Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas Dinner (Shrimp Pasta with Garlic Sauce) and Blizzard in NY

This year's Christmas was very quiet and  relaxed Christmas with just my husband.

On Christmas Eve, we Skyped with my husband's parents and we opened the presents together. It was really nice and fun! On a day after Christmas, we Skyped with my parents and also had a nice time. It is great to have this kind of technology for the people like us who live away from family. They are away but it feels like they are just there right in front of you.

Anyway, for Christmas Eve dinner, we made shrimp pasta with garlic sauce. This is something my husband's family eats on Christmas Eve every year so we decided to follow the tradition and eat this dish on this day.

This is a super easy dish. Garlic sauce is something my husband make quite often. You just mix sour cream and crushed garlic with chopped chives and salt and pepper. (We didn't have chives so we omit chives this time)

I just sauteed some shrimp in butter with salt and pepper.

Then, add a dollop of garlic sauce on top of cooked pasta, then add sauteed shrimp. We sprinkled with some chopped parsley for color.

For dessert, I just heated up Apple Blossom which I bought from Trader Joe's in the oven and add some ice cream and sliced apple. This is really good also. If you have Trader Joe's near you, I would recommend this product. It is in the freezer section.

This year's Christmas was very very relaxed and I felt very peace. We played Christmas music all day and enjoyed each other's company. Well, we have been playing Christmas music this year since Thanksgiving so I feel like I had long Christmas this year. I really appreciate that we were able to spend great happy Christmas this year again!

However, we had a big blizzard on a day after Christmas. We had lots of snow in just one day. On Monday morning when we try to open the front door, this was what we found.

Since we didn't have the outside door right now, we were able to open our door without much problem but our neighbor told us that they couldn't open the outside door which opens towards outside so they had to call their son who live near by to come over and shovel the snow from outside to open the door.

We had so much snow everywhere in NY and NJ area. It seems like plow couldn't catch up with this amount of snow plus it was very windy so I think that made it difficult to plow and clean the street and stuff. Luckily, our street was plowed on Tuesday morning. (Well, since we park our car on the street, we first had to shove our car out of the snow. This was lots of work. Thanks to my husband for the hard work!)

Lots of people couldn't get to work on Monday or even Tuesday. We didn't have to go anywhere on Monday or Tuesday so we were lucky to be able to stay home on these crazy mess. I have to think about nature's power again. It is amazing what nature can do in one day.

Anyway, I was born and grew up in Tokyo and after that lived in California for about 9 years so I am not used to having this much of snow. I heard that it will warm up now for New Year's eve and New Years day so hopefully all these snow will melt soon.

It realized that it is much more difficult to live in a area where it snows a lot. I appreciate all the people who worked really hard during this blizzard to make street and public transportation functional. I think I had enough snow for this season already.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Fancy Lunch at Eleven Madison Park

Last week, my husband and I had some errands in Manhattan. Since we normally don't have a chance to go to Manhattan on the weekdays during the day, we decided to have a fancy lunch at one of the restaurant I wanted to go. The restaurant is called "Eleven Madison Park" which is right next to Madison Park.

The restaurant has lots of big windows so very bright and nice atmosphere. We really enjoyed this luxurious feeling.

Of course, the food was excellent also.

First, amuse. It was chicken soup and truffle oil crouton. This is not the regular chicken soup. It was creamy yet not too rich and tasted very delicate. Truffle crouton was great since we love truffle.

Then appetizer. I had scallop and my husband had white truffle.
The scallop dish was so colorful and beautiful. It really was like an art.

My husband white truffle dish was white truffle dish over torterillni. The chef came out from the kitchen with a glass container with white truffle in it and explained about this white truffle and shaved it right in front of us. It was super good. I love truffle.

Then we had this egg thing which is something like form inside with some green oil (sauce?) in the bottom. It was very fluffy and good. I don't know the name of this dish but the presentation was cute.

For main course, I had chicken and my husband had pork.
My chicken was very tender and good. I especially liked the crispy skin of the chicken. It also had a few black truffle slices.

My husband's pork was done in three ways (I think). I tried one of them. It was also very tender and good but I think I liked my chicken better.

Then sorbet. Look at this plate! Isn't it pretty? I had never seen a plate like this. I love it. The sorbet was bit too intense for me but I love the presentation.

