Saturday, November 13, 2010

Carrot and Tuna Salad

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This recipe comes from Harumi's Japanese Cooking Cookbook. Harumi Kurihara is called the Martha Stewart of Japan, and this recipe is one of her most popular recipes. You can serve the salad hot or cold. You cook the carrots in the microwave so they are still crispy and lightly cooked. So good!

3 medium carrots, julienne sliced (I used Trader Joe's shredded carrots)
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 T vegetable oil (I used extra virgin olive oil)
1, 3-oz, can of tuna, drained

2 T white vinegar
1 T Dijon whole-grain mustard
Salt and pepper, to taste
Soy sauce, to taste

Cut or grate the carrots.  Microwave them with the onion, garlic and oil for 1 to 1-1/2 minutes.  Add and mix in the drained tuna and the dressing. Season with salt, pepper and soy sauce.  Serve hot or cold.

Beer Bread

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I found the perfect quick bread to serve with soups and stews.  It has a biscuit consistency and is a perfect companion for a hearty soup like Michelle's Black Bean Soup.  It is also delicious toasted the second day. This recipe gets 5-star ratings as posted on multiple recipe internet sites.  I hope you like it.

3 cups flour (sifted)
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
12 oz. beer
1/4 cup melted butter

Sift the flour (don't omit this step).  Measure the flour with using a spoon into a mixing bowl. Add the baking powder, salt and sugar. Gently stir these ingredients together. Add the beer and mix. Your batter will be lumpy.  Place in a greased loaf pan.  Pour the melted butter on top.  Bake at 375 degrees for 50-60 min. Cool 15 min. before you remove it from the pan.  Serve with your favorite jam.

Italian Wedding Soup

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Here is a hearty, healthy and delicious soup recipe, originally from the Cooking with Trader Joe's Cookbook. This recipe can be prepared at a moment's notice if you use frozen meatballs.  This dish is filling, so it will please even the hungriest of appetites. Denny loved it -- I will definitely make this again.

20 party size mini-meatballs (I used 1/2 package Trader Joe's frozen turkey meatballs)
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion chopped
1 tsp crushed garlic
½ cup diced carrots
4 cups (32-oz. carton) low sodium chicken broth
3 cups Swiss chard or fresh spinach (if using frozen spinach, use only 1 cup)
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
½ cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, and carrots. Cook for 5 minutes.  Add chicken broth and meatballs. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.  Add the spinach and parsley and simmer for 5 minutes.  Spoon into serving bowls and top with Parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pat's Pumpkin Bread

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With Halloween just around the corner, our dear friend, Pat Herrera (pictured with grandson Nathan), is sharing this excellent and deliciously moist pumpkin bread recipe.  You can add chopped nuts, raisins or dried cranberries as a variation. It tastes even better the second day. Pat is the ultimate realtor, working for The BlackHawk Real Estate Company (J. Rockcliff Realtors). If you use her services, you will want her as your realtor for life.  She is an incredible woman in all that she does for her family, friends, customers and community.

3 ½ cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 cup vegetable or canola oil
4 eggs
2/3 cup water
2 cups pumpkin
3 cups sugar
1 ½ cups chopped nuts, optional

Sift dry ingredients together. Mix pumpkin, water, oil, nuts and eggs together. Pour into dry mixture and mix well. Pour into two greased medium loaf pans. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for approximately 70 minutes or until toothpick comes out clear. Cool before removing from pans.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Michelle's Black Bean Soup

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This was absolutely the best black bean soup I have ever eaten! Michelle made it for me and what a treat it was. It originally came from the Cooking with All Things Trader Joe's Cookbook and is the perfect dish for fall or winter evening.  Here are Tim, Michelle and little Seanie enjoying a day at the pumpkin patch.

1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
2 (15-oz) cans black beans (do not drain)
1 cup Chunky Salsa
2 T lime juice (juice of 1 lime)
Plain yogurt or sour cream

In a medium pot, saute onions in olive oil until they are soft and tender.  Sprinkle cumin and garlic and saute for a minute.  Pour in and stir the black beans (including its juice), salsa and lime juice, then bring to a simmer.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  Ladle soup into individual bowls and top with a dollop of yogurt, green onions or cilantro and grated cheddar cheese.  It goes great with homemade cornbread.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Ice Cream Bombe

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Here's a simple dessert that you can make the night before. Just take three of your favorite ice cream flavors, soften the ice cream slightly, and mold them in layers into a deep bowl that is lined with plastic wrap. When it's time to serve, invert the bowl onto a platter, remove the plastic wrap, and top with your favorite chocolate sauce. Sprinkle nuts on top if you wish. It's easy - no baking! Here's a photo of Seanie, Michelle and her birthday bomb.

