Tag Archives: lunch

Easy Japanese Dishes Pt. 1 – Easy Cheeseburger Ramen

For anyone wishing to try Japanese dishes, yet not fond of sushi, the recipe below is simple and requires few specialized ingredients. It is the first of two or three posts I will be making on this theme.

Dried ramen noodle soup packages may be used for more than just cheap university food. I found the recipe for this Cheeseburger ramen on the TabiEats YouTube channel. I made a couple of changes to their recipe, such as cutting the lettuce (romaine) into three-quarter inch strips, to make eating the lettuce easier. I also reduced the amount of the dried seasoning package used to 1/8-1/4 tsp. Using the full package is just excessive as no one needs that much salt and/or MSG in their diets.

Easy Cheeseburger Ramen – serves 1

3 lettuce leaves, iceberg or romaine, cut into 3/4 inch strips
2 slices cheddar cheese, sliced about 1/2 inch wide
150 gm ground meat (beef and pork mixture)
1 tsp vegetable oil, for frying the burger patty
1 pkg ramen noodles
small pickle, thinly sliced for garnish (optional)
ketchup and mustard, garnish

Add the sliced lettuce strips to a serving plate and reserve.

Shape the ground meat into a 3-4 inch diameter patty. Add the vegetable oil to the frying pan and cook the patty over medium heat for 2-3 min on the first side. Turn the patty over and cook on the second side until no longer pink inside. Break the patty into six to eight pieces or wedges after a minute or so. It helps to cook the meat more quickly and you’ll be able to tell when the meat is done.

Bring 4 cup of water to the boil in a medium sized cooking pot. Cook the the ramen noodles as per package instructions. Set aside the seasoning package. Reduce the cooking time as you’ll be cooking the noodles further with the meat.

Drain the ramen noodles and add to the frying pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Toss the noodles with the meat to coat with the meat juices. Scatter the sliced cheese over the top and toss gently. Sprinkle about 1/8 tsp of the ramen seasoning packet contents over the noodles and meat. Mix well and taste. Add an additional 1/8 tsp if needed.

Turn the noodles and meat out over the lettuce lined plate.

Add the pickle slices over the top, if used. Garnish with ketchup and mustard and serve.

Note: You can make your own version of this dish using the pasta of your choice. Season with salt and pepper or Maggi seasoning sauce or bouillon/dry soup mix.

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Bierocks/Runzas … First Attempt

I finally got a chance to make a batch of these sweet dough bread pockets using the recipe posted on The Frugal Hausfraus blog. Besides using leftover shredded sauerbraten instead of ground beef and adding about half a cup of grated old cheddar cheese to the filling once it was cooled, I also tried an alternative shaping method. It didn’t make the assembly much faster although the seams didn’t open up as often.

Square runzas – half the dough rolled out about 1/4 inch thick, 10 inches by 15 inches in size, squared off and cut into six 5 inch by 5 inch squares
Round runzas – 85 gms of dough patted out to a circle that was about 4 inches in diameter


Review: The recipe estimated being able to make a dozen runzas but I ended up with fourteen, and still had filling left over, so I’d cut back on the amount of cabbage used from about four cups to 2 1/2-3 cups in the future. Making the filling the day before, so that it has a chance to cool, is also advised. On the whole though, the dough was simple to make and the results were quite tasty. My shaping, especially on the square runzas, needs work.

ETA (01/02/2019): If you don’t want to use ground beef, try ground chicken or turkey. Or even pork.

Sushi at Home – Purple Sushi Rice

Even if the only sushi fillings you have in your fridge are cream cheese (home made Boursin) and smoked salmon, you can turn your boring old Philadelphia roll into a dramatic visual by colouring your sushi rice and then using it to make an inside out roll.

The ingredient responsible for that change … red cabbage. Grate a fist sized wedge finely on your microplane zester, drain off the liquid, add a bit of lemon juice to the liquid to make the colour ‘pop’ and stir it into your cooked sushi rice. Easy peasy. (NOTE: My method involved adding 2 tbsp of seasoned rice vinegar to a generous handful of finely shredded red cabbage, pureeing it and then straining the resulting liquid into a cup or two of hot, freshly cooked sushi rice.)

