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.

Aunt Else’s Aebleskiver Pan and Mix Review & Starter-Kit Give Away

   

Thank you so much for your comments on what do you think the pan is for, and what would you fill in these…
I was amazed by your creativity, and all the possibilities the pan offers.  Your answers certainly made me (and many others) very hungry… 

The answer is….  As quite a few of you guessed, Aebleskiver pan!   

You may ask “What is Aebleskiver?”  Aebleskiver are Danish round pancakes that are often eaten before Christmas. (<- Click here for Wikipedia definition of Aebleskiver.) 

As some of you may remember from my post of FoodBuzz Blogger Festival in November, the guy in the red outfit, living somewhere very cold up North sent the pan and mix around Thanksgiving as early Christmas presents.  This is one of the perks as a Featured Publisher at FoodBuzz.  I get to try many cool things and restaurants and write about it. 

This is my Skiver Santa, Chad Gillard from Aunt Else’s in Minnesota.  

   

I’ve been having fun with this every weekend, which I call Skiver Saturday or Skiver Sunday.  The best part is, these Aebleskivers are great not only for traditional apple slices, but with almost anything.  As you know, I love varieties and experimenting!  That’s why you may have already seen a few photos of them with many different things on top on Facebook, etc.  I never get bored.  And now I have even more ideas, thanks to you, I will be able to have fun with it for a very very long time! 

When I’m at home, these are the things I gather on typical weekend.   

Gorgonzola cheese, cheddar, chicken, sliced turkey, shrimp, cramberry apple batter, sauteed mirepoix and sauteed leeks. And of course one each of apple, banana and nutella.   

   

When we tried this first at our friends over Thanksgiving, I didn’t want to bother our friends with their computer password, I wanted to try so bad, I didn’t watch the video on AuntElse Website, they stuck really badly, and some of the got burnt as well.  Since then, My Skiver Santa has given me a pointer from the Northern land, so I now heat the pan for 10-15 min at low-medium heat as soon as I wake up.    

As soon as we pour the batter, it puffs up pretty quickly, so I put all these fun and different fillings in each well. Can you tell I pefer savory food to sweets, and lots of varieties?   

   

The trick is to:   

1. Season the pan well in advance, and use enough oil.   

2. Heat the pan at medium low heat for 10 – 15 minutes until hot. (Set the timer and prepare the filling during that time. If you still have time, watch the video one more time, and learn how to turn.)   

3. Aunt Else mix puffs up a lot quickly.  I recommend pouring about 2 TBS batter in each well, starting from the four corners, then middle four, and the very center well at the end.   

4. After adding the filling, if it doesn’t come up to the rim, add a little more. (The amount on the photo is a bit on the generous side, especially on the top row.  In my opinion,i t’s easier to turn if there’s no batter going outside of the well.)   

5. For perfectly round skivers, do the quarter turns as in the video. If you try to flip the entire thing 180 degrees, you’ll end up with half dome shaped skivers. : (   

It’s really important to pull the skivers UP 90 degrees, then they release itself like a magic!   Before I was trying to separate the balls from the wall, and that made them stick toghether more.  Every minutes or so, I pull them up another 90 degrees, and when you are finished with all four turns, you will have a perfectly round Aebleskivers!   

   

Just like these!   

   

Look at all these different fillings!  So much fun!   

   

Our favorites were:   

  • Trader Joe’s Cranberry Apple Butter 
  • Gruyere Cheese 
  • Apple slices  
  • Caramelized onion and gruyere cheese (Like French Onion soup) 

Sounds strange but defintely my favorite:   

  • Green onions, drops of Kikkoman soy sauce, and gruyere as filling, home-made mayonnaise on top (below).  I also tried Japanese takoyaki or okonomiyaki style with green onion and cabbage mixed into batter (I made more traditional Japanese style batter for this instead of AuntElse’s Aebleskiver mix for this) with seafood etc in it.  That was quite delicious as well. 

Aebleskivers are very similar to pancakes or crepes, so you can fill with anything you’d wrap with your crepes.  With so many options, this can be eaten for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner or dessert.  I told you, I love things that can be flexible and optimized.  I like the fact that you can have so much fun making it too.  This definitely passed my test!  Next time, I’ll try sauteed mushrooms, seafood with cream sauce etc. (Use leftovers, since you need so little.)  My husband thought I’m weird, but I’m contemplating using a meatball or quail egg as well.  You know, just like a Scotch Egg!  Will see.   

