Archive for May, 2012

Japanese Beef Curry with Gluten-Free Suggestions

This week I have been at my folks house in the Central Valley, helping them out in any way I can. I’m helping my mom wrap up the end of her school year. This is not only her kids’ last week of third grade but hers, as well, since she’s retiring. Congratulations Mom! I’m also helping out around the house and cooking meals. My brother has been really great about helping me make dinners, which is really nice and also give us opportunities to spend some time together.

Some nights this week I’ve stayed late with my mom in her classroom, sorting through old project templates, posters, class mascots and whatnot, which means dinner preparations can’t begin until later. This does not jive well with my finicky digestive system, even if I bring snacks with me to her school in lieu of eating dinner earlier. So thankfully my brother decided to make dinner. Yea! For this curry dish my bother used the leftover beef rib roast, bok choy and carrots from the beef sukiyaki donabe (hot pot) dish that I made last night, since Dad bought more than enough. While I’m chatting with him, I’m also trying to encourage him to write some guest blog entries, since he also likes to cook and has recently started taking pictures of his dishes.

Japanese Beef Curry
Adapted from S & B Foods Medium-Hot Golden Curry Sauce Mix package directions.

Serves 4 to 6

Meat and Vegetable Ingredients
14 Baby Carrots, sliced 1/4″ think
2 1/2 C Fresh or Frozen Green Peas
1/2 Red Onion, chopped
1 Bell Pepper (Any Color), cored, finely chopped
1/2 Large or 1 Small Bunch Bok Choy, cut into 1″ by 2″ pieces
1 lb Thinly Sliced Beef Rib Roast, cut into 1″ squares

Sauce Ingredients
1  3 1/2-oz. pkg S & B Foods Medium-Hot Golden Curry Sauce Mix, broken into 5 sections*
2 tsp House of Tsang Wok Oil, enough to cover bottom of pan (not 2 T in directions)
2 1/2 C Filtered Water

Grains
4-6 Servings of Cooked Quinoa, Rice, Barley or Noodles (Any Kind)

*This is an instant curry roux sauce mix that comes in bar form and is not gluten-free, since it includes wheat flour as a thickener. For a Japanese curry, the medium-hot spiciness is on par with some of the spicier mild Mexican salsas that I have eaten.

 Directions
Heat the oil over medium heat in a large sauce pan. Saute the onions and beef over medium-high heat for 2 to 4 minutes or until the meat reaches medium doneness (has a only a little bit of pink).

Add in the vegetables and water, and bring them to a boil, stirring constantly and mixing the ingredients from the bottom of the pan to the top. Reduce the heat to a low boil over medium-low heat. Cover and cook the meat and vegetables for 10 minutes. Remove the lid. Simmer and stir the mixture for 3 minutes.

Stir in the sauce until it is fully incorporated. Simmer the curry for 5 minutes, frequently stirring to thicken it. Serve the curry with or over hot cooked grains, quinoa or noodles of your choice.

This curry is also a good accompaniment to chicken, lamb and shrimp.

Gluten-Free Japanese Curry
In Jefferson Adams’ post on Celiac.com, he stated that he found a bar-form S & B instant curry mix (it’s a sweet curry roux), called “Curry No Ohji-sama” (prince of curry or curry prince?) and packaged in a cartoony red box, at Nijiya Market in the San Fransciso on the same block as the Japantown mall. This sweet curry includes cornstarch and white sorghum as the thickeners and is gluten-free. I also read in the Celiac.com forum that the blue-box Curry No Ohji-sama is not gluten-free, but I looked at the ingredients on the box in person and found it also contains sorghum flour instead of wheat flour and is therefore gluten-free. If you use these are sweet curries, you may want to add more Japanese curry powder and gluten-free or wheat-free tamari soy sauce, like Mr. Adams did. Apparently, wheat allergies are also becoming a hot topic in Japan, just like it is here, so some food companies are starting to make gluten-free products. Instead you can always just use the S & B mixed curry seasonings to make your own gluten-free sauce recipe, like Russ Crandall did over at The Domestic Man.

