Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Vegetarian "No-SPAM" musubi... I am not kidding!

I came across a Chinese vegetarian sausage in my Asian Grocer. I thought it would be a nice quick ingredient to add to my lunch or quick dinner.

When I open it, it has a very familiar salty meaty smell. It appeared that  the product was deep fried, so I reheated it on a dry fry pan. The taste and the texture reminded me of fried SPAM!

A couple of my vegetarian friends asked me how SPAM Musubi tasted like, I am so excited that I can now share one of my favorite snack with them! It's lighter, may be healthier and I like this version as much real SPAM!

Vegetarian "No-SPAM" Musubi
The recipe is very simple, just follow the same instruction on my SPAM Musubi recipe, but replace the Fried SPAM slices with the sausage slices.
Cook it in the sauce
Assemble the Musubi as directed.
That's it!!!


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A treat for a new crew - Cherry Meyer Lemon Cake

I started a new job in a different retail format this week. I am looking forward to learning a new business channel. One thing I do notice, I am indeed reached the "auntie"stage. My co-workers are much younger than me, they are very kind and I am learning the systems and all the new company lingual from them.

As a big Thank you for the week, I want to make them a little morning treat. This cake use a cake mix and a box of lemon pudding mix. I freeze some cherry in the summer and I am using those in here. Frozen cherry is readily available in the Grocer's freezer case. It's a one-bowl baking. Quite simple for a mid-week quick treat

Cherry Meyer Lemon Cake
1 box Cake mix
1 box lemon instant pudding mix
1 Meyer lemon. Zest the skin and juice the lemon.
1 cup water
1/3 cup oil
3 eggs
2 cups defrosted cherry
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Spray or grease a 9x13" pan
In a large bowl, mix the cake mix with the pudding mix
Add lemon zest and the juice (about 1/8 of the cup)
Add water, oil and eggs.
Beat in medium speed till combined and increase to med-high beat, beat for 2 min till light.
Fold in 2 cups of cherries
Pour battery in the prepared pan
Bake for 45 min till a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center.
To make the sauce:
1 can Bing cherry
1 Meyer Lemon. Zest the skin and juice the lemon.
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp cornstarch
Combine Cherry, lemon zest, juice and zest in a small sauce pan
Mix water with 1 tbsp cornstarch till smooth.
Bring the cherry mixture to a boil
Slowly add the cornstarch mixture to thicken.

Pour over the cake or serve on the side with the cake. I pour the sauce over the cake since I am taking it to work and mix the "journey" a little simpler.


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Thank you for the staff - Cranberry Sour cream coffee cake with strudel topping

My father has been in a nursing home for a few years. He had a stroke and has memory and motor skill issue. The staff at the home are very kind of him. I cannot thank them enough. The best way I found to thank them was to bake. Here is one of the cake I brought over a couple weeks ago. Everyone enjoyed it. Dad had a big piece with his Starbuck and he even asked for second!

Cranberry sour cream coffee cake with strudel topping
1 stick butter (1/2 cup) softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs @ room temperature
1 tsp vanilla 
1 tbsp freshly grated orange zest
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream or yogurt
12 oz whole fresh cranberries
Strudel topping:
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 stick butter (4oz) cut into small pats.
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease or spray a 12 cups tube pan or  9x13"pan.
To make the cake:
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.
In a large bowl or in the stand mixer bowl, cream butter and sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
Add eggs one at a time. Blend well after each addition. 
Add the vanilla and freshly grated orange zest.
While the mixer is running on low, add 1/4 cup of flour mixture, alternate with sour cream. Mix well 
after each addition.

Remove beater and fold in cranberry
To make topping
In a medium box, combine sugar, flour,  cinnamon and butter
Cut in butter with a knife or pastry fork till the mixture is resemble pea size.
Stir in nuts
To assemble:
Transfer batter to prepared pan
Sprinkle strudel topping evenly over top
Bake cake for 45-60 mins till a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center.

Serve 12


Time for some winter soup with Kale and squash

We are having an unseasonably warm winter. Although I feel bad for the businesses that depend on snow and ice for winter sports, I treasure every warm day that we have so far.  January is usually a depressing month for me. There are limited choices of fruit and vegetable, and sometime they do not taste right.  We had a rare treat this week, my co-op Wedge had some beautiful carrot.  I had to get some. l then remember I stored the a last of the squash and potatoes from the CSA. It's time for hearty winter soup.  

The squash I store now has a hard almost shell like skin. I decide to roast it and make it easier to remove the skin and it also add more flavor to the soup. I am using washed and chopped kale in a bag and ready made steamed French lentil from Trader Joe's. Both are great time saver products. I especially love the lentil. I keep a box on hand at all time.

Winter Kale and lentil with roasted squash and carrot soup
2 small dumpling squash or 1 med size acorn squash. Cut in half, remove pulp and roast in 375 degrees oven till tender.  Remove skin and cut in to small cubes
1 bunch of carrots. Cleaned, peeled, cut into small cubes and dry roast in 375 degrees oven till tender
1 onion. Peeled, cleaned and cut into small pieces
3 stalks of celery. Cleaned and cut into small pieces
1 large tablespoon of Herb de Provence
1 bag of washed washed chopped Kale
2 tsp crushed garlic from a jar
1 carton  32oz vegetable stock
1 cup water
1 cup steamed French lentil
Olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
In a dutch oven, heat a couple of tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat till hot, add crushed garlic
Stir in onion and celery, cook till tender and onion starts to caramelized.
Add Herb de Provence, salt and pepper. Let it cook till it's frangrance.
Mix in roasted carrot and squash.
Slowly add chopped kale in 2 batches.
Mix well and cook kale till soften
Add stock and water.
Bring to a boil and lower heat to medium low.
Cover and simmer till kale is tender about 20 mins.  Add 1 cup of cooked lentil
Simmer for additional 5 mins to blend the flavor.
Ready to serve.

