Ally

Noodles...in the asian culture they symbolize longevity...and what could be better than a long life filled with slurping delicious noodles? In the dogs days of summer, I love to make zaru-soba to cool me down and in the chilly nights of winter, nothing warms me up quicker then going out for a pipin' hot bowl of ramen. Today though, I was craving something warm but not too soupy and it definitely had to be something bursting with flavor. Some chewy udon noodles...oh and definitely some mushrooms! I had stopped by Oto's on Sunday night and had been entranced with the mushroom display and had picked up some lovely shimeji mushrooms that had called out to me. (Have you been to Oto's? They have a fantastic mushroom selection.)


Sweet Miso Udon (adapted from a recipe by Love & Lemons)

Ingredients

1 package pre-cooked fresh udon noodles

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons grated, fresh ginger

4 oz. shimeji mushrooms, base cut off & mushrooms gently separated

1.5 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted

3 scallions, chopped (whites & greens)

1 tablespoon butter

salt, to taste


Sweet Miso Mixture:

2 tablespoons shiro miso paste

1.5 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons mirin


Instructions

- Prep chopped items and set aside.

- In a small saucepan, combine shiro miso paste, sugar and mirin. Bring to a gentle boil, turn heat down and simmer for 2-3 minutes while whisking continuously. The mixture should bubble slightly but take care to not let it burn. Set aside.

- Boil 1.5 cups water. Add udon noodles, cook for 2 minutes.

- In a medium pot, heat butter until melted. Add garlic, ginger, mushrooms, scallion whites and a pinch of salt and saute until mushrooms are cooked down.

- Drain noodles and add to pot with mushroom/butter mixture.

- Add the sweet miso mixture to noodles, 2 tablespoons at a time and taste. (You might not use all of it and if necessary, add a little water to thin the sauce to your desired consistency.)

- Turn heat off and stir in half the scallion greens and sesame seeds. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more sauce if necessary.

- Portion into bowls and garnish with the remaining scallion greens and sesame seeds.
Ally
Usually on Sunday evenings, I like to stay home, cook and relax but this Sunday I had an opportunity to attend a community gathering where internees from the Tule Lake Segregation Center spoke about their camp experiences. Additionally, internment camp recipes and foods were discussed. The event was held at the Sacramento Buddhist Church on W Street, a conjoined effort between Allan and Meriko Hoshida (Mark's parents met at Tule Lake as teenagers) and Stacy Kono and Nina Fallenbaum (project coordinators for The Tule Lake Community Cookbook Project).



( Japanese community cookbooks and Tule Lake literature
at the event for guests to peruse)


The gathering started out with the Tanimoto brothers, Mori and Jim, recounting how they were evacuated from their homes, put on a train and advised that they were being imprisoned for their own safety. In a moving account they told how they could only take what they could carry and from there they endured degradation, segregation and alienation from a country that kept demanding that they prove their allegiance by signing it's "loyalty oath."




Then Mary Fong shared her experience of growing up as a child at Tule Lake. How she went to school during the day and worked in the mess hall in the evenings, all while behind a barbed wire fence and surrounded by watchtowers manned by armed guards. She also discussed the pilgrimage back to Tule Lake as an adult decades later and the emotions that arose within her.


Once the speakers were done, there was some historical background given on Tule Lake and how it had been known as the "NO NO camp." Audience members were encouraged to share their own experiences of Tule Lake as well as at other Japanese internment camps and then the conversation segued into the food that was eaten in the camps- from dishes like the infamous weenie royale and the chewy, slimy mutton stew. Also discussed were the various creative measures the internees took to make tastier or familiar foods...by growing a vegetable garden, smuggling rice from the mess hall or cutting a hole into their barrack's floor to brew and hide sake. Even digging a foot-wide ditch and spreading grains for the migrating geese...then lying in wait for the geese to land, get stuck (they were unable to re-open their wings in the narrow space) and catching them in sacks.


The evening concluded with a cooking demonstration of some weenie royale by Stacy Kono and each guest was provided with a bowl to sample the dish for himself/herself.



(Weenie Royale photo by photographer, Gabe Martinez)

 
Weenie Royale (adapted from recipe by A. Chow)

Ingredients

1/2  yellow onion, chopped

1-2 Tablespoon soy sauce

2 hot dogs

3 eggs

Serve with steamed white Japanese rice


Instructions

- Saute the chopped onions with a tablespoon of soy sauce and cook at medium to high heat until they are caramelized.

