Sunday, February 24, 2013

Miso Soup for #SundaySupper

Miso Soup

Construction is still ongoing in my apartment. This past week, my refrigerator was in my dining room, my dishwasher was normally where my refrigerator stands and my kitchen sink along with one side of my kitchen cabinets were missing. Good thing I prepared this appetizer before everything was torn down.

This week's #SundaySupper theme is soups. I prepard a miso soup appetizer a couple of months after I started my first website however, I had no clue what I was doing so I wanted to revisit the dish. Enter Nami of Just One Cookbook. I discovered her almost two years ago and she has since become my authority for Japanese cuisine.

One of the things I found fascinating when preparing this soup is that fundamentally, the preparation is the same between it and many Western soups. It starts off with a stock and then flavor is added to it. In this case, the stock is called a dashi, which is made from kelp and bonito, and the flavor is miso paste, which is commonly made from fermented soybeans. According to Nami, there are many variations of dashi because it is a component in many other Japanese dishes. Nami also notes that dashi packets and instant dashi can be purchased but I don't take shortcuts here so I will make awashe dashi from scratch. Many of these ingredients are not stocked by American supermarkets, but can easily be found in specialty Asian grocery stores.

The Challenge

I would not normally publish a dish such as this because the preparation isn't very complicated but the challenge here isn't difficulty; it's authenticity.

The Source

I encourage you to check out Nami's tutorial on how to make dashi because she took some amazing step-by-step pictures that I was not able to replicate. I started with step 4 of her miso soup recipe because she used a dashi packet for the soup in the post.


0.7 ounces (20 grams) dashi kombu
2 cups loosley packed Hana Katsuo or Katsuobushi bonito flakes
1 quart water
2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons white miso paste
5 ounces soft tofu, cut into small cubes (optional)
1 teaspoon dried wakame (optional)
1 green onion cut crosswise into rings (optional)


1. Gently clean the kombu with a damp cloth but leave the white powdery substance. Score the sides of the kombu using kitchen shears. Place water in a medium saucepan and add the kombu and soak for 3 to 12 hours.

2. Slowly bring the water to just short of a boil (bubbles have formed on the bottom of the saucepan) over medium-low heat, approximately 20-25 minutes, skimming the surface periodically to remove any impurities.

3. Once the water has formed the bubbles, remove the kombu. Remove from heat and let it cool. Once cool, add the bonito flakes and bring to a boil, and continue skimming any impurities. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 seconds, then remove from heat. Let the mixture sit for ten minutes so the bonito flakes can settle to the bottom of the saucepan. Line a strainer with a paper towels and set it over a large bowl. Strain out the bonito flakes, reserving the fluid (dashi).

4. While the bonito flakes settle, add the wakame to a small bowl filled with water to rehydrate, approximately 10 minutes. Once rehydrated, add the wakame and the green onion to serving bowls.

5. Return the fluid to a simmer and add the miso, dissolving it in a ladle and 1 tablespoon at a time, tasting in between additions because miso paste can have a high concentration of sodium. Stir in the tofu cubes, adding 1/2 tablespoon more miso if needed because the tofu can dilute the miso. Spoon the soup into the serving bowls with the wakame and onions and serve immediately.


About a week after I prepared this soup, Mrs. Stuntman wanted sushi. I ordered a bento box which came with a bowl of miso soup, however I was disappointed with it and preferred the homemade variety.

Nami notes that the used kombu and the bonito flakes can be reserved to make niban dashi, which is a less concentrated form used in other dishes where the flavors of the dashi are secondary to other ingredients. If you aren't familiar with her, I strongly suggest getting to know her. Please 'Like' her on facebook, follow her on twitter and pinterest in addition to adding her on G+.

Other Sunday Supper Participants

And finally, please check out this week's other Sunday Supper participants:

Do The Chicken Dance (chicken {or other poultry} soups)

Where's The Beef (Beef Soups)

Pass The Pork. Please (Pork or Sausage Soups)

Under The Sea (Seafood Soups)

Eat Your Veggies (Chock Full o' Vegetables Soups)

Some Don't Like It Hot (Chilled Soups)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Pasta Primavera: A Skinny #SundaySupper Dish

Pasta Primavera

For this week's #SundaySupper, the theme is light and healthy dishes (i.e. skinny) and it couldn't have come at a better time. After gorging on Super Bowl snacks and splurging on Valentine's Day sweets, it's time to get back to a healthy diet.

I must thank Renee of Magnolia Days for this dish. I planned on participating in last week's Valentine's Day event, but the maintenance staff at my apartment is working with my kitchen. I won't bore you with the details, but it's about 90% functional and wasn't sure I would be able to complete the dish on time.

