Tag Archives: simple

Tofu Katsu

7 Dec

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A few years ago I made Tonkatsu without ever having tasted it. A neighbor friend, who happened to conveniently stop by mostly at dinner time, was over the night I made it. He had traveled to Japan and told me it tasted just like the authentic dish he had when he was there. This, of course, made me feel great! Since then, I’ve been wanting to create a tofu version and have added some delicious fresh vegetables.

Time: 30 minutes                     Serves: 4

Ingredients


  • Tofu


  • 1 15 oz. block extra firm tofu (I use organic sprouted tofu from Trader Joe’s)
  • salt and black pepper
  • about 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs (I use a Ian’s gluten free from Whole Foods)
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup corn starch
  • 1 egg plus 2 tbsp water
  • rice bran oil for frying

 

  • Katsu Sauce


  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire
  • 2 tbsp sake
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp mustard powder

How to make it


  • Tofu


  • Drain tofu from liquid. Wrap in paper towel and then a dish towel. Place on a cutting board or flat dish. Place something on top that is light enough that it won’t break the tender tofu, just enough to press out some of the moisture.
  • Meanwhile, combine flour and cornstarch in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine beaten egg with water. Place panko crumbs into a third bowl.
  • Heat oil in a small-medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Test if oil is heated by throwing some panko crumbs in. If it sizzles, it’s ready.
  • Take pressed tofu and cut in half and then into four slices, then cut on diagonal to make triangles or down the middle for rectangular pieces.
  • Season tofu with salt and pepper on both sides. Dredge in flour mixture, then into the egg mixture, and then into the panko.
  • Add the breaded tofu into the hot oil. Do not overcrowd the pan, as overcrowding will drop down the temperature. Cook about 2-3 pieces at a time until golden brown, about 4-6 minutes. Place on paper towel lined plate. Season with salt while hot.

 

  • Rice and Vegetables


  • Soak and rinse sticky rice and cook according to package instructions or in your rice cooker.
  • Slice radishes (any variety would work), cube seedless cucumbers. Shred napa/savoy/or regular green cabbage. Prepare cherry tomatoes and Asian microgreens (Mizuna, broccoli sprouts, etc). Cut fried tofu into slices.
  • To serve, place a scoop of sticky rice on plate. Place a bed of cabbage beside the rice. Arrange tofu over it. Drizzle sauce over top. Add fresh vegetables and enjoy! This dish also goes nicely with pickled vegetables, recipe coming soon.
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Ginger Snaps

17 Nov

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I spent part of my summer hanging out with my dad in his cute little house in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We have bonded a lot through food over the years and without fail, my dear ol’ always requests that we bake when I’m there. “We” mostly means me, but I’m more than happy to oblige. This time, he requested ginger snaps – one of his favorites and also something I had never made before. I’m always up for a challenge in the kitchen! My poppa’s palate was pleased by these wholesome morsels and they are just perfect for the autumn and upcoming winter season with all of their aromatic spices.

Time: 30 minutes                   Yield: 18 cookies

Ingredients


  • 1/2 cup butter or Earth Balance, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 cups flour (I used brown rice flour)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1  tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh grated ginger (these are strong in ginger flavor, if you want less use 2 tsp)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

How to make it


  • Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine brown sugar and butter. Mix until creamy and well incorporated. Add molasses and egg and mix well.
  • In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom . Slowly add dry ingredients into wet, mixing well to incorporate. Next, fold in ginger and mix well.
  • Place granulated sugar in a small shallow dish. Form dough into about 1″ balls. Roll dough in granulated sugar. Place on prepared baking sheet, allowing room between each as these spread as they bake.
  • Bake for 16 minutes in middle rack. Remove from oven, lift silpat or parchment paper and gently move to cool off of the hot baking sheet.

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Amaretto Milk Cake

18 Jun

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I made this for a very special someone’s birthday. Another recipe inspired by one of Chef Matthew Kenney’s from his book, “Big City Cooking”.

