Monday, December 17, 2012

Meatless Monday: Spaghetti Squash "Spaghetti"

I love fall and all of the different types of winter squash that are available.  My favorite is delicata squash and acorn squash.  However, spaghetti squash is close behind.  Yum!

I love pasta.  There's no doubt about it!  During the fall and winter though, it's nice to be able to swap out the pasta for spaghetti squash.  Have you tried this stuff?  Not only does it look like noodles when it's done, but it tastes yummy!  I love trading it out on occasion.  It makes a great Meatless Monday meal.  If you're doubtful, consider the increased nutritional content of spaghetti squash and the calories saved by the substitution.

1 c. cooked spaghetti squash                                  1 c. cooked pasta
42 calories                                                              221 calories
10 grams carbohydrates                                          42 grams carbohydrates
2.2 grams fiber                                                        2.5 grams fiber
additional nutrients such as beta carotene 

To cook the spaghetti squash, cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the inside seeds.  Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F.  Place your squash halves on a foil lined baking sheet, cut side up.  Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  
Bake at 350 degrees F for about 30-40 minutes.  Remove your squash from the oven and allow to cool.  When the squash is cool, take a fork and run it through the squash to create spaghetti strands.   
Here, I served it with frozen homemade marinara sauce from my garden tomatoes and Parmesan cheese for a quick and easy Meatless Monday meal!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

If you've ever been to Hawaii, you know that we love our macaroni salad.  If you order a plate lunch in Hawaii, chances are that you'll get it with a side of macaroni salad.  I was tasked with making the said macaroni salad for my niece's birthday party.  There's not really a recipe for macaroni salad.  Everyone adds their favorite ingredients.  You just want to make sure everything is well seasoned with salt.  You also want to make sure your macaroni salad isn't too dry (add mayonnaise) but I also don't like macaroni salads that have too much mayonnaise.  I feel that this salad tastes best with Best Foods brand mayonnaise but to each their own.  Personally, I don't like chomping into raw onions so I grate my onions just to get the onion flavor and liquid.  Feel free to dice your onions if you like.  I sometimes switch things up by adding imitation crab or thinly sliced cucumbers too.  This recipe make a lot of macaroni salad (but it's soooo good!).  Enjoy!

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
8 eggs
5 large potatoes, peeled & cut in half lengthwise
1 lb elbow macaroni
1/2 large onion, grated
2 carrots, peeled and grated
1/2 pkg. frozen peas
Best Food mayonnaise
salt and pepper
paprika (optional)

1)  Bring a medium to large pot of water to a rapid boil.  Add peeled & halved potatoes to the water.  Cook until the potatoes are soft and cooked through (about 10-20 minutes).  Drain and cool potatoes.  Dice potatoes into small cubes and add to a large mixing bowl.  

2) Using the same medium to large pot, bring salted water to a rapid boil (for macaroni).  At the same time, add eggs to a medium pot (with a lid) and fill with water until just covering the eggs.  Place on a medium-high heat and bring to a rolling bowl.  Once the water with eggs in it is boiling, cover the pot with the lid and turn off heat.  Allow the eggs to sit in the hot water for about 10-15 minutes.  Once done, drain water and allow eggs to cool.  Once eggs are cool, peel and dice into small pieces and add to the large mixing bowl with the potatoes. 

3) Once the larger pot's water has come to a boil, add the elbow macaroni to the well salted water.  Cook macaroni according to package directions (at least 8-9 minutes) plus a few extra minutes.  True Hawaiian macaroni salad uses pasta that has been cooked past al dente (it's usually well cooked-soft and fat).  But use your own judgement and taste.  Drain pasta and cool.  Transfer pasta to the large mixing bowl with the potatoes and eggs.  

4) Place the half package of frozen peas in a microwave safe bowl.  Add about 3 Tbsp. water and cook on high for about 3-4 minutes.  Stir.  If peas are not cooked through and hot, repeat.  Drain peas and when cool, add to the mixing bowl.

5) Add the grated onions and grated carrots to the mixing bowl.  Add about 1 cup of mayonnaise.  Salt and pepper your salad and mix well.  Continue to add mayonnaise 1 Tbsp at a time until you salad is as to your liking.  Continue to season with salt as needed.  Cover the salad and place in the refrigerator for a few hours to allow the noodles to absorb the mayonnaise and flavor.  

6) Once you're ready to serve the salad, you may find you will need to add more mayonnaise.  If you like, sprinkle the top of the macaroni salad with paprika.    

Witch's Brew

I made this punch for my niece's birthday party.  She picked the Disney movie, Brave, as her party theme.  If you watched the movie, you'll know there was a witch in it.  I found this recipe online and adapted it by adding only 1/2 of the amount of sugar the recipe called for.  I can't imagine adding the full amount.  It would be way too sweet!!  

