Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Tokyo Trip, April 2012, Part I...Yakitori

Sakura (Cherry Blossoms), Tokyo, April 2012

It's been over one year since I started blogging, but it's been over 5 months since I wrote my last  I've said in my last few posts that I was getting burnt out blogging and needed to take a break.  I think I took enough of a break now and ready to go back to blogging...let's cross our fingers!  Hubby and I have been traveling alot the past year, both week long trips and mini getaways.  That was another reason that it was hard for me to find the time to blog.  Well, also, I spent way too much time on Facebook and especially playing Cafe World.  I've quit playing Cafe World and am not on FB nearly as much as I used to, what a surprise, I have more free time now ;o)  I did find Instagram and have gotten hooked on that now.  If anyone wants to share food photos there with me, I'm #Kayecker.  

For my next posts, for a while, I decided to mostly write about my restaurant experiences from our travels.  I know, it's a little boring since there are so many restaurant review blogs out there, but I love taking food photos when we travel.  I usually have most of our dinner plans set before we arrive at our destination, that is how obsessed I am about food! I actually made a check-list of all the food I wanted to eat for our last trip to Tokyo :o)

We had planned to go to Tokyo last year, but had to cancel because of the Earthquake/Tsunami.  Our arrival would have been a month after the disaster and thought it would be better to wait for a later date.  We had planned our trip around Cherry Blossom Season last year, so decided to try for it again this year.  We were lucky that we arrived in Tokyo on Full Bloom Day.  I never realized until I viewed Cherry Blossoms for the first time about 8 years ago, that they are only in bloom for less than a week per area.  They have forecasts and predict when they will bloom, but it is not a guarantee.  If it rains during or is too windy, the blooms will go away or if it's too hot or too cold, it affects when the flowers will bloom.  We took Hubby's parents for a week in the past during the season and they missed the blooms, but we stayed an extra week, so were fortunate to see the flowers.  

We arrived in Tokyo on a Sat night.  We stayed for half our stay with my brother and his wife and the second half at a hotel.  I love going to Tokyo to see relatives and old friends, to shop for wares and of course to eat.  Our first night was freezing cold, but was a beautiful and clear night to view the Blossoms.  It's amazing to view in the moonlight and is very "festival like" in many parts of the city.  Our first dinner was Yakitori.  It's one of my favorite meals which I posted here before.

Tsukune - Chicken Meatballs

I love Tsukune!  They usually are so moist and flavorful, but for some reason, I just can't come up with a good recipe! Back left are Japanese pickles and right is grated daikon radish w/soy sauce & raw quail's good for the digestion with the "fatty" meal...

Grilled Soramame...Fava Beans!

I LOVE, LOVE Fava Beans!  This is the first time I had them grilled.  It was perfect with just a touch of salt.

Yakitori Master...

You just call out your order to the chefs and they line up your food to prepare in the order that they received it.  It probably is easier if you can speak Japanese at a place like this in Japan ;o)  I'm fluent, but am rusty and speak at a Elementary School

Prepping the Eggplant...

Everything is grilled over hard charcoal called Binchotan.  They first grill the eggplant and then peel the skin off while it is hot and then slice it. Junior Guy in the back get's that job...

Nasu...Eggplant w/Bonito Flakes, Ginger & Soy Sauce

This is the eggplant that Junior was preparing, it's one of my favorite ways to eat it, but is has to be Japanese eggplant...

I had asked if it was OK to take the pics first and then I pulled out my new iPad...they probably thought I was  I can get away with stuff like this because I'm with Hubby the Gaijin (foreigner/Caucasian;o)

P.S.  I LOVE my new iPad!!  I had the original one, but this new one is even more awesome, I love that it has the camera.  The lighting wasn't the best at the restaurant, so the pics aren't the best :o(

Tsukune - Chicken Wing

OMG, this was the best wing ever!  The quality and charcoal really makes a difference...

