Recipe: Mother’s Day Treat (Freezable) French Toast

French bread soaked in egg mixture, ready to be frozen

Frozen French Toast, before...

After... Delicious French Toast!

I was going to put a post about the cold noodle salad with strawberry vinaigrette, but I need to push it back a bit.  Because…

Mother’s Day is coming.  I have a great recipe to share that allow Moms in the world to be treated well — and easy for the family.

Even moms that love to cook sometimes need a break. They get their wish come true on Mother’s day – Daddy and/or Children take her out for brunch, or even better, make a home-cooked meal!  Nice!

Here’s an easy freezable French toast trick I found in a Japanese cooking magazine. You can make a large batch this weekend, eat some and freeze the rest to have your family bring to your bedside from on Mother’s day (and beyond).

Mother’s Day Treat (Freezable) French Toast

  1. Slice French bread in 1” thick pieces.  Place all of them cut side down in a flat container.
  2. For 8 oz French bread, mix 2 eggs,  2-4 TBS sugar, 1 C milk, a little bit of vanilla essence or cinnamon, and pour it all over the bread.  Let the bread soak up the egg mixture completely (5-10 min), turning it once.
  3. For portions that will be frozen: Wrap individual portion with plastic wrap, with cut side down (if wrapping two or more together, make sure it’s wrapped side by side like on the photo, not on top of each other).  Put them on the cookie sheet with sides to avoid leakage, and freeze.
  4. For Mother’s Day, or whenever you want to have your family make this it for you: : )  Remove the plastic wrap, melt 1-2 ts butter in a skillet at low heat. Place frozen French Toasts and cook for 4-5 minutes with lid on. When it’s golden brown on the bottom, flip them, place lid again, and cook 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Serve hot with maple syrup.
  5. If they are not frozen, just cook with butter, without lid until golden brown.

We didn’t have any French bread, nor maple syrup, so made it with ciabatta, ate it as it is without syrup.  It was chewy, yet moist and delicious!

So go ahead and make some this weekend, and have the frozen version ready to go for your family to treat you to breakfast in bed later on Mother’s day.

As in this recipe, save some basic things you cooked previously, things like various sautéed vegetables, vegetable and meat mixtures etc. and give your family some written instructions.  Your sous-chef of the house (husband and children) will be able to assemble meals when you are away, busy or you need a break!  Look under “batch and fridge” or “batch and freeze” categories on my blog for ideas for food to keep on hand, and what you can do with them.  As a matter of fact, when I got pneumonia last fall, these batched items in our fridge and freezer literary saved our lives, and upgraded my husband’s status as a Kitchen Wizard. Because of that incident, when I was still in Japan about a month ago, but he was back in the US, I didn’t have to stock up food before I left as usual.  What a treat!

In case you are wondering, my husband never really cook much in the past, so if he can do it, your husband and/or children can do it too!

Talking about batching,  if you have that strawberries and radish from the last post sitting around, it may be a bit limp and jammy…  Actually they are quite good with these French Toast as a topping.  If you cannot stand the idea of radish with the French toast, just pick them out.  You won’t even notice.

So what do you do with leftover egg mix in the container?  How about making an easy dessert?

Stay tuned for the easy bread pudding recipe…  Click “ Email Subscription” on the right column, so that you won’t miss it!

The Japanese noodle salad with strawberry soy dipping sauce will be posted after that…

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Recipe: Marinated Strawberries and Radishes

“I got the best adult toy ever.”

When I said that on the Facebook, some of our friends got overly curious about what it is.

What do you think it is?

I got an Iphone, finally. It’s a lot more easy and fun than I thought, and to my surprise, it saves me a ton of time. As you know, I like things easy, efficient and fun.

One example is taking a photo for my blog.

OK, the quality of the photo may not be as good as it could be, but just being able to take a photo, upload it on Facebook immediately without downloading and all that hassle, AND be able to use it for my blog post right away. I’m writing this post as a reply to my email with that photo on my IPhone. WordPress has this great feature that if I send it to a particular email ID, it gets posted on my blog immediately. It’s amazing as soon as I push “Send/Receive” on my Outlook, I will find an email from WordPress that a new article is posted on “Secrets of a Kitchen Wizard”.