Witch's Brew
Adapted from Southern Living, October 1998
1 c. sugar
2 quarts (8 cups) water
2 (0.13 oz) envelopes lime flavored drink mix (I used Kool Aid)
1 (46 oz) can pineapple juice
1 qt. ginger ale

1) Stir sugar and 2 quarts of water until the sugar is dissolved.  Stir in the remaining ingredients.  Chill.

**For a scary presentation, place the punch bowl into a larger bowl that contains dry ice.  Add water to the dry ice to create the "foggy" effect**

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Cute Handmade Macrame Bracelets

Back in October while I was visiting the Las Vegas family, I made these bracelets for my two older nieces.  Cute eh?  It's pretty simple and cute.  I love how fun and colorful they are!  And aren't my hand models just lovely??  

It was a dark and stormy night...

and sometime you just feel like a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup!

I dug out this tomato soup out of the freezer.  I had made it this summer using fresh heirloom tomatoes from the garden (*sigh* I miss my summer garden).  It was enough to take the chill out of the night.  It's supposed to be a precursor to Creamy Heirloom Tomato Soup and you're supposed to add cream but I didn't have any on hand.  I just had it as is.  It sure hit the spot!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Meatless Monday: Okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake)

Okonomiyaki is one of my favorite Japanese street foods.  It's referred to as a Japanese pancake or pizza.  To me, it's neither.  It is, however, damn good!  There is no real set of ingredients.  In Japanese, okonomiyaki translates to "what you like" (okonomi) and "grilled or cooked" (yaki).  You can really add whatever you want to it.  I made a seafood okonomiyaki with baby shrimp and cooked octopus.  I added napa cabbage and green onions for my vegetables. 
Other ingredients you'll need to make your okonomiyaki can be found in most Asian markets.  I used actual okonomiyaki flour but there are recipes out there using plain all-purpose flour.  The flavor won't be the same but you can use it if you don't have access to the okonomiyaki flour.
I made my okonomiyaki in a small omelet skillet.  My first attempt failed as I was unable to flip the okonomiyaki well.  My second attempt went better.  I made my okonomiyaki smaller and found 3 servings per recipe to work well.  

Okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake)
Serves 2-3 (depending on size of your pancakes)
1 c. okonomiyaki flour
2/3 c. water
2 eggs
3-4 c. Napa cabbage, sliced very thinly
2 stalks green onions, thinly sliced diagonally

Suggested fillings:
1/4 c. tenkasu (tempura bits)
1/2 c. cooked shrimp
1 oz. beni shoga (red pickled ginger)
1/2 c. cooked octopus

Kewpie mayonnaise
Okonomiyagi sauce
Nori Goma Furikake (seaweed and sesame seed flavored)
Katsuobushi (bonito flakes)

1) In a large bowl, whisk the okonomiyaki flour and water until a smooth batter forms.  

2) Add eggs, napa cabbage, green onions and other filling ingredients to the bowl.  Mix until just incorporated.  Do not overmix the batter.

3) Oil a griddle to 400 degrees F or use an oiled pan over medium-high heat.  Add batter to the pan.  Using a spatula, flatten and form pancakes until they are about 3/4 inches thick.  

4) After about 3-4 minutes, flip the okonomiyaki and cook for an additional 4 minutes or until firm and well browned.  
5) Remove your okonomiyaki to a plate.  Use a pastry brush to brush the top of your okonomiyaki with okonomiyaki sauce.  Drizzle Kewpie mayonnaise on top of okonomiyaki sauce.  Sprinkle furikake and katsuobushi on top of the pancake and serve.  

Sunday, December 9, 2012


Back in October when I was in Las Vegas visiting my brother and his family, my oldest niece requested shrimp tempura for dinner (she always asks for it!).  My sister in law had wanted to try sukiyaki.  

Although I order it once in a while at the Japanese restaurant and my mom and grandma used to make it all the time growing up, I have personally never sukiyaki.  How odd!  It has some of my favorite ingredients-tofu, beef, noodles, napa cabbage.  It is also easy to make (hot pot) and is a true Japanese comfort food.  Traditionally, sukiyaki is served table side as a hot pot.  Guests add ingredients and cook the ingredients to order.  I made mine on the stove and cooked all of the ingredients at once to serve family style.   

