Japanese Somen Noodle Soup


My craving for “correct” Asian(Japanese, Korean, Chinese) food has been overwhelming lately.  There is a so-called Chinese food restaurant in our town but unfortunately the food at the China Castle Restaurant is as unappetizing, inauthentic and distasteful as the food in the “Mexican” food restaurant, Fiesta on Main, next door.


We did find an authentic Chinese restaurant about 9 miles away in the town of Hawley called The China House.  This restaurant, run by a family of apparently 1st generation Chinese Americans, serves first rate, old school Chinese food from an open kitchen of steaming woks.  The China House is mainly for take-out and, unlike the China Castle, they have put absolutely no effort into making the store front, dining room and counter areas attractive.  Still, they are always busy, probably because of the superior quality of the ingredients and the preparation.


What I really wanted was fresh udon noodles with hon tsuyu sauce.  While Scranton has many Japanese style restaurants, they specialize in the Pennsylvania crowd pleasers of hibachi grilled meats and vegetables, tempura and sushi.  The few noodle dishes I saw were fried with mixed vegetables and meat.  Nothing as simple and pure as a bowl of thick, slurpable, udon noodles.


Disappointed but not defeated, I bought some regular, dry somen noodles at Wegmans and cheered myself up with the thought of making a Wagamama-like noodle soup bowl with a broth base of shimeji dried mushrooms from the pantry.  The water from the soaked mushrooms, mixed with a few seasonings, makes an awesome broth!  You can either store the mushrooms for use in a future Asian dish or steam them with chillies, soy sauce and rice vinegar to use as a noodle topping.  I steamed :)


After the broth is made, all you need are your choice of Japanese-like toppings.  I chose spinach with garlic and shitake mushrooms, stir fried tofu, hard boiled egg, steamed shimeji mushrooms and char sui pork.


I just love “s” hooking pork pieces and roasting them in the oven!  After marinating the pork pieces in char sui sauce (I’ve fallen out of love with my usual jarred brand, Lee Kum Kee, and will make my own next time) overnight, you just “s” hook them, hang them from a top rack and roast, basting for about 45 minutes.


A few years back, my husband understanding what I wanted to do, recommended “s” hooks and I have perfected this oven method over the years.  It’s fun!


A good char sui marinade will give the meat a pronounce reddish color.  I think Lee Kum Kee has changed his formula and maybe has taken out some of the red dye?


Still, the flavor was there even if it looked different and char sui is an excellent sandwich filler and noodle topping.


I slurped these noodles ;)

Noodles and Soup Base 

2 cups dried shimeji mushrooms

9 cups hot water

4 heaping tsp dashi powder

4 tbsp tamari soy sauce

2 tbsp mirin

2 tbsp sugar

4 bundles of dried soba noodles

Soak the mushrooms in the hot water for 1 hour.   Strain the mushrooms, reserving the liquid.   Add the dashi powder, soy sauce, mirin and sugar to the reserved liquid.   Bring the liquid to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes.  Add the noodles to the broth, bring to a boil and boil for about 3 minutes.  Divide the noodles between serving bowls, top with toppings of choice(spinach, tofu, pork, etc), then ladle broth over all.

Char Sui Pork Tenderloin

2 small pork tenderloins, cut into 6 inch pieces

1 jar of char sui sauce or homemade sauce

Marinate the tenderloins in the sauce for about 3 hours or overnight.   Remove the pork pieces, reserving the sauce for basting.  Pierce each pork piece with an “s” hook.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place on the bottom rack of the oven.  Hang the pork pieces from the top rack in the oven, positioning so that the juices drip on to the baking sheet.  Roast in a 425 F oven for 45 minutes, brushing with sauce every 15 minutes.  Serve with rice or noodles.


Note:  To easily and safely baste the pork pieces, unhook the pork from the rack with a long kitchen fork and allow to fall onto the baking sheet.  Remove from the oven and baste, then re-hook the pork to the rack with oven mittens.    






Posted in Asian, Cooking, Food and Wine, Japanese, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 36 Comments

It Was The Day Before Thanksgiving…..



Honesdale, Pennsylvania, November 26, 2014.  I knew that Pennsylvania winters would be snowy but it’s not winter yet.  Or maybe it is in Pennsylvania.  Christmas decorations are already up and snow plows are ubiquitous.  Jesus, Mary and Joseph :D

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Grilled Corned Beef Brisket



My husband, hungering for corned beef and cabbage like his mother used to make, popped a corned beef brisket in the shopping cart that I hurled into the freezer when we got home. It’s no where near St. Patrick’s Day and making a boiled New England dinner held no charm for me.  Still, he is my husband and I know he’s going to buy me a whole bunch of stuff I want :D  So, as a compromise, I tried to think of another way to make corned beef without boiling.


