Thursday, February 17, 2011

Valentine's Day 2011

How was your Valentine's Day on Monday? Were you able to have a lovely day?
In Japan, Valentine's day is normally giving chocolate from female to male. Then, we have what we call "White Day" which is on March 14 and the men who received chocolate will give a gift back to the female. I am not sure if this is still the case but it was when I was in Japan.

When you are very young, Valentine's day is one of the opportunity to tell a guy you like that you like him so many girls spend lots of time baking or making some kind of chocolate sweets and try to express their love. It is so cute.

Well, here in the U.S., Valentine's day is more mutual thing (or maybe even more from male to female). Many people get flowers, chocolate, cards and go to a nice restaurants to celebrate their love with special someone.

Our Valentine's day was very simple but lots of love and wonderful feelings. First of all, my husband bought me a rose and set it up on a table with a message on a table the night before Valentine's day so I will find it in the morning of Valentine's day. I couldn't sleep well that night so I ended up finding it at 3:00am. It made me feel so happy and loved.

For Valentine's day dinner, I made something completely unromantic. It was Yakisoba (Japanese fried noodle). I wanted to make something more romantic but I had to use some of the vegetables in the fridge and Yakisoba was the perfect choice for using all the vegetables in my fridge.

Anyway, to make up for this unromantic dinner choice, I made a cute valentine dessert. I bought some strawberry and made chocolate covered strawberry.

This is super easy yet looks cute and kind of romantic.

My husband loved this and he ate like 8 of them!!  I didn't think that he would love them this much so I was pretty happy with the result.

I just wash and dry strawberry. Melt some semi-dark chocolate chip in double boiler and dipped the strawberry in and put them in the fridge until it hardens. I would highly recommend making this at home. It looks great and taste great and easy and simple. Since it is very simple, you need to use good quality chocolate.

By the way, one thing I always admire about my husband is that he buy flowers all the time for me. He buy them even when it is not a special occasion. I think it is nice to get flowers just because. It shows that he cares and thinks about me even when it is not anniversary or special day.

We have been married for 4 years and half now but this habit hasn't changed and I hope it won't change. He is very kind and  loving person and my love for him is growing bigger and bigger every day. I am so lucky. Even though I love him and appreciate him every day, I think days like valentine's day is great to remind our self about loves we have around us.

We always try to remember to appreciate each other and not take each other for granted. Also, we generally want to make each other happy all the time and I feel like those are the keys for a good relationship. Well, I am just so excited to spend rest of my like with him. I feel like no matter what happens, we can get through them together.

Anyway, so if you didn't tell your loved one anything on Valentine's day, it is not too late. Don't take your loved ones for granted and tell them how much you appreciate and love them everyday :-)

Meanwhile, chocolate covered strawberry with your words makes them even more happier :-)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mushroom Bread Pudding

I went to a restaurant called "The standard grill" at The Standard Hotel in Manhattan on New Years Day with my husband and our friends. My husband had this dish called "Mushroom Bread Pudding" and he absolutely loved this dish. (Please click here for that post)

I tried it also and I was pleasantly surprised. I wanted to make this at home and I was able to get a few different kind of fresh mushroom last week so I decided to make it.

Since I had no idea how to make this. I serached for some recipes on the internet. I found many different recipes but I used this one which seemed quite simple and easy. Click here for the recipe from Los Angeles Times. 

I was not sure how it will come out but it came out pretty good. I was very satisfied with the result and I think it tasted quite similar to the one which we had at the standard grill.

First, I cut mushrooms and baked in the oven. At this point, the smell of mushroom filled the room and I wanted to just eat the mushroom but was able to I hold back.

Then, mix french bread (cut into small pieces), cheese, thyme and mushroom into a bowl.

Prepare the mixture of eggs and heavy cream.

Then, mix the liquid with bread mixture.

Transfer to oven dish and top with some butter.

Put in the oven and bake. This is how it should look like after baking.

Sprinkle chives and serve.

