Thursday, September 18, 2014

Kitsune Shirataki Deluxe Noodle Bowl

It's easing into autumn again, and that's the time of year when noodle bowls and other hot dishes with nourishing broth are brought more often to the table. One of my very favourite dishes is kitsune udon, but for a variety of reasons, sometimes people want an alternative to udon. It's also difficult at times to find a recipe that doesn't include fish ingredients, at least for the broth. What to do!

No worries. I've got this.

Shirataki is a type of noodle made from a plant called devil's tongue. They have recently become very popular as a 'diet noodle', since they have effectively 0 calories, 0 carbohydrates, and pretty much nothing bad, whilst at the same time helping the digestion and providing essential dietary fibre. I really like them, because they're so tasty and feel 'al dente' with very little preparation. You could easily switch to shirataki instead of something like the typical instant ramen and not notice a significant difference in taste, but you'll see a huge difference in the nutritional figures of your food. It's very handy in the seasons where we eat a lot more of this kind of food!

Kitsune Shirataki Deluxe Noodle Bowl


1/2-1 pack shirataki noodles (1 lb.)
2-3 pieces abura age
shichimi togarashi, to taste

for mixed vegetables:

5-6 whole leaves Korean cabbage or bok choy (or regular cabbage)
handful moyashi (bean sprouts)
1/2 spoon miso paste
1/2 spoon spicy red bean paste
dash soy sauce
dash sesame oil
pinch salt

for broth:

3 dried shiitake mushrooms
1-2 square inch kelp, cut into strips
bowl of water to reconsistute and cover
1-2 spoons soy sauce
1-2 spoons mirin
pinch salt
pinch sugar
1 spoon vegetable bouillon powder or shirataki liquid (optional)

Since this has a good few steps and may be complicated for you, I'm going to take it slowly and divide up the cooking. The great thing about noodle dishes is that you can generally prepare all the separate ingredient groups and just combine them at the end, as long as you keep everything warm. Don't panic!

Let's cook the broth!

1) First, take 3 dried shiitake mushrooms and a square of dried kelp. You can cut the kelp into strips when it's dry or when it's reconstituted, using kitchen scissors. Place them in a bowl and fill, covering them with water. You can place a saucer on top of the bowl, to keep them submerged.

2) After at least an hour or so, remove the saucer and then remove the shiitake and kelp. Using a pair of kitchen scissors, remove the stems from the shiitake and then cut the shiitake into slices with a diagonal angle. Set the kelp and the shiitake aside for now.

3) Pour the liquid into a saucepan and turn heat to high. Add soy sauce, mirin, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of sugar. You can also add a little spoon of bouillon powder or some of the shirataki liquid, to give it a slightly richer taste. Mix to blend evenly. When it starts to boil, turn the heat off and take it off heat. Cover and keep warm.

Let's cook the mixed vegetables!

1) Heat a frypan on medium-high heat. While it's heating, take your cabbage leaves and slice them into strips, separating the thicker stalks from the thinner leaves if possible.

2) Add a little sesame oil to the pan and move it around; if it moves freely, the pan is hot enough. Add the moyashi first and a little bit of salt, stirring them and coating. Then add the stalk pieces and do the same. Let these cook for at least a couple of minutes, so they will be tender.

3) Now add the leaves, stir, and turn the heat off.

4) Quickly add miso, spicy bean paste, and a little bit of soy sauce. Combine the ingredients, adding a little more soy sauce if you need to, in order to make a kind of sauce.

5) Stir to coat, then turn the heat back on once everything has been coated, and cook for another couple of minutes. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

Let's cook the noodles!

1) Snip the shirataki bag and drain. Make sure the snip is a small one, so you don't lose any noodles. Squeeze the bag gently to get all the liquid out. If you want to save some liquid for the broth, you can just drain the bag into a bowl and use what you want.

2) Place the shirataki in a bowl and use kitchen scissors to trim the noodles. They are very, very long so you will definitely not want to skip this step!

