Thursday, December 31, 2009

cacti concoctions

Man oh man, I just can't help wanting to try new foods all the time (and drool over ones I already know and love). I left two of my boys (aka hubby and older bean - baby bean was home taking a nap with grandma on the watch) at Mickey D's playing and I walked across the parking lot to a Latin grocery store. I browsed to my heart's content, seeing something green and fresh, chopped up, in the fridge section. It looked like green peppers but turned out to be cactus, something I've never had but immediately decided I had to try. I bought a bag of the fresh plus a jar of cactus in brine (very spicy!!!). The lovely Mexican couple who run the store gave me some great ideas for how to use it.

I bought some of their homemade pico de gallo, rinsed off some of the jarred cactus (as instructed by the couple), and chopped it and mixed it in together. Lovely with lime-flavored tortilla chips.

And for the fresh cactus, they told me that in Mexico a lot of people blend raw cactus, celery, pineapple, and grapefruit juice together for a breakfast drink. It turned out to be a delicious smoothie - kind of a woodsy, fresh taste from the celery, a hint of sourness from the cactus, and the pineapple and grapefruit flavors melded it all together into one unique drink - it's like nothing I've ever tasted!

If you live in the Middleton, Wisconsin area, then stop by the shop located at the corner of Century and Allen. You'll have fun browsing and buying! (I sure did.)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

christmas brunch

Lovely family, lovely food. It doesn't get much better than that! (Of course we missed our family and friends in other parts of the country and world - cheers to all of you!)

My mom made a luscious spinach, mushroom, turkey ham, cheesy quiche with a half whole wheat and half white flour base (mixed with cream cheese and butter). Oh. my. word.

Back in the day, my friend Paula from college gave me a marinated fruit salad recipe: You just choose whatever fruit you want and soak it in a mixture of freshly squeezed lime juice, orange juice, chopped fresh mint, and honey. Mmmmm.

And for drinks we had a blend of Simply Limeade and pomegranate 7-Up (idea courtesy of some neighbor friends of ours who served it at their Christmas party).

Thursday, December 17, 2009

savoury veggie bread pudding with v8-tequila sauce

OK, so I got a little carried away here! It all started when we had some leftover artisan roasted garlic bread and it was a little on the stale side (nice crusty bread hardly ever gets old around here, though - this was a fluke for sure). What to do? I just looked up a basic bread pudding recipe (complete with cinnamon, raisins, and vanilla), looked around the kitchen for savoury substitutions, and went a little mad (not so unusual, actually).

I had bought some mushrooms, onions, zucchini, and yellow squash, so I sliced 'em up and sauteed in a little olive oil. Meanwhile, I chopped the bread, had Matthew help me mix up the grated cheese, milk, and eggs, added a few extras, slopped it all together in a greased pan, and baked in a nice relaxing jacuzzi (aka water bath) for a bit.

And shhhhhh, don't tell anybody (oh, maybe I already gave it away in the title), but I made a creamy milky tomato sauce with leftover V8 juice and a few sloshes (whoopsies) of tequila! Mmmmm.

Ahhh, what a lovely bath...

For the savoury veggie bread pudding you'll need:
  • 3/4 loaf stale roasted garlic bread, cubed (or use regular bread and add garlic)
  • 5 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 c. grated sharp cheese
  • 4.5 c. whole milk
  • 2 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 yellow squash, halved lengthwise and then thinly sliced
  • 2 c. sliced mushrooms
  • 2 small onions, diced
  • olive oil for sauteing
  • seasoned salt
  • 1/4 c. flaxseed meal
  • grated parmesan and romano cheeses
For the V8-tequila sauce you'll need:
  • 6 T butter
  • 6 T flour
  • 1/2 c. whole milk
  • 3/4 c. V8 juice
  • few splashes tequila
  • seasoned salt
  • ground black pepper
  • powdered garlic
Do this:

Saute the veggies with seasoned salt in olive oil till tender, then beat the eggs, milk, grated sharp cheese, and flaxseed meal in a large bowl. Toss in the bread and veggies to coat, then dump it all into a greased pan. Grate or shake the grated cheeses over the top. Set that pan in a larger pan with sides, place in a preheated 350 F/180 C oven, then pour hot water into the larger pan on the bottom, about 1 inch deep. Bake about an hour, checking to see that it doesn't get too browned on top - if it does, just cover with foil till done.

