Japan: Meiji Shrine (Tokyo)

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Torii leading to the Meiji Shrine

The Meiji Shrine in Shibuya is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken. The Meiji Shrine is located just beside the busy Harajuku Station, Meiji Shrine and the adjacent Yoyogi Park making up a large forested area – an oasis in busy, urban Tokyo!

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Eggplant Lasagne

Eggplant lasagne topped with pistachios and basil

Eggplant lasagne topped with pistachios and basil

This dish came about by accident. Originally I wanted to make Green Kitchen Stories’ Involtini di Melanzane, or rolled stuffed eggplant, because I had tomato sauce left over from a couple of nights before. But it turns out I am awful at slicing eggplant. You have to slice the eggplant very thinly, but mine were uneven and all but a few weren’t the entire length of the eggplant. Because the eggplant needs to be grilled in the oven before rolling, I had an idea for making lasagne after seeing the slices laid out in a casserole dish. So instead of pasta, I used the eggplant slices! Mmm…it turned out very well!

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Apple and Almond Risotto with Gorgonzola

Apple & almond risotto with gorgonzola

Apple & almond risotto with gorgonzola

Jamie Oliver‘s Apple & Walnut Risotto with Gorgonzola quickly became Apple & Almond when I realized I had already eaten all of the walnuts at home – but luckily I still had almonds! Risotto is a dish I had been wanting to prepare but had been unsure about because it is so much work. But I figured with 38 recipes behind me I’d give it a go! The result was delcious and rich! I substituted the marjoram with thyme (as Jamie suggested as an alternative) and left out the parmesan because 3 cheeses seemed too much to me. If I make it again, which I think I will, I will leave out the goat cheese and stick with only gorgonzola.

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Soy-Braised Pork Loin with Carrots and Turnips

 

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Soy-Braised Pork Loin with Carrots and Turnips

One thing about having a biobakske, a delivery of local organic produce, is that your vegetables dictate what you’ll be eating for dinner! From the delivery I used the fennel and tomatoes to make Jamie Oliver’s Fantastic Tomato & Fennel Salad with Flaked Barbeque Fish”. For my next dish I wanted to find a recipe for the turnips. Most of the turnip recipes I found were for mashes and as side dishes. But then I finally found an interesting meal that was able to incorporate also the carrots and spring onions from the biobakske, Soy-Braised Pork Loin with Carrots and Turnips. I substituted the Pork Country Ribs with Pork Loin because it was the only cut I could find in the grocery store. But the results were fantastic and flavorful!

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Spaghetti Aglio E Olio

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Spaghetti Aglio E Olio

After spending a couple of hours making moussaka Sunday, I wanted to try an easier dish last night and decided on Spaghetti Aglio E Olio. The name translates into English as “spaghetti with garlic and oil”. Spaghetti Aglio E Olio is really easy to make with few ingredients – only spaghetti, garlic, olive oil, parsley, red pepper flakes, and parmesan. I don’t think I’ll make this as a main course again – better as a side dish!

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Moussaka

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The layers of moussaka!

I wasn’t sure what I would be making this past weekend, so I asked my colleagues for ideas. One of my colleagues is Greek and recommended making moussaka. First I had to ask what that is, but then I quickly learned that it’s an extremely popular and prevalent dish in the Eastern Mediterranean consisting mostly of eggplant, ground beef, and bechamel sauce. There is no set recipe for moussaka, so I finally settled on the Moussaka Recipe from Simply Recipes. This is my most difficult recipe yet! There are many steps and it took me around 1 hour and 45 minutes to prepare the moussaka for the oven. But luckily I chose to make this recipe on Sunday, and I had the whole afternoon! The results were delicious and I’ll be making this again in the future!

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Macaroni all’Amatriciana

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Macaroni all’Amatriciana

I was really excited to try Macaroni all’Amatriciana! Although it’s described as one of the most famous sauces out of Rome (originally from Amatrice) and Italy, I had never tried it. The main ingredients are guanciale (cured pork cheek), tomatoes, and Pecorino cheese served with bucatini, a thick, hollow spaghetti. I needed to make a few substitutions – guanciale is really difficult to find outside of Italy and I read pancetta is typically the best substitution and the Albert Heijn didn’t have bucatini, so I used macaroni. I thought the preparation of the tomatoes was a nice touch! Instead of using canned diced tomatoes, the recipe calls for blanched fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and then chopped before adding them to the sauce. Although the tomatoes require a bit of work, I was able to make the Macaroni all’Amatriciana in about 30 minutes!

Sugo all’Amatriciana (Amatriciana sauce) is very similar to Sugo alla Carbonara except with tomatoes and Pecorino instead of eggs and Parmesan. I will definitely be making this dish again and will be on the lookout for the guanciale and bucatini!

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Chickpea Wraps with Mint Yogurt

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Chickpea Wraps with Mint Yogurt (and spinach, apples, and beets)

The real title of this recipe is Black Chickpea Wraps with Tarragon Yogurt, but we couldn’t find black chickpeas and our grocery store was sold out of tarragon! But she mentioned in the recipe that you can use any herbs and regular chickpeas. These wraps were really fresh and delicious with chickpeas, spinach, apples, beets, and mint yoghurt (with garlic and lemon). Koen found them a little less delicious because he thinks beets taste like dirt and enjoyed his last 2 wraps better without beets and with extra spinach.

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Penne all’Arrabbiata

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Penne all’Arrabbiata

For my next Italian dish, I chose Penne all’Arrabbiata, “arrabbiata” translating into “angry” in English because it’s so spicy!  Arrabbiata sauce can be served with any type of pasta, but it traditionally paired with penne. I doubled the red pepper and the basil and it was delicious!