New Year’s Traditions Oshogatsu and Osechi-Ryori 2014

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Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you enjoyed some time for reflection, tradition, family and friends during the holidays and carry that hopeful good cheer throughout the year. The first of the year is a special time for my family. We share in the traditions of Japanese New Year or Oshogatsu and since I’ve been little, we’ve had a family gathering eating traditional and some non-traditional foods together as we celebrate the New Year, over food, fun and togetherness.

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These traditions are very important to me. They remind me of my childhood, especially of the times when I used to stay with my Bachan from Christmas until New Year’s. Bachan would spend days preparing different dishes, allowing things to simmer and pickle, while cutting vegetables into different shapes and making food I’d only see on New Year’s Day. Though some of the dishes on the table today are not the same as the ones we had when I was little, I try to incorporate some of those traditional dishes into the Jūbako Japanese stackable decorative dishes and we have a large spread of food and invite friends and family over.

 

Here are my last three years of Osechi-Ryori: 2011, 2012, 2013, and my 2014 addition.

 

Menu

 

Beef and Chicken Teriyaki with homemade teriyaki sauce

Chicken Yakitori with peanut sauce

Char Siu-Style Sliced Pork

Sweet Asian Fried Chicken Wings (mom’s contribution)

Pork & Shrimp Wontons (mom & dad’s contribution)

Bachan Jello (mom’s contribution)

Inari

Grilled Salmon

Grilled Sake and Mirin Shrimp

Kinpira (sato shoyu gobo and carrots)

Tazukri (candied, dried sardines)

Kamaboko (pink and white Japanese pressed fish cake)

Namasu (pickled carrots and daikon)

5-Sided Carrot, 5-Sided Daikon, Kombu (rolled seaweed), Shiitake Mushrooms, Satoimo(taro root), Renkon (lotus root), Takenoko (bamboo shoots)

Ozoni (New Year Japanese soup) (Konbu, Carrot, Kamaboko, Shiitake Mushroom, Imo [taro root], Renkon [lotus root], and Mochi in Seasoned Homemade Dashi)

Twice cooked Artichokes with soysauce mayo

 

I hope each of you had a blessed and beautiful holiday season and have a peaceful, joyful and thankful new year!

cheers

-Unrivaledkitch

Turning 30 a month later, Brandon’s Birthday!

This blog was to memorable not to post but it is a month late. Oh well better late than never!

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We’ve celebrated birthdays all month long and just about everywhere this summer, which always keeps me busy and on my toes thinking of new ideas and different dishes to make. Having my dad’s birthday at the end of August and Brandon’s birthday on September 7, I’ve been keeping pretty busy in the kitchen. I’m so grateful that my yoga practice and teaching have been taking a great amount of my time and with the start of the new school year (I teach primarily children’s yoga with some senior and adult classes as well), it’s been a really great transition period for my life. I’m glad I can still find time for fantastic meals with my loved ones, because it’s just so important to me to always keep us all at the table together, enjoying delicious and freshly prepared meals.

Brandon’s birthday fell on a Saturday this year, which, for a chef, is the busiest day of the week, but when he could finally muster up a day off, we got together with my family for a Japanese-style sushi and rice bowl dinner. I thought of this awesome little party idea because I wanted everyone to be a little interactive with their food. I didn’t want Brandon to have to cook at all since he cooks practically every day, but I wanted him to be able to put together some sushi, have a beef bowl, and enjoy and relax with a fun dinner. So I drew up this idea at the Japanese market, Mitsuwa, in Venice. There are some really amazing things at that store; all the Japanese ingredients I need to pull off a perfect meal, which is sometimes difficult to find in the valley.

I chose different ingredients that we could all enjoy and make into little sushi rolls with small pieces of nori and ingredients such as salmon and tuna sashimi, imitation crab, avocado, cucumber, umeboshi, ginger and wasabi. I cooked thinly sliced beef in sake, mirin and soy sauce with sliced nori, kamaboko and thinly sliced egg to create my Bachan’s signature beef bowl and made beef and pork wontons with bamboo shoots, scallions and shiitake mushrooms, as well as tonkatsu (panko breaded and fried pork cutlet) and chicken katsu to enjoy. I scooped large bowls of hot Japanese rice for everyone and we made our own concoctions and combinations to enjoy. I love interactive family style food!

