Cooking with Cat

Re this blog’s title: we are talking about a cat beside us, not a cat in the cooking pot, so don’t get huffy.

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Because of the incredible popularity of our blog about our cat Ono and because we just discovered the YouTube Series “Cooking with Dog” (only 11 years after it premiered), Andy and I are seriously considering introducing a YouTube series, affectionately named “Cooking with Cat.”  The cat, obviously, is Ono.  Andy always hopes something we do or say or write will go viral.  This may be it.

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I discovered “Cooking with Dog” when we were researching recipes for our Deseran Dining In Dinner – It’s “Big in Japan” (thanks, Tom Waits!). If you haven’t ever seen Cooking with Dog, give it a watch – at least one episode…and way more if you have an interest in developing your Japanese cooking skills.   The episode on preparing “Japanese Souffle Cheesecake” is a definite go-to if you want to bake our grandson Moss’s Japanese Cheesecake.   Though Moss’s recipe isn’t quite the same, the technique needed is.  And that cheesecake is amazing.  So delicious.

The unnamed Chef in the video is impressive.  The New Yorker did a nice write up on the show back in 2017, as well as providing a link to the very funny introduction.  Chef and her dog still produce the videos every month or so.  Unfortunately, Francis, the poodle, who stars as the narrator of the series, has passed away.  All that remains today is a fluffy stuffed toy replica.  And Chef is clearly aging (don’t we all).  But the show must go on.

I have one comment: GET ANOTHER – live – DOG, CHEF!

As for me and Ono and YouTube, it ain’t gonna happen.  I was just kiddin’.  Ono has no interest in being a YouTube star (though I still aspire to do a Madhur Jaffrey-type rap).

Should you be interested in more thoughts on dogs and cats, I highly recommend this article on pet ownership and happiness. It’s a good thing we have Oakley, our dog, to even out having our two cats, Ono and Choco.  Those who only have cats are pretty unhappy folks! 🙂

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Choco, Oakley, and Ono – in a rare appearance together

And as for our Japanese-themed “Dining In” – in our minds it was great.  However, Andy (in Andy’s Corner) has been researching military Dining Ins, since that’s where we got the idea.  And it’s pretty clear we’re not living up to the expectations.  Toasts were non-existent.  There was no diagram explaining where to sit.  Foul language?  Mmmmm, let me think.  Even military aside, we didn’t do so well according to these two recent NYTimes articles on dinner parties:

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Definitely NOT at our Dining In: homemade parting gifts of thyme-infused olive oil and bundles of fresh herbs with palo santo wood

But even if we didn’t send each guest home with “homemade parting gifts of thyme-infused olive oil and bundles of fresh herbs with palo santo wood,” and we didn’t have a chef, and I didn’t forage the neighborhood to find beautiful branches or use fresh herbs for the table setting, we’re really enjoying these “not pot”-luck, get-to-know-new-folks and try-new-recipe evenings.  We learned about cute baby skunks found in chicken nests, how to rehabilitate vintage cast iron pans, how to properly pronounce “okonomiyaki” and about our families’ immigration to America.  Everybody pitched in with the cooking (who needs a chef?!) – and here’s what we ate:

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Okonomiyaki – or “As You Like It” Japanese Pancakes

Okonomiyaki - or As You Like It Japanese Pancakes

These are savory, not sweet pancakes, and you may want them for lunch/brunch/dinner.  Experimenting with other kinds of finely diced or shredded veggies is fun.  Just be sure to serve them with the sauces; that’s the special touch.  And I make no claim that these are totally authentic.  I know that in Japan they would be probably quadruple this size – and then cut into pieces for serving.

Batter for pancakes

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 T sesame seeds
  • 3 c finely chopped napa cabbage
  • 1 c shredded carrots
  • 1/2 c finely chopped red onion
  • 1-3 tsp minced serrano chili (optional – and be wary of adding too much heat)
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • sesame seeds, thinly sliced green onions, slivered pickled ginger, if you happen to have it – all to garnish

Dipping Sauce #1 (just blend all the ingredients well)

  • 1/2 c ketchup
  • 2 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp dry mustard
  • 2 T sake (or vermouth)
  • 1 tsp soy sauce

Dipping Sauce #2 (blend all the ingredients well)

  • 1/2 c mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp sriracha
  • 1 tsp lime juice

To make the pancakes, whisk the eggs until blended, then gradually whisk in the flour.  Add the soy sauce, salt, and baking powder and whisk again, then stir in the sesame seeds, cabbage, carrots, onion, and chili.

