Category Archives: Dinner

Garden Pizza, Gluten Free Crust, and Pizza Day Giveaway

finished sauce with tomato2 copy

In my newest book, Pizza Day, which will be released by my publisher Tuesday, there is a pizza recipe at the end of the story called Garden Pizza.

To win a signed and personalized copy of Pizza Day and its the companion, Soup Day, please go here!

Pizza Day and Soup Day Melissa Iwai 2017-72

Garden Pizza is what a little boy and his dad spend the day making using some of the ingredients that they have grown in their garden.

pizzaday_int_garden-Melissa-Iwai

These are some of the vegetables that they gather:

Pizza-Day_int-10-11-Melissa-Iwai

Sadly, we don’t have a stellar garden like theirs, so I made this pizza the other night for my guys using ingredients I bought instead.

Sauce igredients4 copy

Some of my sauce ingredients: diced carrots and onion, dried oregano and basil, garlic, tomato, and olive oil (I forgot to include the tomato paste here!). I use the fresh basil as a garnish to top the pizza when it’s done.

First I made the dough and let it rest and rise while I cooked the sauce.

dough pre rise 2 copy

My sauce gets its sweetness from the carrots. No sugar needed! Plus the carrots add nutrients and fiber.

pizza sauce

After the sauce cooked down and the flavors melded together, I pureed it in a blender, just like the boy in my book!

Pizza-Day_int-20-21-Melissa-Iwai-2017

Then when the dough was finished, I kneaded it, let it rest a bit, and rolled it out.

rolled out dough copy

It was time to top! Denis and Jamie just wanted sauce and cheese.

cheese pizza PIzza Day by Melissa Iwai 2017

I made mine veggie and turkey and used a cauliflower crust I had made (see recipe below), because I was doing reintroductions after the Whole 30 and hadn’t gotten to gluten yet!

PIzza Day by Melissa Iwai 2017

Riced cauliflower with egg and almond meal prebaked

PIzza Day by Melissa Iwai 2017

Baked crust (you must bake it before topping)

veggie pizza PIzza Day by Melissa Iwai 2017

Topped with pepper, tomato, onion, sauteed kale, and turkey

Then into the oven our pizzas went.

The final product:

finished pizza 3 copy

Crispy on the outside, chewy crust

 

vegie pizza closeup PIzza Day by Melissa Iwai 2017

My mini pizza with veggies, turkey, mozzarella, and fresh basil

Pizza Day by Melissa Iwai 2017
Cheesy!

Don’t forget to enter for a chance to win a signed copy of Pizza Day and the board book version of Soup Day here!

Pizza-Day_int-30-31-Melissa-Iwai-2017

 

Garden Pizza from Pizza Day by Melissa Iwai

Pizza Dough:

Ingredients:

Non-stick spray or oil for greasing

1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast

1 cup warm water

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

3 cups flour, divided, plus more if needed

non-stick spray

 

Pizza Sauce:

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ cup chopped onion

¼ chopped carrot

1 ½ tablespoons chopped garlic, about 2 cloves

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

2 ½ cups chopped vine-ripened tomatoes, about 3 large

¼ cup tomato paste

  1. Spray a large bowl with non-stick spray. Set aside.
  2. Whisk together yeast, water, olive oil, and salt in another large bowl until combined. Let sit for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add 2 cups of the flour to mixture and mix together until well blended.
  4. Add a little bit of the leftover flour gradually (you may use half or all) until dough forms a ball.
  5. Sprinkle flour onto a large board or counter top, and dump out dough. Knead for 5 minutes, adding a bit of the remaining flour each time it starts to feel sticky. You want to end up with a smooth, elastic mound of dough.
  6. Shape dough into a large ball. Place in greased bowl and turn over to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rest for 1 hour.
  7. Heat olive oil in skillet and saute onions, carrots, garlic, salt, and herbs until onion is translucent.
  8. Add tomatoes and paste. Simmer until softened on very low heat, covered, about 20-30 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  9. Pulse in blender or food processor to desired chunkiness.

