The Post Foodie

Japanese Beef Stew

I’m leaving for a trip to Japan in a few weeks.  I’m kind-of starting to freak out a little bit.  But really, I’m super excited. This will surely be an incredible experience.

Because I’ve had Japan on the brain, because I pretty much always have food on the brain, and because it is the season for beef stew, it wasn’t long before I started putting this together in my head .

I wanted this stew to be as authentic as possible, so I went to the Internets. I did a little research. I learned that in Japan a staple comfort food is brown curry that has many stew-like qualities: simmered beef, onion, carrots, and potatoes.

Here I used a Japanese sweet potato.  So good in this dish!

I marinated my stew beef in soy, tamarind, and grated ginger.

The most important piece to this dish is to take your curry powder and fry it with flour in oil to create a roux.

Once you’ve got your roux going, you’ve softened your veggies and seared your beef, add a key Japanese cooking ingredient: mirin.  Once you’ve reduced the mirin, beef broth is your next key staple.

I had to run to run out from my apartment for a few minutes during the cooking process, and when I walked back in it smelled amazing!  Beef stew slowly simmering on the stove-top- life can’t get much better than this.

I also added some authentic Japanese udon noodles when serving.  I finished the stew with a toasted sesame oil cilantro drizzle.

Recipe

  • Start with your roux.  Heat a good amount of peanut oil (like two or three tbsp) in a Cruseut or other soup pot.  Peanut oil has a fairly low smoking point, so keep the heat at the medium-low level.
  • Once the oil become fragrant, stir in a heaping tbsp of flour and a couple big spoonfuls of curry powder. I used muchi curry powder, but feel free to play with others.  I wanted a nice brown curry powder for this dish, without having something that was going to taste distinctly Indian. When I make this dish in the future, I’m going to do a little more exploring and see about finding a real Japanese curry powder.
  • Anyhow, whisk the spices into the oil and allow to toast and form a pasty sauce-like consistency.
  • Stir in a half on onion that has been quartered.  Sweat the onion with the lid covered, at least partially so, until soft.
  • Stir in carrot and a couple cloves of minced garlic and cook for a couple more minutes.
  • Push veggies to the side of the pot, and sear beef for just a couple of minutes.  It might be a good idea to add a touch of peanut oil before adding beef.  I didn’t do this, but I wish I would have.
  • Add mirin, enough to cover the bottom of the pot, plus a little more. Bring up to a boil and simmer down for a few minutes.
  • Stir in a handful of natural cane sugar and a generous amount of soy sauce.
  • Stir in beef broth. Also Add Japanese sweet potato that’s been cut into about 1in cubes.  Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer for an hour, or more if you have the time. Keep partially covered, and stir occasionally.
  • Meanwhile, make your finishing drizzle by pulsing a handful of cilantro leaves with a tablespoon or so of toasted sesame oil in a food processor.  When you finally pour this on your soup, however, do NOT use all at once.  Start with a very small amount, taste, and go from there. Toasted sesame oil has a very strong flavor, that will easily overpower a dish. You really want just a small hint of sesame flavor to add dimension. A hint.
  • Be sure to taste periodically through the process.  More soy? More sweetness?
  • After an hour, your potatoes will be very soft and your beef will be pretty tender.  Remember, the longer you simmer, the more tender your meat will be.
  • Right before serving, cook udon noodles according to package directions. This usually only takes a few minutes.
  • Serve stew over udon and top with a small amount of sesame drizzle.
  • Serve with a cold Sapporo, and add more soy sauce or sesame drizzle to taste. Yum! This turned out really, really well! I will definitely be making it again before stew season is over. Maybe I’ll even pick up some real Japanese curry powder while I’m in Japan.

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Beat Your Winter Blues Tropical Smoothie

 

Oh, the late days of winter, especially in Oregon. Usually around this time of year, I start to fantasize about living somewhere tropical, where the sun always shines, and you can wear shorts and sandals all the time.  These are the days you just don’t want to wear your winter coat anymore.  When plans for visiting the Japanese Gardens on their one rare free admission day that actually co-insides with a day off from work, but the plans are foiled by an abysmal cold drizzle.  When this is the view out of my kitchen window..