Inside out Purple Philadelphia Roll

Onigirazu (sushi rice sandwich) with cream cheese, smoked salmon and red cabbage. Sliced avocado may also be added.

Colouring the Sushi Rice

Making the Inside Out Roll

Making the Onigirazu

Chicken Knish (Trial #1)

I’ve been meaning to make a batch of  knish for some time … years actually. But something always got in my way. I’m home sick today so I pulled a half pound of raw, cubed, chicken breasts out of the freezer, thawed it enough so I could mince/grind it up in my food processor and made what was the easiest dough/filling recipe that I found in my internet searches.

I should have had my suspicions when there were no reviews posted.

Oh, well. You live and learn.

The recipe wasn’t a complete FAIL and the knishes tasted alright, but there were some issues.

The dough – Very soft and wet. I kneaded in some more flour before oiling the plastic wrap, wrapping the dough up in it, and then refrigerating the dough while I made the filling.

The filling – I eyeballed a ‘cup’ of chopped chicken breast to equal about 1/2 lb/227 gm and froze it away a couple of days ago. However, the directions (1 tbsp of filling) seemed … off. And it was. A cup comes out to about SIXTEEN tablespoons, even if you ignore the contribution from the small grated carrot and chopped onion.

So, did that mean I was to roll out sixteen circles and fill them? The problem was that I didn’t have a HOPE of rolling out that miniscule amount of dough thin enough in order to do so. I rolled out the dough about 1/8th of an inch thick and was able to cut out four (3 3/4 inch) circles. I divided the filling into four portions and shaped them into balls which I placed on top of each of the circles of dough. Picking the knishes UP was another problem. And the dough was SO soft and sticky that wrapping it around the giant ball of filling was almost impossible as it kept tearing. I was determined to succeed however. Because I’m FRUGAL and didn’t intend to discard the trimmings from the dough, I gathered them up and roughly shaped and rolled them out into a FIFTH circle of dough. Then, I re-portioned the chicken filling so I could fill all five of the knishes.

I floured my hands and shaped the knishes as best as I could. The last knish was shaped a bit differently as I wrapped the dough completely around the meat filling.

The baking temperature – I did a fast conversion of the baking temperature (180 deg C /~350 deg F) but realized that the dough wasn’t getting as brown as I wanted in the time suggested, so I increased the temperature to 375 deg F, for the last 15 minutes. And then I baked the knishes for another 10 minutes. I even turned on the broiler for a few minutes but they were still pale.

The knishes were baked on a dark metal baking sheet lined with parchment paper and the bottom was lovely and brown. It was also HARD. The sides though were nice and tender, even if pale. The filling was moist and bouncy, so it was not over-baked. Even without any dipping sauce (Dijon mustard or ketchup), the knish I ate was very tasty.

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Sourdough Bagels

My sourdough starter jar was getting a bit full (relatively speaking, as it was in a BIG jar, rather than my usual 2 cup one) so I had planned on refreshing the contents by making a batch of sourdough flour tortillas.

And then I was inspired by a themed post on a FB group I belong to to make sourdough bagels. After posting a request for a recommended recipe, I decided on the simplest of the bunch, which I actually found by net-surfing. And it only made eight bagels, which was perfect as my upstairs freezer is getting VERY full, again. I used up the last drop of starter in the jar (though I’ve got a couple of jars of dried starter in the pantry) so I won’t have to do weekly starter feedings for a while.

The results were very tasty, dense and chewy in texture. Breaking out the stand mixer to knead the dough was a smart idea as that’s a tough dough to knead by hand. And, although the bagels weren’t shaped as nicely as I’d hoped, none of them came undone during the boiling step even though I used the “sealed rope” method of shaping. The hydration of this dough meant that the two ends stuck together during the shaping, especially as I didn’t use additional flour when rolling out the dough into a rope.