I made it one night to go with the shrimp tempura.  It turned out really good.  I love the sauce and was concerned the recipe I was following wouldn't have enough so I doubled the sauce portion of the recipe.  The recipe that follows is the original portions for the sauce.  Just double it if you want more.  I would probably leave it as is for next time.  I didn't have pre-made dashi for this recipe.  Instead, I used 1/2 a packet of powdered dashi diluted in 1 cup of water.  Adjust to taste.  We served the sukiyaki over rice with the shrimp tempura on the side.  Yum!!    

Adapted from: Saga Wagyu Sukiyaki recipe by Masaharu Morimoto at 
Serves: 4-6

about 1 lb. thinly sliced beef, cut into bite-sized pieces
oil (for cooking beef)
1 package shirataki noodles (yam noodles) or cellophane noodles (bean noodles)
1/2 c. mirin
1/2 c. sake
1/3 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. sugar
1 c. dashi
8 oz. firm tofu, sliced into 1 inch cubes
2 c. napa cabbage (about 1/2 a small head), cut into 1 inch lengths
1 small daikon, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
2-3 stalks green onions, sliced into 1 and 1/2 inch pieces
12 oz. fresh shitake mushrooms, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 package enoki mushrooms, trimmed 

1)  Cook noodles according to directions on the package.  Most noodles follow this simple technique: Boil water.  Place dry noodles in a large heat proof bowl.  Pour boiling water over the noodles and allow to sit until they are cooked.  Drain.

2)  Pour a little oil into a large pot over medium-high.  Add beef and sear them lightly.  If the beef slices are thicker, you may consider cooking it through.  Removed beef from the pot and reserve to a plate.

3)  Add mirin, sake, soy sauce, sugar and dashi to the pot on medium-high heat.  Mix and heat until the sugar is dissolved.

4)  Add the tofu, napa cabbage, daikon, green onions and shitake mushrooms.  Bring the pot contents to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the daikon is soft.  Add the enoki mushrooms and cook for an additional few minutes.  

5)  If you like, you can add more dashi or water to make more sauce.  You can either add noodles to the pot and heat through or add noodles to your bowl and spoon sukiyaki and sauce over the noodles.  Serve hot.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Chia Cherry-Lime Fresca

I recently have been on a chia seed kick recently.  You can read my reasons for including chia seeds in your diet in this post.  I recently purchased a drink a Whole Foods that I loved.  It was from a company called Mamma Chia and it was their Cherry Lime drink with chia seeds.  I liked the drink but really?  I could make this at home.  It's easy and tasty!  Note that you will need unsweetened cherry juice for this recipe.  I bought this brand, L&A.  I made some in Las Vegas for my brother and he bought a tart cherry juice.  Not the same!!  Too tarty!!  Adjust the portions to the size of your pitcher or container.  

Chia Cherry-Lime Fresca

2 c. water
1 c. unsweetened cherry juice (I liked the L&A brand)
2 Tbsp. agave 
5 Tbsp. chia seeds
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice (about 1 lime)

Mix all ingredients in a container and refrigerate overnight.  Serve cold.  

Friday, December 7, 2012

Pot Luck - Hawaii Style

I have tons to post but such little time.  I do feel a little guilty though after several family members commented to me that they visit my blog often only to find the same posts.  *Blush* 

Okay, a few easy posts first....

Last month, one of my coworkers left us for another job.  WAAAAHHH!!!  I was lucky enough to get to work with him on his last day.  He enjoys food from Hawaii so for his last day of work, we had a small pot luck for him.  I told him I would make him one of Hawaii's specialty....Spam musubi.  

I know if you're not familiar with our weird foods, you're probably totally grossing out right now.  Yes, we eat spam.  I don't indulge very often but when I do, it's a spam musubi! 
I make mine teriyaki style with a sprinkle of furikake.  Delicious!  He loved it!

I also made him some Korean chicken to go along with the rice.  Fried chicken is dipped in a spicy teriyaki sauce.  Yummo!  

It was sad to see him leave but I wish him all the best!  For a going away present, I gave him an assortment of Hawaii goodies including a can of spam, a spam musubi maker mold, some nori and furikake.  Hopefully he can make his own spam musubi whenever he wants!

Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

I've been MIA for a while.  When I finally decide to come back to post I ran into a hiccup.  My Picasa storage reached it's limit and I now have to pay for storage.  Grrr!!!  

Here's an easy side dish for the cool season.  I love roasted Brussels sprouts!  I bought these from Trader Joe's attached to the stalk.  Talk about fresh!!  I usually roast these with olive oil and garlic.  This time I added some balsamic vinegar.  It gave it a nice glaze.  Yummo!

Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts
1 - 1 and 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
freshly ground pepper

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2) Clean up your Brussels sprouts if needed.  Peel the outer brown layers and trim the ends.  Cut the Brussels sprouts in half and rinse in a colander with cold water.  Drain.   

