Futomaki (the big one)

Thanks to Grandma Toshiko, I can roll myself a futomaki or two when I get to craving some sushi.

First, you need the tamago. That’s a slightly sweet omelette, made of beaten egg, some sugar, some soy sauce, a bit of hon dashi (if you have it), maybe some mirin. Pour it onto a griddle or into a frying pan, and keep folding it over on itself, so you get a square log.

You also need (obviously) sushi rice. I make the rice in a rice cooker, because that’s the only way i know how. In a little frying pan, mix together 5 tablespoons sushi-su (rice vinegar), 3 tablespoons sugar, and 2 teaspoons salt. When it’s all melted, and the rice is ready, put the rice into a shallow casserole dish, and, while fanning the rice with one hand, slowly pour the vinegar mixture over the rice. Then keep fanning the rice with one hand, while fluffing it with the other. If you can pat your head and rub your stomach, then good for you. Drink some sake to make this more of a challenge.

Now, you’ve already cut your vegetables into long slices. You could use avocado, fake krab, cucumber with the seedy middle cut out, the tamago, inari, and whatever else you might like.

Now, lay out your rolling mat. On top of that, put your nori (the flat seaweed). Place the ingredients inside like so:

 

Hanukkah Lasagne!

On the fourth day of Hanukkah, the cold weather broke and the rains began. We had leftover pumpkin from the pumpkin kugel we made the first day of Hanukkah, so we decided to make lasagne and use up the leftovers.

Night Four = Lasagne Night

This lasagne was pretty straightforward. Mix together leftover canned pumpkin and ricotta cheese, along with salt and pepper, an egg, and some herbs like thyme and rosemary.

Ricotta in a bowl, with pumpkin and things

Fry up some shallots in olive oil and garlic, add some mushrooms, cook down until they start to brown, then deglaze with some wine. Then put them in a bowl, and in the same frying pan, cook down some spinach. And then mix the shallots mix and the spinach together!

Pumpkins, shallot, and garlic, deglazed with red wine

The hot water was boiling pasta this whole time, so it was ready to layer about the time I finished prepping the innards. First layer: lasagne noodles (usually I’d put a sauce on the bottom, but this didn’t have a sauce, really).

Next layer: ricotta mixture. Then, noodles. Then, spinach mixture.

Layering the lasagne!

And top with mozzarella, and toss in the oven at 400 for 40 minutes.

And voila! (*there is no final finished product picture, because we were too excited and ate it before i remembered to get a picture).

Autumn = Turkey Meatloaf. Hurray!

Southern California is warm, and oceany, and a little bit smoky from all the fires, and it’s nothing like the Pacific NorthWest, which we already knew we loved, but which we were so excited to get back to that we immediately kicked off our fall cooking, in celebration of a place that actually has real seasons, and where it’s cozy to snuggle up with a fire and a blanket and some wine and a hot stove. So.

Nothing says autumn comfort like meatloaf.

You should always start with onions. And garlic. And carrots. And fresh herbs from the garden.

Meatloaf Begins
Meatloaf Begins

Obviously, you need some great depression influence in any quality meatloaf, so throw in two bread slices worth of bread crumbs. Along with one whole egg, one egg yolk, and a third of a cup of milk.
What the flap is that?

Now, massage the meat into the eggy, bready, herb mixture. How ridiculously easy IS it to make meatloaf?
Meaty Massage

Pat it into a meatloaf pan, preferably one from the 1950s. Then into the oven at 450 for 55 minutes. And voila!About to be delicious!

Mussels with chorizo, and red wine sangria

Well, gentle reader, (and by that, I mean our audience of our sister, Ruth), yesterday was one of those golden Seattle summer evenings that make a person want to drink some wine and cook up some bountiful Seattle harvest.

Plus, we signed up to make sangria for 65 people this weekend, and never having technically made sangria before, we thought we’d better give it a test run before the big event. Altho how wrong could you really go with wine, alcohol, and fruit in a bowl?

Now, there’s two colors of sangria: red, and white. White is a classic — classy, clean, summery, and it doesn’t stain when you spill it on your summery suit. We’re going with red.

To the cutting board:

How could this go wrong?
Delightfully delicious!

First, you’ll need what you see in the picture. Into a pitcher, pour a bottle of red wine. Then,  we added a choppped apple, diced peach, sliced orange, one reamed lemon, and one reamed lime. (Heh heh. Reamed.) Oh, and a half cup of sugar. And then the hard alcohol: a cup of brandy, and a half cup of cointreau. Oh, and a can of pineapple, with the juice. Clearly, the photo taking did not keep up with the sangria sampling.

Muddle this all up together, and pour into glasses, chunkets and all. Delicious!

Frankly, after all the hard work of making the sangria, I was entirely too distracted to focus on the mussels.

 

Step 1: Chop up the shallots and garlic, dice up the tomatos, and set up your mise en place. (Boo-yah, frenchies!)

Mise en place
Mise en place

Give the mussels a bath to make sure all the beards are off (I’m not touching that one with a ten foot pole).

Gorgeous NW Mussels
Gorgeous NW Mussels

Then, here’s a tip: Use a wok! Heat it up, toss in the shallots and butter for a minute, then toss in the chorizo, and then add the tomatoes and deglaze it all. (The sangria had started kicking in, so apparently we don’t have photos of this step either.)

Then a splash of stock, a splash of white wine, and bring it to a boil. Then toss in the de-bearded bathed mussels and stir them all up. And then cover it. After 30 seconds, stir it up some more, cover it some more, then stir it some more, and after about another minute, take the lid off and see if the majority of the shells are open.

So Good!
So Good!

And finally, what’s better than grilled bread? This is pugliese, from Essential Baking Company. Brush it with a little olive oil, salt and pepper it, and toss it on the grill. Delightful!

Pugliese Bread
Pugliese Bread

Final analysis: Fricking splendid! Simple, local, delicious, and healthy. (hey, red wine’s good for your heart.)

A Pack of Pickles

So, the first time we did this, it was 104 degrees in the middle of Seattle’s hottest (well, only, really) heat wave ever. This being Seattle, we certainly didn’t have A.C. But the dill was about to go bad, and the heat had addled our brains, so pickle we did.

Now, it’s cooler. And this time, we’re pickling for real.

Things you need: Wide mouth quart canning jars, and a pickling tub.

This thing is big enough to bathe three cats, if you had three cats. Which we actually do. And we actually did, when it was 104.

Fill the canning tub. Put the jars in, and put it on to boil.

pickling-pot

Next: We wash the pickles.

pickling-pot

On deck: Garlic, peppers, and dill. Note: The dill should be flowering dill.

garlic-peppers

And now, we make the brine. To do this, you need 16 tablespoons of salt. (i.e., 1 cup). Also, 8 cups of water and 8 cups of white distilled vinegar. Pour all this into a big stock pot, and set ‘er on to boil.

You know it’s time to put everything in jars once the brine is boiling and the jars are sterile.

Oh, and another thing. The pickles should proceed directly to the freezer after their bath. Not frozen, just cold. This is the secret to a crunchy pickle.

Then, manufacture your pickles. Put a few cloves smashed garlic, a couple slices red jalapeno pepper, and a few sprigs of dill in the jar. Pack in the pickles around it. Pour the brine in to the top.

Et voila. Pickles!
pickles-packed