Sunday, October 29, 2006

Cafe Bangkok. After a most sumptuous Mexican meal at the Ridge Harvest Party with Jo-Ann and other friends last night, and lunch with friends from Marin Pros at Baja Fresh today, I was ready for a different ethnic experience. I spent the afternoon at an IFSR lecture at Unity in Marin at Hamilton Field in Novato. Not usually venturing this far north unless it is on the way to Sonoma, I decided to do a drive through unfamiliar territory and see where it led me. After snaking around on S. Novato Blvd. for some time, I saw a strip mall called "The Square" where I found a charming Thai restaurant, Cafe Bangkok. The outside was nothing special, but once you open the door, you can tell that the owners have pride in the decor and making everyone feel welcome into an oasis of Thailand.

I ordered a couple dishes to try from a menu that had a thoughtful section of photos where each dish was featured in a stylish way that provided more insight than many written words. When I ordered the pumpkin and chicken red curry, the waiter commented "Oh, that's a good one!", which gave me the feeling that this would be a very special meal. You can see it steaming above. It also had very fresh and crisp cooked vegetables, and wasn't too spicy although there was a little red pepper apparent.

I also ordered the Thai fried rice (beef), which had lots of nicely sauteed vegetables in the rice. Not just your usual peas and carrots, but onion slices sauteed to bring out their sweetness and fresh red pepper pieces. As I've noticed with many Thai restaurants, there was a topping of fresh raw grated carrot and slices of cucumber adorning the top. Good food, good service, pleasant atmosphere and reasonable prices (even bargain). Definitely worth a meander off the beaten path to Novato to enjoy.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Swedish Sunshine. Today Dad and I ventured over to Tiburon to enjoy breakfast at Sweden House Bakery & Cafe. It's an old favorite, but had been fraught with such service problems that I hadn't been there in awhile. It is a very casual dining place, wooden tables aside the display cabinets full of the most luscious Swedish pastries and cakes. There is a narrow aisle between the cases and tables going all the way back to the door out to the deck. The deck is usually filled first as it is pleasant and has a nice view of the harbor. The waiters have to squeeze past people up and down the narrow aisle, which I think has been part of the service issue. However, today service was friendly and prompt. Which encourages me to go back again soon.

I enjoyed Gordon's special, which is basically an egg, bacon, lettuce and tomato on a flaky fresh croissant. It was accompanied by a few slices of crisp cucumber. It was quite good, as usual.

Dad went all out and had the Swedish pancakes, and ordered a scrambled egg on the side (not pictured). Each pancake had a berry filling - marionberry, blueberry and lingonberry preserves. Fresh bananas, cantaloupe and pineapple adorned the top, along with some creme fraiche. Dad tested and approved! (and every last drop was gone). Definitely a lovely place to have a casual breakfast.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Dilled Corn and Potato Salad. It's time again, and as of this revised post, Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen is hosting the event. I gave myself a second challenge, to use mostly pantry ingredients. Costco deals seem to multiply in my pantry, in multipacks. What goes in, must come out as well, and it's best to have some tasty methods ready. The Dilled Corn and Potato salad used Green Giant Niblet corn and Paradise Valley Creamy Mash Potatoes (dehydrated) from my pantry. I paired the salad with more from the pantry, my mother's Salmon Cakes (with a kick) using tinned Kirkland Atlantic Salmon, other ingredients like Old Bay spice were in the cupboard as well. I also had some fresh dill on hand, my favorite herb. The more research I do, the more I see that dill seems to be very popular herb in Northern European countries. The recipes for tonight's dinner are:

Dilled Corn and Potato Salad

1 packet Paradise Valley Creamy Mash Potatoes*
2 cups water
1 cup whole milk
1 can, drained, Green Giant Niblets corn
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup Kewpie mayonnaise

Boil two cups of water and pour into a bowl containing the packet of dehydrated potatoes. Stir as you pour, and follow by stirring in 1 cup whole milk until well-blended. Refrigerate to cool down. When lukewarm, add corn, dill and mayonnaise and mix in. Cover, and chill to cool completely.