To assemble:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F for 10 minutes.

  1. Divide pizza dough in half, and roll each into a ball. Let rest 10-15 minutes.
  2. Lightly dust two baking sheets and a rolling pin with flour. Roll out each ball of dough into a round on each baking sheet.
  3. Spoon pizza sauce on top and spread onto each. Top with fresh veggies, pepperoni, cooked sausage, shredded cheese, grated parmesan cheese, goat cheese, whatever you like!
  4. Bake for 10-13 minutes, depending how crunchy you like your crust.

Makes 2 medium pizzas.

Gluten Free Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Nonstick olive oil spray

1 1/2 cups of riced cauliflower (I buy mine bagged from Trader Joe’s. You can also make your own by ricing or grating raw cauliflower), steamed for about two minutes

1 egg white or 1/2 whole egg

1 tablespoon almond meal

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Prepare  two square pieces of parchment, about 6″ x 6″. Place one square on baking sheet and spray with non stick spray; set aside.
  3. Mix rest of ingredients together in a bowl.
  4. Spoon mixture on top of prepared parchment sheet on baking tray. Flatten into a circle with a spoon.
  5. Bake for about 15 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven. Place other square of parchment on top of crust and flip. Then peel cooked piece of paper off.
  7. Your crust is now ready to be topped with toppings of your choice. After topping, bake in oven for another 5 minutes.

Makes one mini pizza crust.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5 Comments

Filed under Art Related, Books, Children, Dinner, Gluten Free, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Ancho Chili Rubbed Grilled Flank Steak Salad for Cinco de Mayo

steak salad 2

After a very long winter here on the east coast, things are finally warming up!  We celebrated by buying flowers at a neighborhood plant sale and planting them in our garden.

flower

Then Denis whipped up the grill.  With Cinco de Mayo just around the corner, I thought I would share a Mexican inspired steak salad recipe. It’s loosely based around my Asian one, which was a finalist in the 2006 Cooking Light Magazine Reader Recipe Contest and appears in the 2008  Cooking Light Annual Recipe Cookbook.

I first prepared the flank steak by rubbing it with an Ancho Chili Spice mix that I made and let the steak sit at room temperature for about an hour.  I scored the surface of the flank steak diagonally, making a diamond pattern.  This is to prevent the met from curling when it’s exposed to high heat.  Then I inserted garlic slivers in the cuts.

raw steak

While the meat was resting, I made a Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette and put together the salad.

Denis grilled the Ancho Rubbed steak on each side for about 4 minutes on a very hot grill, then 5 minutes over indirect heat.  This is for medium well.  If you want it to be more rare, cook in less time, and keep checking the resistance of the meat to touch.

charred top2

After tenting the steak for about five minutes to let the juices redistribute, I sliced it on the bias and served with the salad and drizzled the vinaigrette on top.

cut meatGarnished with a bit of Cojito cheese and more cilantro, this healthy salad was the perfect meal to celebrate more warm, sunny days to come!

For more healthy recipes and inspiration similar to this salad, check out Aloha’s healthy recipes. I’ve been drooling over the recipes there!

steak salad 1

 

 

Ancho Chili Rubbed Grilled Flank Steak Salad

For steak:

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground ancho chili powder (if you can’t find this, regular chili powder would work)

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 lb. flank steak, trimmed of fat

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 teaspoons olive oil

1.  Mix salt, brown sugar, chili powder, ground cumin, and smoked paprika together in a small bowl.  Set aside.

2.  Score diagonal lines across both sides of flank steak.  Rub with spice mixture on each side.  Insert garlic slivers in cuts.   Let rest for 30-60 minutes.

3.  While meat is resting, prepare grill with the coals on one side.  Brush one side of meat with olive oil.  Sear  about 4 minutes over direct heat.  Flip and brush with more oil. Sear for another 4 minutes then move to the indirect heat side and let cook for about three to five minutes, depending on how cooked you like your meat.

