Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mushroom Risotto (and Baked Tilapia)

Risotto (which Giada pronounces REE-SOt-toe, not riz-zodo) is the Italian way of making rice. They use arborio rice, which is a super starchy rice which is cooked using a special technique so the result is a super creamy, but not mushy, rice dish.

I'm excited because this is #10 on my New Year's Resolution list! It's the first dish I get to cross off.

My favorite kind of risotto is mushroom risotto. It's hearty, rustic, and delicious. It can be made to be super delicate and dainty as well, but I prefer the rustic kind.

Ingredients [serves 4]:
0.5 oz package of dried porcini mushrooms (about a 1/2 cup)
half a package of baby portabella mushrooms (8 oz. package)
1 portabella mushroom (I could only find sliced at my grocery store so I used half a 6 oz package)
1 sprig of thyme
1/2 teaspoon black pepper (preferably freshly ground)
1/4 large sweet onion
1 tbsp olive oil + 1-1/2 tbsp butter (for the mushrooms) --- 1 tbsp olive oil + 1/2 tbsp butter (for the rice)
3 or 4 cloves of garlic
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup chicken stock + 4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you want to make this a vegetarian risotto)
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup grated sharp Italian cheese (asiago, parmesan, or pecorino are all great)
To prepare the dried porcinis, I put them in a sauce pan with 1/2 cup of chicken stock until they were hydrated and soft. To speed up the process, put them on the stove top over low heat and simmer for about ten minutes. Once they're soft, pull them out of the stock and roughly chop.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Not Your Typical Salad

I always need something sharp and fresh (like a salad or pickles) with my meal. It's probably because I grew up eating kimchi with every meal and I like the sharpness and acidity to cut the heaviness and greasiness of the other dishes.

I made a salad to go along with a mushroom risotto and tilapia (which I'll post on soon) and I like it because it's not your typical salad.

I started by making my own roasted bell pepper. I suggest you use a warm color pepper, i.e. yellow, orange, or red. Green bell peppers are crunchier and not as sweet so personally, I prefer those raw and not cooked.

To roast a bell pepper:

Friday, January 27, 2012

Spicy Kalbi Jjim

This recipe was an experiment gone v. v. RIGHT! I stumbled across some yelp reviews of a Korean restaurant that serves spicy kalbi jjim and thought to myself, "Hm, that sounds really delicious!" so I set out to try and make my own. Since I'd never tasted the dish before there was nothing to compare it to but I think my attempt was rather successful.

[serves 4]

2 lbs Korean short ribs (jjim kind, not the sliced kind you use for marinated kalbi)
4 or 5 cloves of garlic
4 cups water
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 cup Korean hot pepper paste
1 white radish (Korean kind preferable, daikon is a great substitute), chopped into big chunks
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
handful of mushrooms (I used baby bella, regular white mushrooms would be good too), roughly chopped
2 Korean hot peppers, roughly chopped, jalapeno would be a good substitute
1 cup chopped cabbage kimchi (optional)

I started off by simmering the ribs and garlic in a bit pot on low heat for about an hour until the meat was tender. I skimmed off any foam and fat that was floating on the surface.
To prepare the sauce, I mixed the soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, sugar, and hot pepper paste together.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

떡뽂이 - Ddukbokki / 라볶이 Rabokki

For an updated, slightly prettier version, click over to my cheese ddukbokki recipe.

Ddukbokki is a snack dish made with rice cake. Rabokki is ddukbokki with ramen noodles stirred in. There are variations on the sauce; I've had spicy-sweet, with Korean hot pepper paste as the base, and I've had salty-sweet, with soy sauce as the base. I prefer the spicy.

