Friday, July 25, 2008

SUMMER equals SALAD! --- Miso Mayo Dip!

What I wouldn't give for a Greek Salad w/ Feta Cheese!!!

Well, I’ve been delinquent in posting any recipes these days. Busy summer days & bouts of flu going around didn’t help. Hunter-bunter got Rosiolla, and I got to hug him & hold him for 3 loooong sweaty feverish days. Ewwww. Thank God he's better now!

Summer is not such a kitchen friendly season but someone’s gotta make food. Even if the food is eaten cool, usually it’s got to be heated first to get that way. Right?

I’ve got a catering event coming up & will be working on desserts & some side dishes for a party of 100+. Can you say “FLEXIBLE BUDGET”? I plan on trying a few new things & a few old favorites. Anyone know how to deal with a crown pork ribs roast?

What do you first think of when you think of summer food? I think of salad! Salad, Salad & more Salad! I was never really a fanatic per-se. But thanks to my fanatical S.O. we have spawned a brood of leafy-green munching offspring. I love that you can be forgiven for putting nearly anything in a salad, from eggs, tuna, beans or meats, to fruits, herbs, oils, spices, crumbs, breads, chesses and on & on & on the list goes.

I hope to celebrate the art of salad & dressings over the summer & I promise to stay away from any more coconut recipes.
So since I'm lazy here's a simple "Lunchie-munchie" for you.

I first tasted a miso-mayo dip when someone gave me a taste of a combini carrot & kyuri dip. (You know those plastic cup shaped container with a little dip tray on top costing 220Y or something extravagant like that.)

So this is my staple carrot/cucumber/celery dip and it goes like this:

Measurements are total blatant estimates as I never measure, just taste & adjust

Mayo (1 c)
3 tbsp light miso
2 tbsp sweet chili sauce (Thai type)
Salt & freshly ground pepper
Tobanjan (1/4 tsp, or more depending on your spiciness level)
ignore the honey in the picture, it has nothing to do with the recipe.
PLOP-PLOP!MIX-MIX!!As you can see the mayo I had to work with was a little…eww.....watery, but usually when you whip it up it’s pretty thick. This dip is terribly popular with kids. You know…..a little carrots on your plate of dip.
So that's it! And remember, double dipping is uncool! Happy Lunch!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Gotta love those Italians!

When your husband says that something you made tastes like something in a restaurant, you must then go & blog about it.

I had the "creativity itch" & wanted to try out 3 new items in one dinner with 1 hr. to cook, not the best idea. But as I tend to think, hurried cooking is usually the best.

So, here’s what we had:

Courgettes & carrots “a scapece
Italian tomato & egg torta
Iced tomato & bell pepper soup with salsa verde

I really want to expound on two of these so lets just get the first one over with & say it was “maa-maa”. I was never a zuchinni fan and would’ve never bought these if they hadn’t been on SUPER sale And what I thought would be reeeallly great was just “so-so” (I’d like to know how you say that in Italiano” BTW) of course I didn’t have any fresh mint so it really wasn’t the “real deal” anyway.

Thinly sliced & sauteed courgettes & carrots
Seasoned w/ S&P, & tossed with a wine vinegar & mint dressing with capers. (mine was mintless) I imagined a bright beautiful dish but it was dull in color & I think that seemed to brainwash my palate too & I just felt it was not that great. Though I must say that the caramelized courgettes were pretty darn good. Unfortunately I seemed to be the only one would was even gracious enough to give it an “OK” review. Husband & kids were not fans! Oh, well!

The Popular Torta:
It was a pretty simple dish and lovely of lovelies it can be served hot or cold. Though again, I had to stray pretty far from the recipe as I (unlike some) do NOT have a wheel of Parmesan & Romano cheese in my cellar (if you do, please let me be your friend?) I substituted with the fake Parma & a token amount of Monterrey Jack/Cheddar mix (from Costco). It was fun to make & just as fun to eat.

