kruizing with kikukat

Monday, November 20, 2017

Another Greek Pasta Salad

I'm not sure what I was thinking, but I am having guests for Thanksgiving.  None of my guests are blog readers, and that's a good thing.  They won't know how I worked my tail off this weekend, trying to tidy up the house.  I am still not done, but I think I now have the mess at a manageable amount.

Truth be told, I did not spend ALL weekend cleaning.  Against my better judgement, I turned the TV to the UW-Utah game, thinking I would watch for a few minutes then get back to cleaning.  No such luck.  I got suckered in, and, 2 glasses of Kraken and Diet Coke later, I found myself screaming with a few seconds left in the game.  What a nail biter.

Throughout the game, my phone kept going off with updates about another football game.  The HHS football team played Damien Memorial High School for the Division I state title.  Not nearly the nerve-charged game as the UW game, but still exciting, especially since Damien drew first blood.

I was pleasantly surprised at how many friends were at the game.  Not friends who live in Hilo, but friends who live in Honolulu.  Several sent congratulatory messages via Facebook.  One of the well-wishers was someone I worked with nearly a decade ago.  She is lucky enough to be retired now...ahhh, someday.  But hearing from her brought back memories, and that's when it occurred to me that her recipe for Greek pasta salad would make a nice addition to my Thanksgiving lunch.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 lb thin strand pasta (angel hair, vermicelli, spaghettini, etc.)
     1/2 c vegetable oil
     3 tbsp lemon juice
     3 tbsp mayonnaise
     3 tbsp Greek seasoning (Cavender's is what we find here)
     1 can olives, sliced
     1 small jar pimientos, larger pieces sliced
     3 tbsp thinly sliced green onions

Cook pasta according to directions on box.  Drain and cool.  Combine oil, lemon juice, mayonnaise and Greek seasoning.  Mix with cooked/cooled pasta.  Toss in olives, pimientos and green onions.  Chill overnight.

Continuing the highlights of my recent Hokkaido trip..........
Sapporo, Japan
October 9, 2017:  Day 1
The Keeper made my hotel arrangements for me, and he chose a hotel which offered a complimentary breakfast.  Aside from "suite" type hotels, I am not accustomed to having breakfast provided, and I was quite surprised at what was on the buffet line.  Of course, I didn't take too much food since I knew we would be having breakfast at the Jougai Ichiba.

Jougai Ichiba was on The Keeper's itinerary.  It required a short hop on the train to get there.  I'm not sure which stop we got off, but I know we headed west from the Sapporo station.

Jougai Ichiba is also known as the Hokkaido curb market/Sapporo Central Wholesale Market.  I'm not sure why, as I did not see a curb anywhere, but vendors do have their goods on the sidewalk.  Vendors were very welcoming, suggesting we try the different foods.  I really wanted to buy a crab to eat, but I didn't know how long I'd be out.  And I certainly didn't bring my favorite weapon of choice (Joyce Chen kitchen snips).
Most of the vendors were selling either seafood or fruit.  Some of the seafood businesses had counterpart restaurants which offered to prepare the food for you.  That would've been fun to try, especially since I discovered that I like uni (sea urchin).  Perhaps I need to say that I like the taste of uni in Japan.  I've had uni in Hawaii, and it was either yucky or only okay.  But the uni sample the vendor let me try was sweet and buttery.  Yum.  I knew I would need to have more of it later.

The sweetheart of the fruit offerings has got to be the melon which every fruit stand proudly displays...yubari king melon.  The melon looks similar to the cantaloupes we see in the supermarkets.  But the yubari melon is more globular, and somewhere in size between a softball and a bowling ball.  There is usually a "T" shaped stem attached.  The orange fruit is extremely fragrant and sweet.  This fruit has the distinction of being the most expensive fruit in Japan.  I could probably eat one by myself (as a meal), but it would be my luck that I am allergic to musk melons.  I did allow myself to accept a sample from a vendor, but I quickly rinsed my mouth after eating it.

As promised, The Keeper took us to a restaurant above the shops.  From the picture menu, I selected the kitamae don.  I thought the uni and ikura would make me happy, but it was the raw scallops which put a huge smile on my face.  They were sweet and delicious.  It's hard to believe that I live on an island surrounded by water, but the seafood in Japan is superior.

After breakfast, we made our way back to the station, stopping at a 100-yen shop.  It was my first time at one of these shops.  Wow...the things one can find there!

We went back to the Sapporo station and made our way on foot to check out the old government building.  From there we walked down to Odori Park.  Most of us could not resist buying grilled corn.  The corn was so tasty.  It had just the right combination of salty and sweet.