Make the sauce just like you would a regular white sauce. (I like to use a wire whisk to avoid any clumps.) Melt the butter in a pan, toss in your flour bit by bit, whisking all the while (whistling if you like, and if you can). Slowly add in the milk and V8 juice, still whisking, and then season with powdered garlic, seasoned salt, black pepper, and slosh in a bit of that fragrant tequila. Simmer (while whisking, of course) till thickened.

Serve in big whopping helpings with a happy splash of sauce on top. Eat with a spoon and a croon.


I haven't been doing much food blogging lately, but of course I've been cooking and eating! Can't stop me!

A few things I've made (and devoured) recently:
Planning on making Tribeca Yummy Mummy's cranberry curd just as soon as I can buy some more eggs. I promise I'll let ya know how it is and what I slather it on.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

it's easy (and yummy) being green

I've been reading about green smoothies online for ages, but when we were living in Japan we didn't have access to the organic ingredients we wanted, and we couldn't actually afford to buy all the loads of fresh fruits and veggies that go into these puppies (each blenderfull is packed!). We were waiting till we moved to the States to go for it - and go for it, we have!

There are plenty of high-powered, professional-grade blenders out there on the market that green smoothie advocates will tell you you need, but actually, my hubby read reviews for all of them, and our new KitchenAid came out on top in all the ratings. We LOVE it.

We also ordered Victoria Boutenko's Green Smoothie Revolution, mainly for the 200+ recipes. I followed them to the letter for exactly one week but have moved on and do my own thang now. They were a good jumping-off point, and I will go back to them again from time to time, but Mamatouille (my alter ego) kicks in and I just can't help adding whatever floats my boat right at that particular moment.

Today's conjuring led to a blender full of organic spinach, cilantro, purple butter lettuce, frozen bananas, frozen mixed berries, fresh tomatoes, clementines (mikan), V-Fusion tangerine and pomegranate juice, and plain yogurt.

Our favorites always include clementines - they just seem to add the right tang to the greens. We made a Costco run the other day and also have fresh mangoes, pineapples, apples, pears, navel oranges, and organic baby spinach. It's fun to add parsley or cilantro, apricots, and the kitchen sink as well.

And the beans DEVOUR them, ask for seconds and thirds, and beg me to make the smoothies at all hours.

It's great because they are getting all kinds of goodness that they wouldn't normally eat loads of - all packed into a slurpilicious cupful (or three).

The only drawback to green smoothies: green diapers.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

hubbard ave. diner

One of our newest pitstops here in Middleton, Wisconsin, and right next to our local library so we can feed our minds and our bods in one convenient swoop.

Above, the "Wisconsin Burger", loaded with locally made cheese and other goodies. The seasoned waffle fries are to cry for. Mmmmmm.

Famous for their decadent pies...

But I couldn't resist the lemon poppyseed cheesecake - one of the best pieces of cheesecake I've ever had, I tell ya.

Stay tuned for my next post where I will show you how we are combatting American-sized portions of (yummy) calorificness with a little somethin' green every day (and what our beans clamor for - seriously)...

Monday, November 16, 2009

bloggeraid cookbook now available

I don't know if you remember my cookbook teaser back in February, but the BloggerAid cookbook is now available for sale! Yea!

100% of the proceeds from the book will go towards the World Food Programme's School Meals for underprivileged children around the world, so what are you waiting for?

Get to orderin' this minute.

