Simple Saturday – Sunomono and Miso Baked Chicken

300px-Sunomono[1]

I buy white miso paste in a tube so I can always have it on hand and keep in the fridge after opening.  This is a yummy dish and tasty any time of year.  In the summer, to avoid oven heat, I will prepare in a well seasoned, oiled cast iron skillet.  I start on medium heat and after about 3 minutes, turn heat to low.  Because of the mirin and sugar content, be aware of food burning easily.  You know your stove so cook accordingly and keep an eye out.  This is also good room temperature.  I slice the chicken and add over mixed greens, julienned carrots and celery, green onion,with a zipper ginger vinaigrette.  This Japanese home cooking at its best.  Something you may not find in a restaurant, but certainly in someone’s home.  You can grill of course, but again, beware of the burn factor.

Sunomono is kept in my fridge all summer for a cool snack or quick cool addition to a meal of anything!  The little Persian cukes, Japanese cukes, or the English cukes work well. If not available, use regular pickling cukes or use standard ones, as thin as possible, with the seeds taken out.  You can also use celery, snow peas, edamame, spinach, or mix a couple of veggies together.  I like with cucumbers best!  Photo courtesy of Wiki Images.

douzo meshiagare, y’all

Sunomono – Cucumber Salad
4 Japanese cucumbers or 1 English cucumber
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4  – 1/2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame seeds
small sprinkle of chopped cilantro and green onion

Slice cucumbers as thin as you can or use a mandolin or similar slicer. Put in large non-reactive bowl and sprinkle with salt, mixing with your hands. Let sit for about 5 minutes then, using your hands again, squeeze water out of cucumbers (I use my handy dandy Japanese pickle maker for this – you can also view my post on Quickles). Rinse well and squeeze out water.  Discard water. To the rice vinegar,  add soy sauce and  sugar, mixing well. Pour over cucumbers and mix. Let sit in fridge to blend flavors about 30 minutes. Add sesame seeds, cilantro, and green onion. Great small side dish any time of the year.

Miso Baked Chicken/Fish

1/4 cup white Miso paste
3 Tbsp Mirin
2 Tbsp Sake
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
4 chicken thighs (or nice chunk of salmon or other firm fish)

Mix Miso, Mirin, Sake, and sugar (almost kind of sounds like a recipe rap, hey?) in a non-reactive bowl. Marinade chicken thighs (or fish) in marinade for 30 minutes to one hour. You can put the marinade and meat in a plastic bag to marinate as well.
Preheat oven to 425F. take chicken/fish from bag and place on a plate and use a paper towel to wipe excess marinade liquid well from chicken/fish. Place chicken/fish on oiled aluminum foil spread over a sheet pan. Bake for 15 (8 minutes or so for fish). Turn chicken over and bake 10-15 minutes until cooked through.  I like to use chicken wings or chicken breast fillet and garnish with sliced scallion and sesame seeds.  Serve with steamed sticky rice and sunomono.

Recipes – KISSATURDAY 2

Yowser…it’s cold here!!! Nights in the teens, days in the 20’s. You folks in parts of Canada and Alaska can laugh all you like, but it is cold for us.

So…something warm and yummy for Dinner – I’m going again with the Keep It Simple Saturday. For dinner (and leftovers) – a slow cooker Swiss style round steak. It’s on sale for $3.99 pound at a local chain. I like to pair the Swiss steak with yellow rice and a tossed salad. You can add garlic, oregano, and thyme, and give it an Italian flair and serve with pasta. Dessert for the evening is going to be toasted, sliced pound cake (purchased – did I mention today was KISSaturday?) and topped with ice cream or sherbet of your choice.

Breakfast is cheese toast with a side of fresh fruit. Lunch is chunky tuna salad stuffed into pita pockets and cut up veggies on the side. I keep cut up veggies on hand all the time for my bento and my husband’s lunch or for snacks. Same with fruit. I buy fresh strawberries on the cheap or, use bananas cut up with pineapple chunks. Apples, oranges, and tangerines are always on hand. We are big on getting our five servings of fruit and veggies every day. You can use canned fruit in juice for ease and frugality. Sometimes I open a can of chunky mixed fruit in their juice and add sliced banana.  But I am a fresh girl….in more ways than one!!!

I am going to fix the tuna salad first so the flavors can blend and then throw the round steak together in the slow cooker. When this gets to going, your house is going to smell sooooo good! You can watch basketball games on the tube, run errands, have that rare lunch with a friend, sneak in a nap or read…..be all kinds of busy while this cooks without you having to worry.