4.  Tent meat and let rest for five to ten minutes.  Slice on the bias and serve.

charred top

For the dressing:

1 teaspoon finely minced garlic (about 1 clove)

1 teaspoon lime zest (from one lime)

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 cup heaping tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

1/4 cup tablespoons olive oil

1.  Mix garlic, zest, lime juice, vinegar, salt, sugar, and cilantro together.  Slowly add olive oil to mixture while stirring.  Set aside

For Salad:

8 cups mesclun greens

1/4 red onion, thinly sliced

1 ripe avocado, cubed

2 plum tomatoes, chopped

1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup steamed frozen corn kernals

cilantro for garnish

1/2 cup crumbled cojito cheese

Ancho Rubbed Grilled Flank Steak, sliced thinly on the bias

1.  Toss greens, onion, avocado, tomatoes, black beans and corn together.  Top with sliced grilled steak.  Garnish with more cilantro and crumbled cojito cheese.

Makes 4 servings, with extra dressing.

steak salad 3

4 Comments

Filed under Beef, Dinner, Vegetables

Bacon Shrimp Linguine

pasta 1

 

In the past months, I finished illustrating two books, some magazine pieces, a promo piece, and some pieces for two gallery shows.  Oh, and I took two online courses.  Now that I finally have a moment to breathe, I have enjoyed cooking and experimenting again!  It’s so nice to spend time in the kitchen and try different things outside of our usual rotation of dinners of late…

I made this delicious shrimp and bacon dish last night and wanted to share it.  Also, I want to remember how I made it as I will definitely have to make it again!  My inspiration came from part of a package of bacon and frozen shrimp in our freezer that I had to use up.  The base of the recipe is similar to a All’Amatriciana dish I used to make often.  I omitted the red pepper flakes because my son and husband don’t like them, but it would be a great addition to my version.  I used smoked bacon instead of pancetta and added shrimp.  It is easy to make and perfect for a week night dinner.

Prep involves deveining and cleaning shrimp, so make sure you’ve done this beforehand:

shrimp

After sauteing bacon pieces until crunchy, drain and set aside for a nice garnish!

bacon

 

When it all comes together, the smokiness of the bacon, the acidity of the tomatoes, and the creaminess of the cheese goes so well with the shrimp!

pasta 3

Shrimp Bacon Pasta

4 slices of bacon

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, diced finely

3 gloves of garlic, crushed and minced

1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes

kosher salt to taste

2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons dried basil

About 1 pound of shrimp, cleaned and deveined, chopped

1/2 pound of linguine

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1.  Boil 4 quarts of water in a large pot.

2.  Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add oil and fry bacon until crispy.  Remove bacon to drain on paper toweled lined plates.  When it is cooled and crispy, break into little bits.

3.  Saute onion and garlic in remaining oil and bacon fat until soft.  Add crushed tomatoes, salt, sugar, oregano, and basil.  Let simmer, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes.

4.  Add salt to boiling water in large pot and cook linguine according to package instructions after sauce has been simmering for about 10 minutes.

5.  Drain pasta and return to large pot.  Add shrimp to tomato sauce.  Cook another minute or so until it becomes opaque.  Be careful not to overcook the shrimp.

6.  Pour shrimp sauce on top of pasta in pot, add cheese and stir.

7.  Serve pasta with crispy bacon and more grated cheese on top.

Makes about 4 servings

Enjoy!

pasta 2 bacon

 

12 Comments

Filed under Dinner, Pork, Shrimp

Low Carb Cauliflower Crust Bacon Zucchini Quiche

quiche side 1

I procrastinated today and instead of doing my work, I did some experimenting and cooking in the kitchen!  We had a frozen pie crust I needed to use (it kept threatening to fall out of the freezer in an annoying way), so I decided to make a quiche.  I try to keep my processed foods on the low side (with the occasional lapse of salty snacks that sometimes make their way in our house…).  So I made one quiche with the Pilsbury pie crust and one quiche for myself with cauliflower crust (my husband and son hate cauliflower, so that’s why there was no sharing).

