Mar 31, 2011

happy birthday to me

my birthday is this week. my cake is from le pain quotidien, three layers: moist white cake, a generous layer of chocolate mousse, and a dusting of cocoa powder. it is always delicious. and best of all it is my favorite, especially because i did not cook it! the very delectable taste of pure self indulgence, shared with family and friends!

Mar 22, 2011

tofu and mushroom miso hot pot

4 inches of snow expected in a day or two, time for more japanese hot pot. this time, with tofu and mushrooms and a bit of sweet potato. yum. making this again tonite. real comfort food, with vegetables and a delicious, rich and satisfying broth.

tofu mushroom miso hot pot
4 cups dashi
1/2 cup white miso pate
1/4 cup mirin

first layer
1 large onion, sliced
1/2 cup green or savoy cabbage, chopped intot bite size pieces
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large sweet potato, peeled and thinly sliced, and chopped into quarters

2nd layer
1 pound firm tofu cut into 8 pieces
2 oz harusame or bean thread noodles, soaked in warm water until softened, about 10-20 minutes
4 oz shitake mushrooms, sliced

3rd layer
3 oz shimeji mushrooms
2 oz enoki mushrooms
1 leek, sliced

final layer
2 cups spinach leaves
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced

You make this the same way as the salmon hot pot: layering.

start with mixing your broth ingredients. place the onions in the bottom of your medium large pot. next scatter the cabbage and potato and sweet potato. pour over the broth, bring to a boil and cover, simmer for 3 minutes. add the tofu, bean thread noodles and shitakes. cover, simmer for 5 minutes more. now add the third leayer, simmer for 2 minutes. now add the final layer, simmer for 1 minute more. bring pot to the table and ladle into bowls. enjoy with soup spoons and chopsticks. itadakimas.

Mar 18, 2011

I wish I could cook a hot pot for everyone in Japan

I want to cook for all the people displaced, for all the people who have lost family and friends, for the people with no shelter. I want to give them comfort and strength and nourishment.

Since it is still quite cold in the worst hit regions, I would cook hot pot. Hot pot, or Nabe Hot Pot, is a Japanese comfort food and one-pot meal that is very soothing in cold weather. Japanese eat hotpot all winter long. It is a wonderful dish that goes back hundreds, possibly thousands, of years. Easy to put together. Incredibly delicious, rich, hearty and sustaining. Eating hot pot always warms me up and makes me feel wonderful. You may be familiar with shabu-shabu, which is a hot pot cooked at the table. There are many kinds of hotpot, shabu-shabu is only one of many.

Here are is a recipe for salmon miso hot pot, the most hearty and soothing variety to me. To everyone in Japan I want to say: take comfort, all is not lost, you have many friends all over the world, we want to help.

Warm, Soothing, Wonderful Miso Hot Pot with Salmon

4 cups dashi
1/2 cup white miso
1/4 cup mirin

1st layer
1 large onion, sliced
2 small idaho potatoes, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, and thinly sliced
1/2 head green or savoy cabbage, cut into bite size chunks

2 oz harusame, or bean thread noodles, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes
1 package tofu, cut into 8 pieces
6 oz shitake mushrooms, stems removed, sliced

8 oz salmon filet, sliced, with skin on or off as to your preference

final layer
4 scallions, sliced
8 oz baby spinach leaves

Prepare the broth by combining the dashi, miso and mirin in a bowl. whisk to blend.

Start layering your pot. first place the onion slices, then potatoes and cabbage. Pour in the broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Once the pot boils, cover with a lid and lower the heat to medium. Allow pot to simmer for 4 minutes. Remove the lid and place the tofu, softened bean thread noodles and sliced shitakes on top of the previous ingredients, this time keep the like ingredients clustered together, rather than scattering them over the pan. This will keep the dish very neat looking and beautiful when it comes time to serve. Simmer for 4 to 5 minutes more. Now add in the salmon and cover. Lift the lid frequently and poke the salmon into the liquid, to allow for even cooking. The salmon will take about 5 minutes more of simmering. Now finish the dish by adding a clump of spinach and the scallions in the center. Allow to simmer 1 to 2 minutes more as you press the spinach into the pot.

To serve, bring the entire pot to the table and allow everyone to ladle their favorite ingredients into their bowls.

Dear Japan! The events of the last week, the triple disaster:earthquake, tsunami, nuclear damage, have left us devastated. It is hard to believe things can deteriorate so quickly, so unavoidably. And yet, you are such a strong and resilient country, you have recovered many times before, from the Kanto quake which destroyed Yokohama and half of Tokyo in 1923, to the devastation of WWII. I have great faith in the Japanese people to come back better, stronger than before. Please help Japan if you can.

Mar 8, 2011

shrimp asparagus spinach stir fry

this is a dish i've been returning too often, now that the spring asparagus is in, with it's very thin, grassy stalks. perfect for this dish. this is based on a thai/vietnamese stir fry traditions, but i invented it myself. the prep work takes about 20 minutes but the cooking takes less than 5. so fast. great for a weeknight dinner. kind of want to eat this a couple of nights a week at this point, it is so fast and easy, yet full on flavor.

Shrimp and Asparagus Stir Fry
serves 4

marinate the shrimp for 20 minutes while you chop the other ingredients:
1lb peeled and deveined shrimp
1.5 TBSP fish sauce
1.5 TBSP grated palm sugar (could substitute brown sugar or honey or agave nectar here, but i do love palm sugar in this)
1 TSP minced cilantro stems
place shrimp in a bowl, add in the fish sauce, palm sugar and cilantro stems. stir several times to coat the shrimp in the mixture. set aside.

1 large bunch thin-stalked asparagus, cut into 2 inch lengths
1 large bunch scallions cut into 2 inch lengths
2 cups of baby spinach leaves (4-6 oz)
1 large shallot, minced
5 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 TBSP minced cilantro stems
2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 cup of water

to finish the dish
1 cup of cilantro leaves
juice of 1 lime

get your wok nice and hot. sizzling hot. add in the oil and the garlic/cilantro stems/shallot and shrimp quickly. dont stir for a minute while the shrimp sizzles and sears on one side. then stir. now add in the asparagus. stir again. add in the 1/2 cup of water and cover for 1 minute. maybe 2. until the asparagus is tender/crisp and bright green. add in the spinach and scallions. stir fry for 1 minute. it should be done now. add in the lime juice and cilantro leaves and stir one more time to combine. serve at once with some fluffy jasmine rice. guaranteed deliciousness.

Mar 3, 2011

winter fruit bowl

making lots of noodles, stir fry and soup these days. more on that soon. how are you? it's march, isn't that marvelous? only seventeen days until spring. see you soon. xo, g