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Posts Tagged ‘red pepper’

Last night I did a riff on one of Yuki’s recipes. She commonly makes ground chicken dumplings similar to these patties in the winter when we eat nabe (Japanese hot-pot). So, I took her idea and made my own Japanese flavored dinner.

The ingredient list for the patties were 3/4’s pound of ground chicken thigh, 1 block of tofu that I had pressed the water out of, one egg scrambled with 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 carrot cut into a small dice, 3 garlic cloves and 1 inch of ginger that I minced, and 1 tablespoon of hijiki seaweed. The hijiki comes dried and is available in most Asian sections of your grocer. I put 1 tablespoon of dried hijiki in a couple of cups of cold water and let it sit for about a half hour. Then I strained it, reserving the liquid for the miso soup.

I mixed it all together, with about a tablespoon of nanami togarashi (a Japanese red pepper spice mix, there are various kinds of togarashi that are also usually available in the Asian section) until the tofu was completely broken down and everything was mixed well. Then, on a lightly oiled baking sheet, I laid 8 patties (two patties per serving, leftovers for lunch). I let it cook in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

Before cooking the patties I got my miso soup ingredients ready to go. I cut 2 negi (Japanese green onions, larger than regular green onions, not as big as leeks) into 1 inch pieces, hiratake (oyster mushrooms), and wakame seaweed. Wakame can be bought dried or fresh. Fresh comes heavily salted to preserve it. You need to soak it really well in water and cut it into smaller pieces as it expands once the salt is rinsed off.

I also chopped up a small head of napa cabbage to cook as a side.

Once I put the patties in the oven I melted 1 tablespoon of butter in a skillet and heated up the hijiki liquid in a pan along with one more cup of water, 1 teaspoon of dashi-no-moto (instant dashi), the negi, and the mushrooms. I let the soup simmer while working on the cabbage. Once the butter was melted I added 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and then the cabbage. I let the cabbage wilt in the soy butter for about 10 minutes and then turned off the heat.

After the cabbage was ready I added the wakame to the soup and then the miso. The best way to add the miso is to take a heaping spoonful and swirl it around in a ladle that is just slightly in the soup. This allows the miso to incorporate slowly keeping it from being lumpy.

I served everything with some white rice. I poured just a little ponzu on top of the patties to add a touch of acidity and help keep them moist. To keep with the Japanese flavors it only seemed right to drink Asahi.

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Whole Foods had these fantastic looking bone-on pork chops for sale yesterday. With the weather being nice and all, I thought “I gots to grill me some of those!”

To start, I made a marinade for the chops. I grated an inch of ginger and two garlic cloves into my baking dish (I wasn’t baking at all, but it fit the chops in an even layer). To that, I added 5 tablespoons of soy sauce, 3 of sake, and 1 of apple cider vinegar. I mixed in about 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and some fresh cracked black pepper. I coated the chops, covered with plastic, and marinated in the fridge for about an hour.

For veggies, I did some sauteing in butter. I melted 2 tablespoons of butter and then threw in 3 crushed garlic cloves and let cook down for a few minutes. Then I added a chopped carrot. A few minutes later I threw in a red bell pepper that I sliced as well as 8 chopped green onions. Then, a few more minutes and I added some green beans and shiitake. I let it all cook together for a few minutes and then added a few tablespoons of soy sauce. I let the soy coat all of the veggies and then covered it and turned the heat down to med-low. I let the veggies sort of steam in the soy butter while I grilled the chops.

Since the chops were bone-on, the meat stayed a lot juicier than a boneless chop. I do want to mention that I took them out of the fridge about a half hour prior to throwing them on the grill to bring them back to room temp.

Some white rice and we were ready for dinner.

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Last night I joined a couple of buddies for a happy hour drink. With that in mind I put together a dinner that I could cook and assemble quickly once I got home. Broiled chicken and vegetables seemed perfect.

Before I headed out to the bar I got all my veggies cut. Asparagus, red pepper, yellow pepper, and a half onion. I set them aside and covered so that they wouldn’t dry out. I also trimmed up some skin-on bone-in chicken thighs and kept them covered in the fridge.

After getting the ingredients prepared I ground a tablespoon of fennel seeds with my pestle and mortar. I mixed them into a quarter cup of olive oil and let that sit. Then I made the mustard sauce. 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves, 1 tablespoon of rinsed capers, 2 tablespoons of mustard (I use Boetje’s, use whatever is on hand), the juice from a half lemon, 4 tablespoons of olive oil, and some black pepper. That all got stirred up and left in the fridge. Then I rinsed some rice, put it in the rice cooker, and set the timer so it’d be ready once I got home.

