December 2010


This month was hosted by Renee! We got an early start in the month and that was good because weeks and weekends fill up around this time of the year like its nobodys’ business! She found this book on Sushi and boy was it a thorough one. Probably 50 different rolls and a couple of soups, noodles and rice dishes thrown in there. Three of us made rolls, and then we had a shrimp & rice dish and tempura & noodle soup!

So we started off with some store bought seaweed salad. I could eat this for days and days! Probably cause its salty…. But store bought was allowed in my mind because it came from the H mart!

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But this was the only store bought item of the night, so keep on scrolling to see the rest of our delicious creations!

This was the sticky rice vinegar flipping portion of the evening. I never knew how the rice got sticky like that! All I know is that it is important to flip the rice and not stir it as to release too much starch!

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This was the first impromptu pieces put together by impromptu Joanne. You should really see Joanne in the kitchen. She is a little buzzing birdie with all of the energy and talent anyone could ever need. I’m glad I have her there to teach me things and bring up my own confidence in cooking techniques. So back to the sushi! I think it was salmon and very simple – just atop rice with a nori belt. Dang that fish was good quality! Hoorah H-Mart.

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Here is Julie rolling out her inside out sushi rolls. What lovely delicate hands you have Julie!

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This was number two impromptu sushi roll. Maybe it wasn’t impromptu?? Joanne clue me in! I have no idea what was tucked inside the nori, but there was a good helping of weird Japanese kewpie doll mayonnaise and topped with roe! I did not try this one…

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And frying action commenced! WE (as in Joanne and Alayne) fried up shrimps and two kinds of vegetables. That hot oil is mighty scary.

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And the fruits of their labor. Deeelicious tempura atop a “soup” of noodles. I helped with the broth for the sauce thanks to Ned’s teachings and the amazing meal he made me back in September. So this elusive sauce – a dashi. The cookbook called to use a quick dashi powder which you just reconstitute. But since Ned had made the dashi from stock previously, I had the ingredients to make it from scratch. So Joanne and I tried our darndest to make 6 cups of it from the ingredients I had. I think it turned out awesome! Classic umami – gotta love it.

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Here was Alayne’s decadent roll. Why decadent you ask? Cause it had kobe beef! She sauteed some of that up and rolled it with fresh chives (courtesy of Renees backyard) and kimchi. (and you know whats cute about Alayne? She loves Japanese food so much she named her two beloved kitties, Kimchi and Miso! Also I think those kitty names are just cute ones anyway!)

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Here was Maria’s rich dish. Very rich I say as there was alot of that kewpie doll mayonnaise used… It reminded us of a shrimp salad, which is fine, but our palates just could not handle it! No worries Maria, you will do better next month!  (Boy do I sound presumptuous… unlucky recipes just come along sometimes and my first cookbook club venture in November 2008 was no exception!

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This was another shrimp dish for the evening. An Alayne creation! I have no idea what the other filling ingredients were though…

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Now to my very basic rice topped sushi. I blanched asparagus and snow peas. Newsflash: Blanching only requires mere seconds of cooking in boiling water. How did I not know this?? Somehow I thought blanching was more like boiling… Joanne steered me in the right direction and the veggies turned out great. Then I made nice little long scoops of rice, topped it with the veggies, made a nori belt and added a dollop of aforementioned strange mayonnaise. I was amazed how tasty my simple rolls were! Alayne helped me get my rice log technique down. (which basically consists of making your hands wet and manipulating the rice in your hand for like 15 seconds before shaping it. A bowl of water is crucial to sticky rice manipulation. Otherwise you will have sticky rice club hand and that is never a good thing!)

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Next was the slightly more complicated vegetable roll. I used a mandorine and sliced carrots really thin. When I had got 20 good sized slices I added them to a small pot with 1/4 cup of dashi stock. Then I put it to a boil and allowed the carrot slices to absorb the dashi, making them “seasoned” as the book called it and giving it very good flavor. Then I blanched some scallions and use those to make belts. I also macerated up some ginger with a microplane grater and topped the roll with just a smidge of the ginger. This was the favorite one that I made. The teensy bit of ginger really added alot to it!

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So last but not least, here was Julie’s masterpiece. A Mango and avocado inside out roll and the icing on the cake was having it rolled in the tempura fried bits of batter. My favorite of the evening. Having that texture contrast and the awesome flavor of the filling just made it wonderful.