This dish goes well with seafood. Can also be served warm as a base for fish to be draped over. As a breakfast treat, you can also add a little flour and extra dill to the left overs and make potato pancakes, topped with a dollop of sour cream.

*The 4.8 oz packet says it makes 6 - 2/3 cup servings

Salmon Cakes

2 7-oz cans boneless & skinless salmon
1 egg
1 teaspoon Old Bay spice
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
Olive Oil for frying

Break up salmon in a medium bowl, add egg and mix in. Add spice and garlic, mixing thoroughly, then add breadcrumbs. The mixture is rather crumbly, to hold it together better another egg may be added, but my family prefers more salmon and less filler. Pan fry on both sides in olive oil.
Makes 8 small cakes.

This is my mother's recipe except for the Old Bay spice, which I think adds a nice kick to the taste. I discovered and fell in love with Old Bay when I lived in the metro DC area where Maryland and Virginia folk alike used this spice liberally with seafood.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Fresh Food. Since my post about eating fresh foods, a friend lent me "Keeping Food Fresh" a book I've been falling asleep into every night since. It is a great guide for how to prep for storage and store food as well as ascertaining the quality/freshness of various foods. Then I noticed this little beauty of a gadget, the SensorfreshQ, pictured above. For those truly worried about food safety, and scientific accuracy, this is the gadget for you! Its sophisticated micro-processor takes over 2,000 readings in under one minute and through complex algorithms, determines the food's safety — a green LED means it is safe; yellow means okay but eat within a day; and red signals that freshness is no longer assured. As for me, I'll save the $90 and go with my mother's folk wisdom: "When in doubt, throw it out!".

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Happy Meal. And it wasn't at McDonald's. Dad and I dropped in to the Cactus Cafe in Mill Valley for lunch today. It was a sunny day, and there was an air of cheerfulness as soon as you walked in the door. I was trying to put my finger on it... was it the cheerful bright and pastel colors on the wall with masks and artwork lending the mood, or was it the slightly retro music - Beatles songs predominating?

I haven't been here in a few years, and I remembered their inventive way of serving various 'bowls', with tortillas which were flavorful and unique. Although I deduced from an overheard conversation that the restaurant changed hands, the owner actually waited our table, the 'bowls' were still on the menu. Yes! Dad ordered the Veggie Bowl, and was quite happy with the piping hot grilled artichokes, yellow and green zucchini and red onion among other vegetables.

I ordered the Grilled Chicken Bowl. My pics this time were a little hasty as the restaurant was not very crowded and I try to be incognito as much as possible. I enjoyed the addition of crispy corn in the bowl, and the generous portion of guacamole included. The pinto beans could have been spiced a little more, but the mixture in a warm tortilla with a little added hot sauce was great. The service was prompt and friendly and Dad and I both commented on the happy feel of the place.

The menu also included other inventive sounding items and they use fresh red snapper and salmon in some of the dishes. I read some not-so-excited reviews of this place this evening from the past, but based on my experience today I would say that with the new management this place deserves another try.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Groovy Breakfast. Dad and I started the day at Mama's Royal Cafe, taking us back to the 60s. Eclectic themed surroundings, wild colors and a rotating mirrored ball were all part of the atmosphere. We sat near the seahorse corner.

Dad enjoyed the "Basic Breakfast".

While I taste tested the waffles with bacon.