1 quart vanilla ice cream
1 quart chocolate chip mint (green) ice cream
1 quart chocolate ice cream
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Chopped nuts

Melt the chocolate chips with the heavy cream in the microwave for 45 seconds.  Mix until blended.  Cool to room temperature.  It will thicken as it cools.

Place plastic wrap inside a deep bowl with extra plastic wrap hanging over the edge and outside the bowl.  Spread the vanilla ice cream against the sides of the bowl in an even layer.  Freeze for 30 minutes. Spread the chocolate chip mint over the vanilla layer.  Freeze for another 30 min.  Spread the chocolate ice cream on top of the mint layer.  Cover everything with plastic wrap.  Freeze for another 30 min. or overnight until firm.

To serve, invert the bowl onto a platter.  (You may have to dip the bowl in a large bowl of hot water for a few seconds, if frozen solid.) Remove the plastic wrap.  Top with chocolate sauce, and sprinkle nuts over all.  Serve in wedges.

Chicken Alfredo Pesto Pasta

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Here's an easy pasta dish that you can put together quickly.  It combines Alfredo sauce with basil pesto, so has a creamy rich taste. You can substitute low-fat milk for the cream if you are watching cholesterol and calories.  It's a good dish for potlucks when feeding large crowds.  Delicious, simple and fresh tasting....a family favorite.

1 oz extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 carton sliced mushrooms
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1-1/2 cup heavy cream, half and half or milk
2-3 T basil pesto (Trader Joe's)
1 large chicken breast, baked or broiled and chopped
8 oz. penne pasta, cooked al dente 
3 T grated parmesan cheese

Bake or broil a chicken breast or use leftover sliced rotisserie chicken. Cook the penne pasta according to package directions and set aside. In a frying pan, saute the garlic and mushrooms in the olive oil for a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the heavy cream and basil pesto and cook for 3 min. Add the chicken, penne pasta and parmesan cheese, and simmer until heated. If the pasta becomes too dry, add a little milk or pasta water. Serve with extra parmesan cheese.

You can substitute milk for the cream. If you use milk, thicken the sauce with a little cornstarch mixed with milk, making a slurry; cook for an additional 3 min. until the sauce thickens.

Grandson Seanie (15 mos) LOVES noodles!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Avocado Peach Salad

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Here's a simple salad that comes together quickly that is both colorful and flavorful. You can exchange the peaches in this recipe for any seasonal fruit such as mangoes, strawberries, blueberries, oranges and grapefruit. I toss the dressing and the lettuce first, then add the rest of the ingredients layering them on top of the lettuce.  In that way the avocado, feta and fruit will retain its shape better. Enjoy!

1 head butter lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces or any assorted greens
1 avocado, sliced
1 peach, diced
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup pistachios, shelled

Lemon dressing:
2-3 T lemon juice, freshly squeezed
6 T extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1-1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

Mix the lemon salad dressing ingredients together.  Toss the dressing with the butter lettuce (to taste).  You may not need to use all of the dressing.  Place the seasoned lettuce in a serving bowl, and add the rest of the ingredients in the order listed.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Phyllis' $100,000 Mahogany Chicken

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Phyllis Hays-Martin treated me to a special dinner on my recent trip to San Diego.  She made Mahogany Broiled Chicken with Smokey Lime Sweet Potatoes and Cilantro Chimichurri, which was broiled chicken tenders basted with a hoisin-mustard-vinegar sauce, then served over mashed sweet potatoes and drizzled with chimichurri sauce.  This recipe originally was a $100,000 award winning recipe created by Camilla V. Saulsbury, PhD of Bloomington, Indiana.   Phyllis added her fresh green beans with a balsamic syrup drizzle.  The dinner was excellent, perfectly cooked and beautifully presented.  Everything Phyllis does is with such style and grace.  She is one classy person.