I always find that making these dishes connects me with my Japanese heritage and keeps these wonderful traditions that I learned from my Bachan, in our family. Japanese food takes amazing ingredients and lets them shine all on their own with little effort, but lots of care—I love that. I’m so glad I could share these traditions that are so dear to me on such a momentous day: Brandon’s 30th birthday! I’m very grateful that I could make such a special meal for you and to cook for you because you are always so busy cooking for everyone else. Happy Birthday, Brandon, I love you!

cheers

-Unrivaledkitch

Yoga in Santa Monica, Ca. and 17th Street Cafe

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I know I really shouldn’t spend money on lunch. I’m a yoga teacher (Kimberlyfujitakiyoga.com) for the most part and a personal chef here and there with odd jobs, caterings, and a million other ideas brewing away. If anyone is interested in my personal chef, private dining or personal grocery shopping please click on Unrivaledkitch Wellness for more info! It’s working out slowly, but surely because I’m living my dreams and it takes patience to make them happen, and it makes for me being on a pretty tight budget.

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I don’t know about you, but the only thing I really spend money on is food. I was just talking to my sister about this. If my stomach wasn’t so curiously hungry, I would probably have more money in my pocket, but a less happy stomach, which makes for a less happy yogi, so I’ll keep eating. Let’s call it research and development and in this salad, it was just that because I have a feeling I’m going to be making this delicious lunch I had today at 17th Street Café  in Santa Monica, sometime very soon.

It’s the simple things in life. On Thursdays, I teach a mini yogis™ baby and me yoga class at UCLA Family Commons in Santa Monica. It’s an amazing establishment that fosters good social skills for children and family support for all types of situations involving children. They have summer camps and winter camps, as well as yoga and martial arts for children of all ages. My Thursday classes are baby and me yoga sessions, which consists of children ages 0-3.  We have tons of fun in class testing limits, singing songs and being present. I’m so grateful to have this opportunity to teach at UCLA Family Commons.  After the baby and me yoga class, I have a couple of hours to kill before I teach a really awesome group of kids in a private home in Santa Monica.

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Between classes I have some time to explore Santa Monica, which is nice because I’m not very familiar with the area, but it’s just buzzing with delicious cuisine and amazing shops to look at.  I made a quick trip down Montana Avenue where there were so many little places trying to make themselves stand out amongst the others.  I walked down the block just viewing all the ambitious eaters in the area looking at menus and pondering if I was honestly hungry or not. Eventually I settled on 17th Street Café. This charming little café is not very prominent amongst the other places, but I indecisively decided, after peeking in, that an afternoon salad wouldn’t hurt my next class and that I better hurry and eat so I could keep up with three, six and seven year-olds. I was seated right away, very warmly by a man standing at a bakery counter. I kept my eyes away from the pastries, though they did offer a second glance. My waitress was pleasant, but very busy and overall, the café was doing a high volume for its small dining room.

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I ordered a passion fruit iced tea that was amply refilled. On the table came fresh hot bread that was delicious with some butter on it. After looking at their extensive menu, I found myself choosing the Oak Smoked Salmon Salad. I ordered a half portion because from the look of everyone else’s plates, the portions were quite abundant. The salad was lightly dressed with a sweet sesame vinaigrette, had chopped button mushrooms, radishes, daikon sprouts, feta cheese and oak smoked salmon. I really liked that the salmon was smashed up finely and mixed in with the feta. It made for a very salty, but refreshing flavor taking out some of the fishiness that is often associated with smoked salmon. I was rather impressed and completely satisfied with this simple and interesting salad, which made for a delicious beautiful lunch in the California sunshine. I’m grateful to 17th Street Café for replenishing my strength for the next adventure in kids’ yoga!

