Saturday, May 29, 2010

Stir Fried Udon Noodle (Yakiudon) recipe and Gobo & Carrots Salad

Udon is thick Japanese noodle made from flour. Normally, people eat this in a broth but sometimes we stir fry them like Yakisoba.

I have been wanting to eat this for a while but keep forgetting about it and finally I made it.

It is very simple but yummy.

Yakiudon (stir fried udon noodle)
Udon noodle   about 270g
Thin sliced pork    about 5 slices (cut into small pieces)
Onion              2 (sliced)
Garlic              2 clove (chopped)
Garlic Chives   a handful (cut into small pieces)
Seasoned soy sauce    2 table spoon
Vegetable Oil             2 table spoon
Red pickled ginger     2 table spoon
Fried wheat flour       optional

1.  Since I used dried udon noodle, I cooked the noodle in hot water. (follow the direction on package)

2. Add some oil in a pan and saute chopped garlic and sliced onion until soft. Then add pork and garlic chives.

3. When udon is cooked, add udon to the pan and mix with the vegetables and pork. Then add seasoned soy sauce. At the end, add chopped red pickled ginger.

4. If you have fried wheat flour handy, sprinkle them on top (optional) and serve.

I also had gobo and carrots salad on the side.

This weekend is memorial day weekend and we are having a big BBQ party at our place today. Some people had yesterday off already and everybody is enjoying the long weekend.

I am making banana pudding for dessert and salmon wrap and cheese roll for appetizers. There are so many things to be done still. I need to get to work now before everyone shows up.

I am so excited about this BBQ. There are some people whom I haven't seen for a while and there are also some new people. We are going to celebrate the summer season!

I hope everybody is having a great weekend!!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Salmon Dinner & My favorite tea time

I was another healthy dinner at Mausi's place. Salmon with green onion and sesame. These green onions are from my container garden which I reported yesterday. Isn't this awesome that I can just pick up bunch of green onion from my garden and use it for dinner. It is definitely fresh!

We had salmon with rice and broccoli. This broccoli is easy. I just cut into pieces, put in a microwave safe bowl, sprinkle salt & pepper, olive oil and some shredded cheese and microwaved for 4~5 mins. That's it! This is a perfect easy side dish for salmon dinner.

Well, today, I would like to talk about something which my husband and I are really enjoying right now. It is out tea time after dinner with our favorite tea. We like drinking tea and especially I drink all different kind of teas (see, I am from Japan, you know)

The teas which we love right now is the ones which we bought in Germany. The company's name is Ronnefeldt and their tea is just amazing!

This is the Earl Grey tea which has a wonderful aroma.

And this is some kind of mix with Darjeeling and something else.
Both of these are loose leaf tea. I love loose leaf tea better because I think it taste better when I pour hot water directly over the tea leaves (without putting them in tea bags). These teas are just so wonderful.

I checked Amazon but I couldn't find these tea there. I am not sure if I can get this tea in the U.S. I should have gotten more when I was in Germany :-)

If you like tea, I think this company's tea is worth trying. Especially "Tippy Golden Darjeeling Earl Grey" is just amazing. The aroma relaxes you whole body and mind and it makes me very happy. My husband told me that he was thinking about and looking forward having tea already during the dinner! It is that good.

Another tea which we are drinking quite often lately is Rooibos tea. This tea is popular in South Africa. We were drinking this tea even before our friend came to visit from South Africa but when they came, they brought this big package of Rooibos tea! So now we can drink it more! Sometimes in the U.S. it is a  little bit difficult to find Rooibos tea in a regular super market. Sometimes they have it , sometimes they don't so it is great to have this big package at home.

I normally add sugar to my black tea but never to any kind of Japanese or Chinese tea. I also found that I don't need to add sugar for Rooibos tea. It is similar to some type of Japanese tea and I like drinking this tea with meal and so on. Also, I heard somewhere that Rooibos tea is good to make you young! I really want to believe this :-)

If you have a chance, please try Ronnefeldt's Tippy Golden Darjeeling Earl Grey. This might be the best tea I ever had.

So enjoy your after dinner tea time while you relax, talk, read or watch TV. In my house, this is one of the great joy of the day and we look forward to this tea time every day.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

2010 my container garden report

At the end of April, I went to the nursery and got some plants for this year (Click here for the past post for my container garden) . Today, I would like to report to you how they are doing.