So when I made this new dish my friend Fumi told me about, I took a photo with my brand new IPhone and posted on Facebook immediately, as a practice. Yes, it’s the dish those who came to my class last Saturday get to sample. : )

She found this recipe from a new Japanese movie called “Eatrip” that I’d love to see.

The combination of strawberries and radishes sounds a bit strange, but it’s really nice and refreshing. Best to eat it when it’s marinated for about 3 hours, not too long (it gets limp.)

Marinated Strawberries & Radishes (from Japanese movie “Eatrip“)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pack strawberries (cut in half or quarter if big)
  • 1 bunch radishes – about 10 (sliced thin)
  • 2 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • 2 TBS Red Wine Vinegar
  • 2 TBS Turbinado or Brown Sugar
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Mix EVOO, Wine Vinegar, Sugar well in a container with a lid.
2. Add Strawberries and radishes and mix gently to coat them well with the vinaigrette. Season with a little bit of Salt and pepper to taste.
3. Cover, and let it marinate for about 3 hours in the fridge.

Note: You can use the leftover juice as strawberry vinaigrette for salad. I mixed it with mentsuyu noodle soup base for my cold Japanese noodle salad the next day, it was delicious! (and yes, my leftover sliced radishes also adorned this pretty dish.) I’ll share the recipe on the next post!

By the way, it’s still not late to sign-up for Diageo Wine-Pairing Teleseminar on Friday, and get access to their great Employee Wine Sale.

Want to know more? Check out this post.

Or sign up immediately from here.

Feel free to share with your friends and family who’d love to stock up great wine for great price!

So what’s your favorite function or apps on your IPhone? Please share with me.

Project Leftovers: Marzano’s Meatballs & Swiss Chard – Part 2

So you want to know what I did with the leftovers from Marzano….

On the next day, I decided to have some pizza leftover for lunch, and noticed the box of meatballs. Rather than eat it as it is by myself, and deal with my husband’s “Is this it for me?” complaint or dirty look, I decided to make it into soup. Not just one, I need another without meat for him.

So here’s what I did.

Break the bread and meatballs in bite size pieces with a folk.

Add water (or broth) to meatball, swiss chard and tomato sauce leftover.

Cook until hot and season to taste.

Voila! It’s abrondigas and bread soup. It was delicious!

Here’s the thing. I know it may not be traditional abrondigas soup, but I can name my creation with any name I want. Then all of a sudden it’s acceptable. Consider yourself as a fusion home-cook, then you too can do anything you want. It’s so much fun!  By the way, the girls who were eating next to us had a meatball pizza.  YES. Exactly the same meatballs, cut in half and topped them on pizza.  To think about it, if the tomato sauce on their pizza had the same origin as the tomato sauce in my meatballs, I won’t be surprised.

Now for the meatless version for my husband, I mixed it with roasted red pepper puree I made a few days ago to add extra flavor, and stretch it.  You saw how much leftover I had on the photo. I had to do some serious stretching.

The next post is about that.  So stay tuned…
If you haven’t subscribed to Secrets of a Kitchen Wizard via email, this is a good time to do it.  Click “Email Subscription” toward the top of the right side bar, under Foodbuzz Logo. (The first one is for my news letter, the second one is for email subscription of the blog.)  Then you’ll receive my post as soon as it’s published.

How to Revive Leftover Pasta…

Leftover pasta after the liquid treatment

Before.... Leftover pasta

Do you ever eat leftover pasta?  What do you do to revive it?

I love batching something, and use it little by little to create many different dishes later in the week and I even blog and teach people how to do that, but pasta is one of very few things I don’t over-make.  Because, noodles are best when it’s cooked, right off the pot.  The older they get, the stickier they become.
As many of you read on my previous post, I hosted a cooking class party last Sunday at our kitchen, and as a host, I wanted to make sure to be prepared, and have more than enough food.

