Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Refreshing! Lemon Pound Cake

It has been a while since I baked something since it was extremely hot this summer in NY. Last week, there are some days which were pretty cool so I decided to make a pound cake.

Normally, I use my mom's pound cake recipe but this time I wanted to make lemon pound cake so I searched the Internet and found a recipe which I would like to try.

This is how it came out from the oven.

This is after pouring lemon graze over.

It has lemon juice and lemon zest in the cake and covered with lemon graze. Its a lemony goodness!

I really loved this lemon pound cake. It was moist and refreshing and prefect cake for summer.
My husband loves lemon pound cake and he was so excited when he saw this cake. He start eating one slice and then another, then another..... I had to stop him :-)

I think my pound cake pan was a bit too big so it came out as very flat cake. I would double the ingredients next time I make it. Yes, I will definitely making this again!

I thought the summer is almost gone but seems like it came back again. Today, the highs supposed to be 33C (91.4F) and it will be hotter tomorrow.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Vegetable and Pork bowl

This bowl is pretty popular in Japan and we call it "Chuuka Don" which mean Chinese bowl. You can find this dish in Chinese restaurants in Japan. I am not sure if this dish is really originated from China or not but that is how we call it.

I was looking at this famous Japanese cooking blog and this lady was making this bowl and I really wanted to make it. This was my first time making it and my mom never made this for us at home so I was not sure if I can make it right but it came out really great!

We use lots of vegetables in this dish. This time, I used cabbage, carrots, onion, bean sprout, shiitake mushroom and kikurage mushroom.

This also require some pork to make it more flavorful. You don't need to use too much.
All the vegetables in.

Then, add water and other ingredients such as soy sauce, sake, oyster sauce and so on.

I was so surprised how good it was. Plus, you can eat lots of vegetables this way. I poured over the rice but you can also pour this over some noodle. My husband loved it also!
In Japan, we use quail egg for this dish but I don't find quail egg in the supermarket near us so I just used regular egg :-)

I never made this before so I just assumed that it will be difficult but it was so easy and tasted great! Now I know that I can make this at home! Great!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Lobster Ravioli & Tomato Salad

I bought Lobster Ravioli at Trader Joe's. I don't think I ever had Lobster ravioli so I was curious how it taste. I just have to cook the ravioli and add some sauce to it and I used store-bought vodka sauce so this was easy dinner. I add some basil to make it a bit pretty.

This is the Lobster ravioli which I bought.

The taste was well, OK. It has a pretty strong lobster taste and I guess my husband and I are not too keen on Lobster taste. Well, it is lobster ravioli so it supposed to taste Lobster. It is our fault that we didn't know we don't like lobster too much. If you like lobster, I am sure you like this ravioli.

Vodka sauce was great. I love vodka sauce. I think it goes well with lobster ravioli.

Since we found out that we don't like the lobster taste too much, I will buy other kind of ravioli next time. I saw many different kind of raviolis at Trader Joe's so I would like to try other kind next time.

My husband made tomato salad on the side. He makes this tomato salad sometimes and I like it a lot. The dressing is just balsamic vinegar, heavy cream, salt and pepper. It is refreshing but quite mild taste from the heavy cream.

I don't eat ravioli too often but I would like to try more ravioli from now on. In a restaurant, I never order ravioli because normally they only have about 5 raviolis on a plate and it is never enough for me. (Am I being cheap?)

Anyway, ravioli looks cute. I want to try making ravioli at home sometimes. This will be a big challenge!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Shrimp Biryani

The temperature in NY has been cool and nice this past few days so it seems like my appetite and cooking desire is coming back! I feel like I haven't cooked real food for a while so the other day, I decided to make Shrimp Biryani for the first time in my life.

When I was invited for a dinner at our Pakistani friend's house at the end of last year (Click here for that post), she made lots of dishes and one of the dish was shrimp biryani. I watched how she made it so I decided to give it a try!

She used this Biryani Masala Mix so I bought the exact same one she used. She also added lots of spices and onion, tomato, cilantro, etc.

First, I made the sauce with this mix, onion, tomato, spices such as cloves, cinnamon, cardamon, ginger, garlic etc. I was supposed to add yogurt but I didn't have it at home so I added sour cream instead.  I added shrimps at the end then the sauce is done.

Then, I layered cooked rice and the sauce with some lemon juice and cilantro. Then, I put in the oven for a while to warm it up and at the end, sprinkled with saffron with milk.

When I was layering, I thought the sauce it too little but I think it was actually perfect ratio when it came out. Also, when I tasted the sauce, it was really salty but it became perfect after layering with rice.

