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Posts Tagged ‘cherry tomato’

The other night Tamiko wanted to make Uichiro’s famous curry rice dish. I think for a couple of reasons. First, to make him a little jealous again that we’re eating so well while he’s eating take home bento boxes (although, take home bento in Japan isn’t a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination). Second, it’s just a tasty tasty dish! He sent me the recipe a long time ago and I did make it once (before I started this blog). Mine was pretty good, mainly because I’m damn good in the kitchen, but it clearly wasn’t the same as Uichiro’s. Japan uses the metric system, so I had to eyeball my measurements with the spices and whatnot as the conversion is never as smooth as it should be, for me at least. Also, since I’ve never eaten his I made it more to my tastes, which are different believe it or not.

What I’ll do for this post is first cut-and-paste the recipe he sent me. Then, I’ll go through it a little and let you know where Tamiko made the appropriate changes. Sorry, Uichiro, but I’m going to make a little fun of you as well, all in good humor. So, without further ado, here’s his recipe as he sent it to me:

Foodstuff:

ground meat with half beef and half pig meat: 300 g

chopped onion: big size one unit

chopped ginger: one piece

chopped garlic clove: one piece

chopped parsley: quantitatively

chopped raisin: 3 x 15cc spoons

chopped walnut: 4 kernels

pickled cucumber: one

curry powder: 3 x 15cc spoons

soy sauce and Worcester sauce: quantitatively

grated cheese: 3 x 15cc spoons

cinnamon, nutmeg, clove: quantitatively

boiled egg: two

Cooking:

On a cutting board mince all foodstuffs. Sautee onion to the
brown state. Sautee ginger, garlic clove and ground meat in turn with
it. After meat color is changed, then, add raisin, walnut, pickled
cucumber, parsley, soy sauce, Worcester sauce, grated cheese, cinnamon, nutmeg,
clove.  Finally, add one cup water and boil to the sapless state. Ad mix
the half with rice. Get up the half and sliced boiled egg on it.

Alright, where to start. First, Tamiko made twice as much as the recipe calls for so that the three of us had lunch the next day as well. I love that he calls the ingredients “Foodstuff”. Not exactly sure how much 300 grams is, we got 2/3’s pound of ground beef and ground pork. Going down the list is pretty self explanatory, for the most part. We forgot to get parsley at the store, so Tamiko used the 1 tablespoon of cilantro we had left in the fridge. I’ve never heard of a walnut kernal, but only a moron doesn’t know what he means. Tamiko omitted the pickles because she knows I’m not a huge fan of them, what a sweetheart! Worcester is supposed to be Worcestershire. Grate cheese refers to parmesan. As for the boiled eggs, you can hard-boil as many as you like. Just slice them up and top each plate with one.

On to the how-to portion of today’s post. Again, most of it is pretty easy to understand. Tamiko minced up everything real well, walnuts and raisins as well. She then sautéed everything according to instructions. My favorite part is boiling the water down to a sapless state. Honestly, I have never heard that phrase before in my life and probably won’t ever hear it again. He means just boil it down till it’s almost all evaporated. It is a “Dried Curry Rice” and not a wet one. Alright, that’s all I’m going to make fun of Uichiro.

Another way Tamiko’s was different is that she did not mix any of the curry into the rice. I did when I made it, but she instead just topped the rice with the curry. Either way works really well, whatever you prefer. Then, she topped the curry with the sliced egg and sprinkled the cilantro on top. It’s really a simple dish to make. But, as Tamiko likes to say, simple is best. It is also very delicious. The play between the curry and sweet raisins is beautiful. The walnuts add a nice crunch to the whole thing.

On the side we had a simple salad of lettuce, shredded celery, daikon cut into thin matchsticks, and cherry tomatoes. I whipped up a balsamic vinaigrette. One part balsamic vinegar, two parts olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper, and whisk it up until its emulsified.

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So, last night was Uichiro’s last night here. I figured I had one more shot to impress him with something he’s never eaten before. I had never made a chermoula so it was the perfect opportunity since he’s never tasted Moroccan food. That means, even though it was the worst chermoula he’s ever eaten, it was also the best! Actually, it was pretty good. I do think sea bass or halibut would’ve been a better fish, but it’s hard to argue with the flavors.

