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.

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.

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.

Thighs: onion, umeboshi and shiso


This recipe is an interesting variation of the classic combination of umeboshi and shiso with chicken. By adding sauteed onions to a paste made with umeboshi and shiso, the flavor becomes richer, a little like a French sauce, yet clearly retaining its Japanese character. This chicken is roasted in the oven so it’s easy to prepare, but tastes as if you spent hours in the kitchen.

Summer Udon

Cool foods in summer, simply prepared, and served casually, make it possible for us to survive this extraordinary heat.

Cooking once for two meals, planned leftovers, makes the time spent in the kitchen efficient. Sandwiches come to mind as a second chance meal. And noodles are quick to prepare and easily transform a meat dish into a lovely soup or salad sort of meal very different from the original.

Umeboshi Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Vacation: Fourth of July!! Grilling, and pool, and family party time! mmmmm…: chicken breast rolls filled with umeboshi and shiso. Sounds very exotic, but everyone loves this recipe.

Many thanks to my brother and sister-in-law for inviting us to their beautiful home in Missouri. They had to put in a few appearances at work, we prepared food for dinner. My brother has a “secret” grilling technique for indirect heat on a Weber kettle grill: perfect for this recipe. He covers the charcoal with a cheap pizza pan punched with holes so the heat of the grill is tempered.

Japanese Panko Baked Chicken

Itadakimasu! and Gochisousama deshita!
Itadakimasu! (ee-tah-dah-kee-mahss) I humbly receive / Gochisousama deshita! (Goch-sou-sah-mah-desh-tah) thank you for the meal.

I love fried chicken, but deep frying is scary. I was inspired by a Japanese recipe which makes a nice crisp crunchy baked chicken. In the original recipe, bite-sized chunks of chicken breast are dredged in potato starch (katakuriko), and allowed to rest so the starch adheres. Then the chicken is dipped in egg white, then coated with black sesame seeds or crushed peanuts.

Nuts get snacked on so they are not a pantry staple, but breadcrumbs are. Panko and potato starch make lovey crispy chicken baked safely in the oven.