- While you wait for the onions to caramelize, cut the hot dogs in julienne slices and beat the eggs.

- After the onions are caramelized, add the other vegetables, then hot dogs and cook for 2-3 minutes.

- Finally, add the beaten eggs to the onions and hot dogs and cook until the eggs are done.

- Serve on top of steamed white rice.

- Drizzle soy sauce on top. (optional)


[ If you or someone you know spent time at Tule Lake and would like to submit a recipe or food/camp story, please contact tulelakecommunitycookbook@gmail.com. They're hoping to be able to put the Recipes of Resistance and stories (of before, during, after, redress and the pilgrimage) together to share with the next generation. ]
Ally
I'll admit sometimes dating someone with kidlets can be a bit trying...instead of cocktails with friends or a romantic getaway to the City, weekends can be full of meltdowns, pouting and attitude. But more often then not, they're a lot of fun...like today. Mr. S. and I took the kidlets to go bowling. Bowling---I honestly don't recollect having gone bowling in at least eight years. It was a bit retro but we had a total blast and Mr.S. even scored a turkey (3 strikes in a row)!




For dinner, I wanted to make something fun and casual so I had Mr.S. grill up a couple of juicy chicken breasts on the BBQ and I threw together a batch of Southwest Chicken Chili. It went over like gangbusters with the dinner crowd. The flavoring of this chili is amazing! Even chili haters will love it. The only thing I'm worried about now is having fed preteen boys a lot of beans for dinner...I think there's going to be a lot of "musical fruit" action tonight while we watch some movies. Yipes!



Southwest Chicken Chili  (recipe from Simply Scratch)

Ingredients

3-4 cups Cooked Chicken, shredded

2 cans Pinto Beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup Corn

1 medium Green Pepper, diced (I left this out since 3 out of the 4 of us dislike green peppers)

1 medium Onion, diced

1 Jalapeno, diced small (seeds and ribs removed)

2 Garlic Cloves, minced

3 tablespoons Flour

4 teaspoons Ancho Chili Powder

2 teaspoons Cumin

2-1/2 teaspoons Kosher Salt (more or less to taste)

2 tablespoons Tomato Paste

3 cups Chicken Broth

3/4 cup Heavy Cream

3 tablespoons Butter


Optional for serving:

Sour Cream

Cilantro, torn

Tortilla Chips, crushed

Grated Pepper Jack or Cheddar Cheese


Instruction

- In a dutch oven sauté the green pepper, onions, jalapenos and minced garlic in three tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat.


- Once soft, season with the ancho chili powder and cumin. Sprinkle with the flour and stir until the flour is absorbed and cook for one minute.

- Add in one cup chicken broth and the 3/4 cream stir and bring to a simmer. Stir in two tablespoons tomato paste.

- Add in the drained beans, shredded chicken and corn. Stir and add in more broth {as needed}. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour over medium-low, then remove the lid and simmer for 15 minutes.

- Serve with a dollop of sour cream, torn cilantro, crushed corn tortilla chips or grated cheese.
Ally

I can't believe it's been nearly two years since I moved into my little cottage in the Grid. Coming from a flat in an old 4-plex on the busy end of Midtown with loud neighbors; I can't express how much I love my adorable girly cottage with it's cute hardwood floors, modern fixtures, quiet neighbors, and ample parking. I love how I can step outside my door and pick juicy Meyer lemons in the winter and how bright yellow daffodils poke their heads up every spring like clockwork. I also love how everyday some unknown person moves the small raccoon statue in my courtyard to a new location (it was a bit creepy at first, but now it's just funny). There's just something about the place that makes it really feel like a home...a mini-oasis. My only beef with the place is during the winter when I do some heavy duty cooking, even with the kitchen fan on, odors linger...especially seafood smells. Last month when I made crab cakes, the cottage smelled like a seafood grotto for days. DAYS. So when I ran across this recipe recently for quinoa cakes, I thought I'd give them a try. The crispiness of a crab cake without the stench of the ocean...yes, please! Well, they turned out to be really delish especially when paired with my fav remoulade or spicy sriracha-mayo. I've been making these quinoa cakes a lot the past couple of weeks...they're stink-free AND healthy (quinoa is a "superfood," didn't you know?). Win-win.


