Now, THIS is very interesting to find out about…
Two gourmet, professional culinary schools that are fully Kosher, one in Jerusalem, and one in Brooklyn.
Last week my wife sent me a link to a blog called Lunch in a Box, dedicated to bento lunches. Bento, a word I recognize from going to Japanese restaurants, turns out to be this whole philosophy about lunch, how to pack it, and what to eat. Since my wife takes lunch to work everyday, she fell in love with the idea of it. Thanks to Ichiban Kan, we ordered her a bento set and during the weekend, we set out to explore Miami’s Oriental markets.
After a day out and about, we got back home with all this:
When in Seattle, we picked up at Uwajimaya a sushi rice mold, not understanding that all the other funky molds we saw were for this, to create fun-shaped rice balls for a bento lunch. The next day I made two batches of sushi rice and made a few onigiri, or stuffed rice balls (and by balls, I mean shapes, even triangles) with tuna or umeboshi (a plum jam). They were fantastic! That night we also had sushi for dinner, and we made our own miso soup as well.
After filling ourselves with rolls and onigiri, I used the rest of the rice to make about 15 more onigiri, which I froze for lunches later in the week.
Yesterday my wife’s bento box arrived via UPS and today we packed our first bento lunch. It’s going to take some mental adjustment to the (visually) small portions, but it looks like a great way to eat well and correctly, plus it’s fun. I’m gonna get a bento myself as well and talk more later about making onigiri and packing a bento box (though by all means check out Lunch in a Box for far better advice than I could give).
Despite many planned things I wanted to write before the end of 08, here I am, already January 5, now writing my first post of 2009.
Better late than never, eh?
Though I will do a Year in Review, I can say one thing about 2008: good riddance. Shoo!
To welcome 2009 and the promise of new and better things, I share with you the secrets of Coquito.
Coquito is Puerto Rico’s own “egg nog”-style drink, except it is tons better. It is customarilly made during the end-of-year holidays, and I am happy I was able to uphold this tradition this year in my house. Now that I have a good recipe that tastes just like the one I remember my grandmother making, I fully intend to make this a recurring tradition in my house as well (I can see this being a great nightcap with a donut during Channukah). Without further ado…
This creamy drink might camouflague as egg nog but it is something all its own. The mixture of evaporated and condensed milk with the coconut milk and cinnamon water produces a sweet flavor that is a perfect compliment for the rum that goes along, creating a mildly sweet but deceptively strong drink perfect to share with friends. Make it ahead of time so that it gets very cold, a great refresher for tropical “winter” nights.
Yields 5 cups.
- 1 cup of coconut milk
- 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup evaporated milk
- 1 cup white rum
- 1 cup of water
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 4 egg yolks, well beaten
- Ground cinnamon for decoration
- Toss the cinnamon sticks in the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 2-3 minutes, turn off the heat, then allow to cool to room temperature. Remove the cinnamon sticks.
- Combine all the milks and the rum in a blender or food processor. If you have an immersion blender (motorboat), even better.
- Combine all the other ingredients (except the ground cinnamon) and blend until well-mixed.
- Pour into containers and chill. Puerto Rican tradition has it coquito must be stored in glass bottles, but I have buckled tradition there a few times. I leave it up to you where you store it.
- Serve chilled with ground cinnamon sprinkled on top.
If you want to enhance the coconut flavor, use a bit more coconut milk or use coconut rum. Adding an extra 1/2 cup of condensed milk increases the sweetness, if you like that (and I do). You can also make the cinnamon water ahead of time and chill so that the finalized coquito has less time to go in the fridge before it is ready for drinking and sharing.
I have made coquito following the above steps and also just blending everything together at once with my immersion blender. Both times the coquito has been fantastic, so feel free to try that as well. Lastly, double up all the ingredients to make about 1/2 gallon of coquito, a perfect amount for a small party or to share a few cups with friends. If you’re having a medium to big party, be ready to make 3 or 4 times as much, because coquito goes fast. You’ve been warned.
Many thanks to Visit the Coqui website where I got the recipe for coquito, above.
Enjoy this drink and may you all have a happy new year 2009.
I normally… wait, scratch that. I never write about food; I leave that to my wife (who’s slowly putting together a cook book), and to my friends Patricia DiGiacomo-Eddy (who does Seattlelites good with CookLocal.com and as the Seattle Cook Local Examiner) and Chris Perrin (doing it Vegan in Kansas City at Blog Well Done). I don’t know why, however, when I decided what I was going to cook last night for dinner, I would take pictures and then blog about it. I guess I’m just trying to exercise different writing muscles. I don’t know I’ll do it again, but for now here we go!
Pasta with Rosemary Cream Sauce
I got this recipe from the book Intercourses, a cookbook featuring recipes using a number of aphrodisiac ingredients, like honey, avocado, black beans(!) and rosemary. The dish is creamy and sumptuous, and simply one of our favorite recipes. I’ve made it a number of times and always by the book, though over the last few months I have begun to make variations depending on whim or an idea I may have had on how to tweak it. The version below is my current de-facto version of the recipe. The addition of the chicken adds much-needed protein to the dish, not to mention that it goes very well with the rosemary.
When I make this at home, I make a Kosher & vegetarian version. All the ingredients are easily available in Kosher-certified versions in any supermarket. The Parmesan cheese can be found at a specialty Kosher store. As far as the chicken, I use Morningstar Farms Chik’n Strips because it is both vegetarian and Kosher, though there are other brands of fakey chicken you can use as well.
The recipe is for 2 people. The version in the photos was doubled, however, since we had a guest for dinner.
- 1/2 pound penne pasta
- 3/4 cup tomato paste
- 1/8 cup fresh rosemary, chopped
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1/2 pound boneless chicken breast, cut into strips
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Prepare the pasta according to package instructions. In the meantime, in a large non-stick skillet, heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. In an another non-stick skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat.
- Once hot, add the chopped rosemary to the large skillet and sautee over low heat for 3 minutes. Add a few leaves of rosemary to the oil on the second skillet, then add the chicken strips, seasoning with salt and pepper. Cook until golden brown, then set aside. If you want, you can also cut the strips into smaller cubes.
- Add the tomato paste to the chopped rosemary, stirring to mix. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes.
- Add the cream and Parmesan cheese to the tomato paste. Mix well.
- Add the cooked pasta and the chicken, then stir thoroughly, making sure everything gets covered in the cream tomato sauce.
- Serve. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary. Adding extra freshly grated Parmesan has been known to make people like the cook even more.
There it is, a very simple dish ready in about 20-30 minutes, including prep time. It is equally good for an out-of-the-ordinary dinner as for a romantic dinner for two. Be aware that this dish is addictive, especially if you decide that you like things a bit more creamy and/or cheesy (and I do). If you’d like to try a quick variant, I recommend using Kerrygold Dubliner cheese instead of Parmesan. Dubliner is also a hard and slightly salty cheese, but it is far creamier than Parmesan and it just makes the whole dish taste even better, which is actually saying a lot.