kruizing with kikukat

Monday, November 20, 2017

Another Greek Pasta Salad

I'm not sure what I was thinking, but I am having guests for Thanksgiving.  None of my guests are blog readers, and that's a good thing.  They won't know how I worked my tail off this weekend, trying to tidy up the house.  I am still not done, but I think I now have the mess at a manageable amount.

Truth be told, I did not spend ALL weekend cleaning.  Against my better judgement, I turned the TV to the UW-Utah game, thinking I would watch for a few minutes then get back to cleaning.  No such luck.  I got suckered in, and, 2 glasses of Kraken and Diet Coke later, I found myself screaming with a few seconds left in the game.  What a nail biter.

Throughout the game, my phone kept going off with updates about another football game.  The HHS football team played Damien Memorial High School for the Division I state title.  Not nearly the nerve-charged game as the UW game, but still exciting, especially since Damien drew first blood.

I was pleasantly surprised at how many friends were at the game.  Not friends who live in Hilo, but friends who live in Honolulu.  Several sent congratulatory messages via Facebook.  One of the well-wishers was someone I worked with nearly a decade ago.  She is lucky enough to be retired now...ahhh, someday.  But hearing from her brought back memories, and that's when it occurred to me that her recipe for Greek pasta salad would make a nice addition to my Thanksgiving lunch.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 lb thin strand pasta (angel hair, vermicelli, spaghettini, etc.)
     1/2 c vegetable oil
     3 tbsp lemon juice
     3 tbsp mayonnaise
     3 tbsp Greek seasoning (Cavender's is what we find here)
     1 can olives, sliced
     1 small jar pimientos, larger pieces sliced
     3 tbsp thinly sliced green onions

Cook pasta according to directions on box.  Drain and cool.  Combine oil, lemon juice, mayonnaise and Greek seasoning.  Mix with cooked/cooled pasta.  Toss in olives, pimientos and green onions.  Chill overnight.

Continuing the highlights of my recent Hokkaido trip..........
Sapporo, Japan
October 9, 2017:  Day 1
The Keeper made my hotel arrangements for me, and he chose a hotel which offered a complimentary breakfast.  Aside from "suite" type hotels, I am not accustomed to having breakfast provided, and I was quite surprised at what was on the buffet line.  Of course, I didn't take too much food since I knew we would be having breakfast at the Jougai Ichiba.

Jougai Ichiba was on The Keeper's itinerary.  It required a short hop on the train to get there.  I'm not sure which stop we got off, but I know we headed west from the Sapporo station.

Jougai Ichiba is also known as the Hokkaido curb market/Sapporo Central Wholesale Market.  I'm not sure why, as I did not see a curb anywhere, but vendors do have their goods on the sidewalk.  Vendors were very welcoming, suggesting we try the different foods.  I really wanted to buy a crab to eat, but I didn't know how long I'd be out.  And I certainly didn't bring my favorite weapon of choice (Joyce Chen kitchen snips).
Most of the vendors were selling either seafood or fruit.  Some of the seafood businesses had counterpart restaurants which offered to prepare the food for you.  That would've been fun to try, especially since I discovered that I like uni (sea urchin).  Perhaps I need to say that I like the taste of uni in Japan.  I've had uni in Hawaii, and it was either yucky or only okay.  But the uni sample the vendor let me try was sweet and buttery.  Yum.  I knew I would need to have more of it later.

The sweetheart of the fruit offerings has got to be the melon which every fruit stand proudly displays...yubari king melon.  The melon looks similar to the cantaloupes we see in the supermarkets.  But the yubari melon is more globular, and somewhere in size between a softball and a bowling ball.  There is usually a "T" shaped stem attached.  The orange fruit is extremely fragrant and sweet.  This fruit has the distinction of being the most expensive fruit in Japan.  I could probably eat one by myself (as a meal), but it would be my luck that I am allergic to musk melons.  I did allow myself to accept a sample from a vendor, but I quickly rinsed my mouth after eating it.

As promised, The Keeper took us to a restaurant above the shops.  From the picture menu, I selected the kitamae don.  I thought the uni and ikura would make me happy, but it was the raw scallops which put a huge smile on my face.  They were sweet and delicious.  It's hard to believe that I live on an island surrounded by water, but the seafood in Japan is superior.

After breakfast, we made our way back to the station, stopping at a 100-yen shop.  It was my first time at one of these shops.  Wow...the things one can find there!

We went back to the Sapporo station and made our way on foot to check out the old government building.  From there we walked down to Odori Park.  Most of us could not resist buying grilled corn.  The corn was so tasty.  It had just the right combination of salty and sweet.