Crispy Quinoa Cakes with Sriracha-Mayo
(quinoa cakes recipe from Running To The Kitchen)
(sriracha-mayo recipe from White on Rice Couple)

Quinoa Cakes

Ingredients

1 1/3 cups cooked quinoa

1/2 small onion, finely chopped

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 egg

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon capers (rinsed of brine)

zest of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

2 tablespoons AP flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

juice of 1/2 a lemon

3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, for frying


Instructions

- Combine all ingredients except olive oil in a large bowl and mix until fully combined.

- Heat a large skillet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.

- In quarter cup scoops, form the quinoa mixture into patties.

- Place patties in skillet and pan fry 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown, adding additional olive oil as needed.

- Serve with additional lemon or your favorite sauce.


Sriracha-Mayo

Ingredients

3 tablespoons mayo

1 tablespoon Sriracha style chili sauce

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon soy sauce  

 
Instructions
 
- In bowl, combine ingredients until smooth.
Ally


Although most of my posts are upbeat, I get just as crabby and moody from time to time as everyone else. I'll even admit, I'm the worst during PMS- I sob during those stupid Hallmark commercials and will go ballistic if some jerkoff cuts me off on the freeway. In fact as a joke, this year Mr. S. bought me these cute mood rings from Restoration Hardware as a Christmas stocking stuffer but secretly I think he was really hoping they'd warn him of my impending mood swings during PMS week.

(photo from restorationhardware.com)

Anyhow, nothing usually gets me out of a bad mood faster than chopping, grating and stirring in the kitchen. I just zone out, focus on the task at hand and it calms me down within minutes. So the next time you feel like screaming into a pillow or choke-holding someone...step back, take a deeeeeeep breath, grab your favorite apron, head into your kitchen and try making this gem of a recipe.

Meyer Lemon Upside-Down Cake (from LA Times, March 14, 2007)

Ingredients

4 small lemons (about 4 ounces each)

One-half cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) butter, divided

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 vanilla bean, split ( or 1 tablespoon vanilla paste)

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk


Instructions

1. Cut 3 of the lemons into one-eighth inch thick slices. Remove seeds and set aside. You will have about 30 lemon slices. Grate 1 teaspoon lemon peel from the remaining lemon. Set aside the grated peel; save the lemon for another use.

2. Heat 4 tablespoons of the butter in a 10-inch cast iron skillet or an ovenproof 10-inch saute pan until melted. Brush the sides of skillet with a little of the melted butter. Add the brown sugar, stir until it is moistened with the butter and spread it into an even layer. Arrange the lemon slices, slightly overlapping, to cover the bottom of the skillet. Set aside.

3. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside.

4. Cut the remaining 6 tablespoons butter into a mixing bowl. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean with the point of a knife onto the butter. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until creamy. Add the sugar and grated lemon peel and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time.

5. Add half the flour mixture and beat until blended. Add milk and beat until combined, then add the remaining flour mixture and beat until blended.

6. Spread the batter over the lemons in the skillet to cover evenly. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cake is golden and the center tests done. Let the cake stand 5 minutes, then invert the skillet onto a platter. To serve, slice into wedges with a sharp knife.
Ally
Do you think they have addiction support groups for juice addicts? Not THAT kind of "juice" but actual juice...I've been going through Ocean Spray's Cran-Tangerine Juice like the zombie apocalypse is descending. I bought the stuff on a whim when it was on sale for $2 a bottle at the grocery store and like a crack whore needing her daily fix I've been chugging the stuff and returning to buy a couple of bottles a week. It tastes great straight or mixed with some fizzy water. Although I may have to cut down on buying so much of it at the same grocery store, the last time I was in there my elderly checker looked at all of my bottles of cran-tang goodness and commented, "Cranberry juice, LOVE this stuff---it's great for urinary tract infections, you know?"  Um, yeah...TMI ma'am.


Ally
"One day it started raining, and it didn't quit for four months. We've been through every kind of rain there is. Little bitty stinging rain...and big old fat rain. Rain that flew in sideways. And sometimes rain even seemed to come straight up from underneath. Shoot, it even rained at night."
~Forrest Gump, 1994


Well, it looks like the winter rains have finally hit Sacramento. It was so cold, wet and nasty out this weekend that I took it as an opportunity to cozy up on the couch with a throw and catch up on some TV (Southland, Shameless and Californication). I also watched a movie based on the memoir by food writer Nigel Slater called, "Toast." It was actually quite cute. Next on my must-watch list is "Artois the Goat," a comedy about a lab tech on a journey to invent the greatest goat cheese ever known to man (this was recommended by a friend with high praise). Surprise, surprise!--some of my favorite films to watch have been foodcentric films- "Tampopo," "The Big Night," and "Eat Drink Man Woman" are just a few that instantly come to mind (I LOVE that opening scene of the father cooking in "Eat Drink Man Woman"). What are some of your favorite food flicks?