Here’s a commercial for Curry No Ohji-sama for your viewing pleasure. Apparently S & B has been making sweet curry roux for kids since 1966. It’s nice to see that they are starting to accommodate for children with allergies and digestive issues.

Watching the commercial did make me wonder what the other sweet curry at at he end of the commercial is that features the fairy and the princess. I also wonder if S & B even makes it anymore. Does anyone know what it is? Do you have a favorite kind of curry? If so, which kind do you like best? What kind of seed or grain do you prefer as a side with your curries?

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Beef Sukiyaki Hot Pot

I love sukiyaki! It’s so delicious with the rice noodles, but I think my favorite part is the broth. The only other great sukiyaki that I have ever had was at Kyoto, a small local family-own, family-run Japanese restaurant in Rohnert Park, which also has tasty, tasty sushi. I also love their dobin mushi, another soup I must make. Kyoto is the only restaurant where I have seen it served. I highly recommend their food! I like all Kyoto’s sukiyaki soups (chicken, seafood, beef and combination) so much, I went to Japantown in San Franciso to buy the special ceramic clay pot to make this great soup for myself at home.

Last year my mom asked for a new ceramic casserole dish for Christmas. So when Anise and I went to San Francisco last December to visit the Ferry Building Farmers Market and Japantown,  I knew exactly what I wanted to get my mom. A ceramic donabe or Japanese hot pot. It was my understanding that you can cook with them on the stove and in the oven, so I thought it would act as a two-in-one. That way she could make hot pot soups and oven-baked casseroles. Alas, I didn’t realize glazed ceramic pots will crack and break if you bake them; the unglazed ones can go in the oven after soaking in water for two to three hours. (The soaked up water prevents cracking in the oven; the walls of the glazed pots can’t absorb water, which is why glazed ones can’t go in the oven.) I got the wrong kind. Oh well. No big deal, since the off-white pot I got her has beautiful blue flowers on the lid. Thankfully this type of pot is still usable on the stove and easily cleaned with boiling salted water (kind of like cleaning cast iron pots with oil and salt to preserve seasoning and remove food bits).

Beef Sukiyaki Hot Pot
Adapted from Setsuko Yoshizuka’ Beef Sukiyaki and Beef Sukiyaki from Japanese Hot Pots by Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat
Serves 4 to 6

Sukiyaki Sauce Ingredients
3/4 + 3 1/4 C Filtered Water
1/3 C San-J Gluten-Free Tamari Soy Sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
3 T Hakutsuru Junmai Sake
5 T Sugar, Turbinado or Sucanat
2 tsp Better Than Bouillon Beef Bouillon
2 T Kikkoman Aji-Mirin

1 lb Sliced Beef Rib Roast, cut into 1″ squares*

Hot Pot Ingredients
1 Bunch Chinese Cabbage or Bock Choy, cut into 2″ lengths
1 Bag Wild or Spring Mix Salad Greens
1 Leek, ends trimmed, cut into 2″ lengths
8 Shiitake Mushrooms, stemmed, sliced**
6 3″ wide Portobello Mushrooms, sliced**
1 pkg Maifun Rice Noodles, soaked, rinsed, cut into 3″ lengths or kelp noodles, rinsed

*Cutting the meat slices so small is not necessary, but they shouldn’t be bigger than 4″ across.
**If your mushrooms are small enough, you don’t have to slice them; I just wanted ours bite-size. You can use Enoki, like the original recipe called for, but we couldn’t find them at the store.

Directions
Arrange your cut-up vegetables on a large platter into separate piles in order to make organizing your ingredients easier later on when it’s time to add them to the donabe.

In a small sauce pan, combine 3/4 cup of water, the tamari, sake and sugar. Heat the sauce through on the stove over medium.

Warm up some of the sauce over medium heat in the donabe. Add the meat, and saute it until it reaches medium doneness. Dissolve the bouillon in the remaining water, sauce and mirin on medium-high heat. Deglaze the pot with a bit of sauce, scraping off any meat stuck to the bottom if needed.