I made a carrot soup to accompany the fish, so I got that ready first so that all I had to do was heat it up and garnish it come dinner time. I peeled and chopped 5 large carrots, chopped 1/2 onion, chopped 3 garlic cloves, used 1/4 stick of butter, a dash of cumin on each bowl for garnish, 1/4 teaspoon of allspice, juice of 1 lemon, some honey yogurt, and 1 cup of chicken stock that didn’t make the photo.

First, I melted the butter and then caramelized the onion and garlic for about 15 minutes over medium heat. Then I added the carrot and allspice and let the carrots caramlize for another 15 minutes. Then I poured in the chicken stock along with 1 cup of water. I brought it up to a boil, covered it, and let it simmer over med-low heat for about 20 minutes. Then I let it cool down for a while before pureeing it in my blender with a bit of salt. For dinner I just re-heated it, dropped a dollop of honey yogurt into the middle of each bowl, sprinkled a dash of cumin, and then squeezed a little lemon juice. It tasted like pumpkin pie!

For the cod chermoula I used a small bunch of parsley finely chopped, 1/2 teaspoon of paprika, 1 teaspoon of cumin, juice of 1 lemon, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 garlic cloves mashed to a paste in with my mortar and pestle, and about 1 pound of cod cut up into 8 pieces.

Once the garlic was mashed up I added the rest of the ingredients (except for the fish) along with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and mixed it all together. I let the chermoula sit for about an hour to let the flavors meld together.

Then I spooned about half of the chermoula on top of the fish, covered it, and let it sit in the fridge for about an hour. I took it out and let it come back to room temp before cooking it.

For the “tagine” I used a small bunch of chopped parsley, 1 orange bell pepper diced, 1 yellow bell pepper diced, 1/2 onion diced, 1 large garlic clove minced, 14oz can of chickpeas rinsed, 2/3 pint of cherry tomatoes, 1/2 bag of frozen artichoke hearts, and the rest of the chermoula.

I heated up my large skillet and poured in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. I sweat down the onion and garlic for about 6 minutes, then added the peppers and let them sweat down for another 6 minutes. I stirred in the chermoula along with about 1/4 cup of water and let that boil down for a few minutes before adding the artichokes, tomatoes, and chickpeas. I let them heat up for about 3 or 4 minutes.

I placed the cod on top, covered the pan, and let it cook for about 6 minutes. You don’t want to cook the cod for too long because it will overcook very quickly and become dense. You want to keep it flaky.

When all was said and done the cod (garnished with parsley) and soup were served alongside some white rice. Everything turned out delicious. Yet another dish of mine that was a big success in the mouth of my father-in-law.

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With the weather getting really cold here in Chicago already, my mind starts to go towards stews, braises, and soups. Being Jewish, a good chicken soup with matza balls is always a winner (at least the way I make it), but I wanted to do something different. Since my mom lives in Mexico I thought I’d make a Mexican-Jewish soup. I made a relatively classic chicken pozole verde but dropped some matza balls in the soup instead of tortilla chips. 

Most of the recipes I found online used a combination of store-bought chicken broth and water with chicken breasts. Making a simple chicken broth is really easy so I opted to use plain water and chicken thighs. Dark meat has much more flavor than white meat and I never use breasts when making a soup. What I did was bring 10 cups of water to a boil and then put 2 pounds of skin-on bone-in chicken thighs in. Once it came back up to a boil I turned the heat down to medium and let it simmer for about an hour. Every 10 minutes or so I skimmed the surface to remove the muck and some of the excess fat. Once I had gotten all of the chicken flavor into the broth I removed the chicken, took off the skin and bones, and shredded the meat. I set the meat aside while I prepared the verde part of the soup.

