Thursday, February 14, 2019

SHIZEN VEGAN SUSHI BAR & IZAKAYA, SAN FRANCISCO, CA

SHIZEN VEGAN SUSHI BAR & IZAKAYA, SAN FRANCISCO, CA

Everyone knows that Sushi is famous in Japanese cuisine. It is basically vinegar flavoured cold cooked rice served with a garnish of raw fish, eggs or vegetables. Generally, one associates sushi with raw fish but I recently had the opportunity of trying out vegan sushi when we dined at the Shizen Vegan Sushi Bar & Izakaya in San Francisco, California.




This restaurant which is extremely popular is located in 14th Street and is famous for its vegan fare and faux sushi.  One has to make sure you have a booking before going there, especially in the evenings when it is full of young people grabbing a snack/drink/meal on their way back from work.

Our meal began with Garlic Edamame for starters. Edamame is boiled soy beans which is eaten by squeezing out the beans into your mouth and discarding the skin. The one we had was edamame
sauteed with garlic and soy reduction. It tasted almost like a flavourful masala!


We ordered the conventional Sake (Rice Wine) to go with our meal. This is the traditional Japanese alcoholic beverage made by fermenting the rice.


There was so much to choose from in the menu! Finally we decided to have three different types of Vegan Sushi.




The first was called Candlelight and it was served with a burning flame. I was delighted to see the food plating - the red in the following picture is a hot sauce that accompanies the sushi. This had spicy tofu, avocado, cucumber, seaweed pearls, shichimi togarashi and fire! The shichimi togarachi is a common Japanese spice mixture with some seven ingredients. I must say this Candlelight was truly delicious.

Of course, along with all the sushis we had another dip made with ginger and soy.

Giving the chopsticks a try!




The next type of Sushi was called The Hidden Agenda and it was as delicious as the first! This one was made with tempura eggplant, bell peppers, zucchini, carrot, yellow onion, garlic aioli and sweet soy sauce.

The last of the sushis was by far the most interesting. This was so appropriately called The Surprise Ending. This sushi was made with beets, kale, avocado, asparagus, shredded tofu, yuba, rice crackers, seaweed pearls, spicy aioli, and suspense!! There were six pieces of sushi out of which one is extremely spicy. There is no indication which of the six is this one. It's the luck of the draw and anyone of the diners can get this.


I happened to get this at our table. It was fiery hot and as per the tradition I had to gulp down the Sweet Sake served with it at one shot! I am happy to report that I managed to do this successfully!

For dessert, we settled for the Chocolate Brownie with Ice Cream served with Strawberries and  Sweet Fried Banana Fritters which provided a perfect end to a wonderful dining experience.

I would like to thank my son, Nitin for taking us there and guiding us through what for us was an unique dining experience.  

Saturday, February 9, 2019

THE PLAZA BISTRO AT SONOMA, CA


THE PLAZA BISTRO AT SONOMA, CA

My son booked us on Viator's Tour of Muir Woods and The Wine Country recently and we thoroughly enjoyed the tour. This took us first to the beautiful Muir Woods National Monument located in Mount Tamalpais in the Marin County in California and later to three wineries in the Sonoma and Napa Valleys in California.

There were just eight of us on the tour and we came from different places. There was a gentleman from the Philippines, a couple from St Louis, Missouri, a couple from Houston, Texas, and a lady from Orange County, California, apart from my husband and me from India.

Today I write about the excellent lunch we had at The Plaza Bistro located in the Sonoma Plaza in Sonoma, Ca. The "Gourmet Lunch" was an optional part of the tour and it meant paying more for this upgrade but I am so glad we got to enjoy a memorable meal.


The lunch started with a complimentary sparkling wine which was served with the appetizer of Cheese Board with Fresh Fruit. On that day, we were served strawberries, pineapple and grapes along with two types of cheese.

With each course, we got to taste a different type of wine. The first course was the Baby Mixed Greens tossed with Fresh Herbs Vinaigrette, Red Grape Tomatoes and Croutons. This was so tasty and refreshing.



From the various options for the main course, we had opted for the Grilled Salmon over Sauteed Vegetables drizzled with Balsamic Reduction. This was simply superb.




We visited three wineries in all, the first in the Sonoma - where we had this lunch- and two more later in the Napa Valley. There we got to taste different types of wine.



Our 11 hour tour, which had started early in the morning ended in the evening with a halt at the iconic Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, where all of us took many pictures of the beautiful views from there.


Tuesday, February 5, 2019

OUR TRIP TO THE UNITED STATES - Post 1

OUR TRIP TO THE UNITED STATES- POST 1

Followers of this blog would have noticed that there hasn't been any post in quite some time. The last was, in fact, on January 14, 2019. This is because my husband and I are visiting our son, in San Francisco in the United States where we will be till the end of February.  I hope to post once in a while mainly to give readers some idea of the fun food we tasted during our travels.

Let me start with some interesting trivia. We left Namma Bengaluru early morning of January 17, 2019. Our first flight took us to Paris, France in some 10 hours. Then followed another 11 flight to San Fransisco. Funnily enough, due to the complexities of the International Date Line, after all these hours of travel we arrived in San Francisco on January 17!

