July 29, 2008

Up until this summer...

I've always mistakenly written-off Japanese food as mediocre and mundane (I was so wrong). However, my recent trip to Japan has shed a wonderfully positive light on Japanese culture, food, and society. It's intricacies and delicacies are so unique down to the details. Not only have I gone out of my way to search for authentic Japanese treats (Cafe Zest, Kyotofu, Minamoto Kitchoan) in New York City, but I've trekked a new path in the kitchen aiming to make some sweet treats of my own.

Given the amount of time I have after work, class, and yoga, it's become difficult finding time to experiment in my little, stainless steel laboratory. But, sweating buckets in bikram yoga amplifies my growing hunger for Japanese tea sweets. I like to keep things simple, so these recipes for Milk Chocolate Tofu Pudding and Adzuki Bean Mochi are easy, quick, and perfect for the working person.

Chocolate Tofu Pudding

1 container of soft silken tofu

1 cup of milk chocolate chips
2 tsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract

Heat the chocolate in a double boiler till completely melted. Stir in the honey and vanilla extract till smooth. Beat the silken tofu with an electric mixer to a smooth paste and stir it into the chocolate mixture. Chill and top with sesame seeds before serving.

*I like using honey because it gives it a nice, fragrant note and sweet aftertaste.

Okay, so I didn't have time to make my own red bean paste. But, this canned one is my favorite kind. It's in a sweet paste form but not completely mashed giving it some texture and chew.

The wrapping of my filling.

The skin of my mochi is stretched way thin, so you can see the filling tucked just inside.

An innard shot of a sliced mochi.

And, one last look!

Adzuki Bean Mochi

1 cup mochiko rice flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/2 can adzuki paste for filling
Sesame seeds

In a glass bowl, combine flour and sugar. Stir to mix well. Then add in the water and stir until a paste forms. Cover with a plastic wrap and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Remove and stir well. Flour the working surface with rice flour very generously making sure your hands are well floured too. Use a wooden spoon to drop the ball of rice flour dough on the surface and quickly cover it with starch. Divide into 8 or 10 pieces. Wrap the adzuki paste inside and cover with more flour. Shape into balls and sprinkle sesame seeds over the top. Place in refrigerator before serving.

How great would this be with a cup of hot tea and the city's night scape?

July 15, 2008

Packing for a picnic...

and a "classy" NY Philharmonic concert in Central Park. Imagine sardines in a can; it was super packed with, well, the rest of New York. I must've spent most of the night twirling my head this way and that scanning the crowds. Let's not forget how I could barely hear Tchaikovsky in the background. But, it's always fun to spend time with friends on a breezy July night sitting in "nature" chomping down on homemade goods. Ann, Rommel, and I traveled down to Chelsea Market for a light lunch and a stroll around the shops to grab fresh ingredients from Buon Italia and Amy's Bread for our picnicking adventures. On the menu for tonight: Muffuletta, Scallion Pajeon, Fuji Apples and Pan di Stelle! For those who have never heard of a muffuletta, the olive, meats, cheese, sourdough sandwich originated in New Orleans. It is a large 10" round of bread hollowed in the middle and packed with ingredients. Please take a look at my version!

Country Sourdough from Amy's Bread.

Our innards: Sopressata Salami, Serrano Jamon aged for 20 months, Genoa Salami, & Provolone Cheese.

For the olive spread, I diced up tomato stuffed olives and roasted peppers and tossed it with sesame seeds.

Ann hollowing out the bread.

And now begins our first layer.

A showing of each meat.

Pulling apart a slice of the Muffuletta.

My version of the Korean snackable.

Packed and ready to go.

The cooks for tonight!

We have set-up camp in our spot by the row of porter potties.

We are ready.

Muffuletta chow down.

Look at that hearty sandwich.

Almost like Cornell!


1 10" sourdough
1/2 cup chopped, jarred olives
1/2 cup chopped, roasted red peppers
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
6 ounces provolone cheese
4 ounces Genoa salami
4 ounces Sopressata salami
4 ounces Serrano Jamon

Cut top off the round of bread reserving on the side. Hollow out the interior until most of the bread is gone and only a shell remains. Chop up the olives and red peppers and toss together in olive oil. Add sesame seeds for extra taste. Spread the olive salad on the bottom and top of the bread allowing excess olive oil to soak into the bread. Layer cheese and meats until it reaches the top. Cover with the top of the bread and slice into eight wedges. Wrap in plastic and place in refrigerator allowing all the flavors to marinate before serving.

Scallion Pajeon

1/2 cup chopped scallions
1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup water
Salt & Pepper
Grape seed oil

Toss scallions and basil in a medium bowl. Add in flour and baking powder and mix with hands. Beat in egg and water until fully mixed and slightly runny. Season scallion pajeon batter with salt and pepper to taste. Heat oil in skillet at medium heat and pour in batter. Let pajeon brown and crisp before flipping to the other side and repeat.

Dipping Sauce

1/2 cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1 tsp sesame oil

Mix ingredients together.

Real life begins in less than a week. Countdown...

July 6, 2008

The Dallas Farmers Market...

and cooking fresh produce with the Shen sisters make any day relaxing and enjoyable. Though it is not my first time at a Farmers Market, 22 years of living in Dallas, Texas has not increased my visits to this produce palace. My first trip to the Dallas Farmers Market was a pleasant surprise--I ate a full meal of fruits. Yum.

Shed 3 filled with stands of farmers' picks!

Taste testing fruits and vegetables.

Seeing brim filled baskets of fruits puts a smile on my face.

We chose eight-ball squash for dinner!

And fresh peaches for dessert.

Hollowing out the squash before stuffing.

Making peach cobbler.

Stuffed Eight-Ball Squash with Chipotle Pesto and Pan Seared Lime Pepper Scallops

Fresh and healthy.

Very guilt-free summer eating.

Peach Cobbler with a drop of whipped cream.

Pan Seared Lime Pepper Scallops

1 clove minced garlic
4 Tbsp lime pepper seasoning
8 large sea scallops

Defrost scallops at room temperature in a water bath. Dry the exterior of the scallops with paper towels. Season both sides of the scallops with lime pepper seasoning. Heat a skillet on medium high heat coating the bottom with olive oil. Flavor the oil with minced garlic before adding the scallops into the pan. Let the scallops sear on both sides for about a minute and a half until crisp on the outside.

Stuffed Eight Ball Squash

5 eight ball squash
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup canned corn
3 tsp oregano
1/2 cup bread crumbs
5 cloves minced garlic
Salt and pepper

Fill a big pot with salted water and bring to a boil. Trim off the end of stem end and reserve the top. Scoop out the pulp to create a 1/4 inch shell. Reserve the pulp. Boil the shells in salted water for 2 minutes. Remove and drain. Preheat oven to 350 F. Finely chop the reserved pulp. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped pulp, onion, corn and oregano and sauté until tender. Remove from heat and combine with bread crumbs, garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Spoon filling into hollowed squash shells. Place stuffed eight-ball halves in the prepared pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until heated through.

Peach Cobbler


3 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup sliced almonds


2 cups sliced peaches
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375 F. Lightly butter a baking pan. Combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Work the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture readily clumps together when pressed. Toss in the nuts. Coat the fruit with a few tablespoons of sugar and strain out any excess liquids. Spread the fruit into the prepared baking pan. Cover nut topping over the fruit. Bake until the fruit is bubbling in the center and the topping is crisp and well browned. Cool slightly and serve warm with fresh-made whipped cream.