Tofu Daisy Dumplings

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japanese wonton dumpling_6864Fanciful daisy dumplings are fun for appetizers or a light meal. They are sure to delight guests, but are easier to prepare than wontons, gyoza, or shui mai. These flower-like savories bring to mind an early summer bouquet—perfect for relieving the vision of dirty grey snow mountains and the numbing cold we are currently enduring.

Simple ingredients (tofu, chicken, wonton skins, and pantry staples) are transformed so the whole is different from its parts. This recipe is poetry—a longing for one thing to be a substitute for another. A bit of magic. An illusion…

Now is the time to dream of spring and gardens and warmth. I am considering what to to about the lovely Montauk daisies planted in my garden. They are gorgeous plants which bloom late in the year. They can be encouraged in late spring—a time I am committed to considering while life is so cold and bleak now.

Simmered Chicken and Miso Meatballs

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japanese chicken meatballsA sunny sky in winter in Southeast Michigan means cold, and brings cravings for warmth and comfort. This Japanese nabemono meal is a satisfying chicken soup served with a bit of fun while evoking fantasies of far away places at our familiar dining room table.

The meatballs are flavored with miso, ginger, and garlic. Tossing them from hand to hand makes the surface smooth so that when they are added to the hot-pot they are soft and very attractive.

Winter Moon Noodles

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oyako udon in hot brothMoon viewing noodles are customarily eaten in Japan during Tsukimi, the festival honoring the first full moon of Autumn. This first month of 2014 had a special full moon: a “mini-moon,” which is the smallest full moon we will see this year. Astronomically, it is a full moon which is the furthest distance from Earth (apogee). The Moon was 16% smaller and 30 times dimmer than the super-moon which will occur in August.In honor of this occasion, we ate udon in hot broth topped with an egg. Tsukimi (moon-viewing) noodles include a whole raw egg in the center of the dish like a full moon surrounded by “clouds” of noodles. There are so many cautions against eating raw eggs in the U.S. (and I wanted to make this a complete meal) that we had soft boiled eggs, and chicken, with our noodles, thus making the dish “mother and child” noodles: oyako udon.

Honey and Pepper Sesame Chicken

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honey pepper sesame chicken ingredients
This marinade for chicken, made with a traditional Japanese combination of sesame and soy sauce, is accented with the sparkling sweetness of honey and spiced with black pepper and garlic. You can slice the chicken into thin cutlets to fry; you can bake boneless thighs or breasts with the marinade then slice them. You can serve the chicken hot or cold, over rice or noodles or even on a green salad.

Rosh Hashanah 2013 / 5774

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rosh-hashan-chicken_3569L’Shanah Tova!
A Good and Sweet Year!

My kitchen was redolent with the sweet spice fragrances of cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom combined with the scent of caramelizing honey as the honey cakes baked while I prepared a Jewish New Year’s meal with a Japanese accent.

Rosh Hashanah is early this year, and because the weather is so summer warm and sunny, with only a hint of low slanting autumn light, I decided to make a chicken salad with a sumiso dressing.

Miso Grilling Sauce: Dengaku

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grilled eggplantThe Farmers’ Market had lovely eggplants to remind me of this tasty grilling sauce called dengaku, made with miso, saké, mmirin, and sugar, and in this recipe, thickened with eggs. It’s a traditional Japanese grilling sauce for tofu, but one can use this grilling sauce with other vegetables, seafood, and fish. This style of grilling is very popular with home cooks. It’s easy to make, and with soup, rice, and pickles makes a filling meal.
The various vegetables that are grilled with dengaku sauce include sliced eggplant, large mushrooms, green pepper strips, and sliced sweet potatoes. More modern variations include scallops or small fish such as sardines, smelt, ayu, or trout. Some recipes include deep-frying the food before grilling and caramelizing the sauce. Simpler recipes use charcoal broiling, oven broiling, or pan-frying.

ThanksGiving 2012

warm thanksgiving in michiganWhere did the time go? I’m writing this post in August 2013, on a cool summer afternoon not unlike the warm Thanksgiving day last November when Mr. Tess took a long sunny-morning bike ride, and Little Tess prepared a feast. It was a beautiful day, and memory makes it more perfect.

The philosopher Martin Heidegger observed that time “persists merely as a consequence of the events taking place in it.” Our brains understand the passage of time by the things we experience. A year has passed with little evidence that anything of note happened. At least not on this blog…

Looking through photo albums proves otherwise.

The Best Yakitori Sauce

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yakitori-chicken_3097This is a basic sauce (tare) can be used all summer for grilling chicken. Yakitori is usually chicken on skewers: yaki=grilling and tori=chicken.

This basic sauce can be used for more than yakitori. Use portions of the sauce to grill: chicken, pork, fish, or just about anything you can cook over charcoal, food you cook on skewers, or not!

Add some orange juice, honey, fruit preserves, spices, and voila: teriyaki sauce.

Barbarian Chicken: be prepared!

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japan-marinated-chix_2709Tori Namban-zuke is a versatile Japanese recipe that I love!I have prepared this Japanese marinated chicken at least once per year since 2008! This recipe is easy, but allow time for the chicken to marinate over-night. It will keep in a refrigerator for up to 5 days. Make it ahead in preparation for a busy day at work, or even better, for a party. The recipe has evolved over the years. I’ve made it with chicken thighs and breasts. I’ve fried, baked, poached, or steamed the chicken. I’ve served it hot, and cold.

Poaching Eggs with Art and Technology

poaching an egg
Onsen tomango, Japanese hot spring eggs achieve a perfect balance between cooked and raw: the white with a texture like delicate custard, the yolk firm but bright yellow with a creamy texture. I cannot duplicate the slow cooking in a natural hot spring. Soft cooked eggs are the closest, and very delicious topping toast, noodles, or salads. But they are very tricky to cook to exactly the balance of cooked but runny. Until Mr. Tess brought home a gift of these wonderful silicone “poach pods” I thought poached eggs were beyond my kitchen skills. They work like magic! And are easy to clean, and don’t take up much kitchen drawer space.

Mark Bittman’s Chicken with Walnuts, Green Olives, and White Wine

This is a recipe we have often enjoyed.
In 2004, I copied it from The New York Times, from Mark Bittman’s Minimalist column called
“Crossing Over to the Dark Side” (July 14).
My old computer still has some files (recipes, emails, pictures) we occasionally want to look at: No matter how many times I print this recipe, it gets lost.I want to post this favorite recipe on my blog so it will be easier for me to find in future. And I hope you appreciate it as well.