Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Fresh Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

My friends and neighbors Jim and Karen (yes, the same Jim and Karen who gave me a duck some posts ago) have a garden with a variety of tomato plants, basil, lettuce, acorn squash and other vegetables. Recently I was over at their house and marveled at their productive garden. They made me coffee and this delicious salad with toasted bagels for a light brunch. Jim agreed to write some posts for me and this is his first one. We are going to call it "From Farmer Jim's Corner". Thank you Jim and Karen!

Jim and his garden (2016)
Jim and Olive (2016)
From Farmer Jim's Corner



Fresh Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
Fresh Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

This can be a great appetizer or a side salad. Using fresh garden tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella are the key ingredients. Start out with a base layer of arugula salad greens. Then layer on tomato slices, mozzarella cheese slices, fresh basil leaves, and tomato slices in that order. Sprinkle dried oregano and if interested spread a little thinly sliced red onion over the top. Drizzle the balsamic vinaigrette over the top layer. Chill or serve at room temperature with a glass of red wine.

balsamic vinaigrette dressing
Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

Use Signature Italian Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix (see photo above) and add balsamic vinegar, olive oil and water to make a dressing. Follow instructions on the package insert for the exact measurements. Karen uses a bottle with a lid to shake all the ingredients to blend. Any leftovers can be refrigerated.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Sauteed Bottle Gourd and Tomato (serves 2)

Sauteed Bottle Gourd and Tomato
The bottle gourd came from my parents' garden in Maine and the tomatoes came from the garden of my friends Karen and Jim. I did not remove the seeds from the bottle gourd since they are still immature.

Sauteed Bottle Gourd and Tomato (serves 2)

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp canola oil (may use another type of oil that you have or prefer)
1 Tbsp grated ginger
1 large garlic clove, smashed, chopped
1 bottle gourd (about 3 1/2 lbs), peeled sliced into bite size
2 vine ripe tomatoes, cut each tomato into 6 slices
About 2 Tbsp soy sauce
About 2 tsp Broth Base & Seasoning (chicken flavored)
1/2 tsp sugar
2 small bunch scallion, cut into 1 inch lengths

Method:

Heat a large pan over high heat. Pour in oil once the pan is hot. Add ginger and garlic and saute about 30-45 seconds. Avoid burning the garlic. Add gourd and saute about 5 minutes or until the gourd slices are a little translucent. Add tomatoes and season with soy sauce, broth seasoning and sugar. Cook about a minute, add scallion and turn off heat.

How to Prepare Fresh Asparagus for Eating

peeling asparagus stalks
peeled and cut asparagus
How to Prepare Fresh Asparagus for Eating

I was not sure if this post "How to Prepare Fresh Asparagus Stalks for Eating" was even necessary. However, I have seen too many people just trim off as much as 2 inches off the base of the asparagus stalks. They clump the stalks together and slice several inches off no matter how tender or tough the bases are. I think this is a huge waste. I also have seen the other extreme where people just don't trim off anything. If the asparagus stalks are young and tender that would not be an issue. However, this is not always the case.

If you want to maximize your asparagus stalks for eating then here is a simple solution. Peel about 1 1/2 to 2 inches at the base and trim off the woody end. You will know if the base is too woody because you will have a hard time cutting into it. This process will yield more tender and tasty asparagus and will help it cook faster.

Steamed Manila Clams (serves 2)

steamed Manila clams
This is a simple and quick soup using live Manila clams. I harvested the Irish moss (seaweed) in New Hampshire, kept them frozen and flew them to Seattle, Washington with me. Despite having been previously frozen and thawed, this seaweed tastes the same as freshly harvested. You may use a little of the store bought dried seaweed if you do not have access to fresh ones. By a little I mean even just half a tablespoon will be sufficient since they will expand when hydrated. Rinse the dried seaweed a few times before adding to the pot. Cooking the clams whole will release their salty juices. Omit chicken stock if you find the dish has enough salt for your taste.

Check out Maine Seaweed Festival 2015 for a picture of Irish moss. 