For dessert, I had chocolate dessert. I was in a form of flexible chocolate ganache with some sorbet. I think it might have been persimmon sorbet. I am not sure. I also tasted some yuzu in one of the sauce.

My husband had coconut dessert. It was coconut sorbet with some tropical fruit. It was very refreshing and tasted great.

After our dessert, they also bought out some mini desserts. It was ice cream lollipop and thin almond brittle. Both of them were really good.

 In the beginning, we were worried that we might not be full from all these small portioned dishes (We were even joking that we might have to go to Shake Shack which is in the Madison Park to get hamburger after this) but by the time when we finish all the course, we were so full. It was a very satisfying lunch. We spent about two hours enjoying every single dish.

It was pretty pricey but this is something which is once a year experience. The time we spent at this restaurant was very luxurious and we thanked each other for everything we did and we got this year. Maybe we should do this every year! At the end of the year, we should pick one fancy restaurant and enjoy end of the year meal and appreciate everything for that year.

Anyway, I am very thankful for everything and my husband. We are very lucky to be able to have such a wonderful lunch in such a nice restaurant.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Cookies

Every year, when Christmas get closer, my husband and I make cookies together. I think this is a pretty common thing to do in Germany. My husband told me that he made cookie with his mom every year when he was little and it remain as a great memory for him.

So ever since we are together, we started bake cookies together before Christmas. This has been a great project for us every year.

One of the cookie we always make is almond cookie which my husband made every year with his mom. We got the recipe from his mom and we bake this every year. I love this cookie so much. It has almond powder in it and taste so good!

We make dough and roll it into sticks and keep in the fridge for about 30mins.
Then, cut them into pieces.

Put them in the oven sheet and add almond on top for each cookie.

Then, bake it for 13mins or so.

This year, we decided to make one more kind of cookie from the book I borrowed. This is the book I borrowed from library.

There are so many different kind of cookies in this book but I wanted to try cranberry shortbread cookie since I love shortbread cookie.

This is how it looked before baking.

This is after baking.

I was supposed to take this out and use heart shaped cookie cutter to make hearts but when I tried to take it out from the pan, it kind of all crumbled so I decided to eat them just like that. I kind of cut them into smaller pieces and stored in a air tight container. It is so crumbly and taste delicious!

We baked lots of cookies so we can enjoy them everyday until Christmas. Maybe even after Christmas!

This cookie baking with my husband is one of my favorite things to do every year. I am already excited about spending holiday with him and the warm nice house and delicious smell of cookies make me even happier. I think it is quite tedious work to bake cookie by yourself but when I bake it with my husband it make it much more fun and easy! We will definitely continue this tradition ever year for the many years to come! I highly recommend baking cookies with your families and friends. It bring you lots of joy and happiness.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Birthday Party at friend's apartment in Manhattan with Argentinean Dinner

The other day, a friend of my husband who lives in Manhattan had a birthday party and he and his wife invited us for the birthday party at their place.

They live in an apartment in Manhattan and this was our first time visiting their apartment. Their apartment was right by the Hudson River and the view was spectacular.

Isn't it awesome to have this view from your own apartment everyday?

His wife is from Argentine so she made some Argentinean dinner for the party.  I don't know the name of dishes she made but all of them were so good!

First, we had creamy chicken pie. It has creamy chicken with green peas in a flaky dough. It is creamy but not too rich so you can eat them a lot. It was really good.

And we also had meat and potato pie. It had some cinnamon on top and it was great combination. I loved cinnamon and ground beef together.

I was not too familiar with Argentinean dishes and when I think of Argentinean dishes, I always thought about grilled beef so it was great to get to know all these delicious new dishes! I would love to know more about Argentinean dishes. I think I will research more. Since now I have an Argentinean friend, if there is any question about Argentinean dishes, I can just ask her!

There were some other friends of theirs at the party and it was first time for us to meet them but everyone was so nice and easy to talk to so we really had a great time together.

oh, we also had dessert of course but I forgot to take photos. It was chocolate pudding cake and cheese cake. Both of them were really good. We ate so much!

And they showed us this funny cup they have. I had never seen anything like this. Isn't this wild? It is so funny!

Anyhow, we had a great evening and I hope that we will see all of them again sometime soon!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Strawberry Dreamy Cream Cake

I was looking through this book which I borrowed from the library the the other day and found this cake which seems very easy so I decided to give it a try.

The cake I made is the one which is one the cover of the book.

Actually, this cake is just putting together store-bought ingredients so no baking at all.

