Kitchen Gear: Suribachi (Japanese Mortar & Pestle)

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Check out this suribachi (“grinding bowl”). It’s a Japanese-style mortar and pestle. Over the last year I have become a big fan of this piece of cooking equipment because the design is perfect for making pastes and pestos. Essentially it’s a ceramic bowl with an unglazed, textured inside. With a wooden pestle, you grind foods against the ridges inside the bowl. It’s similar to other tools you may know (a Mexican Molcajete, an Italian mortar and pestle made from marble, or a Indonesian style mortar and pestle made from basalt/volcanic rock), but those ridges make all the difference. You can make smooth, creamy pastes really efficiently. And like other mortar and pestles you can work with very small quantities which is handy and impossible with a food processor or mini chop. Continue reading

Rick Bayless’ Garlic-Lime Mojo Popcorn with Cilantro & Queso Anejo

Rick Bayless_Mojo Popcorn by a Little Yumminess

I’m always on the lookout for interesting savory snacks and this is one of the best ones I’ve come across in a long, long while. You’ve got the tangy-savory flavors of lime and garlic infused olive oil that you use for both popping and seasoning the popcorn, then you top things off with a salty, crumbly Mexican cheese (such as queso anejo) and a generous amount of finely chopped cilantro for a bit of brightness. I would also suggest adding a little chile flake (Japanese togarashi would be nice) to the mix if you’re a fan of heat.  Continue reading

Simply Sauteed Garlicky Pea Shoots

Simple Garlicky Sauteed Pea Shoots by A Little Yumminess

Pea Shoots_Alemany Farmers Market

Simple, sauteed pea shoots have turned out to be one of our favorite vegetable side dishes this spring. They almost always land on our table when we see them at dim sum, but we hadn’t really thought about cooking them at home until recently. They are tender and sweet and they cook almost instantly in a hot saute pan.  What I like most about them is that they have the softness of sauteed spinach, but the stems have just a bit of bite which makes them a little more interesting to eat. And since my boys already like peas, eating another part of the plant has been kind of a fun discovery for them. What would even be more fun is getting some peas going in our garden and then harvesting both the young shoots and the pods for a real garden to table experience. There you go — another thing to add to our to do list.

While not available in most supermarkets as far as I can tell, you will probably find an abundance of pea shoots seasonally at your local farmer’s market or most well-stocked Asian markets. This is truly a lovely taste of spring.
Simple Garlicky Sauteed Pea Shoots
  1. Wash pea shoots well and drain. Discard any shoots that look wilted or have larger, tougher stems. Roughly chop the pea shoots (about  2″ intervals is fine, but the size is not fussy ). Keep in mind that the shoots shrink considerably as they cook, they are roughly half to a third of the volume after cooking.
  2. Peel 2 garlic cloves. Crush them but leave them whole.
  3. Heat up a saute pan with 1 Tablespoon of vegetable oil. When the pan is hot, add the crushed garlic cloves and saute them for 2 minutes until they become fragrant and start to turn golden.
  4. Toss in your washed, chopped pea shoots. Be careful since any remaining water clinging to the pea shoots may spatter when you add them to a hot pan. Saute until pea shoots are wilted (about 2-3 minutes). Sprinkle with sea salt to taste and serve.

You might also like these simple and delicious veggie sides: Mythili’s Edamame with Coconut, Cumin and Chilli, Simplest Snap Peas, Carrot Raita, Indian Spiced Spinach, Bakesale Betty’s Killer Mayo-Free Coleslaw

Sicilian Pesto Trapanese

Sicilian Pesto Trapanese | A Little Yumminess

One of our favorites as far as pasta sauces go is summery, bright green pesto Genoevse (basil, garlic, pinenuts, parmesan cheese, olive oil). When we start to see cherry blossoms on the trees and get a whiff of spring in the air (like right about now….) I start counting down the days until we begin to find giant bunches of fragrant Italian basil at the farmer’s market. My kids have gotten past the aggressively green hue of pesto Genovese and happily scarf it up and I always keep a special, secret little hoard in the way back of my freezer just for me.