Add the vegetable oil to a medium hot pan.  Using about 1/4 c batter for each pancake (the pancakes should be about 2″-3″ across, smaller works better for appetizers), add the batter to the pan and cook over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes on each side.  If the pancakes aren’t a nice golden brown, flip again a cook a bit longer.

Garnish – and serve with the two dipping sauces.

The pancakes can be frozen – separated by parchment paper or wax paper; to reheat, first defrost and then put 6″ under the broiler for 2-3 minutes or until sizzling.  Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.

 

 

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Ramen Noodle and Edamame Salad

Ramen Noodle and Edamame Salad

  • about 6 oz Ramen noodles, cooked according to pkg directions, then rinsed well with cold water, drained, and tossed with 1 T soy sauce (you can cut them in half, if you wish, after they’re cooked so they combine with the other ingredients easier)
  • 1/2 c frozen edamame, cooked according to package instructions (I use the microwave), then drained and rinsed with cold water
  • 1 c cucumber (preferably Persian), halved, the seeds cut out, and thinly sliced
  • 1 c very thinly slivered red cabbage
  • 1 c thinly sliced red bell pepper, with long strips halved

Dressing

  • 1/4 c rice vinegar (not seasoned)
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sugar (or honey)
  • 1/2 tsp sriracha (optional)
  • 1 T vegetable oil

Put all the salad ingredients into a medium bowl and combine.  Add the dressing to taste, adding salt if needed, and toss lightly.

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.
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Roasted Soy Butter Mushrooms

Roasted Soy Butter Mushrooms

  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2 T sake
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 2 T butter, melted
  • 4 oz. mixed mushrooms, such as shiitake, crimini, enoki, button; if the mushrooms are large, slice or coarsely chop them
  •  a few very thin slices of onion
  • a squeeze of lemon before serving (about 1 tsp)

Heat the oven to 425°.  For 4 oz of mushrooms, create a foil pouch by folding a 24-by-12-inch piece of foil in half to make a 12-inch square. Press the 12″ square foil into a small bowl.  Dab on the vegetable oil to coat the bottom of the pouch.  To double or triple the recipe,  make a total of 2 or 3 pouches, or you can lightly grease a 9″x13″ baking pan to hold your mushroom mixture.

Whisk together the sake, soy sauce and butter until smooth. Add the mushrooms and onion and toss to combine. Transfer the mushroom mixture to the foil pouch. Fold the edges of the foil to close completely and twist at the top to seal.  If you are doubling or tripling the recipe, place the mushroom mixture into the greased baking pan, and then cover tightly with aluminum foil.
Place the pouches on a baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes.  If you’re using a baking pan, place the covered pan in the oven roast for 30 minutes.
Carefully open the packet (it will be steamy hot), drizzle the lemon over, give it all a toss,  and serve immediately.
Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.
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Grilled Miso-Marinated Steak

Grilled Miso-Marinated Steak

We tweaked a recipe from Fine Cooking and Hiroko Shimbo.

1 1/2 lb top sirloin steak,  about 1 1/2″ thick

Marinade for beef:

  • 1/3 c brown (aka red) miso
  • 2 T mirin (sweet cooking wine) Note: if you don’t have mirin, add about 1 T of sugar dissolved in 2 T water to the marinade
  • 1/4 c sake (or white wine or vermouth)

In a medium bowl, combine the miso, the mirin, and the sake, making a soft paste.  Spread all but 2 T of the marinade over all sides of the steak. You’ll use the reserved 2T of marinade for the sauce to serve with the steak.  Put the steak in a seal-able plastic bag and let marinate in the refrigerator for 3-6 hours.