In spite of being full from breakfast AND corn, we stopped at the Ramen Yokocho in Susukino.  This was where Anthony Bourdain ate when he was in Susukino. 

The Keeper and I decided to try the the chashu grilled pork spicy miso ramen at Teshikaga Ramen (this is not the restaurant which borders the street).  The ramen was a little oily, but that was to be expected.  There were at least 3 types of pork in the ramen:  a spicy ground pork, cubes of soft pork, and the grilled pork belly slab.  And as you can tell from the picture, I was still in denial.  I still thought I liked corn in my ramen.

Now this is where my mind gets a bit fuzzy.  Perhaps it's from too much eating, but our next stop was the Shiroi Koibito chocolate factory.  I cannot remember how we got there.  I think we went underground and caught a subway/train.  I think.  I am pretty sure the chocolate factory isn't too far from the Jougai Ichiba, where we were earlier in the day.  But The Keeper said we needed dessert.

The Shiroi Koibito chocolate factory is known for the famous shiroi koibito, a cookie sandwich.  Two langue de chat buttery cookies are sandwiched together with white chocolate.   It reminds me a little of the Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies.  In addition to shiroi koibito, the factory also has "Candy Labo", the hard candy division.  The Keeper, Nakaz, and I bought a bunch of things from Candy Labo.  I haven't eaten my Candy Labo yet, but I sent some "magic candy" to Heather, a knitting friend in Kansas.

We took a walking break and sat down to dessert in the restaurant of the factory.  The Keeper ordered a gigantic parfait with shine muscats.  I didn't think I could eat something so large, so I settled on something which I had been wanting to eat for nearly 2 decades:  baumkuchen (layered sponge cake).  My dessert would've been fine, had I not been urged by The Keeper to try a shine muscat.  I figured I wouldn't like it, since I don't eat grapes, but the shine muscat turned out to be something other-worldly.  I have never eaten anything so fragrant.

And I don't think I ever ate so much food in a single day.  Little did I know, we weren't done yet.  The Keeper told me that there was a place in one of the malls adjoining the Sapporo station which served tonkatsu even better than Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin (Waikiki).  I found that hard to believe, so I told him to bring it on.  We ended up at Tonkatsu Wako.

The Keeper was right.  The tonkatsu was  tender with a crisp, light and airy coating.  But to be perfectly honest, I prefer the dressing (for the cabbage) at Bairin.  The dressing at Tonkatsu Wako was not the sesame-mayo dressing I was expecting.  It was more like a ponzu.  I like ponzu, but NOT with tonkatsu and cabbage.

And finally, after all this eating, we made it back to the hotel for, what I hoped, would be a good night of sleep.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Feels Like Fall: Ohelo Berry (or cranberry!) Scones

I guess it's now time to start thinking about Fall and what I have to look forward to.  The weather seems a bit cooler, and I've actually been tempted to use the fireplace.

Expecting to buy some turkey, I thought it would be a good idea to take stock of freezer real estate.  Sadly, the availability of free space in there was dismal.

But my task did yield a pleasant find...frozen ohelo berries.  I must have picked them a few months ago and forgot I had them.  I had enough to make a dessert, but what I was really jonesing for was scones.

A few weeks ago, a nice student brought me 2 still-warm scones, courtesy of the culinary arts teacher (this is the same teacher who brought the taco salad to the potluck).  The scones were delicious, and since then, I've been wanting to make my own (=more; =as many as I want to eat).  Finding the ohelo berries was a good reason to get busy.

If you are not familiar with ohelo berries, please visit my post for Ohelo Berry Bars.  I have a link there for an explanation about these special berries.  I also have another post/recipe, Ohelo Berry Cream Cheese Pie.  Cranberries (coarsely chopped for this scone recipe), currants and blueberries would make good substitutes for ohelo berries.  And since it's November, we all know where we can find the best deal on cranberries. . .Costco!

