Earthy Mushroom Soup

Okay, so whenever I see “earthy” in any recipe I immediately get suspicious.  Why do I want to eat something that’s like dirt????  After I took a sip of this soup I just had to have a moment of silence, because (probably to people’s delight) for once I had nothing to say.  That’s how decadent this savory soup is!  Adapted from Mark Bittman, this is such a great autumn dish that is incredibly easy.

If you do live in Shanghai, it would be great to check out 草菇 (caogu)for this recipe.  In English it’s called a paddy straw mushroom.  It’s the same mushroom other than shitake that’s used in Chinese cooking and I picked these up because unpeeled, they look like quail eggs and were just bursting with flavor.

egg or vegetable?

egg or vegetable?

earthy mushroom soup

yum

Earthy Mushroom Soup

Prep time: 10 minutes                        Cooking time: 30 minutes                      Servings:  4 people

Budget for ingredients: 40RMB (if you go to the wet market)

Equipment:
Cutting board
Knife
2 Pots

Ingredients:
3 handfuls of mushrooms (approx. 3-4 cups)  I chose paddy straw, shitake, and shimeiji
4 T butter
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 celery stalks
1 block of vegetable soup
1/4 c soy sauce
Salt & pepper to taste
Strips of dried seaweed

Directions:

  1. Chop up mushrooms and put it in a pot with high heat with pats of butter until it starts to release liquid.  Should take around 5-10 minutes.
  2. Add all other veggies and cook until onion turns translucent.
  3. Pour in soy sauce & veggie cube with  around 3 cups of water, and cook the soup until all vegetables are tender.
  4. Sprinkle on salt & pepper to taste.  Top with the dried nori (seaweed) and mix it in until it turns soft too.  Serve immediately.

Pineapple dip

When my friend Mayumi told me what exactly was in this dip, I’ll admit, I was slightly skeptical.  But one dip in and then I was addicted!  This is so easy and such a hit, I will make it over and over again–to no one’s chagrin.  Works with saltines or chips.  Probably pretzels too if they existed in Japan.  Savoury, sweet, SUPER!  Thanks to Richard (@ThePaperCup) for the photo.  Smashing!

pineapple dip tasty

tasty & addicting!

Pineapple dip

Prep time: 5 minutes                Cooking time: 0 minutes (a first on this blog)              Servings:  6 people

Budget for ingredients: ¥600

Equipment:
Big Bowl
Electric mixer or big spoon

Ingredients:

1 package cream cheese
1 can pineapple, chopped
1 T roasted onion
2T garlic puree

Directions:

  1. Mix everything together.  Then serve it.  BAM!!!!

 

Frozen macadamia and honey cheesecake

Whenever I see a no-bake cake recipe, I usually cringe.  Not because I believe that the flavor profile will not be great or anything, it’s just that I kind of turn my nose up at those too easy to believe recipes!  However, I totally stand by this one which was adapted from Taste.com.au.  Having recently returned from sojourn in Oz,   I thought it appropriate to look up some recipes from down under to see what’s kicking and brought it to an Aussie day party in Shimane-ken!   Additionally, though I used a freezer to finish the cake, if you live in a cold area where the words ”Thundersnow”, ”Snowmageddon”, or ”OMG my water pipes are frozen” apply,  just cover it and leave it outside for a night.

Frozen Cheesecake

My mouth waters a little bit just looking at this.

Frozen macadamia and honey cheesecake

Prep time: 20 minutes                Freezing time: 4-5 hrs/overnight            Servings: 8

Budget for ingredients: ¥1000

Equipment:

1 plastic bag
Rolling pin
1 pan
1 big bowl
Electric mixer
Spatula
Springform pan*
Butter knife
Freezer

Ingredients:

1 bag plain biscuits
1/2 stick (50 g)  butter
1 pkg (250 g) cream cheese
2/3 c honey
1 c fresh cream
1 packet macadamia nuts (I used a Top Valu 65 g bag)

* Note –  Springform pans make for a prettier cake, but you can use any pan for this as long as you grease it!

Directions:

  1. Place biscuits in the plastic bag and crush them with the rolling pin.  No mess and the cleanup is less.
  2. Heat up the pan and melt the butter and mix with the biscuit crumbs.  Sometimes I add in cinnamon sugar for an extra touch at this point.
  3. Press the crumbs down into the bottom of the springform pan.  Place in freezer for it to set.
  4. Use your mixer to beat together the cream cheese and 1/2 c of your honey in the big bowl.  When it gets smooth add in the cream and beat some more.  This should take around 5 minutes.
  5. Chop macadamia nuts and add them to the cream cheese mixture.
  6. Take out the pan from the freezer and add the mixture to it.
  7. Pour the remaining honey over the cream cheese mixture, and using a butter knife you can make a swirl effect by making little circles around the edges of the cake.
  8. Freeze overnight.  Take the cake out 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Macaroni and cheese

Nothing says ”comfort” like macaroni and cheese!  Ok yes this is really unhealthy but I just can’t help it, it just is so tasty.  Additionally, whenever I have any extra crab meat I just dump it in too!  When I am missing NY (I have never been to the actual south to eat) Mama’s Food Shop is at the top of the list when it comes to grub.  This is my tribute to them.  Macaroni and cheese goes great with a salad or green beans.  As all fatty foods go, it is good to temper it with something fresh and light!  Be careful not to overeat because this recipe is SO GREAT! Props to Alton Brown.

macaroni and cheese

So homey, so gorgeous, so drooling over this

Macaroni and cheese

Prep time: 10 minutes                Baking time: 25-30 minutes              Servings: 4-6

Budget for ingredients: ¥600

Equipment:

1 pot
1 frying pan
Whisk
Spatula
Gratin dish
Toaster oven

Ingredients:

1 bag elbow macaroni
1 cup of milk
3 T butter
3 T flour
1 T mustard
3 c milk
1/2 c onion
1 T garlic
1 t paprika
1 egg
2 handfuls shredded cheese
1 t salt
1/2 t black pepper

Directions:

1. Boil macaroni in salted water.  Drain and set aside.

2. Melt butter in pan and add mustard and flour and stir with the whisk.

3. Add milk. onion, garlic, and paprika.

4. Simmer for approximately 10 minutes and add in the egg and half of your cheese (also add in crab meat or whatever you want at this time).

