Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Holidays!

A Merry Christmas to those who celebrate, and a happy holiday season to all. May you have a joyous and drama-free celebration, and a safe and happy New Year.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Kimono for the Holidays!

Finally! Pictures. :)

Aromaleigh eyeshadows, Too Faced Primed and Poreless makeup, Urban Decay blush in Score, Too Faced lava gloss liner, Meow Cosmetics brow beaters to give my weird eyebrows some definition, Too Faced lipstick.

The kimono was custom made for me by a nice lady, Masako-san, up in Torrance. She's a fellow customer of Kyoei Trading (whose store you can see behind me). The obi was from eBay years ago. Obidome is a poinsettia brooch pinned into place. Date-eri and han-eri are just 5" wide lengths of fabric from the fabric store; the earrings I made myself from beads and findings. (I'm planning on getting decent enough at that sort of thing to make some pocket money.)
Bag and shoes from an eBay score from Ryu-Japan. :)

The hair... I read a few how-to sites on beehives and gave it a shot. It doesn't look awful, but I think I could use quite a bit of practice. Ah well.

The collars drove me nuts - they laid very nicely at first, but after a trip in the car, fussing with trying on kimono, etc, etc, they were a wreck. I should have remembered to snap a picture BEFORE going out into the big bad world.


So there you have it. Actual pictures. :)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Istanbul, not Constantinople!

Found old pics from the Captain's Dinner on the Solstice Cruise we took in September 2009.

Posted on the IG Forums.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

New kitsuke post at IG forums

New kimono update at the IG forums:

Got myself all kimono'd up for dinner out for my birthday. :)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Shout-out: One Hand Washes The Other

I ordered the Deep Black creme soap ("Black Magic") that we'd discussed some time ago, and as it was her birthday last week, she included a 10% off coupon. I congrat'd her on her b'day and mentioned mine was next week (hooray for November!) and she included a free whipped sugar scrub in Pumpkin Bread, gift-wrapped in gold tissue with a handwritten "Happy Birthday" tag and everything!
Plus an adorable pendant!

(I also ordered two more lip butters because dry winter air kills my lips, and the Maple Blueberry and Blueberry seemed the perfect cold weather pick-me-up scents... and they are!)

As if I weren't hooked already, this is just one of the MANY reasons I love OHWTO.

Becca can be found on Etsy or Artfire (the Artfire site give her better rates as a vendor, I believe, so I recommend using that site if possible).

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cheese Bites - Recipe

I had to bring finger food for the potluck at work for Halloween, and found the basic recipe for these little cheese bites after a quick Google search for "easy finger food" (because we already had volunteers for about 15 desserts).  They went over phenomenally well, though I didn't find them all that spectacular.  The recipe is basic enough that the possibilities are just about endless, though.

(Next time, I'm going to use Parmesan and Romano cheeses, a pinch of nutmeg, parcooked and thinly sliced asparagus, and maybe a thin piece of pancetta on top and make them snooty-patooty Bechamel bites. Or make the dough with the cheese, roll it out and bake it, and use a scalloped biscuit cutter to top it with the above garnishes. Hm....)

Each batch makes a little more than a cookie sheet's worth of snack-sized nibbles (30-35), so I had a few batches to tweak as I went, and finally came up with this:

Your basic dough:
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup flour (don't bother leveling off - I wound up adding a bit more flour here and there as needed)
salt and pepper to taste
1/8 tsp baking powder

Your cheese:
1 3/4 ~ 2 cups shredded cheese (I used sharp cheddar)

Your mix-ins of choice:
2 green onions, finely minced (the white and light green and some of the darker green)
1/3-ish cup bacon bits (I had a sack of Hormel that I ran under my knife a few times to break down neatly, but as usual, didn't bother measuring this)
1 tsp garlic powder OR about one clove of fresh garlic (minced/mashed)
1 tsp smoked paprika (the original recipe also listed 1 tsp cayenne, which I forgot to include, but I suspect it would have made them marginally more interesting).

Preheat your oven to 400* F, rack in the middle (or mostly centered if you're doing multiple cookie sheets). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (or foil, but don't give yourself more cleanup by leaving it unlined!)
Combine the butter, flour, baking powder, spices in a mixing bowl and stir until thoroughly combined. Fold in the onions, bacon bits, and cheese, again working thoroughly until you have a relatively consistent dough (given that the shredded cheese I used was not the fancy/fine shred, it was lumpy but relatively evenly distributed after a few minutes of thorough abuse from my spatula).

Use a tablespoon or melon-baller (again, if you really strive for difficult cleanup and being exact) and scoop the dough, rolling each scoop into a 1"-ish rounded ball and setting on the cookie sheet. You will have Butter Hands, so don't go and touch your face or leave fingerprints everywhere!

Pop 'em in the oven for about 15 minutes, keeping an eye on them to make sure they don't burn or stay raw or melt everywhere.