Basically layering, a little Parmesan, cherry tomatoes, olive oil, (I ended up cutting the tomatoes in halves)Pouring on the blended egg/cream/cheese/basil/salt & pepper mixture. Bake at 200 for 20-25
TA-DA!!! It was pretty good actually & I will be making it again, esp since my husband raved about it.
The SOUP & Salsa Verde:

Oh Joy, this soup made me happy on so many levels. Something about the redness of it & the ice just made me happy-happy-happy. As expected Josh & I were the only true fans, though the kids drank a token bit & tried to be kind about it. (Sweeties!) It tastes better with time (1 or 2 days). Not only that but we had some ice cold at the pool the next day. Then I made a Bloody Mary with it that night, I used the left over for pasta sauce the next day & then for chili sauce the day after.

This was not difficult but the salsa was a bit more time consuming. For the soup: Peeling the tomatoes, chopping red peppers, garlic & chili pepper.
Blending Adding olive oil & tomato juice. Boy, it don't get more red than that.Then the salsa (which will keep for a month) was a blend of: pounded garlic & salt (till it was creamy) chopped anchovy, capers, fresh parsley/basil (again no mint) olive oil, lemon & black pepper.

So you serve the soup with ice & top it with the salsa. Good Lord God Almighty, if you want a good summer soup, this is it. BROTHER, this is THE soup! And I tell you it wasn’t too bad with some vodka & a little xtra crushed pepper after a long day of playing Mommy.
We even brought some with us to the pool, something about sipping on something as gormet as that in plastic cups.

This soup & consequent left-over inventions drew some caveman-like grunts of approval from my tomato loving husband (I believe this is the highest form of appreciation man can give you, it shows his brain has shut down completely to enjoy the food, thus the pre-historic complements) & I have to say I wasn’t terribly disappointed with the pasta sauce it produced when I threw about ½ a cup in with some sautéed garlic & chili with ingen & basil & heated on high for a few min. Or the chilli it produced when I dumped the last of it in a pot with another can of tomatoes & added ground beef & other “chili” flavorings.

Can we just all move to Italy or something?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Why do we endure Japanese Summer's again?

Kakigori, (Shhh, Don't tell Josh!)
Cold Mugicha
Late Night Sashimi
Fresh Tofu with lots of Ginger
Belly-full of Suika
Edamame & beeruuuu......burp!
OK now, go forth......put your goggles back on & dive into your Japanese Summer!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Coconut Bread Pudding

If bread pudding makes you think of a soupy soggy log of mashed bread, baked to form a new & more alarming loaf of mashed bread, look away! Or, look on & be converted. My bread-pudding-wary-10-year-old has finally been converted after this morning. I think the secret is adding a water bath to the baking tray you put the pudding on. That keeps it from drying out, but you still get a crispy top.

I gotta tell you, the coconut cake was a good touch, I was a little wary of trying it but the taste & consistency of the coconut is even better warm than cold, the pieces near the top got all chewy & candy like, with the addition of a coconut sauce…..sigh…….it was almost enough to forgive Mr. Manly for licking his plate and greedy husband going for thirds.

I thought it would have even withstood some canned pineapples but I wasn’t feeling THAT adventurous.

Anyway, here’s the score:

12 c. old bread, cubed (or leave it out overnight)

2 c milk
2 c coconut juice (minus the meat)
1/3 c butter
4 eggs
½ c brown sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
2 blocks of coconut cake (cubed into 1/2 in. bits)

Heat the milk/coconut juice & butter over low heat till the better is melted.
Mix eggs, sugar, salt & nutmeg in large bowl till blended.
Pour bread cubes & coconut cake over eggs & mix (gently, please) till egg goo is incorporated
Add milk/coconut mixture over bread cubes, barely mix & pour into an un-greased 8-12” baking pan. Preheat oven to 180c & set the baking dish in a baking tray filled with water. (add the water to the try after you preheat -- or you’ll never get your oven hot, and before you put the pudding in – or you’ll splash.) bake UNCOVERED for 45-50 min.

Coconut Sauce

½ c butter
1 c brown sugar (owwie-do!)
¼ c coconut liquor

mix butter & brown sugar over medium heat till blended & simmering, add liquor & stir till blended.