Off to go drink.

When I got home I put the rack in the upper third of the oven and turned on the broiler. I laid the chicken thighs and all of the veggies on a baking sheet and brushed the fennel seed olive oil over everything. I salted and peppered and then put everything under the broiler for about 15 minutes. At that point the veggies were carmelized and the chicken a little crispy and fully cooked and juicy.

I served the chicken on top of a bed of arugula and laid everything else out on the plate. Then I drizzled some mustard sauce over the chicken. That’s it, time to eat.

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Last night’s Meatless Monday was quite possibly the most simple one yet. Not feeling up to doing too much in the kitchen for some reason, I decided to keep the cooking minimal and quick. The answer? Stir-fry!

I first pressed the water out of a block of tofu. Lay some paper towels on a plate, set the tofu on top, cover with more paper towels, put a cutting board on top of that, and lay a weight of some sort on top of the cutting board. I kept that in the fridge while I cut up the rest of the vegetables.

I cut a bunch of asparagus, green onions, a yellow pepper, a red pepper, and about a half pound of fresh shiitake mushrooms. I let the shiitake sit in a sunny window for about an hour before cutting them up. Sunlight helps the mushrooms produce higher levels of vitamin B.

To start, I fried an inch of minced ginger and two chopped garlic cloves for about 3 minutes. Then I added the green onions, followed by the peppers, and then the asparagus. After a few minutes I added the shiitake sliced in quarter inch strips. I let that all stir fry up for a few minutes then added about 4 tablespoons each of soy sauce and sake along with some black pepper.

While the liquid was reducing a little I cut the tofu into bite-sized pieces then threw them into the stir-fry. I let the tofu absorb the flavor, then took off the heat and drizzled some sesame oil in it, and then served with it white rice.

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Last night I took advantage of another nice evening and grilled up some fish, at Yuki’s request. I decided to make some brochettes with Moroccan spiced cod. Any firm-fleshed fish would work for this recipe, cod just happened to be the cheapest and freshest as it just came in yesterday morning.

I cut up the fish into chunks large enough to skewer for the grill. Then I mixed up a marinade that consisted of 4 chopped garlic cloves, 1/2 teaspoon of paprika, 1/2 teaspoon of cumin, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne, about 4 tablespoons of olive oil, the juice from one lemon, and a few tablespoons of chopped cilantro. I tossed the fish into the marinade and let it sit in the fridge, covered, for about 3 hours occasionally turning.

When it came time to grill I took the fish out to rest for about a half hour to come to room temperature. During that time I chopped an onion and a red pepper as well as thinly slicing , about 1/4 of an inch thick, a chinese eggplant (the regular eggplants weren’t as fresh) and two small zucchini. I also let my bamboo skewers soak in water for an hour.

After all of the vegetables were cut I skewered the fish with the red pepper and onion chunks. Then I drizzled the eggplant and zucchini slices with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. I put the skewers on the bottom rack and the slices on the top rack. Everything was cooked at medium heat. That way the vegetables would cook at about the same rate as the fish. If the heat were too high the fish would cook much faster and the veggies would be too raw.

I made a sauce to drizzle on top of everything after grilling. The sauce consisted of 2 tablespoons of tahini, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the juice of 1/2 lemon, 1/2 teaspoon of paprika, and 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro. I served with white rice and garnished with some cilantro sprigs.

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I was flipping through a Jewish cookbook that I have trying to find recipes for Passover when I came across a recipe for Doro Wat, the national dish of Ethiopia. At first, I was surprised to see this. As I thought about it though, there has been a Jewish community in Ethiopia for thousands of years, untouched by the Romans or Crusaders. This allowed a more traditional interpretation of the Torah to exist, along with strict dietary Kashrut laws. I’m not saying that Doro Wat was created by the Jewish community, I don’t think anyone knows where its origins are, but it is consistent with a style of cooking prevalent throughout the Jewish diaspora during the Sabbath. Since it’s not permitted to do any work, cooking included, during the Sabbath, food is simmered on low heat for long periods of time. That way, when families get home from synagogue, a warm and filling meal is ready to go without further cooking.

I felt compelled to give it a whirl since Yuki and I both thoroughly enjoyed the two Ethiopian food experiences we’ve had. The recipe calls for a mix of spices, but I prefered to make a berbere to use instead. To make the berbere I mixed the following spices together all at a 1/2 teaspoon measurement: chili powder, paprika, ground ginger, cinnamon, ground cardamom seeds, ground cloves, and dried basil. Like any spice mix, you can make much more and store in a tight container for a few months.