I based the filling on this Cooking Light recipe.  I doubled it because I was making two quiches.  The recipe below is for one quiche.  I used onion instead of shallot since that’s what we had. I lessened the oil to 1/2 tablespoon, used only half of the zucchini, and added parmesan cheese.  The results were yummy!  This quiche is also gluten free. 🙂

quiche top

Low Carb Cauliflower Crust Bacon Zucchini Quiche

For crust:

Non-stick spray

1/2 head cauliflower, about 18 oz., chopped

6 tablespoons liquid egg whites (or 2 whites)

salt and pepper

1/4 cup almond meal

For filling:

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup chopped onion

2 small zucchini, sliced (about 2 cups)

1 teaspoon dried thyme

salt and pepper to taste

3 eggs

9 tablespoons liquid egg whites (or 3 whites)

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

2 slices cooked bacon, crumbled

1 1/2 oz. shredded part skim mozzarella (about 1/4 cup)

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Spray pie pan with non-stick spray.  Set aside

2.  Finely process cauliflower in food processor.  Transfer to a bowl, cover with saran, and steam in microwave for 4 minutes.

3.  Mix cooked cauliflower, 6 tablespoons egg whites, salt and pepper, and almond meal together in the bowl.  Pour into the pie pan and shape crust with a spoon, pushing sides up the edges.

4.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and turn heat down to 350 degrees.

5.  Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet, add onion, zucchini, thyme, salt, and pepper and saute on medium heat for about 5 minutes until softened.  Let cool a bit.

6.  Beat eggs, egg whites, milk, parmesan cheese, and bacon together in a bowl.  Set aside.

7.  Spoon cooked onion and zucchini mixture into cauliflower crust and spread evenly.  Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella.

Then pour egg/bacon mixture on top.

8.  Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until center is set.

Serves 8.

25 Comments

Filed under Dinner, Eggs, Gluten Free

2014 Round Up Top Five Posts

Looking back on 2014, I am happy of all the things I accomplished in my art life, but cooking took a backseat this time….  I won’t lie, most popular posts were from previous years! Number one was Creamy Pesto Sauce from 2013 for some reason in April of this year:

creamy pesto ravioli2

It is a really good recipe, I have to say — check it out!

The top posts of this year were Adventures with Jello — also in April (am I sensing a trend here?):

flubber jello

Check out my Flubber Jello!

California Dreamin’ — our recent trip to California and my mom’s yummy Migas!

With refried beans, crema, and chopped scallions

With refried beans, crema, and chopped scallions

And Tex Mex Scramble (another fav I always cook) and my illustrated recipe of it for They Draw and Cook:

tofu2

Click to view larger

Click to view larger

And last but not least — another easy weeknight meal: Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions and Mini Pizzas!

pizza 2

Hope everyone has a wonderful, exciting, prosperous 2015!!!  See you next year! 🙂

2015 copy

17 Comments

Filed under Art Related, Dinner, Eggs, Pasta, Vegetarian

Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions and Easy Weeknight Mini Pizzas

Mini Pizza with caramelized onions, artichoke hearts, and mozzarrella

Mini Pizza with caramelized onions, artichoke hearts, and mozzarrella



I recently completed another Skillshare class (Character Illustration from Concept to Final Artwork)!  I almost didn’t take this one because I felt character development is something I’m pretty capable of doing.  But it also has an Illustrator and Photoshop component, and I felt I can always learn more about creating digital art.  I’m really glad I did take it, because I was introduced to some key things that I will definitely use in my work — for example, importing layers into Photoshop from Illustrator (who knew!!?).  I don’t know if I will end up working exactly this way in the future, but going through the process was really valuable and a great learning experience!  And I did learn things I am using now that I didn’t before. 🙂 Here is my work process for this assignment: I first did sketches of pirates and chose a final one to take to final: roughs

This is the one I decided to work with.

This is the one I decided to work with.

