Friday, June 29, 2012

Fig & Goat Cheese Tartlets

This is a difficult recipe to put together, not because of the execution but because fresh figs are v. difficult to come by. Their season is short and they spoil rather quickly. However, if you happen to stumble across them at the market, like I did, and you're a fan of the sweet/savory combo, then this recipe is a perfect way to use them.

Ingredients [makes 9 tartlets]
5 figs
1 sheet puff pastry, or 9 puff pastry shells or mini pie crusts (dough, not graham cracker)
1/2 vidalia onion, or any sweet onion like mayan sweet or texas sweet, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoons olive oil + extra for drizzling
goat cheese - small 4 oz package works great
fresh ground black pepper
*optional: Serrano ham (if you leave this out, the dish is vegetarian)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar + 2 or 3 teaspoons additional for figs and onions

**If you don't have fresh figs available, fig preserves will work just as well - just use about 1 teaspoon per tartlet.

To prepare the figs, I give the stem a quick twist to remove it and then cut them in half. Preheat the oven to 400F and then roast them on a sheet pan (after sprinkling with a little olive oil and brown sugar) in the broiler (if you have one) for about 20 minutes. You don't want shriveled little messes but what you're looking for is a brown interior and crisp, golden edges. Now, since you'll have 10 fig halves and only 9 tartlets to fill, this is a good opportunity to have a snack.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Spicy Kalbi

This is another "on a whim" recipe, like when I made the spicy kalbi jjim. It's easy and delicious and great for a summer barbecue because kalbi is great for cooking on the grill. Just be aware that it will cook up fast and there's a ton of sugary ingredients in the marinade that will burn if you let them.

1 lb kalbi
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup hot pepper paste
1 tablespoon hot pepper flakes
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
optional: onion
optional: hot pepper
**This recipe is easily doubled, tripled, quadrupled, even!
Start by mixing together the marinade: garlic, hot pepper paste, hot pepper flakes, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Yes, it is a v. thick marinade.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Italian Style Omelet

After making those pizzas (which I blogged about a week ago), I had a bunch of leftover ingredients so one morning, I threw it all into an omelet.

Ingredients [serves 2]:
3 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 cup baby spinach, roughly chopped
1/4 lb prosciutto, cut into strips
3 or 4 sun dried tomatoes, cut into strips
fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes (I used one big ball but you could use the tiny bocconcini)
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil

Start by whisking the eggs and milk. Then add in the spinach, prosciutto, sun dried tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella and stir. Heat up a large skillet (I like using a teflon pan for obvious reasons) and add in enough olive oil to coat the pan (usually about 1 teaspoon for me). Then pour in the omelet mixture and use a spoon to spread out the ingredients evenly and then sprinkle with black pepper. Cook for a few minutes over medium heat until the edges start to firm up. Cover the pan with a lid or piece of aluminum foil, lower the heat, and let it cook for another 5 minutes until the egg is completely cooked through. Be careful not to overcook the omelet.
Slide the omelet onto a plate and serve. The cheese should be perfectly melted, the spinach should be wilted, and the prosciutto should be crisp. This hearty breakfast will keep you sated until lunch time.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Peach Cobbler

After finishing up my sister's berry cobbler, I decided to make a peach cobbler using a bag of frozen peaches and the Pioneer Woman's cobbler dough recipe.

1 lb frozen peaches
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
and just follow PW's instructions for the dough.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Baby Sister's Cobbler

After looking at the Pioneer Woman's blackberry cobbler, I decided I really really really wanted cobbler so my sister made me one! Isn't she so sweet? She used some frozen berries (which I also use in my green smoothies) and made some delicious and subtly sweet homemade whipped cream to go with it.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Spicy Octopus Stirfry (낙지볶음 Nakji Bokkeum)

I also have an updated recipe with prettier photos, if you're interested!

A huge huge huge warning before you read the rest of this post. If octopus/squid/tentacled creatures make you squeamish, I urge you to be aware that there are some pretty ugly photos in this post. If you're not squeamish and you love nakji bokkeum or ohjinguh bokkeum (squid), throw caution to the wind and read on because this recipe is yummy.

