May 4 Menu

One of my closest friends is a Japanese architect in Cambridge. They came over for dinner last week and shared some kalbi with us. We don't get to see him as often these days so in order to encourage them to take the hike across Harvard Square to our place, I'm putting together a menu of japanese comfort food. Many thanks to his wife (who will go nameless here but shall I refer to her as Mrs. Greencard?) who provided me with some ideas/ recipes of what they usually have at their home. She's not Japanese but does all the cooking, who would've "thunk it". On another note, this week would also be an homage to Kotobukiya in Porter Square. For those of us not in Cambridge, Koto is the much frequented Japanese grocery store in the much beloved Porter Exchange building which hosts a panoply of small Japanese restaurant kiosks as well. Koto will be relocating to Medford, supposedly close by, but for us pedestrian Cantabrigians anything off of the Redline is too far. So long, Koto. In fact, I think I'll get everything from Reliable in the "fashionable" Union Square of Somerville - once the most dense city in the nation (yeah like in the '70s).

Monday - Miso Based Soup Tonjiru

Tuesday - Omurice or rice covered by an omlette (hence omu-rice, yes, the japanese frequently add syllables to english words, don't believe me? ask one)

  • Even as a korean kid, I've had omurice many times growing up, and probably isn't unique to my household since the imperial island is just a stone throws from the mainland.
  • Instead of ham, use leftover pork loin from Monday. And use ketchup to make it a super comfort food.
  • I would throw in some extra vegetables too, just for my growing daughter.
  • And to really adulterate this dish, serve with a side of kimchee!
  • Here's another slightly more intricate version of the omurice which substitutes ketchup with tomato sauce and worcestershire.
  • Remember to move the chicken into the fridge to defrost for tomorrow.
Wednesday - Chicken Katsu and Miso Soup
Thursday - Curry Over Rice and Hiyayakko (Cold Tofu)
  • This is not a cop-out. This is a legitimate recipe especially for my site, which tries to balance taste and time. Try this with whatever meat you have on hand - beef, chicken, pork. Or even vegetarian, really.
  • Fine, it's a cop-out, but boy is it good. And yes, before this menu site, I used to have this all the time. Okay, here's a tofu recipe to go along with the curry.
  • Honey, where's the kimchee?
Friday - Pizza Takeout
  • What, did you think I'd forget?
  • Okay, how about served with a side of kimchee?
Shopping List for Me:
  • Vegetables, Fruits, Herbs - gobo (burdock root), enoki mushrooms, green onions
  • Meats, Poultry, Fish - 1/2 lb pork loin,
  • Dairy, Eggs, Soy - tofu
  • Condiments - worcestershire sauce (I didn't buy it last time)
  • Specialty Store - dried bonito flakes, karashi mustard (???)
  • Other - cereal bars, oatmeal (not steel cut because that takes forever)
Shopping List Addtl:
  • Vegetables, Fruits, Herbs - daikon, carrots, onions, potatoes, ginger
  • Meat, Poultry, Fish - chicken (I kind of like chicken tenders, easy to cook with)
  • Dairy, Egg - eggs
  • Baking, Dried Goods - white/brown rice
  • Condiments - ketchup
  • Specialty Store - dashi powder, red miso paste, panko bread crumbs, curry cubes in box

Notes of the Week:
1. I learned a huge lesson - sticking with one cuisine for the week really makes the most of all your groceries.
Tonjiru served us well for several days. It was just luck that I scheduled it on Monday and it kept going (by regularly adding water, miso, and vegetables) right up to Wednesday.
3. Omurice was good, but for some reason didn't bring back those memories as best as I thought it would.
4. The chicken katsu was wonderful. The quoted recipe wasn't very specific on the measurement for seasoning the flour, so I resorted to Ina Garten's oven fried chicken recipe that basically is 2 cups of flour with 1 tbsp of salt and 1 tbsp of black pepper. This amount is perfect for about 1-1/2 to 2 lbs of chicken. Also, the recipe had an imperfect tonkatsu sauce recipe. So I went with - good sauce. Finally, without a deep fryer, I set up a deep sauce pan with an aluminum foil cover as a deep fryer.

April 27 Menu

After a week long trip away from the family, I'm sure my wife will be thrilled to be back with us and our 12 month old daughter. So this week, I'm going to try and focus on the girls for their reunion - things that they like. This means there will be one or two repeats based and a couple of new ones that my wife is better than I, but I'm willing to iron-chef it out this week. Finally, beginning with this week I will refrain from writing down common household ingredients like salt and black pepper on the shopping list.

