Tuesday, July 28, 2009

searching, summer shakes, and somen

I love my free blog template I use for Mamatouille, but something that's been bugging me from the beginning about it is that it doesn't have a way to search for recipes within the blog. Evidently it bothers a friend of mine, too, because she emailed me and asked me to make it searchable, PLEASE!

Well, hubby to the rescue. I'm not really wanting to change my template right now, but he's got a handy-dandy way to search within a site that lacks a search box.

Let's say you remember seeing Mamatouille's peanut butter balls, but you didn't bookmark it and now you can't remember what month I posted that recipe in. Here's what you do - go up to the Google search box (or whatever search engine you're using) and type in (exactly like this, with the spacing just the same):

site:mamatouille.com peanut butter balls

Make sure there's no space between site: and mamatouille.com, and there needs to be a space between .com and peanut.

Let me know how it works for you!

In other Mamatouille news, the kiddietouilles and I had a great after-nap snack today: I blended about 400 g (2 c. or so) plain yogurt, 1.5 overripe bananas, about 1/4 c. toasted wheat germ, and a couple of tablespoons or so of honey. Must be drunk with straws so your shinkansen (bullet train) DVD is not missed, even to lift up a cup to your lips. Precious train moments might be lost.

Lately we're eating loads of fresh cold fruit, chopped fresh veggies, plain yogurt mixed with fruit-juice sweetened jams, Camembert cheese (the Japanese version), fridge-cold peanut butter balls, and a bit of ice cream to stay cool. So I'm curious - what are you and/or your kiddiewinks eating/drinking this summer?

I loved this cold somen (noodles) lunch my friend made for us the other day - isn't the art great? Her 3-year-old daughter helped use special cutters to make the food designs with omelet, ham, and carrots. Kawaii! Cute!

Friday, July 17, 2009

lemon-yogurt chicken with raisin-pecan couscous

So Mamatouille was just mindin' her own business one day when WHAM! This luscious combination hit her with full foodie force. She wrote the idea down and the dream became reality yesterday. It's another yasashii (gentle)-to-you-in-the-heat-of-summer meal - you don't need a rice cooker this time, though, just a slow cooker (oh, and a pot on the stove for about five minutes).

The sour/creamy chicken is SO delish with the sweet/crunchy couscous underneath - I hope you try it, and if you do, let me know how it works out for you!

These are all approximate amounts because I was just conjuring, so do as you like if you decide to make it in your neck of the woods.

For the chicken you'll need:

  • 15 boneless chicken tenders, left whole
  • healthy slosh of white wine
  • a few generous splashes of lemon juice
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • minced garlic to taste
  • 2 t. salt (this was a bit salty for me but just right for hubby)
  • a few sprinkles of ground cumin
  • a dash or two of cayenne pepper, depending on your heat tolerance
For the yogurt sauce you'll need:

  • 450 g (about 2.5 cups) plain yogurt (one full Japanese carton)
  • 2.5 T. flour
  • chopped parsley
  • seasoned salt
  • turmeric (for that nice sunshiney color)
For the couscous you'll need:

  • 1 c. couscous
  • 1 1/4 c. water
  • olive oil
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1/2 c. raisins (or golden raisins or chopped dates)
  • 1/2 c. chopped toasted pecans (you can toast them in a 350 F/180 C oven, spread out on a pan, for about 5-10 minutes, stirring them halfway through - it took mine about 7 or 8 minutes)

Do this:

Combine all the chicken ingredients in the slow cooker and cook for about 8 hours on low or about 4 hours on high (I did it the slow way and it was nice and tender). Then shred the chicken with forks, right in the slow cooker.

Whisk the yogurt and flour together in a bowl (this will keep the yogurt from separating), then add the rest of the sauce ingredients. Pour that into the slow cooker with the chicken, and allow to heat up for a few minutes. Shouldn't take long.

In a pot on the stove, boil the 1 1/4 water, crushed bouillon cube, and olive oil, then add the couscous and raisins, turn off the heat, and let sit for about 5 minutes till the water is all absorbed and the raisins are plump. Stir the pecans in with a fork.

Plate it up, enjoy all the contrasting flavors and textures, and say, "Oishii!" (Yummy!).

Thursday, July 16, 2009

rice-cooker salmon dinner

Another rice-cooker summertime sanity-saver (and a Mamatouille original). This was one of those meals where I could've added more spices/flavor before I cooked it, but after adding a bit more seasoned salt and lemon juice at the table, it was delightful!

You'll need:

  • One hunk of boneless salmon
  • 2 c. rice
  • 2.5 c. water with 2 chicken bouillon cubes crushed into it
  • chopped parsley to taste
  • 1 grated carrot
  • 1 pack of frozen peas
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • minced garlic to taste
  • lemon juice to taste
  • chunks of butter or margarine
  • seasoned salt (including black pepper)

Do this:

Mix all ingredients (except salmon and butter) in rice cooker, then put the salmon on top, sprinkle with extra seasoned salt and lemon juice, plop on some butter blobs, and cook on normal setting till it beeps. (You could add the peas after it's all cooked and they would retain their color better.)

With a fork, break apart the salmon and stir into the rice mixture. All is ready - and tummies are waiting.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

denny's dessert (and feet)

We don't usually splurge on big desserts (I make more than we buy), but last weekend at Lenny's/Denny's we went for it.

Stephen had a huge chocolate sundae with the works...

And I opted for an "American cherry" sundae with berry sorbet, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, cherries, bananas, cherry sauce, blueberries, and mint on top.

