Saturday, December 10, 2011

Decorating cookies at

This morning, I went to office in Seattle to participate Cookies Across America party with “Seattle let us cook together meetup” members.
It is exciting to be a part of community support effort by baking and decorating cookies. I thank to to invite us. The cookies were already baked and decoration supply was there. We needed to be there and just decorate. The young participants had a great time to apply their artistic skills to the cookie decorations. These tasty and nice looking cookies will be donated to The Pike Place Market Foundation which helps low income and elderly residents of downtown Seattle.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Kitchen knife Safety

Check out this chef's knife training video from Melbourne

If you love cooking, your kitchen knife is one of the most important tools in your kitchen.
After I read cooking basics books and internet what other chefs tell about using kitchen knives, I found 6 safety tips which are common sense but are useful in addition to watching my fingers and my knife.

1. Keep your kitchen knife sharp.
Dull knife slips and cut something else than what you want to cut. You can test if your knife is sharp by moving back and forth on the cutting board. If your knife cut into the board and is hard to move, your knife is sharp. If your knife moves easily, your knife is dull and need to be sharpened. Some Sushi chef tests his/her knife on his/her thumb nail. Please don’t try it.
2. Do not walk around with your knife. When you need to carry your knife, hold it by your side.
When Japanese chef carries his sharp knife, He will put his hand o over the knife and tell people around him that he is coming with his knife.
3. Never point at your knife every one
4. Do not try to catch a knife when you drop it.
Blade is heavier than the handle and goes down first and dangerous. From old book of “Cutting-up in the kitchen. The butcher’s guide to saving money on meat & Poultry by Merle Ellis”, if you drop a knife or it gets knocked off the counter, throw your hands in the air, as if somebody had a gun in your ribs, and let it fall…..
5. Never leave your knife in soapy water or a sink full of water.
Someone wash dishes and may cut his/her hand. Knife need to be kept at the location where everyone can see.
6. When you pass a knife to someone, put it on a cutting board and let another person pick it up.
Kitchen knife need to stay on the cutting board unless it is washed or put away.

YouTube video Above is from Melbourne production and I used some tips from it. I liked it the best among many knife skill videos.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Fresh out from own backyard

Vegetable Garded
It is nice to have fresh herbs and vegetables nearby to add seasonal fresh touch to homemade dish. I have some edible plants around my Prune kitchen.
There are a large Grape vine by a gate to the Prune kitchen, raspberries, green beans Japanese pepper plants, Shiso(Japanese fragrant green leave), Mint, Rosemarie, and Sage in side yard, , cherries, Rhubarb, cabbage, tomatoes, Chinese chives and green onion in the backyard. The new residence with the Prune kitchen get more sun shine than my previous house. Last fall, I dag the rocky and hard ground around Prune Kitchen, added many bags of composed and organic fertilizers, and planted vegetables. My hard labor paid off and I have vegetables in my garden. Tomatoes start ripening two weeks ago and until Seattle’s rainy fall starts, I will have enough fresh tomatoes for my everyday salad.
Beginning this summer,when I trimmed overgrown grape vines, I realized that I can save some tender fresh grape leaves to make stuffed grape leaves(Dolmathakia Me Rizi.) I searched the recipe and made some for my family and cooked with members of “Seattle let us cook together meetup.” The Dalmathakia Me Rizi was interesting taste to me while meetup members who cooked and ate dalmathkia said it was very delicious. We made as many as 60 of them and they were gone. Here is how I made dalmathakia Me Rizi.
I cooked fresh leaves using Grape Leaves-Canning recipe from .

Then I used some of cooked leaves and a recipe from to make Dolmathakia Me Rizi. As you see the recipe, it contains too much oil and I reduced oil amount to a half of the recipe and steamed instead of boiling.

Lastly useful fresh herbs are Rosemarie and green onion. It enhance the taste of pork dish and add nice aroma and flavor to the pasta dish when cooked it with Tomatoes and chili flakes. Green onion is for Japanese soup and add color to the salad.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Seattle Let Us Cook Together Meetup

I have been an organizer of “Seattle let us cook together” meetup for 7 months. I started this meetup to cook something good with others at Prune Kitchen. The meetup is self-taught interactive cooking class. Our dinner cooking is like Thanksgiving dinner. The members cook appetizers, main course, and dessert and share the meals at Prune kitchen.
The fee is between $15 and 30 include all ingredients and cover the expenses. I met many new members who loved to cook or wanted to cook with others. We have cooked variety of meals include Thai, Japanese, Mexican, Italian, and American, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We cook simple common meals to complex recipes. Starting in this fall we will cook on one Friday dinner and one weekend brunch per month plus some weekend’s dinner.

