Posts tagged ‘Video’

Pudgy Pies

I first tried out cooking hand pies with this method several years ago while car camping with Adriann and a bunch of other friends. I tested out hers to make a very yummy snack and have wanted a set ever since, especially now that we have a fire pit on our back patio. Unfortunately, other than on Amazon or other online stores, pie irons are rather challenging to find. So when I saw them in one of our local overstock stores, I bought two right away as an early Valentine’s Day gift for my husband. Pie irons are fantastic usually long-handled cast iron hand-pie makers (like a waffle irons) for cooking over an open flame or camp fire. You can either use dough or slices of bread to make the piecrust, but keep in mind that thinner crusts will allow more room for fillings. They are easy to make in these irons and are an incredibly simple comfort food. The outside is nice and toasty, while the fillings are warm and gooey on the inside. Since you get to choose your own toppings, you can make the pies meaty, cheesy, vegan, gluten free, healthy, or however you like.

Pie Irons

To make a hand pies, put a slice oil or butter-side down (to prevent it from sticking to the iron) onto the bottom half of the iron. Place your fillings, like fruit preserves, chocolate, nut butter, meat, eggs, cheese, etc., in the center of the bottom bread slice; make sure you include an ingredient that acts as a binding agent, otherwise the pie will not stay together as well. Lay a second slice of bread over the top of the fillings with the oiled side up. Close the the iron, so the top bread slice covers the filling. Clamp the iron closed. Trim off any excess bread sticking out from the sides of the iron. Place the cast iron over the fire, holding onto the wooden (or otherwise insulated) handles. Bake the hand pie for about four to six minutes rotating occasionally.

There are all sorts of recipes you can try. Richard O’Russa wrote a great looking cookbook and you can find even more recipes from Rome’s online shop, which features more information about the devices. I am sure you can find other hand pie recipes for baking with pie irons elsewhere on the the internet, as well, like here. You can also check out Pudgy Revolution’s Pudgy Pie Test Kitchen You Tube series, and if you really like their recipe ideas, you can support their pudgie pie cookbook Kickstarter.

National Heirloom Exposition, Day 1

Oh food blog, how I have missed you so! I can’t believe it’s been about a year since my last post. Much has happened in that time. My husband, friends, family and I have worked very hard to make our house more homey. There are always more and more projects to work on. Currently, we are in the midst of tackling the backyard, installing drainage, watering and electrical lines, planter boxes and a retaining wall, which all includes moving a lot of dirt around. What a workout! I am so grateful that we have so many generous people to help out. Next year, we plan on install a patio deck, but until then I hope to get some more plants in the ground. I’ve been itching to start some semblance of a garden, but we need to fill in more dirt first. I’m also trying to figure out which type of fruit tree to plant along the back fence and found some recent inspiration after visiting nurseries with some of my girl friends last weekend. So many plans are in the works. I can’t wait!

In the meantime, I am volunteering for a second year in a row at the National Heirloom Exposition, which is organized by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, a great Missourian company that features only non-GMO seeds in numerous varieties of flowers, fruits and vegetables but also gardening workshops. I cannot recommend this expo enough. Oh my goodness, I am having so much fun! It absolutely amazes me that such a national event is held here in Sonoma County, let alone that it was featured on Martha Stewart’s television show.

From the looks of it, 2011 was the first of many more years to come for the expo, especially as people travel from all over to attend, even from other countries. Like last year, I made a point to not only attend but also volunteer, and this year I’m scheduled to work two of the three days (about 12 hours), which means I get free admission, parking and hot lunches on both days and leftover produce at the close of the fair. How cool is that?! I saw and learned so much last year but only experienced a small portion of all of the events. The expo provides great opportunities to meet up with like-minded people and see folks from some of my favorite local farms and gourmet restaurants. This year I hope to try out some new foods.

It is absolutely amazing to see the astounding abundance of varieties of awesome organically grown heirloom fruits, vegetables and flowers. There were cultivars from all over the world that were brought in from all across the country, let alone from all over California, that I didn’t even know existed. Who knew there are red eggplants, prickly cucumbers and olive-shaped squash? Well, I do now. There are many many kinds of watermelon, for instance, with skins in various shades of green, golden, yellow and white that were solid colored, striped, splotched or spotted but had inner flesh in solid colors of pink, red, white, yellow, orange or bi-color combinations. Even the seeds varied in color and pattern. here must have been hundreds of watermelons alone, no to mention eggplants, tomatoes, garlic, peppers, pumpkins, gourds, squash, cucumbers, poultry and other exciting heirlooms. I know there are even more heirloom fruits and vegetables available, which makes me wish that there was an expo for every harvest season, since we only get to see produce that’s available at this time of year. I’d love to see different types of berries and stone fruits, but their peak seasons are over during this time of year. It would also be fantastic to see more species of heirloom flowers, too.

