Best wishes to all of you for a love filled Thanksgiving gathering.
Blue Cheese & Pecan Spread
Carmelized Onion Phyllo Bites
Butternut Squash Soup
Mixed Greens with Homemade Garlic Vinaigrette
Rosemary Lime Sweet Potatoes
Chanterelle Mushroom & Chestnut Stuffing
Sauteed Brussel Sprouts with Hazelnuts
Roast Turkey & Giblet Gravy
Cranberry Mint Sauce
Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake
I’m not sure how it happened, but after twenty-seven years of living near San Francisco I’ve turned into a confirmed Japanophile. I can’t go more than a week without craving sushi or some other Japanese goodie like Pocky; and for me, a hot bowl of miso is the ultimate comfort food.
So a recent dinner invitation from our friend Anthony and his lovely Japanese wife Akane had me excitedly bouncing around for days.
We had gone out to a shabu shabu restaurant earlier in the year and talked about topping that experience with a home style meal. Their purchase of an electric nabe pot clinched the deal…and they put together an amazing stew featuring a great selection of fresg veggies (shitake mushrooms anyone?) along with tofu, noodles, chicken, and ginger seasoned turkey meatballs. Akane had all the ingredients prepared by the time we arrived, including adding a seasoned broth to the nabe pot.
When the nabe pot slowly emptied Akane deftly added a some raw whisked eggs, some precooked rice, a bit of crushed nori, and voila…we had a second entirely different savory dish!
Nabemono style meals are traditionally served during the Winter time, and we found out why as the windows quickly began to steam up. Shabu shabu and other one-pot Japanese meals like sukiyaki are typically cooked on the table with a portable gas burner, and even with an electric pot the boiling broth can heat up a room in no time. It’s a great way to share dinner with friends as it’s actually quite simply (the host doesn’t have to spend any time sweating over a hot stove) and often becomes the entertainment as guests can eat right from the pot with their chopsticks.
Here are some more shabu shabu style recipes…Blogger Tea And Cookies shares her “How to survive a Japanese Winter” recipes for basic vegetable nabe, and ginger chicken balls. I also found Chanko Nabe wich is a special hearty stew eaten by sumo wrestlers, and here’s a recipe for Beef Shabu Shabu.
To cook nabe at home you’ll need a portable butane stove or hot plate, with a ceramic casserole dish or cast iron nabe pot (or an electric grill pot). These are fairly affordable and easy to find in any Asian shopping district at the restaurant supply shops. Then just pair your favorite vegetables with some thin sliced meats and provide each guest with their own bowl of dipping sauce like ponzu. You can also serve rice, tofu, and noodles (glass noodles are perfect), then enjoy!
I can’t wait for our next nabe meal so I can try peppered tuna and crab legs…mmmmm.
Over the years I’ve realized that one of the best ways to make someone feel special is to do something out of the ordinary. The gesture doesn’t have to cost a lot…a simple twist to the everyday is enough to let others know they’re in your thoughts. With this in mind I decided that I would cook a romantic Valentine’s dinner for my sweetie last month since we actually eat out quite often.
I played with a few ideas of creating a really off the top menu but since the evening was about relaxing, having light easy to cook dishes would be important. I decided to use what we had on hand enhanced with some extra goodies from our favorite Thai market here in Berkeley.
The shrimp salad was so simple (just use baby spinach, baby corn, and shrimp) and turned out amazing paired with the lemon dijon vinaigrette recipe I pulled off Epicurious. I was worried that using raw minced shallots would be too strong but it worked perfectly with the Meyer lemons from our yard.
December is always a nonstop party amongst our circle of friends and often involves intense menu preperation. Here’s a peek at some of the Epicurious dishes we joyously cooked and devoured.
All of these can be mixed and matched for different meal times!