This is my pirate after I drew every shape in Illustrator.  it was WAY tedious!

This is my pirate after I drew every shape in Illustrator. it was WAY tedious!

This is the pirate after rendering it in Photoshop -- I realm I am a lot more comfortable in!

This is the pirate after rendering it in Photoshop — a realm I am a lot more comfortable in!

This is a full illustration incorporating the character.  I will use this as a promotional piece.  I used a lot of techniques I learned in the Skillshare class, so I'm really happy I took it.

This is a full illustration incorporating the character. I will use this as a promotional piece with my artist rep. I used a lot of techniques I learned in the Skillshare class, so I’m really happy I took the class!

With these various projects going on, the slow cooker has been my friend.

My bestie!

My bestie!

Our favorite dish is Slow Cooker Pulled Pork.  It’s so great to throw everything in the cooker and forget about it.   In 6-8 hours, you’ll have tender, tasty meat. Ooey and gooey, and yummy I tend to avoid chicken in the slow cooker, unless it’s dark meat though.  White meat tends to dry out. Recently, I knew I wanted to saute some onions for easy Mini Pizzas I was planning for a quickie dinner.  That morning, I had the brainstorm of throwing some sliced onions in the slow cooker and letting it cook all afternoon while I was out.  That cut down on about 20 minutes of sauteing later in the evening– 20 minutes of precious time I could be working!  I just used one onion and drizzled it with some olive oil.  It cooked on low for 4 hours.  But next time, I will buy a bag of onions and a bunch at one time.  This might take closer to 6 hours to cook. onions 2
You end up with soft, sweet, meltingly tender onions.  They can be store in the refrigerator and used throughout the week in omelets, fritattas, quesadillas, burritos… I’ve even put them on my salads.  They are soo good!

For this batch, though, I put them on our mini pizzas for a FAST week night meal!

How about you all– what are some slow cooker recipes you can’t live without that make life easier?

onions 1

Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions

Some onions, sliced vertically in to 1/4 inch slices

Drizzle of olive oil to coat

Pinch of kosher salt

1.  Put sliced onions in slow cooker and drizzle with olive oil.  Season with salt.  Stir.
2.  Cook on low for about 4-6 hours.

pizza 2

Mini Pizzas

Mini or Regular sized whole wheat pitas

Your favorite marinara sauce (or homemade!)

Shredded cheese

Slow cooker onions

Chopped artichoke hearts

Any other topping you would like!

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (I use our toaster oven).

2. Spoon some sauce on each of the pitas.  Top with toppings.

3.  Cook in oven about 8-10 minutes depending on how crunchy you like it (place directly on rack).

4.  Slice into wedges and eat! 🙂

25 Comments

Filed under Art Related, Dinner, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Easy Weeknight Panini

Prosciutto and havarti panini

Prosciutto and havarti panini

Juggling too many projects at the moment!  I haven’t been cooking anything too complicated or time consuming recently.  Our dinners have been very E.A.S.Y.  Check out this post for what I am talking about!  Luckily, my guys are OK with it.

A new 5 minute worthy dinner I started making recently is panini.  I use Tuscan Pane from Trader Joes, but any good, hearty artisanal bread would work.  All you have to do is heat a grill pan (I have a cast iron one), brush some olive oil on the outside slices of the bread, make a sandwich with it using whatever filling you like, and grill it.  You’ll get a fabulous panini — you know the kind that costs upwards of $7 (Panera) and $10 – $15 (Le Pain Quotidien) for a fraction of the cost — maybe a couple dollars each?  Serve with a salad or soup, and you’re done.

I made Denis’ with prosciutto and havarti.   Jamie’s  was with prosciutto, shredded Monterey Jack and olive tapenade.  Mine was with roasted turkey, Monterey Jack, roasted cauliflower, and olive tapenade.   That’s the other great thing about panini:  It is easy to keep everyone happy.  🙂

Easy Weeknight Panini

olive oil for brushing, about 1 tablespoon depending on how many sandwiches you are making

Good quality sliced bread – I used Tuscan Pane

Fillings:  sliced meats, cheeses, spreads like hummus, sun dried tomato, tapenade, roasted vegetables, arugula, caramelized onions, marshmallows… (just kidding!  Although, a sweet panini with marshmallows and chocolate chips and pb doesn’t sound bad — hey, that might be in another post!)