It is getting warm here in NY (It was HOT yesterday like summer) and my plants are growing.

First, this is the tomatoes. You can see small yellow flowers coming out. After the flower, there will be some tomato coming out. I can not wait!

This is lavenders which my husband is growing. Actually, this one is from last year. It seemed like it died during the winter (We left it outside the whole winter) but the new leaves came out in spring and it is starting to blossom. How amazing the nature is!

Parsley is quite easy to grow, I think.

This is mint and garlic chives. Mint is growing rapidly and I need to use this soon. I am having a BBQ for memorial day weekend so I am thinking Mojito with these mint!
It is difficult to see garlic chives, you can see tiny thing coming out on the left side of mint. This was from seeds so it will take a while to grow bigger, I think.

Basil is also growing but the leaves are getting tougher. I don't know why. I used to be very green and soft but now it is getting little yellow and hard. Does anybody know why? Should I keep basil inside the house?

This is green chilies. You can see small white flower coming out, can't you? I love how chilies grow. It looks so cute when it comes out!

The most surprising one is green onion. This is something which I leanred from my mom and when I buy green onion from grocery store, I keep the roots and plant them. New ones come out pretty quickly and I don't have to buy green onion anymore. I always have green onion on hand. But I left these green onion for while without using them and look what came out! Big flowers!

I am going to use all the small ones before the flower comes out again :-)

It is great to see how the plants grow every day. It is quite amazing how sun and water affect their growth.

I would like to report again when I harvest all these vegetables next time!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Japanese dinner (carrots & gobo rice with root vegetable miso soup)

I made healthy Japanese dinner with the vegetables I bought at the Japanese super market the other day. 

First one was rice with carrots and gobo. Gobo is a root vegetable. I believe it is "burdock root" in English. It is very healthy vegetables and Japanese people eat this vegetable quite often. 

I just sliced those vegetables very thin with a peeler.

Then, add in the rice cooker with rice and water plus about 2 table spoon of soy sauce and 2 table sppon of sake. I used brown rice because brown rice is much healthier than regular white rice.

Then just cook the rice as normally do.

It does not have a strong taste but it is very good.

I also made miso soup with some root vegetables such as gobo, daikon and carrots. Normally, I don't saute vegetables for miso soup but for this one I sautéed first because all the root vegetables are quite tough. I add some bonito powder, soy sauce and sake just a little bit.

Then, add water. Cook them until all the vegetables are soft. Then. add miso paste.

These are very traditional Japanese dishes and they are very healthy! Some people might find it unsatisfying but I think it is great dinner for once in a while.

By the way, it has been really nice weather here in NY. It feels like summer already! Many people are sunbathing at the beach and enjoying the beach already.

Yesterday, I switched winter clothes and summer clothes. I love summer clothes. I am so excited to wear all my summer clothes!

Every time when I switch clothes, I pick some of the clothes I don't wear and donate. It is not easy to let go some of the clothes but I think if you don't wear them for three years, you will never wear them. I feel really bad throwing away so it is great that I can donate and there will be some people who will be enjoying my clothes.

There is a church group coming to pick up the donation clothes every few month and this is great! I love this system :-) I think this is a win-win situation.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

10 promises to myself to make my life happier

Today, I would like to talk about something other than cooking or food because I am feeling great and I wanted to share my happiness with you.

I consider myself very lucky person and my life is awesome but I am a human and like everybody else, I sometimes feels sad or worried about some things.

I read this book called "Happiness Project" the other day. The author lives in NY and have a busy life with a husband and two kids and she realized that the time is slipping by her. She makes a plan to make her life happier by promising something to herself every month so she will be a happier person at the end of the year.
I thought about myself and I am very happy with my life right now but I realized that sometimes I forget about how lucky or happy I am.

Happiness is very subjective issue and it is depend on you. Nobody can measure your happiness but you. It is all depend on what you value in life and if you can appreciate things you have.

I have all these great people and things around me so I decided to make a list of 10 things which reminds me how happy I am or which makes me happier.

Sometimes we forget about all these small happiness in our lives. We don't think about it everyday but we realize it later when I loose it. I don't want to realize it when it is too late. I want to remember those things everyday to appreciate and enjoy them every single day. That is why I made these 10 promises to myself.