Ingredients [serves 4]:
1-1/4 lb octopus or calamari - I used little tiny octopi, 쭈꾸미 (jjoo-ggoo-mee)
2 or 3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons hot pepper flakes
1 tablespoon hot pepper paste
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/2 sweet onion
1/2 bell pepper
1 hot pepper (if you don't mind the extra spice)
*optional: 1 cup of wheat noodles or udon or any noodle you like
*also optional: 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
This is why I had to give the warning at the beginning of the post. Doesn't this look like some sort of freaky monster?!?!?! Preparing octopus is a pretty annoying task. With these little guys, you really don't have to do too much cleaning but I did anyway because the idea of eating the beak (yes, this scary little thing has a beak) and the ink sac (oh boy...) just grossed me out too much. What I did was cut off the tentacles and then cut them in half just to make it a bite-size piece. Then I chopped off the area with the eyes, where the beak is stored, and tossed that out. If that seems wasteful to you, you can sort of do a little squeezing and the beak will pop out, kind of like a pimple (GROSS!). Then, I pull the little ball thingy out of its bulbous "brain" area but v. carefully because otherwise the ink sac can pop and make a mess. There are tons of sites on the interweb that go much more into detail about cleaning these so I suggest you go there for more help if my instructions seem terrible to you.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Fancy Pizza

And this is a fancier pizza made, again using my pizza dough recipe.

I started by drizzling on some olive oil, and brushing it all over the surface. Then I cracked fresh black pepper over the surface, added fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced prosciutto, sun dried tomatoes, and caramelized onions. Then I baked it at 400 degrees just until the mozzarella melted and the edges of the prosciutto became crispy. Then I sprinkled it with fresh basil while it was still hot out of the oven.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Supreme Pizza

Here is a "supreme pizza" made using my pizza dough recipe, minus the olives because I don't much care for olives.

After pre-baking the crust (just so it wouldn't get soggy), I put on a little marinara sauce, sprinkled on some garlic & wine seasoning (which I "borrowed" from the Melting Pot), sprinkled on some shredded mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, and bell peppers, brushed the crust with olive oil, and then topped it with blanched broccoli florets (cut up into tiny baby florets). Then I baked it in the oven at 400 degrees, just to melt the cheese and cook the onions.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bibim NaengMyun (비빔냉면)

Bibim naengmyun is the perfect summer dish because it is really refreshing. It's a bowl of cold, chewy noodles that are mixed in a spicy sweet sauce, served with lots of cold cucumbers and pear slices. It's also the perfect summer dish because there's virtually zero time spent slaving over a hot stove or oven. All you need is boiling water for the noodles - which cook up really quick, 4 or 5 minutes, tops - and a blender.

Ingredients [serves 4]
1 lb naengmyun noodles
2 kirby cucumbers
1 pear - asian pears are preferable but bose pears work too (and they're readily available in most markets)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 tablespoons hot pepper paste (gochujang)
3 tablespoons hot pepper flakes (gochugaru)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 scallions
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
1/4 cup of corn syrup (or you could just use white sugar)
pinch of salt (to taste)
2 hard boiled eggs (optional)

Here are what the naengmyun noodles look like. They are brown and thin - probably somewhere between thin spaghetti and angelhair pasta. It's usually made from potato and sweet potato starch and buckwheat flour and they are really chewy. As a kid, my parents would worry I'd choke on the noodles since my young jaws had a hard time chewing them up. I sincerely doubt you can find these in a regular grocery store so if you want to make naengmyun, you'll have to take a special trip to the Korean market.
Boil the noodles for four to five minutes until they're cooked (which you can test by tasting them). Then run them under cold water until they're no longer hot and then soak them in ice cold water until you're ready to dress them. The hot to cold shock makes them chewier (according to my grandma).

