the side without the skin) & then grill on medium low or BBQ. Don’t ask me about timing cuz’ I always just wing it but it should take about 10 min for each side. Add more sauce when you turn it. And I don't know about YOU, but I like my grilled food with a little bit of a burn, makes me feel like I BBQ'd it for real.
Good Lord, that looks great!

Lastly, after you take it off the flame, let it rest for about 30 min. (Ain’t it exhausting being a chicken?)

Now for the avocado spread:

2 avocados
½ c mayo
½ lemon

Do I really need to tell you what to do with that? Keep it chuncky & adjust accordingly. I would’ve added a bit of EV olive oil even.

Now, slice & serve as a sandwich with some bread or Buns, (this is the recipe “all purpose” buns for burgers, works out pretty good) tomatoes & lettuce & avocado spread, I even reserved some of the extra chocolate mole sauce & put that in my sandwich too. And by gosh-golly, I was darn-tootin’ happy with myself. Between serving seconds & feeding mashed grossness to the Muncher, I thought it was a great sandwich.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Spring has Sprung!

If you don't have dirt......get some! If you can't get some....well....remember the "Sandbox" story?
The real point is BASIL. If you haven't yet go get a tiny basil plant, find a sunny place & put it in some dirt & think happy thoughts towards it as you wait till it's big enough to devour. NYA HA HA!!!

If you never ever plant a thing in your life, do this one thing for yourself, your kitchen & your well-being....... plant a little basil. OKEY?

As for me & my house, we're going to try for cherry tomatoes for the kids, though I don't have enough growing space we'll try to break out the planters & stakes & hope for some cute little baby tomatoes to cool us down this summer.

Don't that just make you feel happy?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Bill's Big Carrot Cake!

It's big, it's Bill's, and it's a carrot cake! No more of this oil laiden Concoction to dispose of the excess carrots. This cake is the REAL deal. Imagine people actually “requesting” carrot cake for their birthday? Well, maybe I suffer from “bad-carrot-cake-memory” syndrome. But this cake is really the King of all. Not for the fainthearted. Credit goes to Dorie Greenspan from her book "From My Kitchen to Yours" (Memo: Beware this book will blind you for life! Don't ever read it. Some of my kids would look at the pictures for Parent time till I realized they were getting hyper from just LOOKING at all that sugar.). Of course we must not forget to give credit to Bill. Acording to her book he was (now deceased) a family friend who would bring this over everytime he came visit. (Man, I need a visitor like that!)

Originally "Bill’s Big Carrot cake", we have digressed to calling it “Big Bill’s”. Somehow this chunky funky cake seems so much more appealing if you think of a good old round-Colonial Sanders-portly type of Bill in the kitchen, listening to blues & throwing in handfuls of shredded coconut & (heck) why not some more walnuts, & lathering the whole decadent masterpiece in cream frosting till it was oozing out of the 3 or 4 layered cake.

Here’s one link to the recipe. Mind you be sure to cut the sugar down by half or less, the dried fruit does the work for you. (these Americans, tsk tsk). And it's also so much better the next day. Not that it will survive till then. I would say it can survive fine without walnuts. (stone me, you nut-nuts) But the coconuts are the real clincher! As for the frosting. I used honey (to taste) mixed into the cheese and folded the cream cheese & butter into whipped cream (about 1 c.) to stretch it. You'll need it, for the snitching!

So thanks Bill, You're invited to my part of the heavenly hood anytime you like.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Gotta Love the Sweet Taste of.......

While I meant the best when I decided that I would make a blog & dedicate it to cooking, my visions of grandeur have faded into pitiful little plops of attempts to eek out a blogger’s existence. Have I passed on the Holy wooden spatula to one of my offspring? I wish! On the contrary I’m usually cooking B/L/D. I’ve not been without vision or purpose in the kitchen but everything just seems so ordinary I haven’t had the energy to expound.

But then once in a blue moon you have the opportunity to do something so bizarre & wonderful that you couldn’t possibly pass up the opportunity to brag, (I mean, recount) the experience. And no, I did not partake in a nude mothers-only streaking happening in our blessed Chiba City. (Not that it couldn’t use a good run through the streets in the buff)

Imagine, if you will, someone handing you a whole box full of VERY authentic food from some random & exotic country. Let’s say that there was nothing about this country’s food that particularly appealed to you, merely because you don’t know a thing about the country. And ashamedly couldn’t tell off hand what countries border it. (Ask Lani).

