Monday, August 31, 2009

Mushroom Pasta

Welcome to 7th Kitchen
Last night, I made mushroom pasta. This is something I make quite often since I love mushroom. It is simple and easy to make but always taste good. Here is how to make it.

Slice onion and cut mushrooms into bit size pieces. (I used shiitake, button mushroom and maitake this time but you can use any kind of mushroom)

Chop garlic.

Boil hot water and make spaghetti.

In a frying pan, add olive oil and saute onion until soft.

When onion is cooked, push onion to the side of the frying pan and add more olive oil and butter at the available space in the pan.

Add garlic, saute for about 30sec and add mushroom. Saute with high heat. Mix mushroom with onion and saute together. (you can add little bit of white wine if you like)

Add salt, pepper and red chili flakes.

Add pasta to the pan and mix well with mushrooms. Pour little bit of pasta water into the pan.

When everything is mixed well, add some butter for the finish.

Garnish with shiso or basil. Enjoy.

It is easy. If you like mushroom, I think you would like this pasta.

My husband does not like mushroom too much but he said he like this pasta. (Well, he really liked shiso part so maybe he meant that he like this pasta with shiso minus mushroom..) But he was eating some of the mushrooms so I think I liked it.

By the way, my mother told me the other day that if you have root of green onion, you can just stick in the soil and new green onion will come out. I used some green onion the other day so I kept the roots and plant them in the container outside our house. A few days later, new green onions are coming out from the middle and growing really fast!

I was so happy to see this. This is amazing. Maybe I don't have to purchase green onion anymore. I can just grow them a home! If you have green onion root, please try it. It grows really quickly.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

fresh backed croissant for breakfast

Yesterday morning, we baked frozen croissant from Trader Joes's. I posted about their frozen chocolate croissant before but this is the regular croissant version.

It did not come out exactly like the picture on the box and it was really buttery and tasty. It was a special treat to have freshly baked croissant for breakfast. On weekdays, we don't have much time to enjoy our breakfast so it is nice to have luxurious breakfast on the weekend. It makes me feel good. It just a simple breakfast with croissant with tea or coffee when the croissant is fresh, it makes a huge difference.

And the best part is that this is so easy. You don't have to spend hours in the morning kneading and layering the dough. You just take them out the night before from the freezer, leave it over night on the baking sheet for them to rise and pop them in the oven in the morning.

I highly recommend this product.

Making bread was not too difficult but I think making croissant is a different story. You have to layer the dough many times and it takes lots of hard work and patient.

Chocolate croissant was great but I also like this regular croissant. I like having it with strawberry jam :-)

Friday, August 28, 2009

roasted pears with blue cheese & tomato with goat cheese tart

Welcome to 7th Kitchen!

Yesterday, I made somethings I never made before. It is goo to try new things.

First, it is" buffalo chicken dip". Actually, I made this a day before yesterday. A few weeks ago, I went to my friend's party and tried this dip for the first time. It was really good so I wanted to make it at home. I searched online for recipe and gather all the information. So, it seems like you add cream cheese, cheddar cheese, hot sauce and ranch dressing and heat them up in the oven and mix then add shredded chicken and bake more in the oven. It is very rich so you can not eat lots of them but a few tortilla chips with this dip makes perfect party food. I love the taste of buffalo chicken. It is tangy and hot.

Next is "roasted pears with blue cheese". This is a recipe from Ina Garten from food network. You can find this recipe here.

You make an indentation in the pear and place dried cranberry, blue cheese and walnuts mixture. Then, pour the sauce (port-wine, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar) over it and roast them in the oven. When it is roasted, place it on top of the arugula.

I love the combination of pear and blue cheese. The port taste was a bit too strong. Especially for my husband. So next time, I would like to reduce the amount of port.

Then, I made "tomato and goat cheese tart". This is also from Ina Garten. Click Here for the recipe. On a pre-made pie sheet, add sauteed onion, tomato, basil, goat cheese and parmigiana cheese and put in the oven. This was also good. My husband suggested that it might be also good with pizza dough. I also think this will make a good pizza. Maybe I will try it with pizza dough next time.

