kruizing with kikukat

Monday, September 4, 2017

Somen Inari Sushi V2

I am pretty sick. . .sick because I see Labor Day as the end of summer (the season, not the vacation. . .that was over a long time ago).  There's just something to love about the warm temps of summer.  I love endless days of sun.  I love how the pool heats.  I love the long days.  I've already begun sleeping with my electric blanket on.  Sad, sick. . .shucks!

A few years ago, I blogged about somen inari sushi.  When I recently tried retrieving the recipe, the link was not linking to the correct issue of Currents, and I was unable to locate the correct issue.  This was the perfect opportunity for me to look at ways to change the original recipe to suit my taste/convenience.

While the original recipe was good, I didn't feel it contained enough somen noodles, and I would end up with some unfilled aburage since there wasn't enough filling for all the aburage in the jumbo package.  Problem solved by adding more noodles and liquid.  If possible, make this on the day you plan to serve it.  If it sits overnight, the somen noodles will turn green. . .color leeching from the ocean salad.  While the taste is not affected, the eye appeal might be compromised.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 large (31.74 oz) package frozen seasoned deep fried bean curd rectangles, thawed
     10 oz somen noodles (dried)
     2 blocks kamaboko, slivered
     8 oz ocean salad
     3 oz Tropics oriental dressing

Break somen noodles in half and cook as directed on package.  Drain and cool.  Drain aburage, pouring liquid over well drained somen noodles.  Squeeze aburage pieces gently and add liquid to noodles.  Add kamaboko, ocean salad, and dressing to noodles.  Toss gently until kamaboko and ocean salad are distributed throughout.  Carefully open aburage rectangles and fill with somen mixture.  Chill until ready to serve.  Makes about 55 aburage cups.

 I tried to blog in mid-August, but I was just too dang busy.  My friends and I made a trek out to the Manta Restaurant at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel to enjoy their fabulous brunch.  It was a beautiful day.  I'm too embarrassed to show my plate of food.

And sometime at the end of last month, the high school football season began.  I accompanied The Help to HPA for the game.  I'm proud of another Viking victory.

I've been spending lots (too much) time knitting.  I managed to finish 4 projects in August, 2 of which are Christmas gifts.  I'm working feverishly to finish another project, a test knit for my fave designer.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Peanut Butter Brownies

My summer vacation is over.  Waaaaaaahhhhhh!

It sure didn't last long. 

D1 already made the journey back to the valley of the sun.   It feels like it was only a few weeks ago when KikukatDad and I went to pick her up in Kailua-Kona.  Shout out to Mr. Dependable for being a great dad and taking her back.  She had lots to do, and she is lucky he was there to help her.  Thanks to a rented minivan, they were able to get her shit out of storage and into her new apartment in one trip (would've taken at 3+ trips with her sedan).  I cannot imagine she would have so much stuff. 

Just like summer vacation, D1s visit didn't last long either.  I know I will see her in 4 months, but it  was nice having her home.  Who else would remind me to clean the house?  Who else would tell me it's too early to drink alcohol at 3:30?  School for her won't start for nearly 2 weeks, but she had recruitment practice and some other things she needed to get rolling.

In all seriousness, I will miss her many talents.  D1 can do all kinds of things once she sets her mind.  This summer, she conquered macarons.  Having never made macarons before, I was shocked at the lengthy and tedious steps to produce a batch of macarons.  I can also attest that a batch of macarons makes a mound of dirty dishes (and extra egg yolks).  I need to start a list of recipes which use just egg yolks or, at least, use more egg yolks than egg whites, so I will know what to do with the egg yolks (other than throw them away).

It took several attempts, but I think D1 perfected the filling.  Initially, the filling she used was just too sweet.  She experimented with different bases and flavorings and came up with a good filling which didn't try to compete with the already-sweet macaron shells.

D1 put her macaron talents to good use.  She made some for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life event in July.  I helped her package them and did the clean up.  I also decided that I won't be making any macarons on my own.  I will stick to less fussy snacks. . .with a lot less dishes to wash. 

If you are like me and don''t like having too many dishes to wash, then these peanut butter brownies might be in your wheelhouse.  They are totally unfussy, whip up in no time with ingredients you likely have on hand, and are mega-delicious.  You will also not be left wondering what to do with extra egg yolks.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1/2 c butter, softened
     1/2 c peanut butter
     3/4 c sugar
     3/4 c brown sugar, packed
     2 eggs
     2 tsp vanilla
     1 c flour
     1 tsp baking powder
     1/4 tsp salt
     1 c chocolate chips
     1/2 c chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9 x 13" pan with foil (or grease a 9 x 13" pan).  Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.  Set aside.  Cream butter, peanut butter, sugar and brown sugar.  add eggs, one at a time, then add vanilla.  Add in flour mixture a little at a time.  Stir in chocolate chips and pecans.  Spread in prepared pan.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Cut into bars when completely cool.

