Rena Made Us Dinner

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A belated thanks to Rena, Craig’s friend (and now my friend) from Seattle who stayed with us a few weeks ago and made us a delicious dinner of Otsu from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone. I made Heidi Swanson’s Otsu last May (click here) and really enjoyed my first Otsu experience. Deborah Madison’s otsu is sweeter than Heidi’s and also features black sesame seeds, a more racially sensitive choice than Heidi’s. Rena also made us a terrific salad with avocado, orange segments and carrots.

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Rena can probably tell you how she made it in the comments. (Hey Rena, are you there? TELL US!) So thanks to Rena for a lovely dinner–you can cook for us anytime.

8 comments

  1. Rena, Please could you share the recipe. It looks delicious.

    Thanks !! Waiting to hear you on blog

  2. Ooh ooh ooh, black sesame seeds! You know when an ingredient that everyone else is familiar with inexplicably falls under your radar? Yep.

  3. My wife and I LOVED Rena’s infectious, beautiful smile . . . she is SOOooo cool.

    And that wonderful salad incorporates ALL of our favorite salad makin’s and we aren’t even vegetarians.

    Thanks for the great post.

  4. Hey, looky-lu, I’m famous!

    Thanks, everyone, for your kind words. Sorry I’m late to the comments party. I’ll do my best to outline the salad recipe here, though it was kind of improvised so I can’t guarantee that you’ll have the exact success that I did.

    As Adam mentioned, the otsu is from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, by Deborah Madison. It’s called Sesame Noodles with Asparagus Tips. It’s a great recipe as is, but I’ve made a few variations using green beans, julienned red pepper, snow peas, tofu and maybe shredded carrots once. Also, I usually reduce the sesame oil in the marinade by a bit to keep it on the lighter side.

    The salad was inspired by one from the same book and also similar to a salad I actually had a dream about once and then encountered at a restaurant a few weeks later. The dream involved avocado and grapefruit in a salad together–which is a great combo–but the grocery store by Adam & Craig’s was closing in 15 min. while I was there so I grabbed oranges instead. Here’s the recipe as I remember it:

    Butter lettuce

    oranges (look for a seedless variety that’s on the smaller side or try blood oranges or clementines even–something that will segment nicely and not be too fleshy)

    avocado

    shredded carrots

    green onion

    vinaigrette (this was the most improvised aspect of the recipe so I can’t get too specific with amounts–you’ll have to experiment and combine the ingredients to taste):

    rice vinegar

    mirin wine

    lemon juice

    extra virgin olive oil

    salt

    I also seasoned this with some of the leftover elements from the otsu marinade… definitely cilantro. I may have tossed in a little garlic too. I kept the oil very minimal in relation to the acidic ingredients. The mirin is quite sweet and and the lemon is obviously tart–too much of either will overpower the salad so I’d start with equal parts of both, then keep adding vinegar in small amounts until you like the

    balance. Then whisk in the oil and seasonings as you normally would for a vinaigrette.

    Finally, I sprinkled some sesame seeds on the salad, too. I think I used white ones instead of the black to create a light/citrus-y contrast to the darker, more savory/umami noodles. Or maybe I didn’t, but that would be a nice touch, right?

    That’s it, I think. Combine all that stuff into a salad and it should be tasty like ours was. Interested in knowing if anyone tries it and what they think!

    Thanks, Adam for the post. And for putting up with me in your house for so long. I hope to be back in NY and seeing you guys again soon. I already have some ideas of what I’ll make next time I cook for you.

  5. Wow! I am so impressed w/ Rena’s culinary ability. I’m guessing she had great training while growing up. And, I agree w/ the post that commented on Rena’s infectious, beautiful smile. She also has a great laugh. Now, you might guess that I am just some random foodie; but, I must confess, I am Rena’s mother. Thanks, Adam and Craig, for putting Rena up during her time in New York. Oh, I might also mention, that I am a good friend of Craig’s parents–Julee and Steve. Maybe Rena will make the Otsu for her parents sometime! I tune in, Adam! Good luck with your new venture w/ FN Dish.

    Sue (and Larry, too)

  6. Wow! I am so impressed w/ Rena’s culinary ability. I’m guessing she had great training while growing up. And, I agree w/ the post that commented on Rena’s infectious, beautiful smile. She also has a great laugh. Now, you might guess that I am just some random foodie; but, I must confess, I am Rena’s mother. Thanks, Adam and Craig, for putting Rena up during her time in New York. Oh, I might also mention, that I am a good friend of Craig’s parents–Julee and Steve. Maybe Rena will make the Otsu for her parents sometime! I tune in, Adam! Good luck with your new venture w/ FN Dish.

    Sue (and Larry, too)

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