Come to think of it, all these items included cheese. Since they all have cheese, they are pretty rich but it was great to taste different kind of cheese at one table. I never used pear or goat cheese in my cooking so it was great to expand my horizon and try new things. I am sure that I will be using these ingredients more in the future. Also, I will be trying new recipe more to explore the world of food.

If you are interested in her cook books, here are some of her books.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Chicken with Japanese leek sauce and tomato shiso salad

Welcome to 7th Kitchen!

Yesterday, I made Chicken with Japanese leek sauce and tomato shiso salad. I had left over chicken from the other day when I made "Chikuzenni" and I had this Japanese leeks which I bought from the Japanese supermarket last weekend. So I decided to make this dish which I found from a cook book written by Harumi Kurihara who is a japanese famous cook book author. She even have a book published here also.

First, I made Japanese leek sauce with soy-sauce, vinegar, sake, sugar and Japanese leeks.

Then, I fried Chicken and pour this sauce over it. It is quite lots of work but this dish was really good. The chicken is crispy and the sauce is very tasty.

Since this dish is quite intense flavor, I made refreshing salad on the side. I used tomato and shiso from our garden and made a quick salad with white balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Keep it in the fridge and when you are ready to eat, take it out from the fridge. I like it cold.

We ate so much so we decided to take a walk. We live close to the beach so we went to the beach for a walk. There were so many people walking at the boardwalk. I think it was also because they had a small concert on the beach that day. Everyday was enjoying nice summer night. It was perfect temperature and nice to see everybody enjoying the night. Old people, little kinds, young couple, etc.

Even though we went for a walk to walk off the stuff we ate, on the way back home, I felt like eating Popsicle because I was thinking about Italy and gelato. Since we don't have gelateria here, I decided to buy Popsicle and eat it outside. It was cherry, orange and lemon flavor.

I was biting into my Popsicle and my husband told me that he doesn't like the sound of biting Popsicle. He said it gives him a goosebumps. He was begging me to stop but I wanted to bite it so I tried to make less noise but it was impossible to make no noise. We joked around and laughed so much. He always makes me laugh.

It was a great night. We should do this more often, (maybe minus the Popsicle :-)

By the way, if you are interested in Harumi Kurihara. Here are a book which she published here. The book I used is Japanese book and this is not the book I used for this chicken so I don't know if this book have a recipe for this chicken and I don't know what kind of recipe this books have but I like her other stuff also so I am sure that you will find something you like from her book.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Chicken Noodle Soup with homemade chicken stock

Welcome to 7th Kitchen
Last night, I made chicken noodle soup. It is regular chicken noodle soup with Chicken, celery, carrot, ginger and egg noodle but one special thing about my chicken noodle soup is that I use homemade chicken stock.

Every time when I make roast chicken or when I buy roasted chicken, I keep the bone after taking most of the meat out. Then, I use it to make chicken stock. The other day, I went to costco and bought a roasted chicken there. Their whole roasted chicken was $4.99. It was fresh out of the oven and it was really good. It is great that you can enjoy roasted chicken and also use the bone to make some stock. It's a bargain.

For my chicken stock, I put the bone, celery, carrots, garlic and some spices and add water. I simmer the stock for about 2~3 hours, skimming some of the fat on top. Then, drain, let it cool and keep in the freezer.

It really make a huge difference. I highly recommend you to make your own chicken stock. I think normally, you use whole chicken to make real chicken stock but even just with the bones and little bit of the meat, it makes great chicken stock. The taste difference is obvious especially when you make chicken soup.

Another thing which might be little different about my chicken soup is that I put lots of chopped ginger. I love ginger and I like ginger make the soup little bit spicy. Especially, when you have a cold, ginger is a very good remedy for it.

Anyway, I borrowed some cook from from the library yesterday. It called "Best of the Best" and "Indian home cooking". I am excited to try something from these books. If you are interested, here is the link for amazon.

Best of the Best is a collection of recipes from a different cook books. So they have Mario Batali's recipe, Tyler Florence's recipe and so many recipes from different chefs. I think this is a great way to expose yourself to a new chef's recipe.