Served with a toddler shoe, just how I like it.

And don't worry, the Kiddytouilles had treats, too: Matthew had a scoop of chocolate ice cream and Joel had some kiwi sorbet.

Mmmmm, everybody happy.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

rice-cooker curry

Lemme tell ya - it's hot, DARN hot over here in Japan, and it's not even August yet. I'm so thankful that we have air conditioners in each room (no central air or heat in most homes and flats in Japan), but my eeny-weeny kitchen, poor thing, doesn't have an outlet for an air con (or a window that opens, either - designed by someone who never cooks, obviously).

So my life these days is all about cutting corners in the kitchen and doing whatever I can, however fast and cool I can.

That's where my rice cooker (suihanki) comes into play. I LOVE it, love it, love it. So versatile and obviously designed by someone who does cook!

I've made two complete rice-cooker meals in the last week or so, and this first one was based on a baked "Indian chicken" recipe in More with Less (one of my favorite wedding presents). Here's my rice-cooker version.

You'll need:

  • chicken (I used boneless tenders, about 5 or 6, that I chopped into bite-sized pieces)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • minced garlic and ginger, to taste
  • salt - start with 1 t. - probably enough, or more than enough with the bouillon and soy sauce, too
  • 1.5 T. curry powder
  • about 1/3 c. honey
  • about 1/4 c. soy sauce
  • 2.5 c. chicken bouillon (I use water and cubes that I mush up - about 2 cubes for 2.5 c. water) - play with the amount of liquid here 'cause I'm having a hard time remembering just how much I used - usually the rule of thumb with a rice cooker is equal amounts of rice and water, but with this complete meal, I'm pretty sure I added a bit of extra liquid
  • about 2 cups rice
  • can of chickpeas
  • about 1/2 c. raisins
Do this:

Put your rice in the cooker, then add all the other ingredients and stir. Then just push the button for the normal setting, go into the living room (leaving your apron on), and play with your kiddiewinks in the air-con. Wait till your 3-year-old hears the beep and announces that the rice is ready, go back into the kitchen, wipe your brow, plop some curry into bowls, and flounce into the dining room carrying a martyr complex on the food tray like you've been slaving for hours. The kids won't notice, but you'll feel better anyway.

Friday, July 10, 2009

taco rice

We're trying to hang out with as many loved ones in Japan as possible before our big move, and so today we met up with some mighty fine friends at the Lalaport Koshien Mall (a good in-between place between our apartment and theirs).

I just adore Japanese mall food courts - and our food today was no exception! Mmmmm, Okinawan taco rice. Yum yum yum. I think this is a product of all the American military bases in Okinawa and all the rice the Japanese folks eat there - it's basically taco fixins on top of rice and you eat it with a spoon. Could easily be done at home.

This shop also does a version with an omelet on top with mayo and ketchup (not a big fan of mayo but this worked for me).

Definitely don't try it without Thomas.

My friend's daughter and son ate these Okinawan noodles - I'd never seen words on nori (sheets of dried seaweed), but it was beautiful! (The kanji said "Okinawa".) And apparently it was very tasty to boot.

Monday, July 6, 2009

preemio award

Tribeca Yummy Mummy recently gave me a Preemio Award (thanks, Cate!), and though my family and I are gearing up for a big global move, I've finally gotten around to writing 7 things about myself. Here they are, in no particular order:

  • When I was growing up I vacillated between wanting to be a chef, a lawyer, a doctor, and the President of the United States.
  • I'm not really a collector of anything (maybe just recipes), but I can do all kinds of things with my toes. Check this out:
Looks like a normal mama/baby scene, right?

But zero in on my toes - they're always up to something...

Happy foot...

And useful, too (not just for walking)...
(Sorry, I know this is a food blog and you didn't come here to see my feet, but I just couldn't help myself.)

Let's see, where were we?

  • I have a tendency to spontaneously buy plants. My wallet just seems to fly open if we pass a flower/plant shop and I seem to have no willpower to stop the money from just pouring out. Maybe I have some kind of oxygen deficiency.
  • Lately I've been really really really not caring about whether I blog about food or not. Sorry, guys - or maybe you've been happy about that. Just other things on my mind, like moving to a different country. You know, little things like that.
  • I've gotten into this reading rut - it seems like I only read parenting books these days, and even though I was an English major in college, I'm having a hard time remembering the last work of fiction that I devoured with my little brown orbs. Hmmmm. Make a note to remedy that (looking forward to libraries with books in ENGLISH again!).
  • If you've never seen Next Stop Wonderland, rent it now, please! I adore that film! And don't forget to buy the soundtrack while you're at it - nice jazzy, Brazilian music mix.
  • I must not be in a writing groove lately because this post took WAY too long to think up and write. Or maybe I'm avoiding the pile of dirty dishes in the sink. I think I'll have to go in the kitchen soon, though, because I'm having a serious craving for a peanut-butter ball. Be still, my expanding hips! I'm supposed to get into a bridesmaid dress in November...keeping my fingers crossed, my lips zipped, and my toes on red alert.
Gosh, none of this really had much to do with food, but I guess it is my party and I'll cry if I want to! (Sorry, flashback to listening to golden oldies as a kid.)

I'm passing this award on to Kim at Kim's Kantan Cooking (yummy food that you can make with ingredients available in Japan - and she's also my good friend), Joan at Foodalogue (always gorgeous photos of delectable, healthy food, and there's the Florida connection, too), and Tamakikat (cool photos of food and scenes around Kyoto).