Push the meat aside, and add the bok choy. (Cabbage always goes on the bottom of the donabe when you are adding your groups of soup goodies.) Arrange the other vegetables and noodles in separate sections in the pot on top of the cabbage. It may not look like they will all fit, but just wedge them in. Pour in the rest of the sauce. Remember the lid is domed, but if you have to, wait a few minutes for some of the greens to wilt before you add more. (If there still isn’t room, add more after the first four bowls of soup are served.)

Cover the pot with the lid, and cook the sukiyaki over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Remove the lid to check on the ingredients. Push any ingredients down that are sticking up out of the broth, so everything cooks evenly. Return the lid, and cook the soup for another 3 minutes. If necessary, press the ingredients down again. Recover the pot again. Bring the soup to a boil over high heat; cook it for 30 seconds. Turn the off the burner.

With hot pan holders or oven mittens, transfer the hot pot to the dining table, placing it on a trivet. Under the trivet I spread out a thick towel (or you can use an absorbent placemat, in case of spillage while ladling the servings). The trivet only covered half of the towel, so that I had room to put down the very hot donabe lid. Make sure you keep a hot pan holder or oven mitten at the table with the hot pot, so you don’t burn your hands.

Serve the soup into bowls with a ladle and cooking or plating chopsticks or tongs. Make sure you get a bit of everything in each bowl. If you have any additional vegetables that are still uncooked and didn’t fit in the pot before, you can add them now to the still hot broth. Returning the lid to maintain the heat in the donabe and keep the steam in.

Here’s a video of “The Aimless Cook” on Youtube that I also used as a reference for cooking the meat directly in the donabe. It also has some nice vegetable preparation ideas to make your vegetables look prettier.

Donabe recipes are so flexible, that you can really be creative when putting your soup together.  Treat the recipes like guidelines when coming up with flavor combinations; you can add or omit most any ingredients you like. Just make sure you pay attention to the amounts each type of ingredient. An overstuffed pot can boil over during cooking, and you want to make sure the piled in meat and vegetable piles are so high that they lift the lid away from the pot. The lid needs to  completely close. Remember that you can add more ingredients to the hot remaining broth and other soup bits after you make some room by serving portions to your dinner mates.

If you are concerned about sodium and sugar, those are adjustable, too. You can use low-sodium or sodium-free tamari and omit the mirin or use less sugar, adjusting the flavors afterward. Also If you want to add a garnish, you can sprinkle on furikake or shichimi togarashi, both of which come in several different seasoning mixes, as shime or garnish. You can even make your own, like I did; stay ‘tooned for my upcoming Shrimp & Vegetable Nabe post.

Easy Chicken Tastada Salads

This meal totally felt like cheating. It was way too easy and quick, but I’m glad it was. I can’t eat too late into the night and go to bed right after dinner due to my acid reflux issues. Without time to go to the store or cook anything more complicated, I’m glad we had all of the ingredients to make these. It was a relief to not have to really think about making dinner after a long day of helping my mom at work.

We used my parents’ non-stick tortilla bowl makers, which I had never seen or heard of before. They are amazing! I remember making tostadas when I was younger with flat tortillas that were crisped in an oiled frying pan. (Now mind you, those are really good and provide a sense of nostalgia.) It’s neat to make your own restaurant-style bow

ls without frying; it’s much healthier, too.  Here is a recipe at eHow.com that uses a large metal bowl in the oven as a mould. Another method to make the bowls is in the microwave if you don’t have baking moulds; the tortillas need a little bit of oiling though.

