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.

Summer Shabu Shabu

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tomato-bounty_3479This summer has been cool. Our garden tomatoes ripen so slowly, so late; but there are lots of tiny green fruits. We’ve had to be content with a few small bowls of these gorgeous heirloom cherry tomatoes. But the bounty is beginning…
Mr. Tess and Little Tess came home from the Farmers’ Market with a bunch of yellow beans with purple stripes. They were long and the beans in their pods looked large, perhaps more mature than I would have chosen, but none the less intriguing.

Swizzle Grapes

frozen grapes swizzle stickA cold drink on a hot summer’s day is poetry on the tongue. Enjoyed solitary, or with a convivial group, a cup of icy minty tea, a tall glass of lemonade with lime, a mug of chilled Korean honeyed fruit tea, a tumbler of white grape juice, or a favorite cocktail is a small pleasure of summer.

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.

Sugar Snap Peas, Shrimp, Somen

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peas-and-nasturtium_2675Spring in the garden begins with hope; planting seeds is an act of faith, anticipating a bountiful harvest to share. In May, I planted a short row of sugar snap peas in the window box outside the dining room window. The picture in my mind was of green vines shading the meals we’d share together from the hot summer sun.
I also planted some nasturtiums at the front edge of the window box because they have brilliant peppery edible flowers and leaves. I anticipated that they would provide color once the spring/early crop of peas needed to be removed.

These fruits of my labor inspired this very seasonal meal.

Lasagna Bolognese

Christmas guest from China
Lasagne is a collated noodle dish.

My perfect lasagne would be straightforward al denté noodles framed with luscious sauce, just as lightning, seen against extravagantly swirling deep blue and grey clouds, is both dramatic and simple.

This recipe is not that, but it is luscious, subtle, to remember, to repeat.

As Christmas 2012 dinner, it is especially memorable because we shared it with an unexpected and charming guest.

Shabu Shabu Gift

aroma-induction-cktp_0747Oh winter cold, winter dark, winter comforts so dearly embraced: it’s when friendly time beside the fire and good food is most satisfying.

A nabemono is a warm and convivial way of sharing meal. A pot of water or broth simmers in the center of the table, surrounded by plates of meat, fish, tofu, fruits, and vegetables. With chopsticks (or fondu forks) diners slide morsels of food into the simmering stock to cook, then lift them out to a plate.

This Christmas, my sister and my daughter surprised me with an induction cooktop and prepared a lovely Christmas Eve shabu shabu!

Shabu Shabu Christmas

faux stained glass Christmas bird made with tissue paper and glue
It’s been many years since I decorated for Christmas.

This year has been different. I discovered the faux stained glass installation I made in 1979. I’d displayed them for several years, then we moved to apartments/house with small windows so they went into deep storage. When I found them a few weeks ago, my first impulse was, “Bah! Humbug!” and toss them into the recycle bin. But both husband and daughter said, “NO!!”