Monday, December 10, 2007

Solar de Cahuenga

Another short post but wanted to get this out there, especially if you live/work in the Hollywood area as I do (work, not live!). I very rarely leave my building for lunch and instead enjoy my lunch straight out of a Tupperware in front of the warm glow of my computer screen. However, I know it's good for the soul to pry oneself from their office and get some sun once in awhile, so my friend B and I decided to actually eat out the other day.

Nestled in the heart of Hollywood, my eating options are either Shintaro sushi or something in the Hollywood/Highland shopping complex. Although the food at The Grill is good, I don't normally like to fork over $20+ for lunch. Shintaro is probably my first choice for a lunch out, but I drive past a really cute crepe place every morning that has piqued my interest for awhile now. It's called Solar de Cahuenga and it's just one of those places that you think "I HAVE to try it sometime!" but haven't gotten around to. Well, I'm happy to say that I finally did, and I'll be back again soon.

The coffeehouse vibe is a great way to escape the workday, and their system makes it easy to have a fast lunch. Walk up to counter, place order, get your number and find a table. I ordered the Sunny Path - grilled chicken breast, sautéed onions & button mushrooms in a rich Dijon sauce crepe- which was filled to the brim with the creamy mixture. It was delicious and I was pretty surprised at the large portion. My friend B got Susie's Own - lean ground beef sautéed with sweet onions, red bell peppers, spinach, nutmeg & chopped hard boiled eggs finished with marinara sauce- which wasn't quite as successful- it wasn't bad but it had nutmeg in it which I thought was odd with the beef. Also, I'd rename it The Kitchen Sink Crepe if I was them. Honestly- it just had too much stuff going on. He devoured the whole thing anyway.

Solar de Cahuenga offers lots of breakfast items, sandwiches, panninis, crepes, coffee drinks and lots of sweet goodies. It might not be the most authentic in crepes, it's still nice as a fresh lunch option. I'd like to go back and try some of their sandwiches which looked very good from afar.


1847 Cahuenga Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90028 (323) 467-7510

Monday, December 03, 2007

Recipes From Other Blogs....

No time to really write much today so I thought I'd post a couple of things I'd made recently. Both were from other blogs.....when you read as many food blogs as I do, who needs cookbooks?!?! These people are so talented and give us all access to such wonderful photography and commentary that it's hard not to be inspired.

Farro, Roasted Butternut Squash & Black Kale

I saw Heidi's Farro and Roasted Butternut Squash and knew I had to make something like this since she combined two of my favorite foods. I used her recipe as inspiration and cooked my farro is chicken stock, then tossed it with butternut squash I had roasted with olive oil, thyme and garlic. I also added my new favorite vegetable black kale which I had also sauteed in garlic and olive oil. Some dried porcini mushrooms had been hiding in my pantry so I reconsituted those, chopped them roughly and added them as well as a bit of their liquid to the whole thing. Tossed with some sea salt and lots of black pepper, it has quickly become one of our go-to side dishes.

Fig and Almond Tart

Although mine doesn't look nearly as gorgeous as Jules' version on her beautiful blog, stonesoup, it tasted delicious and had my husband clamoring for more. I've always loved frangipane with any fruit (especially pears) and the combination of the almonds, eggs, butter and vanilla creates one of the best sweet flavors ever.

Hopefully I'll have some time to get my holiday baking started. Speaking of which- if anyone has a foolproof, easy-to-handle sugar cookie recipe (meaning easy to roll and cut from) I'd love it if you could share. Although I really enjoy baking Christmas cookies, I'm not the biggest fan of cut-out cookies since a lot of the dough is so fussy.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Homemade Gnocchi

So the Big Eating Day is finally over and I have no turkey post for you. Not that I didn't have turkey- I had plenty of it plus oyster stuffing (my absolute favorite!), sausage stuffing, corn, watercress salad, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, uni mousse and pumpkin pie at my parents house. All of it was delicious, but I'll leave the posting of that to my sis since she took photos and all that.

This post is somewhat Thanksgiving related. You see, my parents bought a 10 pound bag of potatoes with which to make mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving, but of course 10pounds was about 8 pounds more than we needed. So, in addition to the usual turkey/stuffing packs that they send home with us, they also added a few potatoes to each parting gift. It's strange- as much as I love potatoes, I rarely buy them. Maybe it was the whole carb thing that scared me off of them for awhile.....well wait, I still eat loads of bread so that can't be it...but for some reason they don't find their way into my kitchen often. I stared at the little suckers and wondered what to do.