In terms of savory or sweet question, I found Aunt Else’s mix very versatile, it works for both…  just like a good crepe batter!  You can certainly add more sugar or salt if that’s what you prefer, but I found it just right.  

If you like it sweet, my guess is Japanese anko — sweet red bean paste will be great in Aebleskiver.  We have similar street snacks called Tai-yaki (Tai Snapper shaped pancake sandwich with anko in it) and Dora-yaki (two round pancakes filled with anko), and Imagawa-yaki (Flattened version of Aebleskiver?)  Click each link to see the photos to see the difference.   

   

For 2 of us, we just do one batch (1/2 of the amount of the smallest batch measurement on the back of the bag), and that’s plenty for brunch.  All you need per batch is one egg, 1 cup of water, and a scant cup of Aunt Else’s mix, which is made of organic whole wheat flour.  Even though you don’t have to whip up the egg white like some other Aebleskiver mix, it’s perfectly fluff.  It works great for both savory and sweet fillings.  It’s really fun activity especially with kids (of all ages).   

So in our household, Saturdays and Sundays are Skiver Days!     

Can I tell you a funny story about this?  

In my determination to not to break that new tradition, and my desire to share this fun activity with our niece and nephew, I even dragged that heavy cast iron Aebleskiver pan from the Bay Area to Milwaukee for our Christmas visit.  The problem is, the suitcase that had our pan in it decided to spend some time in warmer climate, and ended up in El Paso, TX.  The good news is, after spending 2 days of us worrying about the whereabouts of my favorite new toy/kitchen tool, our luggage was found at the snowing, fridged door steps of my in-laws. (Geez, guys!   It has something very VALUABLE!)  Well, this is surburban Milwaukee, not Oakland, CA.  Fridged means there’s no one hanging out to steal it.  Plus, these people are very friendly and nice, they often don’t even lock their door!   

Anyway, I found this note in our luggage… and the box we had the skiver pan was opened, and searched… These curious inspectors might have even made a few batches of Aebleskivers…  Who knows?  Well, it was the same day (Christmas day) when they had the fire scare in the plane, so I consider it a good thing.   

   

When we were in Milwaukee, we only tried some apples, pears, bananas with powdered sugar, apple sauce, and some cranberry sauce. Everyone loved them, kids, grandparents and adults.  I guess they realized that I too could make some sweet, more traditional dishes. (I am known to suggest something “weird” like new vegetables, flavors, or spices (Japanese food anyone?) to cook during our holiday visits in my attempt to add variety to casseroles — their kind of Christmas meals.)  

Thank you, my Skiver Santa, Chad Gillard from Aunt Else’s!  With this, everyday (OK, weekend) is like Christmas! 

Oh…  Our generous Skiver Santa wants YOU to have fun with your own Skiver set.  One lucky reader will get an Aunt Else Aebleskiver Starter Kit (both pan and the mix)!    

He also want you to learn more about Aebleskivers and ask questions.  So I am hosting a phone interview with Chad Gillard (aka Skiver Santa), the President of Aunt Else’s Aebleskivers and you are invited!  Don’t miss this unique opportunity. Invite your friends and family too.

All the details will be posted next week, including how to increase the chance of winning. (Wouldn’t you be most curious about this?  I would!)  Make sure to subscribe to Secrets of the Kitchen Wizard by email (sidebar, scroll down just a bit), so that you will be the first one to know.

 In the mean time, please write to our “Skiver Santa” at C.O.mment Box of this post about:

1. What you may want to do with the Skiver Starter Kit? 

2. Why you should be the one to win the kit? 

Again, one comment counts as one point.  Come up as many ideas and keep posting comments. You are welcome to go back to these 2 posts about  1. Aebleskiver pan , and 2. filling, and post more ideas.  

Santa is watching….

Good luck and have a great weekend! 

 

 

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.

And Finally… Doria Proper Way… (In Case I haven’t Convinced You…)

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

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

To show you that you can make some doria with white sauce leftover (or from scratch), here’s the recipe to make some doria proper way.  Of course, you can make this into a vegetarian version by using things like spinach, cauliflower, asparagus, etc.