Now remember, this is KISSAturday – not haute cuisine-impress your foodie friends-make something exotic Saturday. Ingredients are simple, easy to find, based on frugalness, and tried and true combos for a savory comfort factor. We’ll get into fancy-schmancy another time.  Enjoy your Saturday. Don’t make yourself crazy. And take some time to take a walk and enjoy winter beauty…it has its own style and is as seductive as spring, if you learn to appreciate it.

Cheese Toast– per serving
(I shouldn’t have to tell you this but……)
2 slices of bread – your choice
Schmear of low fat margarine or be bad and use butter
Cheese of your choice – enough to cover two slices of bread

Schmear butter on bread and top with cheese. Please cheese side up in a toaster over or under the broiler until it is melted and bubbly.

Chunky Tuna Salad
2 standard cans of chunk white tuna in water, drained
¼ c. chopped onion
¼ c. chopped green or red pepper
¼ c. chopped celery
Dash of hot sauce
Dash of lemon juice
     Enough mayo to bind ingredients. Mix all well. Some curry powder is good added to this as a change from standard mixes. Stuff in pita pockets, spread on bread slices, or eat as I do on lettuce.

SWISS STEAK
1.5 – 2 Lbs beef round steak, cut into serving size pieces: 6 – 8
2 cans whole or diced tomatoes, smushed
1 envelope onion soup mix (I use ½ envelope and use a store brand)
1 medium onion sliced
1 small green pepper, sliced
Salt and pepper
Few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
     Sprinkle steaks with salt and pepper. Put some of the tomatoes and veggies in bottom of cooker and top with steak pieces. Top with remaining ingredients. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Serve with rice, noodles, or mashed taters.  If you do the Italian seasoning, serve with pasta.

swiss steak

Snow Day Cooking – Recipes

It snowed last night – great gouts of clustered snow flakes rapidly covering the ground and everything else it       would stick to.  A wet snow, in some areas it will be gone by late afternoon and in some protected areas, sometime tomorrow.  The snow covers our lawn in a smooth sheet until it gets to the woods and then it decorates the leaves, bare tree branches, and sides of downed trees.  The line of azaleas in front of our house and the ones that separate the woods from our lawn, blossom with huge clusters of pure white snow.

Still…today is one of those days I am going to pretend the roads are impassable and we are snowed in.  That means – a whole day of cooking!  This morning started off with my husband begging for sausage, eggs, and silver dollar pancakes.  Usually our breakfast is what we grab in passing – yogurt or oatmeal for me and Danish for him.  The pancakes are from a standard recipe of flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, eggs, and milk – standard, fluffy and satisfying.  I’ve been making these since I was five and had to stand on a chair by the stove to reach the pan.  The sausage is homemade – lean bits of pork left over from the killing and butchering and then ground with a bit of suet and spiced with salt, black pepper, some sugar, red pepper flakes, and lots of sage – in the south, in farm co-op stores, you can buy bags of sausage seasoning for batches from 2 – 100 pounds.  Beats bought sausage all to pieces and you know what is in it.

My husband’s uncle has a massive farm – every year they kill hogs and butcher and sell the meat or give away.  His sausage is made from trimmed pieces of tenderloin and hams and seasoned with co-op seasoning – hot or mild.   This same sausage will be used later in the day when I make sausage and cheese balls – some for munching on now and the rest to be pulled out of the freezer and cooked for the rest of the football season and on to March Madness basketball (Go Duke!).

Snow day cooking can be done on a cold rainy day or just a day you want to hide from everything and everyone and be in your own kitchen world.  On the counter great northern beans are soaking.  I am going to make a big pot of white bean (navy or great northern) and ham (leftover from Christmas and portioned out and put in the freezer) with cornbread.  This will be for dinner tonight.  I am also going to make quickles – quick pickles with a bread and butter taste to go with the beans to add a bit of sparkles.  I am in the process of writing a most learned and riveting two part article about quickles…snow day came up though and took precedence.    Sliced cucumbers and onions are on the kitchen table in a colander over a dish with a smaller saucer on top with a large heavy can of tomatoes on top to help press out excess liquid.  Bread and butter style quickles are also on the menu for tonight.

Sticks of unsalted butter are on also  the counter softening.  On the  for dessert are Mexican wedding cookies.  The pecans in them came from Georgia.  Every Thanksgiving, I go to Charlotte Courthouse where Mr. Claxton comes up from his home in Thomasville, GA and brings a huge truck loaded with this season shelled or unshelled pecans.  I buy both – enough to take me through to next Thanksgiving.  For about two miles on either direction of him along 360, you’ll see hand-lettered signs:  Pecans Ahead!  The Pecan Man  – 1 mi. Awa!!!  Your Close!!!  (big arrow) Right there – PECANS!!!!   I’ve done this for a long time but I always eagerly look for the first sign. The excitement builds.   Only in the South, folks.