Milled potatoes

Then it hit me. Gnocchi! I'd been meaning to try my hand at the small dumpling-like knobs of dough for awhile, but I'd also been a bit fearful. I'd heard so many tales of how overworking the dough resulted in tough erasers or how not kneading the dough enough resulted in the gnocchi falling apart in the boiling water. I set my fears aside and opened up my trusty Mario Batali cookbook. It seemed easy enough- potatoes, check. Egg, check. Flour, check. I boiled my potatoes and got to work.

The skins came off easily from the still-hot potatoes and I ran them through my food mill which resulted in a big pile of fluffiness. After a liberal sprinkle of flour and one egg and a bit of salt, I worked the mass with a fork until it came together. I continued to knead it with my hands for only four minutes, as the recipe said, and it ended up in a nice ball- still a bit tacky but not at all sticky.

Now the time consuming part began. After dividing the dough into six sections, I realized that I needed to divide it even more in order to easily roll each into a one-inch rope that would still fit on my cutting board. For the next hour or so, I rolled, cut, rolled over tongs of a fork, placed on a cookie sheet and then boiled a batch for one minute, dumped the gnocchi into an ice bath and did it all over again about four times. It did take some patience but I got the hang of it after awhile, and I was pleased to see that the cooled gnocchi did not stick together at all. Mario's recipe calls for you to toss the finished gnocchi in 1/2 cup of oil in order to store it, but I skipped that step entirely since it was unnecessary and I didn't want my gnocchi coated with oil.

Boiled and cooled gnocchi

The recipe made a LOT of gnocchi so I bagged a couple of batches into ziploc bags and froze them. Then I took my portion, boiled it in salted water until they floated to the surface and tossed them in homemade marinara mixed with chicken sausage and eggplant. A sprinkle of parmesan later and dinner was served.

How were they? TOTALLY worth the effort!! It's true what they say- homemade gnocchi are as light as air if done right and these were fluffy and tender. Each was like a potato pillow and would be delicious tossed with just a bit of browned butter and pecorino, as well as a heartier tomato sauce or pesto. I would definitely make these again, and it's a good thing that one recipe makes so many of them. Mario himself stated that you could make any old weeknight meal special by whipping out a batch of these homemade gnocchi, and he's right. I'm looking forward to eating them again and again.

Recipe here.

Monday, November 19, 2007

What To Eat Before Thanksgiving + 2 Year Blog Anniversary!!

First of all, I completely missed my two year blog anniversary of Tuna Toast which was November 11th! I can't believe it's been that long since I posted my first attempt at French macarons in teeny tiny font (what was I thinking?). And although my photography skills still leave a lot to be desired (as you'll see in this post!!) I just want to thank all of the readers for sticking around and reading my rants on various topics. It's still something I love to do and I hope there's at least another two years left in Tuna Toast.

So one could argue that this week is the biggest eating week of the year. Thanksgiving is a time for turkey, mashed potatoes, squash, sweet potatoes, roasted veggies, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie..........yikes, yeah, that's a lot of grub. Since J and I know we're going to get our eats on this Thursday (and probably Friday, Saturday and Sunday cos nothin' is better than turkey leftovers!) we want to prep for the feast by keeping things light until then.

My friend N is currently a bachelor since his fiancee is in Japan taking care of her parents. He'll join her next week, but in the meantime I thought he was probably living on Cup Ramen so we invited him over for some Japanese food last night. I love making Japanese meals with small amounts of many different things- it's a great way to eat since it keeps your mouth busy with different flavors. It's also quite healthy since everything is light but you never miss anything since there's such a variety of items. It's also nice to share a Japanese meal with a Japanese friend since maybe it reminds them of their "ofukuro no aji" or "the flavor of my mother." Or maybe it's flava, ha!

We had:

- Hamachi (yellow tail) and kohada (gizzard shad) sashimi

-Beef rolled with carrots, green beans and gobo (burdock root) in a sweet soy sauce

-Miso soup with asari (clams) and tamanegi (onions)

-Hiyayakko (cold silken tofu) with a sesame/soy sauce/green onion mixture

-Mizuna and daikon (white radish) salad with bonito flakes, nori (dried seaweed) and Japanese dressing

-White rice with multigrain mix

-Mushrooms steamed in a foil pack with sake, lemon, butter and soy sauce

Cooking like this also gives me a chance to use the many Japanese plates and bowls we got for our wedding almost six years ago, which is fun.