3) Fill a saucepan a little over halfway with water and bring to a boil. Add the noodles to the pan and boil for a couple of minutes, making sure to stir and separate the noodles lightly.

4) Drain the noodles and then put them back into the saucepan, without water. Return them to heat and stir, cooking off all the liquid.

5) Turn off the heat but leave the pot on the hot eye. Add a dash of soy sauce and keep stirring. The noodles will visibly absorb the soy sauce. Once there is no liquid left, remove from heat and place in a bowl.

Let's put it all together!

1) Place the cooked noodles in the bowl with the kelp and shiitake. Pour the hot broth over them.

2) Add the mixed vegetables, being careful not to pour any liquid into the broth.

3) Add the abura age and shichimi togarashi.

But Dhiar, you say, I don't have any prepared abura age! Well, abura age is pretty easy to whip up, even if all you have is just sushi age (which you can get most places). Abura age is sweetened, fried tofu skins, and it is what gives anything 'kitsune' its name, because it is believed that kitsune, or foxes, love abura age above all.

Here's how to whip up some abura age from simple sushi age, or fried tofu skins.

Quick Abura Age


Sushi age or other thin, fried tofu (you could probably also use a baked tofu cake, but it must be thin)
2 spoons soy sauce
2 spoons mirin
1/2-1 spoon sugar
pinch salt

1) Fill a saucepan about halfway with water, and turn on heat. Add sushi age (or unseasoned abura age) that you have pressed and cut into square pieces. Add them to the water and make sure to submerge them. When it comes to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer for a few minutes. Depending on what kind of tofu you are using, it may take longer. But it should look more tender and almost meaty in appearance and texture.

2) Drain and cool. Squeeze or press the excess moisture from the tofu.

3) Fill a saucepan about halfway with water again, and turn on heat. Add soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and salt, and stir to combine. When it reaches a boil, turn down the heat to simmer after adding the tofu to the mixture. Make sure it stays submerged.

4) You can cover it for a slightly fuller flavour. Simmer for 10-20 minutes.

5) Take off heat and drain, but do not press; leave some of the sweet simmering broth in them so they will be especially savoury.

And there you have it!

I know this seems like a pretty elaborate recipe, but actually once you get it down, I think you'll have no trouble just whipping it up anytime. The shirataki in the 1-pound bags is enough for at least 2-3 meals, and you can even do steps 1-3 and refrigerate the noodles you don't want to eat that moment and prepare them later. They should keep for several days, even prepared.

If you prefer, you can just forego the mixed vegetables. You can even save the shiitake and kelp for later, if you prefer not to eat them in the noodles. That's the great part about Japanese noodle recipes: they're very individualistic. Everyone has a way they prefer to eat noodles, and just about every shop will have at least a slightly different recipe, a slightly different approach to things. So experiment, see what you like the most, and then...enjoy your meal!

Doesn't that look delicious?

It certainly tasted delicious!

Enjoy, as always!

};) Dhiar ♥

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Naughty Mary!

One frontier I have yet to brave on this blog is that of cocktails, mixed drinks, and the like. However, today I go bravely forward!

Everyone knows how easy it is just to mix a little alcohol and a lot of soda or something equally pretty unhealthy. But what about a healthier sort of drink? This is one of my favourites, and it doesn't rely on syrupy soda to give it an acceptable flavour. However, those of you who must watch your sodium, be careful and use lower-sodium versions or substitutes; the bloody mary is a salty drink.

It is one of the most complex and savoury cocktails that exists. And here is my version: the Naughty Mary!

Naughty Mary


1/4 C gin or vodka (I use gin)
1/2 C tomato or mixed vegetable juice
3/4 C club soda
3/4-1 spoon soy sauce
1-2 spoons olive brine
dash celery salt or celery seed, to taste
dash chipotle powder, to taste

1) Add all ingredients to a large jar or cocktail shaker. Close and shake, to blend thoroughly. Serve immediately.