Do this when you have time though… It takes a while…

Doria Proper Way…

Ingredients (2-3 servings):

  • Cooked rice: 2 cups
  • Butter: 1 TBS
  • Onion, chopped: 1/2 cup
  • Chicken or shrimp, bite size: 1/2 lbs (200 – 250g)
  • Mushrooms, sliced: 5-6 (Optional)
  • White Sauce:
    • Butter: 3 TBS
    • Flour: 3 TBS
    • Milk: 3 C
  • Grated Cheese, gruyere, cheddar, etc: 2 oz (50g). If using Parmeggiano Reggiano, grate with Microplane, you’d only need about 1 oz or less.
  • Panko (optional), 1 TBS
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions:

  1. Make buttered rice. Melt butter in a skillet, sauté day old or thawed rice, season well. Many dorias in Japan has ketchup mixed in.
  2. Sautee chopped onion or leek until soft. Add seafood (shrimp is most popular) or bite-size chicken & sliced mushrooms. Season with Salt and Pepper.
  3. Make white sauce: Heat butter in a skillet, add flour and stir well until it’s cooked. Add heated milk, whisk consistently, and cook until thickened, and there’s no lumps nor floury taste. Season with salt and pepper. Add the seafood/chicken mixture.
  4. In shallow oven proof dishes, layer buttered rice thinly & lightly (2/3 – 1″), and pour over the white sauce. Top with grated cheese (and panko if you like), and bake until golden brown.

Kitchen Wizard Tips:

  • Grate extra cheese, and save it in a sealed container.  Use it when you make pasta, soup, salad, toast, etc.
  • Make extra white sauce, cover it with plastic wrap on top, squeeze the air out completely to prevent thick skin from forming.  Use it for something else later. Huge time saver!

As you can imagine, you could make this with short pasta instead of rice. Then it’s simply called “gratin” in Japan as well. In this case, you should mix the cooked pasta with heated sauce (or chowder) first, and top it with more sauce, before adding cheese.  It tastes better that way, than biting into bland pasta.

Now I figured out a quick way to make a decent doria, I can guarantee we’ll see them on our table more often.  I may even serve it to our guests and see if they can figure out how I made it.  : )

Try both, and please post which one you liked it.

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.

Kevin Dundon’s “Duncanon Seafood Chowder” Recipe (Basically “It’s Not Bleeding Chowder” from Raglan Road”)

OH MY GOD!  OH MY GOD!  OH MY GOD!

This morning, I got a comment on my blog from Kevin Dundon, THE chef who created the “It’s Not Bleeding Chowder” who cooked for U2, about my post! 

He commented,

I am delighted that you are featuring my recipe on the your web site for more recipes checkout http://www.kevindundon.com

Good Eating

Kevin

To someone like me who loves to cook, loves to eat good food, plus loves everything Irish -especially cute, talented, smily Irish men, it was like the real GOD talking to me!

Can I say it again?  “Oh my God!”  It’s like my prayers answered.  My Irish God is smiling down at me!

As you can imagine, in my mind, I hear Bono singing away “It’s a Beautiful Daaaaaaaaay!”, and also “When Irish Eyes are smiling”.  I told you, I love them both.

I’m very excited, honored, astonished…. and a bit embarrassed.  So THE Kevin Dundon saw my picture? (Compared the one on his site, it looks shabby…)  He even saw my recipe? The cabbage comment?  And I wrote “fish stock or CHICKEN stock” to make it more accessible?  Geez.  

I might take that Chicken broth out and change to water, since the God said fish stock or water.  And take the cabbage comment out….  Make the real version with more seafood with shells and replace the photo…  And now to think about it, I think the version we ate at Raglan Road might have had fennel infused broth and cubes of fennel in it.  I forgot about it…  It’s nearly 2 years ago, and my memory is fading! I’m not 25 any more!

But he’s the best chef in Ireland who can charge a lot of Euros for his creations. On top of that, he cooks for people like U2 and Queen Elizabeth!  On the other hand, I was just trying to translate my memory of that tasty creation to an everyday table, easily.

It’s time to shut up my evil little voice.

Anyway, maybe it was your prayers too…  On his website, there is a recipe for “Duncanon Seafood Chowder” which is basically the same with Raglan Road’s “It’s Not a Bleeding Chowder!”

So here it is. Kevin Dundon’s real seafood chowder recipe.  Enjoy!http://www.kevindundon.com/duncanonSeafoodChowder.html

Me? Of course I’ll make the God’s real version soon!

When I do that, I will add more seafood with shells to include a photo of a more impressive chowder on this post.  (I can’t copy and paste that beautiful photo from his website, you know?)