My husband loves Indian food so he was really happy that I made this. I hadn't been cooking much lately so I felt little bit bad for him. Hopefully, this one made up for it. This biryani was pretty spicy for me though my husband said it is perfect spiciness.

This was the first time I made biryani and I am very happy with the result. I still have lots of biryani masala mix left so I am sure that I will be making this more often.

The funny thing is that I ate leftover next day and it was not as spicy as the night before. I wonder if the spiciness goes away with the time.

Anyhow, I am happy that my appetite and cooking desire is back. Now, I have to be careful eating too much :-)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Weekend BBQ with friends

On the weekend, our friend couple came to visit to our place to have BBQ with us. It was raining on and off but it was cool and felt nice.

We BBQ the steak which they brought. Just simple salt and pepper.

Then, this is something I wanted to do for a while. Grilling eggplant and zucchini. I love the grill mark on eggplants.

They also brought Feta cheese. We sprinkled some herbs with olive oil and wrap with aluminum foil then put on the grill. I never had Feta cheese this way but it was really good!

This is the steak and the one in aluminum foil is some asparagus.

Eggplants and zucchini also were grilled perfectly. I add some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, basil and salt and pepper. This dish was so good. I love it. Even my husband (who is not too fond of eggplant) loved them.

Also some salad.

Our friends brought home made cheese cake. This was really really good. I hadn't had sweets for a while so this cheese cake was extra special. I think when you don't eat sweets for a while and you eat them, you enjoy them more. (does it make sense??) Anyhow, isn't it also pretty with some raspberry and black berry?

We had a lot of fun and spend great time together. This couple has been really nice to us and we did many things together. They are moving to Canada soon so this was kind of a farewell BBQ before they leave. I am so sad that they are leaving because I thought we became such a good friends and I liked hanging out with them. But, I really wish great things for them in Canada and maybe I will come visit them sometimes. (Definitely in summer, not in winter :-)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Cold Noodle with Sesame Sauce (Hiyashi Chuuka)

This is a popular summer dish in Japan. Its a cold ramen noodle dish with some vegetables on top. I used tomato, cucumber, eggs and shrimp this time. I used packaged cold ramen noodle so it came with the sauce. This one was sesame sauce which I love.

This is great in summer. It also look pretty with colorful vegetables.

I didn't like this dish too much when I was in Japan but now I like it.  I think your taste buds changes as you get older.

My husband also loved this dish since he loves sesame. I am glad that I was able to make this dish before the summer ends.

This weekend, I watched three Harry Potter movie on TV with my husband. We have watched only first one before so it was nice to watch 3, 4 and 5 together :-) I was surprised that it was quite dark and scary but also fun with lots of imagination.

I was probably influenced by the Harry Potter movie but I dreamed something funny. It was about incense memory stick. Someone made a copy of some video on incense memory stick and gave it to me. I stick it in the middle of keyboard and light it up and it start playing the video but at the end, the incense was all burned and couldn't play it anymore. So this was just one time use memory stick. ahaha.

It is quite funny what your dreams come up with, isn't it?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Colorful Rice Balls and Miso Soup with Onion & Seaweed

Yes, rice balls again! I love rice balls. If I have rice balls, miso soup and barley tea,  I don't need any other dish. I used different kind of ingredients so my rice balls are pretty colorful and fun :-)

I used salmon flakes, pickled plum, dried seasoned seaweed and so on. My favorite is salmon flakes (the pink one). Hands down!

I realized that I tend to make rice balls too big. I should try to make it smaller so it looks cuter but for some reason, I can not help it. Maybe I will used the nigiri sushi mold for making rice balls next time. That way, it will be uniformed in sizes and small and cute.

I also made miso soup. This time, I added onion, seaweed and green onion. It was pretty good. Miso soup is easy to make and you can add just about any kind of vegetable in it so I like it!

This was our dinner :-) Rice balls have flavor so I don't need any other dish. For me, this was very satisfying meal but I am not sure if it was satisfying for my husband :-)

Lately, I drink lots of barley tea. I call this summer tea because Japanese people drink barley tea in Japan. This is non caffeine tea and everybody from small children to elderly drink this tea. (Mostly in summer, I don't know why). This barley tea reminds me of my childhood summer. And I found out that it is pretty good for your health also!