Well, for me this country happened to be…..Mongolia. Hee hee, just kidding, but that would’ve been cool don’t you think? (All that Yak butter) It was indeed LEBANON. Now, what food do you think of when YOU think of Lebanon? Well, I thought of olives & hummus. Though to be honest I couldn’t quite remember what hummus was made of. I was a complete & total newbie to the Lebanese cooking scene. This was a chance I was not going to pass up.

Now, as much as I would like to tell my great tale of wonder. I haven’t the time or the energy. Believe me, I reeeeeaaallly don’t. (when you ask your 2 year old to “keep an eye on the baby” so you can go pee, you know you’re too busy!) So, to make the nice romantic Lebanese cooking experience short & sweet, I did what all dummies do…..Looked online & asked their resident person whose lived in Lebanon. Like, DUHHH!!

This dinner was not “Lebanon-Nippon-style” with shoyu, daikon & white rice. This was authen, gritty & dirty, from the Home-land itself, with (I kid you not) one or two pebbles in the lentils. And the best part was I only had to buy two items, yogurt & parsley!

So here’s what I made, and gosh golly with the Arabic music, candles & ambiance, it was a totally exotic experience (to me) I couldn’t quite understand the blend of tastes, but that’s what made it so fun. But let’s just say, I learned that Lebanese like to use a few main ingredients & if you have these you’re safe:

- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Lemon
- Parsley, Parsley & enough parsley to make a mini forest in your kitchen
- Sesame seeds

NOTE: Green olives of course are in high order, but, oh, well, we are in Japan, not exactly Olive grove capital of the world.

Now to introduce you to my new Lebanese friends I shall show & tell:

This is Labane, it’s strained yogurt-cheese w/ olive oil, garlic & mint (shucks, didn’t have any fresh) Kids loved this the best Here is the side of a container I put it in.… oooh look, it’s a Cedar of Lebanon.
Self explanatory. Kabob, of course I was aussured that the real ones are about 3 times as long. Very basic Mutton/parsely/onion/garlic/s&p mix on a skewer. "Go on Sanjay, hit me with that skewer".Ah, now this boggles the mind. It’s called Tabbouleh. It’s basically a mix of cracked wheat/tomatoes, LOADS of parsley, lemon & olive oil. Think, Lebanese salsa. You eat it wrapped in a leaf of lettuce. I believe this is THE (or one of the) national dishes. Thank God I had Vesna to check stuff by, for authenticity. Apparently it should be about 2 parts cracked wheat & one part Parsley. Oooh, here’s the Lebanese rice. It’s great, I loved it. You just pretend that it’s actually something other than rice. Yes, it is actually “fluffy & crumbly”. You know, where they say in recipes “fluff up the rice before you serve it” and you’re laughing your head off, but REALLY, it does “FLUFF” and you can actually feel the texture of each grain as you eat it. I enjoyed that. So for that we do the fry the rice with butter & bullion before cooking it. In a rice cooker, mind you! (Come on, I had a full school day too) Flat bread! If you can believe, there was actually yeast involved. What’s up w/ that? Don’t ask me why. But it was the recipe! Thank God my two oldest girls helped me roll & fry or I never would’ve made it on time.

This is a lentil soup. Canned tomatoes, potato, lental, onion garlic, bullion & cumin. There was supposed to be spinach but I just didn’t have the heart to simmer spinach for a hr. (could you?) Actually, this was the one that I was the most impressed with. Not kidding, there was lemon in this too. I think that’s what’s made it great. Hummus. And that of course is a dip made of: ground chick peas, ground sesame, LEMON, olive oil & salt. Now, this stuff came from a can & it was pretty good, so just think how good it would be made from scratch. That is if one could find some chick peas. My Ultimate favorite I have no picture of, but it had to be the Zattar. This is a crazy herb mixture of of (get this) oregano, marjoram, sesame seeds &…..oooooh……we can’t forget…………SUMAC, apparently the sumac is what gives it the dark brown/black coloring!! And I got a whole tupperware of this stuff. You can mix it into pretty much anything, meat, soups, toppings for flat bread or a focaccia bread. You mix it with EV Olive oil for a dip, a shiny, thick black goopy lovely mess. The taste was, savory & slightly sour, like pretty much everything I’d tasted of Lebanon, exotic & confusing to the innocent taste buds. But what fun! I lathered myself in it & dove in.

So…’s the full plate!! I was surprised at the kids adventuresomeness (is that a word?) most of them tried it all, but as always the favorites were the breads! All in all the consumption part was like listening to a new album, everything sounds good, fresh & crisp but you can’t recognize anything because you’re just busy taking it all in. I need to listen to it a few more times before I know what I think! But who knows maybe God will drop a few boxes of Lebanese food from the sky!

Cheerio & happy hunting.