Monday, June 18, 2012

Malibu Mojitos

Summer is here, isn't it? The blazing hot weather makes me crave refreshing drinks, and sometimes I want alcoholic refreshing drinks. Mojitos are one of my favorite libations because they taste super fresh from the mint and bubbles.
Ingredients [per drink]:
2 shots of Malibu or just plain clear rum if that's what you have on hand (though, this is a Malibu mojito recipe)
1 lime wedge
1 teaspoon sugar or simple syrup**
2 or 3 mint leaves
3/4 cup of tonic water or sparkling water
frozen berries *optional

**Simple syrup is just equal parts water and sugar that's heated over a gentle heat just until all of the sugar is dissolved. It's the best option if you prefer a sweeter cocktail because adding too much granulated sugar means it most likely will not completely dissolve in the cocktail and you'll end up with a gritty drink. However, I do like how the sugar acts as an abrasive and really helps coax a lot of flavor and aroma out of the mint leaves. That being said, if you prefer a sweeter cocktail, start with just a sprinkle of sugar to muddle with the mint leaves and then add in simple syrup to taste.

Muddle the sugar and mint leaves and then squeeze in a lime wedge and just drop that wedge in the bottom of the glass. Then add in the Malibu and tonic water and give it a quick stir. Garnish with the frozen berries - which I use instead of ice - and serve! The hint of coconut gives this cocktail a nice tropical vibe and it's really refreshing on a summer evening. Oh, and the longer the cocktail sits, the prettier and more pink it will become.

Friday, June 15, 2012


Have you ever seen Flight of the Conchords, either the show or the music duo? There's a song they have, "Most Beautiful Girl in the Room" where they mention kebabs, and I just love the way they pronounce it (the New Zealand way, I guess). So I no longer say "kuh-bob" but instead I say "keh-bab." Anyway, kebabs are a great summer meal because they're a great way to use fresh summer veggies and the grill.

Ingredients [serves 4]
1 bell pepper
1 zucchini
1 container mushrooms
1 red onion
1 lime, juiced (or you could use orange juice or lemon juice, any kind of citrus)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
handful of parsley
+1/2 lb of beef per person, IF you want. This recipe is totally vegan/vegetarian otherwise.
+2 cloves of garlic, chopped

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Indian Feast Part 6: Red Onion Chutney

This is my last post in my Indian Feast "series." It's my favorite condiment at Indian restaurants, red onion chutney. It's a spicy pickled onion and it's really refreshing and it adds a punch of flavor to anything you add it to. I have a suspicion that the reason I love it so much is that it reminds me of kimchi, not because of the taste, but just because it's something kind of acidic that helps refresh your palate when you're eating something heavy or greasy.

1 red onion, diced
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon grated ginger
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
Dump all of the ingredients together into a bowl.
Stir, and let it sit and pickle for 1 hour at room temperature. Any longer than 1 hour and it should be moved to the refrigerator.
After pickling, the onions should have given off a lot of juice. Give it a taste - it should be sweet and spicy. Just know that the longer it sits, the spicier it will get from the cayenne.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Indian Feast Part 5: Shrimp Vindaloo

Shrimp vindaloo is one of my favorite Indian dishes because it's super spicy. Vindaloo is usually the hottest curry dish available in most Indian restaurants and most of the time it has potatoes in it. The potatoes thicken the sauce and I think originally, they were added to the dish to add a bit of substance, since chefs couldn't be as generous with the amount of meat due to its price tag.

Ingredients [serves 2]:
1/2 lb shrimp (or chicken or lamb, if you prefer)
3 cups cubed potatoes (I used yukon gold)
1/2 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, split (optional)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (adjust to your spicyness preference)
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon grated ginger
3/4 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 to 2 tablespoons oil (I used olive oil)
14.5 oz can of petite diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup boiling water
squeeze of lemon juice

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Indian Feast Part 4: Chicken Makhani

Chicken Makhani, also known as butter chicken, is a really common "beginner" Indian dish because of how mild and familiar the flavor palate is. This dish, though slightly time consuming because of the marinating time and multiple steps, is delicious and worth the effort. This recipe can serve 4 people.