Oh, and for those of you who have been waiting for the doria recipe, don’t worry, I’ll post it tomorrow.  I just wanted to share my excitement, and his recipe with you. : )

Must Have for Colder Months! Batch and Fridge – Sautéed Mirepoix Meat and Tomato Mixture

The Meat Sauce Made with Sauteed Mirepoix Meat & Tomato Mixture and Gnocchi

The Meat Sauce Made with Sauteed Mirepoix Meat & Tomato Mixture and Gnocchi

Some of you, my early readers may remember that I posted an article about Sautéed Mirepoix and Meat Mixture back in April 09.  This is my workhorse during colder months.

As I get better, and get my appetite and cooking bug back, the first thing I thought was that “I need to start making some sautéed mirepoix and meat mixture”, because it allow me to create so many variety of dishes in a snap!  I knew that I had a busy week ahead, this was my No. 1 priority.

Since the celery I had was limited (1/2 of a heart), I decided to make only sautéed Mirepoix, Meat and Tomato version.  This for me is the most versatile, and those dishes I had a cravings for all had tomatoes in it, I knew what I needed to do.

Had I had more celery, I would have made double or more batches, and kept about 1/4 as sautéed mirepoix, 1/4 as sautéed mirepoix meat mixture, and 1/2 as sautéed mirepoix meat tomato mixture.  Well, next time.

Anyway, after I made the mixture all I had to do was boil some gnocchi we had, and some nice salad, and voila, we have dinner!  And tomorrow we’d have stuffed cabbage, and then later in the week lasagna, then aushak, my favorite Afghan ravioli thing…  (OK, my version of aushak may be a bit different from authentic version, especially because my husband doesn’t eat red meat, and it’s a short-cut version.  None the less, it’s tasty, healthy and people love it!) Oh, maybe I’ll do shepherds pie…  I haven’t had one for a while…  All with virtually no effort nor time…

Ah, life is good when you cook Kitchen Wizard style…  It’s so easy and fast to create many varieties and so much fun! No wonder my husband had so much fun while I was sick.

And best of all, having a good appetite back is a godsend ! (Next to getting my health back!)

Sautéed Mirepoix, Meat and Tomato Mixture

Ingredients:

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Onion, chopped small: 2 large
  • Carrots, chopped small: about half to equal amount of onion
  • Celery, chopped small – about half to equal amount of onion (about the same with carrots)
  • Uncooked Sausage: 1 – 1 1/4 lbs
  • Can of tomatoes, chopped
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions:

  1. Make sautéed mirepoix by sautéing 2:1:1 ratio of chopped onions, carrots, celery in Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
  2. Add uncooked sausage and brown.
  3. Add a can of tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.  Optional: Add tomato paste and anchovy paste (Additional flavor enhancers.)
  4. If this will mainly become Italian dishes, add Italian spices (basil, oregano, etc. fresh preferred), chili peppers, red wine, milk/cream or broth.

Note: If you want to make a large batch of this, and use half for Italian dishes (lasagna, Bolognese, etc.) and half for chili, after adding tomatoes, cook for a while, then split and save in the fridge. Then the one for Italian dishes add Italian spices, red wine and cream/milk.  I personally use this version for other dishes like shepherds pie and the sauce for aushak, the Afghan ravioli. Add Mexican spices and beans into the one saved for chili.

Cook Out Japanese Style 3: Yaki Tomorokoshi (Grilled Corn)

 

Yaki-tomorokoshi (grilled corn)

 

Grilled corns are staple on American BBQ, but how about Japanese style grilled corns?  You can make this easily, especially if you’ve already made the soy sauce-mirin reduction.

Yaki-tomorokoshi (Grilled Corn) 焼きとうもろこし

Ingredients: 

  • Corn  1/2 to 1 per person. (People tend to want the entire ear.)
  • Soy sauce
  • Mirin

Directions:

  1. Prepare and grill corn as you normally would.  I like to take the silk off but keep the husks on, soak in water for about 20 min., and grill at about 400F (200C) for 20 min.  Turn halfway through so that it grills evenly.
  2. In the meantime, cook 1:1 soy sauce and mirin in a small pot on the stove or microwave until boiled down to half volume (or if you made it for onigiri, you already have it). 
  3. When the corn is partially done remove the husks (careful – they’re hot!!), brush the soy sauce mixture evenly on the corn and again turn the corn so that it’ll have even grill marks.
  4. Serve hot.