I just had to buy already made angel food cake from a store and frozen whipped cream, vanilla pudding mix, canned crushed pineapple and strawberries.

I bought this angel food cake from a local supermarket.

Slice strawberries.

Mix crushed pineapple and vanilla pudding mix.

Add frozen whipped cream to it.

Then, cut the angel food cake into three layers and decorate with cream and strawberries.

This is how it came out.

This is super easy and pretty good but I would definitely make my own angle food cake and whipped cream next time. After all, homemade is much better, I think.

After keeping it in the fridge for overnight, it is time to eat.

Well, I like the idea of putting crushed pineapple into whipped cream.

I found the recipe for this cake on-line so if you are interested, click here for the recipe.

My angle food cake was a bit dry but if you can find good angle food cake, you can definitely use it. This is such an easy cake and looks very pretty!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Aglio Olio Peppronchino, Miso Eggplant, Miso Ramen & Kazuo Ishiguro

 I would like to post some of the things I had this past few days. They are all easy and am not sure if I can call them cooking but those are great when you are lazy or don't have time.

First, it is pasta. Pasta is always easy thing to make. I love creamy or tomato sauce pasta but sometimes I just want to eat simple pasta such as Aglio Olio Pepperonchino. It is just garlic, olive oil and chili flakes.
If you prefer, you can add some anchovy or sautéed shrimp but this time I made it simple. I love this pasta because it is easy but very tasty. I can really enjoy the taste of pasta itself. I added some parsley on top at the end for color.

Next one is "Miso flavored eggplant sautee". This is a dish my mom makes quite often. It is super easy and quick but you can eat lots of eggplant. I love eggplant so this is one of my favorite dish my mom makes. I can just have this and rice and be satisfied. It is easy and healthy. Mine tasted little bit different from my mom's. I should ask her how she make it next time when I talk to her.

Then, Miso Ramen. This is just a store bought fresh miso ramen. It comes with fresh ramen noodle and soup. I added lots of vegetables. These vegetables are frozen stir fry mix from trader joe's. I just take it out from the freezer and sauté them a little bit and add on top of ramen noodle. I also added some corn for color. Ramen noodles are super popular in Japan. This is a great dish for a cold winter day.
Also, I love this stir fry vegetable mix from trader joe's. I sometimes just add some meat for this mix and saute them together, flavor with salt, pepper, sesame oil and oyster sauce and you have a nice stir fry dish for dinner.

By the way, I borrowed another book from the library today.

I found out about this book from a Japanese magazine which I was reading a while ago. Since the name of the author was Japanese, I assumed that it is a Japanese book and I have to get it in Japan or Japanese book store. However, little bit later, I found out that he was born in Japan but moved to England when he was little and become a British Citizen. So I thought the original of this book must be written in English and I search for it and found it. I ordered it from the library. I think it is quite popular book since it took for a few weeks to arrive at my local library. I got the notice from them so I went to pick it up.
I really don't know much about the story but I am going to start reading it today. I am so excited!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Items from Germany

My husband had a business trip to Germany the other day and his parents gave us lots of Christmas sweets and decorations and gifts. 

First of all, I asked them to get this special Christmas cake called "Stollen". I didn't know about this cake before I met my husband and ever since then I crave this for Christmas. It has some candied fruit in it and very buttery and yummy. This is the one which my mother-in-law brought for us from this famous department store in Munich called "Dallmayer"

This is how it look opened. It is sliced already and it is a perfect size for me to have it after meal. You can actually find stollen here in the U.S. but I wanted to eat the real one from Germany :-) Thanks for buying these for me!

Also, this is another Christmas sweets which we crave. It is called "Domino". Actually, this is my husband's favorite. Inside, it has three layers of marzipan, some kind of jelly and ginger bread and coated with chocolate. Even though I am not a big fan of marzipan, I really like this domino. This is really sweet so I am fine with one one these at one time but my husband can have many at once. I asked him. "Isn't it really really sweet?" and he said "Yeah, it is perfect! I can eat them all at once if I want to." OK. but we should try to eat little by little so we can have them until Christmas :-) 

Another item is almond chocolate from Lindt. This one has cinnamon and cardamon flavor and in my opinion it is Christmas flavor. Normally, I don't care much for chocolate but this one is different. It is so good that I can not stop with just one. I have to eat three at once. It is a dangerous chocolate to have at home :-) 

And this one is marzipan sweet. I am not a big fan of marzipan so this will be all for my husband. My husband loves marzipan. These little balls of marzipan just looks like small potatoes. It looks really cute. 