Time: 45 minutes + cool                      Serves: 9

Ingredients


  • Cake


  • 4 eggs, room temp – separated
  • 1/2 cup sugar, separated
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup AP flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup toasted almond flour/meal**
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted
  • **I made my toasted almond meal by toasting just under 1/2 cup of raw almonds on a parchment lined baking sheet at 400F for 5-7 minutes. Once cooled, I ground them in my food processor.**
  • Amaretto Milk and Toppings


  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
  • 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tbsp amaretto or comparable almond-flavored liqueur
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 8 almond butter thin cookies (Trader Joe’s) or amaretti cookies, crumbled
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar

How to make it


  • Cake


  • Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare an 8×8 glass baking dish by brushing melted butter on bottom and sides. Fit bottom with a square of parchment paper and brush this with melted butter as well.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks with 1/4 cup of sugar until light and creamy – about 3 minutes.
  • In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with 1/4 cup sugar until soft peaks form – about 3-5 minutes.
  • In three parts, gently fold the egg whites into the yolks. Add salt and vanilla and fold in gently as well.
  • Sift in 1/4 cup of flour, fold to incorporate. Repeat with remaining flour. Add 1/4 cup almond meal and fold to incorporate. Repeat with remaining almond meal.
  • Pour into prepared dish and place in middle rack of oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely.
  • Invert cake onto a cutting board. Remove parchment paper. Cut off the browned edges of the cake and then cut into 9 even squares. Place cake pieces back into pan.
  • Amaretto Milk and Toppings


  • In a medium saucepan, combine whole milk with evaporated milk and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
  • Whisk in condensed milk and simmer for an additional minute. Remove from heat. Whisk in almond extract and amaretto liqueur.
  • Remove one piece of cake. Pour milk mixture into pan in open spot, being mindful not to pour over the tops of the cake pieces.

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  • Replace piece of cake. Let soak for 10 minutes.
  • Serve pieces of cake with extra amaretto milk spooned around, topped with crumbled cookies, raspberries, and powdered sugar.

Honey Lemon Lamb En Brochette

5 Jun

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Here it is folks! This is the dish I prepared for the the lamb challenge on Episode 3 of MasterChef Season 4 on FOX. When we were waiting to go in to meet with the judges and found out our challenge, the smells that come with fresh livestock came wafting in to my nose. I looked around to see if any of the other contestants noticed and it seemed many did not. We were all anxious and excited to find out what our challenge would be and for a moment I had a flash of panic, thinking “what if we have to slaughter something?!” After a few minutes, which felt like hours, we were brought in to the judges to find out what we would be doing. When I first saw the sweet little lamb that Gordon Ramsay held in his arms, my heart dropped.

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Then, the rest of the herd was let in and our challenge was announced. We could create any dish with lamb as the star ingredient and we had our pick of any and all parts of the animal. In addition, we had the privilege of using the fully-stocked MasterChef pantry. I had to shake the feeling of being sad for the little lamb and keep my head in the game!

I got the inspiration for this dish from a recipe in Matthew Kenney’s “Big City Cooking”. One of my dearest friends, Katie, gave the book to me as a gift years ago – before I discovered my passion for cooking. It’s a lovely book and back then I found it quite intimidating as many of the ingredients were unfamiliar to me at the time and the preparations are so elegant. I used to flip through it and think, “one day…” Now I can really dig into it. Thanks, Katie!

Time: 15 minutes + marinating                  Serves: 4

Ingredients


  • 2 cups 0% plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 boneless lamb loins – about 10 oz each – cut crosswise into pieces 1-inch thick
  • mint leaves, for garnish

How to make it


  • In a large non-reactive bowl, combine yogurt, oil, honey, lemon juice, tahini, cumin, cayenne, and salt. Whisk together to incorporate.
  • Add lamb loin to marinade and cover. Refrigerate for 3-6 hours or let set on the counter for about 40 minutes before grilling.
  • Preheat grill or grill pan over medium-high heat.
  • Thread lamb onto metal or wooden skewers (if using wood, be sure to soak in water for 10 minutes so they don’t burn). Reserve marinade.
  • Place skewers on hot grill/grill pan and cook, turning occasionally, until desired doneness – I go 5-6 minutes for medium-rare.
  • Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with mint leaves.

As we were cooking, the judges came around to talk to us, see what we were up to, and in some cases take a taste. Gordon Ramsay came to my station and asked me what I was preparing. After I described it to him, he stuck his index finger in the bowl of marinade, lamb and all, stuck it in his mouth and proclaimed, “It’s fucking delicious!” I may have been sent home on this challenge but this was a great affirmation! I know I think it’s delicious, but to know Gordon Ramsay does too… That’s saying something! Check me out doing my thing in the second row from the bottom on the left.

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The marinade may not look like much, but it does great things! The yogurt tenderizes the meat, while the lemon tames the lamb’s robust flavor.