I got carried away, and served and showed how to make all these dishes:

  • Appetizers
    • 2 kinds of Mushroom bites (one with goat cheese, one without)
    • Mushroom, spinach and feta cheese gozleme (Turkish version of Quesadilla)
    • Crudite with pesto mayonnaise
  • Served during the Class
    • Made Sauteed button mushrooms and Asian mushroom mix (use these as a base)
    • Okara Quiche with chicken, leeks, asparagus, mushrooms, and gruyere cheese
  • Dinner
    • Magic Mushroom Soup
    • Tuna and Mushroom Pasta, Japanese Style
    • Kinoko Mizore Ae (Japanese Mushrooms and Grated Daikon Salad with Ponzu Sauce)
    • Cranberry and Fruit Relish with Whipped Cream

A lot of mushrooms, I know.  But this class was called “Flexipes: Mushrooms and Beyond”, and designed to teach people how to make a large batch of something (in this case, sauteed mushrooms), then turn it into many different dishes throughout the week (or later if they choose to freeze it).   Naturally, a lot of mushrooms had to show up on the menu.   The good news is, when you make them different flavors and treatments, people often don’t feel they are eating only mushrooms — and no one complained.  Phew!

Pretty much all the food was gone, except the pasta.  I forgot the fact that they ate quite a bit of appetizer and okara quiche before dinner, and made extra in case people were hungry.

Well, something I don’t like more than old pasta is throwing away perfectly good food.  Almost all Japanese have “Mottainai” as a motto. “Waste not”, it means.  So, I needed to do something with this pasta leftover.

So I decided to moisten the pasta with a little bit of liquid (I used vegetable broth I had on hand, but you can use other kind of broth, white wine, pasta water, or even water in a pinch), covered and microwaved it.

Of course, it was not quite as good as newly cooked al-dente pasta, but it was far better than leftover pasta without that treatment, or pre-made pasta from store.  And I definitely liked the fact that I was able to eat it just by heating up.  It’s hard to see on the photo, so just try it and see what you think.

In any case, it’s best to mix the pasta with the sauce as soon as you cook it.  Plain pasta without anything starts to stick right away, and will be harder to revive, especially spaghetti.  Even worse are capellini and flat pasta like linguini.

So the best pasta practice is, in my opinion:

1. Make the exact amount of pasta, and eat it right away.

2. If there’s any leftover, make it into pasta salad as soon as possible.

3. Mix the pasta with sauce or dressing right away or, if undressed,

4. As a last resort, sprinkle with a little bit of liquid on top, cover and microwave, and enjoy the time -saving!

So what do you do with your leftover pasta?

The Versatile World of Miso: Fancy Food Show, Miso and Natto Event Recap

As one of the major gastronomic capitals of the world, San Francisco hosts many food related events.

On Monday, I was invited as a guest to the educational seminar on “Miso and Natto: The Two Up and Coming Food from Japan” at Fancy Food Show at Moscone Center  sponsored by  JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization).  My friend Nobuko works for them, and she wanted me to write about it on my blog.

I’d love to!  It’s easy to convince me with good food.  And of course, I was curious about how they are positioning miso and (especially) natto, which is not known as the Japanese food most loved by non-Japanese…, yet.

This post features miso, which is very versatile, gaining popularity, and more readily available than its cousin, natto.  He’s a little more eccentric (it’s fermented, so quite sticky, and pungent), so I’ll save that post for later.   

Most non-Japanese knows miso because of popularity of miso-soup.  Many even call them just “miso”, and ask me “how do you make miso?” 

As represented in that question, many don’t know they can use miso much more than in miso-soup alone, and also can make hundreds of variety of miso soup using what they have in their fridge!  Making miso soup at home is very easy, and much cheaper and often tastier than these cups you pay at some of the Japanese restaurant for $3 or more per serving, or freeze-dried version at the store.

Plus evidence in Japan points to many health benefits such as relieving fatigue, reducing cholesterol, improving intestinal function and digestion, anti-aging, diminishing signs of aging skin, and even reducing the risk of cancer. 