2 cups water
2 or 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/4 cup Korean hot pepper paste
4 tablespoons sugar
1/2 an 8 oz package of rice cakes (tube kind, not ovals; sometimes at the Korean market, you'll find fresh rice cake, which is so much better than the packaged kind)
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
2 pieces of Korean fish cake (odeng), roughly chopped
1/2 package of ramen noodles (Korean ramen noodles are best, the American kind doesn't have the same taste)

optional garnish:
1 egg, hard boiled
sesame seeds

** If you prefer your food less spicy, you can use 2 tablespoons of hot pepper paste and 2 tablespoons of ketchup instead.
Or if you want a completely non-spicy ddukbokki, you should abandon the fishcake and use beef (steak or stew meat cut up into little chunks) and use 1/4 cup soy sauce and 1/4 teaspoon of sesame oil instead of the hot pepper paste. Some more vegetables would be nice as well (like sliced carrots, broccoli, and/or squash). Maybe I will eventually do a post on this?

Before I start with the ddukbokki recipe, let me reveal my method for making the perfect hard boiled egg. My definition of a ruined hard boiled egg is that ugly green sulfur ring around the yolk and a horribly chalky center surrounded by rubbery whites (texture is way important to me!). The perfect hard boiled egg has a tender white with a lovely moist and bright yellow yolk.

Start the egg (or eggs) in a pot of cold water. The pot should be big enough so that the egg is (or eggs are) submerged completely. Put the pot on high heat and bring the water to a boil.
Once the water is boiling, pop a lid on the pot and turn off the heat.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Strawberry Shortcake

You will need:
2 layers of white cake
2 cups of strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup strawberry preserves
1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
3/4 cup Nilla Wafer cookies
2 ziploc bags

I started with my favorite white cake recipe (or you can take a little help from the Pillsbury Dough Boy).

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Easy Pasta - gemelli with sugar snap peas

10 minutes, 7 ingredients, serves 4.

1/2 lb gemelli pasta (or any short cut pasta; interesting tidbit, gemelli means twins - it looks like two intertwining tubes)
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced, caramelized
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon honey (optional)
1 cup sugar snap peas, cut into small pieces
1 cup grated Asiago cheese (you can use parmesan or any other salty, sharp Italian cheese)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  1. Cook and drain pasta (al dente)
  2. Cook onions in olive oil on low heat until brown and caramelized. Use honey to help speed up the caramelization process, or if the onions are not sweet enough
  3. Turn off the heat and add sugar snap peas and crushed red pepper flake
  4. Grate cheese
  5. Toss in pasta
  6. Add cheese and toss again
  7. Serve

Monday, January 23, 2012

육개장 - Yukgaejang

Yukgaejang is a spicy Korean soup. What makes it different from any other Korean spicy soup are a few particular ingredients: shredded beef, scallions, and glass noodles. It's so good on a cold winter day.

The thing I don't like about ordering yukgaejang in restaurants is that there are (usually) two other traditional ingredients, 토란대 (torandae, dried taro stems) and 고사리 (gosari, bracken) which I don't care for. Both remind me of worms and I'm not a fan of the texture (fibrous and hard to swallow). I don't like the shredded beef either. Usually, it's tough and chewy and I avoid eating it. That's why making food at home is so much better! You can cater to your personal tastes and create the perfect dish.

Here's my recipe (which serves 4):

4 Korean short ribs (the kind used for kalbi jjim) or you could use 1/2-lb beef brisket
10 cups of water
4 or 5 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons Korean hot red pepper flake
1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 Korean hot peppers, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
1/2 cup chopped white radish (Korean kind is preferable but daikon is a perfectly fine)
handful of glass noodles
1 bunch of scallions
1 egg

optional ingredients:
torandae, a.k.a. dried taro stems: if you want to add these, soak them overnight in water to rehydrate them
gosari, a.k.a. dried fern braken
bean sprouts (I would've added these but I didn't have any)
onion (I'm not a big fan of onion in soups because they get all mushy and I don't like the texture)

Typically, the soup is made using beef brisket which is boiled and then shredded but I opted to use short ribs because they get really tender when cooked properly, and it's much yummier. It takes a little more time because the stock needs some time to cook, but the reward is worth the wait.