This is my list and it might be boring for you and you might not agree with them but these are for myself. Everyone has own things which make them happier. Here is mine :-)

10 Promises to myself to makes my life happier

1. Realize that you are alive and healthy today and appreciate it. (Health is a base for everything yet I think I take it for granted sometimes. I want to appreciate this fact everyday and cherish my body. I go to yoga for this reason also :-)

2. Pay attention to the miracles around you. (small miracles such as change of season, warmth of the sun, plants growing are things which I forget about if I don't make a conscious decision to notice those things. These small miracles makes me happy)

3. Appreciate what I have. (I have so many great people and great things in my life. I want to appreciate that everyday. It is easy to wanting what you don't have but I want to focus on what I have right now)

4. Sing and Dance more (I love singing and dancing. I am not saying that I am good at it but I like singing and dancing at home by myself sometimes. I also sing and dance in front of my husband and makes him laugh :-) It is great to have music in my life. It cheers my spirit up)

5. Laugh out loud. (In Japan we have a saying "Laughter brings good luck" and I think it is true. I also read somewhere that laughter brings your immune system level up)

6. Join more fun and exciting event. (Since I live in NY, I should take more advantage of this. There are so many shows, operas, concerts, sports game etc. I would like to try some of those events which I never have)

7. Learn something new everyday (This does not need to be something big. I just want to learn one new information everyday. It can be anything! For example, something about other countries or some cooking tips!)

8. Have a dinner party every month. (It actually doesn't need to be a party. Just a get together with a few people for dinner at our place. This will be a great practice for my cooking skill also :-)

9. Breath deeply and bring fresh air to every corner of my body (I do this in my yoga class but I really believe that inhaling fresh air deeply into my body cleanse my body. It feels really good and I want to give lots of fresh air to my body)

10. Be kind to others. (When I am nice to someone, they are happy and that makes me happy. This goes to all the people even to a stranger. I would like to be a person who can really feel happy for other people's happiness)

So these are my 10 promises. Since this is supposes to be something which should make me happy, there are no difficult tasks or things which I don't want to do. It is easy and something I want to do.

So I will try to keep my promises and especially when I feel sad or worried, I want to remind myself with those promises and bring my spirits up.

I also read this book called "The Secret" and I started to think that happiness is something you bring to yourself. Sometimes it is difficult to think positive but we only have one life so I would like to try to appreciate what I have and enjoy my life. This book "The Secret" tells you that if you want something you just ask for the universe and act and live like you have already received it then it will come to you.
When I think about everything I have, I feel like I have everything I want already. I really enjoy my life.

Thank you for reading my gibberish :-)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Lunch and delightful afternoon with a friend (Panko Crusted Sole)

My friends from Queens came to visit me the other day. We never hang out by ourselves but we have seen each other so many times. It was very very nice to spend one-on-one time with her and get to know her more.

We went to a small restaurant for lunch. This resutaurant has a variety of items on their menu and I always find it difficult to pick on dish to order.

This time they had a lunch special and I found my favortie fish on a lunch special so I decided to order that. It is Japanese Panko crusted Sole. Sole is one of my favorite dish but it is quite expensive sometimes. This sole was lunch special and was not expensive at all but it tasted great.

I love Japanese Panko becuase when you fry them, it is extra crispy. It seems like Japanese panko is getting popular here in the U.S. since I see tham in a regular supermarket and in lots of restaurant menue and recipes.

After lunch, we went to a farmers market and came back home and spend the afternoon talking about a lot of different things. She is my age and very nice to talk to. I am excited to hang out with her more often. Since she is having a baby soon, she will be very busy after the baby arrives but I hope that I can help her somehow during those busy days :-)

It was so much fun and when we realized it was already 7:00pm. Time flies when you are having fun :-)

The funny thing was that my husband had a business dinner that night. And when he came home, I asked him what he had for dinner. He told me that he had Sole!!! How funny that both of us ordered sole that day without realizing it :-) I would like to belive that it is a special telepathy between us.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Japanese flavored mushroom pasta recipe

When I go to Japanese supermarket, I always buy many different kinds of mushrooms and make pasta or risotto. It was no exception this time neither.

I remembered that I had this great mushroom pasta in Manhattan's restaurant called TriBeCafe. (Click here for the post about TriBeCafe). I tried to recreate what I ate there.