The miso part was presented by Ema Koeda, Chef and Food & Wine Specialist.  She introduced the audience to the versatile world of miso and its health benefits with some Powerpoint presentation with mouth-watering photos. (For more information about miso, click here.) 

she demonstrated one dish which was delicious, super easy, and something everyone loves and are familiar with! 

Yes, you guessed it right.  The first photo you saw…  Japanese Miso Burger. If someone is thinking about start making miso soup at home, but don’t know what to do with the rest of the miso, start with this.  This is a perfect recipe to experience the versatility of miso, and what it can do for you in your kitchen.  Then start experimenting with adding in this and that as a secret ingredient. Soon you’ll be known as a great cook!

The amount of miso used in this burger is perfect…  not to little, not too much, and adds a lot of umami and depth of flavor and savoriness, anyone will love it.  I particularly loved the topping of scallions, and miso ketchup! 

Sendai miso called in the recipe will be hard to find, so simply look for yellow or red miso.  If you are using ground chicken, she suggested that white miso will work nicely.  Most large supermarkets (Asian Food section), health food stores, and gourmet markets sell basic miso pastes.  I recommend the Japanese kind, rather than American version for more authentic taste and ingredients.  If you want speciality miso, such as Sendai miso, call the Japanese market in your area.

Japanese Miso Burger By Ema Koeda

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 lbs Ground beef
  • 1/2 Onion, minced
  • 1 Large egg, beaten
  • 4 TBS Panko (Japanese bread crumbs) 
  • 3 TBS Sendai Miso (or red or yellow miso)
  • 1 stick, long scallion, julienned and put in cold water
  • 4 burger buns
  • 3 oz ketchup
  • 1 TBS Sendai miso (or red or yellow)
  • 1 TBS walnuts, crushed
  • 3 TBS shallots, minced

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven at 350 F. (At the event, she simply fried the burgers in the skillet as shown in the photo above.)
  2. Combine beef, onion, egg, panko and miso in a large bowl till well combined, for about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Shape meat into patties a bit smaller than the size of buns, approximately 3.5 oz.
  4. Grill patties on medium heat for 2-3 minutes on each side and cool.
  5. Combine ketchup, crumbled walnuts, miso and shallots for the sauce.
  6. Warm the buns in the oven, place the patty, ketchup, scallions and top the bun to cover.

Serves four.

The second dish Japanese Misoyaki Butterfish with Sizzling Soy Vinaigrette demonstrated by Jeff Hubbard, Chef Partner at Roy’s in San Francisco was impressive yet probably may not be the first one to try at home for the most people.  It’s mainly because you have to marinate the fish for 24 hours, requires 3 cups each of sake and mirin and 8 oz of miso, plus how the vinaigrette is made (see that fire!)…  It’s time-consuming and expensive, especially if you choose to follow the recipe exactly.  Watching a young, good-looking chef playing with fire was fun, but this is a type of food you may want to try at the restaurant….  He’ll understand, and probably love you for it : )

Using a lot more miso (8 oz for four 7 oz piece fish!) , and long marinating, it has much stronger miso taste than Ema’s burger recipe, which can be even loved by “miso-beginners”.  

I’ll be honest.  I normally do not like misoyaki.  Whether it’s fish or meat.  It’s probably because my dad used to get this miso-marinated Kobe beef for Oseibo gift giving season every year (or maybe for Ochugen in summer too!) from one of his patients.  The miso flavor was too overpowering, plus my mom cried (I’m serious) each time I didn’t want to eat something, so maybe I have bad memories. I begged my parents to let the person know that we appreciated it, but we prefer plain Kobe beef, but Mom’s answer was no.  It’s too rude.  So she lied every year when she called and thank the giver with “It’s our FAVORITE!  All four of us look forward to this special gift every year!”.  So the poor guy believed her and spent a fortune on something we were actually giving away year after year.  

Sorry, I got side tracked.  The kind of fish used for misoyaki is ALWAYS fatty fish, which I don’t care for.  Having said that, it’s my personal preference.  Many people love them, including lots of Americans I know.