Anyhow, if you're looking for something to nosh on while watching your movies that's not full of fat, sugar or loads of salt try this creamy garlic white bean dip. Paired with tortilla chips, veggies or pita bread it's a healthier route to go than some greasy nachos. It's also a great dish to take to parties...you can fancy it up it with a drizzle of your favorite olive oil, add some sprinklings of parsley or throw on a pinch or two of sumac.

Garlic White Bean Dip

Ingredients

2  15-ounce cans of cannellini (white kidney) beans, drained and washed

2/3 cup tahini*

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

3-4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/4 cup room temperature water

salt


Instructions

1. In a food processor, place all ingredients and pulse until you achieve a creamy consistency. Scrape the sides of the food processor bowl if you need to.

2. Taste. Add more salt, lemon juice or garlic to liking.

3. Slowly add a tablespoon of water at a time to the dip through the food chute at the top of the food processor. Continue to pulse the dip at intervals, until the dip becomes fluffy.

4. Serve the dip at room temperature with your favorite accompaniment.

* TIP: If you don't already, buy your tahini at your local Mediterranean market...it's MUCH cheaper and you get a lot more product for your buck. Sacramento folks, there's several places in the vicinity of Fulton Ave.

Ally
Just a reminder...Baconfest this weekend! For more info check out SacBaconfest.

Ally

Eek! Where did the week go? One minute I was babysitting my friend's 3 adorable little girls, then next slurping ramen with a girlfriend...then in the blink of an eye, it was mid week and I was attending a party to celebrate a friend's tubal ligation (hey people have baby showers, why not celebrate a woman's choice not to have children? I think it's a GREAT idea) and now whammo! it's already the end of the week. And boy not only did the time fly but it got super cold! It went from sunny Sacramento to chilly and wet. I was at Mr.S.'s and poor Pepper pup was so cold (he is a poodle after all) that he was huddled under the covers and quite frankly, I didn't blame him.


Well, if you're short on time and you want to put something nice and warm in your belly, then these Gruyère-Scallion Mini Popovers will be right up your alley. The recipe is from my Williams-Sonoma "Small Plates" cookbook and was originally called, "Gruyère-Chive Mini Popovers," but I didn't have any chives in the cottage so I subbed in scallions and they tasted mighty delish. You can serve them up as cute hors d'oeuvres or as a side dish to some warm soup. They're the perfect bite-size accompaniment.

Gruyère-Scallion Mini Popovers

Ingredients

Canola oil for greasing pans

1 cup flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

1 Tbs. finely sliced scallions

1 1/4 cups milk, at room temperature

2 eggs, at room temperature

1 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted

3 oz. Gruyère cheese, coarsely grated


Instructions
1.  Preheat an oven to 450°F. Generously oil 24 wells of 1 large or 2 small mini muffin pans.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, pepper, and scallions. In a large measuring pitcher, whisk together the milk, eggs and butter. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and whisk together until just combined (don’t worry if some lumps remain).

3. Fill the prepared muffin cups to within about 1/4 inch of the rims. Place 1 scant tsp. grated cheese in the center of each filled cup. Bake, without opening the oven door, for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and bake until the popovers are brown, crusty and fully puffed, 8 to 10 minutes longer.

4. Transfer the popovers to a platter and serve warm. Makes 24 mini popovers.
Ally

907 Tahoe Blvd., Incline Village, NV 89451. (775) 831-1000.
http://www.bitetahoe.com/

Don't you love it when you're on an out-of-town getaway and you stumble upon the perfect restaurant? Mr. S. and I pulled into North Lake Tahoe Friday evening and were ravenous, we decided to check out this little eatery snuggled in a teensy strip mall and lucky us we scored the trifecta of eats- delicious food, great service and no wait (even though the place was packed). How lucky were we? The food gods must have been smilin' on us that night.