The other book is about one of my favorite food. Indian food. Right now, I often use packaged spice mix to make indian curry but I would love to mix mu own spice and make my own curry. I think I can use this book to learn the basic and then I can play with spices to make it perfect for me.

I only borrow or buy cook book with pictures. I love cook book with lots of beautiful pictures.

I love library because they have huge selection in cooking section. I also borrow all different kind of books from library. You can order on-line and when they get it, they will call me. It is very nice system and I appreciate it. If the book is popular, you might have to wait for a little bit but I don't mind. If I really really want to read that book, I will buy it.

But, I don't read same book twice normally. (Some of the books I like, I read a few times)
There are so many books out there and it is so difficult to find a book which you would like. So for me, it is great that you can borrow them from library and if you don't like it, you will return it without reading. If I really liked it, I buy them.

By the way, I love reading book reviews. I always have since I was little. I don't know why but I really enjoy reading book review. We read same story but each one of us take something different from the same story and I think that is interesting. I love reading. Lately, I am trying to read some of the classics like "The Great Gatsby" and "The War and Peace". It might take a while but there must be a reason to be classics, right?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

shiso tarako pasta & chikuzenni

I made pasta with the shiso (Japanese basil)I grow in my garden. This is not really cooking because I just put them together. I used already made salted cod roe sauce and mix them with pasta and add seaweed and thinly sliced shiso on top.

It might sound gross to eat pasta with fish eggs but this is really popular pasta in Japan and I love it. Since it is not easy to get salted cod roe in a regular super market, I normally buy this already made salted cod roe pasta sauce when I go to Japanese supermarket.

Shiso is so fragrant and I love using this to a lot of different things. I also love basil and cilantro but I also love shiso. I wonder why we can not buy this at regular supermarket. I think everyone would love it once they try it.

Last weekend, I went to this big Japanese supermarket in NJ. I love going there because I can buy things which I normally can not find in a regular supermarket. I bought lots of vegetables which are regulars in Japan and made this dish called "chikuzenni". This is a very traditional Japanese dish. It has many different kind of root vegetables, shiitake and little bit of chicken. The flavor is with soy sauce, sugar, mirin and sake. (usual suspect for Japanese dishes)

This was my first time making this dish but it came out pretty good. I was impressed. When I was in Japan, I did not like this dish too much but after being away from Japan for so long, I started to crave for some typical Japanese food. This has lots of good vegetables and I think it is healthy.

Well, I was pleasantly surprised that I can make this dish quite well. I think my mom will be very proud. There are so many Japanese dishes I would like to cook but often times it is difficult because of the special ingredients in a regular supermarket. But I am lucky to live in NY because there are so many people from so many different countries and if you go to manhattan, there are always speciality store for different countries. I love the fact that I have an access to different kind of ingredients from all over the world. And even at the regular supermarket, they started to carry speciality products from all over the world. I love grocery shopping.

Anyhow, I enjoyed my Japanese dishes and would love to make more Japanese dishes when I have a chance.

Monday, August 24, 2009

My Little container garden and Plum (prune) Chicken

Welcome to 7th Kitchen!
Our little container garden is doing well and ready to be eaten! This picture here is Japanese basil like plant called "Shiso". I love Shiso because it is so fragrant and taste very refreshing. You can use this in bunch of dishes. You can just use it like a regular basil. And you can just take the leaves and then new ones come out.

We also have tomato and jalapeno growing. I have a few different kind of tomato this year. One of them is heirloom tomato. They are so good but so expensive when you buy at the supermarket. I had a few the other day and it was so sweet.

I am excited to eat all the plants which I grow. I spent lots of time and care for these plants. (My neighbour also took good care of them while we were gone on a trip).

Well, today I would like to introduce one of the recipe I learned from my mother in-law while I was in Germany. As I said before, she is a great cook and I love learning new recipe from her.
This is also one of my favorite recipe. It called "Plum (Prune) Chicken". It is quite simple to make but taste really good.

First thing you need to do is to soak the prune in a cognac or brandy for about 2 hours.

Chop some onion into fine dices. Add butter into a pan and sautee onion until it is soft. Take it out.

Then, cut chickens into a bite size pieces then saute them in a pan with some oil.

When chickens are cooked, add some grape tomatoes (cut into half) into the chicken and saute.