Also, we got lots of Christmas decorations. My mother-in-law is great at decorating. Aren't these cute? Some cute socks with little gifts in it and also very Christmasy table runner. and heart shaped Christmas wreath. I love them! We didn't have much Christmas decoration at home so I am excited to hang these and make our house more Christmasy!

I think December 6 was Santa Clause day in Germany and Santa visit kids on Dec 6. I am not sure if he brings presents on this day or not but I think they open Christmas presents on Dec 24 normally. I feel like it is already Christmas here at my house! I found a 24 hour Christmas music channel on TV. I am so excited about this holiday season. We have lots of fun things planned and also will have many relaxing days with Christmas music and bake some cookies! I never really thought much about Christmas before but this year for some reason, thinking of Christmas season make me very happy and warm :-) 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Rachel Ray's Stuffed Cabbage Stoup

It is definitely getting cold here in NY. When it is cold outside, you crave for something warm and comfy at home such as soup. Lately, I was thinking about stuffed cabbage but I was just too lazy about the thought of stuffing the cabbage for some reason so when I saw this easy stuffed cabbage stoup, I had to try it.

This recipe is from Rachel Ray. Her recipe is always very easy and quick. This is something between soup and stew so she calls it stoup. The ingredients are basically stuffed cabbage ingredients so it taste like stuffed cabbage but little bit lazy version of it.

Here is Rachel Ray's "Stuffed Cabbage Stoup" recipe from Food Network Website. 

This is super easy. First, you brown ground meat and saute some vegetables.

Then add cabbage.

Then add tomatoes and tomato sauce and chicken stock and let it simmer.

Serve it with some rice and sprinkle of parsley.

This is so easy and satisfying meal since there are lots of meat in it. This is perfect so someone like me who is not good at stuffing and rolling the cabbage.

My mom used to make stuffed cabbage for us during winter season. I love my mom's stuffed cabbage. Her stuffed cabbage is not tomato base. I don't know what she put in the soup but it is good. Maybe I should ask her how she make it and try to make her stuffed cabbage sometime this winter.

By the way, I cut my hair yesterday and love the new hair! To be honest, I hadn't cut my hair for more than a year!!! Can you believe it? I cut it last time when I was in Japan so it was more than a year.

Ever since I moved to NY about 5 years ago, I had been trying to find a favorite hair stylist but I couldn't really find one. But finally I think I found one! She was really nice and I love my new hair and it was affordable. I will definitely go back to her for my next hair cut! If you need any recommendation for a good hair stylist in NYC, let me know :-)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Pork Schnitzel & Mushroom Spaetzle

I made something from my husband home country. This is a dish I always have every time I go to Germany. The best Schnitzel is of course my husband's grandam's. I think normally people use veal for this dish but I was watching Tyler Florence on TV the other day and he was using pork so I used his recipe this time for Schnitzel and Spaetzle.

Here is Tyler Florence's recipe I used for pork Schnitzel. Click here to go to Food Network website.

Also, here is Tyler's mushroom mustard spaetzle recipe. Click here to go to Food Network website.

My Schnitzel was thinker than it should have been. I tried to pound them thinly but I guess it was not enough. While I was cooking, it started to curl up a little. I should pound more thinly next time. But it tasted good.

For Spaetzle, I used this special tool which I bought in Germany. Tyler was using pasta colander for spaetzle so I guess you don't need this special tool but I like this tool. There are small holes in the bottom so when you add dough and press it, the noodle comes out from the hole. When it hits the hot water in a pan, it will be cooked immediately.

The dough is pretty loose but sticky.

This is how it looks in the pot.

This is after I drain them.

This time, I followed Tyler's recipe and mixed these spaetzle with mushroom, mustard, thyme and heavy cream. It was really tasty.

The spaetzle was easier than I thought and my husband was so happy when he saw it so I think I will make this more often from now on. There is also a dish called "Cheese Spaetzle" and this dish can be eaten by itself. It normally has caramelized onion and cheese with Spaetzle. Maybe I will make that one next time.

I think I need to work more on Schnitzel still to make it perfect. However, I guess I will never be able to make Schnitzel like oma. I am looking forward to have oma's Schnitzel again sometime soon :-)