1.  Heat grill pan on medium heat.

2.  While grill pan is heating, brush olive oil on the outside sides of two pieces of bread.

3.  Make a sandwich with said bread.  Place on grill pan.  Weight with a heavy object, like a cast iron skillet.  If you don’t have one, put a baking sheet on top and weight with a pot or two.

I weight mine with a cast iron skillet placed right on top.

I weight mine with a cast iron skillet placed right on top.

4. Grill for about 40 seconds to a minute depending on how crispy you want it.  Remove weight, and flip panini with tongs (you need them to grab it quickly).  Place weight on again and grill for another 30-40 seconds.

The panini is crispy on the outside and chewy and creamy with the melted cheese in the middle.

The panini is crispy on the outside and chewy and creamy with the melted cheese in the middle.

 

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Filed under Cookies, Dinner, Grains

Sneaky Tofu Lasagne

tofu lasagne 3

Awhile ago, I did a post on our favorite lasagne done several ways.  Well, I found another way to vary it and still keep it vegetarian!

Our dear friends came over for dinner over the weekend, and I needed to make something FAST that would serve eight people, AND be something kids would probably like.  While I was making it, I felt like it needed more substance.  But I didn’t have time to grill vegetables, and I didn’t know if my friend’s kids would like it with vegetables anyway.  I thought of adding more cheese, but there is a lot in it as is.  I remember reading about combining ricotta with tofu on The Kitchn blog, so I thought I would try it.   I doubled my sauce recipe and added onion to it.  Then I made the lasagne with a mixture of fresh mozzarella and smoky mozzarella and parmesan as I always do.

You can see the ricotta and tofu mixture here.

You can see the ricotta and tofu mixture here.

Roasted zucchini and eggplant were served on the side, so people could have the veggies if they wanted it.  The lasagne was really delicious!  I’m happy to say, adults and kids had seconds, and no one was the wiser! 🙂

tofu lassagne 2

Sneaky Lasagne

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, pressed through a garlic press or smashed

2 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (or whole pureed)

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

kosher salt

2 teaspoons sugar (optional)

1 box of lasagne noodles (1 lb.)

1 container of ricotta cheese (16 oz.)

1/2 block of tofu (I used firm, but any would do)

8 oz. smoky mozzarella, grated

8 oz. plain mozzarella, grated

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2.  Mix grated mozzarella cheeses together in a bowl and set aside.  Mix ricotta and tofu together with hands in another bowl.  Set aside

3.  Saute onions in oil until soft.  Add garlic and saute for about a minute — do not burn!

4.  Add tomatoes, herbs, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and sugar if desired.  Simmer 20 minutes uncovered over medium low heat.

5.  Meanwhile soak noodles in boiling water in 2  9-inch by 13-inch baking dishes, covering by about 1/2-inch.  Stir occasionally to keep pasta from sticking.

6.  Assemble lasagne in each pan in this general order:

1 cup sauce, pasta, 1/6 of the ricotta mixture spread on top, 1/2 cup of the mozzarella mixture, a spoonful or so of the parmesan.  Then pasta, 1/6 ricotta mixture spread on top, some sauce, 1/2 cup of the mozzarella mixture, and a spoonful of parmesan.  The last layer is pasta, 1/6 ricotta mixture, some sauce.  Leave about 1 cup of mozzarella mixture to cover both pans later.  You will have extra sauce leftover.  Heat and serve later with meal.

7.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Uncover and top with remaining mozzarella and spoonful of so of parmesan and bake for another 5- 10 minutes.  Serve with extra sauce at the table.

