Spicy Tuna Steak with Catus-Pear Guacamole

While I understand most grocers think of candy bars as a impulse buy, a cactus pear was my last impulse buy... I saw this prickly funny-looking thing on sale for 70 cents or so and wondered what it tasted like. So I found out.

I also found out those babies HURT... even after a "special cleaning process" supposedly removes most of the pricklers, there are plenty of white-blond splinters waiting to infiltrate.

So I did a little research and found out:
1) cactus-pears are the fruit of cactus
2) you should wear gloves
3) they are healthy.... or something

I also found some amazing-looking recipes for using up this odd specimen.... so I adapted to use the sushi-grade tuna on sale this week!

1/4 C olive oil
1/4 C lemon juice
couple TB chopped cilantro
1 clove garlic, sliced or chopped
some bits of chopped fresh ginger

1 tea cayenne pepper

1 tea cumin
1/2 tea salt

So add all of this together, plop in your tuna, cover, refrigerate for a hour or so.

Now for the Cactus-Pear Guacamole:
I ended up using a food processor, since my avocado was NOT ripe (boo-hoo!), to get a more creamy consistency, but you can hand chop as they do at the AndyBoy website.
1 cactus-pear, PEELED USING GLOVES
1 avocado (try to get a ripe one)
olive oil
lemon juice
I refrain from putting numbers on these things as it is really up to you what you like. So start with a little of each and then adjust after you taste-test. Now you have a slightly sweet guac to balance the spicy tuna!

Grill the Tuna:
Pull out your tuna from the marinade, and place on hot grill (the indoor GeorgeForeman type things work great, just be quick on the timing). I used the latter and cooked a small steak in 3 minutes. But then of course I bought sushi-grade and enjoy it slightly raw in the middle!

Serve with rice and pretty garnishes like lime slices, chili peppers, cilantro....


Peach-Almond Smoothie

I finally got around to making this recipe from the Oregonian's Food Day (January 15), and it was really good! Granted I used a baby-boomer blender (I swear it is 50 years old!) and wanted more flavor, so I made adjustments.

Peach-Almond Smoothie

2.5- 3 C frozen peaches (I found mine at Grocery Outlet for cheap!)
2 TB almond butter
Orange juice (enough to de-stickify the blender and keep it moving, probably 3/4 C?)
1/4 tea cinnamon
Couple drips of Almond extract

Yum! Just be careful to avoid brain-freeze...


Very Chocolatey Brownies

Ok so I love box brownies. I really try to stay away from processed boxed crap, but I swear it is difficult to beat boxed brownie mixes... until I tried this recipe! It is from another site that I love called Cooking for Engineers-- it details the chemistry of the recipe and has a nifty diagram at the end for a quick reminder of the recipe while you are cooking.


Basically, you melt 6 oz of baking type chocolate in a double boiler with a lot of butter, then add beaten eggs, sugar, flour, vanilla, and bake! Simple enough, and AMAZING.... next time I might add more oil or another egg though, to get more "chewey" factor. They were best when cooled, which is difficult for a hot-out-of-the-pan-eater like me.

Heavenly Coconut Tapioca Pudding

This is sooo yummy! I can't imagine liking tapioca pudding without coconut after this! I've made it probably half a dozen times, it's a big hit!


Basically, combine and let sit for 5 minutes:
1 can coconut milk (get good quality stuff, save the "lite" stuff for curry)
1 C milk
1/2 C sugar
1/2 C coconut- use soft flakes, not anything too hard or grainy
1/4 C BIG tapioca pearls
1 beaten egg- really beat it otherwise you'll have strings in your pudding!

Then cook on medium heat, stirring constantly. Bring to a full boil, then remove from heat. Now you can add the fun stuff:
1 tea vanilla
1/2 tea coconut extract

Let it sit for a while (20 minutes or longer) and enjoy! It is good warm, but tastes even better the next day.


Green Chicken Korma

I just bought a new book and it is AMAZING! My first try was the 'green chicken korma' with some adjustments (of course!)-- absolutely delicious!

Not only are the recipes simple to follow and accompanied by great photography, the book has sections describing basic techniques and ingredients. Thanks to Chris for the fabulous photography!

My Version of Green Chicken Korma (serves 2 and provides leftovers-yay!)

Soak 1/4 C of unroasted cashews in water (for > 15 minutes).

Fry up 2 onions with olive oil until orange color, maybe 20 minutes?