The service was interesting, the food was good and what an eye-popping way to wake up!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Joe's Potato. Max's hates critics, and has lots of info on their walls where you wait describing the unfair tactics a particular critic took against the establishment. I've been to Max's many times, and it provides solid value and consistent good food. But with all the negativity to critics, it was with trepidation that I quickly snapped this shot of my favorite dish there. Joe's Potato is well balanced, a Caesar salad and baked potato with such healthy stuffing as white ground turkey meat, red onions, mushrooms and spinach, all for $10.95. And there's enough to take home for a second serving.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Supper Club - States of Germany. Last night was the much anticipated Supper Club event featuring the States of Germany. We were lucky to have two native Germans among us for the event, Emil - who made Gebratene Rehkeule (roast venison) and Jutta - who made Bienenstich (Bee Sting Cake). As usual, it was a fabulous feast featuring slow and carefully prepared cooking. The prize for the slowest food at the table had to go to our faithful organizer, Tom H. of Full Fridge, who made Limoncello Sorbet (pictured above), served as a palate refresher, which takes weeks to prepare. The full photoset of our feast with food descriptions can be found at my Flickr site.

I'm also posting this as my entry for the Event hosted byPat L of Up A Creek without a Paddle, as the dish I cooked contains my favorite herb, dill. In researching authentic German recipes, I found that dill is quite a favorite among German chefs. I settled on Gurken und Kartoffelsuppe (cucumber and potato soup) as my dish for the evening. I found this recipe on the Embassy of Germany website, and adapted it for serving an amuse bouche portion to 17 appreciative chefs attending the Supper Club last evening. Without futher ado, the recipe.

Gurken and Kartoffelsuppe

Serves 8 (or 17 as an amuse bouche with leftovers)


8 medium red potatoes, peeled and diced
2 medium cucumbers, split lengthwise, seeded and diced
4 teaspoons sea salt
4 cups cold filtered water
1 teaspoon white pepper
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
2 green onion, sliced finely
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill


In a heavy large saucepan boil potatoes in the filtered cold, salted water until the potatoes are very soft. Using a potato masher, blend potatoes into their cooking liquid, mashing to a fine consistency (or use a handmixer for 'faster food'). Stir in the pepper, milk, and sliced green onion. Hold warm until 5 minutes before serving, then add the cream and cucumber. Simmer gently until cucumber is tender, but still has texture (about 5 minutes). Serve hot.

Supper Club - States of Germany Menu. I've been requested to post the full and fabulous German menu from last night, so here it is as a prequel to the full post.


Lowenbrau Bratwurst (from Thuringia) with German mustards (Tom M)

German Bread Pretzels (Isadora)


Gurken und Kartoffelsuppe (Potato and Cucumber Soup) (Anna)

Pork Ribs and Sauerkraut (Glenn)

Main & Sides (pictured above)

Gebratene Rehkeule (roast venison) (Emil)

Pilzen in Sahnesosse (Mushrooms in Cream Sauce) (Tom H)

Braised Red Cabbage with Caraway (Jennifer)

Brussels Sprouts in Beer (Karen)

Spaetzle (and plenty of dark bier) (Bob)

Palate Cleansing

Lemon Sorbet (Tom H)


German Potato Salad (Caren)

Spoargelfest Salad (a composed salad of beets, greens, beans, and asparagus) (Isadora)


Bienenstich (Bee Sting Cake) (Jutta)

Pfeffernuse (almond crescent cookies) and German champagne (Janis)

Black Forest Cake (Gillian)

Pflaumenklösse mit Quark (Plum Dumplings w/ Quark) (Stephanie)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Comforting Breakfast. Paul and I tried Comforts for breakfast yesterday-- a place at the top of my list to try. I often hesitate to take the trip to San Anselmo because although a charming town, the parking can be difficult. What I found was that there is a little metered lot just on the north corner of the block that Comforts is located. Solved that worry. There is a take out deli in the room where the main entrance is, that was quite busy already at 10 a.m. We opted for the sit-down cafe, which took over an adjacent bagel shop about a year ago. The decor was modern and breezy, yet comfortable. We were greeted quickly, and our tea order came out promptly. I knew good things were in store when I saw how they paid attention to the tea service and serve Mighty Leaf Organic Earl Grey.

