Back From Holiday Break..............
....if you can call it that! Once again, I apologize for the serious lack of posting. It's been pretty crazy around here but I'm back on the blog and I hope to post regularly from now on. I hope you all had a very Happy Holiday and have great plans (that involve good food!) for New Year's Eve or Day. J and I are going to try a new wine bar in Pasadena on New Year's Eve, then go over to my parents on the 1st for the traditional Japanese osechi ryori. We can hardly wait!
Although I know we will be consuming lots of Japanese food that day, I couldn't help but make a big 'ol Japanese meal for dinner last night. After all of the heavy holiday eating, we wanted something on the lighter side. You know how it goes- we all say we won't overeat for the holidays but it's nearly impossible. J and I had loads of juicy prime rib, cheesy scalloped potatoes, broccoli, green beans, chocolate chip cookies and champagne at his family's house on Christmas Eve. Then we went to my parents for roast pork sandwiches, lobster bisque, corned beef, rabbit terrine and big hunks of the best cheddar on rye toasts washed down with lots of wine (I may have had a bit too much, actually!) the next day. Add in all of the cookies, candy and caramel popcorn that has been appearing in the kitchen at work and you know what I mean about needing a lighter meal.
Since I haven't been cooking as much lately, I went into chef mode and probably made too many things, although it was so nice to be back in the kitchen again. I made these lovely chicken rolls that I snagged off of one of my favorite food blogs, Blue Lotus. They are so easy to prepare but look so pretty and taste even better. Add in the fact that they're healthy and it's pretty much a perfect dish. Luckily I have lots left over so I can bring them for lunch this week.
Braising the chicken rolls....
Clams awaiting their miso soup fate!
I also took another tip from Amy and tried sautéing the onions in a bit butter (hey, a bit never hurt anyone, right?) before adding my stock, miso paste and clams to the pot. The mellowness of the butter added a nice richness to the soup.
Miso soup with tamanegi and clams.
The hamachi and salmon sashimi I purchased at Mitsuwa in downtown were so fresh and delicious!!! What's better than salmon sashimi? Salmon AND hamachi sashimi! It was fun to watch the Mitsuwa staff unload all of the special New Year's food onto the shelves in preparation for the large crowds this weekend.
Yummy, blurry sashimi
J looooves shishito- a small, green Japanese pepper. When I say pepper, I mean more like a mini bell pepper. Once in a blue moon, you may get a really spicy one but usually, they are mild. I remember asking someone the produce guy at Mitsuwa awhile back, "How do you know which ones are spicy?" to which he replied, "Only the gods know." Well, the gods must be hatin' on me or something because every other one I ate was smokin' hot. I mean reach-for-my-water-please-now hot. J, on the other hand, happily popped one after another into his mouth and didn't get a single spicy shishito. Hm. I think it will be a few months before I buy those again.
The offending shishito pepper.....can you tell which ones are spicy???
I rounded the meal off with a daikon salad, cold tofu topped with ginger, green onions, bonito flakes and soy sauce and a nice, hot steamy bowl of white rice, of course!!! I suppose leaving the rice out would have made for a healthier meal, but c'mon..who can eat this stuff without rice?!?! I guess the question is, who WANTS to eat it without rice? Certainly not me. I need my rice.
It was so nice to just sit in front of the TV, nosh on all the Japanese food and watch Anthony Bourdain travel through the Mexico/US border towns on No Reservations. The Travel Channel is replaying all of Bourdain's favorite episodes before premiering the new season next Monday. I've always loved this show, but next season's adventures look like the best yet. Can't wait!!!
And to anyone who is still here reading, I just want to say thanks for all of your support. Happy eating!