Many years ago, to my surprise, I learned that pastrami was just corned beef coated with a spice rub and smoked.  I reasoned that if you could smoke a corned beef brisket, then you could off flame grill it which is way more interesting than boiling one.  I adore off flame grilling :)


First, to remove some of the salt, I boiled the brisket for about 3 minutes.  I then ground the included spice packet to powder, added olive oil, rubbed it on the meat and refrigerated it overnight.  Originally, I was thinking of just tossing the brisket on the cold side of a 300F grill and grilling for 3 hours but I was super worried that it would dry out, so I tented it in aluminum foil, added 1/2 cup of water to the tent and then grilled for 2 hours, removed the foil and continued grilling for another hour while basting with a honey mustard glaze.  Fabulous!


Worried about the possible results of my impromptu recipe; would it be too salty, too dry, I rummaged in the refrigerator and made a soothing snack featuring sliced leftover pork rib on a flour tortilla, then assembled a Japanese potato salad.


This is Jade’s favorite potato salad.  I like that it’s easy to make and contains both crunchy cucumber and cooked carrot.


I’ve always thought it could use some mustard but then it would be Texas-like potato salad and it’s fine the way it is :)

Honey Mustard Glazed Grilled Corned Beef

1 3 lb package corned beef brisket w/spice packet

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup water

3 tbsp Dijon mustard

3 tbsp honey

2 tbsp melted butter

Remove the brisket from the package and rinse.  Bring to a boil in water to cover, simmer for 3 minutes, then remove, rinse and pat dry.

Grind the ingredients in the spice packet to powder, mix with the olive oil, then rub on the brisket.  Cover the brisket in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Heat the grill, then turn off half the burners until the temperature in the closed grill reaches 300F.  Prepare an aluminum tent for the brisket, adding the water to the bottom of the tent, then tightly seal, place on the cold side of the grill, top down for 2 hours.

Remove the aluminum foil and place the brisket directly on the cold side of the grill, turning and basting occasionally with the mixture of mustard, honey and butter for an additional hour, top down.

Japanese Potato Salad

1 1/2 lb potatoes

2 carrots

1/2 of a long, winter cucumber, seeded and thinly sliced

1 small onion, thinly sliced

4 hard boiled eggs, chopped

3/4 cup of mayonnaise

Salt and pepper

Boil the carrots and potatoes together until tender.    Cube the potatoes and thinly slice the carrots.   Put in a mixing bowl with the chopped eggs, cucumber, onion and mayonnaise.   Add salt, pepper and mix well.









Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Recipes, Salad, Sandwich, side dish | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Hello Gumbo!


We’ve never used our downstairs bathroom because it has always been unusable.


Not just dirty but originally constructed, decades ago, with poor, cheap materials not meant to last more than a couple of years.  And they didn’t.


Today Steve DeVeau, French-Canadian and master remodeler stripped the bathroom down to 4 walls and I made gumbo.  I had a lot more fun than he did :D


I snipped a few of the last branches of my fresh thyme and decided to go with a mix of peppercorns for the stock because I like the colors of mixed peppercorns.


I found some premixed Emeril’s Essence in the pantry and sprinkled 6 enormous chicken thighs with it before browning.  I don’t think I’ll ever buy the premix again.  It’s easy to make your own and you can adjust the quantities of ingredients to taste.  In addition, it stores well.


The idea of gumbo came to me because I saw some andouille sausages and good quality, refrigerated, canned fresh crab at the Super Duper market.  I had file gumbo (no okra in the gumbo for this family) in the pantry and nice prawns in the freezer.  Gumbo making is a little fiddly but well worth it.


Chicken, Andouille, Shrimp and Crab Gumbo

6 large chicken thighs

Emeril’s essence

2/3 cup vegetable oil

1 onion, quartered

4 garlic cloves, quartered

Leaves from 2 celery branches

4 sprigs fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

1 tsp mixed peppercorns

2 quarts water

Season the chicken with the essence, then brown in the oil.  Set the skillet, reserving the oil, to the side. Put the chicken in a large stock pot with the vegetables, herbs and water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.  Reserving the broth, remove the chicken, allow to cool, then remove the skin and bones, breaking the chicken into chunks.  Set aside.

3 andouille sausages, sliced

2/3 cup flour

1 large onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

2 celery branches, sliced

1 tbsp Emeril’s essence

1 tbsp gumbo file

1 lb shrimp, shelled and deveined

1 16oz can fresh crab from the grocery refrigerated section

1 tbsp gumbo file

Sliced scallions

Brown the sausage slices in the reserve oil, remove and set aside, again reserving the oil. Brown the flour in the reserved oil until the flour is cooked and a chocolate brown.  Add the chopped onion, garlic, bell pepper and celery, then cook until soft.  Sprinkle the vegetables with the essence and file, then gradually add, stirring, about 10-12 cups of the reserved broth.  Pour the broth into a large stockpot, bring to a boil, then add the andouille and chicken chunks.  Simmer for about 30 minutes.  Add the shrimp and crab then cook for about 3 minutes. Remove the pot from the fire, stir in the second tbsp of gumbo file and allow to rest for 15 minutes.  Serve with rice, scallions and more gumbo file if desired.




Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes, Seafood | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 42 Comments

Roquette Pesto Fettuccine with Normal Duck Breast


So, so glad to have found the Hudson Valley duck farm!  Cooking with familiar, quality products makes for an enthusiastic, creative and happy time in the kitchen :)


What I really wanted for this pasta dish was fresh pappardelle, but the Wegman’s in Scranton only had fresh fettuccine and linguine.  Heck, I’ve got a Kitchenaid and just might have to use it to make fresh pappardelle but that seems a bit extreme :D


I’ve made roquette (arugula) pesto many times but it seems I always forget how good it is. The roquette I find here in Pennsylvania seems to be a “drier” less tender variety but it works just fine.  In fact, I liked this batch better than the last one.  I spread some on bread to test and my husband, always willing to assist and always it seems in the kitchen, helped with that.


The duck breasts were meaty with a fine layer of fat that cooked up perfectly.  Duck sandwiches tomorrow, on Italian bread with garlic mayonnaise.


Roquette and Walnut Pesto Fettuccine

2 cups roquette

1/3 cup walnuts

1/4 cup basil

2 tbsp pine nuts

2 tsp parmesan, grated

2 large garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper

1lb fresh fettuccine, cooked according to package (about 3 minutes)

Chop the roquette, walnuts, basil, pine nuts, parmesan and garlic in a food processor.  With the motor running, pour in the oil in a thin stream until the mixture is smooth and incorporated.  Season with salt and pepper, then toss with the hot pasta.






Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, French, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Smoked Pork Neck Bone and Barley Soup


We’ve already had our first snow and Thanksgiving is still almost 2 weeks away!  It’s cold. It’s so cold that dog walking is only fun for the dog who is an Irish Terrier and therefore innately insane.  We were so cold a couple of days ago that we bought some self-serve homemade  potato soup at a vegetable stand near Waymart, P.A.  What there was of it (all the other cold people had been there ahead of us and ate all the chicken noodle soup and most of the potato soup) was good with discernible pieces of potato.


It’s 11:30 a.m. , 32 F (0 C)and is threatening to drop to 22 F (-5 C), probably when we’re walking the dog ⛄.  Earlier, inspired by some internet barley soup maker (I’ve forgotten who), I pulled together some ingredients for a large pot of hearty soup to be eaten before AND after walking the dog ;)


I saw some smoked neck bones at the Super Duper a couple of weeks ago and brought them home as freezer fodder.  I like the way they cooked up.  You could probably make a sandwich with this.  My husband wanted to do just that.  Over-ruled.

Smoked Neck Bone and Barley Soup

2 tbsp olive oil

2 small onions, coarsely chopped

3 celery branches, halved vertically, then sliced

3 carrots, halved vertically, then sliced

1 1/2 lbs smoked neck bones

3 large branches parsley

2 bay leaves

1 1/2  tsp dried oregano

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

2 cans chicken broth

7-8 cups water

2 cans diced tomatoes

6-8 small red potatoes, skin on, cut into chunks

1 cup barley

Saute the onions, celery and carrots with the olive oil in a large pot until the celery and onion are just soft. Add the neck bones, parsley, bay leaves, oregano, salt, pepper, chicken broth, water and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 15 minutes.  Add the potatoes and barley, bring back to a boil, then simmer for 1 hour.  Remove the parsley branches and neck bones.  Discard the parsley.  Remove the meat from the neck bones, coarsely chop and return to the pot.


Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes, Soup | Tagged , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Butter Baked Chicken Thighs with Sauteed Red Cabbage


I always make butter baked chicken thighs because they are good and everyone is always pleased:  Salt, pepper, dust with flour, 1 tbsp butter melted in a roasting pan, bake skin side down for 25 minutes in a 425 F oven, turn, bake for 20 more minutes more.  Eat immediately.  You can eat it leaning over the pan without bothering to get a plate.  My husband does.  He’s retired :)


One of my new favorites is sauteed red/purple cabbage, lightly sweet and sour.  A pretty vegetable :)


I think this is a German recipe.  I know I did make it in Germany.




Sauteed Red Cabbage

1/2 cup diced bacon

1 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, halved and sliced

1 small head purple cabbage, shredded

3-4 sprigs thyme

1/3 cup white wine vinegar

1/4 -1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp dry mustard

Salt and pepper

Brown the bacon in a wok. Add the olive oil and the onion, then cook until the onion is soft. Add the cabbage and thyme, then stir fry for 3-4 minutes.

Mix the vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper together, stir into the cabbage, then cover and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour.



Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , | 21 Comments