In spite of being full from breakfast AND corn, we stopped at the Ramen Yokocho in Susukino.  This was where Anthony Bourdain ate when he was in Susukino. 

The Keeper and I decided to try the the chashu grilled pork spicy miso ramen at Teshikaga Ramen (this is not the restaurant which borders the street).  The ramen was a little oily, but that was to be expected.  There were at least 3 types of pork in the ramen:  a spicy ground pork, cubes of soft pork, and the grilled pork belly slab.  And as you can tell from the picture, I was still in denial.  I still thought I liked corn in my ramen.

Now this is where my mind gets a bit fuzzy.  Perhaps it's from too much eating, but our next stop was the Shiroi Koibito chocolate factory.  I cannot remember how we got there.  I think we went underground and caught a subway/train.  I think.  I am pretty sure the chocolate factory isn't too far from the Jougai Ichiba, where we were earlier in the day.  But The Keeper said we needed dessert.

The Shiroi Koibito chocolate factory is known for the famous shiroi koibito, a cookie sandwich.  Two langue de chat buttery cookies are sandwiched together with white chocolate.   It reminds me a little of the Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies.  In addition to shiroi koibito, the factory also has "Candy Labo", the hard candy division.  The Keeper, Nakaz, and I bought a bunch of things from Candy Labo.  I haven't eaten my Candy Labo yet, but I sent some "magic candy" to Heather, a knitting friend in Kansas.

We took a walking break and sat down to dessert in the restaurant of the factory.  The Keeper ordered a gigantic parfait with shine muscats.  I didn't think I could eat something so large, so I settled on something which I had been wanting to eat for nearly 2 decades:  baumkuchen (layered sponge cake).  My dessert would've been fine, had I not been urged by The Keeper to try a shine muscat.  I figured I wouldn't like it, since I don't eat grapes, but the shine muscat turned out to be something other-worldly.  I have never eaten anything so fragrant.

And I don't think I ever ate so much food in a single day.  Little did I know, we weren't done yet.  The Keeper told me that there was a place in one of the malls adjoining the Sapporo station which served tonkatsu even better than Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin (Waikiki).  I found that hard to believe, so I told him to bring it on.  We ended up at Tonkatsu Wako.

The Keeper was right.  The tonkatsu was  tender with a crisp, light and airy coating.  But to be perfectly honest, I prefer the dressing (for the cabbage) at Bairin.  The dressing at Tonkatsu Wako was not the sesame-mayo dressing I was expecting.  It was more like a ponzu.  I like ponzu, but NOT with tonkatsu and cabbage.

And finally, after all this eating, we made it back to the hotel for, what I hoped, would be a good night of sleep.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Feels Like Fall: Ohelo Berry (or cranberry!) Scones

I guess it's now time to start thinking about Fall and what I have to look forward to.  The weather seems a bit cooler, and I've actually been tempted to use the fireplace.

Expecting to buy some turkey, I thought it would be a good idea to take stock of freezer real estate.  Sadly, the availability of free space in there was dismal.

But my task did yield a pleasant find...frozen ohelo berries.  I must have picked them a few months ago and forgot I had them.  I had enough to make a dessert, but what I was really jonesing for was scones.

A few weeks ago, a nice student brought me 2 still-warm scones, courtesy of the culinary arts teacher (this is the same teacher who brought the taco salad to the potluck).  The scones were delicious, and since then, I've been wanting to make my own (=more; =as many as I want to eat).  Finding the ohelo berries was a good reason to get busy.

If you are not familiar with ohelo berries, please visit my post for Ohelo Berry Bars.  I have a link there for an explanation about these special berries.  I also have another post/recipe, Ohelo Berry Cream Cheese Pie.  Cranberries (coarsely chopped for this scone recipe), currants and blueberries would make good substitutes for ohelo berries.  And since it's November, we all know where we can find the best deal on cranberries. . .Costco!