5 Comments

Filed under Children, Dinner, Pasta, Vegetarian

Omu Raisu (Japanese Rice Omelet)

close up omu raisu

I don’t know about you all, but I am so not ready for Christmas and the end of the year! I find myself juggling so many things to begin with, but then there’s presents to procure, work to finish, cookies to bake… Before we left for our travels to the midwest for Thanksgiving, we three enjoyed the Annual Children’s Book Festival at the Brooklyn Museum.  If you are in the area, it is a wonderful opportunity to meet Brooklyn authors.  It’s usually the Saturday before Thanksgiving, and it’s free!

It was packed like this all day.  That's me and Jamie on the bottom right.

It was packed like this all day. That’s me and Jamie on the bottom right.

My friend, Claude, took this of us.

My friend, Claude, took this of us.

I also did a book reading, craft, and signing this past weekend at Grace Church School in Brooklyn, where Jamie went to pre-school.  I can’t believe it’s been SEVEN years since we first entered that beautiful building!

Me reading Soup Day

Me reading Soup Day — Jamie doing a great job not looking bored!

It is always very nostalgic going there.  My very first post on this blog was the Rocking Horse Cookies  I made for a Bake Sale there.  Time flies…

As for the Omu Raisu…  This is one of those common dishes that you could find everywhere in Japan — I haven’t been in ages, so I don’t know what it is like now.  It’s a Japanese version of a Western dish.  And as I saw when I lived there, way back in the 90s, “Western” often included ketchup.  I taught a cooking class there with my friend, Elaine, to some of my (adult) English language students.

We decided to do Crunchy Tacos– American style– as in, the kind you get at Taco Bell.  At the time it was pretty impossible to get authentic Mexican ingredients where we were living.  It was really fun, and the students loved the tacos, but the one thing I remember is them saying that it would be good with ketchup. lol

Anyway, one of my favorite scenes in the movie, Tampopo, directed by Juzo Itami, is when this hobo makes Omu Raisu in a deserted ship kitchen for Tampopo’s son.  View here.  It’s so cute!  The hobo’s version is not stuffed– he cooks a perfect omelet and puts it atop a bed of ketchup rice.

Here is a video on how to make a Miffy Lion Omu Raisu!!  I found this while searching for the scene in Tampopo.  OMG.  The Japanese are so good at cute.

Omu Raisu is one of Jamie’s favorite dishes — he’s a ketchup fiend.  I hadn’t made it in awhile, but while visiting my brother, he introduced us to this awesome YouTube channel, “Cooking with Dog”. We  watched numerous episodes on Apple TV while there.  I love that the dog just sits on a stool in the background as the chef cooks.  Here is the Cooking with Dog Omu Raisu episode.

My Omu Raisu is a simplified version.  I don’t use tomato sauce, just ketchup.  You can fill it with whatever meat and vegetables you like, but I like to use the traditional chicken.  I love white rice, but only had brown rice on hand.  As you can see, I have picky eaters to please, so I made different fillings for everyone.  I made a big batch of chicken and onions and rice first; doled out a portion for Denis in a bowl; then added the ketchup, peas, and corn (all things Denis hates); doled out a portion for Jamie; and then added cooked broccoli to the remaining filling for myself.  It was like a logic problem. filling diagramThen I made omelets and filled with with each person’s filling! omu raisu on fork

Before I share the recipe, I just wanted to thank Chef Mimi for giving  me the I Am Part of the WordPress Family Award.

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Thank you, Chef!  I usually don’t post about awards because I am extremely busy, and I always have a slight bout of anxiety thinking of gathering other links, notifying the recipients of the awards, and wondering what  they will do.   But I was so touched by Chef Mimi’s no pressure attitude.  Plus, she’s a self taught cook like me and learned along the way while raising and feeding her family.  She has a wonderful collection of recipes in her recipe guide on her blog, so check it out!

omu raisu above
Omu Raisu (Japanese Omelet Rice) For three servings

4 teaspoons oil

Some onion — about 1/2 cup, diced, depending on your taste

about 1/4 cup cooked rice for each serving 1 chicken breast, chopped into small pieces about 1 cup of cooked vegetables

2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup ketchup, depending on how much you like ketchup 6 eggs (1-2 per person)

1)  Saute onions and chicken in 1 teaspoon oil in a non stick pan.  When it’s cooked, added cooked rice and cooked vegetables and ketchup.  Stir to incorporate.  Remove to a dish.

