Four years ago, we had the pleasure of visiting Japan for the first time. Adam’s band was performing at the Fuji Rock Festival, high in the mountains three hours north of Tokyo. After the last show, the rest of the group went home while the two of us ventured around the country for ten days, falling completely in love with the Japanese people and their inspiring culture. We took bullet trains to Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Miyajima, and Hiroshima, traveling across the countryside, spending a few days in each city, visiting pristine gardens and ancient Buddhist temples, while learning where to find the best vegetarian meals and how to properly ask for them. Throughout the day, we often found ourselves saying, “watashi wa bejitarian desu,” hoping they would understand that we were politely communicating, “I am vegetarian.” We snacked on inari (sweet tofu pockets filled with sushi rice), we lived off onigiri with umeboshi (white rice triangles wrapped in seaweed with a sour plum center), we found unique tiny restaurants on hidden side streets serving bowls of hot udon noodles, ramen, and miso soup, we tried a savory pancake called okonomiyaki, sampled multiple flavors of sweet mochi candies, and discovered a delicious noodle dish called zaru soba. This light and refreshing entree quickly became our go-to meal in Japan, and since it is served cold, it makes a perfect summertime dinner that is easy to prepare and fun to eat!
Last week you traveled with us to the Caribbean. We gently swayed back and forth upon the warm Atlantic ocean on a private boat while watching a tropical sunrise and enjoying a delicious coconut mojito cake. We love visiting new places and it’s even better when you come with us! So pack your bags and bring an appetite because today we are going to Italy! And with three clicks of our heels, here we are on a romantic Summer evening in Rome. The temperatures have cooled and a soft breeze fills the air, scented with the aroma of sizzling garlic. You hear laughter and clinking glasses as you walk past an old restaurant from the 1600’s built entirely from stone, and out front an older man in a black suit with combed grey hair and a neighborly smile is playing an antique accordion that fills the streets with traditional music, while couples holding hands walk by with satisfied bellies and adventure in their eyes. The night is young, so let’s go exploring, find some delicious food, a bottle of red wine, and see if we can learn a few tricks in the kitchen.
Last weekend, Los Angeles experienced a rare treat: small droplets fell from grey skies, seeping deep into the ground, plumping up our jade plants, and turning them a deep healthy green. There is something so comforting about staying indoors and making a hot meal on a rainy night, and on Friday that is exactly what we did. It was not even seven o’clock, and we were already lighting candles and slipping into our comfy robes and pajamas. Making a curry dish sounded most appropriate on this cold, wet night, and we had bookmarked a recipe from the new Clever Cookbook that our friend Emilie just released at the end of February that we were eager to try. With a candlelit house, and the soothing sounds of rain hitting the roof, we listened to Django Reinhardt, and started to cook this dish that would soon turn out to be a new favorite.
One of the first recipes we posted on Husbands that Cook was Thai carrot burgers: tender, juicy patties filled with fresh grated carrots and aromatic spices mixed in a tangy peanut-lime sauce spiked with sautéed garlic, ginger, and handfuls of chopped cilantro. We have been making these zesty and spicy burgers for years, and it always been one of our favorite recipes to prepare, not only because they are delicious, but because they fill the house with the fragrance of fresh herbs and spices as you cook. That wonderful Thai-inspired creation was adapted from Lukas Volger’s Veggie Burgers Every Which Way, and we were thrilled to learn that he just released a new cookbook last week called Bowl. It is beautifully designed and filled with creative one-dish vegetarian recipes for ramen, pho, bibimbap, and dumplings, as well as gorgeous photography and helpful techniques like how to make ramen noodles and potstickers at home. It was difficult to choose which one to make first, but this kimchi fried rice bowl with quick cucumber pickles immediately caught our attention, since we recently made a batch of kimchi and posted a recipe here just a few weeks ago!
It is a magical time of year in Southern California. The skies are clear and a brilliant blue from the recent rains, the temperatures are comfortable, and in the evenings the sweet scent of jasmine fills the air. Vibrant wildflowers paint the neighborhoods with their beautiful Spring blooms, multi-colored bougainvillea vines illuminate the hills with deep pinks and purples, and the deciduous plum trees that were bare throughout the winter are now covered in white flowers and buzzing with honey bees. We have been taking advantage of this pleasant weather, spending more time outside, and enjoying working in the garden. This weekend, we had a backyard brunch party with ten of our friends; a potluck feast of crisp salads, spring berries, handcrafted cocktails from our mixologist friend Al who introduced us to the light and bubbly Mid-Morning Fizz, and the centerpiece was a double batch of our shakshuka with crusty baguettes for dipping into the hearty sauce. There’s something special about sharing a meal outdoors with friends and family, and this is the time of year to do it before it starts to get too hot. Love is in the air, spring has arrived, and so has asparagus, whose tender shoots are one of the first spring vegetables to appear after the snows of winter. This delicious and comforting soup highlights this seasonal vegetable with simple ingredients that allow the fresh, sweet flavor of just-picked asparagus to truly shine.