1-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut in strips or cubes or chicken tenders
1 cup chopped cilantro leaves
6 T extra virgin olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt, divided
1/4 tsp pepper, divided
5 T dark brown sugar
3 T Dijon mustard
2 T bottled hoisin sauce
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup plus 1-1/2 teaspoons lime juice, divided
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in 1/2 inch pieces
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tsp chopped canned chipotle pepper
1 tsp adobo sauce (from canned chipotle)
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp lime zest
cilantro sprigs

In a small bowl, mix together chopped cilantro, olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper; set aside. In medium bowl, mix together brown sugar, mustard, hoisin sauce and vinegar. Reserve 2/3 of this mixture. To remainder, add 1/2 cup lime juice and stir in chicken; cover and refrigerate. In heavy saucepan,  place sweet potatoes and cover with boiling water. Cook, covered, over medium high heat until tender, about 15 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup cooking liquid, then drain potatoes in colander. Return potatoes to reserved cooking water and add butter, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, remaining 1-1/2 teaspoons lime juice, cumin, lime zest, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper.  Mash potatoes. Thread chicken on 8 bamboo skewers soaked in water.  Broil about 6 inches from heat, basting with mahogany sauce until done, about 8 min.  To serve, divide potatoes among 4 plates; top with 2 skewers of chicken and drizzle chimichurri sauce over all.  Garnish with cilantro sprigs.  Serves 4.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Corinne's Smoke Salmon Spread

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Here's a yummy smoked salmon appetizer recipe from Corinne Gooden, pictured here in Anacortes, building a kayak herself  -- so how many people can do that?  She is truly an AMAZING woman of many talents.  This appetizer is perfect party food as it can be made several hours in advance and refrigerated until serving time. Your guests will love it!
8 oz. cream cheese, quartered
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1-1/2 T fresh lemon juice
4 oz. smoked salmon
3 T capers, drained
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1 tsp dried dill
1/2 tsp black pepper

Mix cream cheese, mayonnaise, parsley and lemon juice until smooth consistency. Add salmon, capers, red onion, dill and pepper, and carefully stir until blended so that the texture of the salmon is still retained. Refrigerate until serving time. Serve it with a sliced seedy baguette or pumpernickel bread.  

Monday, August 16, 2010

Val's Spicy Tropical Shrimp Boats

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Are you looking for something different to serve your guests?  These shrimp boats have a refreshing taste to them - shrimp, papayas, mangos and jalapenos on endive leaves topped with a cilantro dressing. Val Kane's recipe originally came from the Trader Joe Cookbook, and all of the ingredients were purchased at Trader Joe's. This recipe is easy, simple to make, and your guests will be asking for more.

1 cup frozen Medium Cooked Tail-Off Shrimp, thawed
1/2 cup Fire Roasted Papaya Mango Salsa
Salt and pepper
1 head fresh Belgian endive leaves, separated
2 T refrigerated Cilantro Dressing
Cilantro for garnish

Dice the shrimp into cubes, then mix with the salsa.  Season with salt and pepper.  Spoon the mixture onto endive leaves. Arrange the shrimp boats on a platter and drizzle with dressing. Garnish with cilantro.

Picture below is Val's good buddy, Sierra, with her pet bunny.

Val's Peach Cobbler

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Pictured above are Val's Peach Cobbler and the Chimay band members and on a sunny, Saturday afternoon in Oceanside.  What could be better than that?  Featured above are singer Val Kane, keyboardist/guitarist Laurie Levenson and Joe, not the plumber, but the drummer.  Val's recipe was originally created by Patti Labelle and was called "Wicked Peach Cobbler" for good reason.  It looks like a deep dish pie, but has pie crust threaded throughout the dessert.  A nice ending to a day of music, great food and good company.

1 box of Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust
3 lbs. medium peaches, peeled, pitted and quartered
2 T cornstarch
1 C sugar
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, plus more for the top of the crust
4 T (1/2 stick) butter, chilled and cut into pieces

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter an 8-inch square baking dish. In a medium bowl, toss the peaches, cornstarch, sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon.  Fold in the butter pieces.  Spoon half of the peach mixture into the prepared baking dish. Take one pie crust and fit it over the peaches. Cut off the roundy edges and place them over the peaches that may be uncovered in the pan. Top with the remaining peaches. Cut the second pie crust into 1" strips, and create a crust on the rim and woven lattice on top, piecing the dough together as needed.