This is our second visit to the US. We had traveled extensively here when we came in 2011 but I didn't have a blog then! We visited the country from Coast to Coast covering Boston, New York, West Virginia, Delaware, Rochester NY, Florida, Texas, and California, amongst other places in 65 days. We enjoyed different types of cuisine but since I never captured those details then, I would like to do so now. To share what we experienced - through my blog.

We had an enjoyable visit for a few days to Hawaii where we stayed at the Westin's Moana Surfrider in Honolulu. We were welcomed with the traditional leis (garlands) of orchids.


The views of the Waikiki Beach and beyond were very beautiful. Indeed, Hawaii which we had heard so much about, is such a lovely place.


The Duke's Waikiki, a restaurant in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii was a fun place. Absolutely jam packed with tourists and holiday makers when we got there in time for brunch. It was considerable noisy, full of life, and the aromas of the food, especially the sea food wafted in the air.

We grabbed the famous Ahi Poke, made with local ahi, shoyu style, shaved jalepeno, furikake cracker and chili aliloli, and a dish of Salmon.





This was teamed with Fish & Chips, battered, fried crisp and served with tartar sauce. This dish was delicious too. The portions were more than generous and we enjoyed the meal.

As time permits, we hope to add more posts focussing on the new foods we ate and the cuisines we experienced during our trip. Until next time, Aloha, as they say in Hawaii!

Monday, January 14, 2019

DOUBLE BEANS CURRY

DOUBLE BEANS CURRY

These days in India double beans (also called Broad Field Beans) are available in plenty as it is most commonly found in the winter months. I have made today's dish using fresh double beans. In case you use dry double beans, you will need to soak them overnight and pressure cook them.

I have adapted this recipe from Double Beans Curry by Tarlaji Dalal.  I believe double beans are called Rangoon na Vaal in Gujarati. The recipe called for the use of Kashmiri Red Chillies but I have used my standard Byadgi Red Chillies which give the colour but are not so hot.

We had this with hot rotis and with rice and it tasted great with both! The speciality of this dish is that the onions are burnt over an open flame which enhances the taste of the dish.




Ingredients:-
  • Fresh Double Beans, 1 to 1 and 1/2 cups 
  • Tomatoes, roughly chopped, 2 cups
  • Oil, 1 tbsp
  • Salt, to taste

To Be Ground To A Paste:
  • Medium-sized Onions, 2
  • Garlic Cloves, 4-5
  • Byadgi Red Chillies, broken into pieces, 5-6 
  • Coriander Seeds, (Dhania) 1 tbsp
  • Cumin Seeds, (Jeera) 1 tsp
  • Poppy Seeds, (Khus Khus) 2 tsp
  • Black Peppercorns, 3-4 
  • Cloves, (Laung) 2-3
  • Cinnamon, (Dalchini) 1/2 " piece
Method:

Wash and cook the fresh double beans in adequate water in a pressure cooker adding a little salt for 2 whistles. The double beans should be cooked yet remain firm, and not get overcooked.
Once the cooker cools, remove the cooked double beans and keep aside.

For the Paste

Start by burning the onions over an open flame by using a fork or skewers. Burn the onions with the skin on till they turn black in colour. Let them cool slightly and then remove the outer skin.


In a blender, grind the burnt onions along with the other ingredients listed  under " To Be Ground To A Paste" to a smooth paste, adding a little water. Keep aside.

In a deep non-stick pan, mix together the roughly chopped tomatoes with 1/2 cup of water and cook on medium flame for 4-5 minutes or till the tomatoes become soft
Allow the tomatoes to cool, then transfer to a blender and blend it to a smooth pulp and keep aside

Heat oil in a kadhai and when it gets hot add the ground paste and saute on medium flame for 3-4 minutes
To this add the cooked double beans, salt to taste, and the prepared tomato pulp and mix well
Cook this on medium flame for about 4-5 minutes stirring from time to time till the double beans get well blended with the masala

Serve hot with rotis or chapatis



Sunday, January 6, 2019

FRENCH BEANS SESAME MASALA

FRENCH BEANS SESAME MASALA

French Beans is perhaps one of the most commonly available vegetables in India. It is used in the cuisines of different parts of the country. Elsewhere in this blog, you will find recipes using French Beans in the South-Indian style French Beans Moong Dal Stir Fry, Farasbi chi Sabzi from Maharashtrian cuisine, and our very own Konkani dish, Beans Talasani.

Today's recipe has been adapted from Green Beans with Sesame Seeds Masala by Chef Sanjay Thumma/ Vah Chef.

We enjoyed this as a side dish with rice and dal.



