Monday, December 31, 2012

Kimchi Mandu

I've got an updated step-by-step kimchi mandu post, if you're interested!

In January, I posted about mandu, Korean dumplings. Today, I'm sharing a recipe page for kimchi mandu. On Christmas, my sister and I sat down and made a huge batch of kimchi dumplings to prepare for New Year's Day, when Korean people eat dduk guk - rice cake soup, except we like dduk mandu guk (dduk guk with dumplings). And in our house, buying mandu is not allowed! We have to make our own.

So here's a shot of the filling.
And here's a shot of me making some mandu.

Friday, December 28, 2012

(Salted) Caramel Sauce

The salty and sweet combo seems to be really trendy these days, especially in cupcake shops. Personally, I love a good salted caramel because my sweet tooth is on the smaller side so I like that the salt cuts down the cloyingly sweet caramel but also helps bring out its flavors.

Today, I'm sharing a recipe for a super easy caramel sauce. It's pretty fool-proof (because you do not need a candy thermometer) but it is still impressive. This sauce would be great as an ice cream topping or sandwiched between some macarons, or as a substitute for frosting, which is how I used it over the weekend.

Ingredients [makes about 1/4 cup of caramel sauce]
1/3 cup granulated sugar (I used vanilla sugar, so if you see little brown flecks in the photo diary below, it's bits of vanilla bean)
1/4 cup heavy cream (the amount of cream you use will dictate how thick or thin your sauce is so if you want something more loose, with a consistency that can be drizzled use a bit more cream, up to 1/2 cup)
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
Okay, so first, I started by baking some mini cupcakes, using my wooden spoon chocolate cake recipe.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas 2012

I had a really lovely holiday, and I hope all you Christmas-celebrators did as well. No recipe today, just a few photos.

For dinner, we (my sister and I) made prime rib (medium) with parsley chimichurri, frisee salad, wild rice pilaf, creamy spinach, sweet corn, and accordion potatoes. I'll be sharing recipes for the prime rib, creamy spinach, and accordion potatoes soon.
For Christmas, I got myself these cute chocolate-dipped strawberry measuring cups and spoons. They're ceramic so I have to be super gentle with them but I thought they were just so cute. I got them off of Hautelook but they are also available from Boston Warehouse. I also got a cute rhino butter dish and magnetic clips for the fridge.
And, I received this Indian cookbook from my baby sister. I'm super excited to use this book because (like my sister said) it's good to have a cookbook that I'll actually use, since making Indian cuisine is pretty unfamiliar to me.
Lastly, I'd like to share my favorite holiday drink: Moscato d'Asti. It's a super super sweet white dessert wine and it tastes like juice. Cupcake is a great brand because it's sparkling moscato but I also love Voga.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Penne with Sausage and Pink Sauce

I haven't sorted through my Christmas (eve & day) photos yet so I'll just post a dish I made a few weeks ago. This was an "UGH, I don't really feel like cooking, what do we have in the fridge?" type of spontaneous meal. I didn't plan on blogging it because I didn't know what the end result would be (or whether it would be worthwhile) but it ended up being really delicious so I'll post a few photos and give you the recipe page, in case you want to try it out.

1/2 lb penne rigate (penne with lines, or you could use any short cut pasta you prefer)
salt for the pasta water
1 link of hot sausage and 2 links of sweet sausage
5 to 6 mushrooms, sliced
1/2 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups roughly chopped kale
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup vodka sauce (or regular tomato sauce, we always have a store bought bottle in our pantry)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese.
I decided to call this pink sauce because the vodka sauce and cream mixed together looked pink.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Christmas!

This is a scheduled post so as I write this, I have no idea what we are eating this year for Christmas. But, I will share last year's plate and wish you a Happy Christmas! If you do not celebrate Christmas, then I take that back and wish you Happy Holidays instead.

Last year, we had a lovely rare prime rib roast, roasted vegetables, green beans with bacon, rice pilaf, and mashed potatoes.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Safe Cooking Temperatures

Hello and Happy Christmas Eve!

I am cooking up a feast tonight and tomorrow night and every year, I end up having to Google safe minimum cooking temperatures for roasts and birds and all that jazz so I decided to make a drawing to keep posted in my kitchen and thought it might be nice to share with you all. These temperatures are from and it's important to make sure you cook all of your food appropriately. Getting sick (especially during the holidays) from improperly cooked food is a pretty miserable experience so stay safe.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Oozy Yolk

Happy Friday! And congratulations for making it through the end of the world, or whatever! I have a four day weekend coming up (because of Christmas) which has put me in an incredible mood.