If you are in Seattle and would like to listen to some great blues check out Highway 99 Blues Club for events. It's located between the ferris wheel (waterfront) and Pikes Place (see photo below).

live Manila clams
Steamed Manila Clams (serves 2)

Ingredients:

About 1 cup coconut water (or water)
40 live Manila clams (about 1.3 lbs)
3 thin slices of ginger
1/4 tsp grated ginger
1/2 baby lemon, cut into 3 wedges
1/3 cup fresh or frozen Irish moss (seaweed), washed well, hand torn into pieces
1 bunch of scallion, green parts only, cut into 1-inch lengths (about 1/3 cup)
1/2 tsp Broth Base and Seasoning (chicken broth powder)
A squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Method:

Heat coconut water in a medium sized pot. Once the liquid starts to boil add clams, ginger, lemon wedges, and Irish moss. Turn heat down a little if the liquid is boiling too hard. Cook for about 4-5 minutes or until the clams open up. Stir occasionally or take the pot and shuffle a few times to ensure the clams will cook evenly. As soon as the clams open up add scallion. Give the broth a taste. Mix chicken broth powder with some clam juice to dissolve the powder and add to the pot if you prefer more salt. Stir or shuffle the pot to mix everything and remove from heat. Serve with a little squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Space Needle and EMP museum (2016)
inside EMP museum (2016)
Daniel Castro Band (Highway 99 Blues Club, Seattle 2016)

Sauteed Savory Clams in Shiso and Chives (serves 2)

sauteed savory clams in shiso and chives
I have never eaten savory clams in the past but on my recent trip to Seattle, Washington I purchased some to try. These clams are tasty and are almost sand-free. They taste similar to Manila clams but are much more economical.
The interior of the clam shells is a pretty lavender hue. Cooking the clams whole will release their salty juices. Omit the chicken powder if you find the dish has enough salt for your taste. Enjoy this as is, with toasted baguette, rice, noodles or whatever you prefer.

fresh savory clams
Sauteed Savory Clams in Shiso and Chives (serves 2)

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp canola oil
About 1 tsp grated ginger
2 large garlic cloves, grated (about 1 Tbsp grated)
75 live savory clams (about 2.5 lbs)
1 Tbsp mirin
1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp Broth Base & Seasoning (chicken broth powder)
1/2 tsp chili powder
About 1 tsp turbinado sugar                                                                          
About 1 cup sliced shiso leaves (both green and purple if available)
1/3 cup chopped Chinese chives
2 small bunch scallions, green part only, cut into 1-inch lengths

Method:

In a large pan heat oil over medium-high heat. Add ginger and garlic, saute for about 30-45 seconds. Avoid burning the garlic. Add clams, mirin, sesame oil, chicken powder, chili powder and sugar. Turn the heat up if needed. Saute about 7-8 minutes or until the clams open up. Once the clams open up add shiso, chives and scallions, saute about another minute and remove from heat.

clownfish (Seattle Aquarium, 2016)

Inamona (makes a little over 1 tablespoon)

inamona
Inamona is a Hawaiian seasoning typically made from kukui nuts (or candlenuts) and salt. If you do not have access to candlenuts you may substitute with 4 salt-free macadamia nuts or cashew nuts.

Inamona (makes a little over 1 tablespoon)

Ingredients:

2 whole roasted candlenuts (kukui nuts), roughly chopped (about 1 Tbsp chopped)
1/2 tsp Hawaiian pink sea salt
1/4 tsp chili powder or cayenne powder
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper 
 
Method:

Heat a small pan over medium-high heat. Add candlenuts, salt, chili powder, and black pepper. Roast by moving the contents around on a pan for about a minute. Avoid burning the nuts. Remove the contents and let everything cool completely before using.

roasted ccandlenuts (kukui nuts)
stages of candlenuts (kukui nuts)
Addendum:
My parents came for a visit and brought some home-made stuffed squid and sauteed shrimp. The squid were caught in Rhode Island by their friends. We dipped the squid and shrimp in the inamona. YUM!
 
my mother home-made stuffed squid and sauteed shrimp

Salted Geoduck and Inamona (appetizer for 1-2)

salted geoduck and inamona

This salted geoduck and inamona dish is inspired by the many poke dishes that I have made, ate at restaurants and purchased pre-made on some (Hawaiian island) markets. For this appetizer, I used 1/2 a teaspoon of sea salt in the inamona. If you prefer less salt then decrease the amount. I think this appetizer goes well with extra cold beer!