Friday, October 30, 2009

american punkins

I suppose it's only fitting that my first Mamatouille blog post after moving back to America from Japan would be loaded with all kinds of quaint (and yummy) Americana. We're staying with my parentals in the Madison, Wisconsin, area and I'm trying to be a proper tourist while here. I've never lived in Wisconsin so I've been doing my part by consuming vast amounts of cheese.

But a few days ago it was all about pumpkins when we visited Green Thumb Farms.

Food? Yes, please! That's what I like to see, folks. I'm all over that.

At only $1 per squash, I couldn't resist.

I got myself a little box of ambercup, butternut, acorn, and carnival squashes and can't wait to fire up my creative juices with these babies (more on that in a future post).

A whole roomful of baskets, apples, apple cider, apple cider donuts, apple butter, and pumpkin bars (somehow I managed to resist the back room full of mouthwatering pies of infinite variety and beauty).

Crumby lips that loved those apple cider donuts!

Amazing, moist, and not-too-sweet pumpkin bars with cream-cheese frosting, and apple cider donuts that were so more-ish I was glad I only bought one box (and deigned to share, too!).

Haven't tried the farm-brewed (non-alcoholic for you UK folks reading this!) apple cider yet but am looking forward to heating up a cup soon - betcha it would be fun to stir around with a cinnamon stick.

I, Mamatouille, would like to propose a new holiday for every fall from now on: Hug-a-Punkin Day! Anybody with me?

Friday, October 9, 2009


With all of our hanging out with friends and getting ready for our big trans-Pacific move, I don't have tons of time to wax very philosophical, but these autumnal kaki (persimmon) on my kitchen windowsill are reminding me of the season we are finishing and the new one about to begin.

For some reason, the kaki this year just seem to taste sweeter than usual.

Monday, September 21, 2009

rummified stuffed dates

These are not for the children, folks.

I had a big bag of dates, and though I'd never tried stuffed ones, for some reason I got fixated on the idea and had to look it up. This recipe from uses dates, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and orange peel, but I didn't have the peel. (Definitely trying the orange-peel version for Christmas, though.)

Guess what I substituted? You got it! Rum, mon! (Not Jamaican, but still yummy in these little bites.) And I threw on a dusting of nutmeg at the end.

DO NOT make these if you are hungry. DO NOT make these if you are sitting down to watch a movie. DO NOT make these if you like sweeeeeet things + the sour hit of cream cheese.

So if you DO NOT make these, let me know how you like them.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


My friend Lissa is such a sweetheart, and when she and her family recently came back from visiting their family and friends in the Philippines, not only did they bring us some amazing peanut polvoron (powdered milk candy - like a dense, milky, melt-in-your-mouth cookie), but the other day she also gave me a marinade mix for tocino.

Tocino is usually made with pork, but I went the chicken route, marinated it overnight, and then cooked it like Lissa said: Pour some water into the pot with the chicken, cook it till the water's gone, then add in a little oil and stir it around. It's a lovely mix of sweet and salty and cooking it with water meant that it got really really tender.

I'd never had tocino and didn't know what to expect, but it was YUMMY!!!

(Thanks, Lissa! Did I do it right?)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

goya juice

When I blogged yesterday about goya chanpuru and how much I love the bitter taste of bitter melon (goya), I said stay tuned for a juice recipe that Stephen's boss makes for all the employees almost every day. He grows goya in the garden around the office so has them on hand to help refresh the workers - and this juice really does bring a zing to your day!

This is all you need:

Blitz half a goya (chopped and deseeded, with the white pith removed), 250 ml (about 8 ounces) pineapple juice, about 2 shiso leaves, and honey to taste (I added about 1-2 T.). Blend till frothy (at least a minute and a half) and enjoy!