What I liked about this particular version was Jeff (or Roy Yamaguchi himself, whoever developed the original recipe) uses soy vinaigrette with a lot of refreshing vegetables such as onions, daikon and tomatoes along with rice wine vinegar and lemon juice to cut the oiliness.  It’s also great way to incorporate more vegetables into our diet.

I won’t do the fire part so that so that don’t have to deal with the smoke in the house afterwards, but maybe I’ll come up with a short-cut and cheaper version of this with less oily fish.  Maybe it will convert me.  Or just make the vinaigrette.  It should be great with chicken, beef, salmon, and many different things.

It’s really nice to see more and more people are becoming intersted in Japanese ingredients and food beyond sushi and teriyaki because it’s not only tasty but healthy as well. It adds more flavor easily without adding extra sodium or fat. (Miso itself is salty, so be easy on salt if you are adding it as “secret ingredients”.) 

This event inspired me to experiment more with miso.  Just like Ema showed us, adding these Japanese ingredients to familiar dishe is a great way to start. Even though I’ve been using miso as secret ingredients here and there, it’d be fun to see how miso would enhance things like clam chowder!  I’ll report on it here as I experiment, so stay tuned!

Are you planning to incorporate miso into your kitchen?  If so, what will you experiment with?

Thanks for inviting me, Nobuko!

My friend Nobuko from JETRO (in special “Miso Apron” I want it!) and Eriko from Tofu-Life  in Benecia.

Pace Picante Sauce Super Bowl Challenge: Picante Mini Burger

 

As a Featured Publisher with FoodBuzz.com, I get to receive quite a few products to try. 

One of the recent challenge was to create a recipe for Super Bowl Party, using Pace Picante Sauce.  I don’t even understand the rule of American Football, yet I like parties, and of course food. I also don’t mind seeing different kind of dishes on Super Bowl party tables besides nachos and Mexican layered thingy.  (Ever since “The Biggest Loser“,  I’m scared of going near them, feeling like I won’t be able to stop and end up with 10,000 calories!)

Right before Christmas, I received two bottles of Picante Sauce from FoodBuzz.  One Mild, and one Medium.

According to the Pace Foods website, Picante Sauce is:

Ideal for cooking, since it’s smoother than salsa with the perfect balance of zesty sauce and crisp vegetables.

Created by David Pace over 60 years ago as a unique cooking sauce to add delicious flavor to all kinds of dishes.

With more rich sauce to go around, it helps dishes stay savory and keeps them from drying out.

A fast, easy way to spice up everyday meals and add flavor to meat, vegetables, pasta, rice, or any dish.

I like the last part.  When I make meatballs and burgers, I put a lot of sautéed vegetables for flavor and healthier eating.  Yet using Picante Sauce definitely make things easier especially when people don’t have them on hand.

Even though I used Medium, I found the sauce to be on the mild side. I personally like salsas which has lots of vegetables, and not very saucy, but this could be used for salsa for dipping in a pinch. 

As I started my experiment, I found its sauciness helps turkey stay moist, yet because it’s not that spicy, I had to add quite a bit, that makes the mixture soggy.  So I had to add extra panko to firm it up so that they firm up a bit.  This may not be an issue when you are using red meat, yet my husband doesn’t eat four-legged animal flesh, so it’s a dilemma I have to deal with every time.  My original plan was to make meat balls.  First attempt, I cooked them in the oven and the cheese inside ran out like there’s no tomorrow.  When I bit into it, there were lots of holes inside — where the cheese use to be!  I thought about calling them “MexSwiss Meatballs”, but I decide to ditch that idea.  

So, on my second attempt, I chose to fry them in the skillet with some flour to protect the cheese.  While I was rolling them in the skillet to color all over, they started to lose shape, so I flattened them into mini-burgers.  Thanks to the FLOUR POWER, the cheese stayed inside.

That accident actually worked out to my favor.  They came out as light and fluffy, flavorful mini-burgers which look like cookies, especially when they were adorned with Trader Joe’s cranberry apple butter on top!  Pretty enough to fool the picky eaters, perhaps?