The restaurant itself is pretty small and divided into two separate areas- a bar and a restaurant; however, both sides serve food. The menu consists of beer, wine, cocktails, tapas and small plates. For a place it's size, Bite had a pretty extensive wine list with a nice variety. I decided to try a glass of the Klinker Brick Syrah, which I ended up really enjoying. It had a wonderful silky texture and tasted of rich plum and hints of black cherry. For dinner, we opted to order four dishes and share. We started with the white bean and roasted garlic dip with organic carrots and grilled bread. This stuff makes hummus look like a sad pathetic step-child...it's creamy, it's chock full of flavor and even the grilled bread is amazing (I think they rub it with garlic?). From there, we moved onto some nice light grilled wild halibut silver dollar tacos with chipotle aioli, cilantro and lime (these tacos were so good that I was wishing I had more of them the next day when we were watching the 49ers-Saints game...the perfect football game watching food). To top off our food-bliss, we had the beef short rib sliders with crispy onions and sweet pepper spread (Mr. S.'s fav) and the pan-seared sea scallops with beet spaetzle, braised greens and brown butter (my fav). The last two were fantabulous! Although the beet spaetzle threw us for a loop at first. Neither of us could remember what it was at first and were taking guesses at what it could be... my guess was some sort of doughy pan-fried chicharonnes. We finally had to ask the waitress. They were so delicious though...my goodness. Every item we ordered at Bite got the thumbs up from both of us. Additionally, our waitress was quick and friendly. We were pleased as punch (and full as could be) when we left.  If we lived closer, I'm sure we'd be dining there frequently. As it is, we'll just have to hope that we somehow find ourselves out that way again.
Ally

Hope everyone enjoyed their weekend...I know some of you lucky ones out there even got a 3-day weekend to boot! Mr.S. and I packed up and headed out of town for a few days to get some fresh air and meet up with some friends up in Tahoe for a couple of days for some R&R. Since I'm still swimming in all those Meyer lemons, I made a big batch of giant lemon sugar cookies. Oh my goodness ya'll, these babies are...as some of my friends would put it---"amazeballs!" Minimal ingredients, quick to make, lots of flavor, you've got to try some...get to it---scoot! (Btw, they're great on their own but even more magical paired up with some creamy ice cream.)




Lemon Sugar Cookies (recipe by Pinch My Salt)
Makes about 24 giant cookies

Ingredients

- 2 c sugar, divided

- zest of two lemons, divided (Meyers if you have them)

- 1 c butter, softened

- 2 eggs, room temperature

- 1 tsp vanilla

- 1 Tbsp lemon juice, fresh

- 2 3/4 c flour

- 1/4 tsp salt

- 2 tsp cream of tartar

- 1 tsp baking soda


Instructions

1. Prepare lemon sugar: In a mini food processor (I used my regular Cuisinart), blend 1/2 cup of sugar with 1 teaspoon lemon zest. Pulse several times until the lemon zest is incorporated into the sugar. Put sugar mixture in a shallow bowl and stir lightly with a fork to break up any clumps. Set aside.


2. Prepare cookie dough: In a medium bowl, stir together flour, salt, cream of tartar, and baking soda. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and remaining 1 1/2 cups of sugar. Blend in eggs, one at a time; add vanilla, lemon juice, and remaining lemon zest. Add the flour mixture, one cup at a time, blending well after each addition until all flour is incorporated.

3. Refrigerate dough for one hour.

4. Preheat oven to 350. Shape cookies using a jumbo cookie scoop or your hands; shape two tablespoons of dough into a ball and roll in lemon sugar. Place ball of dough on prepared cookie sheet and press down lightly with the bottom of a glass until cookie is about 1/2 inch thick. Repeat. Six cookies will fit on one 18 x 13 baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
Ally


For weeks I've had a wicked craving for some yakitori and since Mr. S. is sick again (this time with a head cold), I figured he'd be too weak to kick up a fuss about whatever I'd want to cook for dinner so last night I whipped up a batch. (Just in case though, I made a fresh batch of lemon bars for dessert to placate him.) Turned out I need not have worried, he liked the yakitori especially since I kept some extra sauce on the side for dipping and looks like the dish will most likely pop up into our dinner rotation in the near future again. Especially since it's so easy to make...all you have to do is baste, baste, baste! :)

Yakitori with Tare Sauce (adapted from Café Sucré Farine)

Ingredients

1 cup low sodium chicken broth

¾ cup Kikkoman Less Sodium Soy Sauce (green bottle)

½ cup mirin

¼ cup honey

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

6 thin slices fresh ginger

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 ½ tablespoons corn starch

1 ½ tablespoons water

1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or thighs), cut into cubes

2 bunches scallions, cut in 1" pieces, discarding top 2-3 inches


Instructions

1. Soak bamboo skewers in cold water for 15 minutes. Drain

2. Combine the chicken broth, soy sauce, mirin, honey, rice vinegar, lime juice, sugar, garlic, ginger slices and sesame oil in a medium size saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Combine cornstarch and water; stir vigorously until there are no lumps. Add to soy mixture and continue to simmer for 4-5 minutes, until bubbly and thickened. Strain the sauce and reserve 1/2 cup for dipping. Set aside to cool completely.