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     2 1/2 c flour
     2 tbsp sugar
     2 1/2 tsp baking powder
     1/2 tsp baking soda
     1/2 tsp salt
     zest of 1/2 lemon
     1/2 c cold butter
     3/4 c buttermilk
     1 tbsp honey
     1 egg
     1/2 c fresh or frozen (and defrosted) ohelo berries (or coarsely chopped cranberries)
     turbinado or coarse sugar

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a measuring cup, stir together buttermilk, honey and egg.  In a food processor bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and lemon zest.  Pulse a few times to mix.  Add butter in chunks, and process until distributed throughout.  Remove flour mixture to a mixing bowl.  Stir in buttermilk mixture until barely combined.  Turn dough onto a generously floured surface and pat into a rectangle.  Spread berries on half of rectangle and flip plain half to cover berries.  Flatten out rectangle and fold into thirds (letter style).  Flatten again and fold in half.  Pat dough into a 7 x 10" rectangle.  Cut dough into 6 squares and cut each square into 2 triangles.  Place triangles onto parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Sprinkle tops with turbinado sugar.  Bake 16-19 minutes.  Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

This recipe was adapted from the buttermilk scone recipe found on the Canadian Living website.  When I tried the original recipe, it was difficult to work with because of the super-sticky dough.  I changed a few things to make the dough manageable and added ohelo berries.

 Sapporo, Japan
October 8, 2017, Arrival:  Night 1

We arrived in Sapporo on Sunday evening.  I know we were delayed an hour or so out of Honolulu (something about a small part called "landing gear") but I have no idea what time it was when we finally checked in to our hotel. 

The Keeper's suggestion, Toyoko Inn (we stayed at the one across the street from the Hokkaido University campus), turned out to be very clean and orderly.  It was not ostentations like some of the hotels I stayed at on my last visit to Japan, but it was good enough.  I actually lol'd when I stepped into the elevator...some of my friends would need to ride it solo!  It was fricken small.  The Help, OllieMama and I, with our luggage, barely fit.

Finding a place to eat was just as challenging as squeezing into the elevator.  As we walked around Sapporo station, restaurants were putting up closing signs.  Five of us (the other two ate at a robata restaurant across the hall) ended up at a ramen place in the station.  For me, the biggest "aha" came with the ordering system.  Instead of reciting your order to someone, you put your $ in what appears to be a modified vending machine and make your selection(s).  The machine will spit out a ticket(s), which you hand to the person behind the counter.  Being handicapped in reading Japanese, I just ordered what The Keeper ordered (less gyoza) would've taken too long for him to read the entire menu to me.   

The ramen was tasty enough, but The Keeper felt it wasn't THE BEST example of Hokkaido ramen.  Apparently, we ordered a spicy miso ramen with corn topped with a huge chunk of butter.  Although full of pork flavor, the broth was rather thick and bit too spicy for what I would want as a broth.  There was definitely a "grill" flavor (this is a good thing) very similar to the flavor which keeps me ordering the Osaka saimin at Restaurant Osaka (in Hilo). Maybe it was all the excitement of being in a new place, but I could hardly eat half of it.

And I should have learned from this...I don't like corn in my ramen.

We spent the rest of the evening checking out the area in and around the station.  There were so many food vendors on the main floor (where the ticket machines are).  I made a mental note of what I planned to eat in the next few days.

In spite of not being able to eat my dinner, I couldn't resist buying my first Mister Donut pon de ring.  It was yummy.  I vaguely remember hearing about Mister Donut, and I'm pretty sure D1 had a pon de ring when she went to Sumoto with the Builders Club.  But nothing could prepare me for the texture.  The donut was light, yet chewy.  Since then, I've read a bunch of different blog posts about what makes the pon de ring so chewy.  Here is a pon de ring recipe at the Cooking of Joy blog.  It's the first one I plan to try when I recover from jet lag.  Of course, I've got a list of other things I want to try replicating too (like that darn cheese tart).

There were a lot of people still milling about, and I couldn't wait til the next day so I could get my bearings.  Being confused and disoriented with direction was not a good feeling.  And at this point, all entrances/exits to the station looked the same! 

I was too tired to even try and orient myself with landmarks. . .I blame it on being awake way past my bedtime.  Unlike some of my fellow travelers, I could not fall asleep on the flight.  I had a super hard sudoku book and a knitting project to keep me entertained, and I ended up doing a bunch of puzzles and starting (and frogging,  re-starting, re-frogging, and re-starting) a cowl.

I was a bit apprehensive about bringing knitting with me on the plane.  I was careful to bring wooden interchangeable needles, and since I hadn't started the project, I kept the cable separate from the needles tips.  I also made sure that what I brought was replaceable...I could buy another cable and tip assembly.  And the yarn I had with me was not nearly as precious as a skein from the Cyborg's Craft Room. . .just in case those monsters decided to confiscate my things.

I went to bed that evening feeling grateful to The Keeper for getting us to the hotel from the station.  The last time I was in a train station (Osaka), I vowed never to enter without leaving a breadcrumb trail to find my way out. 

I was also hoping that it would be cold enough to wear all the shit I knitted.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Beryl's Special Dressing for Doritos Salad

There are two stars of this post.

