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...