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So all in all, the sushi cookbook Renee chose was a perfect one for us. Maybe it could have used a little more explanation on each page, but maybe that the sushi novice in me speaking. Lots of creative and tasty recipes and beautiful photos to boot!

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And just because she is the honorary member of the cookbook club, here is our required picture of the adorable Colette. Isn’t that name just beautiful?? And boy does she loves to suck! Whether it be her thumb, or binky, or the flavor of that night, mom’s finger, its so cute. And I really love her baby smell.

So onwards to next month! Alayne is hosting and we are doing Jose Andres! Can’t wait to try to teach everyone my poor knowledge of the Spanish language!

This episode of Charm City Cookbooking had some exciting events.. episode?? what do I think we are famous or something??? Well we’re going to be! At least to the semi interested readers of Baltimore Magazine! Thanks to Dara and Kit, our group was nominated for a story about supper and cooking clubs! The gracious writer Maria Blackburn joined us and we were all so happy to have her join us. She fit in so well with the crazy witty crew we are going to have her join our club for as long as she can stand it!

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Here is the lovely Maria. She really jumped in and was helping with the cooking in addition to taking lotsss of notes. Her story is due in January and the article will come out in the March issue of Baltimore magazine!

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The night had a plethora of amazing dishes and the best one was the most time consuming of them all.  See Mike (Julie’s husband), Alayne and I doing filling duty for the multitude of ravioli!!!  The men were also invited to the feast.. We usually invite them twice a year and Julie’s large kitchen basement was perfect for the group of 11.

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Here was Ned, my wonderful sous chef. He diced up all the mushrooms, onions and parsley! Sure seems like I didn’t actually cook anything that night!

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This was the simplest most delicious soup EVER. Most delicious things turn out to be simple anyways!
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Here is Suzy Homemaker herself! Getting ready to start making the pasta dough
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Frame #1: All eggs + 1 mound of flour
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Frame #2: Some eggs + eggs with flour
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Frame #3: Egg explosion!!! The flour “bowl” could not contain the eggs! But luckily there was enough hands to keep most of it from falling off the counter!
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So back to my soup, the veggies had all cooked down and now were ready for the broth! I was “lazy” and we for Kitchen Basics (no added sodium) and it turned out just fine!
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In the soup, we placed three baguette toasts. The mixture smeared on top was made of marscapone cheese, minced rosemary and s&p.
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ahhhh delicious simple soup!
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Julie’s entree was braised beef oxtails. She had braised them earlier in the day and Ned and Maria were handed the task of extracting the meat from them!
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Love this shot…
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The appetizer of the evening was Renee’s tart made of prosciutto and figs.
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Just beautiful and served with some balsamic vinegar.

Now back to pasta making!
Alayne made the filling with goat cheese and some herbs! (The details are escaping me!)
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Here is Julie hard at work in front of her stove, the brand is special, and cannot recall the name, but all I know is that it is kick ass!

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Here is Joanney working on her cookies for dessert.

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Love this picture… sometimes when we pick a cookbook by a chef that has multiple books, it is simpler to just choose a recipe from that chef. Much easier to get at the library when things are not so specific!

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This my friends was pure heaven. Alayne’s ravioli. The filling had the perfect combination of saltiness and savory cheese filling. The olives and shredded romano cheese along with the ravioli was the perfect example of what simple things when combined, can be amazing.
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What a colorful looking dinner plate! Julie being the perfect hostess as always wanted to make sure there was enough to eat with the entree. The oxtail was mixed in with red bell pepper and onion slivers. The dish was a lot lighter of a dish than expected.  She also made a salad with (perfectly sliced) butternut squash julienne slices and arugula. I could eat that salad all night! One because arugula is so great and two the butternut squash was perfectly cooked, not mushy but gave a nice texture contrast to the salad. Lastly, Julie steamed up some broccoli rabe. Probably one of the most healthy entree plates we have ever cooked up! And very much in contrast to the meat and potatoes dish we made for Pioneer Woman in October!

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Somehow we made it to midnight and then we were served dessert. 😀 Joanne had made a ginger gelato. Boy oh boy that ginger flavor was strong! She also made chocolate cookies with a chocolate ganache filling (remind me of macarons) and almond fingers.  I think I loved the decadent chocolate ones the most.

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