1610 Montana Ave. Santa Monica, Ca 90403

cheers

-Unrivaledkitch

Cafe Nouveau in Ventura, CA

One beautiful Ventura afternoon, Brandon and I were out and about and decided to go into Cafe Nouveau , which recently opened back up after suffering from a kitchen fire last year. The dining room and whole restaurant is very quaint and cute. It looks like a perfect place for breakfast or an afternoon patio lunch.

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Brandon and I decided to dine inside this afternoon. The restaurant is set up into smaller rooms instead of a large dining space. It’s almost like eating in someone’s home, if their home had a bunch of other strangers in it. Our service was very attentive and we enjoyed our meal very much.

Brandon had a really delicious salmon salad and I decided to get a bacon cheese burger, which sounded perfectly wonderful at the time. Both the salad and burger were good; not the best burger I’ve ever had, but still satisfied my craving. The salmon was very fresh and the plethora of fresh and roasted vegetables was a perfect lunch. Our meal concluded with complimentary mini chocolate cupcakes, but what we enjoyed the most was their delicious blueberry corn bread muffin. It was definitely more food than two people need!

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497 E Thompson Blvd  Ventura, CA 93001

cheers

-Unrivaledkitch

 

Izakaya Sushi Ran

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Sometimes catching up is the perfect medicine for a busy holiday season. Amongst this crazy holiday season I was grateful to take a night off to have a girls’ night with my sweet friend Bryn. We looked online for a new place to eat and we found Izakaya Sushi Ran, which is a little sushi place in Toluca Lake. Located in a small strip mall, Izakaya Sushi Ran is a quaint little place that makes delicious sushi. As we chatted and decided on delectable delicate pieces of sushi, the atmosphere led to a very comfortable and wonderful experience. Though a little on the pricey side, the menu has a very wide variety of different Japanese dishes, but we decided that sushi sounded wonderful.

 

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We enjoyed salmon sushi and white tuna sushi with ponzu along with spicy scallop with vegetable and baby lobster rolls. The pieces of fish were so fresh and delicious. The white tuna was cut perfectly and had a wonderful little char on it. Both rolls were large and very tasty. The service was helpful, but not overbearing, which gave us plenty of time to chat and catch up.

Thanks for an amazing evening Bryn!

Izakaya Sushi Ran

10658 Riverside Dr
Toluca Lake, CA 91602

 

 

Cheers

-Unrivaledkitch

Oshogatsu and Osechi–Ryori 2013

I’ve been writing now for three years 2011 and 2012 about Oshogatsu, which is traditional Japanese New Year celebrations. Of course my family is American so we do things probably very different than in Japan, but I love these customs and I hope to keep them for a very long time. Osechi–Ryori are traditional Japanese foods cooked in soy sauce and sugar or vinegars to be prepared for future consumption. It’s taboo to cook for the 1st three days of the New Year, so the food is placed in beautiful Japanese boxes called Jūbako to preserve its freshness for the days to come. This year we had a large New Year’s celebration filled with lots of love and tons of food. I hope you started the New Year just the way you wanted.

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2013 Osechi-Ryori

Menu

Kagami Mochi

Manju (Japanese sticky rice confection)

Ozoni (Konbu, Carrot, Kamaboko, Shiitake Mushroom, Imo (taro root), Renkon (lotus root), and Mochi in Seasoned Homemade Dashi)

Jubako

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5-Sided Carrot, 5-Sided Daikon, Kombu (rolled seaweed), Shiitake Mushrooms, Satoimo(taro root), Renkon (lotus root), Takenoko (bamboo shoots)

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Kinpira (sato shoyu gobo and carrots)

Tazukri (candied, dried sardines)

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Kamaboko (pink and white Japanese pressed fish cake)

Dashi Steamed Shrimp

Tsukemono (salted cucumber)

Namasu (pickled carrots and daikon)

Umeboshi (Japanese picked plums)

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Blistered Sesame and Soy Shisito Peppers

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Sake and Mirin Grilled Shrimp

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Salmon Sashimi

Maguro (Tuna) Sashimi

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Spicy Crab and Japanese Vegetable Sushi

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California Roll

Vegetable Roll

Inari

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Japanese-Style Short Ribs

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Sweet Asian Fried Chicken Wings (mom’s contribution)

Pork Wontons (mom & dad’s contribution)

DSC03796Char Siu-Style Sliced Pork

There you have it!