Chicken Marinade Ingredients:
2 lbs boneless chicken, cut into chunks (I used thighs because I like dark meat, it's more moist)
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 cup plain yogurt (I used greek yogurt)
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon turmeric
3 cloves garlic, grated
1-1/2 tablespoons grated ginger
bamboo or wooden skewers

Sauce Ingredients:
1/2 stick of butter (4 tablespoons)
1 cinnamon stick
pinch of cloves
pinch of cardamom
8 cloves garlic, grated
1 tablespoons grated ginger
14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons of almonds
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 teaspoons sugar
2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup heavy cream
**optional: cayenne pepper if you want the sauce to be spicy
Start by marinating the chicken in lemon juice, salt, and cayenne pepper. This should marinate for 20 minutes. The acidity of the lemon juice helps to tenderize the meat.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Indian Feast Part 3: Vegetable Samosas

Samosas are usually deep fried but I took a shortcut by making them with puff pastry and just baking them in the oven.

1 potato (I used yukon gold)
1/4 cup green peas
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
1 sheet of puff pastry
1/2 teaspoon lime juice

**This dish isn't vegan because there is butter in the puff pastry but you could use vegan puff pastry and then this dish is totally vegan.
Start by cubing the potato - small enough that you can later use them to fill a samosa. Then add in the peas, salt, and garam masala and get it over medium heat. Add in the water, stir, cover the pot with a lid, and then let it cook for about 10 minutes until the water has evaporated and the potatoes are cooked through.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Indian Feast Part 2: Basmati Rice

Basmati rice is a long grain rice grown in India (and also Pakistan and Bangladesh) that has a really lovely fragrance. It's readily available in my market in the regular rice section next to the white rice, brown rice, jasmine rice, etc. I've seen it cooked a few ways, some techniques involve soaking the rice and some don't. I find that soaking the rice pretty much guarantees that the rice will be fluffy and the integrity of the individual grains is maintained. But, if you're a risk taker, you can skip the soaking.

**HUGE note! I did not use basmati rice because we didn't have any left in the pantry. I ended up using a medium grain rice, but I went through the same process to make the rice. Sorry!!! This post is somewhat misleading.

1-1/2 cups basmati rice
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)
When the rice has been soaked for half an hour, it will look whiter and more opaque.
If you've soaked your rice, add just enough water to cover the grains plus 1 cm more on top. If you didn't soak your rice, use 2 cups of water.
Add salt.
And fennel seeds, if you like. I happen to like the flavor the fennel seeds add but it's just my preference. I don't think this is something that happens in traditional Indian cooking. Set on the stove over low heat and cook for 15 minutes until the rice is cooked through.
What you should be left with is lovely fluffy rice.
Next up: Part 3, samosas.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Indian Feast, Part 1: Naan

Naan is a flatbread, leavened with yeast and in Indian cooking, it's baked in a tandoor, which is a huge clay oven. I don't own a tandoor, and I don't know many people who do, but it's possible to make naan at home using a cast iron pan. Some people recommend a pizza stone, but I think it's more difficult to work with a hot oven like that since the naan needs to be flipped quickly and only takes a bit of time to bake. It's delicious and one of my favorite things about eating Indian food because it's the best vessel for absorbing leftover curry sauces. Anyway, here's how I make mine.

Ingredients [serves/yields 4]:
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp yeast
1/3 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon oil (I used olive oil)
3 teaspoons yogurt
+ 2 tablespoons melted butter (not pictured, my bad!)
Start by blooming the yeast in the warm water. The water should NOT be hotter than 110 degrees or you will kill the yeast and the dough will not rise. I like to dissolve the sugar first and then sprinkle the yeast on top and give it a quick stir. I like to use "quick rise" yeast because it really is much quicker. You don't need to wait as long for the dough to rise.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Garam Masala

Over the Memorial Day weekend, I did have more "traditional" food like burgers and pasta salad and kebabs but my sister and I also spent a whole day making a huge Indian feast. Many curry recipes call for a spice mixture called garam masala. You can buy some already blended (like from McCormick) but we decided to make our own. In Hindi, "garam" means "hot" and "masala" means "mixture." It's a blend of ground spices that's common in Indian cooking and the ratio of spices varies from household to household. It's easy enough to blend in a spice grinder, if you have one. Or you can cheat and use pre-ground spices like I did.

