Summer’s Coming – Veggie Quinoa Salad

Good stuff this – lots of protein, veggies, flavor – easy to make and easier to eat. Good to keep in the fridge for munching, a quick meal, or to a cookout or potluck. You can add nuts (cashews, almonds, macadamia), beans (kidney, white), strips of spinach or kale, chopped fresh parsley…you can grate the carrot instead of cubing it. Wonderfully adaptive salad.  There are lots of these salads around.  This has an Asian flair to it.  A friend served it last week and I stole the recipe.

Recipe
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups shelled frozen edamame
3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 yellow pepper, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/4 chopped scallion (green onion)
1 cup red cabbage, chopped
1/2 tsp. low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 teaspoons fresh ginger, finely minced
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)

Directions
Place the quinoa, water, and salt in a covered pot. Heat on high until it boils, lower the heat to low, and cook for about 15 minutes or until the quinoa is soft and the water absorbed. Pour the quinoa into a medium-sized bowl, and mix in the frozen edamame, carrots, peppers, and cabbage. In a small bowl, make the dressing by mixing the sesame oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, minced ginger, and sesame seeds. Pour the dressing over the quinoa and veggies, and mix thoroughly. Enjoy immediately, or store in a covered container for later.

public domain image

public domain image

Colcannon – Irish Yum Food

707px-Colcannon[1]

 

Colcannon is quick, cheap, and easy.  Not to mention delicious and comforting.  Good on its own as a simple supper with biscuits or as a  hearty side dish to baked chicken or pork chops.   A lot of recipes call for kale.  I was raised to use cabbage.  After all, the name colcannon or cál ceannann means:  white headed cabbage.  I use cabbage, not kale.  I will purchase a small cabbage, about a pound, to use for this.  I discard the tough outer green leaves (putting outside for roving bunnies), cut the cabbage into quarters, core, and shred.

Usually served in the fall or at Halloween, colcannon used to have charms put in it.  Dependent on the charm you spooned onto your plate, you’d end up being single or married.  Many young Irish lasses would fill a sock with colcannon and hang on the door handle.  The first man to enter would supposedly end up being your husband.  I’m sure there were some kind of rules in place to exclude the village priest or a brother or other male family member.  Personally, putting a bunch of mashed potatoes with cabbage in a sock doesn’t sound all that great to me, but the colcannon on the plate, without the charms or the sock is a grand dish!   All you need is some Guiness stout or Harp to wash it down.

Colcannon
1lb 6oz potatoes – (do not use waxy type)  peeled and quartered
8oz spring cabbage, chopped ****
1/2 cup scallions/spring onions, roughly chopped
1/4 cup scallions/spring onions, finely chopped
4 oz butter + 3 tbs
salt and pepper

Simmer the potatoes in lightly salted water until cooked – when pierced with a sharp knife and the potato is soft in the middle.   Chop 3/4 of the spring onions roughly and the other 1/4 finely. Add the roughly chopped scallions/spring onions to the cabbage. Saute  lightly until tender in the 2 tbs. butter. Drain the potatoes and add the rest of the butter. When the butter has melted, mash the potatoes until smooth and creamy. Add the cabbage mixture and mix. Stir in some salt and pepper to taste for seasoning and garnish with the finely chopped scallion.

Thank you Wiki for the photo!

Sunday Supper – Okonomiyaki

This is one of my favorite easy Japanese meals. Okonomiyaki means, as you like it. Truly, except for cabbage, the ingredients are what you like. I eat mine with just veggies. Hubby-san likes it with either bacon or shrimp. You can use cabbage, green onion, shredded carrots, squash, shredded kale, shrimp. cooked chicken, shrimp, eel, chopped ham…

Sometimes you will hear this dish called “Japanese Pancakes” or “Japanese Pizza” over here. Call it by its traditional name: Okonomiyaki – it’s fun to say.  It is easy and forgiving. If you don’t want to use dashi, use vegetable broth or water. It will not have the same depth of flavoring, but will still be good. One of the ingredients (I am giving you a warning on this), Nagaimo, can be found in many Asian food stores. I have a sensitivity to the raw yam so I make sure I keep plastic wrap on it while I grate it. Also, it turns to pure slime. Ugly stuff but it is great in this recipe – holds the batter together and tastes good.

You can make the batter into two 8 inch pancakes or several smaller ones. “As you like it!”. I use an electric griddle on the table to prepare and to even, eat it on. In restaurants in Japan, you will find the hot plates in the tables for this purpose.