Note: Even though goya has amazing healthful properties, apparently it is not recommended for use during pregnancy.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

goya chanpuru

Goya (bitter melon) is such a cool veggie - I could eat it all the time and never get tired of it (it's bitter, though, as the English name for it implies, so if you're not into bitter tastes, it might not be for you). It's grown in Okinawa and a bit in other parts of Japan, and I received one as a gift from my friend Nobue and her garden recently. I asked her how she likes to eat it best and her answer was chanpuru, a dish that used to only be eaten in Okinawa but is now common elsewhere in Japan as well.

Nobue's directions: Cut the goya in half lengthwise, scrape out the white part and the seeds, slice it, and then soak it in salt water for a while to help take away some of the bitterness. Saute it with oil, pork, and vegetables such as carrots, bean sprouts (moyashi), and garlic chives (nira). Beat some egg and add to the pan with some chopped drained hard tofu. For flavor, add salt, pepper, and soy sauce at the end. Serve over rice and enjoy!

Well, I didn't have everything on hand, so I took some liberties, substituting and adding as I went, and this is how I ended up doing it: I sauteed some chopped chicken and minced garlic in oil, then added some cooking sake, sliced onions, and carrots. Next came the goya and some cooked soybeans (in lieu of the tofu I didn't have). I used mostly egg whites (leftover from making lemon-lovers' pie) instead of whole eggs, and instead of the salt and pepper, I used seasoned salt along with the soy sauce.

It's a nice mixture of different flavors (sweet carrots, bitter goya) and textures (soft chicken, crunchy veggies). Can you find or grow goya where you live?

Oh, guys, make sure you stay tuned for a goya juice recipe that my hubby's boss makes for all the employees! Coming soon to a Mamatouille near you...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

lemon-lovers' pie

My friend Julie (of the silken tofu peanut-butter choco pie fame) kindly gave me an extra pre-made cookie pie crust (hard to come by in Japan), and I'd been craving lemon pie for a while.

One time I brought a bottle of key-lime juice back from Florida and once the juice was used up, I just converted the recipe on the back to a lemon pie recipe (you can get bottled lemon juice or fresh lemons here pretty easily).

So here is Mrs. Biddle's Key Lime Pie, morphed into lemon.

You'll need:

  • One cookie pie crust (homemade or storebought)
  • 14 oz. (414 ml) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3 or 4 oz. (6 to 8 T.) of lemon juice (better with fresh if you have it)
  • Doesn't call for it, but I also add the zest of two lemons
Do this:

Combine the milk and egg yolks on low speed and then slowly add the juice, mixing until well blended. Pour into a cookie crust and bake at 350/180 for 15 minutes. Cool and then refrigerate. (You could probably pour it into individual oven-proof serving cups and nix the crust if you didn't have the energy, resources, or inclination for it. More like lemon custard.)

I really could eat the whole dang pie, but I was generous and shared half with hubby (over 2 nights running).

I'm a sucker for lemons in any form.

cream-of-mushroom okazu

Still using up staples from the cupboard, and this is one way to get my guys to eat veggies and chicken all in one meal.

Okazu just means anything you put over rice, and I make this differently every time. The base is just cream of mushroom soup, plus I throw in whatever veggies, chicken, and other bits and bobs that I have around.

This is how I made it tonight: Sauteed chopped chicken and minced garlic in oil till done, added chopped cooked carrots and kabocha pumpkin, stirred in two cans cream of mushroom soup, pureed frozen and thawed spinach in some milk with my immersion blender and then added that mixture (chopped spinach is not acceptable to some small palates around here but pureed is fine), and threw in some grated mozzarella and parmesan. Stirred till hot and blended, and served over rice!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Well, Matthew's not so much into naps anymore (poo!) but Joel still has his daily kip about 1 p.m. After he wakes up we all tromp into the kitchen to make yogurt fruit shakes.