It's a super-easy recipe that's very refreshing. With the club soda, you have a delicious drink that goes a long way, but the flavours are easier to savour and distinguish than if it's just straight tomato juice mixed with alcohol and spices. You can add ice cubes to the jar or shaker and have a chilled drink, but personally I prefer my naughty mary without ice.

These are superb with a stalk of celery as garnish! Just cut down the middle of the stalk's bottom and have it straddle the rim of the glass. Festive, delicious, and most important of all -- easy!

Enjoy any time of day for a rich, delightful treat. Especially good with brunches and lots of vegetables to nibble, and a great incentive to eat your greens!

};) Dhiar ♥

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Unquestionably Unqueso!

Queso, chili con queso, cheese dip, all these things refer to a tempting treat for parties or for one! The cheesy goodness is always a pleasant pair with some good tortilla chips.

But it can also be a challenge to prepare, both because of the way cheese sets up and the way it can be unhealthy in large amounts. Add to that the fact that some people's diets don't include dairy, and you've got a tempting dish with a limited audience.

However, that's not to say it's an impossible dish to provide for guests to a party...or even to have a party of your own!

Today I've provided two different recipes, both very easy to do and delicious, nutritious, and fun! You won't have to feel bad about the occasional splurge with my unqueso that's unquestionably delicious!

Traditional Unqueso


2-3 spoons nutritional yeast flakes
3-5 spoons diced tomatoes and chillis
1-2 spoons flour
1 spoon oil
milk or soymilk

to taste:


1) First, in a saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until it moves freely. Add the garlic and other spices and lightly roast, then add the yeast flakes and stir them to combine with the oil as much as possible.

2) In a small jar, combine the flour with a small amount of milk. Close the jar and shake to blend completely. It should be a thick liquid, not dough, so add a little more milk if it's just doughy. Add the mixture to the saucepan once it's ready, making sure to scrape the jar. Stir thoroughly, combining with the yeast mixture.

3) Add the tomatoes and chillis, one spoon at a time, stirring after each is added so that the mixture is blended thoroughly.

4) Add small amounts of milk, stirring to blend thoroughly and work out any lumps, and as the mixture cooks down and thickens, add small amounts more, stirring and cooking down as before.

5) Continue to cook until it reaches desired thickness. It will thicken as it heats and the liquid cooks off, although if it's still too runny you can add a little more flour or nutritional yeast, as both will thicken the mixture. Add any seasonings you like.

6) Serve hot!

Tips and Such

- You can add any spices you like to this mixture. Liquid smoke can give the mixture a smoky, cheesy flavour, and chipotle powder can too, as well as giving it an extra kick of heat. You could also try adobo seasoning for added dimension, olive brine, a splash of soy sauce, or a variety of other things to add depth to the bouquet.

- You don't have to use the jar method to combine the flour and milk, but it helps to avoid lumps. If you don't have a sieve for your flour and don't want to use a jar, use a wire whisk to stir your flour before adding it, to avoid or at least minimise clumping.

Skillet Unqueso


1 can prepared vegetarian or vegan chili
3 spoons nutritional yeast flakes
1-2 spoons oil
1/4 onion, chopped
sliced chillis (optional)

to taste:

any spices

1) In a frypan, heat the oil over medium-high heat and chop the onion into it, stirring to coat and cooking until the onions become semi-transparent and the oil moves freely. Add spices and stir again, then add the nutritional yeast flakes and stir.

2) Add the prepared chili very slowly and gradually, a little at a time. Stir to combine all the ingredients after every addition.

3) Stir to keep from sticking, making sure it is thoroughly blended. Once it is hot, serve in a bowl and garnish, if desired, with sliced chillis!

Tips and Such

- You can use any spices for this, and by adding them with the onion and cooking them in the oil, you will open up the flavour. Especially tasty spices include garlic, sage, cumin (for that extra chili taste!), chipotle powder, liquid smoke, and many more.

- If you use vegan chili, this recipe is vegan!