A few months ago, I purchased a bag of Korean chili pepper powder.  The ingredients are chili pepper and salt.  I use it occasionally and store it in the fridge.  Last week, I discovered another use for the powder.  I've made the notation on the Spicy Soybean post.

It's been a little over a year since my mom passed.  Although I still miss her dearly, I feel like some normalcy and routine have returned to my life.  I'm hoping to post more frequently since I'm cooking more now (I have another mouth to feed during the work week).  Over the past few years, I've become more adept at knitting, something which would have made KikukatMom proud.  While I will continue to share favorite recipes, I hope to also share my knitting triumphs, fails, WIPs and FOs.  

Monday, July 3, 2017

Easy Salmon Tofu Salad

I have been trying to keep busy this summer but not with work.  Actually, I haven't gotten called much for work.  I will probably regret not taking a multi-day job at a certain elementary school, but really, I won't.  It wasn't worth the $ I would have earned.

My time has been spent walking and doing research to expand my fiber arts equipment arsenal.  I could not pass up a deal I came across for a Schacht swift, and one thing led to another, and I ended up with a set of Signature needles (belated Mother's Day gift from the Ds, underwritten by The Help) and a Strauch ball winder.  I've also been working on some projects, as projects are the reason why I upgraded my equipment.  My cousin from Indiana was here last month, and I gave her some goodies for her and her daughter to use this fall/winter.  It was a good reminder that Christmas is 5 1/2 months away, and I will need to have a bunch of gifts ready by then.

It's been a little over a year since KikukatDad has been joining us for dinner several times a week.  When he started coming over, I would often try to think of things which I thought he'd like to eat.  Sometimes, though, I must admit with guilt, I just make what I want to eat.  That's what I did last week.  I made salmon tofu salad.  To my surprise, and his, KikukatDad liked it.  I can tell when he likes something because he will agree to take some home with him.  On the rare occasion when I make something outta-this-world good, he tells me he is going to share it with ABetty in Mt. View.  That hasn't happened too often this past year, but I vow to get better this year.

Happy early Independence Day!  I hope to test out a few more recipes and get farther on some crafting projects.  The Aquifer scarf is slow going, but I love seeing the color changes.  I'm not sure why I do this to myself, but whenever I get a project off my needles (booties for MamaKeeper), I start another.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1/8-1/4 lb watercress, optional
     10-16 oz bean sprouts (steam in microwave over water for 3 minutes, rinse and cool
     1 block regular tofu (about 16 oz), drained on paper towels, cubed
     1 tomato, dice
     1/4 onion, chopped
     1 can (7-8 oz) red salmon, drained and crumbled
     2 tbsp oil
     1 clove garlic, minced
     3 tbsp shoyu
     1 stalk green onion, chopped

Layer first 6 ingredients in order given.  Cover and chill until ready to serve.  In a small saucepan, heat oil and garlic until garlic begins to brown.  Remove from heat and carefully add shoyu and green onions.  Set aside to cool until serving time.  When ready to serve, pour dressing over salad.

And in case you are wondering, that little fleck on the tofu cube is NOT a tomato seed; it is a small flake of salmon.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Layered Cool Whip Jello

Happy summer vacation.

What are your plans for the summer?

I have none.

It's been a while since I had an actual summer vacation.

I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do.

Oh, that's right.  I need to clean the house.  I have school stipend days.  I have loads of laundry to do.  I have meals to cook.  I promised D1 I would have another go at making xiaolongbao.  Okay, so much for vacation being relaxing.

Now that summer vacation (for some) is here, it's nice to have a cool dessert with dinner.

click on recipe title below for printable recipe

     3 pkgs unflavored gelatin
     3 small boxes Jello (all same flavor)
     1 1/4 c sugar
     2 1/2 c cold water, divided
     3 c boiling water
     8 oz Cool Whip

Soften unflavored gelatin in 1/2 c cold water.  Set aside.  In a large bowl. combine Jello and sugar.  Add boiling water and stir.  Add softened gelatin and stir until everything is dissolved.  Add remaining (2 c) cold water.  Add Cool Whip and beat well.  Pour into a 9 x 13" pan.  Refrigerate until set.  Cut into squares or bars.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Tea eggs

Happy May Day!  I can't believe it's already May.  In a few weeks, D1 will be home.  I hope she is able to power through her final exams.  She probably doesn't realize how much I stress over her.  It's probably more stressful than when I was in college.