Recipes are below.   As usual, I do not take pictures of ingredients and step-by-steps as most folks seem to do on their cooking blogs.  I’ve said it before:  you all are grownups and know how to cook.  A chopped carrot is a chopped carrot, a pound of great northern beans are great northern beans, confectioners sugar is……you all get my drift.  Enjoy my day with me!  I’ll glady share recipes but you can’t have my happy shoes.  Y’all stay for or come by for supper.  The cornbread is in the oven and the golden crust is liberally smeared with butter.  Sweet tea, the table wine of the South, will be your beverage to complement our meal.  Plenty of napkins are on hand to catch the powdered sugar from the cookies.

 

 WHITE BEAN AND HAM SOUP 

  • 1 lb of white beans -navy or Great Northern, picked over and washed
  • 2 quarts of water HOT water – soak beans in this for about three hours and drain
  • Ham chunks, ham bone, ham hocks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup of diced onions
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 2/3 cup chopped carrots
  • Salt and pepper

Fill a pot or bowl large enough to hold the beans with water, soak and drain. some folks soak the beans in cold water for 8 hours.  others bring the beans in water to a boil and soak the beans for about 2 hours. Your choice.

Meanwhile, put the ham hocks, ham chunks, or ham bone and cover with 2 quarts of water.  For frugality, I am using leftover frozen Christmas ham and the hambone.  I am not using a huge amount of ham, maybe about a 3/4 pound.  I will simmer the ham bone and add the bay and sautéed veggies, bring to a simmer and simmer for about an hour.  When I add the beans, I will add the ham chunks, bits, shreds…whatever. Cook for another couple of hours or so, until the beans are tender.  Cook longer to thicken.  Check and stir mixture in pot to ensure no sticking.   Add more water if necessary.

Serve with hot cornbread and butter or other bread of your choice.  When serving, put  a good sprinkle of chopped onion, parsley, Crystal or Franks hot sauce on top – any or all is good.  Let the individual season their beans or not.  Remove bay leaves before serving.

FOR VEGETARIAN/VEGAN VERSION:  omit ham (duh).  Saute veggies along with several cloves of garlic.  You may want to add more veggies to the sauté mixture to flavor and hearten up the taste and texture.  I use regular vegetable oil to sauté veggies but you can use fancy olive oils if you choose.

ANTI-FART (haha) TIP:  When cooking dried beans, take a nice stringy large rib of celery and cut in half.  Add to the cooking beans at the beginning.  At the end of cooking, remove the two pieces of celery.  The cellulose in the celery absorb the sulfur dioxide from the cooking liquid and help cut down/prevent stomach gas.  Be careful to remove the fart-absorbing celery ribs from the soup.

MEXICAN WEDDING COOKIES (or SNOWBALL COOKIES)

1 cup  (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 cup  powdered sugar, divided
2 tsp.  vanilla
2 cups  flour – all purpose
1 cup  finely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Beat butter, 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar and the vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Gradually add flour and pecans, beating on low speed after each addition until well blended.  Shape into 1 inch balls (I use a 1 inch cookie scoop).   Place, 1-1/2 inches apart, on ungreased baking sheets.  I use cooking parchment.

Bake 14 to 16 min. or until bottoms of cookies are lightly browned.  Roll warm cookies in about 1 cup of powdered sugar until evenly coated; place on wire racks to cool.  The sugar will coat the cookies and give a happy white coating guaranteed to “snow” on your black sweater and stick to your fingers.   Cool completely.  Store in tightly covered container at room temperature.  They really don’t last long because they are such a good, short cookie – not too sweet but rich and yummy with cold milk, hot tea or coffee. makes about 28 balls of yumminess.

QUICK BREAD AND BUTTER STYLE PICKLES

1    pound pickling cucumbers , sliced crosswise into 1/8-inch  rounds OR equivalent in standard or English cucumber. Peel, cut cukes in            half  and scoop out seeds if necessary

1     medium onion, halved and sliced thin

1   tablespoon kosher or non-iodized salt

1    cup cider vinegar

1/2  cup sugar

1/2   teaspoon yellow mustard seeds

1/4    teaspoon celery seeds

1/4    teaspoon corriander seeds

1/8    teaspoon ground tumeric

Toss cucumbers, onion, and salt in colander set over bowl.  Let stand 1 hour.  hour.  Discard any liquid collected in the bowl. Rinse and press out excess water and put in large non-reactive bowl.  Bring vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds, corriander seeds and turmeric to boil in large saucepan.  Pour over cucumbers and onion onion, and press to submerge in liquid.  Let cool.  Put into smaller glass container or quart jar and allow to chill at least two hours before serving.   Pickles can be refrigerated in a clean jar or covered container for 2 weeks.

snowball cookies            quick bread and butter pickles         white bean and ham soup with cornbread

Aside

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