Sauce for serving with the steak

  • 1/3 c water
  • 2 T  mirin
  • the 2T reserved from the miso marinade
  • 1/4 c brandy

To make the sauce, put 1/3 c water, the mirin, and the reserved 2 T of miso marinade in a small pan.  Bring to a boil, stir until it’s mixed well, then add the brandy; reduce the heat and simmer for about 8 minutes (you want the sauce to reduce).  If the sauce is cooked ahead of time, re-warm for serving.

When you’re ready to grill the steak, remove it from the plastic bag and scrape off any clinging bits of marinade. Coat very lightly with oil.

Prepare a medium-hot charcoal fire or heat a gas grill to medium high.  Put the steak on the grill, watching for flare-ups especially when cooking the first side. (If the flames threaten to char the entire steak, move it off to the side for a few moments until the fire calms.) Grill 8 to 9 min. per side for medium rare, a minute or two longer per side for medium. Check for doneness by making a small cut into the steak and peeking—if the meat looks a shade less done than you like, it’s ready. Move the steak to a carving board, cover loosely with foil, and let rest for 5-10 minutes (it will continue to cook a bit more).

Cut the meat into 1/4″-1/2″ slices and serve drizzled with the warm sauce.

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.
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Japanese Cheesecake

Japanese Cheesecake

Note from Ann:  I’ve  made some adjustments to this, since we first published it.  I have found that using an 8″ cake pan, lined with parchment as indicated, works best.  But then you must cut back on all the ingredients.  I’ve also adjusted the baking instructions.  The corrected ones are in the recipe below. Recipe adapted from Tasty.co

For a 9″ pan – which the original recipe calls for:

  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 7 T butter
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 12 egg whites
  • 2/3 c sugar
  • parchment paper
  • strawberries, to serve (optional)
  • powdered sugar, to serve (optional)

For an 8″ pan (if you happen to have a 4″ deep pan, great.  Just grease it very well with butter, sides and bottom; no need for the parchment.  If using a 2-3″ deep pan, be sure your parchment paper lining comes up 4″ so the cake can rise as it should.

  • 1/2 c milk
  • 3 oz cream cheese
  • 6 T butter
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 T flour
  • 3 T cornstarch
  • 9 egg whites
  • 1/2 c sugar

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Place a 4-inch high parchment paper strip around the edge of an 8″x3″ or 9″x3-inch cake pan that is already lined with parchment at the bottom. If you are using a springform pan, make sure to wrap the bottom and sides completely in foil to prevent any leakage.

In a small pan over medium heat, whisk the milk, cream cheese, and butter until smooth. Remove from heat and cool.

In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the vanilla until smooth, then slowly drizzle in the cream mixture, stirring until evenly combined.

Sift the flour and the cornstarch mixture into the egg yolk mixture, whisking just enough to make sure there are no lumps.

In another large bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until you see soft peaks when lifting the mixer up from the egg whites. Gradually add the sugar while continuing to beat until you see stiff peaks when lifting the mixer up.

Take about ¼ of the egg whites and fold them into the egg yolk mixture, then repeat with the remaining egg whites until the batter is evenly combined.

Pour the batter into the parchment-lined pan and tap gently on the counter to release any large air bubbles.

Place the batter-filled pan into a larger baking pan and then add about 1-inch hot water to the larger pan (creating a water bath for the cake).

Bake for 30 minutes at 325°F, then reduce the heat to 275°F, and bake for another 50 minutes.  To maintain as much height as possible and avoid cracking, after the 50 minutes, turn off the oven and open the door a bit.  Let the cake stay there till it’s cool enough to handle comfortably – up to an hour.  If it’s the middle of summer and there’s no way you’re opening an oven door for an hour, carefully remove the cheesecake from the oven at the end of the 50 minutes and let cool in the water for 30 minutes and then another 30 minutes in the pan on a wire rack.

Now carefully invert the cake onto your hand or onto a wire rack and peel off the paper, if you’ve used parchment.  Then place it onto a cake plate, top side up.  Try not to damage the smooth top – for appearances-sake.

If you’re serving immediately, sprinkle the top of the cake with powdered sugar, slice, and serve with strawberries while the cake is still warm.  Or refrigerate for a day or two and serve chilled.  And the cake – surprisingly – freezes quite well!

It’s unique and so delicious!  Enjoy.

Recipe brought to you by Moss in San Francisco and BigLittleMeals.com

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