Tonight we'll be eating Japanese food too, and then it's two more days til the feast! Can't wait!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Restaurant Review: Katsuya Hollywood

My best friend M and I decided to hit the new Katsuya Hollywood this past Saturday for a little girls' night sushi. Wait, not little girls night but a little night of sushi for us girls. Ok, glad I cleared that up. Although I'm usually wary of flashy, over-hyped restaurants, I know that Katsuya has grown into an empire based on the popularity of his Studio City restaurant which J and I used to frequent years ago. We'd live for the famous baked crab roll wrapped on soy paper and would save up just to go. Of course, it's been a long time since those days and a visit to that original location a year ago should have given me a hint that things were on the decline: the waitress kept practically barking at us about what we wanted to order, people waiting for a seat were hovering so closely I could feel their body heat and the "crispy" rice cakes were hot and soggy. But hey- that is the Studio City location, not the big, huge, multimillion dollar Hollywood one! Despite that last awful visit to the other location, I decided to try the new one anyway.

Well, big mistake. I know, I know- it isn't right to write too many negative comments after only one visit to a restaurant and I'm sure I'll get reamed by some readers, but here goes. The place has been so hyped and the Katsuya name is so well known that I expected more than what I got for my money.

The restaurant is absolutely gorgeous- all shiny glass, muted candlelight, a gigantic centerpiece of sake tubs in the middle of the sushi bar- it's breathtaking. We were led past the bar which, at 7:00 PM, was already buzzing and into the main room where we were seated at the sushi bar, like we requested. There is about one sushi chef for every four sushi bar customers, we were pleased to see, so we checked out the menu as my tummy grumbled. Katusya offers a nice selection of sushi, sashimi, hot and cold appetizers and a several different set menus. M and I knew we wanted sushi to be the focus and would maybe order a couple of appetizers from the kitchen. Our waiter was nice and a bit overzealous in his effort to try and make recommendations, but when we asked him which of the seven or so sake options were the driest, he seemed puzzled and avoided the question with a nervous giggle. There aren't many lower priced sake options- with the house sake coming in at $24 for a 300ml bottle. I ordered one, M got her Asahi Super Dry and we hunkered down for what we hoped was some great sushi.

Our sushi chef, L, stood about 3 feet in front of us on the other side of the counter, but due to the music and overall noise in the place, we had to wave at him to get his attention. When we did, he seemed awfully nervous. When I said "Blue crab roll please" he turned for a minute and said "Oh sorry, we're out of that." Um, I'm sorry- at 7:00 PM on a Saturday night? So I ordered the aji (Spanish mackerel) and M started with the kanpachi (amberjack). When L opened his giant rice maker to scoop out some rice, I knew we had a problem. Big, billowing wafts of steam rose up beyond the stacked sake tubs, and the resulting sushi was warm and mushy. M looked at me and said "ok, we're not ordering any more of this" but we were freakin' starving and had already valet'd the car so we were determined to eat something else. I saw that the obviously-on-a-first-date-annoying-guy-and-ambivalent-girl next to us had a plate of rock shrimp tempura in a creamy sauce, so we ordered that from the kitchen. We had also ordered the spicy tuna on crispy rice which had just arrived- and same thing- the rice was bordering on hot and was definitely mushy.

Cold fish + hot rice = unhappy tastebuds

I decided to at least get my beloved baked crab roll- after all, I have such great memories of it. Same problem- that damned hot and sticky rice reared it's ugly head yet again, and a side of "spicy" mayo had barely enough heat to register on a baby's tongue. Yeah I know, I know- I'm getting too sarcastic but I feel myself getting annoyed just writing this. Luckily the rock shrimp tempura in creamy sauce was good- but not any better than my neighborhood sushi joint, Z Sushi, makes it. We slurped down our drinks and sat there, hungry.