Ingredients:-

  • French Beans, 250 gms
  • Sesame Seeds, ( Til) 1 tbsp
  • Cumin Seeds, 1 tsp
  • Garlic Cloves, 4
  • Coconut Gratings, 1 tbsp
  • Chilli Powder, 1 tsp
  • Mustard Seeds, 1/4 tsp
  • Curry Leaves, 1 sprig
  • Turmeric Powder, 1/4 tsp
  • Coriander Powder, 1 tsp
  • Water, as required
  • Oil, 2 tbsp
  • Salt, to taste

Method:

Wash, de-string and cut them into 1/4 " pieces and keep aside.
Dry roast the coconut gratings till they become slightly golden and keep aside
In a pan, dry roast the sesame seeds and cumin seeds on slow flame for about 2 minutes
Switch off the flame
To this, add the garlic cloves, roasted coconut gratings, chilli powder and salt
Mix well and transfer to a small blender jar and make a coarse powder and keep aside
Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan and when it gets hot add the mustard seeds on moderate heat
When the mustard seeds splutter add the curry leaves, chopped French Beans, turmeric powder and a little salt ( remember that some salt has already been added when making the sesame-seeds cumin powder) 
Sprinkle a little water and cook covered till the French Beans get nearly cooked
Now add the coriander powder and the prepared sesame-seeds cumin powder, mix well
Cook covered till the French Beans get fully done but take care that they don't get overcooked
Serve hot with chapati, rotis or rice



Wednesday, January 2, 2019

SWEET CORN & VEGETABLE SOUP

SWEET CORN &  VEGETABLE SOUP

In our house, winter time is soup time! Primarily because of the weather we prefer to have soups with dinner. Elsewhere in this blog, you will find recipes for different types of soup such as Lemon & Coriander Soup, Green Peas & Mint Soup, and Spinach Soup.

Today's recipe is for a soup made with sweet corn and vegetables like carrots, cauliflower and French beans. I would urge you to try this out for yourself. I am sure you will love it especially when it is piping hot while it is cold and windy outside.

It has been adapted from Sweet Corn & Vegetable Soup by Tarlaji Dalal and is part of her collection of Chinese Soups.

As you will see from the ingredients listed below, while most of the sweet corn is used in boiled form, some amount has to be lightly crushed after it has been boiled. This soup is served with chillies in vinegar which can be made quite easily.




Ingredients: 
  • Sweet Corn Kernels,  boiled, 1 and 1/4 cups 
  • Sweet Corn Kernels,  boiled and crushed, 1/4 cup 
  • Carrots, 1/3 cup
  • Cauliflower,  1/3 cup
  • French Beans, 1/3 cup 
  • Cornflour, 4 tbsp
  • Butter, 1 tbsp
  • Ginger, finely chopped, 1 tsp 
  • Garlic, finely chopped, 1 and 1/2 tsp 
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Chillies in Vinegar  - for serving with the soup
Method:

Wash the carrots, cauliflower and French Beans, finely chop them and boil them together in a pan in adequate water. Keep aside.

Pressure cook the sweet corn cobs in adequate water for 2 whistles and once they are cool enough to handle, remove the sweet corn kernels to get 1 and 1/2 cups. Out of this, lightly crush 1/4 cup of boiled sweet corn kernels and keep aside.

Heat the butter in a deep non-stick pan, and when the butter melts add the finely chopped ginger and garlic. Saute on medium flame for a few seconds or till it gives off a good aroma. 

To this add the boiled sweet corn kernels as well as the boiled and crushed sweet corn kernels and the finely chopped and boiled vegetables 
Mix well and cook on medium flame for 1 minute stirring continuously
Next add 4 cups of water , the prepared cornflour-water mixture, salt, and pepper and mix well
Cook on medium flame for 4-5 minutes stirring from time to time so that the cornflour does not get burnt at the bottom of the pan 
Serve hot immediately along with the chillies in vinegar



Thursday, December 27, 2018

GREEN PEAS CHUTNEY

GREEN PEAS CHUTNEY

In South India, where we often have idlis and dosa for breakfast, chutneys are an essential part of our cuisine. These are generally made with coconut, dals, and also from vegetables. For example, elsewhere in this blog you will find recipes for Carrot Chutney, Tomato Chutney, and Cabbage Chutney.

Today's recipe is for a chutney made with Green Peas. This has been adapted from Green Peas Chutney YouTube video by Master Chef Sanjeev Kapoor. This is part of his series of Simple Vegetarian Cooking recipes.

We tried it out and liked it very much. The addition of mint and coriander leaves enhances the taste of the chutney. This goes well, not only with idli, dosa etc but can be had with rotis and akki rotti too.




Ingredients:-

  • Green Peas, boiled, 1 cup
  • Fresh Coriander Leaves, roughly chopped, 1 cup
  • Fresh Mint Leaves, roughly chopped, 1/2  cup
  • Garlic Cloves, 2-3
  • Ginger, roughly chopped, 1/2 " piece
  • Green Chilli, chopped, 2
  • Black Salt, (Kala Namak), to taste
  • Sugar, 1/2 tsp
  • Lemon Juice, 1 tbsp

Method:

Wash and peel the green peas ( if you are using fresh ones)
Boil the green peas and drain away the water
In a blender, grind together the green peas, coriander leaves, mint leaves, garlic, ginger and green chilli to a smooth paste, adding very little water
Add the black salt and sugar and blend it once again
Lastly, add the lemon juice, mix well and transfer to a serving bowl to serve the Green Peas Chutney