Salted Geoduck and Inamona (appetizer for 1-2)

Ingredients:

About 1 cup thinly sliced geoduck (How to Clean and Prepare a Geoduck)
About 1/2 cup chopped Chinese chives and flower buds
1 recipe of inamona (see recipe below)
Juice from 1/2 baby lemon

Method:

Mix the geoduck, chives, inamona, and lemon juice well and serve.

inamona
Inamona is a Hawaiian seasoning typically made from kukui nuts or candlenuts and salt. If you do not have candlenuts you may substitute with 4 salt free macadamia nuts or cashew nuts. Here is my version.

Inamona (makes a little over 1 tablespoon)

Ingredients:

2 whole roasted candlenuts, roughly chopped (about 1 Tbsp chopped)
1/2 tsp Hawaiian pink sea salt (or another sea salt)
1/4 tsp chili powder (or cayenne powder for more heat)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper 
 
Method:

Heat a small pan over medium-high heat. Add all ingredients. Roast by moving the contents around on a pan for about a 45 seconds to a minute. Avoid burning the nuts. Remove the contents and let everything cool completely before using.

roasted kukui nuts

Spicy Geoduck and Radish Sprout Salad (appetizer for 1-2)

We rented a studio in Seattle, Washington and it has a small but fully equipped kitchen. It is small by American standards but it is still larger than most kitchens I have cooked in. I learned quickly at a young age to adapt and improvise as needed--a few of the important life lessons. Here is a dish that requires only a good sharp knife (even a small one will do), clean water, a few minor ingredients...and best of all no cooking! Before slicing the geoduck's siphon you may want to give it a thorough cleaning by scrubbing it with salt and vinegar. Rinse it well and pat it dry with a clean towel. You will know the geoduck is fresh and live when the slices curl up after cutting! Check out my previous post on How to Clean and Prepare a Geoduck.

The Irish moss (seaweed) came from New Hampshire coast and the Chinese chives came from my parents' garden. The Sashimi Soy Sauce and Momoya Kimchee Base (Spicy Chili Sauce) came from a store in the International District (Seattle).

sliced geoduck (the slices curled up = freshness)
Geoduck and Radish Sprout Salad
Spicy Geoduck and Radish Sprout Salad (appetizer for 1-2)

Ingredients:

1/4 cup fresh Irish moss (seaweed), washed well and drained, hand-torn or roughly chopped
2.5 oz radish sprouts, trimmed the ends, washed well and drained
Juice from 1/2 a lime
2 tsp Sashimi Soy Sauce
2 tsp Momoya Kimchee Base (Spicy Chili Sauce)
1 tsp sesame oil
A few sprigs of Chinese chives, cut into 1-inch lengths
About 3/4 cup thinly sliced geoduck (How to Clean and Prepare a Geoduck)
Chili powder or cayenne pepper (garnish)
Chinese chive flower buds (garnish)

Method:

Mix Irish moss, sprouts, lime juice, soy sauce, kimchee sauce, oil and chives in a bowl. Place the seasoned vegetables on a plate. Add the geoduck into the sauce remaining and mix this well. Add the seasoned geoduck over the vegetables and pour the sauce over. May sprinkle chili powder or cayenne pepper over the salad and garnish with a few Chinese chive flower buds.

*A salad spinner is a great kitchen tool to spin your vegetables and herbs dry without bruising them.

view into a Chihuly glass ball (Seattle, 2016)

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Geoduck and Shiso (appetizer for 1-2)

geoduck and shiso
A year ago my husband and I visited Seattle, Washington. We saw quite a bit but felt we needed a little more time to enjoy what this beautiful city has to offer. After I worked a stretch of 7 days we flew to Seattle for 6 days. On this trip, we left work behind and focused on fun activities and food. We had a full schedule and mostly walked all over the city. We took Uber and the bus when we were short on time for our next attraction. The day before we were due to return home, on the spur of the moment we purchased the City Pass and packed in a morning cruise of the harbor, the Aquarium, Chihuly Glass and Garden, EMP Museum and sunset city view from the Space Needle. I was surprised that we managed to cover all of the 5 events in one day without feeling rushed. I must admit I was a bit exhausted by the end of the day. I tried to watch the end of the Olympics on TV but just could not keep my eyes open. The next morning after breakfast we returned for a second visit to the Space Needle. It was part of the pass as long as we re-visit within 24 hours. Seattle is hilly and by the end of my trip, I may have lost some weight since my pants were quite loose!