Monday - Pasta with Clam Sauce
  • We're moving the lentil soup to next week, just so Sydney gets some variety - the spice of life.
  • I like fresh pasta, so I put this recipe at the beginning of the week so that the pasta doesn't dry out. Last time, the clam sauce recipe didn't live up to my expectations, so let's try this one.
  • Marinate BBQ and make broth for Cold Noodle Soup for tomorrow.

Tuesday - Korean Cold Noodle Soup/ Spicy Noodle and Korean BBQ

Wednesday - Noodles in Black Bean Sauce AKA JiaJiang Myun and Miso Soup (moved to Thur since wife has meeting)

  • Scratch the bibimbap for jiajiang myun which was the first dish we shared before we dated. I say before because when you date, supposedly ordering jiajiang myun during the date is a faux paus in Seoul, it is a way of sending a quiet message that you are not interested in a second date. Miso is for Sydney.
  • Soak black beans for tomorrow morning.

Thursday - Black Bean Soup (moved to Wed)

Friday - Leftovers (because it's nice to clean out the fridge every once in a while)

  • No, we do it fairly often and with these plans, there's less to throw away.

Shopping List for me:

  • Specialty Store - udon-type noodles, 1/2 lb pork belly, yellow pickled radish, buckwheat noodles
  • Vegetables, Fruits, Herbs - cucumber, garlic, bosc pear, italian parsley
  • Meats, Fish, Poultry, Dairy - 2 lb beef short ribs, chopped clams, whipping cream, milk, orange juice
  • Condiments, Spices, Dried Goods - 1 bag black bean, 1 salsa, tomato sauce, canned tomatoes, worcestershire sauce,
  • Other - diapers size 3, fresh pasta linguine lemon, sunscreen

Shopping List Addtl:

  • Specialty Store - black bean paste,
  • Vegetables, Fruits, Herbs - asian radish, sweet potato, zucchini, onion
  • Baking - potato starch, corn syrup

Notes for the Week:
1. When cooking kalbi in an apt galley kitchen, be sure to manage the broil, our fire alarm briefly went off - and it's hard wired, meaning, you can't just take the batteries out!
2. My wife urged me to use the pre-packaged cold buckwheat noodles to save some time. So I did.
3. Due to mid-week logistical errors (my wife actually had a girls night on Thurs and I had a boys night on Fri) I can't say how black bean noodle recipe is. Then on Sat, my wife cooked up a storm and used up all the vegetables for her curry dish. Oops!

April 20 Menu

I'm getting a jump start on this menu because this is the week my wife will be going on a business trip. Without her help, I'll have to focus on dishes that can be done relatively quickly so that I can attend to my daughter as well as prepare meals; dishes that can feed both her and myself, which is a bit of a challenge since she's only 12 months old and hasn't fully transitioned to adult foods; dishes that taste good, otherwise, what's the use.   Any and all suggestions would be welcome.

I have a feeling I'll have more than my usual number of crockpot dishes.

Monday - Fish Tacos
  • thanks to my sister who forwarded this recipe from Rick Mooney, and what a great idea, fish, easy to prepare and tasty
  • 1 1/4 lb fish, vegetable oil with rub (1 tsp chili, 2 tsp coriander ground, 3/4 tsp cumin ground) baked in oven 425 degrees for 15 minutes, or grill, if you have a house with a backyard grill, which I don't
  • soft corn tortillas
  • taco fix-ins (greens, tomatoes, grated cheese, salsa, sour cream, guacamole)
Tuesday - Crockpot Burritos
Wednesday - Black Bean Soup (moved to Sunday)
Thursday - Crockpot Chili
  • thanks to my "sesame street live" friend, steve, here's a blog with a couple of tried recipes, I'm going with the chili, and, steve, sydney and i are in row Q, right behind you for next saturday, and what's the deal with $15 tickets but like $7 ticketmaster fees, no wonder other agencies are trying to find a way to break their hold on the market, and you also pay $2.50 for will-call, i've never bought tickets from ticketmaster before but that's just plain nickel and diming
Friday - Dare I say it, PIZZA!
  • The place up the street on Huron Ave is great, straight neighborhood thin crust slices.  No fancy goat cheese, truffle oil, or whatever.  Pepperoni and grease, please.
Shopping List for me:
  • Meat, Fish, Poultry - fish, sirloin stew beef, ham hock, ground beef
  • Dairy, Eggs, Juice - grated cheese, 
  • Vegetables, Fruits, Herbs - greens, tomatoes, cilantro
  • Condiments - salsa, jalapenos, chicken broth
  • Other - Corn tortillas, taco seasoning, refried beans, dried black beans, 2 cans of beans
Shopping List Addtl:
  • Dairy, Eggs, Juice - sour cream, guacamole
  • Vegetables, Fruits, Herbs - green onions, onions
  • Spices - garlic powder, chili, cumin, cayenne pepper, black pepper, salt
  • Condiments - hot pepper sauce
  • Other - black olives, jalapenos,  tomatoe sauce, crushed tomatoes
Notes for the Week:

1. Black bean soup was moved to Sunday and was a great start for the week.  I put only 1/2 a jar of salsa and added smoked bacon.  Lastly, I pureed it for smoother texture to remind of my college days.  A book store called Atticus served a smooth black bean soup that I craved for on many occasions during study breaks.

2. We did fish tacos but I didn't follow the recipe because I ended up cooking at a friend's kitchen.  I used a mix of Old Bay Seasoning and Adobo but instead of a dry rub, I mixed it into olive oil and chopped garlic and then spread the mixture on the fish.  Either way it was a great meal.

3. Crockpot burrito didn't come out as expected because I put TOO much water in the pot.  I was going to be away for 12 hours, so I added some more water, but that turned out to be a bad idea.  Also, I realize that I am not a big fan of taco seasoning mix and I will do a better job to find a more authentic burrito recipe.

4. Crockpot chili came out much better than I had expected.  Who would have thought just a jar of tomato sauce was all it took?  I skipped the chili powder so that my daughter could have some and it still came out tasty.

5. Spending a whole week with my daughter alone has been an incredible week.  We really formed a bond and now I get emotional when I drop her off at daycare.  We finished several art projects and made real strides in eating.  She's growing up so fast.

April 13 Menu

This week, I found a disney website that puts together monthly menus. So, I'll give it a try for a week. I can already tell that we will be disappointed with the ethnic recipe selections.

On Second thought, I think I'll forego the disney month of meals plan and try to really focus on korean foods this week. For korean menus, I'll have to go to the local korean store and buy a slew of pre-made side dishes as those alone would take a whole day to prepare. So where ever you see a reference to "side dishes" check my shopping list. Oh, and it should be well known that each meal always comes with a bowl of rice. Finally, I'm so glad that there's a website like the one referenced here by Maangchi. So far, it's the best illustrated korean recipe site I've found. And it's funny that the chef's name is maangchi, it means hammer in korean.

Monday - Spicy Fish Stew and Side Dishes

Tuesday - Beef Short Ribs, Vegetable Pancakes, and Side Dishes

Wednesday - Bean Paste Stew, Spinach, and Side Dishes
Thursday - Stir Fried Squid, Kimchee Stew, and Side Dishes
Friday - Pizza (Take-Out)
  • What would you expect, I grew up in the States.
Shopping List for me:
  • Seafood, Meat, Poultry - Red Snapper or Cod, Beef short ribs
  • Vegetables, Fruits, Fresh Herbs - Korean Radish, Shitake Mushrooms, Enoki Mushrooms, Carrots, Korean chives, Zucchini, Potatoes, Spinach, Soyean Sprouts
  • Side Dishes - Kimchee, Dried Anchovy Bokkum, Marinated Perilla leaves, Marinated Hot Pepper Leaves
  • Condiments - Canola Oil, Maple Syrup

Shopping List Addt'l:

  • Seafood, Meat, Poultry - Clams, Shrimp, Scallop (opt), Squid, Pork Belly
  • Vegetables, Fruits, Fresh Herbs - Water Dropwort, Edible Chyranthemum, Green Onions, Green and red chili pepper, Onions, Ginger, Garlic, Green Onions
  • Dairy, Juice, Eggs - Eggs, Tofu (2 packages)
  • Baking, Spices - Black pepper, Brown sugar, Sesame Oil, Flour, Salt
  • Condiments, Sauces, Oils - Cooking wine, Soy sauce, Corn Syrup, Vegetable Oil
  • Other - Kelp, Dried anchovies, Soy bean paste, Sesame seeds, Hot pepper paste

Notes of the Week:

1. let's hear it for maangchi, those were good recipes.

2. on the spicy fish stew, shitake and minari is a must to really bring some earthiness to the stew, i did it without the minari and the spicy-ness didn't really become part of the broth

3. for the beef short ribs, wholefoods had cleared out their meat display for easter ham so i had to settle for beef back ribs, okay but short ribs would have been better, especially since even the back ribs came out excellent, and Sydney loved it