Arros Negre aka. Black Paella

Here's something I've never made before in my kitchen or anywhere else.  Arros negre.  
It's a paella like rice dish made with squid ink and it's a popular dish from Valencia and Catalan in Spain.  

 I was so excited when my client gave me a box of this squid ink broth to give it a try.  Some people are probably afraid of eating food covered with pure black ink.  I'm not one of those people.  I love spaghetti al nero di sepia - squid ink pasta for instance.  It's so goooood.. and it's fun-ny to eat something that makes your mouth and teeth blackish.   It would be a great ice breaker if you are at  dinner parties with strangers or even at a first date.   And guess what.  Squid ink is good for our health according to a few sites including this one.  It gets better.  It's delicious. 

But I would be slightly intimidated if I had to make this with actual squid ink.  I'd be afraid of splashing it all over my kitchen.  I actually did splash the broth in a box all over the stove and myself.  It is indeed 100 percent black.

I highly recommend wear an apron and go slowly when you pour the broth into the pan when you make this dish.

* In case you want to give it a go but have no idea where to go to get a whole squid with ink sack,  I'd ask seafood people at nearby grocery stores - the one that actually sells whole fish and shellfish, or simply go online to buy it in a jar or box.  


Orange Cranberry Sauce and Happy Thanksgiving!


It's icey cold in Seattle and I'm starting some prep work for tomorrow's Thanksgiving dinner.  This will be my second time hosting and cooking.   I'm trying to keep everything simple but AMAZING.

This cranberry sauce is very easy to make and the flavor is very fresh.  Canned cranberries are horrible in every way.  Please make you own.  This is so simple.  My kids can make this in 10 minutes.  

I'm not a big fan of eating meats with sweet fruity sauce myself to be honest.  But I might even have a few bites with this sauce tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving and Be Safe Everyone!


Honey Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Yogurt Sauce

It's getting cold in Seattle and definitely time for roasting.  I made these honey roasted carrots the other day.  It's simple, easy to make as you can imagine, but the flavor is insane.  We eat roasted vegetables often at our house.  It's Seattle. It's cold out.  Root vegetables grow well here.  And people here eat healthy things like roasted vegetables all the time.

Roasted veggies are great, but it can be dull and boring after a while if you just roast them with the usual olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. At least for me and my family.  It's also common to find carrots that aren't as sweet as they should be.  Adding honey is a good way to alter that.  The result also looks prettier and shinier from the caramelization.  

Yogurt goes very well with honey and makes the whole dish more festive. I love eating cold roasted veggies, but  this one is better to be eaten while it's hot in my opinion so that you can feel the little crunch from honey and the tangy yogurt melts nicely over the carrots.  

You might think it's too boring to serve roasted carrots for dinner, but who won't get excited about these roasted carrots ; )


Coconut Yogurt Panna Cotta with Pomegranate Seeds and Fresh Berries

One of the things I try to keep in mind is to keep it simple.  Unfortunately I don't always live up to it  and often have to remind myself.  

Panna Cotta is so simple to make and ridiculously tasty.  That's probably one reason it is universal and popular.  I'm very happy with this new recipe I came up with.  It started out as a simple dessert, but I wanted to give it a little twist and started to have fun with adding things around my kitchen.  I used coconut milk and greek yogurt instead of heavy cream as a base.  You can't go wrong with these combinations.  Then I started to add things like pomegranate seeds , vanilla beans, raspberries, chia seeds, lemon zest, etc...  So much for the simple dessert, I know ; )

In the end it turned out to be a pretty healthy dessert.  It's loaded with vitamins and other nutrients that are great for us.  Coconut milk definitely added richness from its good fat while the yogurt made it light and refreshing.  It's made with Chobani's plain non-fat Greek style yogurt (#MadeWithChobani).  They are celebrating the Football season and this festive dessert would be a great one to serve at your game day parties.  You can also check out many other awesome yogurt recipes on their website.



I have been making my own Kombucha for the past few months.  My friend Junko who is an expert of yeast and fermentation, gave me a scoby to start my mown batch one day.  

I thought making Kombucha was extremely difficult because I didn't really know what Kombucha was.  I knew it was a healthy thing to drink. I was also confused with Japanese konbucha, which is a kind of tea brew from dried seaweed.  Kombucha is basically iced tea with sugar, but it's also fermented by using SCOBY, stands for  a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast.  

After I was generously given a scoby and Junko showed me how to make it at home, I did a little research.  It is actually not clinically proven by any research that what kind of benefits it has for our bodies.  But people have been drinking it and making it because they feel better about their healths by experience.  That's a good enough reason for me to start making my own and drinking it dairy.  It's also much cheaper than buying them at stores.  After my little research, I read some people are afraid of messing up the process and getting sick from drinking home-made one, but I wasn't too worried about it after I learned the process of making it from my friend who knows quit a bit about yeast and fermentation and assumed me that it's highly unlikely that it'll happen to me.   I've made about 5 batches since then and I really think my body is happier.

If you are interested in making you own, there are sites like this one to explain further more about Kombucha.

I will write a recipe at the bottom as usual, but here's how I made my kombucha.  To make a new batch, I used 2 bags of English breakfast tea, 1 bag of Japanese green tea called houjicha, 2 bags of raspberry tea, a tea spoon of dried camomile from my garden and a cup of cane sugar.  I boiled a gallon of water and added the bags of tea, camomile and sugar off the stove.  Then stir it until sugar resolved and let it cool down to a room temperature.  I got rid of the tea bags and strained the tea into my 2 gallon jar and added another gallon of water.  Then put a scabby in that I had kept in a container with kombucha in the fridge, and a cup of kombucha in the jar and covered the top with cheese cloth and sealed it with a rubber.  Let it sit for 7 days or so in a cool shady area in your house.