Easy Chicken Tostada Salads
Serves 8 to 10

Salad Ingredients
8 – 10 8″ Guerrero King-Size Gluten-Free White Corn Tortillas
Store-Bought Whole Rotisserie Lemon and Herb Free-Range Chicken, boned, shredded
1  14.5 oz Can Spiced Black Beans, rinsed, cooked to tender in 1/3 C water, strained
3 Small Hass Avocados, skinned, pitted, sliced
1  Lemon or Lime, juice of (1 T)
2/3 C Daiya Pepperjack Style Shreds, optional
2/3 C Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds, optional
2/3 C Queso Fresco Cheese, shredded, optional
6 C Mixed Lettuce Greens, torn into bite-size pieces
1 Handful Red Fingerling or Cherry Tomatoes, halved
1 Handful Golden Cherry Tomatoes, halved
1/2 Cucumber, horizontally halved, sliced
3 Scallions, trimmed, sliced
Favorite Jarred Salsa and/or Hot Sauce of Choice
1  2 1/4 oz Can Pitted Sliced Black Olives, optional
Italian or Mexican Spice and Herb Vinaigrette, optional

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place the tortillas into 2 or 4 non-stick tortilla bowl-shaped shell makers, depending on how many came in your set, on a large jelly roll baking pan or cookie sheet. Bake the tortillas for 15 minutes. Once they are crispy, let the tortillas cool for 5 minutes before  transferring them to a cooling rack or trivet. Repeat baking the tortilla shells in batch until you have enough shells.

In a small bowl, toss the avocados and lemon or lime juice together. Set the avocados aside. Mix the cheeses together in a medium bowl with a fork. (I had to fluff ours, since my brother shredded the cheese the day before and chilled it in the refrigerator in a covered bowl.) Set the cheese aside. Toss the salad ingredients together, from lettuce to scallions,  in a large salad bowl. (I accidentally added the avocado to the to the salad, so I tossed the whole salad in lime juice. After mixing the salad together, we found it hard to find the avocado, since it shifted to the bottom of the bowl with other heavier ingredients.)

Line up your layer bowls to assemble your tostada salad bar. This way everyone can layer the chicken, beans, cheese, salsa, hot sauce, salad, avocado, olives and dressing on their shell as they prefer. (I spooned my salsa on top of my salad layer, where as my parents like theirs between the cheese and salad layers.) Have each person start with a tortilla bowl shell on their plate and then proceed through the line. This is much easier than placing all of the bowls at the dining table and serving every bit family style.

I know I listed a bunch of different options; you can include as many or as few in your tostada salad bar and in your own tostada as you like. Although I like many of the ingredients listed above, I have to limit my consumption of them, so no cheese or salsa fresca for me. (Just in case, I also took a special digestive pill before eating, too.) You can also make yours as spicy or mild as you prefer, too, depending on which spices, salsas or sauces you use.

Although it’s bad for portion control and my metabolism, I had not eaten for several hours while helping my mom at school, so even though I ate my tostada salad slowly, I was still hungry afterward. I think I made the smart choice. In lieu of having a whole other tostada or a sugary dessert, I ate more of the green salad with some of the salsa verde and Italian dressing mixed in. This salad was tasty, satisfying and exactly what I needed. It’s always better to fill up on vegetables that are full of nutrients than carbohydrates late in the day unless you plan on exercising soon after you eat them anyway, or so the fitness and nutrition specialists tell me. 😉

I hope you enjoy this recipe, like my family did. How do you make your tostadas? What garnishes do you sprinkle on top of yours? Which quick and easy meals do you make that only take a few minutes to make? What do you make for yourself and your family when you are tired and pressed for time?

These are so cute and pretty. I’ve been looking for a great gluten-free dairy-free madeleine cookie recipe! These are perfect for brunch or afternoon tea. What an adorable treat to feature on Mother’s Day, too. 🙂

Dark Chocolate Cake with Caramel Frosting

Sorry we have been on such a long break. I’m still in the midst of moving, and well, life happens. I hope you all didn’t forget about us. I hope this can tie you over in the meantime.

Here is a beautiful cake I really want to make and devour! ^_^ It looks delicious. I bet it’s pretty easy to make. I just need cake pans, since my old one was a dud. As an added bonus this recipe is dairy-free and gluten-free. You can swap out the eggs in the cake batter but not in the caramel meringue frosting. So if you can think of a way to make this cake entirely vegan, let me know. I can’t think of a way that wouldn’t affect the textures, not even with Irish sea moss.

Dark Chocolate Cake with Caramel Frosting.

Enjoy!