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My Sushi for One dinner

Last week I taught a hand-on sushi class with 20 students in the studio kitchen….

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My weekly trip to the organic farm stand. The mango above is one of the best I’ve ever had. Where is it from? Haiti! Who knew? Organic mangoes from Haiti. I had no idea that there are 10 million mango trees in Haiti. I usually am an advocate of eating locally. But I am also an advocate of supporting the small organic farmer.

Oh, the dilemma! Go to the massive mega-supermarket and buy Florida grown mango, bland, fibrous and tastes like diluted bath water? Or beautiful, smooth, creamy, non-fibrous mango from a politically violent country, purchased from a family-owned organic farm stand. Jessica’s Organic Farm grows most of the vegetables they sell, in a huge field about 10 yards from the stand. What they don’t grow themselves they source from reputable organic farms.

The mango went into a mango salsa. Most of the vegetables went into last night dinner on a Raclette grill.The rest of it tonight – dipped in Bagna Cauda – full of garlic and anchovies.

Bagna Cauda is an Italian appetizer, which means, “you ain’t gettin’ any nookie tonight.” Butter, olive oil, garlic and anchovies make up this “hot bath.” Fresh, raw vegetables and bread cubes are dipped into the warm, garlicky lava. This is my favorite way to eat raw vegetables. It makes me feel so incredibly healthy, except for the half cup of butter and 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Oh, those are just the little details. Some versions include heavy cream, but I like it just like this.

I also made The Perfect Loaf of French Bread to go with the B.C.

Bagna Cauda
1/2 cup serves 4 as appetizer or a nice party dip.

1/2 cup butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 can anchovy fillets
3 garlic cloves
chili flakes (optional)

1. Puree the anchovies and garlic cloves: or, just chop both really finely to make a paste.

2. Heat on low: In saucepan on low heat, add all ingredients. Keep the flame on low so that the butter/oil gets totally infused with the anchovy and garlic. Once the butter melts, just let it continue to sit on the low flame for another 5 minutes.

Serve warm. If you use a fondue pot – double or triple the recipe. The little candle fondue bowl pictured above was purchased for $5 at Marshalls.

Vegetables & Stuff to Dip
Assortment of raw, steamed or roasted vegetables. I used broccoli, french green beans, radishes (all raw). I also had fresh bread and a few sauteed shrimp. Other ideas include: baby carrots, steamed artichoke hearts, red bell pepper slices, asparagus, celery, zucchini, cauliflower, endive.

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Such a simple pairing….eggplant + miso. But I’m still not happy with the results. The miso mixture was way too salty. I’ll share the mistakes I made.

Mistake #1
I made this while on an empty, growling stomach

Mistake #2
I ran out of wine to drink, therefore in a foul mood

Mistake #3
I doubted Master Nobu Matsuhisa‘s recipe

Ahhhh….so you see, I was a bad grasshoppa.

I started trying to get fancy- adding rice wine vinegar and grated ginger. What I should have done was just stick with Nobu’s original recipe for “Nobu Style Saikyo Sweet Miso” instead of wandering off aimlessly on my own.

I should have caught the big glaring clue right in front of me.

If Nobu’s recipe was so incredibly SIMPLE. Then the dish is meant to be SIMPLE.

Now, if I had gotten inspiration from another cook, like, oh…lets say Sandra Lee, and it was simple, then enhancing the recipe would have been a good idea. Because her recipe would have probably started with a can of refried beans.

But come on, why doubt Nobu? Please don’t tell him, ok? I’m sure he’d whack me in the head with a floppy eggplant.

Here’s what I should have done:

Nobu-Style Saikyo Sweet Miso
from his book, Nobu Now

makes 2 cups

3 1/2 fluid ounces Japanese sake
3 1/2 fluid ounces mirin
10 1/2 ounces white miso paste
5 1/4 ounces granulated sugar

1. Put sake and mirin in pot and heat. Bring to boil and allow alcohol to evaporate off.

2. Over medium heat, add the white miso paste, a little at a time. Blend in with a wooden spatula.

3. When you have added all the white miso paste and the mixture is smooth, turn the heat up to high, and add the sugar in two or three lots. Make sure it does not burn.

4. Sitre the mixture until the sugar has compelte dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Stored in refrigerator, it lasts several weeks. This recipe makes enough for this eggplant recipe PLUS you could make this.

If you only want to make enough for the eggplant dish, then I divide the recipe to only yield 1/2 cup.

Do your own math. Still out of wine. Still in foul mood.

Japanese Eggplant with Nobu’s Miso
serves 4 as side dish

4 Japanese eggplants, halved lengthwise (or 1-2 large globes, cut into 1″ slices – enough for 2 pieces each person)
1/2 cup of Nobu’s miso mix above
2 tablespoons canola oil

Preheat oven – broiler on HIGH, rack 6 inches from top

1. Brush eggplant slices with a little canola oil, place on baking sheet. Immediately put in oven and broil for 4-5 minutes, until eggplant soft and the tops are golden. Remove from oven.

2. Spoon miso mixure on the eggplant halves. Use a brush to spread the miso evenly on surface. Return to broiler. Broil 2-3 minutes until the miso is bubbly and starting to brown, about 2 minutes. But watch the oven – timing may vary based on your oven. Don’t burn the eggplant!

Garnish with thinly sliced green onions (adds great color and texture)

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Best Dressed Salad

If my Salad was going to an Oscar Party (or any other red-carpet event), this is what she would wear.   Slimming, sophisticated, beautiful lines, not-too-much-cleavage, subtle yet elegant.

Right by my house is an organic produce stand called Jessica’s Organic Farm.  They are only open Fridays and Saturdays, but they grow and sell some of the freshest organic produce I have ever tasted.  Last week, I came home with a head of lettuce 12″ wide, sweet & silky mangos, zucchini , sugar snap peas and bright red cherry tomatoes.  I cut the zucchini into spaghetti-like strands…isn’t it beautiful?

Best Dressed Salad

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