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Some Easy Thanksgiving Sides

Maple Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Pecans 300x225 Some Easy Thanksgiving SidesBy Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

Isn’t Thanksgiving the best food holiday, ever? I love everything about it – the cooking, the baking; the table setting – even the leftovers!

I always plan my Thanksgiving around tried-and-true family favorites, plus a few new dishes thrown in. This year, I’m adding Maple-Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Pecans to our traditional menu.

The new recipe was created because I opted in to receive a free package of Diamond of California shelled pecans as a Klout perk. There’s no obligation to promote your perk, but of course, once you have a product in your hands, it ends up top-of-mind in your thinking. Continue Reading »

Kabocha no Nimono 300x225 Welcome Winter Squashes: KabochaBy Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

Now’s the time to welcome hard-skinned winter squashes, including Hubbard, delicata, acorn, butternut and pumpkin. There are many easy ways to cook winter squash, such as roasting, steaming and sautéing.

But prepping them is another story.

The challenge is to get a knife to pierce the skin of your winter squash without piercing your own. You need a sharp, sturdy knife and good control, because the knife can slip on such a hard, smooth surface, with disastrous results. I go at it with a cleaver.

If you’re a novice at cutting squash, microwave it for several minutes to soften slightly. Once you can get the first cut into the squash, the rest goes a lot easier. Continue Reading »

Coconut Lime Rice Pudding 300x225 Taking Comfort in Rice PuddingBy Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

I returned yesterday from Les Dames d’Escoffier International’s annual conference, held in Boston this year. LDEI is an organization of professional women leaders in the fields of food, fine beverage and hospitality. There are 30 chapters across the US, Canada and the UK. Membership, by invitation only, reflects the multifaceted fields of contemporary gastronomy and hospitality.

I attend every year for excellent professional and personal development seminars, networking, and to renew friendships made over years serving on boards, committees and as a former president of the organization. Continue Reading »

Halloween in a Hurry

Halloween Worms 300x225 Halloween in a HurryBy Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

Some people go all out for Halloween, with steaming witches’ brews, ghoulish table centerpieces and elaborately carved jack-o’-lanterns. With my kids grown, I’m just the opposite. I don’t know if I’ll even get around to carving the pumpkins that are decorating my living room. (If not, I’ll use them for my Thanksgiving table.)

But that doesn’t mean I’ll ignore the festivities altogether. I’ll just do something easy and call it a day.

This year’s “easy” is a tray of “worms,” that you can use to top just about anything edible. These worms are almost flavorless so you can use them with sweet or savory dishes. It’s a great Halloween topper for pizza. The worms will collapse in contact with moisture, so if you sprinkle it on a salad, plan to consume the salad immediately. Continue Reading »

A Cooking Class in Japan

A Cooking Class in Japan 300x225 A Cooking Class in JapanBy Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

One of the most delicious meals I’ve had in Japan, to date, was at a Kikkoman consumer cooking class held at the company’s Tokyo office on Friday. The theme was washoku, traditional Japanese cooking.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that the class was taught by renowned chef Chisako Hori, managing director of Kikunoi, a restaurant group that was awarded three Michelin stars for its main restaurant in Kyoto. She is also chef-owner and nutritionist at the anti-aging restaurant, Rire.

I have a history with Kikkoman, having grown up with its soy sauce, as my mother and grandmother before me. Kikkoman is a family business that goes back 19 generations and if I could trace my family back to Japan, they were probably Kikkoman users, too. Continue Reading »

It’s Tea Time in Japan!

Its Tea Time in Japan 300x225 Its Tea Time in Japan!

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

As a dedicated coffee drinker, tea is an enigma to me. So I figured that investing most of a day at Kyoto Obubu Tea Farms in the small town of Wazuka, at the southern edge of Kyoto prefecture, was a good start to my education.

Truth be told, I was also lured by arresting images of waves of green tea plants, with their characteristic spherical shape, planted in neat rows, clinging to terraced hillsides. From what I’d read, they are not accessible, except on a tour.

Just as the Napa Valley appellation speak to quality in wine, so does Uji, for tea. Wazuka is one of the major Uji tea producers, having grown tea since the Kamakura period (1192-1333). During the Edo period, Wazuka produced the tea for the Japanese Imperial family. Continue Reading »

A Taste of Japan Yakitori 300x225 A Taste of Japan:  YakitoriBy Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

In Japan, there’s nothing that will get mouths watering faster than the sizzle and smoke of yakitori. Yakitori, or “grilled chicken,” is skewers of chicken or chicken parts (like skin, liver or gizzards), dipped in a delicious basting sauce, then grilled.

The basting sauce, or tare (tah-ray), is a trade secret of each restaurant and is usually made with a combination of soy sauce, mirin (Japanese sweet cooking sake), sake and sugar. That sweet soy sauce mixture sends up delicious aromas as the skewers hit the grill, the sugars caramelizing on the chicken.

To make yakitori, the chicken is grilled just until the juices begin to flow. Then the skewers are dipped in the tare and returned to the grill. With each successive dipping, the grilled chicken juices drip into the tare, improving its flavor. Continue Reading »

Anticipating Japanese Food

IMG 0304 300x225 Anticipating Japanese FoodBy Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

I’m sure there are some poor cooks in Japan. I just haven’t run into them.

This is a huge generalization, having been to just two cities – Tokyo and Kyoto – and just once, for a two-week vacation. But it seems that everywhere we ate, from the exquisite tempura restaurant, to the casual mom and pop eatery, even to the 7-Eleven, the food was consistently good.

I hope I won’t be proven wrong on my second visit to Japan this week.

In anticipation of my trip, I’ve gathered a collection of 30-minute prep Japanese recipes from the Special Fork database for this week’s post, to get us all in the mood. Continue Reading »

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