In food processor, puree:
fried onions from above
1 C cilantro or parsley (I had parsley on hand which worked fine)
1/4 C mint leaves
3/4 of a serrano pepper (be careful when handling, do not touch without a plastic bag... it will burn your skin!) This was hot enough for us, but maybe too hot for mild-loving people
soaked cashews (from above)
a bit of water (either a couple TB or 1/4 C... depends on the consistency you want)

Fry in olive oil:
1 bay leaf
1/2 tea cardamom pieces (I took a couple pinches out of my jar)
1 cinnamon stick, plus a dusting of cinnamon powder
1/2 inch ginger, peeled, then minced up (food processor makes quick work of it)
2 cloves garlic, minced up

Add & sear:
2 chicken breasts, cut up into 1/4C size pieces (don't want them too small, it will cook too fast, which is exactly what happened to us!)

Then add, and stir for couple minutes:
1/2 tea corriander
1/4 tea cumin

Then add the green puree (from above, the onion, cilantro gloop) and stir for a couple more minutes.

Now add 1/2 C water, 1/2 tea or more of sugar, pinch of salt, and the juice of half a lime.

Bring to a boil, make sure chicken is cooked. Add a TB of cream/soymilk/milk (whatever!)

Serve on basmati rice stirred with a sprinkle of turmeric. Yay!


Lentil Soup

I absolutely love 101cookbooks, and tried out the lentil soup recipe! It was AMAZING! I added some pepper-jack cheese on top, used ginger and cumin instead of the saffron, and added tomato chunks...


I would suggest chopping up the greens (I used red chard) very FINE, otherwise you get strings of veggies. Probably a food processor would do the trick...


FAST Pork Burritos

I suddenly had a pork craving, and bought Trader Joe's cooked pork. It was really quite good (even for pork!) and already seasoned with citrus. I also love their "handmade" tortillas and organic pepper jack cheese! Thanks to my friend L for taking this picture!

Cut up, then add to hot olive oil in a skillet over medium:
1/2 onion- red looks best
red bell pepper
couple cloves of garlic

After the veggies are tender, shred the cooked pork and add it to the pan.

Stir until the pork heats and releases some fat. Stir in seasonings like 2 TB honey-mustard and a bit of salsa (I like green verde salsa).

At this point, assemble the burritos:
Tortilla (Trader Joe's "handmade" are amazing!)
Cooked rice
Pork-onion-veggie mixture
Shredded pepper jack cheese
Dab of salsa

Microwave or heat in the oven to melt the cheese, then serve!



I adapted several recipes, added extra spices and came to this! Serve with nan bread and basmati rice.

Tam's Basic Curry

1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute onion until lightly browned.

3 tablespoons olive oil - really, use it all to coat the spices
1 small onion, chopped

2. Stir in stuff and continue stirring for 2 minutes. If your spices are whole, then crush or food process them so you don’t have hard lumps in your curry.

2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 tea ground black pepper
1/2 tea cumin
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root OR less than 1/2 tea ground ginger
1.5 tablespoon white sugar
½ tea used this time OR 3/4 teaspoon salt to taste
?? garam masala spice powder
½ tea fenugreek
½ tea cardamom
¼ tea white pepper

3. Add & bring to a boil. Then reduce heat, and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup plain yogurt
3/4 cup coconut milk, or 1 can
Pick one or more of the following:
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts - cut into bite-size pieces
extra firm tofu, drained, cut into small pieces and sautéed with olive oil
veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, mushrooms….)

4. Remove bay leaf, and stir in this stuff. Simmer 5 more minutes.

1/2 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
chilli paste, about 1 teaspoon

5. Serve topped with:
chopped parsley or cilantro


Novel American Food, Novel Japanese Food

I was thinking about the marvelous American food you just can't buy in Japan.... things that are interesting to foreigners/exchange students!
  • cookie dough ice cream (raw cookie dough!) なまクッキあじアイス・クリーム
  • macaroni & cheese in box (yum!) 便利なはこからチーズ・パスタ
  • egg nog クリスマスのあじ牛乳 (甘い)
  • fudge チョコレットのキャンヂ
  • rice crispy treats 
  • brownies.... you gotta try 'em to believe them
The food from Japan you can't seem to find here:
  • ice cream flavors: azuki bean, affogato
  • amazing world-pizza-cup-winning pizza
  • yogurt drink (like Kefir... but better!)
  • low-sugar soda, drinks without carbonation
  • a plethora of bottled tea, including hot versions from convenience store shelves
  • custard filled breads, caramel bread... probably filled with chemicals.... :P