What you'll need:
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

The amount of cayenne pepper you use will dictate how spicy your garam masala is so you can adjust the amount to your liking. And you'll notice that everything is in teaspoons but if you want to make a huge amount, the ratio is fairly simple so you can adjust it how you like; double it or change it to tablespoons, what have you.
It took a lot of turns on the pepper grinder, but I did manage to get 2 tsp of coarse black pepper. Then I just dumped in the rest of the spices and gave it a quick whisk to combine.
To store the spices, I put them in a little glass jar, which I got from Ikea ($1 each), to keep them fresh.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Cucumber Kimchi (oi kimchi/오이 김치)

I love oi kimchi, a.k.a. cucumber kimchi in the summer time. It's really crisp and refreshing. However, though it isn't time consuming to actually make it, you do have to wait for the cucumbers to pickle before you can indulge. The other night, I was craving oi kimchi and I wanted them instantly so I put this together. Admittedly though, the taste isn't a perfect match for the real deal, but it's a great shortcut for impatient people like me.

2 kirby cucumbers *
1/4 cup salt - I like coarse kosher salt for pickling recipes
2 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)
1 tablespoon Korean fish sauce **
1 tablespoon sugar
1 scallion
slice of red onion

* Why kirby cucumbers? Because they make the best pickles.
** Pretty much every Asian country makes its own version of fish sauce. Korean fish sauce is anchovy based, super salty - much saltier than Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce - and is used in making kimchi.
Here's what my fish sauce looks like:

Monday, June 4, 2012

Buttermilk Pancakes

During the week, I don't have the time or energy to put together a fancy breakfast so I usually stick to my green smoothies and a piece of fruit. However, since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, even on weekends when sleeping in is the most welcome idea, I like to make something a little more "high brow." Pancakes are quick and easy and pretty universally liked. To be honest, I actually used to DESPISE pancakes because my family always had a box of Aunt Jemima in the pantry and we'd always have pancakes for breakfast on Sunday and frankly, I got sick of them. They tasted so eggy and flat and I swear the mix absorbed the cardboard-y taste of the box it was packaged in.

But, after my 5 year pancake hiatus, I rediscovered them at a diner last year and decided I loved fresh, non-box-mix pancakes. I think pancakes made from scratch just taste so much better. And seriously, they're so easy. These pancakes are super fluffy and amazing, and I swear you'll never want to use a box mix ever again.

Ingredients [serves 4, or 2 ravenous people]:
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons milk
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
**And as you can see, the ratios in this mix are pretty easily doubled and halved.
Start by combining the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Chipotle Pork Roast

I love chipotle peppers! They're smoked jalapenos that are usually canned in a kind of sweet adobo sauce and they're spicy and full of flavor. This recipe is just something I ended up putting together because I wanted chipotle peppers and I found pork roast in the market on sale ($4 for a 2 lb roast). Plus, I wanted a protein to accompany the redneck spaghetti that I was also making.

Ingredients [serves 4 to 6]
2 lb pork roast (I used a pork loin, but pork shoulder a.k.a. pork butt would also be great but those are usually huge, 5 to 7 lbs, so you'll have to adjust the amount of sauce ingredients to accommodate that sucker)
7 oz. can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1/2 onion
3 or 4 cloves of garlic
2 cups Coca Cola (I used Mexican Coke, which is made using cane sugar, not corn syrup)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
olive oil
salt & pepper
Roughly chop up the onions and crush and peel the garlic. I crush the garlic with my knife and the skin pops off super easily. It's also a good way to get out your frustrations.
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