Well, luckily we live in a time when the sun won’t bring itself to us, we bring ourselves to the sun. Or we use viable substitutes.  I’m talking bright, flavorful, and very tropical fruit!

Recipe

  • Peel and cut into chunks a kiwi, and about a third of a mango.
  • Slice a small banana and a slice of fresh lime.
  • Blend with mango-lime yogurt (Wallaby Organics) and a nice splash of all-natural 100% fruit tropical blend juice.
  • Be carried away to the warm beach as you sip this sweet little breakfast.

Homemade Chicken Tortilla Soup

I wanted a soup that was as authentic as what you get at the Mexican restuarant. I’m tired of whitey shortcuts to ethnic food! With some extra love, this soup turned out just as delicioso!

After simmering bone-in, skin-on chicken breast for several hours in the process of making my own chicken stock for the soup, the chicken was pull-apart tender.  Perfecto!

Here in the Pacific Northwest, a thriving Latino culture provides for the best locally made fresh tortillas.

I used fresh white corn tortillas, toasted in the oven with olive oil and plenty of salt.  Tasty!  I bet blue tortillas would be pretty, too, if you can get your hands on them.

A little bit of cream and a generous handful of sun-dried tomatoes were added at the end to round out the flavors of the soup, making it more interesting.

Requisite toppings: creamy avocado, sweet corn salsa, and a fresh squeeze of lime.

Recipe

  • First off, I made my own chicken stock for the soup.  I took a bone-in/skin on chicken breast, and simmered it for several hours with lots of other ingredients.  This provided the perfect chicken to use for the soup.  It literally fell apart into perfect little strings.
  • Sweat an onion and garlic in oil until soft.  Spice it up with some cayenne, lots of cumin, and a few dashes of chili powder.
  • Add broth and shredded chicken and allow to simmer on low heat for 20-30 minutes to infuse all the flavors.
  • Meanwhile, heat the oven to 425.  Slice a few of the corn tortillas into 1/2 inch strips.  Gently toss with some olive oil and salt and spread evenly on a cookie sheet.  They should be done by the time your soup is ready, but keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.  In a perfect world, the middle of the tortillas will still be slightly chewy, while the edges will be brown and crispy.
  • When the soup is almost finished, add sun-dried tomatoes and cream to taste.
  • Stir in diced avocado, then top with a squeeze of fresh lime, plenty of crispy tortilla strips, and a spoonful of sweet corn salsa.
  • Sobraso!

Bloody Smoothie

Doesn’t this guy look pretty guilty? He’s definitely covered in blood. That’s pretty suspicious, right?  Kind of like OJ…? (pun intended!)

Guilty of what, you may ask… guilty of creating a wonderful smoothie!

You might feel a little guilty yourself when you have this one because it tastes so incredible.  But you have nothing to be ashamed of, this smoothie is all healthy, all good!  Let all the fresh fruits take the rap.

The usual suspects: light vanilla yogurt, seasonal organic blood orange, and 100% cherry juice.

Recipe

  • Slice a blood orange in half, save one half for another smoothie tomorrow, or whatever else.  Quarter the half you are using and peel away from skin.  If you like things pulpy, which I do, try to keep as much of the white skin attached to the fruit’s meat as possible.
  • Slice a small banana (not pictured) to round out the smoothness and provide adequate smoothie backbone.
  • Blend in a hand blender with a half a cup of 100% red cherry juice and a half cup of light vanilla yogurt.  I really like Wallaby Australian vanilla yogurt because of it’s thin, European-style consistency.
  • Sip, and feel no guilt about this healthy breakfast.  As you can see, this guy is the guilty one.  Look at all those carcasses and that large knife covered in blood!

Mouthwatering Three-Bean Stew with Pancetta

This has to be one of the most delicious things I’ve ever made! Seriously!! I brought left-overs to work the next day, and even my boss was salivating!

I should disclose upfront that this is a very naughty soup. People, I’m talking cream. Brown Sugar. Pancetta!

Dried beans, soaked overnight make this stew special. I combined small red chile beans, canellini, and pinto.