M wanted dessert so we opted to share the vanilla tempura ice cream. Hey- who can screw up ICE CREAM, right? Well, the limp, soggy tempura "crust" that encapsulated the ball of ice cream was clearly made ahead of time and put back into the freezer. Isn't the entire point of tempura ice cream the contrast of hot and crunchy with cool and creamy? It's like that El Torito dessert where they deep fry ice cream in a tortilla shell and douse it with cinnamon sugar. But it wasn't. So we called over a manager and he just stared at me, took the dish in hand and said curtly, "Would you like something else?" I said no and asked for the check as M stared at me in disbelief. It isn't like I asked for his first born to sacrifice, but his icy cool demeanor was enough to keep that ice cream rock solid. He must have realized his error, however, because 5 minutes (and no check) later, he scampered back to us and said, "I guess our version of tempura ice cream is a bit, er, spongier than other restaurants" and smiled. Oh yeah- when one thinks of tempura, they think "spongy." "Just get me the check you clown," I said. Ok, well I didn't say that but lemme tell ya- I was THIS close.

Soggy, solid mass of icy cold tempura

As I waited for the check, I glanced around and realized that it was me who was at fault. I should have never gone to a restaurant whose demographic I just do not fit into. Sure, I'm in my early 30's, work in the entertainment business and like to get my drink on (which I'm guessing hits the Katsuya demo right on the head). The problem is, I actually LIKE TO EAT GOOD FOOD. Especially Japanese food, and even more so, SUSHI. I mean, I was literally surrounded by aging entertainment execs who were trying desperately to appear cool to their jailbait dates and young, spiky-haired dudes reeking of Axe body spray sporting awful dress shirts etched with dragon designs yapping on their Blackberry Pearls. To translate- I was in HELL. My hell, to be exact. At the end of the day, I would actually put up with some of this BS if it meant I'd get a chance to consume a fabulous meal, but I'm guessing one won't be found at Katsuya Hollywood.

Sorry for the lack of photos, but I was just too irked to snap any more!

Katsuya, 6300 Hollywood Blvd (at Vine), Hollywood, 323-871-8777

Friday, November 09, 2007

Braised Oxtail Ravioli w/ Gremolata

Things have been absolutely bonkers at work so I'm afraid I'll have to keep this very short before I keel over into a state of a coma!

Last weekend I asked my very handy dad to come over and replace a broken faucet in the kitchen since J and I are so very unhandy. Don't get me wrong- I'm not helpless with tools but after one look at the 14 step installation drawings (what's with manufacturers not providing written instructions these days???) I figured I'd better call Papa since I didn't want to flood my kitchen.

Braised oxtail....doesn't look like much but it's delicious!

As a big THANK YOU I invited him and my mom over for dinner that night. It's always a challenge to figure out what I'll make for guests since I literally have a thousand recipes calling out to me "Please try me! You said you'd make me one day!" As much as I love a dish, I always seem to pluck a new recipe from the pile when it comes to cooking for more than just J and me. Of course the many food blogs that I peruse are a constant distraction from the recipes in my cookbooks and magazines, and of course that is where I found my latest project: braised oxtail ravioli. It's a dish that, if I ever spy on a menu at a restaurant, I must order, but I'd never attempted to make it myself. Actually, although I've made handmade pasta several times, I'd never attempted any ravioli.

The oxtail "filling" was a breeze to make, and the smell of beef, wine and veggies stewing in the oven filled the house on that cool Friday evening. After it all had cooled, I picked out the meat "cylinders" from between the layers of gelatinous tissue which makes up most of an oxtail. That part was a bit time consuming but nibbling on some of the meaty bits made the time go by faster. The meat was then combined with the veggies they were braised with to make the filling, and the cooking liquid was reserved to sauce the ravioli.

I decided to use Mario Batali's recipe for fresh egg pasta since I'd always used Thomas Keller's but wanted to try something new. Mario's is similar except that it calls for no oil or water- just eggs and flour. It came together quickly and took a bit of muscle to knead for ten minutes. After a nap in the fridge overnight, I started the process of rolling it out and making the ravioli. The dough was as smooth as silk and very easy to work with. I had originally wanted to use my small, round ravioli cutter that I'd just bought but found that it made for tiny ravioli containing little filling. So, I went ahead and cut them by hand.

About ten minutes before we sat down for dinner, I just dropped the ravioli in boiling water and heated up the braising liquid which had already reduced nicely. I tossed those together, then added the gremolata that the recipe called for- initially I wasn't sure how the lemon and garlic would play against the oxtail, but it was fantastic. Absolutely gorgeous! The grated parmesan I finished the dish with was just the icing on the cake.

I would absolutely make this dish again, next time being a bit more careful to push out all of the air pockets in each ravioli. It seems quite labor-intensive, but if you make the oxtail a day or two beforehand, it isn't that difficult and the flavors will probably improve.