3) Place Brussels sprouts in a bowl.  Toss with garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.  

4) Line a baking sheet with foil.  Spread Brussels sprouts out on the baking sheet in a single layer.  

5) Roast the Brussels sprouts for 30 minutes.  Stir twice to prevent burning.  

6) Remove from oven and serve.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Happy 6th Birthday Arianna!!

I back posted this entry to December 1st.  My oldest niece turned 6 today.  She had her birthday party on the same day.  She decided on the Disney movie Brave as the theme for her birthday party.  

My brother made a stunning birthday cake for her.  Cute!!
My sister-in-law made bear paw brownies for the party.  They were tasty!
She also made cake pops for Arianna to take to school.  
Most of the party food was taken care of.  Aunty Holly was volunteered to make a macaroni salad (recipe to follow).  I also volunteered to make a cool looking Witch's Brew to go along with the Brave party theme (recipe also to follow).  

The decorations were simple, just aqua, purple and blue balloons in the Brave color scheme.  I made little wisps to hang from the ceiling.  They were made with tissue paper cover blue mini glowsticks.  They looked cool with the lights turned down.  I didn't get a good picture of them.  This was it.

Happy 6th Birthday Arianna!  Aunty loves you!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Panko Shrimp Tempura

I went to Las Vegas to visit my brother and his family a few weeks ago.  Once again, I was tasked by my oldest niece (she's almost 6 now) to make shrimp tempura.  She loves this stuff!  I keep meaning to coat the shrimp tempura with panko each time I make it but have never remembered to do it.  This time I actually remembered.  The shrimp actually looked better coated with panko and seemed fluffier without being doughy.  My sister-in-law told me to remember the recipe for next time because it was a winner!  It may also have been that we got larger shrimp this time (from the Asian store).  But I did like the texture the panko gave.  It was nice and crunchy.  In any case, I'm noting the recipe here for my next visit to Las Vegas!

Panko Shrimp Tempura

12 large shrimp
1 large egg
1 c. ice water
1 c. all purpose flour, sifted
additional flour for dusting
vegetable oil for frying
tempura dipping sauce (optional)

1) Remove shells from the shrimp and devein them.  Keep the tails in place and make 2-3 incisions on the stomach side of the shrimp and lightly press the back of the shrimp to straighten them.

2) Start heating up your oil in a large pot (about 3 inches deep but do not overfill pot).  Heat to about
340-350 degrees F.

3) Prepare your ice water (you will need ice cold water, not just cold tap water).  Fill a glass with ice cubes and add water.  Reserve for batter.

4) Dry shrimp well on a paper towel.  Season the shrimp lightly with salt on both sides.

5) Beat an egg in a bowl.  Add 1 c. of the reserved iced water to the bowl.  Add the flour and mix lightly.

6) Lightly flour the shrimp.  By the tail, pick up the shrimp and dip into the tempura batter.  Then roll the shrimp in panko.  Deep fry the shrimp until they are golden brown and crispy.  Remove the shrimp to a paper towel to soak up the excess oil.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Spinach Salad with Seared Scallops, Leeks and Tomato Water

When I can my salsa, I usually drain the tomatoes.  This usually leaves me with some yummy tomato juices or tomato "water".  Besides making an awesome bloody mary, I never know what to do with the juice.
I found this recipe while looking for ways to use my tomato water.  It seemed interesting enough.  I had some spinach that was waiting to be eaten as a salad.  I decided to layer the dish on a bed of spinach for a yummy salad.  The recipe turned out really well.  I used the tomato sauce as a dressing for my spinach.  I will definitely file this recipe away for the next time I find myself with tomato water.

Spinach Salad with Seared Scallops, Leeks and Tomato Water
Serves 1
Adapted from: The Washington Post, August 15, 2012
a few handfuls of baby spinach
1 medium leek, white and light green parts
1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
6 sea scallops
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 c. tomato water

1) Arrange the baby spinach on a plate and set aside.

2) Trim the root end of the leek.  Slice the leek in half lengthwise, beginning at the base end, but don't cut all the way through; this will allow you to loosen the layers of leek with your fingers as you rinse it thoroughly under cool running water.  Shake the leek dry and pat it dry with paper towels.  Slice it crosswise into thin half-moons.

3) Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the leek and cook for 1 minute, stirring, then reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until the leek softens and just begins to brown, 3-4 minutes.  Remove leeks from the pan to your bed of spinach.  

4) Wipe any remaining bits of leek and oil from the skillet.  Add the butter and heat over medium-high heat.  Lightly season one side of each scallop with salt and pepper.  When the butter has melted and heated for a minute, add the scallops and cook for about 1 1/2 minute on each side, until barely opaque and lightly browned.  