Paul ordered the Farmer's Breakfast which consisted of warm, fluffy griddle cakes, two eggs, pineapple and cantelope and two strips of very thick crispy bacon. Paul commented that even the syrup was nice and toasty. He gave his breakfast two thumbs up.

I ventured out for one of their seasonal specials, Eggs Venezia. Poached eggs over warm polenta with goat cheese and pancetta, with a dallop of basil setting it off. Yum! I polished off every warm, tender grain. I've never had polenta for breakfast before, and this was a total delight. If Comforts were in the city, I'm sure it would have a line around the block for a seat as Mama's on Washington Square does - it's in that league. It's worth a trip from the city to try, but I hope it doesn't get TOO busy as I'd like to enjoy this one many times over.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Birch Sugar. Many people are wishing to reduce the sugar/carbohydrates in their diet it seems, and there are a couple alternatives which seem more natural than a number of artificial ones that have been popular. Stevia is one, and I found that it makes a nice easy additive to sweeten tea. I had a long meeting at my house one Saturday this summer where we consumed lots of iced tea sweetened with it, and guess what - I seem to be allergic as I suffered a severe reaction. It can be an allergen, and after researching I found that people who are allergic to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, or daisies are more likely to have a reaction to this as well. So I've fallen back on another old favorite, birch sugar to sweeten my tea and sometimes to sweetened fruit desserts. I've been using 'The Ulitmate Sweetener', which lists a number of other benefits to xylis, the ingredient of birch bark used to make this. One important one is that it actually reduces tooth decay, not just because it's not sugar, but it seems to assert a protective action on the teeth. Interesting. lists its benefits as follows:

  • Xylitol has 40% less calories than sugar.
  • Xylitol is effective in the prevention of dental caries.
  • It is a natural product found in various foods, especially fruits, even our body produces about 15gr of xylitol per day.
  • It doesn't have any serious side effects and it is not toxic
  • It may play a small but significant role in the prevention and management of diabetes
  • A few studies have shown that it can help increase bone volume and mineral content (Mattila PT et al 2001)
The birch tree itself seems to hold many mysteries, "The Giving Tree" talks about some modern efforts to unlock these ancient secrets. I consider birch sugar another one of my 'cool finds'.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Diaper Cake. I admit, I'm not quite over this cold, so going out to eat or making anything for photo ops just doesn't appeal. So I've been scouring the web for fun, unusual things. This one isn't quite edible, but it IS a cake. Something rather charming for a baby shower. Created by Hip and Little, it's a useful gift for a new mom. And cute eye-candy for the shower.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Ohhh a COOKING Gadget. Ok, you know I love gadgets, and now I have an excuse to post a very cool find -- a scroll pan! It's probably totally useless for real life, but what imagination! And who knows? It may have a use. Certainly I have a collection of rather useless one-purpose cooking gadgets in my kitchen -- how about yours?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Eat Fresh Foods! My good buddy Daniel e-mailed me this morning in the mood to clean out cupboards and asked me about the shelf life of food. I am thus inspired to write this post on the importance of eating truly fresh foods, and not hesitating to throw out that which is questionable. Most of my friends abhor wasting things, and being brought up by Depression Era parents, I also learned early "Waste Not, Want Not". It's a good part of the reason I eat out so much. Being a single person, it is hard to use groceries properly fresh and not produce too much waste. Things are packaged for families, and bargains are to be had in even larger quantities at Costco and the like. I am fortunate to have neighbors and friends who sometimes split bigger purchases with me, but still it is not a simple task to eat a fresh and varied diet without producing too much waste as a single.

Spoilage and avoiding getting food poisoning is one issue, but beyond that, the nutritional value of foods falls precipitously from the fields to the table, let alone in the storage bin. Think not just of waste in the garbage can, but of wasting your body with nutritionally void foods. Especially when you think you are avoiding junk foods and eating healthy!