You can also make things like Yaki-shiitake (put a few shiitake mushrooms in skewers pre-soaked in water and grill. Great with ponzu and grated daikon) or asparagus wrapped with bacon…. mmm…  : )…   And of course, yakitori.  Basically, cut chicken in bite size pieces, brush with soy-mirin mixture and grill until cooked through.  We Japanese also like it with “shio” (meaning sprinkled with sea salt and grilled.  Serve with Shichimi togarashi powder and/or a lemon wedge.)

Maybe I’ll elaborate on this later, but at least you know what to do.

So add a few of these to your next cook out, and let me know how you and your friends liked them on the comment section.

どうぞ召し上がれ!(Dozo meshiagare! Bon Appétit! in Japanese)

  

Cookout Japanese Style 2: Yaki-Onigiri (Grilled Rice Balls)

Ah…  This one is true crowd pleaser.  Every year, we have our oyster BBQ birthday party around this time of the year. (My husband Keith’s birthday is tomorrow, Sept 3, and mine is 7th, which this year, it happens to be the Labor Day.)  Last few years we served these, OMG, boy they go fast!  Kids love them, adults love them. We probably had about 20 giant rice balls and they were gone in 5 min!  Everyone asks me how to make it, so here it is!

Yaki-onigiri (Grilled rice balls) 焼きおにぎり

Ingredients:

  • Cooked sushi rice 1c per person. (Note: Long grain rice such as jasmine rice, basmati rice etc. is not sticky enough to make onigiri.  Brown sushi rice is not the easiest either. )
  • 1/4 C Soy sauce
  • 1/4 C mirin (Sweet Rice Wine)

Directions:

  1. Make the teriyaki sauce. Combine Soy sauce and mirin, and cook at medium heat until it’s reduced to about half. If you are in a rush or don’t have patience, you can just mix soy sauce and mirin, 1:1.  It’s not the same, but still tasty. You can use this sauce for Grilled corn we’ll discuss on the next post, as well as yakitori.  So if there’s left over, keep in a small jar.
  2. Make onigiri (rice balls)
    • Traditional (hot and painful) method: Prepare a bowl of cold water and fine salt in a shaker.  First soak your palms, and sprinkle some salt on your palm.  Then…  are you ready? you put about a 3/4 cup of hot rice (yes, fresh from the steamer) on your palm and press it into the familiar triangular shape.  Now, as you can imagine, it’s very hot and painful.  After one, you probably will not want to make any more.
  3. So here’s an easier version:
    • Add about 1/2-1c of cooked rice (ideally warm to hot) into a plastic bag (the kind you put your vegetables at a super market or Ziploc bag).  Sprinkle some salt if needed.
    • Push the rice into one corner and press into a ball by holding it together tightly as if you are making a ball with hand.  Take it out and make the second one in the same bag.
    • Note 1: You can also do the same with plastic wrap (Since the material is thinner, you need to make sure the plastic doesn’t get between the rice). When you want to bring them to a picnic, or freeze them (to later microwave and eat), they are already individually wrapped and ready to go.

    Grill onigiri until both sides are crispy but not colored much yet. Brush the soy sauce/mirin reduction evenly on all sides.  (or just 1:1 soy sauce and mirin mixture or soy sauce only, if you are in a rush).

    Put the rice balls back on the grill until the grill marks are on both sides and the sauce gets crispy.

    We don’t  add anything inside of yaki-onigiri, but if you are just making onigiri, you can do the following to make it fun and tasty.(Photos below.)

    • If you want to add something tasty in the middle, put a rather deep hole (not all the way through, though) with your finger, place about 1/2 – 1 tbs of things you like to eat such as a piece of grilled salmon (left over kama is a good idea), pickled plum, bonito flakes mixed with soy sauce, grilled cod roe, or tuna and green onion mixed with mayo or soy sauce, etc.  and press rice back into the space to close the hole.  Ideally, the contents should be completely covered with rice.

    When you eat onigiri as it is, put a 2-inch square piece of nori on both sides (seaweed, the same kind they use for sushi) on top.  Do not use seaweed if you are making yaki-onigiri — it will burn!






When I make this, I really feel like I’m home.  The smell of soy sauce and mirin is typical in Japanese kitchen, and makes me really hungry.

Make some of these next time, and see how popular this will be with your own eyes!  I’m  looking forward to your report in the comment section.