Photos above are some of dishes which we cooked at the Seattle Let us cook together meetup.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Edomae Sushi , Vinegar and Sushi rice

I learned interesting facts about Edomae Sushi at Tokyo Sushi academy during my Japan visit. Edo is the old name of Tokyo. Edomae Sushi is Tokyo style Nigiri. Nigiri is a shaped Sushi made with sliced fresh fish and Sushi rice.
Here is introduction to Sushi vinegar. Sushi vinegar is made of rice vinegar, sea salt and sugar. Sushi vinegar in east part of Tokyo is different from west part. In the west include Osaka, Sushi vinegar recipe include more sugar or sweet (Osaka style) while east part of Japanthe Sushi vinegar is less sugary (Tokyo style). Since I am from Hiroshima which is located in the western part, my home style Sushi is made from sweet Sushi Vinegar. Edomae Sushi uses Vinegar called Akasu or Red vinegar. I had lived in only western part of Japan and never heard about Akasu before hearing from Tokyo Sushi Academy instructor. Akasu or Red vinegar is made from Sake Kasu which is byproducts from sake making process.(See .)
Edomae Sushi chef has his/her unique recipes of Sushi vinegar by blending, partially red vinegar and the rice vinegar. Sushi rice made using Red vinegar is called Aka Shari which means red Sushi rice in Japanese. Tokyo Sushi Academy uses Mitsukan brand. Mizkan sells Akasu or Kasuzu for only commercial use. Here is a bit of history of Red vinegar from Mizkan Japan website which is not included in American Mizkan Site.
“… Founder of Mizkan, Mr. Matazaemon Nakamura was born as a Sake producer’s son in Edo period. He recognized when bacteria got into the Sake barrel, Sake turned to vinegar. He decided to make vinegar from byproduct of Sake and successfully made Kasuzu or Akasu. Meanwhile, Haya Sushi(fast Sushi), which is origin of Nigiri made of sea food and Sushi rice, was very popular in Edo or former Tokyo. Haya Sushi was made with expensive rice vinegar. Mr. Nakano marketed his Kasuzu as inexpensive alternative to rice vinegar. Sushi chefs at popular restaurant in Edo recognized Kasuzu had flavor and Umami suitable to Sushi rice. They madeHaya Sushi with Kasuzu. Since then, Kasuzu or Akazu has been necessary ingredient to make Edomae Sushi ……”
When I was in Tokyo, I looked for Akasu or Kasuzu. I had to go four super markets and several more expensive than rice vinegar due to long processing time. I brought back this rare vinegar to Seattle and made Sushi vinegar by mixing 1:1 ratio of rice vinegar and Akasu. Sushi rice was beige. I made lettuce wrap stuffed with Sushi vinegar, vegetables and meat. They were delicious.
Lastly, things that you should know before you decide to go to traditional Edomae Sushi restaurant. Sushi chef decides the price of Sushi when he/she sees the face of the customer. It means the same Nigiri can be cheap at one Sushi restaurant but expensive at another. No price will be listed on the menu. That is why people like to go Kaiten Sushi (conveyor belt Sushi) or Sushi train place. There you can estimate how much you had by number and color of your empty plates.
Here is
Tokyo style Sushi vinegar recipe
½ cup Rice vinegar
1 table spoon sugar (Preferably superfine sugar)
1 tea spoon sea salt
In the cooking pot, combine all ingredients and heat to melt sugar and salt. Do not boil. Cool the Sushi vinegar and use for Sushi rice. For sweet Sushi vinegar, add extra 1-2 Table spoons of sugar.
As you wish you can adjust sugar and/or salt amount.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Pancake to benefit Japan earthquake survivors