Fried Egg, Bacon and Cheese Bagel Sandwich

Bagel Pizzas

Sourdough Bagel Pictorial

Dough was kneaded in a stand mixer for 10-15 min on medium speed, rested, shaped and proofed at room temperature for 3-4 hrs until puffy and then cold retarded for 4-8 hrs before being boiled and baked. The cold retarding develops flavour and lets the bagels harden enough to be easily picked up and transferred to their boiling water bath without deformation. (Especially if you don’t crowd your fridge and end up dropping a container on top of a couple of your bagels.)

Even though the bagels spread during refrigeration and I was sure I was going to end up with bagel pancakes, oven spring during the baking gave them a nice lift so they were plump and lovely.

Crumb – Sliced into while still warm, because who can resist a bagel fresh out of the oven? I know I can’t.

Chirashi Sushi (Scattered Sushi) and More

Eating out at one of the local sushi restaurants is a great treat, but, when I’m strapped for cash, I make my own.

There are many rolled and shaped types of sushi but this version is one of the easiest to make and requires no special equipment or rolling skills. And nori (seaweed) is not needed.

You can serve/assemble this dish in whatever container you’ve got … a special sushi bowl, a bento box or just a pretty bowl that’s large enough to hold your rice and toppings.

Chirashi or “scattered” sushi starts with a bowl of sushi (seasoned) rice and is topped with an assortment of ingredients. Of course, you may use raw fish (dip in soy sauce before eating) or other items traditionally found in sushi rolls.

Chirashi Sushi – serves 2,  1 1/2 cups of cooked rice per person

1 cup raw sushi rice**, Calrose, Nishiki and Kokuho Rose are what I’ve tried

Cook according to package directions and then season with two to three tablespoons of seasoned rice vinegar. Each cup of raw sushi rice will give you three cups of cooked sushi rice.

** Note: This amount of rice is enough to make 4-6 sushi rolls

I decided to cut back on the rice serving size, to one cup (instead of 1 1/2), so that I could make three different sushi dishes.

Toppings

raw ahi tuna
blanched shrimp
hard boiled egg, sliced into wedges or rings
sliced avocado
sliced green onion

Condiments

wasabi
soy sauce, for the raw tuna
pickled ginger

If you can find wasabi powder, make it fresh ( 1 1/2 heaping teaspoon of wasabi powder with 1 tsp of cold water stirred in) for each sushi meal as the heat lessens as it stands. Store the powder in the freezer to keep it fresh.

Garnishes

shredded nori
masago (capelin or flying fish roe)

Ochazuke or “rice with green tea” is a great way of using up leftover cooked sushi rice, odds and ends from making sushi rolls, grilled fish and blanched fresh or pickled vegetables.

Ochazuke – serves 1

1 cup leftover cooked sushi rice (unseasoned), reheated in the microwave
1 cup of hot green tea
toppings ie furikake (rice seasoning)

If you stir your raw fish into the hot tea, it will poach quickly.

And with my third cup of sushi rice and the last of the raw ahi tuna I had thawed, I made these two traditional sushi rolls. The spicy tuna roll was topped with masago (capelin roe) while the other roll just had strips of the tuna and avocado so that the flavour of the tuna could be appreciated ‘naked’.

Pantry/Freezer Clearout – Hash Brown Patties

During the summer, my monthly discretionary budget is pretty strict, but I recently had to “borrow from Peter to pay Paul” due to some unexpected expenses. Which means that the pantry clear-out is even more important.

There was a large bag of frozen hash brown patties in the freezer with a paltry six patties left. What to do … what to do?

Bake the patties off first (20 min at 400 deg F) and then use your imagination.

If you’re cooking for a family of two to four, you can make all kinds of casserole dishes. Replace lasagna noodles with the patties for a potato lasagna and fill with sauteed veggies for a tasty Italian vegetarian option. However, the patties are also convenient for singles who don’t have a lot of time to whip up something filling.

I decided on Eggs Benedict (eggs are relatively cheap) on a potato patty with leftover Hollandaise. The sauce stands up to refrigeration far longer than the experts advise and with gentle reheating in the microwave just until you can spoon the sauce, you’ve got a great breakfast or lunch dish. Instead of ham, I used the last couple of slices of peameal bacon from the freezer. I had bought a peameal bacon roast on sale, a while ago, and sliced it myself into eight 3/8-1/2 inch slices and then portioned them for easy thawing, as needed.