5) Remove the skillet from heat and arrange your cooked scallops on your bed of leeks and spinach.

6) Return the skillet to the heat and add about 1 c. tomato water to the skillet.  Cook until the liquid in the pan has reduced to about 4-6 Tbsp and thickens.  Turn off heat and drizzle the sauce over the scallops, leeks and spinach salad.  

Friday, October 5, 2012

Spicy Bacon Tomato Sandwich

Sometimes it's one of summer's guilty pleasures!  Who can resist a ripe tomato and bacon?  I didn't have lettuce so I made a double tomato bacon sandwich.  To change things up a bit, I mixed mayonnaise with some chili garlic sauce to make a spicy mayo.  
Yummy!!  I'll be sad when there's no more garden-ripe tomatoes.  Until then, I'll keep enjoying my guilty pleasure!

Restaurant Ramblings: Cafe Presse (Seattle, Washington)

Before leaving Seattle, I decided to stop for breakfast to fuel up for the 3+ hour drive back to Portland.  I picked a French restaurant in the Capital Hill district of Seattle.  It's a small cafe that was rumored to serve delicious meals.
I got a cappuccino to start.  I was torn on what to order for breakfast but after asking the server what his favorites were, I was sold.  One Croque Madame please!  Oh and who could resist an order of Pomme Frites?  
The croque madame was delicious!!  It was like being in Paris.  Their fries were also delicious.  Not greasy at all.  It's served with a side of their house spiced mayo.  I'm usually not a fan of mayo and definitely into using it as a dipping sauce for french fries.  But I have to admit it was yummy and a little addictive!
If you're ever in the Capital Hill district of Seattle, check this place out.  Yummy!

Cafe Presse
1117 12th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98122
ph: (206) 709-7674

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Restaurant Ramblings: U:Don (Seattle, Washington)

I was in Seattle for less than 24 hours this past weekend.  I had big plans for eating.  I was going to try to squeeze in as much food as I could.  I got to Seattle at about 4:30pm on a Sunday.  I was starving by then (having skipped lunch thinking I could double up in Seattle).  I was staying in the University district of Seattle, near the University of Washington campus.  I had originally planned a Japanese food binge (sushi) but in my research, I read about a new udon shop that had opened this year on "The Ave" near the university.  Since I was within walking distance, I decided to give it a try.  Bonus: they made all the udon noodles in-house! 

The small eatery is call U:Don (pronounced You-don).  I instantly loved the sign.  Who could resist a restaurant name with a happy face imodicon in it?  :D 
Inside, you'll find a very clean and contemporary space.  The noodles are served cafeteria-style and you are responsible for bussing your own table.  Just que up in like.  Look over the board for your choices.  Here's the Cliff Notes version for ordering:

1) Select your noodles: There are currently 8 choices on the menu and some come in hot or cold form.
   - Soup Udon: udon noodles served hot in an original dashi broth with sliced green onions and grated fresh ginger (vegetarian broth also available) 
   - Sauce Udon: udon noodles served hot or chilled and lightly dressed with dashi-shoyu sauce, sliced green onions, fresh grated ginger & ten-kasu
   - Zaru Udon: udon noodles served chilled with a fragrant soy dipping sauce, sliced green onions, grated fresh ginger, ten-kasu and wasabi (upon request) to add to your dipping sauce
   - On-tama Udon: udon noodles served hot or chilled and lightly dressed with dashi-shoyu sauce, an on-tama (hot spring egg), sliced green onion and grated fresh ginger
   - Oroshi Udon: udon noodles served hot or chilled with generous helpings of grated daikon radish, dashi-shoyu sauce, sliced green onions, grated fresh ginger and a lemon wedge for squeezing
   - Niku Udon: udon noodles served as soup or sauce noodles with sukiyaki braised beef, onions, sliced green onions and grated fresh ginger
   - Kitsune Udon: udon noodles served hot with extra thick fried and marinated tofu (atsu-age), sliced green onions and grated fresh ginger
   - Curry Udon: udon noodles served in a spicy Japanese curry dashi soup with beef, onions and sliced green onions

2) Select your bowl size: small, medium or large

3) Select your toppings and sides: Along the line, there are small plates.  Grab one and grab as many sides as you like (remember each is priced individually).  They'll add up quickly but you'll want to try one of everything.  Among your choices are fried tempura (I love that you can choose which ones you like) - they have shrimp, sweet potato, kabocha squash and other varieties.  They also have karage fried chicken (yum!) and onigiri rice balls.  They even have takoyaki (double yum!).  Don't forget to sprinkle some free tempura bits on your udon noodles while at the noodle counter.  