The first star is a creamy dressing which goes so well with nacho cheese Doritos.

I began making this dressing back in 2002.  I was prego and jonesing for something cool and crunchy.  My coworker at the time gave me this recipe and told me to eat this with lettuce and crushed nacho cheese Doritos.  Since I was on bedrest at the time, I had my mom prepare this for me.  I couldn't believe how good it was.  Since then, I've made this numerous times for lunch.  It's fast to pack and very simple to throw together.  And for whatever reason, I never thought to post it here.

A few months ago, while working at a volleyball game, I noticed that the concession was selling something called "Doritos salad".  Turns out, they were selling shredded lettuce, chopped tomato, and crushed nacho cheese Doritos with Beryl's Special Dressing!  The addition of tomatoes, I must admit, was really nice.  Of course, I wish they would've taken the time to remove all the tomato seeds and slime, but this is MY hang-up, not theirs.

Then at the last faculty meeting of the year, one of my current coworkers brought a taco salad.  It was served in a pan and consisted of the typical taco salad ingredients:  lettuce, tomato (with seeds!), taco meat, and cheese.  But topping the salad was a layer of crushed nacho cheese Doritos and a generous all-over drizzle of a dressing which tasted exactly like, you guessed it, Beryl's Special Dressing!  While the tomato addition at the concession was nice, the taco meat and cheese took it over the top.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1/3 c mayonnaise
     1 tbsp sugar
     1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Combine all ingredients with a whisk.  Chill until ready to serve.

If you don't have the time to prepare the taco meat and fixins, don't despair.  A simple salad made with just shredded lettuce, crushed chips and this dressing is awesome in it's own right.  It is good enough reason to always buy a gigantic bag of nacho cheese Doritos from Costco.

The second (but not lesser) star of this post is The Keeper.

I had the good fortune of befriending The Keeper many moons ago.  I'm not sure how we met, but we hit it off immediately and have been close ever since.  Over the years, he has listened to my bitching, shared some of his own, and provided me hours of entertainment and education with tales of his travels in the land of the rising sun.

This past week, The Keeper's arm of friendship and kindness, extended far beyond any expectation when he took me (and a few others) to Hokkaido for the trip of a lifetime.

We spent four-ish glorious days together, stuffing our faces with local seafood (mostly raw), savory ramen, decadent sweets, and, surprisingly, very little alcohol (for me, at least; my alcohol consumption was limited to a sip of something which tasted like grape juice in a can purchased by The Keeper from a vending machine at a train station).  Most of us bought amulets at a shrine, possibly to protect us from blowing our fortune$ at the shopping venues.

I learned so much about Hokkaido and Japan, as a whole.  Japan is such a beautiful country, and Hokkaido has it all. . .an upscale city (Sapporo) with a vibrant night life district (Susukino), as well as quaint towns (Otaru and Hakodate), not unlike Hilo.  At times, I felt like I was traveling with the Old Lord of Mito (Mito Komon) on his journey and wondering which character I was...Kaku-san (a retainer), Ogin (a ninja), or Hachibei (the jester). 

According to my fitbit, I walked over 100k steps in those four-ish days, which equals somewhere over 40 miles.  In spite of having to haul my ass around Hokkaido and worrying about chafing in the nether-regions, I could not possibly thank The Keeper enough for allowing me to interlope on his vacation.  An entire lifetime would not be enough time.  

To The Keeper:  私の心の底からとてもありがとう。 あなたの友情は常に大事にされます。

And my trip would not have been possible without The Help.  My air ticket was my birthday present, and he took care of my home and family (four-legged, finned, and feathered members) while I was away.  Much thanks. . .you are my rock, even if not everyone knows your name.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Toaster Oven Food: Cheesecake Bars

I cannot believe how fast time flew by.  This Friday marks the end of the first quarter of the school year.    Soon it will be time to buy Halloween candy (to be consumed before Halloween!).

Last weekend, The Help, D2, and I went to Honolulu.  I had my ophthalmologist appointment, and it was also a belated back-to-school shopping trip for D2.

We stayed at the Hawaii Prince Hotel.  This was our first stay there since the renovations.  I was very impressed with the transformation.  While the lobby had a more contemporary, open feel, the room transformation was nothing short of amazing:  lots of granite and very clean lines.  They bathroom even contained a Toto washlet!

In spite of going to Honolulu for the purpose of shopping, we seemed to spend a lot of time eating.  We arrived early enough to walk over to Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin, arguably the best tonkatsu restaurant in Honolulu.