Anyhow, when I was eating rice balls, I thought about Japanese convenience store. It is very different from here. Japanese convenience store sells many different kind of fresh food. One of their popular item is rice balls. They have many different kinds and lots of people buy them for lunch and stuff. Also, they have great lunch box and noodles and desserts! Often times they come up with many new items and it is a lot of fun to go to convenience store in Japan. Sometimes, I wish I had Japanese convenience store close by :-)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Rice Porridge with Egg

In Japan, rice porridge is popular and easy dish especially when you don't have much appetite or when you are tired of oily food. Since I am Japanese, sometimes I crave for rice porridge. This Egg Rice Porridge is super easy to make and easy to your stomach also.
It is super easy to make. I just boil hot water in a pan and add bonito seasoning. Then, add cooked rice. When it is boiled again, I add egg and stir it well. On top, I sometimes add sesame seeds and chopped chives. That's it! You can add some salt if you would like.

Also, there are many toppings which you can add. I like adding seaweed or salmon flakes and so on. But one of my favorite is pickled plum. I take the seeds out of pickled plums and crush them into small pieces  then add into the pan before I add egg. This makes the porridge bit tangy and delicious!

Below picture is the one with seaweed topping.

Well, it might be a bit too hot to eat rice porridge right now but I would love you guys try it sometimes when it gets cooler. My husband likes it also (minus the seaweed..)

You can also add many different kinds of vegetables into rice porridge such as mushrooms or spinach. There are unlimited variation you can come up with so be creative and make your own special rice porridge!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tapas dinner

My husband and I went to Trader Joe's over the weekend and bought lots of our favorite stuff so we decided to have tapas dinner with many small plates. We had hummus, pita bread, spinach dip, tortilla chips, salad, leftover pasta and so on.

One of my husband's favorite from Trader Joe's is this spicy cilantro hummus dip. We always buy this and small pita bread. I normally don't like beans/peas but I love hummus. Plus, I love cilantro so this hummus is one of my favorite also.

The one I really liked was this spinach dip. We tried this for the first time but I loved it so much. My husband said that there are too much spinach in it but I think that's the best part!

For dessert, we had clementines. We also bought these from Trader Joe's and it was one of the best clementines I eve had! It was juicy and sweet. I loved it. I have to be careful not to eat too many of these because I can just eat 3~4 clementines at once! (My husband made this beautiful decoration with clementines :-)

By the way, I heard that it has been really really hot in Japan lately. Since summer in Japan is very very humid, my sister told me that it feels like you are in sauna all the time. I hope it will get cooler soon.

NY had been warm but not too hot lately. Highs are normally around 82~89F (28~30C) but not too humid so it is not too bad.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Cucumber Sandwich & Egg Sandwich

Lately, I love eating cucumber sandwich. This is so simple and light. I love it. I can not call this cooking but when it really hot outside, this kind of sandwich taste super with the cool cucumber.

For cucumber sandwich, I just slice cucumbers. Spread some mayonnaise on toast, add sliced swiss cheese and cucumber. That's it. It can not get easier, isn't it?

When I was little, there was a period of time which I was obsessed with cucumber. I would just wash the cucumber and dip in mayonnaise and eat. (Japanese cucumbers are very small so you can just bite them like pickles even tough I don't call it a good manner...) I think it is a great snack for kids :-) if they like cucumber.

I felt bad for my husband making only cucumber sandwich so I also made egg salad sandwich. Egg salad sandwich is something my mom used to make sometimes when I was little.

I just boiled eggs and mash them. Add mayonnaise, relish and salt/pepper. This is also super easy but relish make it super good.
Even tough this is such an easy meal, since my husband loves sandwich, he was so happy!

With the sandwiches, we also had some salad. We have been eating lots of salad lately. This time, I used one of my favorite salad dressing. Paul Newman's (Newman's Own) Caesar salad dressing.

I liked Paul Newman. I think he is so good looking. I think he was the best looking old guy. Anyway, he has lots of food products under Newman's Own brand. I like his products. Lots of them are natural and organic.

And all the profit goes to charities. This Caesar salad dressing is one of my favorite. There is oil type and creamy type. I like both of them but this time I used oil type.

He also have popcorn, cookies, pasta sauce, lemonade, etc. You can find them in a regular supermarket so if you have a chance, try some of his products. It is pretty good. All of his products have his illustrated face on the package.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Refreshing Caprese Dinner

It is still quite hot in NY so I still feel like eating something refreshing and cold. I made caprese which is one my my husband's favorite dish.

This is so easy to make and always so tasty and satisfying.

I just cut grape tomatoes into two and also cut mini mozzarella balls as same size as the tomatoes. Then Julienne basil leaves and mix them together with some white balsamic vinegar, regular balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. That's it.