When tomatoes are cooked, add prunes with the liquid into the pan and add some vegetable bouillon. Also, add the onion back to the pan. Cook them until the prune absorb all the liquid and get plump for about 20mins. (If you don't have vegetable bouillon, I think you can also use chicken bouillon). Salt and Pepper

Serve them with rice.

This is so tasty. Key is the cognac.

Actually, I couldn't find a memo which I wrote down while I learned this dish so I called my mother in-law to make sure that I remember correctly. Of course, I did not remember the most important part! Cognac! I am glad that I called her and asked her.

Please try this recipe, it is easy, simple but delicious.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Lake Garda and Verona Opera

Next day, we went to lake Garda which is not too far away from Verona. First, we were thinking about driving around the whole lake but the traffic on the way there was pretty bad and we had a opera to go at night so we decided to go to the only southern part of the lake.

We arrived Sirmione where there is a castle. We went into the castle and went all the way up to the top. The view from there was beautiful and Lake Garda is a beautiful lake.

Right next to this castle, there was a nice restaurant so we decided to have lunch there.
First, we had octopus for an appetizer. The octopus was pretty good but I did not like the fact that it came with mashed potato. I don't know why but I did not like the combination too much. Also, I wanted to have more acidity in my dressing.

My main was saffron risotto. This was really good.

My husband had Penne with tomato sauce. This tomato sauce was just amazing. I don't know what kind of tomato they used but it was really sweet. It was not sweetness from sugar or anything like that but it was sweetness from the tomato. The tomato almost tasted like a fruit.

This is a view from the restaurant. It was so relaxing and beautiful. We wanted to just hang a hammock there and take a nap.

After Lake Garda, we went back to the hotel and rest a little bit, then changed to a nice clothe and head to the opera.

The arena was just amazing. It is so big and so old and I just couldn't get over the fact that they still use this ancient looking arena for events like opera and concert. It was just spectacular.

There was an elder lady and her daughter sitting behind us and they told us that they were from England. It was the elder lady's dream to come here and see opera and her daughter made her mom's dream come true for her birthday by bringing her to Verona to see this opera. They were very sweet and we enjoyed chatting with them.

The opera (It was "Carmen") started and I was just overwhelmed with so many people on the stage. There are so many things happening on the stage, you can not possibly see everything that is happening on the stage. I am sure that you will find out lots of new things every time you see the same show. They were even using a live horse in the show.

In the middle of the second act, the wind suddenly started to blow strongly and a part of the set started to fly away. They had to stop the opera for a moment. Then, it started to rain. We were led to go inside and wait. So we waited inside of the arena, listing to the heavy rain and thunder for about 30 minis. Then, finally they announced their cancellation. We were so disappointed but with this strong wind and rain, I understood that they couldn't continue. I though about the lady from England and my heart sunk. She must have been so disappointed. I hope she at least enjoyed the first act.

Verona was a beautiful city and if you ever go there, I recommend you to go see Opera. Even if you don't know anything about Opera, I think it is a wonderful experience.

One of the thing which was funny during this trip was that my sister always went into wrong restroom when there is not picture at the door. I made same mistake when I went to Germany for the first time so I shouldn't laugh about her but it just seemed like she went to the wrong one everywhere. It made us laugh so much.

Next day, we said bye to Italy and went back to Munich. We showed my sister this river which runs through Munich where people surf. It is in the middle of the city and this river is so rough and narrow. I don't know how they do it but they just jump in with their surfboard and ride the wave. It is a fun thing to watch and my sister liked it a lot also.

At night, we can not help but go to the beer-garden one last time with our friends.
I had my favorite German food there. Flammkuhen and Wienerschnitzhel. It was perfect way to end our trip.

I went so many places and met so many people and ate so many stuff during this trip. To my surprise, I did not gain weight from this trip. I think it is because we walked so much in Italy.
I got lots of inspiration and gain more drive to cook lots of different things.

It was great that we were able to spend time with many of our favorite people in this trip. My parents in-laws welcomed us warmly and we spend lots of good time together. And many of our friends made time for us from their busy schedule and spend time with us. Then, I was able to spend lots of time with my sister whom I often have difficulty spending time with when I go back to Japan because of our busy schedule. It made me realize again how wonderful to have a sister. She is a great sister and I miss just hanging out with her.