I make mushroom pasta quite often but I don't use too much Japanese ingredients for it normally. This time I did some research and experimented with some ingredients from Japan such as "seasoning soy sauce", "seaweed powder" and "bonito flavored seasoning".

Japanese flavored mushroom pasta
Mushroom (I used maitake, shiitake, shimeji, bunashimeji but you can use whatever mushroom on hand as much as you want)
Pasta       300g
Onion      2  (sliced)
Garlic      2 cloves (chopped)
seasoning soy sauce    2 table spoon
seaweed powder         1 tea spoon
bonito flavored seasoning   1 tea spoon
butter                           2 table spoon
Olive Oil                     2 table spoon
Shiso (Japanese basil)  3

1. Heat up butter and olive oil in a frying pan and sauté onion and garlic.

2. boil water in a pot and make pasta.

3. When onion is well cooked, add mushroom, seasoning soy sauce, seaweed powder and bonito flavored seasoning.

4. When pasta is cooked, add pasta to the mushroom mixture and mix well.

5. Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with shredded shiso leaves.

This tasted more Japanese than my normal mushroom pasta and it was really good.

It might be a bit difficult to find those ingredients in a regular supermarket. Seasoning soy sauce is called "Tsuyu no moto" and this is very useful. This can be used to make a broth for udon or soba noodle or dipping sauce for Tempura or when you make some kind of bowl. I used this all the time.

Seaweed powder is called "konbu cha" and people dissolve this powder into a hot water and drink it as tea. I don't like drinking this tea but I like to used this as a flavor for some dishes.

Bonito flavored seasoning is a powder seasoning from bonito and we use this when we make miso soup. It is a base for making miso soup or some other kind of Japanese soup.

My husband told me before that he does not like mushroom too much but since I love mushroom, I make something with mushroom all the time. I think he got used to it. He now likes it. Maybe because I always enjoy eating mushroom, it motivate him to eat more mushroom :-) I don't know but it is good that he likes it now :-)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tuna (Negitoro) rolls

I went to a big Japanese supermarket the other day and found this fresh tuna with green onion with a great price. It is called "Negi Toro". Negi means green onion and Toro means the best part of tuna.

There isn't any other ingredients for making rolls so I just made this Negitoro roll.

This tuna was pretty cheap but it tasted really good. I wish I could get this kind of tuna around my house.

My husband also liked this a lot. This is such an economical easy dinner! I just had to make some rice, mix with sushi vinegar and roll them with seaweed.

We had miso soup and green tea with it. It was a wonderful Japanese dinner night :-)

By the way, I have been listening a lot of Japanese old songs on You Tube lately. You tube is so convenient, don't you think?

When you search for 80's hit or 90's hit, they have some video with all the hit songs. There are so many songs which I have forgotten about but when you listen them again, you realize how great those songs were. I love singing with those old songs :-)

When I was in Japan, I used to go to Karaoke sometimes. I love Karaoke but I like it Japanese style. In Japan, many karaoke places have private rooms and you just go in with your friends and sing. Here, many karaoke is at bars and you have to sing in front of all these people. I am not a great singer so I don't want to sing in front of people but I like singing so private room is perfect for me.

I went to private room karaoke with my husband once in NYC, he likes singing so he enjoyed it but I think he doesn't mind singing in front of people neither :-)

Listening to all these old songs made me want to go to Karaoke again!!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Spice Market in NYC

Hello! I am back! I hope everybody is doing well. Last weekend was really nice weather and I went to my favorite restaurant in NYC. As I mentioned it in a earlier post, it is "Spice Market" (Click here for the earlier post about Spice Market)

My husband and I met up with his friend and his wife. They haven't been Spice Market before so we decided to go there together.

We ordered two appetizer, one salad and two main and of course my favorite "Ginger Fried Rice".

I couldn't take photos of all the dishes because I was so excited about the food in front of me and I forget to take picture :-)

But here are some.

This is Egg rolls.

Here is the cod with Malaysian Chili sauce

And last but not least, my favorite, "Ginger Fried Rice"
The weather was perfect and the french door was wide open. We were sitting right by the window. It just felt so good.

After the lunch, we walked on highline which is a walking way made out from former train track. The view from there was also nice and everybody was walking around and enjoying the beautiful day.