We like eating this with some kind of bread (preferably baguette) and soak the bread with the vinaigrette on the plate. My husband love bread so he was eating lots of bread with this dish.

He was so happy that I made this. I used to make this dish quite often when I was by myself but I kind of forgot about it recently, I will be making this more often from now on. Just to see my husband's happy face :-) This is a perfect dish for summer!
I like using white balsamic vinegar for this dish since it doesn't make the cheese dark. I think you can also mix this with cold pasta!

OK, this is something totally unrelated to cooking but lately in my household we are obsessed with "Prison Break". I am sure that many people know about this show since it had been showing on TV for a while now. I know about this show but I never get to watch it before and the other day I suggested to watch the first episode on DVD just to see how it is. (Well, the main reason I wanted to watch this show was the main actor in it. He is so good looking and I just wanted to watch him :-)

But my husband told me that he was also interested in this show so we decided to watch it. Then, we kind of got hooked.

Needless to say that the main actor (Wentworth Miller) was good looking but the story was pretty interesting and exciting!  And many of the actors in the show are really good. One of them is my husband's favorite Swedish actor (Peter Stormare)

In every episode, they are put in tough corners and I feel frustrated and excited at the same time. We haven't even fished watching season 1 but I am so excited to watch rest of the show.

I was checking the main actor's background on Wikipedia and found out that he graduated from Princeton University. He is good looking and seems like he is also smart. Well, I guess it doesn't matter which university he went in order to be a good actor but I think he is a good actor (at least perfect fit for this role). I am looking forward to seeing him in other roles in the future :-)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Juicy & Super Tender Baby Back Ribs

Lately, I am blaming the heat for not cooking hot food. On the weekend, we had Baby Back Ribs in order to enjoy summer with fresh corn. Normally, I can only find big size ribs so I don't cook ribs too often at home so I try to eat them when we eat out sometimes however like anything else, cooking ribs at home is much economical and it is fresh and taste good.

When I make ribs, I use this recipe which I found at All Recipes while back. I tried it once and fell in love with this method so I use this recipe every time I make ribs at home. Only thing I changed is that I grill the ribs for a few minuets each side at the end to make a nice crust.

Here is the recipe I used from All Recipes. Click here to go to the recipe.

It takes a long time to cook but you just put them in the oven and you don't really have to do anything. The result is tender and juicy meat which fall off the bones. It is well worth the time.

Also, we boiled some fresh corn. These corn was incredibly sweet. We were so suprised how sweet this corn was. And it was only 50 cents each! I have to get more of these corns since I use corn for my salad all the time. It is a huge different from the canned corn.

Since we had been eating cold food a lot lately, it was nice to eat some hot food. My husband loved it also. It is already August so we should enjoy BBQ as much as we can!

I hope you guys try this ribs. I used store bought BBQ sauce so it is super easy but super delicious. I am sure your family or friends would love it if they live ribs. Enjoy!

It is still quite hot and sticky here in NY. I have a feeling that we will be eating cold food again for a while :-)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Gomoku Chirashi Sushi (Yes, it is sushi again!)

I woke up from a dream about Harry Potter being my uncle. I wasn't even thinking about Harry Potter so I wonder why I dreamed about Harry Potter. Anyway, dreams are strange sometimes.

And for dinner, yes, it is sushi again! It is just too hot to cook and I used this gomoku chirashi sushi mix and topped with some stuff.

This sushi is called gomoku chirashi sushi and you just mix rice with sushi vinegar and some cooked vegetables such as routs roots and carrots and stuff. Then top with some fish, egg, vegetables and so on.

Since I had this prepared mix for sushi rice, I just made rice in my rice cooker and add this package. This is a very famous brand in Japan and if you go to a Japanese grocery store, I am pretty sure that you can find them.

Since I didn't have any fish for the topping, I just used avocado, imitation crab, pickled cucumber and dried seaweed (this dried seaweed came with the package)

One funny mistake I made about imitation crab the other day. I was asking my husband to get imitation crab at the supermarket and instead of imitation crab, I said "Will you get some intimidation crab?" My husband was laughing and saying "What kind of crab is that? I am not sure if I want to eat that." I realized my mistake and start laughing. It is great that we can laugh so much from these silly little things :-)

Anyway, for the pickled cucumber, I just sliced cucumber very thinly and add some salt and left it for a while. Then squeeze all the water out of cucumber, then add some rice vinegar and sugar. It is sweet and sour and taste so good!!

I was very pleased how pretty it came out. I think I should be more creative with the topping next time. How about some tomato or edamame? It was easy and very tasty cool dinner :-)