Friday, January 28, 2011

smorgasbord snacks strike again

Elder Bean had three pieces of cheese cut into shapes (the number four - for his age, a star, and an airplane), some organic animal crackers, cold cooked honey-ginger carrots, dates, and our favorite kind of nori (Korean toasted and salted seaweed). For the cheese, I use small metal cookie cutters I bought at 100-yen stores while we were in Japan.

Younger Bean's ice tray contained similar cut-out pieces of cheese (but his had the number two), plus some cashews, which he adores.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

something(s) borrowed

I'd had eggnog cheesecake before but I don't remember ever making it so I was really happy to find Reeni's recipe for it on Cinnamon and Spice and Everything Nice. I halved the filling ingredients, added chocolate syrup on top, and baked it in a storebought chocolate-cookie crust.

Okinawan Takoraisu (Japanese sticky rice with taco trimmings on top) was one of my favorite dishes when we lived in Japan so I was excited to find Rachael's recipe for it on Tasty Kitchen. I loved the soy sauce in the taco meat and all the lovely flavors and textures. This is one I'm going to be making often--not only does it bring back fun memories from Japan but it is one darn easy and delicious meal!

Nigella Lawson's Welsh-Rarebit Muffins are one heck of a savory treat: I serve them with bangers and roasted veggies. (Couldn't find "English" mustard powder anywhere so I substituted Chinese spicy mustard powder instead.)

Okay, this isn't really borrowed at all: My beans love creating their own fusion food. Here are Matthew's Southern cheesy grits with Japanese sesame and seaweed furikake on top. Whatever floats your boat!

Monday, January 17, 2011

yam quesadillas and black bean soup

Inspired by a gorgeous meal I had last fall at a Mexican restaurant called Cactus, which included squash quesadillas, I made my own with yams that I cooked in the microwave till soft and then mashed with a little butter and kosher salt. I spread the mash on one side of the quesadilla and then threw on a 4-cheese mix (classic jack, garlic jack, hot pepper, and cheddar).

We dip-dipped it with sour cream, salsa, and (not pictured) some homemade guacamole.

My sister's black bean soup also helped make it a really special meal: Just put two cans worth of black beans (undrained) in a pot on the stove, mash the beans, and add 1/2 cup salsa, 2 t. chili powder, 16 oz. chicken broth (or 16 oz. water + 1 chicken bouillon cube). I also add some cumin and frozen corn. Bring it to the boil and then...

Guac and roll!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

the sensei's gyoza

I worked in three Japanese schools, rotating between them each week, for three years in Japan before we had our kiddiewinks. I gleaned a lot of insight into Japanese culture that way and some of my favorite memories include eating the school lunches every day (yum!) and discussing food with some of the other teachers.

One sensei gave me her family's recipe for making gyoza, or potstickers as they're called in the West (this is a typical Japanese version of an originally Chinese classic). I can buy them frozen here in Seattle at Asian markets, and they're OK for a gyoza-craving emergency, but I'd rather make them myself and not have to deal with the MSG. They're not hard to create and boy, are these babies absolutely amazing in the taste department.

You'll need:

  • gyoza skins (available in many supermarkets' produce sections near the tofu)
  • 100 g (1/4 pound) ground pork
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • "1 spoonful" (I used 1 tablespoon) each chopped green onions, sesame oil, soy sauce, rice wine, grated ginger, chopped cabbage (I used a coleslaw mix that had green cabbage, purple cabbage, and carrots and just chopped it fine), and nira (garlic chives, which I didn't have)
  • a bit of panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)--my own addition as I found the meat mixture a bit liquidy
Do this:

Mix the meat and other ingredients together and put a spoonful on the bottom half of each gyoza skin. Use a bit of water on your finger to wet the edge of the top half of the gyoza skin, then fold over and pinch together.

Fry in some oil till browned then add 100 g water to the pan to finish them off with some steaming.

Enjoy with a mixture of soy sauce and a few drops of rayu (Chinese hot chili oil, which I found at my local QFC grocery store in their Asian section). You probably won't have to make any other dishes as you will want to gobble these gyoza all up with a bowl of Japanese sticky rice, but save room in that tummy of yours because I have four more Japanese dishes to serve up for you...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

smorgasbord snacks

I got this idea from my friend Tami (who has three boys of her own): Just use an ice cube tray for your kids' snacks, filling as many or as few sections as you like. Call it "smorgasbord" and watch the healthy snacks disappear down happy gullets.

