Summer Mint Tea

We were introduced to this concept at a friends house and were transfixed by house delicious mint tea is! This is just the herb, no bags or anything added besides a little bit of sugar. This is a great picnic beverage.

Prepare in a quart pitcher that can withstand heat and cold:

handful of fresh mint leaves, bruised by crushing in your hands
3 TB raw cane sugar (like turbinado)

Pour in a few cups of filtered hot water and muddle with a spoon.  Let cool a bit (so as to not shock the container). Then fill up the rest of the container with water and/or ice (in total I think you'll have a quart of water).

Chill and serve cold.


Japanese Recipes Index

I like to eat and cook Japanese food!  In college I did a home-stay with a Japanese family in Tokyo and learned a lot about Japanese cooking from my host mother, whose nightly dinners felt like eating in a restaurant!

Easy Vegetarian Sushi Maki

Many people think that all sushi is complicated and requires raw fish.  I like making simple vegetarian style sushi at home which means I don't have to worry about getting super fresh fish.  Pair veggie maki (sushi roll) with tamago-yaki (rolled omelet), and vegetarian miso soup, for a vegetarian sushi meal. In the summer, add some Japanese salads, like blanched spinach or daikon salad. Or set up a sushi rolling party and let the guests pick and roll their own fillings.
1. Make sushi rice, see these instructions.

2. Toast nori over gas flame for 30 seconds, moving the nori over the flame as if you were painting a watercolor painting. (some nori comes pre-toasted, so check the package)

3. Cut the fillings to long thin strips (if applicable). You want them to be in uniform pieces and easy to line up inside the sushi.  Here are some ideas for vegetarian fillings:

  • Avocado
  • Cucumber
  • Carrot shreds
  • Daikon sprouts
  • Watercress

4. Assembly: Place nori on a sushi rolling mat. Look at the diagram below. You want to place the cooked sushi rice on the bottom portion of the nori, but about 1 inch away from the bottom of the nori. Notice that we've made a bed of rice that's about 3 inches wide (it does not extend to cover all the nori).
Place the filling in the center of the bed of rice.
Roll up using the bamboo mat.

Use a little water on your finger to seal nori shut. (like an envelope)

5. Moisten a very sharp knife with a wet towel, such that the knife is a bit damp but not dripping.  Slice the sushi roll into 1.25 inch rounds. Make sure you wipe the knife clean between cuts otherwise the last cuts get mushy.

6. Serve on a platter with a little soy sauce for dipping. Get out chopsticks and enjoy!

Japanese Nabe (hot pot soup)

Was inspired by this sukiyaki recipe with this nabemono recipe.


Make dashi ahead of time.

When ready to start making nabe, bring dashi up to temp.
Add 1/4 C sake, 2 TB sugar and 1/4 - 1/2 C good soy sauce to dashi.

Meanwhile, coat the inside of pot with sweet white or yellow miso

Slice thinly and place in bundles in the pan:
daikon radish
onion or tokyo negi (naga negi)
cabbage or napa cabbage
mushrooms (chanterelle, enoki, shiitake, cremini or any kind you find)

Add to the pot:
konnyaku or kelp noodles (traditionally, families will serve these at the end to help sop up the leftover broth)
broiled or extra firm tofu (frozen, thawed and cut into chunks- see freezer method for tofu)

Pour hot dashi sauce over the top of the veggies and stuff. Cover and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes or until cooked through.

Right before serving, stir in chopped greens like spinach or chrysanthemum (shungiku) and let wilt in the hot liquid. Serve hot.


Favorite Fall Soups: Red lentil and tomato soup with Apple and Indian Spices

I've been making variations of this Muligatawny inspired soup for a while, it is a big winner in my family. I love that it can be made with pantry staples, it's really tasty, and it's vegan. Even my dad (who hates anything curry) likes this soup, despite it's Indian roots.

Here's the latest variation in how I'm making this soup these days.

1 yellow or white onion
2-3 carrots
1 large apple
Optionally, you can chop up other veggies to add, like zucchini or bell pepper.

1 TB ginger 
3 cloves garlic

Puree in a blender a few tomatoes, or open a can of diced or crushed tomatoes.

Open a can or box of coconut milk.

Saute the onion and carrot with olive oil and salt until it softens.

Add the apples and any other veggies and cook until they soften a little bit, 3-5 minutes. You can add a tablespoon of water if the pan gets too dry.

Then add ginger, garlic and the following spices, stirring for about 60 seconds until it is fragrant:
3/4 tsp ground cumin
3/4 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
pinch black pepper

Now add the tomatoes (either from can or blender) and stir.

Add 1 C red lentils (masoor dal). If you need more water to cover the lentils (depends on how watery your tomatoes were), then add more water.

Cover and cook on a low simmer until the lentils are soft, 20-25 minutes.

Finally pour in the coconut milk and warm through. Season with more salt if needed.

Serve over a bed of cooked basmati rice, or with cornbread.