Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thinking inside the box

Strawberry blossom
Eaten by an oppossum
Tea is awesome!

-- Kristin, Pia and John's haiku written during chaji, June 6, 2010

We held a Chaji this June to celebrate Pia's 33rd and Kristin's 33-1/3 birthdays. John joined them as a guest. Even though the weather was gray, muggy and drizzly, the mood was lighthearted and playful.

Annie made the omogashi and was teishu (host). Shana was our kimono dresser. Laura was hanto (assistant) and helped me in the kitchen along with Dan and Dhar. We served tenshin (a light lunch) before koicha. Photos are forthcoming. Some recipes are below.

June Tenshin Menu

In the shokado box:
Vegetable "Sashimi" of carrots and daikon
Zucchini Dengaku
Homemade takuan (bran-pickled daikon) and chard pickled in miso
Miso soup with cucumber, garnished with a sprig of cilantro and a dab of mustard

Sake -- Momokawa Organic Junmai Ginjo, Kurasawa Junmai Dai Ginjo

Hashiarai of pine nuts

Hassun -- Artichoke heart boats with fresh-grated daikon; seasoned water chestnuts wrapped with nori

Omogashi -- "Ie Ichigo" ("One Meeting Strawberry"), mochi-wrapped strawberry with an.

Koicha -- We used a very good quality usucha from Wada-en for koicha. Unorthodox, but delicious.

Higashi -- an-filled cakes bought by Kristin at Ginkaku-ji in Kyoto

Usucha -- Ippodo "Ao Arashi"

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Vegetable Sashimi

This dish was inspired by a recipe for "Tomato 'Sashimi'" from The World in a Bowl of Tea by Bettina Vitelli.

For the "sashimi," slice several young carrots and a 2" length of daikon into 2" x 3/8" pieces -- about 1 to 1-1/2 cups. Microwave (or steam) briefly until just barely tender -- for a minute or less. Allow to cool to room temperature.

For the dressing, combine
juice of one lime
1/4 tsp each of salt and sugar
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
Toss dressing with cooled vegetables. Arrange and serve like classic sashimi, with ken, tsuma and karami. Ken is fine strips, or chiffonade, of daikon, cucumber or seaweed which is placed under the sashimi. Tsuma is an aromatic garnish such as shiso or perilla. Karami is a pungent garnish, such as wasabi, mustard or ginger.

Our presentation was arranged on a chiffonade of young chard leaves with a dollop of wasabi. We added a sprinkle of chopped mint leaves and finished with a drizzle of dressing.

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Zucchini Dengaku

Dengaku is a favorite grilled dish, made by grilling skewered vegetables or tofu. Sauces vary with the season. This recipe is modified from from "Nasu no Oden" from The Heart of Zen Cuisine by Soei Yoneda.

Select several young zucchini squash and slice in half lengthwise. Brush with oil and grill until tender, basting with yakitori sauce while grilling. Slice diagonally into bite-size pieces. Spread miso topping on each piece and serve while still warm.

Miso topping
4 level Tbsp sweet white miso
1-1/2 Tbsp sake
1 tsp sugar
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Vegetables Pickled in Miso

Any vegetable can be used, but I chose the still-tender flower spikes and stalks from our bolting chard.

Mix together
1 scant cup miso, any kind
1 Tbsp sake
Cover vegetables with miso paste. Vegetables such as carrot, radish, broccoli stems or cucumbers should pickle 1-5 days. Chard blossoms were ready overnight.

:: :: ::

Pine Nut Hashiarai
1 c hot water
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground toasted pine nuts
Steep and strain. Garnish with 3 or 5 whole toasted pine nuts.
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