I started by making the stock. I added the garlic and short ribs to a big pot of water and brought it to a boil.
Once the water came to a boil, I reduced the heat and let the stock simmer with the lid on for about an hour. Then I skimmed off the foam and grease that was floating on the top, put the lid back on, and let the stock continue simmering for another hour. I knew the stock was ready when I poked the meat with a fork and it was fall-apart-tender. And by then, most of the water had boiled off so that I was left with about half the liquid I had started with.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Molly's Cupcakes - NYC

Molly's Cupcakes is my new favorite cupcake place... in North America; Hummingbird Bakery in London is still my all time #1.

Located at 228 Bleecker St. (not far from Magnolia Bakery), this is Molly's second location (the first is in Chicago, which I haven't visited) and from my research, I've found that it's set up the same, with warm colors, the same swing-style seating at the counter, and games to play while you eat. A portion of their profits go to schools in their community, so if $3.75 sounds like too much for a cupcake, keep that little tidbit in mind.

Their website has the same precious and adorable homey style that their cupcakes have and it's definitely worth a visit.

I popped in on a Saturday night, for the first time ever, and instantly fell in love. The little laminated homemade labels describing the cupcakes were seriously cute and the store smelled amazing. They have amazing specialty filled cupcakes as well as regular unfrosted cupcakes, which you can personalize.

It took a bit of perusing and pondering but the three of us decided to pick three cupcakes to share. We settled on the pumpkin spice, which we thought would be a nice wintery treat, the creme brulee (which is my favorite dessert), and peach cobbler, because the fluffy cream sitting on top looked so inviting.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Mandu (mahn-dhu, 만두) are Korean dumplings. I love dumplings and I feel like everyone in the world must love dumplings because they are the universal food. The Chinese have pot stickers (or xiao long bao!), the Italians have ravioli, the Polish have pierogies, the Japanese have gyoza, there's Turkish manti, Indian samosas, Swedish pitepalt, British doughboys, the list goes on and on.

There are many different recipes but here's the one my sister and I prefer because it reminds us of our mom.

1 lb ground pork
3 scallions, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, grated
small handful of dangmyun (glass noodles)
1 egg
1 teaspoon soy sauce
14 oz. package of Korean dumpling wrappers (80 wrappers)

** 1/2 package of firm tofu, crumbled (which is an ingredient we actually didn't have in the house and didn't add to our filling but we definitely missed it)
*** You can also add in other flavorings, like chopped kimchi or vegetables (carrots, onions, cabbage) if you'd like

I grated the garlic and ginger (you could mince it very finely) so that no one would bite into their dumpling and find themselves overwhelmed by garlic and/or ginger.

I boiled some water and threw in a small handful of glass noodles. I only needed enough to make about a 1/2 cup of cooked noodles.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Flour Bakery's Sticky Buns

Here is the link to the Best Sticky Bun Recipe EVER!!! (plus a Video)
I don't want to rewrite the recipe because it's already pretty well-written so I'm just posting photo collages of my experience making these by hand (because I don't have a fancy KitchenAid mixer... yet).

I had the pleasure of visiting Flour Bakery in Boston a few summers ago and I finally worked up the motivation to make the sticky buns myself. I adjusted the recipe a bit (made half the brioche dough and used hazelnuts instead of pecans - because we had them at home).

The Dough (I made a half recipe, since the website says that the brioche dough recipe makes 2 batches of sticky buns)

The Goo

Friday, January 6, 2012

Jaengban Gooksoo

FYI, there's an updated version of this recipe that's a little prettier and easier to follow, if you're interested.

Jaengban gooksoo (tray noodles?) are one of my favorite summery dishes but during the holiday season, we'll get Korean pears from everyone (every Korean person) who visits our home so I'll make it in the winter too.

1 serving soba noodles (the soba noodles I buy usually are wrapped up in individual portions with paper and tape)
1 cup mixed baby greens
1 cup chopped romaine lettuce
1/2 bell pepper (I used yellow for the color), cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 Asian pear (or apple), cut into bite sized pieces
1 kirby cucumber, cut into bite sized pieces

** You can omit ingredients you don't like or add more vegetables (such as carrots or red onion) and you could add a protein, like hard boiled egg, diced chicken, shrimp, the sky is the limit.