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A Week of Eating….

It’s nice to be out of the cooking rut that I have been stuck in.  It lasted almost the whole summer.  There were many, many delicious food adventures, but hardly any new recipes tried.  Last week, I dug myself out the “cooking rut pit” I was stuck in, and came back with a vengeance and probably over-did it.  All my other responsibilities were ignored, – we were well-fed, but almost out of clean clothes.  The laundry pile would make my mother dis-own me.  Nonetheless, it was well worth the giant mess the house is in…..:)

Roasted Cauliflower with Golden Raisins from Food & Wine

This is one of my go-to dishes when I have someone coming over lunch or I want to make a vegetable-centered meal.  It blows people away and I am constantly asked for the recipe.  Roasting cauliflower seems to be the way to go and we have posted two recipes in the past (an Indian Spiced Roasted Cauliflower and Crispy Caramelized Cauliflower) that we also love.  On top of everything else, it can be made easily with minimal ingredients.  I salt the cauliflower only after is is roasted, but the recipe below is directly from Food and Wine.


  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Spread the cauliflower on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and toss well. Roast for about 40 minutes, until tender. Transfer to a bowl.
  2. In a small skillet, heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil. Add the raisins and cook over moderate heat, tossing, until hot, 1 minute. Add the raisins to the cauliflower, sprinkle with the cheese and parsley and serve.

Make Ahead: The roasted cauliflower and raisins can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat and sprinkle with the cheese and parsley before serving

We also had over the course of the week:

Heirloom Tomatoes with Basil and Burrata – why not, since it is peak tomato season, over indulge in these beauties

Oven Roasted Vegetables – Carrots, Fennel, Red Pepper and Zucchini with dried herbs and olive oil

Spaghetti with Parsley, Garlic, Olive Oil and Breadcrumbs – a recipe by Marion Cunningham.  The breadcrumbs give this pasta a lovely crunch and with the roasted vegetables, this made a yummy and healthy dinner

Chicken & Mushroom Noodles – a childhood favorite of mine that I tried to re-create without a real recipe.  Not as good as the real thing (is anything ever?) but definitely well-received by my very particular crew.  Working on refining/tweaking recipe and will post as soon as I have it down.  Which just means we will be eating a lot more of this delicious Singaporean dish.

Yard-long beans with Stir-fried Chicken – a super-duper hit that became school lunch the next day.  Posted this recipe and other yard-long bean recipes last week.  Check them out if you missed them.  One of our new favorite vegetables.

Teriyaki Hamburgers with Green Beans – Recipe coming very soon – it’s a Harumi special.  They were delicious and I served them on a bed of blanched long beans (bought too many!) with store bought deep roasted sesame dressing.  Love, love, love the dressing and you can purchase it at Japanese grocery stores.

And finally for the little one, who has a massive loco-moco obsession, we defrosted some of Uncle Tim’s spectacular gravy and made this lovely Hawaiian dish with leftover teriyaki hamburgers.  Hmmmm…..

Michael Ruhlman’s Tomato Water Pasta

If you can dice a tomato and boil water then this pasta is for you, courtesy of chef Michael Ruhlman. More of a technique than a recipe, it’s the perfect way to showcase a few gorgeous end of summer tomatoes. Don’t let the simplicity of this fool you, this is real-deal pasta. We’ve heard it’s one of Chewbacca’s favorites when he has friends around for dinner. Like Chewbacca, I love the technique of macerating the tomatoes and making a sauce from their juices fortified with a little butter, then tossing in the chopped tomato at the last minute to keep that fresh tomato flavor and texture. You can put this one together in just minutes, your kids will scarf it up — what’s not to love?

Invite some friends and serve this with some garlicky sauteed shrimp our favorite zucchini carpaccio and you are set for a great summer supper!

Get the recipe and a how-to video right here from Michael Ruhlman’s website.