4) At the register you'll pay and be able to order drinks and/or dessert.  

Pretty simple eh?  For me, I ordered the medium on-tama udon that came with the egg.  I got mine with the hot soup and some fresh grated ginger.  I sprinkled some tempura bits in my soup and topped it off with a sprinkle of shichimi togarashi (available at the table).  I also couldn't resist one piece of karage fried chicken and a takoyaki skewer.  My dinner came to $10.   
This place totally reminded me of a udon noodle shop I visited while in Tokyo.  It's the same concept.  If you're looking for a flavorful bowl of noodles like pho, nabeyaki udon or ramen, you probably won't like or appreciate this type of udon.  This is the Sanuki-type of udon and is popular in the Kagawa prefecture of Japan.  It's more of a simple yet delicious bowl of noodles.  The noodles are served slightly al dente in a simple dashi broth.  I read an article during my research that the owner ships in ingredients from Japan.  That should speak to his love of a good bowl of noodles! 

The noodles at U:Don are handmade.  The owner ships a specific wheat flour over from Japan that he feels has the right protein and gluten content.  Handmaking udon noodles is a loving process.  It is proofed (or allowed to rise) at two different temperatures, once for 2-4 hours and again for 18 hours.  For me, the udon noodles were delicious.  It had just the right amount of chewiness to make it a slurpy delight!  Have I told you how much I love noodles???

The broth was also delicious.  It is pure and comforting.  Here, the owner imports anchovies and sardines from Japan to make the broth.  It's a process that takes 2 days to make.  

The on-tama egg (hot spring egg) is named because in Japan, eggs are sometimes cooked in the hot springs.  The hot springs are at a perfect temperature for cooking an egg.  When you crack the egg, it is not hard boiled but very softly boiled.  The whites should be completely cooked and the yolk heated through but still runny.

The karage was good but small pieces made me feel that I didn't get my money's worth.  The takoyaki however was delicious!  I haven't had takoyaki in a long time.  Takoyaki is a ball shaped snack made of a wheat flour batter, minced or diced octopus, tempura scraps and green onions.  They are cooked in a special takoyaki pan or mold.  It is then covered with a sauce (usually mayonnaise or teriyaki).  It is a popular street food in Japan and so yummy!  It was so good, I seriously debated whether to get some to go for a midnight snack.  I resisted...this time.

If you happen to be near the campus of University of Washington in Seattle, be sure to check this place out.  I emailed the owner when I got home to thank him for a great bowl of noodles and to beg shamelessly for U:Don to come to Portland.  I even pretty pleased him.  His response?  Yes, he did email back!  He's working on opening a second location in Seattle but thinks Portland maybe a great place for U:Don.  "We will be there in the near future, I promise!"  A promise is a promise and hopefully he is one that keeps his promises! :D

You're probably wondering, "Wow, I wonder if she ate all of that food?"  The answer is heck yeah!!  And I enjoyed every last bite of it.  I was so full but I didn't care.  It was a small price to pay to be transported to Japan (if only for a little while).  What are you waiting for?  Go get your noodles on!

4515 University Way NE,
Seattle, WA 98105
ph: (206) 453-3788

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Roasted Hatch Green Chile and Tomato Salsa

I have a lot of Hatch chilies packed away in the freezer.  I tried this recipe with those chilies and some fresh home-grown tomatoes.  The result was a delicious homemade salsa that was a hit with the co-workers!

Roasted Hatch Green Chile and Tomato Salsa
Serves 4-6
Adapted from: (submitted by: nannydeb)
1 medium-hot Hatch green chile
2 Roma or other variety medium tomatoes, cored and quartered
1/2 medium sweet onion, cut in chunks
3 cloves garlic
olive oil
1/4 c. chicken broth (homemade if possible)
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2) Toss the whole green chile, cut tomatoes, onion and garlic with a little olive oil and place them on a baking sheet.

3) Roast the vegetables for 25-30 minutes, stirring them a couple of times during the roasting.

4) Once the green chile has started to blister, pull it out (leave the rest of the vegetables until they're done).  Place the green chile in a paper sack, ziploc bag or bowl covered with plastic wrap for 10 minutes to sweat.

5) Wear rubber gloves for this next step.  Peel the skin off the pepper and cut off the stem of the pepper.  Remove all of the seeds.  Set chile aside.