Serve 6 as a main course.



Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

あけましておめでとう。謹賀新年. 新年快樂. 새해 복 많이 받으세요, สวัสดีปีใหม่. Selamat tahun aru. Manigong bagong taon. नववर्षाभिनन्दनम्. Bonne Année. Ein Glückliches Neues Jahr! Feliz año nuevo. Ia manuia le tausaga fou. Hauoli Makahiki Hou! 
Happy New Year from Kūlia Cooks! Thank you for all your support and looking forward to "seeing" you online or in person.

A New Year Cheers!
May your 2012 be peaceful and joyous!


Island comfort food- Spam Musubi

It is true that Hawaiian consumed the most Spam in the world and Spam is a stable in most Hawaiian pantry. It was believed that Spam came with the US military and the locals came up with different ways to enjoyed the canned meat, in noodles, fried rice, saimin and with rice and nori, it transformed a omusibi into a Spam  Musubi! A perfect working "person" packed lunch! This is a great article about Spam Musubi: what is spam musubi
There are many different points of view as of who invented Spam Musubi. It was believed that it was invented in Hawaii, of course. There is also the believe that it was a plantation food, a "packed lunch" for the workers. Then, there were also discussion as to whether it is Japanese or Korean. Another  suggestion that it was developed by Homel in Austin, Minnesota for the Hawaiian market. I found this interested that I now live in Minnesota - the home of Spam. 
I am a pretty healthy eater, but there is something very comforting with Spam musubi. I have a ritual that I will stop at a 7-11 to grab one of the special treat wrapped in plastic off the warmer on my way back to the house from the Honolulu airport when I land! It's extremely addictive. Sweet, salty, moist... hmm... it's the ultimate sinful comfort food, sometimes I do wonder whether the melting plastic helps with the flavor :P

There are 2 version of Spam musubi, one with the fried Spam on top of a block of rice, wrapped with nori (seaweed) that you see in most pictures. I actually prepare the "sandwich" version. There is a mold that press down a layer of rice, with the fried spam in the middle, a sprinkle or furikake (Japanese rice topping) top with more rice. You will see both version here

Spam Musubi 
Making the mold
As I mentioned there are 2 kinds of musubi mold that you can purchase in a grocery store or any houseware stores in Hawai'i. You can also make your own from the Spam can. However be every careful since the cut edges with quite sharp. I have not figure out a way to clean off the edge, if you have any idea, I would love to hear from you

Turn the can upside down and puncture a hole.
Cut the bottom off with a poultry shear or a gardening plant cutter.
As you can see the edges are quite sharp. Push down the edges as much as you can with a piler.
Now you have a single serving mold!!

Making the Musubi:
2 cups uncooked Japanese sushi rice. Please make sure you are using Japanese rice. The musubi will not stick together if you are using other variety. Cook rice according to package instruction. Make about 4 cups.
2 Sheets of Nori (roasted seaweed) Cut lengthwise into 3 strips for the single serving.
(3 whole sheets if you are using the "sandwich" mold)
1/4 cups Shoyu
3 tbsp sugar
1/4 Mirin
1/2 tsp salt
Slice Spam into 6-7 slices, about 1/4" thick
Heat a large fry pan over medium high heat, fry Spam until brown and lightly crispy. You do not need any oil, there is quite a bit of fat in the meat
Remove from the pan and drain on paper towel. Set aside
Wipe off the grease from the fry pan, Set aside
In a small bowl, combine shoyu, sugar and Mirin
Return the fry pan to medium heat. Pour in the sauce and bring to a boil
Add the fried Spam back into the sauce, coat evenly. Turn off heat and let the meat sit in the sauce.
In a large bowl, cool off the rice and season with salt.
Assembling the single Musubi
Place the Spam mold on a flat surface with the cut side down. Spread 1/4 cup of rice on the bottom.
Press the rice down with spoon to pack down,
Place a piece of Spam on top of the rice.
Push down with a spoon while lifting the mold off.
Wrap the musubi in the center with a piece of nori.
Tuck in the ends on the bottom of the musubi

Now you have a single serving version!

To make the "Sandwich"version.
You will need a mold:
Line the mold with a whole piece of nori
Spread 1/2 cup of rice on the bottom of the mold
Pack down with a spoon.
Place 2 pieces of Spam on top of the rice, sprinkle with Furikake if you like

Top with 1/2 of rice, spread evenly and press down.
Fold in the edges of the nori.
Use the press to pack the roll together.
Lift the mold off gentle
It will be a long block

Slice diagonally into 4 pieces.

Other ideas:
I have a set of small mold. I sliced each spam pieces in 3, trim the nori down and make party bite size version. It's a lot of work, but it's very cute!

Note: Please do not refrigerate the musubi, it will be come hard. Keep in warm if you like.