Place the dish on a baking sheet to catch any drips.  Bake until the fruit juices are bubbling, and the top is golden brown, about 40 minutes.  Sprinkle the top of the dough with cinnamon.  Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Val's Roasted Garlic and Tomato Crostini

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If you love roasted tomatoes, you will love this recipe.  It comes from Val Kane and is truly a crowd-pleasing appetizer.  It is prepared in three stages before being assembled: first, the roasted garlic; second, the roasted tomatoes and third, the baked crostini.

3-4 whole heads of garlic
2-3 tsp extra virgin olive oil
4 Roma tomatoes, thickly sliced
2 T light balsamic vinaigrette
2 T grated Parmesan cheese
1 T freshly chopped basil leaves
1 Trader Joe's seedy baguette

Roasted Garlic:  Peel away outer layers of the garlic bulb skin, leaving it whole and in tact. Cut off 1/4" to 1/2" off the top of the bulb, exposing the individual cloves of garlic. Place garlic heads in a muffin pan and drizzle the olive oil over each head. Cover with foil, and bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes until the cloves feel soft. Use a cocktail fork to pull out the individual cloves.

Balsamic Roasted Tomatoes: Line a baking sheet with foil.  Place the tomato slices on the baking sheet.  Brush with balsamic dressing (2 parts olive oil and 1 part balsamic vinegar). Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese over the tops. Add the chopped basil.  Roast for 15 min at 400 degrees. 

Crostini: Slice the baguette into 1/4" slices, and place on a baking sheet. Lightly brush with olive oil. Place under the broiler until lightly toasted.

To assemble, remove one clove of garlic, and spread it on the crostini. Top with the roasted tomato. Simply wonderful!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sesame Miso Tofu Soup

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This has become one of our favorite Japanese soup recipes.  It is an enhanced version of miso soup with sesame paste added.  You can add a spoonful of hot rice to this, if you wish.  It is so flavorful and especially good on cold winter days.  I make this soup frequently as Denny enjoys eating a Japanese breakfast.

3-1/2 cups water
Dashi soup stock seasoning packet
1 carton soft, silken tofu
3 T sesame paste
1/4 cup red miso
Chives or green onions, finely minced

Make the dashi soup stock according to package directions using 3-1/2 cups water.  Add the sesame paste and miso, stir until they dissolve.  Right before serving, add the tofu by crushing and breaking it up with your hands. Continuing cooking until the tofu is warmed.  Do not let this soup simmer too long as it will become watery from the tofu.  Serve with chives or green onions sprinkled on top.  Serves 4-6.

Jan's Kahlua Vodka Cake

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Jan Kumasaka made this delicious and flavorful Bundt cake for a recent  gathering in Seattle. The recipe includes a yellow cake mix which is enhanced with instant pudding, Kahlua and vodka. The Kahlua and vodka are not over-powering in this recipe, and you get just a hint of their taste in each bite. The cake was light, moist, tender and enjoyed by all.  Pictured here are Jan (left) with Liz Olschefski.

1 box yellow cake mix
1 small package chocolate instant pudding mix
3/4 cup of vegetable or canola oil
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup Kahlua
1/4 cup vodka
4 eggs

Mix all the ingredients together with an electric beater for 4 min. in a large mixing bowl.  Pour into a greased and floured Bundt pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50 min.  Cool for 5 min. before removing from pan. Add the glaze to the top.

2 cups powdered sugar

Mix the powdered sugar with a little milk and Kahlua until it reaches a thin glaze consistency.

Hide's Gintara Kasuzuke Black Cod

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Here is Hide Obatake's delicious recipe for Gintara Kasuzuke black cod.  The word "kasuzuke" dates back to the 10th century and is a way of preserving food in Japan. Kasuzuke was made by Buddhist monks and used by Samurai as imperishable wartime food.  During the Edo period of the 17th century , a sake dealer promoted it widely, and the dish spread throughout Japan and remains popular today.  You can marinate fish, vegetables, beef, chicken, pork, scallops, jelly fish, wasabi plant - almost anything in this sake paste.  The mixture can be reused 3-4 times by keeping it stored in the freezer.  You can adjust the sugar or sake flavor to your liking.