- You can make this into a layer dip with the simple addition of a layer of the chilli slices, a layer of olive slices, a layer of shredded lettuce, a layer of salsa...whatever strikes your fancy!

As you can see, both dishes are delicious, tempting, and not junky snack foods. They're quick and easy to prepare, especially the ultra-simple skillet unqueso. Ready in literally a couple of minutes, it can thrill unexpected audiences you didn't have enough time to prepare for...or so one might think! With my unqueso, you can make any party, or even just an evening at home, festive and delightful.

};) Dhiar ♥

Sunday, October 7, 2012


Kale is one of those foods that unfortunately, many people still don't know how delicious it truly is! Kale can be used in a variety of ways, even as simple as tossing with olive oil and making crisps, and no matter what, it is always delicious. It's also extremely nutritious and affordable, which sweetens the deal, and if you're the self-reliant type, you can grow it fairly easily.

It's also a really versatile ingredient, and today's recipe illustrates that beautifully. It's not really lasagna, but it's actually not that different, when you get down to eating it. Close enough for me, anyway. So I've decided to give it a catchy name that'll simplify things when you describe it to others, when you're talking about how delicious and easy it is, and how they should try it!



Kale leaves
Olive oil
Diced tomatoes
Mixed vegetables
2 eggs
Shredded cheese (optional)

to taste:

Crushed red pepper

1) Preheat your oven to 350 F/ 175 C. First, cut or tear the kale leaves into small squares, say about a square inch each at most. Remove any stalks. Heat them up in a frypan over medium-high heat until they are slightly crispy, but we're not making kale crisps here so only slightly crisp them! No oil is needed as long as you keep an eye on your pan.

2) In another pan, heat some olive oil (a spoonful will do) until it moves freely in the pan, over medium to medium-high heat. Add the crushed red pepper and stir it in, then a minute or two later add your garlic, basil, and oregano. Stir these in too, and cook until aromatic.

3) Now add the tomatoes. Stir to blend completely, and keep stirred as you cook. Cook until the mixture is not soupy or runny (as it is likely to be at the start, with the tomato juices).

4) If you want, you can use cooking spray on your dish, but it isn't strictly necessary if you're just going to be eating out of it. Line the bottom of your oven-safe dish with some of the kale, enough to cover the bottom of it.

5) Press down the kale and add the mixed vegetables. These should be already cooked and ready; you can get some good canned ones, or you can cook a mixture of vegetables to your liking before adding them.

6) Now place the sliced olives on top of the vegetables, and add the tomato sauce you've made on top of that, pouring carefully to coat it in a layer atop everything you've already added. Next, add the 2 eggs, beaten. You may need to move some things here or there with a fork or chopsticks to make sure the egg goes down into the layers below, since you don't want it just sitting on top.

7) Finally, top this with a layer of the rest of the kale, and sprinkle some shredded cheese on top if you want. You can also sprinkle nutritional yeast flakes if you prefer.

8) Bake for around 15-25 minutes, or until the egg has set.

9) Serve hot!

Tips and Such

- The kale will actually reduce in size as you cook it, so use a little more than you might think from just looking.

- You can grind some fresh black pepper over the dish, or even use paprika before putting it in to bake, and it will lend an extra burst of flavour!

My kalesagna is a delicious dish that's full of nourishing nutrition for you. It's quick, it's easy, and it's a great way to have that fulfilling lasagna taste without pasta.

So if you've never tried kale before, or even if you're an old pro at kale preparation, you should definitely give this dish a try! It'll please your palette and keep you full and content on these chilly afternoons.

};) Dhiar ♥

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Slutty and Proud Pasta!

You may have heard of the famous pasta puttanesca, which basically means 'in the style of the whore'. It's never really been determined why it's called this; some have mused that it is because of its sultry, sassy, and bold flavours, others have put forth the possibility that it's quick and easy between clients, and still others have opined that it's made of simple ingredients that most Italian kitchens would have on-hand at any time.