I don't have a photo of scoby in this post, but it's white, round, flat and feels like rubber.  


About 7 days later, I opened the jar and tasted my kombucha.  It was perfectly sour and fizzy.  

I had some shiso leaves from my garden and lemon cucumbers from a farmer's market.  In case you don't know what shiso leaves are, they are the herbs usually come with sashimi plates.  It's basically basil for Japanese.  I never flavored my kombucha afterwards but I decided to try with chopped shiso leaves, sliced lemon cucumbers and ginger.  

Kombucha was so refreshing.  The best batch I made so far.  I highly recommend the combination of these ingredients I used for flavoring.  


Baked Pasta and Egg. Happy First Day of Fall!

Today is the first day of the fall.  My appetite is bigger than ever.  I'm not pregnant or anything, just to clarify.  The fall air always inspired me to cook and eat well.  I'm sure many people out there are feeling the same.  Since I don't have to pick up my daughter from school around lunch time anymore, I've been making my lunch home more.  I'm alone at the house and it is the best time to come up with something fun and easy to cook in peace and quiet.  

My lunch is usually made of something left over in the fridge.  Today I made this baked pasta.  I happen to have a small batch of quinoa and brown rice pasta that I didn't know what to do with for a while.  I'm not gluten intolerant but I eat gluten free stuff often.  Just because I live in Seattle? Maybe? They are just very available and fun to try out.  I must say I'm not a huge fun of gluten free pasta.  The texture and tastes are still a bit off.  But I don't mind them eating baked because it seems to be more forgiving with the texture.

I bought this small cast iron pan that I thought I'd be using a lot more.  I liked the idea of using this pan all the time.  But cleaning this thing isn't simple.  Maybe as I use it more, I'll get used to it. 

Anyway, using this pan to cook just for me seemed like a fun idea.  When I see this pan, it reminds me of baked eggs.  I eat eggs every day and I like to eat them raw sometimes.  I have 5 grown chickens.  Sadly I don't get to eat my chickens' eggs every day.  They are not laying much lately.  I guess they are molting because of the change of the season.  The thought of butchering them instead of almost keeping as pets cross my mind all the time.  But I'm not a real farmer and the kids name our chickens. Hence the family insists on keeping them even if they never lay eggs.  Luckily I had 3 of our eggs still in the fridge from the last week.  

This is a super easy dish to make for one or two people and it kinda made my day special.  Warm and cozy feeling was all around. Have a happy fall cooking everyone!!


Summing Up the Summer Adventures

I am sad that the feeling of summer is ending.  But at the same time I am starting to feel the creative force within me triggered by the beginning of the feeling of Fall in the air.

I wanted to spend a lot of quality time with the kids this summer before school started.  My daughter is 6 years old and started kindergarten this week.  It's bitter sweet.  I do miss having her around with me all the time.  It felt like school took her away from me and even entertained the idea of home schooling on the day one last week.  Then I quickly realized I'm being way too sentimental and home schooling is for me.  She doesn't need me to baby her all day anymore.  She's ready to take care of herself way more than I can admit.  

Anyhow, back to the summer adventures. This summer was filled with many outdoor adventures for us.  We started crabbing, rode our bikes everywhere and went camping trips a few times.  

Breakfast is my favorite thing when we camp.  I love smelling the foresty air and sip on a good cup of coffee in my enamel camping mug.  I'm literally a happy camper with my cup of joe.  I also brought a batch of muesli.  

The Pacific Northwest is undoubtedly one of the best camping regions.  There are all types of camping available all around.  We have two small kids, so our choices are more towards kids friendly ones.  At the beginning of summer, we went to Camano Island, 20 miles north of Seattle.  One of the easiest, cleanest, closest, safest camping places around Seattle.  The camp ground is right above the ocean.  We went crabbing on our little inflatable boat and actually caught a couple of crabs which made the kids all excited. 

I made this crab salad with carrots and kale.  We ate it with home made ponzu dressing and it was so clean and good.  Ponzu is usually just mixed with soy sauce and lemon or lime juice.  

Though Camano Island was relaxing and fun, I wouldn't call it an adventure. It was more like a warm up for our upcoming bigger trip.  We go to our annual camping trip with a group of friends to Banks Lake, WA.  It is about 3.5 hours of driving east of Seattle.  It is one of the most mesmerizing landscapes I have ever ever seen in my life.  The lake is surrounded by gorgeous canyons.  We usually ride on our friends' boat to get to the beach that we camp, so the spot is isolated from the crowd and very private.  This feels like the escape from our life at home. 

This year was unfortunately much cooler than usual. Usually we jump in the water in the morning and stay at the beach all day and sun bath. But we still we managed to have an amazing time.  We fished in our boat (it needs a name!), water tubed from the big boats, swam in the narrows in the lake,  and ate very well.  

Cooking out here is always fun for me.  This year, my main dishes were smoked trouts, grilled trouts and Japanese yakitori (skewered grilled chicken).  It's so much fun to cook out in the wild. 

Here are some photos from the trip.  Our summer went bye bye quickly but it was filled with family quality time and look forward to more adventures next year!  I'm thinking a van and road trip...

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