Picante Mini Burger

Ingredients: (makes about 36 patties)

  • 1 lbs ground meat (I used turkey)
  • 1/2 cup or more Pace Picante Sauce, Medium (If using “Mild”, add hot sauce to taste)
  • 1/3 cup cottage cheese
  • 2 TBS sherry
  • 1 clove garlic (grated)
  • 1/2 ts anchovy paste or fish sauce
  • 1-2 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil if using  Ground Turkey
  • 1/2 cup Panko moisten with Milk
  • Salt and Pepper
  • flour for dusting
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil for pan-frying

Directions:

  1. Add panko mixture, picante sauce, cottage cheese, sherry, salt and pepper to the ground meat.  Mix well.
  2. Shape the meat mixture into 2-inch patties (about 1/2 inch thickness).  Dust with flour on both sides, especially if using ground turkey — if you don’t, cheese may run out. (Easy and saves a lot of flour if you use mesh tea infuser.)
  3. Heat olive oil in a skillet on medium-high, and pan fry until cooked through and brown on both sides.
  4. Serve hot.  Optionally top with more picante sauce (best if it’s reduced by half) or cranberry apple butter (looks like cookies!), or mixture of the two.

Variation:  I used cottage cheese because that’s what I had in the fridge, yet also like Feta cheese especially with ground lamb.

Kitchen Tip du Jour: Do the Math on Paper First When Multiplying a Recipe

Do you ever need to double, triple or make it half or one third of a recipe?  If so, read on…  It could be your life saver (or at least your dinner saver!)

When you are following a recipe, and need to change the portion, don’t do the math in your head.  Write it down — ideally right next to the original volume of each ingredient, and how many serving it is for.  If you cannot write it down next to it (say, it’s your friend’s cook book, the recipe is online and your printer is broken, etc.), then at least write down the original measurement on a piece of paper, and write down the multiplier and do the math.

For example:

Original recipe  2 servings                          Your portion: 6 servings (6/2=3 is the multiplier.)

1 Egg                                             X3                  3 Eggs

4 oz flour                                    X3                  12 oz flour

2/3 cup water                          X3                  6/3 cup = 2 cups water

As you can see, especially when you have to deal with 3 (especially 1/3) it gets complicated. 

This is even more true when you are using a recipe from a different country — meaning those who uses metric system.  Since I grew up in Japan with metric system, I used to get confused with American measurement of oz and pounds often, resulting in quite a bit of frustration and less than perfect dishes.  Once I start writing them down, all I need to do is just to follow that amount.  Believe me, do the math first, then cook is so much easier than trying to do the math as you prep and cook! That kind of switch-tasking or multi/tasking end up costing you a lot of time.

So rather than trying to save time and end up with huge frustration and disappointment (and an inedible dish), take time to do the math on paper first when changing th portion of a recipe.  And as always, when adding stronger flavored ingredients and seasoning, taste as you add them gradually.  The same is true for liquids (water, broth etc.)

The biggest bonus: By writing down the convenient portion for yourself directly on the recipe, you will save the time to do the math next time!

So just remember to write them down!

Do you have any kitchen tips that help you save time and frustration? Look forward to hearing your tips in the comment section!

PS: This hold true for most of the things, especially for cooking that doesn’t require much chemistry or precision, yet not EVERYTHING is multiplied ie oil, salt, baking soda, baking powder.  Thank you Sam, for pointing that out.

  If you are cooking for a crowd, this resource gives you further details about super-sizing a recipe. 

 Another resource about reducing a recipe portion.  This one also talks about cooking time difference, etc. 

As a rule of thumb, the cooking time is affected by the type and size of the pan (esp. the bottom surface) heat, how much moisture the food cooked has etc. so it’s best to determine how much longer you need to cook by the look, smell and taste/texture.  Remember, a recipe is a guideline, not rules.

The World’s Easiest Cranberry Relish Your Family & Guest Will Love

One of the (very few) dishes my husband taught me is a Thanksgiving side-dish recipe that has been handed down from his grandma Henrietta.  She passed long before we got married, soInever had the honor of meeting her nor eating her dishes.  However, her husband – Keith’s grandpa – Park who lived till 101 told me how great of a baker Hanky (that’s what he called her) was, and excruciating details of her German cakes which he missed dearly.