I didn't realize how much D2 likes curry.  I expected her to order chicken katsu, and I was surprised when she ordered chicken katsu CURRY.

After an unmemorable lunch at Liliha Bakery, we knew we had to redeem ourselves with dinner.  We enjoyed a steaming hot bowl of ramen at Wagaya, one of the 9 best ramen places in Honolulu according to Thrillist.  Since we were done early enough, we decided to have dessert at a place we've been wanting to try for a while, Marion Crepes.

Marion Crepes Hawaii is located in Shirokiya Japan Village Walk.  They serve crepes with various fillings.  I'm quite sure I saw savory fillings on the menu, but since this was dessert, we had to go with sweet fillings.  The Help selected a yummy-looking-but-rather-uninteresting strawberry crepe.  D2 ordered a fruit crepe with a substantial scoop of green tea ice cream. 

I didn't realize how much D2 likes green tea sweets. 

I ordered a strawberry crepe with a piece of cheesecake.  It was absolutely delicious.  In fact, all of us enjoyed our crepes, but the prices are not for the faint of heart.  Our dessert cost nearly $30!

After a week back at work, I'm ready for another vacation. 

I am looking forward to Fall intersession and the adventures that await.  I'm hoping I won't forget to pack everything I need.  I have some sweaters, a shawl, and a new hat I can't wait to use!

Meanwhile, I need to concentrate on getting through this week.  I have progress reports and grades to do.  And I have to feed KikukatDad.  KikukatDad isn't too picky about food, but he likes to have dessert after his dinner.

Inspired by the yummy cheesecake in my dessert crepe, I wanted to make a simple cheesecake to serve KikukatDad.  Square desserts are so unfussy, and they fit nicely in the toaster need to heat the big oven to make this.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 1/3-1 1/2 c graham cracker crumbs
     1 tbsp sugar
     4 tbsp melted butter
     16 oz cream cheese
     1 c sugar
     2 tsp vanilla extract
     2 tsp lemon juice
     3 eggs
     1 c sour cream

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Combine graham cracker crumbs, 1 tbsp sugar, and 4 tbsp melted butter.  Press into an 8 x 8" baking pan (for easy clean up, line pan with foil before pressing in crumbs).  Bake for 10 minutes.  While crust is baking, prepare filling by beating cream cheese until fluffy.  Gradually add sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice.  Beat in eggs, one at a time.  Blend in sour cream.  Pour over baked crust and bake for 70 minutes.  Turn oven off, leave door slightly ajar, and leave cheesecake in oven for 1 hour.  Remove from oven and chill at least 4 hours or overnight.

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.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Twice Baked Potatoes (Pan Style)

A little over a month ago, my family got together to celebrate the holidays.  One night which has always been a quandary for us is new years eve.  Traditionally, the family celebration has always been new years day.  The night was a time spent preparing for the next days party, as many dishes need to be started the day before serving.  This year, even without my mother, things were no different.  The family party, which was generously catered by my cousin, was on January 1.  This left me with time to have a few family members (those who did not have another party to attend) over for dinner.

My dad happened to be in Safeway on a day when New York roasts were $5/pound.  He left Safeway with 3 roasts and could not believe his good fortune.  I could not believe my MISfortune, as the New York cut is not a cut I enjoy eating.  My dad has been through a lot of shit this year, so instead of arguing, I agreed to cook, not one, but TWO New York roasts.

In an attempt to placate myself by serving something I would enjoy, I attempted to make twice baked potatoes in the shells.  It was the first time I even considered making it in the shell, and I thought it would look fancy next to the slab of roast beast.  I guess it wasn't my time to make it happen because I ended up making it in a casserole dish.  It turned out to be a huge hit (in addition to the salad).  My cousins loved it.  I made 1 1/2 recipes, and most of it was gone by the end of the evening.  That's a lot of potato pulp for less than 10 people!

Since my cousin Otee is a devoted Kikukat follower, I thought I'd post the recipe for the potatoes (and a link to the dressing is above) for him.  Although he doesn't cook much, he is known to hibachi a steak.  He can print out the recipe for the potatoes and have his brother make it for him!

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     4 russet potatoes
     2 tbsp butter
     1/2 tsp salt
     1/4 tsp pepper
     1 c sour cream
     1 c shredded cheese, divided
     1/2 c bacon bits

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Bake potatoes for 1 hour, directly on rack.  Let cook 15 minutes.  Scrape pulp into a bowl.  Combine pulp with all other ingredients, reserving 1/2 c shredded cheese for topping.  Place in an au gratin dish and sprinkle remaining cheese over the top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.