5 lbs. black cod fillet, sliced into 4-6 oz.

Sake Paste:
2.5 lbs sake kasu
2 cups mirin
8 oz. miso

Generously salt the fish.  Place the fish on paper towels to eliminate excess water.  Put the fish in plastic container or Ziploc bag in the refrigerator overnight.  The next day mix the kasu, mirin and miso until it is shiney and smooth.  Cover the fish with the sake paste and marinate for an additional 3-4 days.  Scrape off most of the sake paste before grilling or baking the fish.  Bake fish, skin side up, in a lightly oiled pan at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees for the last 5-6 minutes until the fish is done.  Do not overbake.

Hide's Sake Gohan (Salmon Rice)

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Hide Obatake makes a delicious salmon sake gohan, a rice dish that is simple to make and is light and healthy.  You can find salmon collars at a Japanese fish market or ask your local fish monger.  This dish is so flavorful with a mild, delicate taste which represents Hide's healthy home-style Japanese cooking.  It is another dish that could easily be called comfort food.

2-3 salmon collars
3 cups Japanese short grain rice
3 cups dashi soup stock
3 T soy sauce
3 T sake

Generously salt the salmon collars, place in a Ziploc bag or plastic container and refrigerate overnight.  Next day, make the dashi broth according to package directions.  Rinse the rice with cold water several times until the rice is clean, then drain.  Grill the salmon collars for a few minutes to sear in the flavor, then set aside.  Transfer the washed rice into a cooking pot or rice cooker and fill with the dashi broth.  The dashi should be about an inch higher than the rice.  Add the salmon collars on top of the rice, then add the soy sauce and sake.  Cover the pot and start cooking.  If using an automatic rice cooker, hit the "on" button and let the mixture cook the full cycle.  If cooking on top of the stove, start on high heat, then reduce heat to low when the mixture starts boiling.  Keep cooking for 12-15 min on low heat, shut off the heat and steam for another 10 minutes.  When the rice is done, break apart the salmon, take out the bones, and gently stir into the rice mixture. 

As an option, you can add slivered gobo, carrots and shiitake mushrooms over the salmon prior to cooking.  So delicious!

Dinner at Hide and Reiko Obatake's

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We were so fortunate to be invited to Hide and Reiko Obatake's for another fabulous meal while vacationing in Seattle.  We are constantly in awe of Hide's healthy and flavorful Japanese style cooking.  Everything was cooked to perfection with the freshest of ingredients.

Dinner started with vibrant orange salmon roe with cream cheese and capers on top of crackers.  Following that were Manila clams sauteed in a nice white wine and a little butter, topped with chopped shiso from the Obatake home garden.  The main course was Gintara kasuzuke black cod which had been marinating overnight with salt first, then in sake paste for 3-4 days, so was seasoned perfectly. Accompanying that were New York steaks, sliced in strips and served with Hide's famous white sesame teriyaki sauce and finely chopped green onions.  Hide makes and bottles this sauce, then gives it to friends who can use it as a finishing sauce on any meat or vegetable, the most delicious drizzle ever.

As a side dish, Reiko made a Japanese potato salad which included fresh diced apples, a sweet surprise with each mouthful. There were two burdock dishes; a delicious kinpira gobo made by James Yuasa, stir-fried with carrots in a traditional glaze, and Hide's gobo with ume and chopped shiso leaves. We had never tasted anything like it. Another side dish was a hijiki  (seaweed) salad with carrots and edamame, simmered in a light delicate sauce until all of the flavors had been incorporated. There was also Japanese eggplant that had been simmered in a light, delicate sauce topped with bonito flakes and white sesame seeds. Then there were toasted onigiris, triangular-shaped rice balls, crispy on the outside and soft in the middle, comfort food at its best!  The meal ended with a delectable egg flower soup made from fish stock with tofu and topped with shiso.  Betty Yuasa's Chinese sponge cake with sweetened berries and vanilla ice cream put the dinner over the top. Words cannot describe what a memorable evening that was. Hide's home-style cooking makes you eat second and third helpings until you are stuffed beyond belief.

Here are the mouth-watering photos from that evening including Hide's hand-written menu.