There are lots of people who go on a trip in order to find themselves. Before, I did not understand this because I thought you can find yourself wherever you are without traveling. But I started to think differently this recent years.

I started to think that sometimes you need to pull yourself away from your everyday life and familiar scenery in order to find yourself. It does not mean that you will find yourself right away when you travel but it definitely help you to see things from different perspective. You see new things, feel new feelings, eat new food and experience a different things which you can not experience from your everyday life. I think travel is a easy way to pull yourself out from your ordinary life and discover new world. And during that process, sometimes you find more about yourself.

I think whatever I saw, felt, ate and thought during this trip will influence to built myself. I think traveling will cultivate you and relax you at the same time. Maybe you don't even realize it yourself but I think whatever you learn from your trip will do good for you.

Well, sorry that the last part of this post was a bit serious. This is the end of my travel report. From tomorrow, it will be back to my normal everyday food post. I am excited to share more new food with you! Thank you for reading my Europe travel diary. It was a wonderful trip!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Driving through grape vines to Verona

Welcome to 7th Kitchen!
There are so many grape vines in the area on the way to the Verona. We decided to have some detour and visit wineries for wine tasting. You can see grape vines everywhere and see the grape growing on the vine. 

We stopped at some wineries we found on the way but unfortunately, all of them were closed. Also, it was a bit difficult to find winery because there are many grape vines but it seems like many of them just grow grapes there but do not make wines. In the U.S., there are wineries next to each other and you can easily do winery hopping if you are in wine area but I guess it is little bit different in Italy. (or at least where I was) 

Anyhow, we also stopped at this town called "Basso Del Grappa". This place is famous for its Grappa liquor. It was a nice small town and we decided to have lunch there. 

I had pasta with bolognese sauce. I don't remember how they called this past but it was really thick. It was almost like Japanese Udon noodle. It tasted good.  It is not in the picture but I also had Prosecco which is famous wine from this region. 

My husband had fusilli with tomato and olive and mozzarella. It was like a past salad and was great for a hot summer day. 

My sister had risotto with zucchini and shrimp. The seafood taste was too strong for me but my sister seemed to like it. 

Next to our table, there was this big Italian family. They were about 12 people surrounding one big table. They were talking very excitedly and kids were crying and everybody laughing. It perfectly fit with my image of Italian family. It is very nice that Italians value family and enjoy great food together. 

After lunch, we walked around the town. There was a nice bridge with nice view. 

Then, we found this store where they make Grappa and sell them there. The inside of the store was little bit like a museum for Grappa. Also, they had tasting for Grappa. Grappa is a pretty strong drink so I was not sure if I should have tasting or not but I wanted buy something from here for my parents in-law and also for myself so I tried some of the stuff they have. 

I ended up buying a calssic Grappa for my parents in-law and Mocha Grappa for myself. I think I can use this Mocha Grappa for making some dessert and stuff. And, it turned about that my parents in-law love Grappa from this brand I bought! I was so happy to find that out :-)

We drove to Verona and first thing we notice was this big stone wall which is still partially left around the city. And of course the Arena. It looks so old but beautiful. I was so amazed that this Arena is still there and functioning. I am sure that they take good care of it and spend a lot of money for maintaining but it is thrilling to think that so many people have enjoyed this Arena from different ear over the years. 

We walked about the city but ended up having dinner close to the arena. I had steak with truffle sauce. I did not like the steak too much but I love the truffle sauce. 

My sister had Calamari filled with vegetables. They drizzled this balsamic cream like thick sauce on top of it and it was really good. I decided that this was something I want to bring back from Italy. 

After dinner is Gelato time. We had gelato almost everyday. It is cheap, everywhere and so good. My favorite flavor is called "Straccitatella". It is kind of like milk ice cream with chocolate pieces in it. It is not chocolate chips. That is the key. It is thin layer of chocolate inside the ice cream. Oh, it is so good. 

Well, next day, we went to a lake close to Verona and also the Opera at the arena! I will write about them tomorrow.