May is also the month of Mother's Day.  Things will be different this year.  In honor of my mom (and D1's homecoming), the recipe for this month is tea eggs.  My mom enjoyed having these to snack on, and D1 loves them too.  The picture above is how I would serve the eggs if I was having a potluck.  The star anise and stray tea leaves look striking among the bronze-colored eggs.  I saw a similar recipe on the internet which called for a cinnamon stick, so I tried making a batch with the cinnamon stick.  It was okay, but I prefer it without the cinnamon.

A nice thing about tea eggs is that they don't need any additional seasoning (no need to carry a salt shaker).  The eggs are flavored during the simmering.  Be prepared for a beautiful surprise when the shells come off.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     6-8 eggs
     2 tbsp pu'erh or black tea
     1/2 c shoyu
     2 tsp salt
     2 tsp sugar
     3 star anise
     1 strip orange peel

Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan.  Gently slip eggs into boiling water and set timer for 11 minutes.  Meanwhile, prepare an ice water bath.  When timer rings, use a slotted spoon to transfer eggs to ice water.  Add remaining ingredients to water in saucepan.  Stir to dissolve salt and sugar.  When eggs are cool enough to handle, use the back of a spoon to gently crack eggs all over.  Do not remove shells.  Return cracked eggs to saucepan.  Add water to cover eggs by at least 1/2".  Simmer eggs for 1 hour.  Drain and serve.

Monday, April 3, 2017


April is generally not a month I enjoy.  When I was younger, I looked forward to Easter and all the candy that came along with the holiday.  Coloring eggs was also a much-anticipated activity.  But April always seemed like a month of endless rain.  And I don't like rain.  Everything starts to take on the damp feeling, and it makes me feel a bit foolish to be making a fire in the fireplace.  The window for that (in my mind) closes at the end of February.

Another reason for April receiving a bad mark in my book has been my inability to get going after spring break.  Getting back in the work groove after a break is hard, but it seems even more difficult transitioning from the 3rd to the 4th quarter.  Ugh.

Now that I'm older and have a child attending a college 3,000 miles away, April isn't so bad.  It means that I get to see my hiapo (firstborn in Hawaiian) in a few weeks.  I haven't seen her since early January when I dropped her off at the airport in Kona.  I miss her a lot.

With her imminent homecoming, I figured it would be a good time to get off my butt and start exercising a bit more diligently.  I bought myself a new fitbit and have been hitting the elliptical every weekday morning.  To amuse myself on the elliptical, I've been watching Craftsy videos.  It's amazing the kinds of classes they have for sale.  I've purchased both knitting and cooking classes.  The most recent class I watched was a class on making macarons, madeleines, and other miniature desserts.

Am I the only one who noticed how the previous paragraph covered BOTH exercising AND desserts?

I haven't tried making macarons, but I've been making madeleines for years.  I've tried multiple recipes, but I adapted a recipe I found on the internet.  The original recipe is delicious and was the only recipe I tried which I could replicate successfully time after time.  However, the drawback for me was the lemon zest.  I am not a big fan of using lemon zest in my desserts because I seldom buy lemons.  I have a lemon tree in my backyard, but the lemons do not usually boast beautiful, smooth, golden skin.  The skins are often sunburnt with a green-brown tinge, and the zest they yield does not look appealing in desserts.  This is unfortunate because the flavor of lemon zest is sublime.

So I took that recipe and adapted it for use without lemon zest.  However, I realized that I occasionally missed the lemon flavor.  Using lemon extract will not yield a product exactly like the original recipe, but lemon extract is easy to get.  Using the vanilla extract with a drop or two of lemon oil is another option, however lemon oil is more difficult to obtain.  Of course, the generous dusting of powdered sugar will hide unsightly zest pieces on the surface, but some people might be put off when they encounter off-color zest when they take a bite.