6) Once the rest of the vegetables are done roasted, pull them out of the oven and cool until they can be handled.  Place all of the vegetables in a food processor.  Add the chicken stock, lime juice and cumin and pulse blend to your desired consistency.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

**Linking up to Robin's Thursday Kitchen Cupboard at The Gardener of Eden**

Hatch Chilies

Earlier in August, I got my hands on some Hatch Chilies from Whole Foods.  Hatch chilies are grown in New Mexico and are heavenly!  I bought a whole case (25 pounds) of 1/2 mild chilies and 1/2 medium chilies.  I spit the box with a friend.  It was $40 for the box.  As an added bonus, they roast them for you.  
Once you get them home, the skins need to be peeled off.  I would have de-seeded them too but I was too lazy after all the peeling.  I packed them in food saver bag and froze them in the freezer until solid.  Once they were frozen, I sealed them in the bags.  I'll keep them in the freezer until I need them.  

I've already tried a few recipes using the Hatch Chilies.  Here's some of them:
- Hatch Chile Verde
- Roasted Hatch Green Chile and Tomato Salsa

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Canning Salsa

I've been busy trying to preserve the rest of the summer harvest.  I used home grown tomatoes and jalapenos.  I used half paste tomatoes and half heirloom tomatoes to make 2 batches of salsa.  I made one batch medium heat with 5-6 jalapenos (without seeds) and one batch hot by adding 2 habeneros peppers with 5 small jalapenos.  In the past I tried to make a hot salsa with just jalapenos.  It never turns out hot.  This time it had a nice kick to it! 
I ended up with 12 jars of canned salsa.  Yum!!  

Restaurant Ramblings: Boke Bowl (Portland, Oregon)

Hmmm, I guess it's been a while since I've blogged about restaurants.  What's going on here?  I had been wanting to try Boke Bowl for a while now.  Boke Bowl started as a pop-up restaurant and now has opened in a permanent space in the industrial area of the East bank of the waterfront, near OMSI.  

One of the main reasons I've been hesitant on trying this place out is because I *heart* ramen.  However, after reading reviews, people had been disappointed in the pork ramen here.  The last thing I needed was to be disappointed by another bowl of noodles.

I decided to be brave and try it out for once and for all.  You order at the counter then get a cool wooden number.  Take the number to a table and it fits in the groove in the middle of the table.  The wait staff will find you when your order is ready.

It was really difficult deciding which ramen to get.  They all sounded delicious.  My cashier recommended the vegetarian soup.  The reviews I had read were about the pork dashi.  It wasn't authentic and was too contemporary.  

Rather than set myself up for disappointment, I decided to take the cashier's recommendation.  I ordered the Caramelized Fennel Dashi Ramen (japanese eggplant, seasonal rice cakes, pea shoots) for $9.  I should add that they make their own noodles in-house.  In fact, while I was there, they were making fresh noodles.  My cashier also recommended adding the House-Brined and Smoked Tofu for an extra $2.  I happily agreed. 
If you set aside all pre-conceived notions of what "authentic" Japanese ramen should taste like, you'll be in ramen heaven.  The caramelized fennel broth was delicious!  It had a very nice flavor.  The house made noodles were also delicious and had just enough spring and chewiness!  My tofu also did not disappoint.  Wow!  

Of course, I wasn't done trying things.  These are their steam buns.  You can pick 3 buns per order for $7.  I chose (from left to right) pork belly, Korean pot roast and miso mushrooms.  I took these to go to enjoy later.  However, they charge a to-go fee.  My cashier said to avoid the fee, she would send out the steamed buns to the table and to-go boxes were self-serve so I could pack them up and take them with.  Good idea!  I enjoyed these later and my favorites were the pork belly and the miso mushrooms.    
I also took this home for dessert.  It's a DonutOrama Crem Brulee Doughnut.  Delicious!!

I will definitely be back for the novelty ramen.  Maybe, just maybe, I'll be brave enough to try the other broths.

Boke Bowl
1028 SE Water Ave
Portland, OR 97214
ph: (503) 719-5698  

Monday, October 1, 2012

Creamy Heirloom Tomato Soup

I had an over abundance of heirloom tomatoes a couple of weeks ago.  I found this recipe while looking for ways to preserve my summer harvest.  The secret to this soup is NOT to use paste or other canning tomatoes.  Use only the freshest and tastiest heirlooms from the garden.  The tomatoes need to taste good.  I made this soup with the mystery tomatoes that I think are Anana Noire and some Amana Orange tomatoes.  I had enough for about a double recipe.  This recipe keeps for a week in the refrigerator and freezes well (extra bonus)!!    
The soup was delicious.  I couldn't help but sneak a bowl.  I froze the rest of the soup to be enjoyed during the winter.  Just leave out the cream and add it once the soup is heated up and ready to serve.  It'll go perfectly with grilled cheese sandwiches.  Yummo!!  