The verde part is really just a simple salsa verde, much like you’d be served at a taqueria with chips. I used 1 pound of tomatillos, 2 poblanos, 2 jalapenos, 5 garlic cloves, 1/2 cup of cilantro, 1 small onion, and 1 tablespoon of dried oregano. I gave everything a rough chop and tossed it into my processor. I processed it into a smooth salsa and added a ladle of the broth to make sure everything mixed nicely.

I heated up a soup pan and poured in 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and then added the verde. As you can see from this picture it started off a nice bright green. About 10-15 minutes later with occasional stirring…

…you can see it took on a much more drab color. That’s what you want in order to get rid of the raw flavors of the garlic and jalapeno and whatnot. Then I poured it into the broth and made the matza balls.

The last time I made matza balls my mom called me out for using matza ball mix. So, this time I did it from scratch. Honestly, there really isn’t much difference. I used 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 cup of matza meal, 3 eggs, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and some cracked black pepper to taste. I mixed everything thoroughly in a glass bowl, added about 4 tablespoons of cold water and mixed that in, then covered the bowl and threw it in the fridge for about 45 minutes.

Then I got the accoutrements ready for the soup. I got out the shredded chicken, 3 radishes thinly sliced, 1 avocado, a 28 ounce can of hominy drained and rinsed, and a large handful of watercress chopped. I added the chicken and hominy to the soup and slowly brought it back up to a low boil while the rest of the ingredients stood aside and waited their turn.

When the soup was at a low boil I got the matza ball mix out and turned it into matza balls. With moist hands I rolled out balls about the size of silver dollars and dropped them in the soup. A lot of people cook theirs in plain boiling water and then add them to the soup. I’ll never understand why as that prevents them from absorbing the broth’s flavor. I want tasty balls! Once my balls were all swimming in the soup I covered it up and let them cook for about 30 minutes.

For a side I just made a simple tomato and watercress salad. I quartered a bunch of cherry tomatoes, laid them on a bed of watercress, and drizzled some sesame dressing on top.

To garnish the soup I added the sliced radish, the watercress, I diced the avocado, and squeezed some lime juice in.

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For Meatless Monday last night I had an almost failed attempt at making falafel. To make falafel, you need to start way in advance and soak some dried chickpeas in water for about 8 hours. We were out at the Morton Arboretum all afternoon when I got the urge to make falafel, so I tried to make it using canned chickpeas. As you’ll see, that just doesn’t do the trick as canned chickpeas are way too soft and don’t have nearly the same texture. Lesson learned.

In my food processor I tossed in 2 cans of chickpeas (the pic shows 3, but I only used 2), half a chopped red onion, 5 garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, 1/2 tablespoon baking powder, and a handful of basil leaves. Typically, besides soaked dried chickpeas, you’d use parsley. I didn’t have any parsley so I used basil. It actually worked quite well flavor-wise. At any rate, I processed everything into a paste and let it sit for about half hour. During that time I got everything prepped for the Israeli Couscous soup I made to accompany.

For the soup I used 1 14oz can of diced tomatoes, the half of red onion diced, 1 quart of vegetable stock, 1 carrot chopped, 2 cloves of garlic minced, 1 cup of Israeli couscous, some basil, 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds crushed in my pestle and mortar, 1 teaspoon of turmeric, and 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne.

I also had time to throw together my tomato and cucumber salad. I chopped up 1/2 head of iceberg lettuce, half a seedless cucumber, and halved the rest of my cherry tomatoes (about 1/2 the container). I set the lettuce aside and threw the cucumber and tomatoes in a large bowl. I zested the lemon on top. In a separate bowl I juiced half of the lemon, tossed in a pinch of salt and a pepper, and then poured some olive oil in at a ratio of 2 parts oil 1 part juice. With a wisk I emulsified it into a smooth dressing and poured that in with the cucumbers and tomatoes and then tossed to coat. I set all of the salad ingredients aside.

Then, I laid some wax paper on a baking sheet and formed walnut-sized balls of the falafel mix on top. I sprinkled the tops with some sesame seeds. I was a little worried about the texture because it was kind of soft, but I thought everything would be ok. I let the falafel balls sit for about 15 minutes while I got the deep fryer ready and made the soup.