Okra, Asparagus, Kawa (Chicken Skin), Bonbochi (Chicken Tail) & Ginnan (Ginko Nuts)

I love the Chicken Tail the best and these were fabulous, just lightly, perfectly salted!  My brother said I eat like a chipmunk hoarding their food.  Most people eat one skewer at a time and then go on to the next skewer, but I like to try a little bit of everything at once.

Grilled Fresh Nameko Mushrooms

I've never seen these so big, we only get tiny ones back home.

Simple Chicken Soup

This was outstanding.  Most Yakitori places have the best :o)

Soboro Gohan ...Ground Chicken, Shishito Pepper & Duck Breast over Rice

This dish is a wonderful way to finish the meal.  I've posted my version in the past...

It gets pretty crowded!

Picnicking in the Park...

Over the River...

There were many food vendors...Bagels!

Mex Food !

I'm not sure...

Sweet Potatoes...


Friday, December 2, 2011

Arroz con Pollo

Arroz con Pollo w/Peruano Beans

I know it's been over a month since my last post.  Thank you everybody that reads my blog for their patience & support :o)  I really do enjoy blogging, but sometimes it does feel like a chore, so I decided to take some time off from it and just post my food photos on Facebook. I still have tons of fun taking pictures of food, both my own and sometimes at restaurants.  Please "friend" me if you want to be my friend! I give kudos to my blogger friends that keep up with their daily to several times a week posts!  I'm also sorry that I haven't kept up with reading all the fabulous blogs out there too :o(

I just wanted to make sure that blogging stays fun for me and remember that the posts and photos don't need to be perfect, just entertaining.  It's so aggravating to get rejected by Foodgawker & Tastespotting, but I have to remember that just because they didn't accept me, it doesn't mean that my photo is  Hubby has always said that I have ADD and have a hard time sticking with something for a long time, so it's a surprise that I have stuck with my blog for over 6 months.  I just know that once I do finish a post and publish it, it is an accomplishment and a great feeling :o)

I hope that everybody had a wonderful time with their friends and family over Thanksgiving.  Can you believe that Christmas/Hanukkah Season is coming on us so quickly!  Hubby & I had a lovely time visiting with his parents over Thanksgiving in the St. Louis area.  It was just the 4 of us this time, so we went out for our Thanksgiving meal, it's always fantastic spending time with his parents.  If you go to my Facebook page you can see the feasting we did while we were out there including Cracker Barrel ;o)

On to the food of this post...I love Arroz con Pollo, but it seems that every time I cook it, it turns out differently.  This is one way I like to do it, whole pieces cooked with the rice in the oven then served with whole pieces of chicken.  One of my favorite Mexican restaurants, Lares in Santa Monica, CA, serves it very brothy.  I think that they cook the chicken separately like a brothy stew and then just serves it over their regular rice.  I love it their way too, the broth is super flavorful!


I marinated cut-up chicken pieces in Olive Oil, Mexican Seasonings, Mex Oregano, Garlic, Paprika, Red Chile Powder, Salt, Pepper & Lime for a couple of hours.  

Browning Chicken, Skin Side Down to start...

except for some reason, the far left piece is skin side up ;o) 

Flipped Over...

I'm sure that you can use boneless/skinless chicken for this, but the bones & skins add so much flavor!  After the chicken was almost cooked through, I plated it and then sauteed onions, carrots, celery, cilantro, Mex Seasonings, Mex Oregano, Salt, Pepper & garlic in the flavored oil.

Sauteed Veggies,  Chicken Broth & Tomato Sauce

3 1/2 Cups Broth
1/2 Cup Tomato Sauce
2 Cups Long Grain Rice

Chicken Added Back in..

I also added a couple of bay leafs then cooked the chicken for about 20 mins on Med Heat partially covered.

Sauteeing Long Grain Rice

I cover the bottom of the sauce pan w/Rice Bran Oil, any oil will do....then add 2 cups of rice.

Until it's a Nice Toasty Color :o)

When the rice gets to be a nicely toasted color I add it to the chicken/broth mixture, cover it, then put it in a 350 degree oven.

After About 10 mins in Oven...

350 degree oven
Stir Every 10 mins

Another 10 mins in oven...