Happy 2013! May it be filled with health, love, peace and happiness.

From the Fujitaki Family to you all! Thanks for sharing in our families tradition.

To see my sister in law Linh’s beautiful photos of our New Year please visit her blog here.

cheers

-Unrivaledkitch

New Year’s Day OShogatsu and Osechi-ryōri

New Year’s day is one of my favorite days of the year  because it’s time for family and friends, new beginnings, reflections and always tons of food. Last year I went over the traditions behind everything (if you want a bit more information, check out this post) and this is the 2012 version of the feast. I prepped, cooked and then packed everything up and took it to Pasadena to surprise my Bachan. It was a really amazing experience. Bachan never expects it; however, the perfect smile and delight that I could tell she felt from knowing I made all these things, from the memories that we shared together when I was little, was worth the all work.
I’m ready to get back into my kitchen and start the overhaul, work through new ideas, and make new memories. It’s been a phenomenal, exciting, and definitely very busy holiday season and I have so much to look forward to in January and throughout the new year. I hope 2012 is off to the start you wanted it to be. But if it’s not, just remember that every day can be a new start. Cheers!
Here’s the Menu
Kagami Mochi
Manju (Japanese sticky rice confection)
Ozoni (Konbu, Carrot, Kamaboko, Shitaki mushroom, Imo (taro root), Renkon (lotus root),  and Mochi in seasoned homemade Dashi)
Ponzu and Ginger Salmon Yaki (skewered salmon)
Sweet Asian Fried Chicken Wings (my mom’s contribution)
Char Siu Style Sliced Pork
California Roll
Inari
Spicy Salmon, Cucumber and Avocado Roll
Salmon Sashimi with Cucumber and Takuan
Jūbako (tiered decorative Japanese boxes) filled with the following:
Sake, Honey, and Lemon Poached Jumbo Shrimp
Takuan (yellow pickled dikon)
Kamaboko (pink and white Japanese pressed fish cake)

Kinpira (sato shoyu gobo and carrots)
Namasu (pickled carrots and daikon)

Takenoko (bamboo shoots), Carrots and Gobo (Burdock root)
Tazukri (candied, dried sardines)
Roasted Kabocha (Japanese squash)
Jūbako boxes filled with varying Japanese vegetables:
5-sided carrot, 5-sided daikon, kombu (rolled seaweed), shitake mushrooms, satoimo(taro root), renkon (lotus root)
-Unrivaledkitch

My Mom, My Grandma Ruth, My Bachan… and My Sister’s first mothers day… Feast

These women are the core of my heart. They have taught me more then I could ever imagine. My family is created of these die hard matrons who make everything in their lives about their families. These are the people who taught me my love for food and to whom I owe so much of my life to. This mothers day I created a simple feast of favorite and new additions to thank these loves of my life.  I love you all!

This was my sisters first mothers day. A very special occasion to uphold. I prepare most of the food at my house and packed it up to take it to my brothers. His wives family enjoyed the occasion with us.

I hope all you wonderful mothers out there were with the ones you love and kicked your feet up and relaxed.

Herb encrusted Pork Tenderloin stuffed with sourdough, cranberry, and fuji apple stuffing.
Roasted chicken breast
Baked salmon with Chardonny, dill and roasted lemon
Baked salmon with soy, mirin, scallion sauce
Butter mashed Potatoes
Roasted green beans with almonds
Roasted Broccoli with chili, balsamic, and soy glaze
Steamed Broccoli
Mixed salad with roasted mushrooms, naval oranges, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and Parmesan cheese
Banana Pudding Vanilla Waffer Pie



Cheers

Unrivaledkitch
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