To make the soup I poured a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a hot pot. I added the onion and carrot and let them saute for about 5 minutes. Then I added the garlic. 30 seconds later I poured in the can of tomatoes with the juice, the stock, and all of the spices along with some salt and pepper. Once it came to a light boil I added the couscous, partially covered the pot, and turned the heat down to medium-low to let it slowly simmer while I fried the falafel.

Once the oil was ready, 375 degrees, I dropped 3 balls in and let them go. A minute later when I checked on their progress I noticed that they were much smaller than they were at the start. I put them back in for a minute and then checked again…even smaller. The oil had basically disintegrated them. They were way too loose. What a waste of oil! While I was pissed, I didn’t panic. I had to switch gears and do it quickly so that the couscous wouldn’t overcook.

I quickly got out my big pan and heated it to high. I poured in some oil and ended up shallow frying the falafel. They turned out to be more like falafel latkes and did start to fall apart in the pan as well. I was able to salvage most of it though and turn out a decent dinner. It did take a little longer than I wanted and the couscous overcooked a little, they were a bit soft. Oh well, what can you do? Disasters are half of the fun of cooking.

To serve I added the basil and juice from the other half of the lemon to the soup just before ladling it into the bowls. On the plates I laid down some of the lettuce, then the cucumber and tomato salad, and then topped that with the falafel…we’ll call them patties. All in all it didn’t taste bad at all. Complete failure averted.

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I made this delicious salmon on the grill with some cedar planks. To go with it I made a miso soup and a cherry tomato caprese. This menu was kind of all over the map, but it worked out.

I first made the caprese. I simply quartered the cherry tomatoes and cut some mozzarella di bufalo and then tossed them with a drizzle of olive oil, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, and some sliced up basil from my back porch. A little salt and pepper to bring out the flavors and that was ready.

Then I got the soup rollin’. I chopped up 4 green onions, half a package of shiitake sliced, 7 fingerling potatoes cut into bite sized pieces, and a carrot cut into half-moons.

I dumped them all into about 6 cups of water and brought it all up to a boil. Once boiling I turned the heat down to medium and let it all simmer for about 10 minutes, just until the veggies were softened and tender. Then I added about a teaspoon of dashi-no-moto and turned the heat down to medium-low. I covered it and kept it warm while I grilled the salmon.

I had a beautiful piece of salmon that weighed in at 20 ounces. Perfect for 4 portions at 5 ounces each. I simply seasoned it with salt and pepper and then laid some sprigs of rosemary on top that I cut from my plant out back.

I had a couple of small cedar planks that I soaked in water for about 2 hours. You can see from the picture that they were pretty cheap as I’ve never had cedar burn up quite as quickly as these did. It did no harm to the fish though as it stayed nice and moist and absorbed some great smokey cedar flavor. I also had a couple of bok choy that I halved and grilled. I was careful to keep the green leaves away from any direct heat to keep them from burning. They still charred a little around the edges, but that just added some flavor.

When all was ready I cut the salmon up and served it on top of the bok choy. I had some white rice as well. For the soup, I found some bean sprouts in my bottom drawer so I threw them in at the last minute as they don’t need much cooking at all. Then I mixed in 2 heaping tablespoons of shiro miso and served it up.

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I was really looking for some ground chicken thigh, but the store didn’t have any. So, I settled for some ground turkey thigh. No big deal as they taste similar.

My ingredient list for 4 portions included 3 oz cremini mushrooms sliced, 20 asparagus spears, one carrot chopped, 1 strip of bacon (I show 2 in the photo but only used 1), 4 garlic cloves minced, 3 oz baby arugula, half an onion diced, 1 dry pint of mixed cherry tomatoes, 1/4 cup of sherry, 8 fl oz of heavy cream, and 3/4 lb of ground turkey thigh. Not shown in the picture I also picked some basil from my back porch, had some dry angel hair pasta, and toasted some french bread.