Creamy Heirloom Tomato Soup 
Serves: 6-8
From: The Splendid Table on NPR

extra virgin olive oil
3 medium sweet onions, diced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large cloves of garlic, minced
a pinch of red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 1/2 - 3 c. chicken broth (homemade preferred but can use good quality canned)
handful of fresh basil leaves, torn
15 medium or 10 large ripe and delicious heirloom tomatoes, cored & coarsely chopped (be sure to catch all of the juices too!!)
1 c. heavy cream (for serving)

1)  Generously film the bottom of a 12-quart pot with olive oil.  Over medium-high heat, saute the onions, stirring occasionally.  Season with salt and pepper and cook until the onions brown slightly.  Add the garlic and cook for an addition minute.  

2)  Add the red pepper flakes and tomato paste.  Add chicken broth, fresh basil and tomatoes.  Bring the tomatoes to a lively simmer.  

3) Cover the pot and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until tomatoes are soft and soup tastes fresh, but mellow.  Adjust seasoning as needed.  Turn off the heat and allow the soup to cool.

4) Once the soup is cooled, puree about 2/3 of the soup in a blender, food processor or use a hand blender.  Rewarm soup and add 1 Tbsp of heavy cream to each bowl of soup prior to serving.

**If freezing soup, leave out heavy cream.  I froze my soup in 4 cup portions.  Add cream to each bowl once the soup is thawed and reheated.**

Harvest Monday 9/24/12 and 10/1/12

Okay I've been a real slacker this month.  Once again this is two weeks worth of harvest totals.  Last week I got busy so was only able to harvest enough Asian greens for dinner.  From left to right are Baby Bok Choy, Misome and bolting Chinese Cabbage.  
I turned these greens into this amazing Mushroom Hot Pot.  I've blogged the recipe before.  You must try it.  It's simple yet delicious!

This week I finally got around to harvesting the hoards of tomatoes that were ripening on the vine.  What can I say?  We've had an amazing Indian summer here in Portland.  Day temps are still in the high 70's while the nights are dipping into the 50's.  The tomatoes are still going strong.  I'm hoping to get in one more harvest before it's time to pick the rest of the green tomatoes.  I'm so excited with this amazing paste tomato harvest!!  I'm going to can some diced tomatoes this year (a first for me!).

These are a mixture of Anana Orange, Kelloggs Breakfast, Green Zebra, Cherokee Purple, Heinz, Amish Paste, Rosso Sicilian and San Marzano tomatoes.
I also picked all the decent sized peppers from the plants.  I'm going to pickle some of these.  It's a mixture of Jalapenos, Cherry bombs, Gypsy and Greek Pepperoncini peppers.  Not pictured are the Hot Hungarians and Sweet Banana peppers that I harvested.
The Millionaire Eggplants look like they're succumbing to the cool night temps.  I harvested all the decent sized eggplants too.  I haven't decided what to do with all of them.  My favorite way to make them is simply grilled or broiled.  I may stir-fry them or make baba ganoush.  The peppers are my favorite, Shishito peppers.  
At the last minute, I also harvested 3 Kamo eggplant.  These are a small Japanese variety.  I also picked a few tomatillos and 3 small Delicata winter squash.  I'm not sure how to tell if these are ready or not but they had an orange blush to them.
More cherry tomatoes!!  To the left are Sweet 100's and Sungold.  To the right are Chocolate Cherry.

Here are my 2 week's worth of harvest totals:

Week of 9/24/12
- Misome = 0.14 lb
- Baby Bok Choy = 0.37 lb
- Chinese Cabbage = 0.39 lb

Week of 10/1/12
- Tomatoes:
   - Amana Orange = 3.41 lb
   - Kelloggs Breakfast = 0.74 lb
   - Green Zebra = 3.44 lb
   - Cherokee Purple = 5.37 lb (largest single tomato = 1.35 lb)
   - Volunteer plant (Cherokee Purple?) = 4.47 lb
   - Heinz = 4.79 lb
   - Volunteer plant (Kelloggs Breakfast?) = 1.05 lb
   - Amish Paste = 7.68 lb
   - Rosso Sicilian = 0.51 lb
   - San Marzano = 1.06 lb
   - Chocolate Cherry = 2.35 lb
   - Cherry tomatoes = 3.06 lb
- Millionaire Eggplant = 3.29 lb
- Kamo Eggplant = 0.55 lb
- Peppers:
   - Shishito = 0.6 lb
   - Gypsy  = 0.52 lb
   - Cherry Bomb = 1.18 lb
   - Sweet Banana = 0. 15 lb
   - Jalapeno = 0.96 lb
   - Hot Hungarian Wax = 0.13 lb
   - Greek Pepperoncini = 0.31 lb
- Delicata Winter Squash = 1.81 lb
- Tomatillo = 0.48 lb