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The lamb is served over a Moroccan Cucumber Mint Salad which provides a wonderful textural contrast and freshness. Recipe coming soon.

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The dish is also served with Harissa

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…and Honey Cumin Yogurt.

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It also pairs perfectly with Moroccan Carrots.

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Jeweled Kale and Cabbage Salad with Maple Mustard Dressing

4 Jun

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We all know how good leafy greens are for us, but did you know how downright tasty they can be to boot? I learned the technique of cooking off the rawness of the kale and cabbage from Chef Lulu Powers who I worked for when I was out in LA a few months back. These simple ingredients come together for a wonderful balance of flavors and textures. Enjoy! 

Time: 15 minutes                         Serves: 6

Ingredients


  • Salad


  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries (or cherries)
  • orange juice or lemonade – enough to cover dried fruit
  • 3 cups shredded kale
  • 3 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup shaved Parmesan Reggiano Asiago cheeses
  • Dressing


  • 1 tbsp Creole or other grainy mustard
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt and black pepper, freshly grated – to taste

How to make it


  • Salad


  • The day before you plan to make this salad, combine dried cranberries and juice in a small container. Seal and let sit overnight to reconstitute the fruit.
  • Preheat oven to 425F. Spread shredded kale and cabbage out on lined baking sheets giving room so as not to crowd.
  • Bake kale and cabbage for 6 minutes. Transfer from baking sheets to a large mixing bowl.
  • Add reconstituted cranberries, pine nuts, and cheese. Toss with dressing and serve.
  • Dressing


  • Combine mustard, lemon juice, maple syrup in a small non-reactive bowl. Whisk to incorporate. Add olive oil and whisk to emulsify. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Lamb Meatballs and Napoli Sauce

30 May

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I acquired these traditional Italian recipes, passed down through generations, from a chef in LA. As per usual, I added my own touches to make this dish sing. The simplicity of the sauce highlights the succulent, herbaceous lamb and everything is in harmony – the pleasant tune of spring.

Time: 30 minutes + simmer Serves: 5

Ingredients


  • Meatballs


  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup cubed bread (I used Udi’s Gluten Free White)
  • milk, enough to cover bread cubes
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tbsp thyme leaves
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • sea salt and black pepper – to taste (about 1/4 tsp each)
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large leek, white and light green part only – carefully cleaned and cut into thin half moons
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Sauce


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion (about 1/2 a medium-large onion)
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • pinch of sugar
  • 2 tbsp oregano
  • sea salt and black pepper – to taste
  • 8 basil leaves, roughly chopped or chiffonade

How to make it


  • Meatballs


  • Combine bread cubes and milk in a small bowl to soak.
  • Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add oil. Once hot, add leeks and cook for about 5-7 minutes until soft and translucent. Add garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Transfer soaked bread to a large mixing bowl. Discard excess milk any remains. Add lamb, parsley, rosemary, thyme, beaten egg, salt, pepper, and cooled leeks & garlic. Mix just to incorporate.
  • Form mixture into 2-inch balls and set on a lined baking sheet.
  • At this point you can bake them in a preheated oven at 400F for 20 minutes. Or you can braise them in the sauce by allowing them to cook for 25 minutes. Finally, you can pan fry them in batches with a bit of olive oil over medium-high until browned on all sides and cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.
  • I always cook my meatballs, let them cool, then put them on a baking sheet and into the freeze. Once frozen, pop them into a freezer bag or container and you’ll have homemade meatballs waiting for you anytime.
  • Sauce


  • In a medium stock pot, heat olive oil over medium-high. Add onions and cook for 5-7 minutes until softened and translucent. Add garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes.
  • Add crushed tomatoes, oregano, some salt & pepper and stir. Bring to a boil. Then reduce to simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 hours. Add basil during last 30 minutes of simmer.
  • Serve meatballs tossed in sauce and spaghetti. Top with shaved Parmesan Reggiano Asiago blend and garnish with small basil leaves.

Lavender Lemonade

27 May

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Summer in a glass. Refreshing and delicious, the light floral notes compliment the sweet and tart so nicely.

Time: 10 minutes                Serves: 7

Ingredients


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp dried lavender buds
  • 1 3/4 cups fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp lemon pulp
  • 5 cups cold water

How to make it


  • Combine water, sugar, and lavender buds in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, whisk, then reduce and simmer for two minutes. Remove from heat.
  • Strain lavender syrup into a large pitcher. Add lemon juice, pulp, and cold water. Stir and serve over ice.