Health Goods has reproduced a comprehensive Food Storage Guidelines for Consumers by Tim Roberts & Paul Graham of Virginia Tech on food storage and spoilage. BusinessWeek also published an interesting and informative article recently "The Truth About Food Expiration Dates". HGOF has some good food storage tips as well as tips on how to cook to preserve the nutritional value of food. A Science Daily article discusses the loss of nutrients in Spinach while stored. An oldie but goodie from the New York Times instructs us on "Preserving the Nutrients of Food with Proper Care". I'm not 100% on all the things mentioned in it, but it has more useful information than not. And here is an interesting piece (reads like an 'ode to') from Organica News on what pickling, culturing and fermentation can add to the nutritional value of foods and shelf life.

After reading all of this, it is evident that the closer to home it's grown the better, the fresher the better, and proper storage and preservation techniques are imperative to healthy, nutritious (and delicious!) foods.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Soup musings. There's nothing like soup when you've come down with a cold. Yep, like other food bloggers I've recently noticed who've taken ill (Vasilia at Where's My Dinner?, Catherine at Albion Cooks, and Sher at What Did You Eat?) , I've gotten a nasty cold and don't feel much like the usual. Like them, what sounds good is soup! But my bug had me down all weekend, and I didn't even feel like cooking soup -- ordered delivery from a local Chinese restaurant and nibbled. Today I feel a little better, but still not up to cooking or going out... so today I will post a compilation of soups sites for your reading enjoyment.

Naturally, Wikipedia has a great write up of soup and its history. Soup of the Evening is witty with much research and some interesting variations on a theme. Then there is a Soup comic strip. And ever wondered what the origin of the phrase 'soup to nuts' was? Miso soup (pictured above) is a wonderful natural remedy. And finally, some interesting information on why chicken soup is so good to heal colds!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Flavor of the week - Thai. Seems I have a taste for Thai this week since I've been to several places during the week, noted here or not. Today I took Dad to a Thai place which had been recommended, but I'd never tried before - Tub Tim Thai in Corte Madera. It is a very small hole-in-the-wall kind of place, but well-cared for.

Dad and I started with the Siam Rolls which were small bites, hot and crisp.

Then, on to the Soup of the Day, which was a chicken based (tasted homemade) consomme with a piece of chicken and some carrots, with fresh cilantro floating on top. It had a strong taste of fresh cilantro, which is refreshing if you like that herb. (I do.)

Dad reported that the Ginger Chicken was fresh and fabulous.

I had the Chicken Curry, which was a lighter yellow curry with a little more spice than some, and I really liked the light hand. Was perfectly spiced for my taste and the vegetables tasted very fresh. This is a definite keeper place, reasonable if not cheap prices, friendly service and delicious food.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Nikudonburi lunch. I dropped in at Kamikaze after a long spell and tried their nikudonburi lunch special. The atmosphere is happy and has some kimono touches, and lots of TVs around the ceiling for simultaneous entertainment, but with no sound. As for the lunch, first miso soup and then followed the main dish. Miso was hot and good.

This is a hearty dish. Most nikudonburi uses sukiyaki-thin slices of beef sauteed in sauce with egg and onion. This one uses grilled cubes of thick steak for a different texture and interest. The dashi sauce is stirred and cooked so completely in the egg, that it comes out more curdled than mixture of tastes. The dish tasted generally good, but I prefer the egg less mixed with the dashi, for more of a mottled egg effect. There was quite a lunch crowd, this place has been around a long and makes consistent food. They might attract more customers if the parking weren't such a fight.. it's in the Monticeto shopping center near Trader Joe's. Need I say more.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Over the top tapas. Jo-Ann and I visited Avance near San Rafael's Civic Center before attending an event at the JCC where Michael Krasny interviewed Dr. Helen Caldicott. (A very informative discussion, details on my other blog.) It's getting darker earlier as you may have been noticing, which makes it difficult for me to get good outside shots for dinner blogging, so today we start with the appetizer, Pan con Ajo y Jamon Serrano -- Serrano ham, garlic toasted baguettes, with herb tomatoes. We started tucking in before I took the photo, realized in the middle so hastily rearranged the remaining pieces! It was perfectly arranged upon presentation to us.