Pancake breakfast for Japan Earthquake relief March,2011
Although my Japanese family lives in Hiroshima and was not affected by 9.0 earthquake, I was born and raised in Japan and wanted to help people affected by Earthquake.
Around Seattle, there are many fund raising events involve food.
Bake sale, Auction dinner, Cake walk and pancake breakfast are good examples. I am not rich enough to give away fancy dinner but can host fund raiser Pancake breakfast at Prune Kitchen. Our friend, Lyle, often invites many friends to his pancake breakfast at his apartment. I asked him if he can help me pancake breakfast at Prune Kitchen to help Japan earthquake survivors. He agreed to be one of hosts and cook breakfast. He brought two large industrial size coffee makers with fresh coffee, two hot plates, and pancake ingredients. I bought sausages, potatoes, bacon and fruits.
I wanted to have breakfast menu include carbohydrate, protein, and fruits.
Menu of the breakfast
Lyle’s Pancake with Syrup or homemade berry sauce
Pork sausage
Pan fried Potatoes with onion and bacon
Fruits (Slices of Apples and Oranges)
And Coffee, tea or orange juice.

We raised $5062.41 total for American Red Cross, Peace Winds America and World Vision.

Here are recipes of pan fried potatoes and potato pancake from the left over potatoes.
Fumiko’s Pan fried Pototoes with bacon recipe:
4-5 servings:
3~4 medium sized Red or yellow potatoes boiled and cool the day before the breakfast
3 slices of bacon
3tbsp chopped onion
1 tsp minced garlic

1. Peel cold cooked potatoes and cut about ½ inch cube.
2. Cut bacon to small pieces
3. Fry the bacon until outside edges turned to brown.
4. Drain about a half of bacon fat from bacon
5. Add onion and garlic to the cooked bacon and cook over medium heat until onion turns transparent
6. Add potatoes and fry together with bacon and onion.
7. Turn the potato over when the bottom is brown and crispy.
8. Cook the potatoes until light brown.

Potato pancake from the left over fried potatoes with Bacon or mashed potatoes

Left over cooked potatoes with bacon or mashed potatoes
Unbleached all purpose flour as needed
1 egg
1TBSP cooking oil

1. Mash the left over potatoes and bacon. (If you use leftover mashed potatoes, skip this process.)
2. Add an egg and flour in the potatoes.
3. Mix well and the potato mix is too soft add more flour. I like small amount of flour to have crispy potato taste while my family like more flour added to have stiff but well formed pancake.
4. Make the ball and press to make hamburger shape.
5. Heat the frying pan and add oil
6. Cook potato pancake in the pan.
7. Cook both side of the potato pancake to light crispy brown.
8. Serve it warm

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Cooking for my mother

My sister called me that our mother lost appetite and got ill. I decided to go to stay and cook for a month at my parents’ for my mother. She used to be bit over-weight. When I arrived at my parents’ house, my mother was very skinny. She was too weak to even speak up what she wanted.
According to my sister, she started eating very little. When she was in a hospital, she didn’t want to eat. My sister prefers cooking simple meals and doesn’t like cooking much. She made Japanese hotpot or Nabe, and Variety of ingredients cooked in large pot or Oden. They are nice simple Japanese Winter meals. However, because my mother is very good cook and love to eat, I know she love to eat Japanese dishes which is more complex. I wanted to make something easy to digest and meet her taste bud. She has high blood pressure problem. She used to cook and eat low sodium meals and will not eat any salty meals. Go good soup stock is key to cook dishes with less sodium without losing flavors. I made Dashi (Japanese soup stock) from Iriko (Dried small fish) which home cooks in Hiroshima use instead of dried bonito flakes to make Miso soup. Using this sock, I made Miso soup, Chawanmushi( steamed egg dish), cooked root vegetables, and most Japanese dishes. I hope that eating slow food which I prepared from fresh ingredients with love make her healthy and happy.
My mother told me that I make more Japanese meals than my sister who live in Japan. I harvested , Daikon (typoe of radish), Gobo(burdock) and cabbage in my mother’s garden. I cooked Daikon and Gobo with Dashi. I made small rolled cabbage made with ground Chicken and Tofu inside cooked in Japanese soup stock hint of tomato flavor. My mother was not sure about rolled cabbage at first. After she ate one, she loved it and asked another one. She gradually gained her appetite and started eating more. By the time I left her house, she could make Sticky rice or Mochi and teach us how to prepare fresh octopus and sea cucumber which my uncle fished. I told her that I would be back to cook for her in May if she is well.
After I came back to Seattle, my sister told me that doctor told the test results of our mother is better than her last visit.
The photos shows meals which my mother had.