Douzo meshiagare, y’al

lIngredients

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup Dashi (fish broth)
1 egg
3-4 Tbsp Nagaimo (long yam), grated
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp soy sauce
1/4 cabbage (about 12oz), chopped fine
3-4 green onions, chopped fine
2-3 Tbsp pickled red ginger (Benishouga, not sushi ginger), chopped fine
1 Tbsp oil
6 pieces thinly sliced bacon
Okonomiyaki sauce or Tonkatsu sauce (I mix Worcestershire, ketchup and bit of sugar)
mayonnaise (I use Kewpie)
dried bonito flakes (Options)
dried green seaweed (Aonori) (Optional)

Instructions
1.In a big bowl, slowly stir together, to avoid lumping,flour and Dashi together until smooth. Stir egg and yam to flour mixture. beating well at this point. Season it with salt and soy sauce.
2.Add cabbage, onions, and ginger to the batter and mix. Also other veggies, chicken, seafood, if you like.
3.Heat oil in a skillet, pour half of the pancake batter into an 8″ circle, and lay 3 pieces of bacon on it. Fry at medium heat until the bottom becomes golden brown, about 5-7 minutes.
4.Flip to fry the other side until the bacon becomes crispy, about 5-7 minutes.
5.Flip one more time, bacon side up, and spread Okonomiyaki sauce and mayo on the pancake.
6.Sprinkle dried green seaweed, then dried bonito flakes over the pancake. Serve hot. I top ours with finely chopped green onion and sesame seeds, omitting the bonita flakes.

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Quick Pickles – Quickles

I have been promising (and I know you all have just been waiting in deep anticipation) a treatise on quick pickles – quickles I call them. Some factoids: Cucumbers have been around forever and go back as far as Mesopotamia 2030 BC. Quickles are not marinated vegetables. They are brined or salted the same as long process (slowckles) are. The word pickle comes from the Dutch pekel which means salt or brine.

Quickles are a great way to use up some excess summer veggies, brighten up winter veggies, add a quick bit of zing to a dull meal, be a unique appetizer, or in some cases, add an authentic bit to an ethnic meal. Seasonings and vegetables themselves can give a local or ethnic flair. Add daikon to cucumbers and onion. Or add some curry to cucumber, onion, celery, red radish. Crushed mustard seed, turmeric, celery seed, and sugar make the ubiquitous onion and cucumber mixture quick bread and butter pickles (recipe in a previous Keep It Simple Saturday) post.

Quickles give much satisfaction with little effort.  They are great with sandwiches, sides for meat, rice….on their own.

Equipment is as simple or exotic as you choose: a colander, plate, weight or a specialized pickle press. I bought a dandy one at a local Japanese food store for $4.99. Ingredients are the same way: salt (uniodized or sea salt), spices, herbs, veggies. The process may take a few hours but you don’t have to babysit and can do other things. Once made, they will last for several weeks in the refrigerator. I do hope you all will experiment with quickles. They’ve been a part of my life since I was born. On a hot summer day, cucumber quickles from the fridge cooled and refreshed a hot little girl. Other kids could have a Koolaid freezer pop – I wanted quickles!! They are a regular feature now in my bento.

QUICKLE BASICS

Cucumbers (English, Kirby, Persian, Japanese) Peeled (if waxed) and very thinly sliced
Onion red or white, thinly sliced
Carrot thinly sliced
Radish red or daikon, thinly sliced
Cabbage – thinly shredded

Seasoning: bay leaf, mustard seed, turmeric, srirachi pepper, split Thai pepper, cilantro, garlic, sugar, salt, red pepper flakes, fresh cayenne, fresh jalapeno pepper, sesame seeds, toasted seaweed bits, ginger
Vinegar: cider, white, rice
Extra vegetables: turnip, celery, napa cabbage, zucchini, cauliflower

One Method: The above is my go to veggies for quickles. Add or subtract. It’s up to you to determine how many you want to make. I usually use a standard size cuke, a small or medium onion, a rib of celery, a carrot, several red radishes, about ½ c. sliced daikon, about ½ cup shredded cabbage. In a colander, toss well with several tablespoons of uniodized salt. Place sauce or plate, depending on size of colander and add weight to the plate. A half gallon empty clean milk jug or gallon jug of water works well. Place in sink or on another plate to catch liquid from vegetables. Vegetables will end up being limp but still crispy due to this process. Use a mandolin or sharp knife to thinly slice vegetables. Add seasonings of choice. ALWAYS use non-reactive pots, pans, bowls for vinegar/acid based foods.

Obviously, the vinegar and seasonings will determine the “flavor” of the pickle. I like a Japanese quickle to use with everything.