There are some area which you can sit down and relax.
After the walk, we went to Chelsea Market for a milk shake at the milk bar. Their milk shake is really good!

After the milk shake, we went to a big Japanese supermarket in NJ side. I bought lots of Japanese ingredients for cooking. I am excited to use them :-)

This is a view from NJ side. It is quite a nice view of Manhattan.

Right next to the super market, there is a Japanese book store. I bought this book called "Toritsukare Otoko".  It is a fiction and about a man who get addicted easily about many things. First, he get addicted to opera and can not stop singing about everything and anything then, he get addicted about other things and then something else and so on. One day he fell in love with this girl and get addicted to her.

It is a love story. I am not sure if this book is for an adult or for kids but I just liked the title and some drawing in the book. I am excited to read this book. Oh, I have so many books I want to read :-)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

will be back next week!

It will be quite busy this week and I won't be able to update my blog but I will start updating again next week for sure! Please come visit me again! Thanks! Have a great week!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Challenge for another homemade bread

I have tried to make homemade sandwich bread for a few times in the past. I have never made this perfectly and need more practice. So I tried it again to make it better.

It was a bit smaller than I have expected and it is not even. This is not a perfect sandwich bread which I was trying to make but the taste was there.

First, I made the dough and separate them into two. (At this point, it is already uneven....)

Roll them and put them in the pan.

This is after baking.

Let's cut them into thin slices.

I made turkey sandwich with this bread. The taste was really good. I just need to work on the shape.
Freshly baked bread is really good. Since this was quite small bread, we ate them pretty quickly.

Well, it seems like I need more practice on baking bread. In the future, I would love to bake baguette and sourdough bread but first I would like to make a perfect sandwich bread. Hopefully, the day will come very soon :-)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Super Spicy Mapo Tofu

Before talking about my super spicy mapo tofu, I would like to talk little bit more about Jean-Georges Giner Fried Rice which I mentioned yesterday. I found the recipe on NY Times website with a video of Mark Bittman who is a friend of Jean-Georges showing us how to make ginger fried rice.

Click here for the recipe for ginger fried rice from NY Times website. 

Also, if you would like to see Mr. Mark Bittman making Jean-Georges ginger fried rice, click here.

If you like ginger and garlic, I think you would love this fried rice. (Be sure to use fresh egg)

Anyway, now about my super spicy mapo tofu. This came out really spicy because of my mistake.

When I made mapo tofu the other day (click here for that post) , I found out that many people use "Tian Mian Jiang"which is Chinese sweet bean paste. I wanted to buy this paste when I see it and the other day when I went to a Japanese super market, I thought I found it so I purchased it. 

This time, I used the recipe from the last time (Click here for my mapo tofu recipe) and instead of miso paste, oyster sauce, mirin and soy sauce, I used Tiam Mian Jiang (chinese sweet bean paste) or something I thought it was Tiam Mian Jiang. 

Just now, when I was looking at the jar of the paste I purchased, I realized that it was not Tiam Mian Jiang! It said "Kochi Jiang" which is korean spicy miso paste! I purchased something completely different and didn't even notice until just now. 

When I was cooking, I opend the jar of Kochi Jiang and thought "wow, this Tiam Mian Jiang looks so read and spicy. It is supposed to be sweet miso paste but it looks spicy...." but I did not realize that it was not Tiam Mian Jiang at this point. (I should have realized at this point, I know..) 

So I used this kochi Jiang which is spicy and Doubangjiang which is also a spicy paste that I used for the original recipe. I ended up using two different kind of spicy paste into my mapo tofu without knowing it. Of course it is super spicy. 

I felt so stupid that I had to laugh :-) 

This is when I added Doubangjiang and Kochijiang. It looks really read. (but I didn't realize how spicy it will be at this point)

Added some tofu and cooked more. (still red) 

I tasted at the end and noticed that it is really spicy so I added some sugar to ease the spiciness. 

I made mapo tofu bowl with half brown and half white rice. 
After adding some sugar, it was better and I was able to enjoy this dish. It was spicy but the taste was really good! 

I cannot believe that I had no doubt that I bought Tiem Mein Jaing and it took me a day to realize it :-) Next time when I buy any kind of Chinese or Korean paste, I will be more careful.