As I was explaining to Renee that I would have to renege on my commitment for Valentine's Day, I promised I would look at future Sundays. She noted this week's theme but I was reluctant because healthy dishes, while I'm mindful, aren't a focus of this publication. (Want examples? Let's see, there's my homemade ricotta, deep frying my own potato chips, and baby back ribs just to name a few. That doesn't even cover the numerous pasta dishes I've published in the last year.) Well, Rene practically dared me to participate. After thinking about it, it occurred to me that making an indulgent dish healthier could be a separate challenge.

The Challenge

I know I publish a lot of pasta here, but have never set out with a goal of cutting calories, carbohydrates, and/or fat. For this reason, I thought this would be a great place to start.

The Source

Many pasta primavera dishes I reviewed used short pasta so I used a recipe I found on because it's different in that respect.


1 cup canned low-salt chicken broth chicken stock
16 sun-dried tomato halves (not packed in oil)
1 pound linguine
5 tablespoons olive oil
8 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 medium zucchini, chopped
12 broccoli rabe florets
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated


1. Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, bring broth to simmer in small saucepan, then remove from heat. Add tomatoes and let stand until soft, about 20 minutes. Drain, but reserve broth. Slice tomatoes thinly.

2. Add linguine to the large pot of salted water for a minute or two less than the box instructions dictate. While the pasta boils, heat oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Add the garlic and sauté until golden, about 1 minute. Add reserved broth, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, broccoli rabe florets and basil. Season with salt and pepper, then simmer until vegetables are tender, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat.

3. Drain linguine and add to the vegetables, then toss to combine. Transfer to warmed bowls and garnish with the parmesan.


I was a little surprised the dish was so flavorful, considering the lack of a sauce. Altogether, this was not only a lighter meal, but one that came together rather quickly.

On a side note, you might remember Carolina when I prepared a guest post for her this past fall. She recently wrote on her blog how Italians stay healthy, given that many of their dishes are heavy and have high in calories. If I could summarize her sentiments, she notes that portions are smaller and use natural ingredients.

Other Sunday Supper Participants

Please check out this week's other Sunday Supper participants:

Sizzling Skinny Appetizers & Soups
Healthy Skinny Mains & Sides
Guilt Free Skinny Desserts & Snacks
Wine Pairing Recommendations for Skinny Sunday Supper by ENOFYLZ Wine Blog

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom Risotto

The first anniversary of my first post was this past Saturday, so I thought I'd go back to basics to commemorate it. It's also a little ironic because I was a little reluctant to publish my previous risotto dish because I was apprehensive it wasn't crazy enough for this website. The dish I published this past summer used an altered method so I wanted to demonstrate the fundamentals, partially to take the mystery out of the dish.

So let's discuss a basic risotto method because this is a dish that requires some attention. Before you start, place stock in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low to keep warm. Heat fat (usually olive oil or butter) over medium heat in a flat-bottom skillet and add in some chopped onions or shallots to sweat. Toss the rice into the onions and stir to toast, then deglaze with white wine stirring until absorbed. Then add in 1 ladle of stock, continually stirring until it is absorbed. Continue to add stock, 1 ladle at a time and continually stirring before adding more stock. About half of the way through the stock, start tasting the rice. The rice won't be fully cooked yet, but keep adding stock until it's al dente. Once the rice reaches this consistency, add your flavorings, shut off the heat and stir in a thickening agent (usually butter and/or cheese).

The Challenge

Demonstrate the process of making a basic risotto.

The Source

Page 163 of the recipe guide of Top Chef University DVD set.


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium shallots, chopped and divided
1 clove garlic, minced
3 cups assorted wild mushrooms, (such as chanterelles, shitakes, creminis, etc.) cleaned, trimmed and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup plus 2/3 cup dry white wine, divided
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup Arborio rice
6 cups chicken stock, warmed as described above
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated


1. In a large sauté pan, heat the vegetable oil over high heat. Once hot, add garlic and half of the chopped shallots. Cook until translucent, approximately 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until wilted. Deglaze with 1/2 cup white wine and season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook over high heat until the wine has absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside.

2. In a large flat-bottomed skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Once hot, add the remaining shallots and sweat until translucent. Add the rice to toast, ensuring the rice is coated in the oil. Deglaze the rice with the remaining white wine and continually stir until evaporated.

Once the wine has been absorbed, add 1 ladle of stock to the rice, continually stirring until it has absorbed before adding another ladle, as described above until the rice is al dente. All of the stock may or may not be needed. Fold in the mushrooms and parsley, then remove from heat. Add in the butter and stir to melt, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with the Parmigiano.


On the surface, this dish appears to be rather pedestrian, but it yielded incredible flavor. I've also had issues in the past with the consistency of risotto but this time it was very creamy, and it spread once it was plated into my bowl.

On a side note, I grew up (and still live) in Silicon Valley and have been a San Francisco 49ers fan for 30+ years, so you can imagine my disappointment with the outcome of this past Sunday's game. I spent the afternoon with friends but did not attend empty-handed. I adapted Chef Marcela Valladolid's ceviche recipe using cod to be eaten salsa style with tortilla chips.