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     2 1/2 c flour
     2 tbsp sugar
     2 1/2 tsp baking powder
     1/2 tsp baking soda
     1/2 tsp salt
     zest of 1/2 lemon
     1/2 c cold butter
     3/4 c buttermilk
     1 tbsp honey
     1 egg
     1/2 c fresh or frozen (and defrosted) ohelo berries (or coarsely chopped cranberries)
     turbinado or coarse sugar

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a measuring cup, stir together buttermilk, honey and egg.  In a food processor bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and lemon zest.  Pulse a few times to mix.  Add butter in chunks, and process until distributed throughout.  Remove flour mixture to a mixing bowl.  Stir in buttermilk mixture until barely combined.  Turn dough onto a generously floured surface and pat into a rectangle.  Spread berries on half of rectangle and flip plain half to cover berries.  Flatten out rectangle and fold into thirds (letter style).  Flatten again and fold in half.  Pat dough into a 7 x 10" rectangle.  Cut dough into 6 squares and cut each square into 2 triangles.  Place triangles onto parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Sprinkle tops with turbinado sugar.  Bake 16-19 minutes.  Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

This recipe was adapted from the buttermilk scone recipe found on the Canadian Living website.  When I tried the original recipe, it was difficult to work with because of the super-sticky dough.  I changed a few things to make the dough manageable and added ohelo berries.

 Sapporo, Japan
October 8, 2017, Arrival:  Night 1

We arrived in Sapporo on Sunday evening.  I know we were delayed an hour or so out of Honolulu (something about a small part called "landing gear") but I have no idea what time it was when we finally checked in to our hotel. 

The Keeper's suggestion, Toyoko Inn (we stayed at the one across the street from the Hokkaido University campus), turned out to be very clean and orderly.  It was not ostentations like some of the hotels I stayed at on my last visit to Japan, but it was good enough.  I actually lol'd when I stepped into the elevator...some of my friends would need to ride it solo!  It was fricken small.  The Help, OllieMama and I, with our luggage, barely fit.

Finding a place to eat was just as challenging as squeezing into the elevator.  As we walked around Sapporo station, restaurants were putting up closing signs.  Five of us (the other two ate at a robata restaurant across the hall) ended up at a ramen place in the station.  For me, the biggest "aha" came with the ordering system.  Instead of reciting your order to someone, you put your $ in what appears to be a modified vending machine and make your selection(s).  The machine will spit out a ticket(s), which you hand to the person behind the counter.  Being handicapped in reading Japanese, I just ordered what The Keeper ordered (less gyoza) would've taken too long for him to read the entire menu to me.   

The ramen was tasty enough, but The Keeper felt it wasn't THE BEST example of Hokkaido ramen.  Apparently, we ordered a spicy miso ramen with corn topped with a huge chunk of butter.  Although full of pork flavor, the broth was rather thick and bit too spicy for what I would want as a broth.  There was definitely a "grill" flavor (this is a good thing) very similar to the flavor which keeps me ordering the Osaka saimin at Restaurant Osaka (in Hilo). Maybe it was all the excitement of being in a new place, but I could hardly eat half of it.

And I should have learned from this...I don't like corn in my ramen.

We spent the rest of the evening checking out the area in and around the station.  There were so many food vendors on the main floor (where the ticket machines are).  I made a mental note of what I planned to eat in the next few days.

In spite of not being able to eat my dinner, I couldn't resist buying my first Mister Donut pon de ring.  It was yummy.  I vaguely remember hearing about Mister Donut, and I'm pretty sure D1 had a pon de ring when she went to Sumoto with the Builders Club.  But nothing could prepare me for the texture.  The donut was light, yet chewy.  Since then, I've read a bunch of different blog posts about what makes the pon de ring so chewy.  Here is a pon de ring recipe at the Cooking of Joy blog.  It's the first one I plan to try when I recover from jet lag.  Of course, I've got a list of other things I want to try replicating too (like that darn cheese tart).

There were a lot of people still milling about, and I couldn't wait til the next day so I could get my bearings.  Being confused and disoriented with direction was not a good feeling.  And at this point, all entrances/exits to the station looked the same! 

I was too tired to even try and orient myself with landmarks. . .I blame it on being awake way past my bedtime.  Unlike some of my fellow travelers, I could not fall asleep on the flight.  I had a super hard sudoku book and a knitting project to keep me entertained, and I ended up doing a bunch of puzzles and starting (and frogging,  re-starting, re-frogging, and re-starting) a cowl.

I was a bit apprehensive about bringing knitting with me on the plane.  I was careful to bring wooden interchangeable needles, and since I hadn't started the project, I kept the cable separate from the needles tips.  I also made sure that what I brought was replaceable...I could buy another cable and tip assembly.  And the yarn I had with me was not nearly as precious as a skein from the Cyborg's Craft Room. . .just in case those monsters decided to confiscate my things.

I went to bed that evening feeling grateful to The Keeper for getting us to the hotel from the station.  The last time I was in a train station (Osaka), I vowed never to enter without leaving a breadcrumb trail to find my way out. 

I was also hoping that it would be cold enough to wear all the shit I knitted.