About naokookabe

Artist, art director, graphic designer, yogi, skier, adventure traveler

Food that I’ve missed in Japan

PestoSpaghetti

Pasta! Since I’m vegan and gluten-free, I couldn’t go to a regular Italian or a noodle shop while I was in Japan. Believe or not, it was very challenging to find a gluten-free noodle in any form in a grocery store. It was even harder in a restaurant. So, the first thing that I made after I came back home in NYC was pesto spaghetti with sautéed broccoli rabe. I used gluten-free Barilla spaghetti. I think Barilla makes the best dried gluten-free pasta. It’s too bad, they don’t make organic versions.

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Rejuvelac

Rejuvelac

red quinoa rejuvelac, red quinoa sprouting, buckwheat sprouting

I haven’t posted for a long time because I’ve been busy cooking, baking, and creating vegan cheese for the last few months. I took a few food-worthy photos, but I have not been posting them, thinking I would do it later when I had a moment. Then I kept going missing the moments. Here it is my new science (Not!) project. I’ve been making rejuvelac to use as a fermentation starter to make vegan cheeses. Rejuvelac is soaking water of sprouted grains. I tried sweet brown rice (because that is my favorite kind of grain), brown rice, raw buckwheat groats, millet, oat groats, white quinoa, red quinoa so far. I like the sweet smell of oat groats and sweet brown rice. But they take for ever to sprout. Millet is cheap and fairly quick one to sprout, but it’s very difficult for me to see the tails coming out or not. Buckwheat is easy one to see the tails because their tails are fat. Quinoa sprout fastest. They sprout within 1 day, but white quinoa’s tails are also difficult to see. Tails of red quinoa are easy to spot against the red grains. These have a burnt smell and rejuvelac from red quinoa doesn’t taste as sour as other rejuvelac, but it works fine as a vegan cheese culture. Thus I’ve settled to use buckwheat and red quinoa to make rejuvelac.

Green Falafel

Green-falafel

Ahhh, green falafel. These puppies are a bit more healthier than usual falafel, and pretty tasty. I couldn’t find a healthier (=less oily) way to fry them up yet, but I cooked them in a pan with oil half way up to the puppies and turned them around until they became golden. For now, this is the best way to cook falafel. I tried spraying oil onto them and baked in the oven, just baked in the oven without any oil, and they came out tasty alright, but not crispy outside texture that I wanted. They are green because collard greens were added. Here’s the recipe. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
1 cup dry chickpeas or 2.5 cups soaked (soaked in plenty of water over night)
4-5 collard green leaves (stems removed, torn into bite size)
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
3 Table spoons tahini
3 Table spoons lemon juice
1 tea spoon salt
1 tea spoon grind cumin
1/2 tea spoon grind black pepper
dash of cayenne
3-4 Table spoons GF flour (oat flour or rice flour will do)

Servings: 18 golf ball size falafel

To make falafel:

  1. Drain chickpeas. Grind them in Vitamix or food processor until smooth. Remove it from the food processor and set it aside.
  2. Put torn collard green leaves in the food processor. Process until they became finely minced.
  3. Add chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt, cumin, black pepper, cayenne, and GF flour. Process until everything is incorporated.
  4. Place the falafel mixture in a stainless steel bowl or pan, and put it in freezer for 30 minutes.
  5. By using a 2-tablespoon, measure the mixture and roll it into a ball. Repeat until the mixture is gone.
  6. Heat vegetable oil of your choice in a sauce pan about 1/2″ depth.
  7. Fry up the puppies until they become golden all around. You have to turn them a few times since they are not entirely submerged in oil.
  8. Line up a big plate with paper towels. Rest the puppies on them.

 

 

 

00 (Double Zero)

A friend from the 4th Street Food Coop kept begging me to go to this restaurant right at the corner of E 4th Street, 00 (double zero). 00 does vegan and has option of gluten free pizza dough which is still hard to find. My friend is a foodie and a very good cook. So, I trusted him and finally I went taking 4 friends with me. The result is a mix bag. As you can see above, dishes look fantastic and staff were friendly and helpful. We ordered 3 gluten-free pizza, zucchini lasagna, tiramisu, and cheese cake accompanied by a bottle of white wine. Sadly we all agreed that the wine was most memorable among them all. I liked eggplant pizza best. Zucchini lasagna was nice and refreshing. Tiramisu was good, but it should not called tiramisu, cacao layered cake might be more appropriate. I know all vegan tiramisu get tough scrutiny due to the expectation of richness, sweetness and smoothness coming from the tiramisu cream made with real mascarpone.  Cacao layered cake might not be an exciting title, but if I knew that was what I ordered, I wouldn’t be disappointed. Cheesecake was not cream cheesy enough either. It should have been called almond coconut cream cake or something. The price tag was rather high, too. $40+/person and we all left the restaurant thinking about what else to eat for the night when we get home. It is a cute nice place, but my purse cannot allow me to go back there anytime soon. I was looking for a place where I can go every week.

2017 New Year’s Meal

2017nymealHappy New Year dear vegan community!!

I haven’t posted anything since my birthday in September. I’ve been busy cooking and baking for the last 5 months. In fact, I was so busy cooking and baking, and learning restaurant business, that I couldn’t find any moment to post until now. This is an abbreviated version of a traditional Japanese first New Year’s meal. I had this at noon on the New Year’s Day, yet it was the first meal of 2017. I love love Japanese black beans simmered with tamari and sugar. They are so good and sweet. They are my favorite dessert.