I think it was pretty close to the one I had at the restaurant. I tasted really rich and great. In the recipe, it require truffle butter but I didn't have truffle butter so I used just regular butter.

If you like mushroom like me, I think you would love this dish. Please give it a try sometimes!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Makizushi (Sushi rolls)

I made sushi roll the other day and it ended up disastrous. I have made sushi roll before but that ones were the worst looking sushi rolls I ever made. I had no idea why but it looked really bad so I couldn't even take photos of them. 

Well, I know that I can make it better so I had to try it again. I think that one of the reason why it looked so bad was that I was trying to make inside out rolls. This time, I decided to make only seaweed outside roll which is much easier to roll. 

Here is the result! 

It looks pretty good isn't it? The inside of sushi is just imitation crab, egg, cucumber and mayonnaise. I should have made variety of sushi but I didn't have many ingredients for it so it was just those ingredients this time. It tasted great and it looks pretty. 

Yes, seaweed outside is much much easier to roll. I guess I need more practice for inside out style sushi. 

My husband also tried to roll. He even tried to make inside out sushi. Well, as I said inside out sushi is difficult to roll so it didn't come out quite pretty but his seaweed outside roll came out pretty good. 

This was a great dinner and I felt much better since I was able to make it prettier this time. Next time, I will try different ingredients. 

My tip for making sushi roll is not to add too much rice and also leave the edge of seaweed empty for about 1/2 inch. And practice makes perfect! 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Sweet & Sour Pork

I had a ripe pineapple at home and I wanted to use it for some cooking. I used to not like having fruit in salty food but lately I like some of them. One of the salty dish I think about when I think about pineapple is "Sweet & Sour Pork". I have never made this at home but after looking at some recipes on the Internet, I figured that it shouldn't be too difficult to make. So I gave it a try.

Sweet & Sour Pork

Pork   about 1lb
Onion       1 and 1/2 (medium size)
Carrots     2~3
Bell Pepper  1
Pineapple     about 1/2 cup
Garlic          2 cloves
Corn Starch   2 table spoons
Vegetable Oil    3 table spoons

*sweet & sour sauce
Vinegar          3 table spoons
Soy Sauce      1table spoons
Sugar              3 table spoons
Sake               2 table spoons
Chicken Stock  about 2/3 cup
Ketchup          3 table spoons

+ Marinade for pork
Sake              2 table spoons
Soy Sauce     1 table spoon
Salt & Pepper   a pinch

1, First of all, cut all the vegetables/Pineapple and pork into bite size pieces. Chop garlic.

2, Marinade pork with the +marinade sauce. (I marinade it for about two hours but if you don't have time, you can just marinade them for about 30mins or so)

3, Mix all the ingredients for sweet and sour sauce in a bowl and set aside.

4,  Add corn starch in the the marinated pork from 2 and coat the pork with corn starch.

5, Add vegetable oil into frying pan and fry the pork with chopped garlic.

6, When the pork is cooked and crispy, add carrots. (Actually, I would take the pork out at this point if I make this again and add the pork again at the end so the pork stays crispy)

7, When carrots gets little soft, add onions.

8, When onions are cooked, add bell peppers.

9, Then, add pineapples.

10, Add the sweet & sour sauce which you mixed in step 3.

11, Bring to boil and when it started to thicken, turn the heat off.

12, Serve with rice.

I was surprised how good it was considering that I made this for the first time. I didn't know that you can make sweet & sour pork.

One thing I will change next time is that I will take the pork out before adding the vegetables and add back the pork at the very end. This way, the pork will stay crispy and will be better.

Since my husband liked this also, I will definitely making this dish again sometimes.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Salmon & Spinach Cream Pasta

My husband and I love pasta. I had this nice looking salmon which we bought from Costco so I decided to make salmon cream pasta with it. It is just salmon, spinach and cream. So simple but rich and tasty.