4. Preheat grill to medium-high. Brush or spray grill grate with oil.

5. Alternately skewer chicken pieces then two scallions onto skewers. (All I could find were the super long wooden kabob sticks, so we had "super-sized" yakitori for dinner.) Grill skewers, covered, about 2 minutes on each side.

6. Baste the side of meat facing up with sauce. Grill, covered, 2 minutes more and turn. Continue grilling and basting chicken, 10 minutes total or until cooked through. (Watch chicken carefully; don't over-cook or chicken will be dry and tough.)

("What is Yakitori?" from Chef Taro, click to enlarge)
Ally

Growing up with a Japanese mom, it's always been traditional for me to end the year with a massive cleaning of the house in preparation for the upcoming year. The top-to-bottom cleaning (oosouji) removes the dirt of the old year and gets the home ready for a fresh and prosperous new year (shōgatsu). This year however, Mr. S. and I came down with that nasty flu bug that was going around just as New Year's approached. The end (and beginning) of the year were spent sleeping and puking. Coming off of that, last weekend we had to attend a funeral...so things like housekeeping have been on the backburner. Anyhow, this week...a week and a half into the new year...things are finally settling back to our "normal" chaos level. I've just got around to starting my New Year's cleaning...although, I did take a minibreak from chores to make a plate of these Japanese green beans with sesame dressing. Next year though, I'm going to be prepared and get a chore monkey to help out....

 (photo from threadless)


Japanese Green Beans With Sesame Dressing  (Christine's Recipes)

Tips: To get the best result, try to use the naturally brewed soy sauce to make the dressing. It brings in rich soy flavour and isn't too salty.  Toast or dry pan fry the sesame seeds before use. When you smell the aroma, it’s done.


Ingredients:

300 g green beans

35 g toasted sesame seeds

2 Tbsp sugar

100 ml Yamasa soy sauce (or any kind of Japanese soy sauce you like)

2 tsp mirin

salt, to taste


Instructions

 
1. Rinse green beans and drain well. Trim both ends. Blanch in salted boiling water for 3 minutes. The beans should be cooked and still crunchy. Drain and immediately rinse in cold water. Pat dry.

2. To make the sesame dressing: Place the sesame seeds into a mortar (or use a food processor to process briefly, and make sure not to overprocess.) Grind the seeds until almost a paste, then add the sugar, mirin, and soy sauce. Mix well. Season with salt if needed.

3. Put green beans in a large bowl. Mix the sesame dressing with the green beans. Arrange in a serving bowl or a serving plate. Sprinkle with more toasted sesame seeds if desired.
Ally
It's that time of the year again, when my Meyer lemon trees start going into overdrive. Like last year I've been busy making lemon curd, lemon bars, preserved lemons, lemonade...well, you get the idea. If you've been over recently, no doubt you've been sent home from the cottage with a hefty bag of Meyer lemons or some sort of lemony concoction.

Tonight I decided to try this recipe for Pollo al Limone (fancy talk for Chicken with Lemon) from David Rocco's book, Made in Italy. It was simple to make and a great excuse to get to whack things with my new meat tenderizer.

Pollo al Limone
Serves 4

Ingredients

2 lb (1 kg) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, or scallopini

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Flour, for dredging

3 tbsp (45 mL) extra-virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, whole

2 tbsp (30 g) capers

1/2 cup (125 mL) white wine

1–2 tbsp (15–30 mL) unsalted butter

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, to taste (I skipped this as I was out)


Instructions
 
1. If you’re not using scallopini, pound your chicken breasts until they’re about a 1/4 inch (5 mm) thick. Season with salt and pepper on both sides and dredge in flour.
 
2. On medium-high heat, heat up your olive oil in a frying pan, and when it’s hot, add the garlic and capers and cook for 1 minute or so. Add your chicken breasts to the pan and lightly brown them on both sides.