How much easier can you get? This is a very simple variation of my even simpler bread pudding, usually with the addition of cinnamon & ½ a c. of raisins & a whisky sauce instead. (the actual recipe that I found only calls for 2-3 tbsp of whisky but I add ¼ c and give everyone a nice warm fuzzy feeling at breakfast.

But nothing makes you feel fuzzier than your 4 year old son surmising, “You know mom, your bread pudding is pretty good, isn’t it?”.

PS. The Whisky sauce is totally righteous on vanilla ice-cream. Ohh-la-la. Use REAL butter and it’s even better!

PPS. If you’re as short on time as me, do the prep the night before & put it in the fridge. It makes for some simple breakfast prep when you throw it in the oven while you’re making your coffee.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Coconut from the Sky!!

Somehow I’m trying not to think about the Bible story I was reading to the kids about the children of Israel who asked for food & got so much quail & manna that……well…….you all know what happened, BAD things came out of their nostrils, that’s what happened.

So, not that this has anything to do with the fact that I just declared I wouldn’t want to use coconut related products for awhile, when lo & behold, God sends a mighty wind & out of the sky drop a couple of cases of coconut juice. (aka. Coconut water with sugar & young coconut flesh) Not to mention the coconut cake (made of coconut meat/tapioca flour/sugar)

Well, instantly my “survival Sam” instincts kick in & I’m thinking what would I make if I was stranded like Tom Hanks in “Castaway” with nothing but boxes of coconut juice & coconut meat.
I’m sure you’ve already come up with something even more inventive & ingenious than I have & I’d love to hear about it, if you have been blessed with several cases or tons of coconut product. But after mulling it over & about 15 minutes on googleI felt hopeful & I hope to hear of the coconutty things we all come up with. First off are the cocktails of course

1. Rum & Coconut Water (I shall try this ASAP)
2 oz amber rum
4 oz chilled coconut water
Ice (And Volia!!)

2. Coco Copacabana – the Barry Manilow tribute cocktail
3 tablespoons coconut flesh 2 measures pineapple juice2 measures coconut water1 measure brandy
Shake pineapple and brandy in a shaker with ice. Strain over coconut flesh in a Martini glass. Freshen with coconut water. Serve with a very large cocktail umbrella.

3. Thai Me Down (snicker snicker)
2 tablespoons shredded coconut flesh 3 measures COCOFINA coconut water1 measure passionfruit liqueur
Shake passionfruit liqueur and half the coconut water in a shaker with ice. Strain over coconut flesh in a highball glass. Add the rest of the coconut water.

What else could we put coconut water in? After about 300ml of that stuff I was pretty sure I should not pawn it off to the kids for BF/Lunch/Dinner.

So, here are a few things I wanna try or thought would be worth mentioning:
- Adding the coconut juice to curry (in place of water) maybe even the meat
- Making rice with coconut juice instead of water (I know, I know, I WON’T MAKE ERASER DUMPLINGS)
- Oatmeal: Make as usual with half milk/coconut water
- Rice pudding: Same as above
- Banana smoothie: bananas, ½ Frozen coconut juice (meat & all) & ½ milk,
- Coconut cream pie: I’m seriously considering trying this by adding the coconut water & some measure of cream for the custard mixture & of course the coconut meat, probably cut into “non-udon-like” bits
As for the coconut cake, well that’s a bit harder as it’s already processed but I’m guessing it would make a great filler cut into bits for sweet breads/cookies/cakes. It would probably be great in granola or fruit salad. Ooohh, what about pineapple upside-down cake.
Well, that’s it but I’m betting that Jr. with his Thai expertise could get a lot more out of this subject. If you have a good idea lemmie know.

I'll end with a frozen cocktail I made with a certain very special Frenchy in mind. Here's to you darling & I shall call this drink "Ves-Frenchie-chill-pill".

This drink for 2 consisted of (roughly) one banana, one 300 ml. can of frozen coconut juice & meat, 1/4 or 1/3 c rum, 4 or 5 tbsp of coconut liquor, 1/4 c milk & 4-5 tbsp of heavy cream. BLEND & VOILA!!

G-nighty night!