Toasted rice cake in miso soup with lotus root, carrot, Japanese sweet potato, shimeji mushrooms and scallions
Quick pickled lotus root and carrots
Japanese black beans simmered with tamari and sugar

 

My First GF Chocolate Ganache Birthday Cake!

gf-chocolateb-cake

Alright. The decoration is not up to per. But this was my first gluten free chocolate ganache cake and was made on and for my combined birthday party. I run out of space for “y” and had to squeeze that in. My name? Other birthday girls’ names? You are asking for too much. I had a lot of fun making this, but it took a couple of hours to decorate since the chocolate frosting was just made and had to be cooled before use it. Otherwise, it would not work. I baked the cake the day before and let it cool in a refrigerator over night which helps frosting to stick to the cake better. Thank you so much, my colleague for teaching me how to decorate this cake, although it was kinda her job. All the guests who ate this cake didn’t taste anything but a moist tasty chocolate cake. Another birthday girl ate the last piece for breakfast next morning.

Ingredients for 2 x 10″ round pan chocolate cakes (I used both to create layering)
Dry:
1 cup quinoa flour
1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup oat flour
1/2 cup arrowroot flour (or tapioca flour)
1 cup cocoa powder
2 Tbsp baking powder
1 1/2 Tbsp baking soda
1 Tbsp Xanthan Gum
1/2 Tbsp salt

Wet:
1 box silken tofu
3/4 cup water
2 1/2 cups soy milk
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 3/4 cup oil (canola or sunflower)
1 1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
2  cups maple syrup

  1. Blend silken tofu with water in a blender until it becomes smooth. Put it in a big bowl.
  2. Add the rest of wet ingredients to the bowl. Mix well with a whisk. Set it on a side.
  3. In another big bowl, measure all the dry ingredients in. Mix it well.
  4. Add wet in dry in a few batches. Mix well each time.
  5. Cut a parchment paper to fit the baking pan. Oil the 2 pans. Place the parchment paper in the bottom.
  6. Pour the half batter in the prepared baking pan. Pour the rest into the another pan.
  7. Bake at 350 ºF for 35 minutes or until done. Do a bamboo stick test. Stick a bamboo stick in the middle of the cake and if it comes out clean, it’s done.
  8. Cool it over night before frosting.

Ingredients for chocolate ganache:
2 1/2 boxes silken tofu
1 1/2 Tbsp soy liquid lectin
2 cups dark chocolate chips

  1. Blend silken tofu in a blender until it becomes smooth. Add soy lectin. Let it run again.
  2. Melt dark chocolate chips in a double boiler or microwave. 2 minutes in microwave. Stir.
  3. Add melted chocolate in the tofu mixture and blend until it becomes uniformed in color as well as in texture.
  4. Keep it in a refrigerator until ready to use. I put it in a freezer for 30 minutes. I was in  hurry.
  5. Slice off a top of the cakes to flatten it, if they were not flat.
  6. Place one cake on a board or a flat plate cut side up. Put two big scoops of ganache cream on. Smooth it out.
  7. Place the other cake on top cut side down. Press it down with palm.
  8. Smother ganache cream on the side, filling the gap.
  9. Make a thin coat of cream on the top. Let the cake rest in a freezer or a refrigerator for a bit until it sets. Keep the rest of the cream cool, too.
  10. Pile up the rest of the cream on top.

Hey, what do I know about decorating a cake? This was absolutely my first trial. Next one will be better looking.

Tofu Dressing Salad

Tofu-shiraae

Sweet and cold. A nice summer side dish. A cake of tofu is in the salad dressing. I haven’t made this dish for such a long time. I was flipping my old scrap cooking recipe book and I saw something like this in it. I reduced amount of sugar. I love sweets, but too sweet is too sweet. You can make this ahead of time and keep it in the fridge for a few days.

Ingredients:
1 carrot
1/2 cake konnyaku
2 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 slice aburaage (fried tofu pounch)
1 cup snap peas, green beans, or shelled edamame (or steamed and roughly cut spinach)

Tofu Dressing:
1 cake tofu (300 g)
3 Tbsp sesame seeds
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp soy sauce or tamari

Cooking broth:
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp sake
1 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari
1 1/2 cup mushroom soaking water

  1. Soak dried shiitake mushrooms in 1 1/2 cups warm water.
  2. Drain tofu by pressing it between palm of your hands.
  3. Boil konnyaku for 5 minutes.
  4. Pour hot water from tap over aburaage. Squeeze water out.
  5. Cut carrot, aburaage, and konnyaku in thin strips.
  6. Cook carrot, aburaage, konnyaku and dried shiitake mushrooms in mushroom soaking water + other seasonings for 5 minutes until carrot becomes soft. When it is cool to touch, cut stems out of shiitake mushrooms and cut the caps in thin strips.
  7. Boil snap peas for a minute until they become bright green. If you are using frozen edamame, thaw them and shell them.
  8. Make tofu dressing. Pulse sesame seeds in a coffee grinder for a few seconds. Mix all other tofu dressing ingredients well with a hand blender.
  9. Drain vegetables. Lightly mix them with tofu dressing.
  10. Chill.