This afternoon's smorgasbord contained dried cranberries, raisins, cashews, clementines, rice crackers, a dried apricot each, and a chocolate coin from the UK.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

"your best green smoothie yet"

Those words from my dear hubby...and I happen to agree with him.

  • 5 carrots
  • big bunch of spinach
  • 3 avocados
  • 2.5 bananas
  • juice of one fresh lime
  • 3 big spoonfuls plain yogurt
  • frozen mixed berries
  • squeeze of honey
  • pomegranate-blueberry juice
  • 8 clementines
I forgot to put in my usual flax seed meal and wheat germ but I guess it was still pretty healthy. Healthy and yummy.

This little Bean drained his mug (twice)!

Monday, January 3, 2011

holiday fun fare

Eggnog eggy bread

I know it's January 3 but we are still in full holiday mode around here; in fact, our elder McMonkey McBean asked today, "Is it still Christmas?" and I informed him it is.

So our tree is still up and our table continues to be laden with all sorts of goodies, including:
  • Eggnog eggy bread (aka French toast) - I used this recipe as a start but basically it's just bread, eggs, eggnog, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice. And don't forget to add snow (that's my sons' favorite part). (See photo above.)
  • Apple-cranberry-orange crumble - I had some leftover candied orange peel from making Grandma Wright's Christmas pudding so I decided to put it to good use. With the idea of an apple-cranberry crumble, I found this to base it on. Use a 9x13 pan, grease it, preheat to 375, peel and slice 3 lb. of apples, roughly chop 1/2 bag of cranberries, use 4 oz. candied orange peel (half box), and mix all that with 1/4 c. granulated sugar and a sprinkling of cinnamon and vanilla. For the crumble, mix 2 c. all-purpose flour, 1/2 t. salt, some powdered ginger, 1 c. brown sugar, and 1.5 sticks butter. Bake 30 min. or so. Oh yum. (See photo below.)
  • Christmas pudding with brandy butter (brandy butter recipe in my mother-in-law's words) - 4oz butter, 4oz caster sugar, and 2 to 3 tablespoons of brandy. Cream the butter and sugar together until white and fluffy then add the brandy a little at a time. It is a bit soft at this stage but just put it into the pot that you are going to serve it in and put it in the fridge and it brings it back to butter consistency. (It is really easy to do especially with an electric beater.)
  • Punkin-choco cheesecake - It's even better with a chocolate cookie crust!
  • Pumpkin-raisin bread pudding with custard sauce - Just add pureed pumpkin in with the eggs and milk for a regular bread pudding recipe, shake in some cinnamon, toss some raisins over the top, bake as usual, and serve warm with Bird's custard.
  • Christmas dinner: I made a supremely tender turkey covered in bacon and herbs and garlic with special British bangers (sausages) roasted on the side. (I love our local butcher--they carry everything.) I also made roasted carrots and parsnips with olive oil, kosher salt, and balsamic vinegar, and fresh green beans roasted with fresh chopped garlic and olive oil, also homemade cranberry sauce (I make it with grated apples, rind and juice of fresh oranges, cinnamon, sugar, and sangria!), homemade cornbread dressing, and some other bits and pieces. I bought lovely organic potato rolls and our friends brought a really yummy potato casserole with chives, bacon, parmesan cheese, and cream. We also had a semi-homemade turkey gravy (I bought made-up turkey gravy from the deli but then added the pan juices from our turkey, bacon, and sausage roast). I also had a relish tray with different kinds of olives, tiny garlicky pickles, and marinated artichoke hearts, plus some cheeses (our favorite was Grandma Singleton's apple-pie cheese from the UK!) and crackers, white wine, eggnog (with a splash of brandy for some!), and sparkling apple cider. Plus I made a pumpkin chocolate cheesecake with a sour cream topping for dessert!
  • New Year's Day: The requisite Southern-style black-eyed peas (add a little sriracha for extra kick!) and homemade cornbread (I find the mixes way too sweet), roasted veggies (carrots, plus zucchini with garlic), sweet potato oven fries, and homemade tangy coleslaw with rice vinegar and oil instead of mayo (served over romaine).
  • Lots more to come! I've got loads of ideas left to spin this holiday season out as long as stay tuned to BEAN2011 FM...
Apple-cranberry-orange crumble
What was your favorite holiday food?