Add water if necessary.

Last 10 mins in oven...

Ready to serve, but cook to the doneness that you like :o)

Served w/Peruano Refried Beans & Simple Salad

This time I served the chicken in whole pieces, but sometimes I shred it and mix it with the rice :o)

Kah Tequila

I love these mini Kah Tequila bottles that Hubby found :o)  They have several types and also have big skulls too.

Burritos made w/the Leftovers the Next Day :o)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Lamb Paillard w/Kasha, Arugula, & Tomatoes

Lamb Paillard

We recently went to, Lucques,  a neighborhood restaurant that we haven't gone to in a while.  Chef Suzanne Goin has gotten quite famous since she first opened her restaurant in 1998.  We dined at her very first Sunday Supper which featured Bunny and the best Tarte Tatin that I'd ever had!  The butter was so good at the time that I had them wrap it up for me to take it home, I think it ended to be Plugra, but at that time it was very rare.  They also actually serve Lucques Olives to munch on while you peruse the menu.  This was also the restaurant that we picked to introduce mine & Hubby's parents before we got married.  Unfortunately, there was a power outage at the time, caused by a Mylar Balloon, and we weren't able to dine there.  They couldn't reach us in time to tell us that the restaurant was closed, but when we showed up they were still very hospitable to us.  My parents showed up first and when we drove up, my dad was standing in the street waving at us with a flute of complimentary Champagne in  Then Lucques called around to other restaurants to find us another reservation (what service!!).  We ended up at Melisse that night.

I'm not much of a lamb person, but for some reason, I've been craving it.  At Lucques they had a Grilled Lamb Paillard  that was delicious!  I've only seen paillard made with chicken & veal, so was very intrigued with the lamb.  It was very tender with only a slight lamby flavor and I learned that it was made with the loin. It was served with  Farro that was mixed with spinach & onions.  I decided to try to duplicate the dish at home :o)

Lamb Loin Chops

When I went to the market, they didn't have any Boneless Loins only the Chops.  I wasn't going to get them, but I figured I could compromise and figure out a way to make thin cutlets out of them...

Cut Off the Bone...

Preparing to Pound...

After cutting the meat off the bone, I accordion cut it like I do to make Korean Short Ribs...

My technique:


Then I pounded them as thin as possible under Plastic Wrap...


I just seasoned them with Salt & Pepper and my Magic Dust :o)


I didn't want to fire up the grill, so I just seared them in a hot Cast Iron Skillet for about 1 minute on each side.  It's so quick and easy!!


I didn't have Farro, but I had tried Kasha before and liked it, so I figured since it's another type of grain it would do :o)  The first time I had Kasha was at a Jewish Deli.  You can get it with their Matzo Ball Soup!  


Since I'm not very familiar with cooking Kasha I looked up recipes and many said to add a raw egg and salt & pepper to it, so the kernels stay separated.

20 Mins Later...

It dries up after 15-20 mins later.

Rice Cooker

I love my rice cooker, so decided to make the Kasha in it. I got this really informative Rice Cooker Cookbook that I've enjoyed tremendously.  The butter is melted first and then the Kasha & liquid is added then cooked on the Regular Rice Setting.

For Extra Flavor...

Swanson recently came out with these Flavor Boosts packets, so I added that to the Kasha liquid.  I know a lot of people don't like using products like this because of the high sodium content, but I like the extra kick of  flavor that it adds ;o)

Cooked Kasha...

I wasn't too happy that the egg got cooked and it looks like scrambled eggs are sprinkled in it, but you couldn't taste the egg. Maybe next time I may rinse the egg off before cooking it, but then that might defeat the process of separating the kernels...


w/Onions & Garlic

I sauteed Onions & Garlic w/some seasonings and then added mature arugula w/a little water to steam it.


I then added tomatoes and cooked those a bit then added it all to the Kasha.

Kasha w/Arugula, & Tomatoes

Bon Appetit :o)

Hubby really liked this dish.  I thought it turned out good, but decided I still really don't like lamb that much, I prefer