This is actually a very simple cranberry relish recipe using a box of jello, yet the power of this should not be underestimated. It is very refreshing, and can double as a dessert. Both children and adults love it alike.  On top of that, it’s healthy — it has a lot of fruits such as apples, pears and oranges, in addition to cranberries, and doesn’t require cooking – I can say this is highly optimized. And it’s bright red, it’s festive and surely adds color to the table. If you have a food processor, it’s super easy.  It requires all familiar ingredients that are really cheap! Probably the most exotic and expensive ingredient is cranberries.

Whenever we make it, people always ask for the recipe and nowadays it became so famous, we get Thanksgiving invitations with the requests for this.

So I decided to post the recipe on my blog. My husband first resisted — “Nooo! It’s MY family’s secret recipe!”.  But those who eat it always ask for this recipe! And I grew up in Japan where’s there’s no traditional Thanksgiving celebration, I needed this for my readers!  So I asked “Wouldn’t it be great if your grandma’s recipe is enjoyed by more people in the world, not just by your immediate family?”

So here it is.  Kitchen Wizard is revealing another cooking secret, this one from her extended family.

Grammy Hanky’s Cranberry Relish

Ingredients:

  • 1 Small box of red jello (we like raspberry. Strawberry is a bit too sweet.)
  • 1 cup hot water (Do not add the second of batch of water, which is suggested on the box.)
  • 1 bag cranberries
  • 2 large oranges, peeled and segmented
  • 2 large apples, cored and cut in bite size pieces
  • 2 large pears (should be relatively firm), cored and cut into bite size pieces

Directions:

  1. Mix jello with hot water to dissolve. Put bit-size pieces of fruit in the food processor and pulse several times to grind roughly to about 1/4″ cubes or smaller.  Make sure the cranberries are ground up well — if they are not, it could be tart.  Depending on the size of your food processor, you may need to do it in two batches.
  2. When the jello is room temperature, add all the fruit including its juice. Mix well.  Chill in the refrigerator until set. (Because of the amount of fruit, it may not set completely.)

We love serving it with turkey in place of regular cranberry sauce or relish, or you can eat it as dessert as well, with or without whipped cream. We normally make a double batch, using the large jello box, and using 1/2 – 2/3 for the actual Thanksgiving, and save the rest for us to eat later.

Oh, this is also great when you are sick! When I had flu and pneumonia 2 months ago and didn’t want to eat, I asked my husband to make this, and I ate it everyday.

So there you have it.  Try it and leave me a comment on how you and your guests loved it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

(Almost) Less Than 5: Sautéed Eggplant with Miso

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Sauted Eggplant with Miso

Many years ago, my fridge (or especially freezer) looked like a morgue.  No more. Ever since I started Kitchen Wizard, my kitchen is a lot more organized and that has helped me decide what to cook much quicker, and also reduced waste significantly.

They all have the labels with dates and contents, I know exactly what I need to use up soon, and for what.

Today, that item was grilled eggplant.  As some of you older readers remember, I posted a series of eggplant recipes over the summer. Throwing eggplants on the grill whether we plan to eat on that night or not, along side our chicken and sausages is a must for us, because they are one of the most convenient and versatile thing to have on hand. As the day gets colder and shorter, we don’t grill out much, but they are still handy in fall and winter too – for different dishes.

So I decided to make an easy Japanese dish that can be made with pantry items.  This really is a cinch if you already have grilled or sautéed eggplants (ideally cooked in vegetable oil, not olive oil). Obviously, grilled eggplants are healthier – it uses much less oil and salt.  You can also stick the whole eggplants in the toaster oven until soft. You can use a conventional oven too, yet a toaster oven heats much quicker (doesn’t require pre-heating), plus uses much less energy.

If you are vegetarian/vegan, omit the meat or chopped shiitake mushrooms as substitute.