To make the Doro Wat I first sautéed a diced large onion in some vegetable oil until it was soft but not burned, about 7 or 8 minutes. Then I grated in 6 garlic cloves and a 1/2 inch of fresh ginger and let those cook for a couple of minutes. After that, I added one cup of chicken stock and one 14 oz can of diced tomatoes and brought to a boil. I let it boil for about 10 minutes to reduce some of the liquid. Next, I salted and peppered to taste.

I was making 4 servings, so I picked up 8 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs. You can get a whole bird and break it down, purchase 4 complete leg sections, whatever you want to make 4 portions. Just make sure to use skin-on, bone-in chicken. The skin and bones will add depth to the dish. So, just before putting the thighs in the sauce I mixed in 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric and 1 teaspoon of the berbere that I made. Once the chicken was added I covered it with the sauce, turned the heat down, and let it simmer for an hour covered.

While the chicken was simmering I hard-boiled 4 eggs, one per portion. The egg is what really sets this dish apart from other chicken stews, so make sure every plate gets one. When the chicken only had about 10 minutes left I peeled the eggs, pricked them all over with a fork making sure not to break them, and then added them to the stew.

To serve with the Doro Wat I made another traditional Ethiopian dish of stewed greens. Typically collard greens are used, but Stanley’s had some beautiful chard, so I used that instead. It’s a real simple recipe. Fry a diced red onion in some olive oil for a few minutes, then add a couple of crushed garlic cloves and 1/2 inch grated ginger. After that, add 2 green chilis that have been seeded and sliced. Add about 1/3 cup of water and let come to a boil for a couple of minutes. Then, add one red pepper that’s been seeded and sliced as well as 1 pound of whatever green you use (collard, chard, kale, cabbage, etc.) thinly sliced. Season with salt and pepper, mix it all up and cook over a med-low heat for about 25 minutes partially covered. That’s all there is too it.

As much as I wanted to make some Injera, I have absolutely no idea where to find teff, the grain used to make it. I found a bunch of recipes, but no teff. So, I just made some basmati rice.

I have to say, this is one of the best tasting dishes I’ve ever made! The sauce is so friggin delicious, I am definitely keeping it in my regular rotation. It would be equally good with lamb instead of chicken. I would even give shrimp a try in this sauce.

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Sorry it took me a few days to put up this past week’s Meatless Monday. It’s been a pretty hectic week. Plus, I still have posts from Japan that I need to get up as well as other home cooked meals from both me and my wife. Soon enough my loyal readers (all three of you), soon enough.

At any rate, I had some kabocha that I need to use up so I decided to make a vegetarian stew based around it. It’s real simple to make, much like a pot of chili. It’s one-pot cooking at its tastiest.

I started by sweating some chopped onion in olive oil in a large pot. Then I added some ginger and garlic. After a few more minutes I threw some diced carrot and red pepper. Then I added some diced purple potatoes.  A few more minutes and then I finally added the star of the stew…the kabocha. You don’t want to cut the kabocha too small because it will start to become mushy and melt if you stew small pieces for too long (same with the purple potatoes).

After the kabocha was in there for about 5 minutes I seasoned with salt, pepper, paprika, cinnamon, and a little curry powder. Then I poured in about a quarter cup of orange juice and a half cup of water (I added a little more later because it absorbed and evaporated a little quicker than I anticipated, no worries, you can always add water). Once that all came to a boil I turned the heat down to a simmer, covered, and let stew for an hour.

After the hour was up I threw in some lentils then covered it for another 15 minutes. Then I added a can of drained brown beans. Once the beans were heated through I turned off the heat and threw in a handful of chopped fresh parsley and squeezed a half a lime in.

I was just going to serve it as is with some bread on the side, but Yuki decided it would taste better with angel hair pasta. That sparked an idea. Instead of angel hair we should use udon noodles! The problem with that, though, is that we didn’t have any udon. So, angel hair it was.

The beauty of a stew like this is that you can really do anything you like. Vegetables you want and any seasonings you want. Just make sure the flavors will compliment each other. The only think really missing from this dish was nice, juicy, tender chunks of lamb!

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We picked up some pita bread yesterday so we decided to make some vegetarian pita sandwiches for Meatless Monday. The beauty of something like this is that you can fill them with absolutely anything! We went with a more Middle Eastern flavor.