Recipe – Japanese Sunomono (sweet)

english cucumber

½ small onion

1 cup water

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1 tbsp kosher salt

2 tbsp sugar

1/4 tsp minced ginger

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients except the cucumber. Stir well to dissolve the sugar. Wash the cucumber and slice it very thin using a mandoline. Add it to the bowl of liquid, give it a good stir, and then take care to submerge all the cucumber slices. Refrigerate for at least half an hour (but no more than a couple hours) before eating. Drain before serving. Garnish with toasted seaweed and sesame seeds. To add another layer of flavor to this simple pickle, add about ¼ – ½ tsp. dashi soup granules and/or seeded and slivered chili pepper (not much for this amount of cucumber).
Japanese Sour Pickles
1/2 cucumber
1/6 carrots
7 oz. water
1 1/3 tsp. soy sauce
1/4 oz. (dried bonito)
5 oz. daikon radish
2 2/3 tbsp. vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar
Sliced ginger
Combine vinegar, water, salt, sugar and soy sauce. Add bonito and sliced ginger and stir slowly until sugar is dissolved. Cut cucumber, daikon and carrot into strips. Put vegetables in a jar and pour the mixture over them. Let sit in refrigerator for a couple of days for flavors to blend. Keeps about 10 days.

Thai Quickles a friend gave me this recipe and she uses pounds for measurement
2 ¼ rice vinegar
½ pound onion sliced
1 pound carrots, sliced
1 pound cucumbers, sliced
4 green chilies sliced
2 tsp. salt
3 tbs. sugar
Put the vinegar in a non-reactive pan and heat. Add sugar and salt and stir to dissolve. Let cool. Put vegetables in a bowl and cover with vinegar mixture. Let sit for one half hour. Keeps in fridge for several days.

Quick Indian Carrot Pickle
5 medium carrots
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground mustard seeds
1 teaspoon chili powder (adjust to taste)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon mustard oil or olive oil
sliced green chili, sliced the long way

Peel the carrots and thinly slice them about 2 inches long (should be about two cups). Wrap the sliced carrots in a dry towel, ensuring the carrots don’t have any excess water. Mix all the ingredients together with the carrots and put in a glass jar. Keep the jar in the sun for a day. Pickle is ready the next day. Pickle can be refrigerated for about two weeks.

Quick Bread and Butter Pickle
(recipe posted in Keep it Simple Saturday Recipe post)

quick bread and butter pickles

Chicken with Garlic Sauce – Myazaki Prefecture

This is one of those recipes that someone is going to say isn’t “authentic”, doesn’t sound Japanese, whatever.  I was given this recipe by a Japanese engineer who is here in America working with a nuclear power company.  This is from the Miyazaki Prefecture in Kyushu Island.  He assures me this is delicious any time of year and makes the house smell wonderful.  He had called to ask me “huge favor” – how to make American Fruit “Cottler”?  I told him I would be most honored to provide him the recipe and that it would be good with all kinds of fruit.  To show his gratitude, with a great deal of courtesy (and I could sense some homesickness), he shared one of his favorite home style dishes in return. They often add a pickled cabbage salad and rice for this meal.  I think it sounds a lot like Southern barbecued chicken and coleslaw.  Truly an East Meets South kind of recipe. 🙂

 Chicken with Garlic Onion Sauce

5 boneless chicken thigh fillets (with or without skin) I use split chicken wings – about 10, split into drummette and long section, tips removed
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
 
Sauce
½ sweet onion, grated
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
6 Tbsp. cooking sake
4 Tbsp. Mirin
3 Tbsp. soy sauce 

Instructions:

Grate or very finely mince onion in a medium bowl and add all the Sauce ingredients in the bowl.  Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towel.  If you use the chicken with skin, prick the skin with a fork.   Salt and pepper chicken and put in a separate bowl in the fridge for about 30 minutes along with the sliced garlic.   In a non-stick frying pan, heat oil on medium heat, add just the chicken.  If the chicken has skin, cook the skin side first. Do not turn over the chicken until it’s nicely browned. After you turn over the chicken, lower the heat to  low. Adding in the garlic, cover half of the pan with the lid and cook for about 7 – 9 minutes.  When the chicken is cooked, add the Sauce. Cook on medium high heat for 2 minutes. Use a spoon to coat the chicken with sauce. Serve the chicken on a plate and pour the sauce over. Serve immediately.  I sprinkle with sesame seeds and thinly sliced green onion.

Pickled Cabbage Salad
½-1 cabbage, julienned or shredded
1 carrot, shredded
1/4  cup cilantro, chopped
3 scallions, chopped, green and white portions
 
Dressing
½ cup apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. sesame oil
2 Tbsp. white sesame seeds
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for dressing and mix well. Add all vegetables in the bowl and refrigerate at least for 1 hour.

 

 


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