There is so much going on, it’s impossible to see everything. The California Rare Fruit Growers also sponsor an exhibit with tastings in the main hall (I keep forgetting to preregister), which is interesting, since some of the inner flesh colors and patters are so different from normal store-bought fruit. There are tons of free samples to try from several other farmers and vendors all over the expo, too, but there’s also a little farmers market for people to actually buy heirloom produce and seeds to take home. Some farmers also enter their finest produce in competitions based on appearance, flavor, size and weight. The pumpkin size contest is incredible with some of the entries weighing in at over 1000 pounds. They’re humongous! Not only are there displays of tables after tables of vegetables and fruits but a whole section of the fairgrounds is dedicated to heirloom animals. I hope they have more mammals this year, like rabbits. Wednesday is kids’ day with elementary classes coming from all over Sonoma County to learn sustainable gardening and farming; in addition, many of the schools are represented in a special exhibit by their gardening projects, displaying photos, schematics and diagrams.

During all three days, there are several educational agriculture lectures given by speakers from near and far. There are topics concerning sustainable agriculture, growing certain species of fruit, interactions of edible plants and weeds, hydration systems, soil, etc.  In addition, I think there are two screens showing back-to-back food-related documentary films all day, likewise on a variety of subjects. I hope I can fit some interesting lectures and movies into my schedule this year, as last year I wanted to hear the blueberry and agroecology lectures but was working at those times. There is also a small art exhibit in the main hall with agriculture-themed paintings, sculptures, embroidery, pressed flowers, and the like. The expo is like visiting a gourmet food fest, health food fair, sustainable gardening and farming fair, art and garden show, county fair, workshop series, movie marathon, agricultural fair, interactive science museum, farmers market and concert series all in one!

The fair always seems better than I anticipate, and it gets larger and gains greater attendance by visitors and vendors each year. I imagine it would probably attract an even more people if it wasn’t held in the middle of the week.  Last year, I went a little photo crazy; I must have taken pictures of most everything, which made me feel a bit like a tourist. I know this year I’m going to take pictures, too, but hopefully even better ones. I also hope I’m not doubling up on subjects that I took pictures of already. There’s so much to see. There are a bunch of pictures in the gallery below from last year, but these aren’t even a third of the collection so far. I do hope to post more after my second day. I’m having such a great time, I know I want to volunteer again next year.

Local East Bay Tofu Companies

Bitter Sweet’s blog post about The Bridge Tofu factory reminds me of the organic tofu beanery in Berkeley, called Tofu Yu LLC, which has a catering and a store front with a deli counter that displays all sorts of tofu and tofu dishes. I keep meaning to visit. They also sell their products at several Bay Area farmers markets and organic grocery stores (visit their blog for a complete list and recipes), including the Santa Rosa Community Market and many Whole Foods.

In addition, there’s an organic tofu factory in Oakland, called Hodo Soy Beanery, where you can take a tour once a month for $12. Occasionally Hodo soy also has work shops, such as how to make tofu blocks. They sell their tofu at some Bay Area and LA area farmers markets, too, including at the Saturday San Francisco Ferry Building farmers market, and at Whole Foods. Make sure you check out their recipe section of their website as well as their blog.


It’s difficult for me to pick which beanery to visit, so maybe I’ll go see both of them! That way I can get a tour and see the deli, not to mention taste the different flavors and kinds of tofu dishes that the two companies have to offer. Earlier this year, I also noticed that there was a whole festival surrounding soy and tofu at the Japantown Peace Plaza in June, which I unfortunately missed, but I think I’ll try to attend it next year. It looks like it was really fun, with two taiko groups, a dessert competition, a lion dance troup and many other stage performance.

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.

Garlic!

I love garlic!  I hate peeling garlic.  I usually buy the more expensive, already peeled garlic so I can just throw some in my food processor whenever I want.  THIS new trick is amazing to me.  It isn’t smashing it with a knife, I’ve done that, and its okay.

http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/smart-tip-peel-an-entire-head-of-garlic-in-10-seconds-saveur-157145

Wasn’t that amazing?  I can’t wait to drive 8 hours to get home from Orange County, run to the store, and buy garlic just so I can play with it!  (Though I’ll probably take a nap first, and I really should wait until I’ve used up all of the peeled garlic I just bought…)

-Adriann