I sliced a Japanese Eggplant into quarter inch thick slices. I also sliced one large red pepper and one large green pepper into quarter inch slices. On a baking sheet I drizzled some olive oil and laid them all on. Then I drizzled some more olive oil on top of the veggies and sprinkled them with salt, pepper, paprika, and cumin. I roasted them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes. Then I took the eggplant off the sheet and put the peppers back in for another 5 minutes.

While those were roasting I sautéed some diced purple potatoes in olive oil for about 10 minutes to color the surface. Then I added some chopped onion and garlic and sautéed for another 7 minutes. After that, I added a half cup of chicken stock. Scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan I mixed in some salt, pepper, paprika, and cumin. Then I added a drained can of chickpeas and let it simmer until the liquid was almost completely evaporated. After turning off the heat I added the juice from one lime.

I put a couple of pitas into the oven while it was still hot for a couple of minutes to warm them up. After slicing the top off I filled them with all the goodies plus some tomatoes and avocados I sliced. Then I shoved some cilantro into whatever little crevice wasn’t filled yet.

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After years of wanting to head up to the far north side of Chicago for some Ethiopian food, I finally got off my ass and checked out Ras Dashen the other night. All I have to say to myself is, “What the hell took me so long?”

I had to start with some Ethiopian coffee, the mother of all beans. They serve fair-trade organic, nice and smooth cup.

For an appetizer Yuki and I ordered some Spinach Sambusas. Lightly fried pastries filled with spinach and dipped into a spiced salsa. Very tasty, not too heavy. Think of them as Ethiopian empanadas or samosas.

Since our friends ordered the Doro Wat (chicken and egg in berbere, Ethiopia’s national dish) we had to get something different. Although, it wasn’t that different at all. We got Yebeg Wat (lamb in berbere) and Doro Alicha (chicken and egg in onions, garlic, ginger, and green peppers). We ordered the Diblik Atkilt and Misser Wat for our sides, our friends got the Misser Salata, I think. You can check out their website for descriptions of the sides. All served on top of Injera with extra on the side.

Those of you not familiar with Ethiopian cuisine, you don’t eat with utensils. The food gets dumped right on the Injera allowing the bread to soak up the sauces and juices. You rip off pieces of the Injera, using it to grab you rip pieces of meat off the bones or piles of lentils, and chow down. It’s absolutely delicious as well as being a fun, communal way to eat.

Berbere is Ethiopia’s most famous sauce. It’s a red pepper sauce with spices like ginger, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, fenugreek seeds, paprika, onion, and garlic. It’s actually very similar to Indian spices, but it’s definately distinct.

Back to the meal itself, we ordered the rice pudding for dessert. It was quite nice, very mild. There was a date in the middle.

Our friends got Ras Dashen’s famous bread pudding. It’s made with varius nuts, raisins, and tons of flax seeds. It was definitely a winner in my book.

Half-way through our meal a little jazz quartet started to play. They were pretty good. Saxaphone, guitar, bass, and bongos. It wasn’t too loud so conversation was never difficult.

I guess the one disclaimer I have is what I was warned about. Once you have Ethiopian food, no matter how strong-willed you are, you will start to crave it. It was extremely reasonably priced as well for the quality and amount of food served. I have to check out a few other places before I decide just how good Ras Dashen really is, but I will say this, I would definitely go back!

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After visiting the temple complex at Muro-ji in the Kansai region, we had 30 minutes before the bus left back to the train station in order to catch the train to Hase-dera. With empty stomachs we needed food and we needed it fast!

As we walked through the little mountain town towards to bus stop we noticed this little ma & pa shop that served bowls of Somen Noodle Soup. It was cold and rainy and a nice hot noodle soup sounded about right.

The restaurant was a tatami room with traditional short tables and cushions to sit on. Fortunately they also had some short chairs for people like me who are unable to sit cross-legged for more than 2 minutes at a time.

The broth was a light, but flavorful dashi. Tons of perfectly cooked somen noodles. Mitsuba, sliced scrambled egg, shiitake, carrot, and tempura flakes all garnished the noodles. On the spoon was a yuzu-togarashi (citrus and red pepper) paste, my newfound love. Putting it on the spoon like that allowed you to swirl in as much as you like. In a small dish next to the soup were some pickled ferns.

It was so fresh and warming, it was exactly what we needed. Unbeatable at a price approx $6 per. We also got to the bus after eating with plenty of time to spare.

Enough time to grab a quick freshly cooked yaki-mochi dessert. Pounded glutinous rice with yomogi mixed in and filled with red azuki bean paste. Then cooked on a big round griddle.

Take that American fast food joints! I’d like to see you serve up freshly made, healthy, delicious food like that for $6 and in less than 30 minutes.

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