Sautéed Eggplant with Miso

Ingredients (2-3 servings):

  • Ginger, sliced: about 1 ts
  • Green onions, chopped: about 3
  • Crushed chili (optional)
  • Japanese, Chinese or Italian Eggplants: (ideally already grilled) 5-6
    • This is a cinch if you have already grilled or sautéed eggplants. Cut in bite size pieces. You do not need to peel skin for this dish.
  • Ground meat: 4oz (100g)
  • Sake: 2 TBS (sprinkle 1 TBS on the meat, mix 1 TBS into miso to create paste.)
  • Soy sauce: 1 ts
  • Sugar: pinch
  • Miso: 1 – 2 TBS

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a skillet. Cook sliced ginger and green onions (and chili, if you are using) on medium-high heat until fragrant. (If you don’t have cooked eggplants, add oil and sauté sliced eggplants. Add a little bit of salt to shorten the cooking time).  When soft, move toward the edge of the pan.
  2. If you have the cooked eggplants, add to the onion ginger mixture. Add ground meat and any sake residue, and cook until brown.
  3. Add soy sauce and pinch of sugar, and mix in the miso/sake mixture. Taste and adjust seasoning.  Serve hot with steamed rice.

Kitchen Wizard Leftover Make-Over Tip:

If there’s any left over, add hot water and miso and make eggplant and ground meat miso soup.  Add extra green onion on top.

This is a kind of dish they serve at Izakaya as well as at home in Japan…  So maybe you should have some beer or sake with this, and pretend that you are in Japan!

Leftover Make-over: Chowder to Doria 3: “It’s Not Only For Chowder! It’s For Seafood Doria Too!”

"It's Not (Only For) Bleeding Chowder!  It's Seafood Doria Now!"

"It's Not (Only For) Bleeding Chowder! It's Seafood Doria Now!"

As I mentioned on Monday, as I was enjoying this creamy yumminess of “Not Bleeding Chowder!” inspired seafood chowder, I realized this smoked-fish-less version would be also good to be turned into a doria, a quintessential Japanized yoshoku (western food).

It’s basically some buttered rice in a heatproof dish with white sauce with some kind of sautéed meat or seafood with onion (chicken and shrimp are popular) and baked with lots of cheese on top.  Something I loved as a child when I was growing up in Tokyo, along with the macaroni version which we simply called them “gratin”.

Since my mom never wanted make something complicated, nor white sauce, for me they were something I’d order when we go out to eat.  To give her some slack, to make doria from scratch, it takes more than 1 hour, and you have to deal with making white sauce.  And the challenge is, there are no dorias in the restaurants in the US!

Because of that, I, too probably made it only a few times in last 20 years, which equals the number of times I ate doria, because they are nowhere to be found in the US (except for, of course, these Japanese Yoshoku restaurants in Los Angeles.  A bit too far!)

Now with my “It’s Not Only For Bleeding Chowder!”, it can be for doria too.  Very easily.  Especially if you have some of these rice balls in the freezer.  If you do, microwave it first so that butter will melt.  As I confessed in my last post, this is a super-short cut version.  I will post the proper way to make a doria on my next post.

Seafood Doria

Ingredients (2-3 servings):

Directions:

  1. Mix butter into hot rice and season well.
  2. Pour seafood chowder on top of buttered rice.  Then top with grated cheese.  Optionally, sprinkle with some panko.
  3. Bake in 400F oven until bubbly and golden brown. (If both the rice and sauce are hot, you can broil it in the oven or “Toast” setting on toaster oven until golden brown, about 7-8 min.)

Yummy doria in 1/3 of the effort and time! I love it!

The next post…  Another way to make doria, another useful trick when you already have sautéed chicken or shrimp, or white sauce. Or if you are in a mood to make this from scratch.  Also few key time-saving tips, so that even if you make this from scratch, you can still optimize and save time and effort later.

Yes… Kitchen Wizarding is all about optimizing your resources (time, money, ingredients, etc…) in the kitchen.  Maximized food with minimized effort.

So stay tuned.  You can subscribe to Secrets of Kitchen Wizard via email (best in my opinion), RSS or Facebook Networked Blogs application.  Click the link from the top right of the page, right below the red pots on the header photo.