Last year we explored the International District (also known as Chinatown) and I enjoyed shopping for fresh seafood and other cooking items. On this trip we re-visited ID and this time shopped at Uwajimaya, a huge grocery store with a food court. I purchased a 3-pound live geoduck, live manila clams, live savory clams and a few other essential groceries. This geoduck's shells were thicker probably yield less meat than the one I bought a year ago. Lucky for me the prices for the seafood have not changed much. 

I harvested the Irish moss in New Hampshire. The shiso leaves and Chinese chives came from my parents' garden in Maine. I did not want to waste the leftover herbs so I carried them to Seattle. They were still quite fresh despite travelling nearly 2500 miles! 

geoduck and shiso
Geoduck and Shiso (appetizer for 1-2)

Ingredients:

About 1 cup thinly sliced geoduck (How to Clean and Prepare a Geoduck)
2 large green shiso leaves, thinly sliced
About 5 purple shiso leaves, thinly sliced
2-3 Chinese chives, chopped
About 1 Tbsp fresh Irish moss (seaweed), roughly chopped
About 1/2 tsp grated ginger
Zest from 1/4 lime
Juice from half a lime
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp mirin
A few large pinches of chili powder or cayenne pepper

Method:

Mix all ingredients together. Serve on a plate, sprinkle more chili powder and garnish with Chinese chives flower buds if interested.

harbor view of Seattle (2016)
Seattle Aquarium (2016)
Chihuly Glass and Garden (Seattle 2016)
EMP Museum (2016)
view of Mt. Rainier and Seattle from Space Needle (2016)

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Sauteed Snails in Coconut Milk (serves 1-2)


sauteed snails in coconut milk
My parents came for a visit and I took them out on a drive along the coast of New Hampshire. It was a beautiful day with a warm sea breeze and we stopped at various places to enjoy the view. At one spot we climbed down some huge rocks and were lucky to harvest some snails attached on the rocks as the tide was coming in. My father and I quickly collected about 3 pounds of these snails known as periwinkles or winkles and dog whelks. I normally take only the periwinkles (the darker ones) but my father was picking everything including the dog whelks (lighter color ones)! I prefer to eat the periwinkles as the meat is tender and tasty. The dog whelks are a bit slimy even for me. Once home I took about half and gave the other half to my parents to take back home. I soaked my portion for several hours, washed them in salt and rinsed multiple times before boiling for roughly 5 minutes. Since they are already cooked I quickly sauteed them with coconut milk. I don't think many people eat the dog whelks but I want to write and tell you that I survived eating them! Do check for red tide in your area if you are planning on eating the dog whelks.

Here is some information from Maine Sea Grant, Maine Seafood Guide - Periwinkles & Whelks. The Downeast whelks that are mentioned in this guide are not the same as these dog whelks. The Downeast whelks are larger and found deeper in the ocean. The dog whelks are found along the shores. Check out my Escargot in a Garlicky-Butter-Wine Sauce for photos of the Downeast whelks. Here is a link on What is a red tide?

Sauteed Snails in Coconut Milk (serves 1-2)

Ingredients:

2 tsp corn or vegetable oil (may use another oil that you prefer)
1 large garlic cloves, smashed, chopped
About 1.5 lbs of periwinkles and dog whelks (snails), boiled for about 5 minutes, drained
1/4 cup of coconut milk
About 1/2 tsp fish sauce
About 1/4 tsp sugar
A few sprigs of Chinese chives, chopped

Method:

In a medium sized pan heat oil. Add garlic and saute roughly a minute. Add the snails and coconut milk. Saute about a minute. Season with fish sauce and sugar. Turn off heat and add the chives.