For the pasta sauce I started by pouring about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in my large hot pan. I cooked the bacon down till most of the fat was rendered, about 3 minutes or so. Then I added the onion and carrot and let those cook down for about 5 minutes. Then I added the garlic, and about 1 minute later threw in the cremini. About 4 minutes later, when the cremini was partially cooked, I added the turkey and seasoned with some salt and pepper. I broke the turkey meat up while it cooked until it was in small pieces. That took about 3 or 4 minutes. Then I poured in the sherry and let it boil down. Once the sherry was almost completely boiled off I poured in the cream and let it reduce for about 1 minute.

While that was going on I cooked the pasta according to package instructions. Once it was al dente, I drained it and then tossed it into the pasta sauce once the cream had reduced for a minute. I stirred it around to make sure the noodles were completely coated and then turned off the heat to serve.

Also, while making the pasta I put the asparagus on a baking sheet and drizzled it with olive oil, salt, and pepper. I also took the cherry tomatoes and wrapped them in foil with a tablespoon of olive oil making sure the foil was completely sealed. I put them in a 450 degree oven for about 15 minutes. The bread was toasted while making the pasta as well. I timed it so that everything was finished at the same time.

Once the bread was toasted I rubbed it with garlic and then topped it with some of the roasted tomatoes. The rest of the tomatoes are going to be used in tonight’s dinner. Everything was garnished with the basil.

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I thought I had come up with a ground-breaking idea the other day when I conceptualized gnocchi made from tofu. Not quite sure how to go about doing it, but with a few ideas, I googled it. Much to my dismay, Craig Koketsu (chef at Park Avenue Spring and Quality Meats) had already done this. On the one hand I was a little upset because I can’t claim to be the first. On the other, it confirms my genius that a high-caliber chef had also come up with this idea. He did his as a re-imagined way to do Mabo Tofu. Mine was a Meatless Monday way to get protein into a dish. At any rate, I decided that it was best to use his recipe for the gnocchi themselves since it was already a proven method.

In a food processor I processed two 12 oz blocks of extra firm tofu along with 1 cup of tapioca flour and 1 tablespoon of salt. I’m not real sure why he used tapioca flour, but it is a finer ground than regular flour as well as being a better binder. It’s almost a cross between starch and flour. Once everything was well blended I poured it all into a large ziplock bag (I don’t have a piping bag, so I used the ziplock and snipped one of the corners off).

I brought a pot of water up to a high boil. After the mix had rested in the bag for about ten minutes I started to squeeze it out, snipping off approximately 1 inch lengths. I let it boil until the gnocchi had all started to float to the top. Then I drained them and chilled them in a bowl full of ice water. Once they chilled I drained them again and patted them dry, then set them aside until the sauce was ready.

To kind of bridge the gap between Italy and Asia I used a mix of vegetables that included 5 oz of sliced shiitake (instead of cremini), cherry tomatoes (during cooking I changed my mind and used a 14 oz can of diced tomatoes instead), 1 carrot chopped, 3 garlic cloves minced, some back porch basil, 1 celery rib halved and chopped, 6 green onions sliced, and a large handful of baby spinach (about 3-4 oz).

To make the sauce I heated up my pan and poured in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. I let the garlic gently fry for about a minute and then tossed in the carrot and celery. About 5 minutes later I added the shiitake and green onion. Once they were cooked down a little, maybe 3 minutes, I poured in 1/4 cup of white wine and let that boil away. After the wine had evaporated I poured in the can of diced tomatoes and seasoned with salt and pepper. Once the juice from the can of tomatoes started to boil I threw in the spinach and turned off the heat.

In about 1/4 cup of boiling water I threw in two portions of the gnocchi and let them heat up for about 2 or 3 minutes.

To serve, I took the gnocchi out of the water with a slotted spoon and laid them on the plate. I topped them with some of the sauce. Then I garnished with parmesan cheese and basil.

All in all this dish wasn’t quite what I was hoping for. The gnocchi were great and the sauce was ok, they just didn’t quite meld together they way I had it in my head. I make sauce like this quite often, but it is definitely better with regular pasta. As far as the gnocchi, I would try a Mabo Tofu next time as I think those flavors match tofu much better. This was not a complete failure, it just wasn’t a huge success. Lesson learned.

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