Then out came the perfectly done Paella Jerez -- Fire-roasted artichokes & sauteed garlic prawns over Saffron rice with Jerez sherry.

After consulting us, the waiter gave us some time to savor the paella before bringing out the next tapa, Porto Bello Mushroom -- Lightly breaded, topped with sauteed vegetables, roasted pepper sauce.

Our final dish followed not far behind, the Pinchitos Morunos -- Grilled skewered pork kabobs in a Moorish cayenne B.B.Q glaze. Great meal!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

More of an adventure than I expected. I dropped by Thai Terrace for lunch, a place easy to miss as it is in one of those wooden structures in Sausalito where you walk up some curving steps to enter into a little tucked away isle of shops. Very pleasant place, but not obvious to the street.

The proprietors were very friendly and the space had a nice bright airy atmosphere. It's obviously loved by some locals, since two people came in and as they walked through the door, smiled and ordered 'the usual please'. I started with some Siam Prawns. Perfectly cooked, juicy and plump! These were a delicious appetizer. The only starting glitch was that I needed to remind the waiter for my Thai Iced Tea after the appetizer was served.

My entree was Kai Kur Rice Noodles. Here's were the adventure started. The menu stated that the dish consisted of rice noodles sauteed with bean sprouts, egg and chicken with 'gravy' and served over lettuce. Hmmm... no lettuce anywhere in the dish. Instead there was cabbage that was deftly sauteed in with the rest of the ingredients. Well, must have been a translation problem. The next part constituted the 'adventure'. I'm quite an adventurous eater, but I usually like to know what's in my food rather than guessing at a mystery ingredient. It was not long into the dish when I discovered some 'mystery seafood'. There was no seafood listed in the dish on the menu. Uugh. It was not just one stray piece, but a pile. I bit into a very leathery tentacle, and it just was awful. I think it may have been some dried squid, partly reconstituted with water?? That's the problem with mystery meat. It did not taste fresh, and it spoiled the dish entirely. In fact all I wanted to do was leave and wash my mouth out!

This was my first visit, so I don't want to dismiss this place without another try, especially since the appetizer was good and the atmosphere pleasant. And obviously there are locals who love it. However, it will be some time until I can get that mystery seafood out of my mind/mouth and brave it again. Until then, it is a questionable place for me.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Veggie Day. Yesterday not only did I make the vegan soba salad and had a bit of it for lunch, I went for an all-out be-good-to-yourself kind of day. I had a massage (mmmm....) and then went to Fairfax, a very easy-going hippy flavor kinda place to walk in the sun and explore some of the shops. I particularly wanted to stop by Good Earth Foods, a grocer that my friends have been raving about. It was nice, but smaller than I expected.

I stopped for dinner at Lydia's Lovin' Foods organic vegetarian restaurant. Perhaps the stop was inspired by reading an article in the LA Times about Roxanne Klein who has been gone for some time from the raw food, well any food scene. It had the real scoop on why such a talent has been absent, and how she's coming back. I thoroughly enjoyed her raw foods restaurant which was quite a destination place in Larkspur. She brought food to an art form, and I wish I had been taking pictures of some of her creations. I took many friends there, vegetarians and non alike, and we were always wowed.

Given that bit of inspiration, I decided to make it a complete veggie day and stop in at Lydia's Loving Foods. I have tried some of her raw crackers carried by Whole Foods, and was impressed, but had never been to her restaurant. I was not quite able to bring myself to do her all raw menu, but still, her vegetarian offerings cooked as they were, were quite tasty. I started with Oven-Baked Nachos and had them add an avocado to the small order (which I still took most home of). They were piping hot with perfectly ripened tomatoes on top.