And a simple, standard, and oh-so-savory fresh base..

Be sure and serve this with your favorite crusty buttered bread.

Recipe

  • Get some dried beans from the bulk section at your favorite health food store.  I think that that the best combo for this particular set of ingredients is small red chili beans, white cannelini, and pinto.
  • Soak overnight, then rinse the next morning.
  • Chop pancetta and cook in a soup pot until crispy.
  • Remove from pot, add a nice sized pat of butter, and saute the onion until soft, then add garlic and cook for another minute.
  • Stir in seasonings: lots of cumin, a little sweet paprika, a pinch of cayenne, and black pepper.
  • Toast seasonings for a few minutes, then add chicken broth and beans.  Make sure there’s enough broth to fully submerge the mixture with extra liquid that will steam off during the bean-cooking process. This takes about 45 minutes or so, so relax and have a drink.
  • Check the beans after about forty minutes for doneness.
  • Once soft, puree about half to two thirds of the soup separately with a hand blender.  Add back to the pot.
  • Stir in a handful of brown sugar and allow to cook for a few minutes to dissolve and infuse the sugar.
  • Stir in cream and pancetta bits.
  • Salt to taste.
  • Prepare to be amazed and very very satisfied!

Rise and Shine Milkshake

Not to be confused with the “Sunshine Smoothie” of earlier weeks… the Rise and Shine will get you up and going in the morning, whether you’re headed to work, going on a hike, going shopping, whatever!  This power-packed morning milkshake will deter your hunger pangs all the way until lunch.

These sunshiny yellow beauties are sure to wake you up the right way.

Your body and brain love those fresh fruit sugars in the am.

All-natural almond butter with roasted flax seeds keep you going with protein and all the right fats.  And yumminess, too! Fresh local whole milk pulls it all together.

Recipe

  • Peel and slice a crispy yellow apple and a semi-ripe banana.
  • Add a healthy spoonful of almond butter with roasted flax seeds (Trader Joe’s) and a nice pour of whole milk.
  • Blend with a food processor.  A hand blender won’t quite fit the bill with all those firm chunks of apple.
  • Enjoy as you plan what is sure to be a productive morning now that you’ve treated your brain and body so well!

Roasted Sweet Potato and Parsnip Bisque

Could be dinner, could be dessert…?  This savory sweet root vegetable soup will have you coming back for seconds, licking your bowl, then looking forward to the next time you will be hungry enough to indulge in another bowl.

Fresh from the Winter Farmer’s Market-  sweet potato, parsnip, and fragrant rosemary play off each other well…

I took the first step of roasting the root veggies caramelize and ultimately enhance their sweet character. They deserve to be noticed for their true sweet nature! Hmmmm, if only it was so easy to do the same in my love life.

Rosemary to add an element of sophistication to the flavor.

Shallot, red onion, and just a single clove of garlic make for a sweet base for the soup, as well…

Recipe

  • Peel your root veggies and finely chop the rosemary.  Go for just smaller than an inch-size chunks.
  • Add root veggies to a roasting pan, coat in olive oil, then toss in chopped rosemary along with salt.  Shake it all around to evenly coat, and settle into a single layer.  Roast in a hot oven on 400, periodically shaking and checking for doneness. Ultimately, you want the edges to have turned black and the pieces to be soft, gooey, and sweet.
  • Meanwhile, chop up your shallot, red onion, and bit of garlic.
  • I cooked the base in butter, in my Creuset for about ten minutes.  Wait to add garlic until the last minute.
  • After adding garlic, season with a little fresh-grated nutmeg and coriander.
  • Add a very gentle pour of wine, and allow to simmer down.  I used red because that’s what I had open, but white would be better.
  • Add veggie broth.  Bring up to a boil.
  • By now, root veggies should be about done.  Add to the soup and allow to cook for a few minutes before completely pureeing with an immersion blender.
  • Now comes the naughty part: stir in a generous pour of heavy cream and a pour of real maple syrup.
  • Taste, adjust seasonings, syrup, and salt to taste.
  • Serve with some delicious buttered bread. Pictured is a country walnut roll.