Another option for the leftover Hollandaise: Add a couple of tablespoons of the cold Hollandaise to a serving of hot pasta. The heat of the pasta will melt the cold sauce creating a rich and creamy sauce. I like linguine, fettuccine or spaghetti.

The potato patties also make a tasty base for a pizza. I had some grated mozzarella cheese in the freezer and spooned on a couple of tablespoons of that spaghetti sauce that I got such a great deal on. A couple of fresh basil leaves from my sturdy Italian basil plant … and you’ve got a hash brown potato pizza Margherita.

Three patties down and three to go.

Hawaiian Style Ahi Tuna Poke … Appetizer or Quinoa Bowl

I’ve been wanting to try this Hawaiian dish ever since I ran across mention of it in some readings I was doing for other Hawaiian cuisine … the classic or Spam loco moco, and Spam musubi come to mind. However, whenever I had had good quality ahi tuna on hand, I always ended up making something else. A month or two ago, I bought a one pound package of ahi tuna, individually vacuum packed in quarter pound portions. Today’s freezing cold and light snow seems a strange time to make something that’s native to Hawaii’s sun filled shores but it seemed to be perfect for me.

Some recipes use a lot of acid (lemon or lime juice) and marinate the raw tuna for a couple of hours, creating what is an essentially a ‘ceviche’ … where the fish is cooked by the acid. In this version, the pretty pink cubes of tuna are lightly dressed with the marinade and served as soon as possible. A half hour wait in the refrigerator, at most, is acceptable

Appetizer/Starter/First Course … if desired, place the tuna in a shallow bowl and eat with crunchy wonton wedges or tortilla chips

Light Lunch version Quinoa Bowl

Hawaiian Style Ahi Tuna Poke – serves 4

1 pound sashimi/sushi grade ahi tuna, cut into 1/2-3/4 inch cubes
3-4 green onion tops, thinly sliced, reserve some for garnish

Dressing
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp honey
1/2 tbsp toasted sesame seed oil
1/2-3/4 tsp red pepper flakes, crushed (adjust the amount to your preference)
1/2 tsp sesame seeds (black, white or mixed), plus more for garnish

Optional
1 tbsp dry wakame seaweed, soaked in boiling water until rehydrated (~15 min), drained and thinly sliced
1 tbsp dry hijiki seaweed, soaked in boiling water until rehydrated (~15 min), drained
togarashi (dry Japanese chile pepper mixture) or furikake (Japanese sushi rice seasoning)

Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or measuring cup. Whisk together. Taste and adjust the sweet/salt/tang level.

Place the tuna and green onions in a medium sized bowl. If using seaweed, add at this point.

Spoon the dressing over the top and toss gently. Divide among serving dishes.

For a pretty appetizer, spoon the tuna into champagne coupe glasses. Sprinkle the garnishes over the top … sesame seeds, more sliced green onion, togarashi etc.

For a light meal, place a half cup of cooked quinoa (or rice) in a bowl and top with the dressed tuna. Garnish.

Vietnamese Baguettes (Banh Mi)

PICTURE HEAVY POST:

These tasty breads are a product of the French colonization of Vietnam and similar to the French baguette. They’re usually filled with sweet and tangy pickled vegetables and an assortment of cold cuts or warm grilled meats.

I made a trio of baguettes using the recipe posted on “Danang Cuisine” website. Though I weighed the all purpose flour and water carefully, my dough ended up much wetter than in the pictures posted or on the accompanying video so I added another 1/2 cup (~60 gm) in order to get a dough that was no longer sticky and firm enough to  shape easily.

Pictorial Recipe

Creating the sponge … just mixed, two hours later, and after addition of the reserved flour

Additional flour/kneading, after doubling and shaping

Baguettes ready for proofing, proofed, slashed and ready for baking

Baked baguettes with a shot of the underside

Interior of the baguette

 

Banh Mi filled with flaked Sriracha mayonnaise, basted and baked, salmon, romaine and extra mayo (actually Miracle Whip)

Cross-section and crumb of the baguette