They're done when they're a lovely dark orange/golden brown color (if you used cheddar).  Let them cool. They make lovely, bite-sized biscuit-like nibbles.  Garnish with more paprika if you're feeling fancy.  (Mine went to work dumped haphazardly in a throwaway aluminum pan. It was midnight - I wasn't about to bother with presentation at that point!)

These are notably NOT healthy, and to be honest, the smell of that much butter coming from the microwave was rather nauseating*. I don't think I'll ever be the next Paula Deen. 

*I also cannot stand theater popcorn smell or undercooked microwave popcorn smell, either. There's just something about that much dairy fat in one place that makes my stomach rebel. I held my breath while mixing this all together.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Ridiculously Decadent Pizza Recipe

This is one of those things that you wind up making because you're feeling a yen to try something new and you're wandering Trader Joe's without a budget to keep in mind.

I had never made pizza. The BF pointed out that TJ's carries pizza dough. Why not?

This is the ridiculously decadent, far-too-rich result.

Gouda Prosciutto Pizza
Trader Joe's Plain Pizza Dough
1/2 round of smoked Gouda
1 small log fresh mozzarella (or shredded mozzarella)
1 pkg GOOD prosciutto
2 sweet Hawaiian onions
1 pkg sliced crimini mushrooms
Olive oil
Cognac, Chardonnay / Cooking wine
1 pkg Quaker quick-cook grits

Slice up the onions and start them caramelizing in a pan with some butter and a drizzle of olive oil.

In a second, smaller pan, saute the mushrooms with butter and a splash of cognac and chardonnay. (Let the cognac catch fire and burn off.)  Foodie BF used "Douglas Fir aqua vit" to give them added nuttiness. His pantry has way too much fun stuff in it!

Grate half the smoked Gouda and set aside. If the mozzarella isn't sliced or shredded, do that and set aside. Slice the prosciutto into thin ribbons and set aside.

Roll out the pizza dough, replacing flour with the grits for the non-stick properties. Place in a foil-lined jelly pan for baking (anything oozing over the sides will be caught.) Arrange the mozzarella in a thin layer on the dough. Once the mushrooms have been sauteed, arrange them (sans any liquid) over the mozzarella; arrange the caramelized onions over the mushrooms. Sprinkle the smoked Gouda over the top of the other toppings and brush the edges of the pizza dough with olive oil. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 450* F (or 12-15 minutes at 425) or until the crust is lightly browned. (The smoked Gouda will be crispy, rather than melty.) Once the pizza's out of the oven, sprinkle the prosciutto over the top, slice and serve. You'll want a knife and fork for this stuff! :)

Taken with the BF's phone, right before we snarfed the whole thing down...

Garam Masala Satoimo

These were a hit as a side dish with the honey teriyaki chicken, so here's the super-simple recipe.

Garam Masala Satoimo
 1-2 sweet potatoes
Garam Masala spice blend
Dark sesame oil (a scant teaspoon)

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Slice the sweet potato(es) (I had a large purple Japanese satoimo in the fridge) into 1/4" thick slices, skin-on. For ease of eating, I wound up halving some of the larger slices. Toss in a bowl or Ziploc with water, cover and microwave until al dente. (I used a Ziploc and a half cup of water on high for 3 minutes. Your microwave will dictate the time on this - ours is probably a 1000-watt model that's 20+ years old. It is not a high-powered appliance.)
Drain the potatoes and set aside to cool. Once cool enough to touch, toss with a tablespoon or so of olive oil, and arrange on a foil-lined cookie sheet.(Easy cleanup!)
Sprinkle garam masala over the potatoes.
Sprinkle a pinch of salt over the potatoes.
Sprinkle the sesame oil over the potatoes.

Pop in the oven (middle rack) for 20-25 minutes, rotating the pan at least once if your oven is finicky like ours and heats unevenly from front to back.

Honey Teriyaki Chicken Thighs

Honestly, I do not like teriyaki.Of all the Asian menu options out there, this one always bugs me. The sauce is always a thick, gloopy, syrupy mess that ruins perfectly good grilled meats or fish (or tofu), and it tastes awful. Someone posted how to make your own, and their recipe was equal parts soy sauce, sugar, and mirin. It sounded like soy simple syrup, by the time it was done. No thank you. :(   So when Mom suggested making some teriyaki marinade for chicken, I opted to go for the salty-sweet and skip the syrup. :) Given the compliments received around the table and the bragging Mom has done to the neighbors, I'd wager it was a successful recipe. (And as always, the BF gets full credit for his grillmaster skills - I'm a complete novice on the grill. Dad always did the grilling at home and Mom always did the kitchen parts, and it seems that the BF and I have fallen seamlessly into the same pattern. He plays with fire and tongs, I do my mad scientist bit in the kitchen.) 

I used lime instead of lemon to complement the sweetness of the honey - lemon is usually much too tart and bitter. The chili oil (that bright red stuff from your grocer's ethnic aisle) is actually NOT that spicy in this probably because of the honey and citrus. It does lend a pleasant brightness, though. 