3. Pour in the wine, add the butter, lemon zest and juice, then some salt and parsley. Let that cook for a couple of minutes, until the wine reduces and the sauce thickens up.

4. Enjoy!
Ally

For years, I always thought kiwi were grown in some exotic locale and shipped over...to me they have that tropical look like they'd belong with pineapples, mangoes and guavas, but it turns out they're grown right right here in good old California. I found that out a few years back, when a friend of my ex-husband's told me that his family owned a kiwi orchard out past Wilton and asked if I'd like some kiwi...and ever since then I've been a recipient of a big bag of fresh kiwifruit every year. Most years I would just eat the kiwi sliced in a salad, if I was feeling a bit adventurous I'd throw them in a smoothie but this year I thought I'd take it up a notch and make some kiwi jam. I poked around the internet and found the recipe below by Ball. It was a different way to use up the kiwifruit and a neat way to extend enjoying the flavor beyond the usual season.

Kiwi Facts
  • Kiwi grow on vines.
  • California is the only state that produces kiwi in the US.
  • Kiwi can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 weeks.
  • Although kiwi are named after the New Zealand bird, the fruit originated in China.
  • Kiwi are a great source of vitamin C and potassium...so eat up! :)

Kiwi Jam (The Ball Blue Book of Preserves)
Yield: about 4 half-pints

Ingredients

3 cups chopped and *peeled kiwi

1 cup unsweetened pineapple juice

1 package of powdered pectin

4 cups of sugar


Instructions

1. Combine kiwi, powdered pectin and pineapple juice in a large saucepan.

2. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.

3. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved.

4. Return to a rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly.

5. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary.

6. Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4" headspace.

7. Adjust two piece caps.

8. Process 10 minutes boiling water bath.

* Peel only if using fuzzy kiwi, and the easiest way to do that is to actually cut the kiwi in half and just scoop out the flesh instead of peeling. Hardy kiwis have tender skin so no need to peel.
Ally
Every year La Cocina comes out with these tees in different colors. Aren't they just frickin' adorable?


"I Cart Street Food" Tees
Ally


3631 Southport Drive, Sacramento, CA, 95826. (916) 368-2277

Just over a year ago, my buddy Jeff (who's my go-to-guy for Korean restaurant recs) introduced me to Sarang Bang and somehow it's become one of my favorite Korean places in town despite it's drawbacks...and the place does have some major drawbacks- it's seedy location and limited hours of operation mainly. First off, it's located off of Kiefer in a Rosemont strip mall, next to The Mushroom dive bar...not the safest part of town for a girl and her fork to be roaming about. Add to that, it's only open at night. But hey the good part is, it's open late...really late--like 2am late. In fact, Mr. S. and I have often subbed in Sarang Bang as our late night "Korean Denny's" when we've needed some midnight chow after attending a party or event.

Make it in from the creepy parking lot and you're golden. The establishment's weathered wooden booths covered in graffiti illuminated by dimly lit lanterns gives the place a cozy, comfortable feel like you've stumbled upon some odd little out-of-the-way pub. Two little old Korean ladies usually run the show...sometimes they chat with you; other times, you merely get a slight nod and a request to take your order...it's the luck of the draw. Mr. S. and I usually have a good time watching and discussing the Korean music videos or variety shows while we sip our barley tea and wait for our meals. It tends to be pretty quiet in there, but sometimes some soju-soaked revelers stumble in post-karaoke and things get a little noisy.

The restaurant's menu is pretty extensive (and includes many photos) and they serve the whole menu up to closing. On my first visit with friends, I tried the yangnyeom (spicy/sweet fried) chicken, haemul pajeon (seafood pancakes), dukbokki (stir-fried rice cakes) and all were tasty but on my return visits, Mr.S. and I have gotten into the routine of ordering the bulgogi and omurice. (Now, I know what you're thinking omurice isn't Korean...but at 12am...it's the perfect midnight snack, don't you know? And hey, it's on their menu!) Anyhow, their bulgogi I think is some of the better bulgogi I've had in Sac. Tender and not fatty or too sweet. One order of bulgogi, one order of omurice and the banchan and we're good to go.  Way better than any other eatery burning the midnight oil in the River City and quite filling.

*soju, rice/plum wine, beer only
*$20 minimum purchase to use plastic
*if business is slow, sometimes they close early
Ally

Idea completely inspired by F*ck Yeah! Ryan Gosling blog.
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