Whatever the reason, puttanesca is easy to make and fun to eat. Plus, since recipes vary widely in Italy (for everything), there are plenty of delicious and fulfilling versions of the recipe that are totally vegetarian. Try my version!

Pasta alla Incubus


Pasta of choice (my favourite is fiori)
Olive oil
1-2 tsp capers
Olives, sliced
Olive brine
5-7 spoons crushed tomatoes

to taste:

Crushed red pepper flakes

1) Heat the olive oil under medium heat, until it moves freely in the pan. Add garlic, basil, and red pepper and saute for around a minute. Then add capers and mix thoroughly, cooking for a couple more minutes.

2) Add tomatoes and mix thoroughly, then add olives and 1-2 spoonfuls of olive brine. Mix again and let cook for at least 10 minutes, stirring regularly.

3) While the sauce is cooking, cook your pasta according to the directions for the specific kind of pasta.

4) Pour puttanesca sauce over cooked pasta. Eat while hot (and sexy, of course!)

Tips and Such

- If you don't have capers or don't like them, just add a couple more spoons of olive brine. The function of the capers will not be perfectly replaced by it, but it will at least add some rich tartness that the dish needs.

- You can garnish the dish with parsley flakes or fresh parsley, which will really bring out the taste of the sauce!

As you can see, it's a delicious dish that will delight any palette! It plays on the tongue and leaves a sense of contentment. Even on these hot summer nights, a puttanesca-adorned pasta can't help but satisfy.

You could even eat the pasta dressed in your favourite feather boa, or your stiletto heels, or those handy kinky boots you never quite found an occasion to wear. Be creative!

Stay sexy!

};) Dhiar <3

Friday, June 8, 2012

Washoku is Cool!

What's washoku, you ask? It's Japanese cooking, built upon traditional methods and aesthetics. While this is not, strictly speaking, a dish I've had in Japan, it's inspired by elements of washoku.

In the summer, there are many dishes that are made to cool off. While there is a philosophy that eating hot foods in summer is actually good -- it makes one sweat and cools through this method -- there is also a delight in eating cold or cooling foods.

This dish is eaten more or less at room temperature, but it can easily be cooled in the refrigerator if you prefer a colder dish. If you haven't tried these foods cool or cold, the time is right! They're super-refreshing and totally delicious.

Norinori Tofu Noodles


1 block firm or extra firm tofu, pressed
1 bunch wheat noodles
splash sesame oil
1/2 spoon miso
1-2 spoons water
1 spoon soy sauce
1-2 spring onions

to taste:

norikomi furikake
garlic powder
ginger powder
shichimi togarashi

1) Take the pressed block of tofu and cut it into cubes. Set aside.

2) Cook the noodles until just al dente. Rinse thoroughly in colander with cold water.

3) Add dash of sesame oil and stir thoroughly to coat the noodles. Then add tofu cubes and stir to coat again.

4) Sprinkle garlic powder and ginger on the mixture, then carefully stir again.

5) Top with norikomi furikake and shichimi togarashi, and slice the spring onion on top.

6) Place the miso and water in a small jar, seal it, and shake until well-blended. Add the soy sauce and shake again, to blend, then place in a sauce dish.

7) Serve cool and dip the noodles and tofu in the sauce. Refreshing!

Tips and Such

- If you don't have norikomi furikake, just shred some nori (a type of seaweed) with black and white sesame seed, a little salt, and a little sugar. That's basically all it is! Or you could even just use the nori and sesame seed.

- If you don't have shichimi togarashi, any hot pepper will do. Even cayenne powder will give it a nice boost!

- For cooler food, refrigerate the serving dish and then take it out and serve up the food just before eating. It'll stay cooler! You can also mix up the noodles, tofu, oil, garlic, and ginger and refrigerate all of it, then add the last toppings just before serving.

- If you want to avoid cooking altogether, you could always get some tofu noodles or something like that and throw it all together without having to heat up anything!

This is a dish you're sure to like on a hot summer's day! The appeal of a dish like this is in its avoidance of any sort of cooking, whilst simultaneously bringing lovely accents to simple, satisfying flavours. It's cool, it's filling and fulfilling...what more could you want when it's hot outside?