Thanks to stonesoup for the inspiration!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Restaurant Review: Bashan, Montrose

It's been awhile since J and I made our way into Montrose, a charming little community about 10 minutes north of us. Every time we go, we wonder why we don't visit it more often since it really is a cute place....but then we remember that there just doesn't seem to be many good restaurants there. We'd been to Bistro Verdu a couple of times, but one successful outing was followed by a couple of disappointing dinners so we stopped going. Then, a couple of months ago I'd read about Bashan, a new place opened up by a chef who spent some time at Providence in the space that was formerly, well, Bistro Verdu. So we decided to give it a go.

After tasting some wine next door for about 10 minutes, we were called to our table in the nicely decorated space. The menu is still quite small, but we were both in the mood for fish so it wasn't difficult to find something that we wanted. I decided to start with the Burrata and Bresaola Salad with Parsnips, Dates, Endive & Pistachios since it just sounded like such an original combination. J went with the Kaboach Squash Soup with Onion Compote & Squash Tortellini. For mains, I ordered the Seared Barramundi with Jerusalem Artichoke, Cipollni, Chorizo & Shrimp while J opted for the Columbia River Steelhead Trout with Braised Daikon, Garlic Ginger Puree, Bacon & Buna-Shimeji Mushrooms.

Our waiter gave us each a nice, warm sourdough roll which was perfectly yeasty and chewy. J is nuts about sourdough and fell in love with their version. There's something about warm sourdough and cool, sweet butter, isn't there?! An amuse of olive tapenade and smoked trout arrived, but to be honest I could only taste the olive since the nugget of trout was so miniscule.

Our appetizers arrived. J's soup was warm and rich- the sweet onion compote mixed with the smooth kabocha soup made for a great combination. My salad was decomposed into two parts- the burrata sat snuggled in a cradle made by the bresaola on one side of the plate, and the remaining components were tossed together in a salad on the other side of the plate. The burrata/bresaola combo was great- I mean, what's not to like about cured filet and creamy cheese? The salad, on the other hand, was fine but didn't necessarily gel into one great flavor. I like dates, parsnips, endives and pistachios separately but together, it wasn't anything to write home about. I also didn't understand the pairing with the cheese and bresaola.

I had better luck with my barramundi which was perfectly cooked- crispy skin and melt-in-your-mouth flesh. All of the accompaniments married well together and I especially loved the cubes of chorizo which complimented the fish well. J's steelhead was also good, but we both agreed that the rectangular cubes of daikon made for a fussy presentation.

The service was good, space was lovely and the food, overall, was also good, but I think we'll give it some time before returning. The limited menu doesn't lend itself to repeat visits within a short period of time, but the quality of the fish is much higher than anything else you'd find in the area. I'm curious to see what other dishes show up on the menu as the seasons change.

3459 N. Verdugo Road
Glendale, CA 91208
818-541-1532 phone

Monday, October 29, 2007

Cloudy Bay Release Event- Murano Restaurant and Lounge

I was delighted to receive an invitation to a recent event to celebrate the release of Cloudy Bay's most recent sauvignon blanc. J and I would probably list the crisp, green-apple-tinged Cloudy Bay sauvi as one of our favorites, so it was great to get a chance to taste several different varieties of this wine as well as a couple of other wines that the winery was offering.

We arrived at Murano Restaurant and Lounge, located just on the border of Beverly Hills and West Hollywood. The space was sleek yet warm, and I loved the red glass chandeliers in contrast to the stark, white walls. Immediately we noticed the table in the middle of the room, overflowing with cheeses, fruit and other nibbly goodies. Surrounding the table were several gorgeous photographs, taken by Cloudy Bay winemaker Mr. Kevin Judd who also happens to be an acclaimed photographer. Proceeds from the sale of those paintings would benefit the Los Angeles Heal The Bay foundation.

We had about one foot into the bar area when the restaurant owner and manager both introduced themselves to us, then proceeded to introduce us to Mr. Judd. They were warm and friendly while we spoke about how much we loved the wine, then they led us to two seats at the bar where we started our tastings. There were several vintages of their famous sauvignon blanc, as well as a chardonnay and a pinot noir which I'd never had the chance to try before. The 1997 sauvignon blanc was our favorite- it had their signature grassy fruit flavor- but I also fell in love with their pinot noir.