Then I sampled the Home-made Veggie Burger, made with beets, carrots, celery, fresh parsley, bell peppers, quinoa, sunflower seeds, brown rice, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, tamari, herbs and flax seeds, on a sprouted wholewheat bun. It had a side of "almond creme" for spreading instead of mayonnaise. It the burger was quite tasty, and half of it came home too.

Since I don't get to Fairfax often, I splurged on an order of Tropical Mango Pie, made with mango, banana and coconut in an almond crust. Three bites of this, and the rest of this cool, fresh dessert when into a take-out box too. One usually thinks of veggie food as unsatisfying or unfilling, but it can actually be more so that more traditional fare. I also enjoyed a "Love Potion" which is fig juice with orange essence. The color (brownish) was not appealing, but it tasted quite fresh and good.

When I do a day like this by the end of the day I often have a nice tingling all the way to the tips of my fingers and feel great, like today. There is some obvious good to this kind of eating, and you don't have to do it every day to feel benefits.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Vegan Soba for Western Tastes. I finally got comments to work on this site, and was quite happy to see a couple comments posted. One from Vasilisa at Where's My Dinner? on my recent soba post, hinted that her husband did not like buckwheat as well as she, and now maybe she could pass it off as pasta! I'm inspired in response, to post a Western-taste friendly vegan soba dish. It seems that a lot of Westerners who aren't so found of the soy dipping sauce, or miso soup varities love the peanut sauce version.

Vegan Peanut Soba

1 bunch soba noodles, cooked and drained


1/4 Cup chunky/crunchy peanut butter
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1 Tablespoon Mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)
t Teaspoon grated fresh ginger


1/2 medium carrot sliced in very thin rounds
5-6 fresh mint leaves, and one to garnish
Black sesame seeds to garnish and to taste
Sea Salt to taste
Chili flakes (optional for those who like a little spice)

Mix sauce ingredients together and fold hot soba noodles in the sauce. Garnish with toppings.

I personally find it too filling/rich for one, so it can be easily split for two lighter servings, or served as a salad side dish.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Indian in San Rafael. Looking for a new place, I discovered Lotus in San Rafael. The door was amazing!

The host on the inside gave me a friendly greeting and found a place for me in the beautifully decorated and serene dining room which was still crowded after 1 p.m. Apparently it is a popular place, and the Zagat awards on the wall attested to good things to come.

Since it was lunchtime, I enjoyed their buffet bar. It was a bit short on choices, but I was impressed that they had brown rice pillau in addition to the regular jasmine. The quality of the food was good, and they passed on one of my pet peeves, the quality of fruit served. One of the choices was mixed fresh fruit, and it was indeed fresh, and also importantly - ripe! It was quite good. The tandoori chicken was tender and well seasoned too. The naan was a little dry, but it happens on buffet tables. I'll have to try Lotus in the evening some time - it is quite promising.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Squash Salad. It feels like fall with cooler temperatures and rain falling this week. In the harvest mood, I decided to make a squash salad. It turned out quite tasty!

Squash Salad

10 small round potatoes (creamer type)
1/4 of a large kabocha, chunked in triangles in roughly the same size as potatoes
the amount of potatoes and kabocha should be roughly equal
3-4 inner stalks of celery, leafy tops included, sliced in half-moons
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of fresh dill (or less dried dill weed)
1/2 cup Kewpie mayonaise
Sea Salt to taste

Boil the potatoes and kabocha together until tender. Drain (reserve liquid for a nice vitamin boost to a future soup stock) and put potatoes in large mixing bowl. Add celery, garlic, dill and mayonaise. Mix together chunking the potatoes into rough pieces. Gently fold in kabocha and mix, adding more mayonaise if necessary and salt to taste. Chill and serve.