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No longer updating, but hope you enjoy the recipes!

Unfortunately, I got too busy to go back to blogging, after I was forced to take a break from it in 2015 because of tendonitis.
But you can still follow my cooking, eating, and travels on instagram: (@spontaneoustomato)

Black Sesame Mochi Dango

May 7, 2015

Black Sesame Mochi DangoPin it!

Paula and I are back from our Seoul + Japan adventure!

Although from my perspective, it wasn’t so much an adventure as a nostalgia-fueled eating tour + a chance to introduce Paula to friends who hadn’t been able to travel all the way to California for our wedding.

Paula had never been to S. Korea or Japan before, so for her the trip had all of the elements of a good adventure: new countries, new languages, new cultures, new foods…

Black Sesame Mochi DangoPin it!

And some experiences were new to both of us, including going to a toshirak (lunchbox) market in Seoul, where you buy an empty bento-style container and get coins to trade in for street food along an alley. That and making the mistake of riding the Tokyo subway during morning rush hour (with luggage… oops!). And at the opposite end of the country, on a little island out west, enjoying freshly caught squid, dipped in ponzu, and miso soup made from a friend’s homemade miso paste!

Continue Reading: Black Sesame Mochi Dango…


Chicken Rfissa and Msemen

March 26, 2015

Chicken Rfissa and Msemen (Moroccan Fried Flatbread)Pin it!

Am I the only weirdo who can try a new dish once and fall so in love with it that I spend years thinking about it afterwards and/or trying to re-create it? I assume not, but I do think it takes a certain type of personality – a memory that’s often more sharply tuned to food than to certain books or conversations or other experiences (which I wish I could remember better) – to be nostalgic even for one-time edible experiences.

Actually, maybe that’s the underlying issue here: too much (food) nostalgia.

At any rate, it’s happened to me with more than one dish, and more than one ingredient, so that all of these experiences added up together have vastly expanded my food knowledge and cooking repertoire, or at least the cooking repertoire I hope to someday have.

Chicken Rfissa and Msemen (Moroccan Fried Flatbread)Pin it!

And these random encounters with ingredients or dishes that take me by surprise and spark my devotion have really been what has driven me to get into the kitchen and try making something new – probably more than flipping through all of the cookbooks in my cookbook collection could ever do.

This exposure to newness is just one reason I appreciate the importance of traveling, of visiting new restaurants, of trying different items from the menu.

Continue Reading: Chicken Rfissa and Msemen…

Garlicky Kale and Artichoke Pasta

March 12, 2015

Garlicky Kale and Artichoke PastaPin it!

So it turns out I couldn’t go more than four blog posts before before putting garlic and kale together again. Apparently I have very strong feelings about this (excellent) flavor combination.

(Same thing goes for kale + citrus!)

A few years ago, this dish started out as a barely-changed riff on a smitten kitchen recipe: pasta with garlicky broccoli rabe. All I used to do was swap de-stemmed, torn curly kale leaves for the broccoli rabe and toss them into the boiling pasta water to be drained alongside the pasta. (Then it all gets transferred to a bowl and tossed with garlicky olive oil.) And I used to do this a LOT.

Ingredients for Garlicky Kale and Artichoke Pasta

While that remains one of my all-time favorite weeknight dinners, this version is simpler (one fewer bowl to wash!) and — dare I say it — more delicious, thanks to two secret ingredients: artichokes and anchovies.

Continue Reading: Garlicky Kale and Artichoke Pasta…

Black Sesame Hamantaschen

February 26, 2015

Black Sesame and Apricot HamantaschenPin it!

Every Winter/Spring since I’ve been writing this blog, the Jewish holiday of Purim has passed me by and I’ve missed my chance to make the traditional cookies that I loved so much as a child: hamantaschen.

In other words, I’ve forgotten about the existence of Purim every year until it’s too late — not really too late to make hamantaschen (one could argue that it’s never too late to bake holiday cookies, even if you’re just getting a 364-day head-start on the next year), but definitely too late to photograph + write about them for you.

This year though, thanks to scrolling past someone’s hamantaschen-related instagram photo last week (Oh! Did I tell you all that I finally joined instagram?), I was reminded about the existence of Purim just in time. (Purim 2015 begins March 4th at sunset.)

Black Sesame HamantaschenPin it!

And instead of using the traditional hamantaschen filling of poppyseed “goop” (for lack of a better word…), I chose a very non-traditional seed that I love even more than poppyseeds: black sesame.

Continue Reading: Black Sesame Hamantaschen…

Homemade Yuzu-cha-style Blood Orange Lemon Tea

February 12, 2015

Yuzu-cha style Blood Orange Lemon TeaPin it!

Cilantro and cheese always had a close rivalry, each vying for the position of my Most Missed Ingredient when I was living in Japan.

Now that I’m in California, the number one ingredient I miss from Japan is not really something I ever used in my cooking, but it’s a flavor that I love, and that I took for granted: yuzu (citron).

Blood Oranges and Lemons for homemade Yuzu-cha style citrus tea

Yuzu, or perhaps artificial yuzu flavoring, is everywhere in Japan: yuzu chuhai (shōchū cocktails), yuzu juice, yuzu candy, yuzu gum, yuzu ponzu sauce, yuzukoshō (chili paste), and yuzu sorbet. The best of all possible yuzu incarnations, though, is yuzu-cha (yuzu tea), which is probably even more commonplace in Korea — where it’s called yuja-cha — than it is in Japan.

Continue Reading: Homemade Yuzu-cha-style Blood Orange Lemon Tea…

Almond Butter Chocolate Granola Bars

January 29, 2015

Almond Butter Chocolate Granola BarsPin it!

Remember back when I dedicated an entire blog post to my (unofficial) dissertation acknowledgments? That list summed up a lot of what my life was like during the 7 years I spent in graduate school. Laptopping, caffeinating, internetting, and procrasti-cooking.

Now that I finally have my PhD, it’s been odd adjusting to life as a non-student. My first few months of unstructured (un-)(self-)employment as a freelance editor felt remarkably similar to the years when I was working on my dissertation, except suddenly I wasn’t stressed about both school and money anymore! (Just money!)

Ingredients for Almond Butter Chocolate Granola Bars

Since the beginning of this month, though, I’ve needed to start adjusting to my non-studentness even faster: I got a new job!

Continue Reading: Almond Butter Chocolate Granola Bars…

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