2)  Using a clean pan, heat 1 teaspoon oil and swirl around.

3) Beat 1-2 eggs in a bowl.  Add to pan.  Move around so that the egg covers bottom of pan.  When it’s almost done, lay filling on one half of egg circle.  Flip other half on top.  Put a plate on pan and flip omelet out onto the plate.  (The cooking with dog chef puts the filling in the middle and folds each side over — you can do this too, but my way is easier!)
4)  Serve immediately, garnished with more ketchup!

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Filed under Art Related, Books, chicken, Dinner, Eggs, Uncategorized

Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy

steak 1

Sorry for the absence — I was in Oregon last week!  More on that in a future post…

I had planned on posting this before I left, but alas, packing was a priority.  I am going to date myself, but I have vivid memories of eating Swanson’s TV frozen dinners during my childhood.  Not often, mind you– maybe only a handful of times.  Perhaps the rarity is part of why these occasions stick out in my mind.  My favorite frozen dinner was the Salisbury Steak.  It came with mashed potatoes and green beans, and I think a little (overly sweetened) fruit pie too, but I might be making this part up…  I loved that each item was in its own compartment in the aluminum tray dish.  The whole experience was tinged with fantasy:  We could pretend we were on an airplane eating a meal (yes, in those days, even in economy, meals were served on planes with silverware!)  And it looked like pretend food.  I know I had plastic doll food that was “served” in a similar type of divided plate.  And the “steak” wasn’t steak at all, but gooey meat product shaped into an oblong oval.  The TV dinner eating experience was, for my 7-year old self, the epitome of gastronomical excitement and comfort.

I added mushrooms for more flavor -- the TV dinners didn't have them if I remember correctly...

I added mushrooms for more flavor — the TV dinners didn’t have them if I remember correctly…

Flash forward some decades later.  I’m a mom now, and frozen dinners have never made an appearance on our dinner table.  I’m not against them — they seem to be healthier these days.  I just don’t care to spend the money, I like to cook, and I think I know my adult experience of them just wouldn’t be the same.  I had a hankering for Salisbury Steak a couple weeks ago though, so I decided to make it instead.

I researched several recipes online, and used bits and pieces of them to create my own.  I added mushrooms to the gravy and served the steak with mashed potatoes and green beans.  Jamie loved it– but I felt a pang of wistfulness that I couldn’t give him the same “magical” experience I remember… In fact, he said he’d prefer the Salisbury Steak and gravy with white rice instead — not something one would ever find in the frozen food section here in the U.S.

I, on the other hand, swooned over the flavors and textures that  brought me back to my childhood.

steak with potatoes

Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy

1/2 cup minced onion, divided

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup bread crumbs or panko

2 teaspoons ketchup

3 dashes Worcestershire sauce

1 pound ground sirloin

2 teaspoons olive oil

4 teaspoons butter, divided

8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced

13 oz. beef broth, about 1 1/2 cups)

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

1.  Combine 1/3 cup onion, salt, garlic, bread crumbs, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and beef.  Shape into 4 (1/2-inch-thick) oval patties.  Heat a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add oil and 1 teaspoon of butter.  When butter is melted, swirl to coat  pan.  Add patties.  Cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned.  Remove to plate and set aside.

2.  Melt remaining butter in pan.  Add mushrooms and rest of onions; saute 4 minutes.  Sprinkle flour on top and stir continuously to brown flour a bit.  Slowly add  broth to pan while whisking and bring to a boil.  Cook 5 minutes or until thick.  Add patties and vinegar to pan; cook 2 minutes to heat through.

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Filed under Beef, Dinner