As always, measurements are approximate. :) Feel free to adjust to your own taste preferences.

Honey Teriyaki Chicken Thighs

1/3 cup honey (I used avocado honey, because I wanted a darker flavor than clover can give - it's up to you.)
1/2+ cup soy sauce (regular, NOT low sodium)
1 Tbsp hot chili oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced fine (I used a heaping spoonful of the mashed garlic from Trader Joe's - much easier)
1 tsp dark sesame oil
1/4 - 1/3 cup lime juice (bottled 'cuz I'm lazy, but you can sit and juice a ton of limes if you feel like it)
3 green onions, chopped (green and white parts)

About 2 pounds of chicken thighs - rinsed and patted dry (we used two packages of the six-pack you can purchase at Costco, and I believe each one of those is about a pound).

Combine all the ingredients with the chicken in a Ziploc bag, give it a good shake, and set it aside to marinate for about 3 hours (or however long you'd like - I put this together at 3pm and we lit the grill about 6pm).
Fire up the grill:  Tonight was 60% hickory hardwood chips / 40% charcoal, with a few splashes of water to put out the flames on the wood chips now and then.  (You could probably oven roast or pan-fry these, but it's still ridiculously warm for mid-October, so we're using the grill until it's too cold to bother.)
Grill the marinated thighs until just done - about 10-15 minutes total.

(These don't need a sauce, but if you're feeling swank or fussy, feel free to reduce some of the pre-chicken marinade in a saucepan until it becomes a syrupy thickness to drizzle over the cooked meat, and garnish with some fresh slivers of green onion.)

Kitayama Miso Sauce with steak

Today's post is a shameless rip-off of Kitayama's red miso sauce, which was served with thin slices of strip steak. We dined there several weeks ago and the BF has not stopped raving about it. From what we could tell, the sauce was red miso with ginger and possibly sesame and soy. Toying around in the kitchen tonight, I managed an approximation that we agree is similar in flavor, if a little thinner in consistency. (The original was thick, almost like pudding.)  The flavor is deep and roasty, with that tangy sweetness characteristic of miso, brightened by ginger. I suspect the original is probably reduced over low heat to better meld the flavors and thicken the final result, but our no-fuss homemade approximation is pretty tasty, IMO. :)

Kitayama-inspired Red Miso Sauce: 
I don't measure when I cook, unless I'm following a recipe, so all amounts are approximate.

1/3 cup Akadashi dark red miso paste
2 tsp dark sesame oil
2 Tbsp beef broth (you can use dashi or vegetable broth or water, if you prefer)
1 generous tsp of grated fresh ginger  (I used about a half-inch of a peeled ginger knob)
1/4 tsp hot chili oil
1 tsp McIlhenry Farms honey (You can order this from the Tabasco site - it has a deeper, darker flavor than most clover honeys. Avocado honey would also work well, if you have a farmer's market or Alien Fresh Jerky stand near you.)

In a bowl, stir the miso and broth together until smooth. Add in the other ingredients to taste, stirring until all lumps are gone.  Serve with steak or other hearty fare.  If you're as averse to dirtying dishes as I am, don't even bother transferring to a serving dish - I just set the bowl on the table with the same spoon I'd used to stir. :)  For this sauce, I skipped adding soy sauce as planned - between the salt in the miso and the salt in the broth, soy sauce, even reduced sodium, would have probably been a bit too much.

NY Strip Steaks, Asian style:

Take your 8-10 oz strip steaks and sprinkle/rub with the following:
Sake (probably a teaspoon per steak)
Soy (another scant teaspoon per steak)
Seasoned pepper
Onion powder
A pinch of salt
A spoonful of hoisin (per steak)

(The amounts above are approximate, because the BF did the marinading and he doesn't like to measure, either. :)  Just do the math for the number of steaks you're making if you really must dirty a set of measuring spoons.)
Rub the marinade ingredients into the meat about 15 minutes before grilling to medium done-ness. The BF likes a 60/40 of charcoal and hickory chips when he fires up our ancient Weber, so that's how we did them tonight.

Garnish with thinly sliced green onions.

Oven Roasted Asparagus was the side dish:  1 Tbsp EVOO, a generous pinch of salt and a generous pinch of pepper, toss to coat, and arrange on a cookie sheet (I use a foil-lined jelly roll pan because I hate cleanup). Pop in a 400* F oven for 10 minutes, turning once halfway through. Easy!


Someday, I'll actually take my camera down to the kitchen to get you some pictures, but I'm not about to pretend I can do those gorgeous, perfectly exposed shots that the talented bloggers like Canelle et Vanille or Sprinkle Bakes have managed. I have an HP digital point-and-shoot that cost me $50 when it was new (5 years ago). No expensive equipment here!


Test post here. :)

Bear with me while I get this underway.