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Summer Vegetables with Soba

Posted on September 6, 2011 at 3:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Soba like pasta, pairs well with a variety of vegetables.  I had leftover fresh soba from yesterday's workshop, as well as sliced avocado, cucumbers, myoga, and  grated daikon radish and ground walnuts,  I cooked the soba and piled these veggies on top, and made a nice looking summer salad. I got inspired by Yoram Ottolengi's vegetarian cookbook  , which is very colorful, straightforward,l and yes, plentifuI. I made a quick dressing of 1 tbls extra virgen olive oil,  6 tablespoon all purpose dipping sauce and a squeeze of lemon juice. I can see Ottolengi adding a teaspoon or two each of sugar, garlic, sesame oil, chiles, ginger juice, and making something much spicier than mine.  He actually has two soba recipes, which includes such ingredients to make the dressing. That could work too. With fresh soba, you cannot let the noodles sit in the dressing. They will go limp and fall apart. Cook the noodles last minute, and shock them in ice.  I was happy I used up the soba noodles before they went dry and crumbly.

Seasonal Menu- Kinpira and Udon Noodles

Posted on September 1, 2011 at 4:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Kinpira burdock and carrots


Kinpira Gobo - Stir fried burdock root and carrots
Hiyayako with mixed herbs 
Hot Udon Noodles with Toasted Age and Negi

Now that we have two home bases, one in Pasadena and Tehachapi, there are also two kitchens. Tehachapi's kitchen has been put together with odd and ends hat were sitting around the house. It's a funky collection but it is nice to inject new life into things you thought you no longer had much use for.

When we come to the ranch, I clear out the perishables from our fridge and bring it with us.  The  ice chest has become a good travel companion.  Even, a few tired looking carrots and half of a burdock made it into the ice box along with chives, dill, cilantro.  I also packed the tofu and udon noodles I made back in June that were sitting in the freezer. 

Hiyyako with mixed herbs

What we had for lunch today was Hiyayako again, but with mixed herbs. It's perfect starter for a hot day in the high dessert.  Dill is unheard of on a Hiyayako but it wasn't bad. I also used cilantro. I forgot to bring ginger, which traditionally goes on top of Hiyayako but I didn't miss it. 

There was enough carrots and burdock to make a small dish of kinpira gobo - stir fried roots.  They carrots were a little limp but I sliced the roots up and soaked them in water to crisp them up before frying.  I seasoned the roots with soy sauce and mirin. 
I toasted the age in the toaster. It came out nice and crispy.

Hand cut noodles - defrosted and boiled for 12 minutes, 
and then rinsed. 

Hot udon noodles in a soy broth with Toasted age and Negi

I toasted the age in the toaster, just enough to get them crispy.   It worked really well as a noodle topping.  I sliced some negi (scallions work too).  
I defrosted the udon noodles, and cooked them for 15 minutes. With udon, you want to gave them a good rinse to remove the surface slime.  I could have cooked the noodles in their frozen state but by the time we got to Tehachapi, they were starting to defrost, so I let it them defrost completely. Frozen or defrosted, these thick noodles take 12 -15minutes to cook.  I heated the soy broth that I made in Pasadena.  You could put a half boiled egg as a topping, if you want more protein but we had eggs for breakfast so I kept it vegetarian. The hand made noodles still tasted very good and had good texture.  I was pleased about that.

Seasonal Menu - An Easy Summer Lunch

Posted on August 30, 2011 at 11:25 AM Comments comments (0)

A Summer Lunch 

Hiyayako - Fresh tofu with ginger and scallions

Grilled Chicken in a soy mirin marinade

Stir-fried zucchini with garlic and ginger

Steamed rice

Watermelon or any summer fruit

Cold barley tea

During the week, lunch has become our biggest meal of the day. But this meal can be served as a casual supper, too. The Hiyayako is a classic Japanese starter. It's  wonderfully refreshing on a hot day. This tofu comes from in Torrance. They make it fresh everyday.  The best way to eat tofu when it's this fresh is cold and straight, with a little grated ginger and sliced onions. That's all. The ginger and green onions are classic medicinal condiments that aid in digestion.  Pour a little  soy sauce on top, and you have a beautifull starter!  If this is too plain, you can slice some tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado or steamed okura, and serve them next to the tofu. Hiyayako can take place of a salad.

Grilled boneless chicken legs and stir fried zucchinni  

I love this Grilled chicken dish. I make it at least once a week. You can serve it right off the broiler or grill or serve it at room temperature. It's a no brainer. Take some boneless chicken legs. Yes, legs, not breast.  Legs have more flavor. You can leave or keep the skin on.  Make a few slits on the meat side and lightly season it with salt and pepper.  The marinade is equal parts soy sauce and mirin. You can add a teaspoon of ginger juice (grated from fresh ginger) if you like.  Heat the grill and start with the meat side down. After 3-4 minutes, begin basting the meat. Turn it over and brown the other side, basting frequently.  Grill until the chicken is brown and juicy.

If you are using the broiler, you can start with the skin side down, and cook the meat for a few minutes until it turns a little brown.  Baste it  2-3 times until the meat is cooked 2/3 of the way. Then flip it once to the other side, and baste with marinade and broil until the skin of the chicken is brown and juicy.

Rice made in a donabe rice cooker


I recently moved my electric rice cooker to our ranch in Tehachapi, so when I am in Pasadena, I only cook rice in the donabe rice cooker.  I love the way the rice comes out in the donabe. I am thinking of taking one of the two donabe's that I own to the ranch, and use it there, too.


Some slices of watermelon or some fresh summer fruit is a nice way to end this meal.