Salmon & Spinach Cream Pasta (for about 2 people)

Spaghetti  (about 1/2 pound)
Salmon (about 0.3 pound)
Baby Spinach 1 package (170g, 6OZ)
Heavy Cream  1 small package
Nutmeg   about 1 tea spoon
Salt and Pepper for taste
Olive Oil  1 tea spoon
Butter       1 tea spoon

1, First, cut salmon into small bite size pieces. If you are using regular spinach, also cut spinach into small pieces.

2, Bring water to boil and cook spaghetti.

3, In a frying pan, add butter and olive oil and saute salmon.

4, Add spinach and saute.

5, Add nutmeg, salt and pepper. Then add heavy cream. Bring to boil.

6, When spaghetti is cooked, drain and add to the frying pan and mix.

7, Serve.

This is such a simple and quick pasta dish but it is so yummy. You can eat lots of spinach this way also. Though it might be quite high in calorie, it is quite rich so I don't think you eat lot of them so it is OK. Everything in moderation.

This salmon we got from Costo was really good quality. We also broiled and ate them with soy sauce and sesame oil with scallion and it was really good. Salmon is very convenient ingredients. I can find them in any supermarket and it is not too expensive and there are so many different ways to eat. Though we normally eat in a very very simple way.

Maybe I should learn more salmon dish recipes but when fishes are really fresh, I like eating them in a very simple way such as just with say sauce and white rice :-)

Friday, February 4, 2011

My mom's Pound Cake

I made this pound cake before and I posted recipe in my old post. (Please click here for that post)
I realized that I hadn't made this pound cake for a while so I decided to make two of them and bring one to my friend.

My mom used to make this pound cake quite often when I was little so for me, this is mom's pound cake.

The edge is somehow looks like ribbon but it tasted really good and I think the color is perfect.

This time, I used cake flour so it seemed moister than before.

I like eating this cake while it is still warm. It was really good. I love this pound cake.

My husband loved it also and he ate a few slices as his lunch.

This is such a simple cake yet very buttery and rich. I love the smell of cake in my house. It make me feel very happy. If you like simple cakes, please try this pound cake. It is so easy and very tasty.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Chicken Enchilada with homemade roasted tomato salsa

We had good friends of ours visited us in early January and they made this incredible roasted tomato salsa while they are here.(Click here for the old post of their visit from early January)  Since there were lots of it, I freeze some leftover. I used this roasted tomato salsa and made incredible chicken enchilada.

First, I cooked chicken and sliced onion in frying pan. I used chicken tenders. When chicken is cooked, I shredded them and add them back to the pan.

Then, I added some chopped tomatoes. I used about 6 small tomatoes.

Then, add cumin powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper and juice of one lemon. (I think lime is better if you have lime). Then, add some chopped cilantro.

When everything is mixed well, turn the heat off.

Meanwhile, make fresh salsa with chopped red onion, chopped tomatoes and chopped cilantro.

This is the roasted tomato salsa which I had in my freezer.
I don't have a detailed recipe for this salsa but I wrote down some steps to make this salsa in the old post so if you are interested in, please click here to see steps to make this roasted tomato salsa. 

In the oven dish, layer this roasted tomato salsa on the bottom.

For enchilada, I used these small size flour tortilla.

Wrap the cooked chicken mixture with the tortillas.

Line them in the oven dish on top of salsa.

After you finished lining tortillas, cover them with the roasted tomato salsa.

Sprinkle with your favorite kind of cheese. I used sharp cheddar and some mozzarella.

Bake in the oven for about 30mins.

At the end, sprinkle some sour cream and fresh salsa on top.

Serve while it is hot!

This chicken enchilada was so good. It was the best chicken enchilada I ever made. I think the secret was the roasted tomato salsa. I really admire my friend who made this salsa. He just made this without any recipe and it came out really really good.

I have to try making this salsa by myself. I hope I can make it as good as he did. My husband loved this chicken enchilada also. It is a great idea to make lots of this salsa at once and freeze them for later use.

This was very satisfying yummy meal. I love cooking with my friends and learning new recipes from them. I have many friends from all over the world and I always love learning dishes from their countries or their specialities.