5. Stir in the cooked macaroni and pour mixture into the gratin dish.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese on top with salt and pepper.

6.  Bake in the oven for 15 minutes at 180C.

Scallion pancakes

Happy father’s day!  Well, obviously I should have chosen my dad’s favorite dish, but decided to go a generation above today.  To my grandfather!  My grandpa and I used to make scallion pancakes together when I was little.  It was such a treat because they aren’t the healthiest food, but apparently to many Taiwanese/Chinese people this could be the origins of pizza!  Despite the name, this isn’t really a pancake, rather an unleavened bread.

Scallion pancakes are served/sold as street food or with congee, which is a rice porridge.  You can make the dough and cook it right after, or you can easily store it in the freezer in between sheets of plastic wrap.  I love to eat this stuff with a sauce, which I have also included below.

scallion pancakes

Mmm...reminds me of home

Scallion pancakes

Prep time: 15 minutes               Cooking time: 5 minutes              Servings: 6

Budget for ingredients: ¥600

Equipment:

Bowl
Rolling pin
Cooking sheets (2)
Frying pan

Ingredients:

For the pancake:

3 c flour
1 c boiling water
1/2 c chopped scallions
1/2 c shortening
Salt and white pepper
Oil (I use vegetable but any is ok)

For the dipping sauce:

minced garlic
1 T sesame oil
1 T soy sauce

Directions:

1. Place flour in the bowl and add water slowly and mix constantly until it becomes a ball.  Let it rest for 30 minutes.

2. Divide the dough into fist size pieces, and individually, roll them out between the cooking sheets into a pancake shape 6 inches (or 15 cm) in diameter.

3.  Spread on shortening (around 1/2 T per pancake) and sprinkle on scallions( about 1 T) , salt, and white pepper.

4.  Roll the pancake tightly into a log shape.  Then curve the log into a coil, kind of like a cinnabon!

5.  Roll it out again between the cooking sheets to 6 inches diameter again.

6.  With a bit of oil, pan fry for approximately 2 minutes on each side.  Cut into four pieces.

7. Combine all ingredients in a small cup for the dipping sauce.  Nom nom nom.

Warm spinach salad

Easy and tasty.  Perfect for a rainy day.  I usually canNOT stop eating this.  The dressing is what brings this salad together, and I think it can also be used with chicken or fish.   Other good add-ins include bacon, corn, or avocado.  Or just all of them.

Warm Spinach Salad

not everything that tastes delicious must look great

Warm spinach salad

Prep time: 10 minutes               Cooking time: 5 minutes              Servings: 3

Budget for ingredients: ¥400

Equipment:

Knife
Frying pan
Small bowl

Ingredients:

1 bunch of spinach
2-3 tomatoes
2 cucumbers
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 c ponzu sauce*
1 t ginger paste **
2 T honey

*Note: Ponzu sauce is a combo of basically soysauce plus a citrus fruit.  The ponzu sauce I used is called YUZU <ゆずポン酢>, which is the citrus fruit used in my particular bottle.

**Note: Ginger ”paste”, aka grated ginger in a bottle, can be found easily in Japanese supermarkets in squeeze bottles.  They are yellow and are marked <生姜 しょうが>, aka SHOUGA.

Directions:

1. Chop spinach, tomatoes, and cucumbers and place in bowl.

2. Sauté onion with a bit of oil until translucent.  Usually takes 5 minutes.

3. Add in ponzu sauce, ginger, and honey.  Stir together until honey dissolves.

4.  Pour immediately onto veggies in the bowl.  Serve!

Apple juice

Ok, why am I even blogging about one of the things you can literally buy in every corner you ask?  Because it is literally AMAZINGLY delicious, easy, and quick!  I am kind of surprised I didn’t blog about this sooner.  Plus, the flavor is seriously the EXACT SAME of farm fresh apple cider which reminds me of home. This place to be more exact.  Thank you to Nobuko, who I learned this amazing recipe from.

apple juice

one apple makes this much juice!

Apple juice

Prep time: 5 minutes                Servings: 2

Budget for ingredients: ¥200 (for the big spenders aka bigger apples, more $$ for that honey)

Equipment:

Grater
Peeler
Knife
Bowl
Handkerchief

Ingredients:

2 apples

Directions:

1. Peel and core the apples, and cut them into quarters.

2. Place handkerchief inside bowl.

3. Grate the apples on top of the bowl.

4. Grab the handkerchief and use it like a cheesecloth to squeeze out all the juice and throw away the pulp.  OR be environmentally friendly and use the pulp as compost for plants!

I actually tried to take the environmentally friendly one more step by trying to eat the pulp, but unfortunately, it was not oishii.  Don’t try that at home. kids!