Here are some recent combos we've had (using plain yogurt always):

  • yogurt, bananas, blueberries, toasted wheat germ, and Kagome purple veggie/fruit juice
  • yogurt, peaches, wheat germ, and honey
  • yogurt, kiwi, bananas, pineapple, papaya, honey, and wheat germ
  • yogurt, orange marmalade, wheat germ, and bananas
  • yogurt, mikan oranges, bananas, fruit-juice sweetened strawberry jam, and wheat germ
The possibilities are endless...

Sunday, September 6, 2009

pumpkin and sweet-potato salad

I got to use up some of my big bag of raisins for this delicious summery Japanese salad that is perfect to put in obento lunchboxes. In fact, I first had it years ago at the Nagoya Basho sumo tournament when a friend brought some in a multi-tiered traditional lacquered bento box, and I was smitten from the get-go.

I'm sure every Japanese housewife has her own version. My friend Nobue gave me her formula, which is so so simple and really yummy with the sweetness of pumpkin (kabocha), sweet potatoes (satsumaimo), and raisins, and a combo sour hit of plain yogurt and cream cheese.

You just dice up some unpeeled sweet potatoes and pumpkin, then cook them as you like (boil, steam, or microwave) till soft. Plump up the raisins with some boiled water, then drain.

While the pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and raisins are still hot, stir in some cubed cream cheese, plain yogurt, and a tiny bit of mayo (I'm not a mayo fan but the Japanese Kewpie-style mayo is not too bad - not sweet like some Western mayos).

Refrigerate and voila! Oishiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii (yummy)!

P.S. Stay tuned for even more pantry-clearing oishii bites to eat...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

coconut-milk pudding pops

Yep, I'm still using up what's left in our cabinet and for sure, that "popsicle stick" is one of my rubber-handled metal measuring spoons! I'll explain in a bit...

The wheels started turning when I was thinking about my cans of coconut milk and I remembered I had a recipe for chocolate pudding pops--so why not do coconut instead? Everybody was happy with the results except hubby who thinks everything should be chocolate (plus he's not a coconut fan). That's OK, though, because it left more for the rest of us.

Matthew-Bean wasn't complaining...he just cruised through his popsicle.

So I assessed my options and realized I probably didn't have enough popsicle molds--no worries because I improvized with plastic cups, waxed paper, and yes, measuring spoons.

I cut waxed paper into circles the size of the bottoms of the cups, laid it in there, and then placed more around the sides of the cups before pouring in the cooled pudding. After it had set for a while in the freezer, I added the measuring spoons when the pudding was frozen enough for the spoons to stay upright.

I had to let them warm up a bit at room temp (or you could run some hot water over the base of the cups) before easily pulling them out...

Then you just unwrap the waxed paper from the sides and peel off the circle from the top of the popsicle.

They were nice and creamy, cold, not too sweet, and with just a hint of cinnamon, would be perfect at the end of a curry meal--though they were wonderful just for a snack all by themselves.

I ended up fusing two recipes: a chocolate pudding pops recipe from More with Less and a Puerto Rican Christmas coconut pudding recipe (tembleque) from Extending the Table: A World Community Cookbook.

Here's my version, great for nice summery pudding pops. It took 1.5 cans of coconut milk, and I used the leftovers to add to a mandarin orange yogurt shake (plain yogurt, coconut milk, mandarin orange segments, honey, and toasted wheat germ all creamified with the immersion blender).

For the pops, you'll need:

2.5 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1/3 c. sugar
1/4 t. salt
1/4 c. cornstarch
ground cinnamon

Do this:

Combine the milk, sugar, and salt in a pan on the stove over low heat, then use a bit of that mixture in a separate bowl to dissolve the cornstarch. Add that back into the pot, and cook until it's thickened, then cook an additional 5 minutes on low, constantly stirring. Add some ground cinnamon to taste, then let it cool a while.

Pour into popsicle molds of your choice (cups, waxed paper, and measuring spoons are fine). This made enough for 4 popsicles in the proper mold plus 3 small plastic cups' worth.