2 tablespoons Korean hot pepper paste (if you want a spicy dressing) or 1 tablespoon soy sauce (if you want a non-spicy dressing)
few drops sesame oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar

Cook noodles, drain, rinse in cold water, and drain again. Toss immediately to prevent noodles from getting gummy. Serve and enjoy!

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Bibimbap is a Korean dish which means "mixed rice." It's one of my favorite foods (especially when made in a hot stone pot) but it's also a great dish to make, because like the kimbap, you can make it according to your own preferences and using whatever you have at home.

[Serves 4]

4 cups cooked rice (3 cups dry rice)
2 chicken thighs, cut into small chunks (or you could use pieces of beef or tofu)
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 zucchini cut into half moons
1/4 onion cut into little pieces
1 bunch of spinach, blanched
7 or 8 baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 cup of bean sprouts, blanched
4 eggs, 1 per person

**You can add any vegetables you think will taste good.

1/2 cup Korean hot pepper paste
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons apple juice
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

2 cups of water
1 teaspoon dried anchovies
2 or 3 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon Korea bean paste (or miso)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 package tofu
1 scallion, chopped up

I cooked the chicken in a frying pan with a bit of oil and added the soy sauce to the pan when the chicken was about halfway done.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


I remember living in Brooklyn and walking to the deli on the corner with my dad as a young child to get a breakfast bagel. New York/New Jersey bagels can't be beat. They're chewy, delicious, and amazing. Lender's and Thomas's can't compete.

It does take a bit of effort and time to make bagels at home but it's fun and delicious and the dough only requires only 5 ingredients, so why not?

Total time: 3 hours

3-1/2 cups of bread flour (more gluten means a chewier bagel)
1 package of dry yeast (2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons of sugar
1-1/2 cups warm water

1-1/2 gallons of water in a big pot
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sugar

1 egg
bagel toppings - I used sesame seeds but you can top it with whatever you like (poppy seeds, onion bits, etc.)
I combined the flour and salt in a bowl.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

I'm kicking off 2012 in Hawaii!!

My resolution this year: eat more! Most people pledge to diet and lose weight but that never works for me so this year I'm going to eat like I mean it.

Things I've never made but I'd like to try and make this year:
  1. soup dumplings (I already know this is going to be a lot of work and take a few days, but I think the reward will be worth it)
  2. croissants (my favorite French breakfast pastry)
  3. butter poached lobster (they're always poaching lobster on Iron Chef, I'd like to see what the big deal is)
  4. macarons (I joke with my sister that I'm awesome at making macarons with Cooking Mama for my Nintendo DSi; seriously though, I think this could be potentially an amazing project)
  5. homemade fresh mozzarella (I'm imagining a super fresh caprese salad in the summer time)
  6. tamales (my coworker brought me some for lunch one day and they were amazing)
  7. crème brûlée (I'll need to buy a torch)
  8. pho (I'm wondering how difficult it would be to make this at home...)
  9. carpaccio (I recently bought a meat pounder)
  10. risotto (this one might take some practice)
Dishes I LOVE and have made lots of times before but I still need to blog about:

  1. spaghetti carbonara (makes me think about my trip to Rome with my good friend, Diana)
  2. thai red curry (creamy, delicious, and you can control the amount of fat/oil when you make it at home)
  3. fake Indian food (I say fake because try as I might, it doesn't taste as authentic at home; but it still tastes good)
  4. chicken pita and falafels (the tzatziki is the best part and my biggest excuse for wanting to make Greek food)
  5. summer rolls (it's more delicious and more cost effective to make these at home)
And of course, I have plenty more posts for the many many Korean dishes I love.

Now for a few of my favorite Instagram shots of food...

empty dishes are the best indicator that a meal was delicious       
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