I hope you'll enjoy this. It should put you in good spirits, hence the name: norinori!

};) Dhiar <3

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Quiche On Believing

One of the most enduring foods for a pleasant springtime brunch is the quiche. Simple and elegant, easy to customise to one's preferences, and full of comforting taste, quiche is an excellent complement to most brunch foods. Still, it pleases throughout the day, even if it is most suited to brunch and teatime.

But it can be concerning when one makes a whole quiche, in full pie-sized glory, and has so much of it left. Its ingredients are heavily dairy-oriented, so even refrigerated, they do not last altogether long and, in any case, should be eaten as soon as possible after their preparation.

My solution is this: mini-quiches! They're easy to make, quick, and you won't have to worry about a vast amount left over. The recipe is also simple to double, if you're expecting a crowd for your brunch and want to add an item to the menu.

Many Mini-Quiches


1 C milk (at least 2%, if not whole)
2 eggs
shredded cheese
green pepper
imitation bacon pieces (make sure they're veg, though most are)

to taste:

black pepper

1) Heat a small amount of oil in a frypan and add the onion, diced into very small pieces. Once the onion has become fragrant, add the green pepper and cook for a minute or two longer. Remove from heat. About a quarter of a large green pepper should be enough. As for the onion, sizes vary so much that you should just eyeball it. You can use leftover onion as a garnish if necessary.

2) Grease a muffin pan or use baking cups. Sprinkle enough panko to make a thin layer covering the bottom of each. Make another thin layer with the onion and pepper mixture, then add a layer of the imitation bacon pieces. Over this, sprinkle a thin layer of the cheese.

3) In a mixing bowl, mix the eggs with the milk, salt, and pepper. Whisk until blended.

4) Spoon the egg mixture into the muffin cups until nearly full. Sprinkle paprika on top for spice (if it is Hungarian) or at least colour.

5) Preheat your oven to 350 F or about 175 C. Bake the mini-quiches for 30-50 minutes, checking regularly. They will rise considerably, but once they are taken out to cool, they will also condense, so be aware that they will not be as muffinlike as they may appear whilst cooking.

6) Use a butter knife or spatula to make sure the quiches are loose from the pan, as the cheese can sometimes cause them to adhere. Scoop out and serve while still warm, or store refrigerated for up to several days and serve cool. This will make about 6-8 quiches.

Tips and Such

- Place the muffin pan on a larger cooking sheet, just in case. It makes everything much easier in case anything spills, spatters, or spurts. Well, inside the oven, anyway.

- If you have a silicone muffin pan, it might make everything come out smoother. Silicone baking cups are also a thought, although regular baking cups should do quite nicely as well and may add a decorative feel to the quiches, something very pleasant for a brunch.

- You can omit the vegetables if you wish and simply sprinkle the imitation bacon pieces and cheese. As pictured below, it makes for a delicious and simple quiche itself. If you're concerned about space in the muffin cups, or if you just want to save time, it's easy just to use those ingredients.

- You can vary the recipe as well, such as preparing spinach (torn very small), mushrooms, or a variety of other quiche ingredients, to make your own variety. You can even double the recipe and prepare different ingredients, and have a selection of distinct quiches for your meal!

- If you don't have panko, just use any bread crumbs. You can make them yourself easily, if you just have some bread and an oven and some time.

As you can see, they're not only colourful, but also delicious! I couldn't help myself...I had to try the first one!

The picture makes it seem like they were very short, but they were actually taller than they look there. Blame the flash! Due to the fluffing-up during cooking and subsequent lowering, they lost some height. But they were more than enough for a delicious meal amongst friends!

Although quiche isn't something most people should probably have every day, it's great for an occasional treat in the vibrant mornings and afternoons of springtime. Quiche is rather light but still fulfilling, and it's so easy to make these little gems.

Happy quiches to you!

};) Dhiar <3