The stars of the show

Waiters paraded around the room carrying all sorts of hors d'oveurs, from braised lamb on filo "toasts" to salmon "spoons" and endive cups with candied walnuts and gorgonzola. Everything tasted wonderful and was well-matched to the wines. Actually, it was nice being at a wine event where there was a decent amount of food- too many times I've found myself in situations where I'd start feeling super buzzed with no food in sight. We sat at the bar for quite some time, conversing with the restaurant owner, the very knowledgeable bartender, and the wonderful publicist who had invited me to the event.

I know I sound a bit gushy, but I have to say that this event, overall, was one of the best I'd been to. It was intimate and warm, and a speech by the wine maker and interaction among the guests made it feel very personal. It was truly an event to celebrate the wonderful wines and photography of such a talented person, and I really enjoyed the celebratory nature of the evening in spite of not having known anyone there before that night. It lacked any pretention whatsoever (which, well, living in Los Angeles isn't all that common!) and focused more on the product, not who was there and what they were wearing.

The winemaker makes his speech

Cloudy Bay Wines

Murano Restaurant and Lounge 9010 Melrose Avenue / West Hollywood / CA / 90069 / 310.246.9118 /

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Japanese Cooking for Health and Fitness

One of the first cookbooks I ever received was from my mom's friend, Lei-san. It is called Japanese Cooking for Health and Fitness and, according to the note in the book, I got it on Christmas of '84........23 years ago........YOWZA. I can't believe I'm even old enough to own something that long (!) much less something that I vividly remember using on a regular basis.

Despite the title, the book isn't really a diet book at all. It's simply a well formed collection of recipes that are healthy......but most of the dishes in the book are things that the average Japanese person eats very often so it passes on the message that Japanese cuisine, in general, is healthy. The book is divided into meat, vegetable, tofu/egg and rice/noodle dishes and each recipe is very clear, concise and always successful it its subtle seasoning. I've never had a dish from the book that I didn't like.

So my sister C and I would use this book often on the once-a-week nights that we were in charge of cooking dinner. Our absolutely favorite dish to make was Vegetables Rolled in Beef. It was one of those dishes that looked very impressive but was actually easy to make, and combined with rice and a salad, would make a complete meal.

While I was flipping through the book the other day, it occurred to me that I hadn't made that dish in years.....decades, perhaps (eek). And I knew for certain that I'd never made it for my dear J, who is one of the biggest non-Japanese fans of Japanese food I know. A quick trip to Mistuwa was all I needed to get the few ingredients that I didn't already have- the thinly sliced beef sold for sukiyaki or shabu shabu, fresh gobo (burdock root) and some carrots. I was ready to revisit one of the first dishes I ever mastered!

First you clean the gobo- the skin is easy to remove by scraping if off gently with the back of a spoon- then slice into six inch lengths and keep them in cold water with a touch of vinegar so they won't turn brown. Slice the carrots in the same size, then blanch both in a mixture of water, sugar and soy sauce. Take some green beans and blanch them in hot water, then put in an ice bath to cool. Set it all aside.

After I had my vegetable mise en place, I just carefully pulled out each paper thin slice of beef, dusted it with a bit of potato starch, then rolled two each of the gobo, carrot and green beans up to form a cylinder. After securing the end with a toothpick, I repeated until all of the beef was used. I love the thinness of the beef, and even though it's nicely marbled with fat, there is so little meat that you're barely getting a quarter of a pound of beef in the ENTIRE dish. Amazing, no? Talk about cooking for health and fitness;).

The rolls get browned on each side in a pan and then doused with a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, mirin and sake and left to stew just a bit until the sauce reduces and gets slightly thickened. Cut each roll in half to reveal the pretty veggies inside, and you're done!

I had seen these enormous shimeji mushrooms at the store, so I just pulled each apart to make smaller pieces and put them in a foil packet with a bit of butter, soy sauce, sake and a couple of thin slices of lemon. After about 15 minutes in the oven, they were piping hot and ready to be cut open! Cold tofu topped with a mixture of ground sesame seeds, soy sauce, green onions and grated ginger was another addition, as well as some brown rice mixed with multigrain seeds and some spicy pickled cucumbers.

We poured ourselves some ice cold sake and enjoyed the Japanese supper. It really brought back a lot of memories for me, and J wondered why I hadn't made it for him before. We both really loved the combination of the tasty beef, slightly al dente vegetables and sweet sauce. I'll make sure to put this dish back into our dinner rotation from now on.

I was shocked to see that you can still purchase this book at Amazon, so check it out if you're interested in Japanese cooking. It's a great place to start!