Collette Christian's Craftsy class offers yet another take on getting that citrus flavor.  She opts for dipping the madeleines in a glaze.  Interesting.  I have not yet tried the madeleines from the class, and I'm not sure if I actually will.  I purchased the class for the step-by-step macaron instructions.  I hope to try that out this summer when D1 is home. . . someone to wash my dishes.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1/4 c butter, melted and cooled
     2 eggs
     1/2 tsp vanilla extract (may replace half with 1/4 tsp lemon extract)
     pinch of salt
     1/3 c  sugar
     1/2 c flour
     powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Generously grease and flour the wells for 15 3" madeleines.  Combine eggs, vanilla, and salt, in a large (1 quart) glass measuring cup.  Gradually add sugar while beating at high speed.  Continue beating until mixture is light yellow and has increased in volume.  This will take about 10 minutes with a hand-held mixer.  Sift flour over egg mixture and fold in gently.  Add melted butter and fold in gently.  Using a #40 disher, divide batter among prepared wells.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Tap pan sharply to dislodge madeleines and place on a cooling rack to cool completely. Sift powdered sugar over madeleines when completely cool.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Whole Wheat Milk Bread or Rolls

The foundation for these rolls comes from Mika's blog, The 350 Degree Oven.  Like Mika, I admired "Japanese milk bread".  There was/is nowhere in Hilo which makes Japanese milk bread.  I first had this kind of bread from Panya in Honolulu.  The pillowy softness is what separates it from other local breads (Portuguese sweet bread, shokupan, etc.).  The key to the softness is using a cooked starter called "tangzhong".  Please read Mika's blog for a detailed explanation of what it does.

I must've inadvertently copied Mika's recipe incorrectly.  Only when I went back to her blog to check on something did I realize what I had done differently.  This was AFTER I had made both a loaf of hybrid whole wheat milk bread and a batch of hot cross buns (I will post this recipe another time)!  In spite of my oversight, both turned out great, and I'm posting the full recipe (the ingredients differ slightly from Mika's version).

Please don't be put off by the long recipe.  I've been wanting to do this post for a while, so all the baking times and temperatures for the variations are in the same place.  This is a recipe I use frequently, but I make shaping changes according to how we plan to eat this.  The standard shape for us is the sandwich roll.  These round rolls are perfect for stacking slices of salami or some of the round, paper-thin cold cuts.

I purchased an 11x11" square pan from just so I had a good pan to make these rolls.  When made in the square pan, the rolls touch each other and are great for having with soup, pasta, or stew.

I have even given loaves away as thank you gifts (seriously).  If you can spare a few minutes to learn a braiding technique, an oblong loaf or a round loaf can look unbelievably impressive.  One recipient told me she and her daughter finished the entire loaf in half-a-day (I gave it to her at work and the next morning, she told me it was gone).

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1/2 recipe of tangzhong (see below)
     1/2 c milk
     1 egg
     3 tbsp butter
     2 c bread flour
     1/2 c whole wheat flour
     4 tbsp sugar
     1/2 tsp salt
     2 tsp yeast

Place all ingredients in bread machine pan, following the manufacturer's ingredient order.  Start dough cycle.  Grease a large loaf pan (9 x 5"), a square pan (11 x 11"), an oblong pan (9 x 13"), a round pan (9"), or a flat, sheet pan.  When dough is done, divide dough and shape as desired.  
large loaf pan (grease and flour pan):  Shape dough into a traditional loaf shape or make a short, 6-strand braid).  Let rise for 40 minutes.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
square pan:  Divide dough into 16 pieces.  Shape into balls and place in 4 x 4 arrangement.  Let rise for 30-40 minutes.  Bake at 375 degrees for 13 minutes.
oblong pan:  Divide dough into 15 pieces.  Shape into balls and place in 3 x 5 arrangement.  Let rise for 30-40 minutes.  Bake at 375 degrees for 13-15 minutes.
round pan:  Shape dough into round ball or make a fancy braided round.  Let rise for 40 minutes.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
flat, sheet pan:
  • sandwich rolls:  Divide dough into 12 pieces.  Shape into balls and flatten.  Place in 3 x 4 arrangement.  Let rise 30-40 minutes  Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.
  • hotdog buns:  Divide dough into 10 pieces.  Shape into ropes.  Place in 2 x 5 arrangement.  Let rise 30-40 minutes.  Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.
  • hoagie rolls:  Divide dough into 8 pieces.  Shape into long ovals and flatten slightly.  Place in 2 x 4 arrangement.  Let rise 30-40 minutes.  Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.
Loaves/Rolls may be finished with a "wash".
  • melted butter:  brush on for a soft finish
  • milk:  brush on for a soft finish
  • egg yolk + 1 tbsp water:  brush on for a shiny glaze
  • egg white + 1 tbsp water:  brush on for a binder to adhere sesame seeds, poppy seeds, rock salt, etc.
Tangzhong (cooked starter)

     1/3 c flour (original recipe called for bread flour)
     7/8 c water (original recipe called for 1 cup)

Heat flour and water in a small saucepan, whisking constantly, until thickened to a paste.  Set aside to cool or refrigerate if not using immediately.