I just wanted to share something kind of fun and lighthearted (not that my posts are ever dark and ominous). I was born in New York City and halfway through grammar school I moved to New Jersey so I like to think I'm an expert at breakfast sandwiches. And to me, the taylor ham, egg, and cheese sandwich (with pepper and ketchup) is king. So, to honor that lovely, lovely sandwich, I drew this little cartoon (on my iPad). And perhaps, a blog post will follow some time in the future.
Whatever religion you practice (or don't practice), I just want to say happy and healthy holidays!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Eggs Benedict

I love a good, hearty breakfast and eggs benedict is definitely high on my list. I don't make it often but when I do, I go all out and whip up a small batch of Hollandaise sauce and everything.

Ingredients [serves 1 but this recipe is easily increased]:
1 english muffin
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
pinch of salt
pinch of cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small chunks
2 pieces of bacon (Canadian bacon is the traditional route but I prefer regular bacon) - or you could use lox
scallions or parsley for garnish
+ a little white vinegar for poaching the egg (not pictured)
Start with the easy stuff first, like cooking the bacon. I like to just place on a foil-lined baking sheet and then shove in the broiler for 6 to 8 minutes (flipping halfway through), but I like crispy bacon. If you're a limp bacon fan, I'd put the oven on 350 and cook for 5 to 7 minutes (also flipping halfway through).

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Lemon Blueberry Bread

This recipe for lemon blueberry bread isn't really bread. It's more like a dense cake in the shape of bread. I feel like when people make things like this, it's because they want to feel better about their diet. "It's not cake, it's bread. Bread is definitely more healthy than cake. God. Cake? For breakfast? What am I, in fifth grade? I'm having bread." Whatever. My lemon blueberry bread/cake in the shape of bread is delicious. It's great warm. It's great at room temperature. It's awesome reheated in a little frying pan with butter.

Ingredients [makes two 4.5" mini loaves or one 9" loaf]
1-1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 stick butter, softened at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup blueberries
+ 1/4 cup powdered sugar
+ 1 teaspoon lemon juice
Start by combining the cake flour, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest in a small bowl. Use a whisk to mix it all together. Oh, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Lotus Root Side Dish (연근조림)

I'm posting about another slightly "exotic" dish today; I did a post on a burdock side dish last week and now I'm writing about lotus root (연근, yun-geun). The lotus is a beautiful plant with a lovely flower usually grown in water gardens, often misnomered as "water lily." The entire plant is edible. The stamens, leaves, and petals can be dried and made into a tea, the petals are often used as a pretty and colorful garnish, the leaves are used as wraps (like a lettuce wrap), and the young roots are also eaten - and that's what I'll be posting about today.

If you're wondering why you should try lotus root, you should know that they're actually quite good for you. They have lots of fiber, potassium, manganese, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C, thiamin, phosphorus, and other good things. Taste-wise, they are v. neutral so they soak up the flavors of spices and seasonings well. The texture is similar to water chestnuts except a bit denser. Maybe it's better to describe it as similar to a raw potato? But if you do stumble upon a package of lotus roots, maybe this post will encourage you to try them.

연근조림 (yun geun jo reem) is a Korean side dish made by boiling the lotus root in a mixture of soy sauce and either sugar or corn syrup. If you are cool and awesome and not lazy then you will buy raw, unprocessed lotus root (which looks kind of like if a radish and a banana had a baby) but I buy boiled and sliced lotus roots packed in water from the Asian grocery store because it's easier (re: I am lazy). Also, whole lotus root must be peeled and sliced and then kept in water to prevent oxidation and then you have to use some vinegar to help draw out the bitterness... it's just this whole to-do that I am just not willing to deal with when I am making dinner on a weeknight after a 10 hour workday.

So, this recipe is specifically for the packaged lotus root and it is quick (less than 10 minutes) vs. the recipe for raw lotus root which would take almost an hour.

1-1/2 lb package of boiled lotus root (packed in water)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon vegetable oil (for cooking)
Start by mixing the soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and crushed garlic together.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Chocolate Pie

Last weekend I was craving something sweet, but not too sweet, rich but not heavy, and decadent yet comforting. What did I come up with? I decided to make a chocolate (chess) pie. What is chess pie? It's a Southern specialty that uses cornmeal (and sometimes corn syrup) in the filling instead of flour. The function of the cornmeal (or flour) is to thicken the filling.

I ended up with my recipe after reading a few recipes from Southern cooks for ingredient inspiration and then went my own way by using heavy cream instead of milk that most pie recipes called for. Even though I wanted something that wasn't too heavy, a lightbulb went off in my head with the heavy cream, which you will see below in the photo diary. It's a delicious recipe that would make a lovely treat for any of the holiday parties you have coming up.

Ingredients [makes 9" pie]:
1 pre-made pie crust (make it yourself or just buy a frozen one like me)
1/2 cup dark chocolate or bittersweet chocolate chips - I used 60% cacao
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 large eggs
Start by docking the pie crust all over using a fork and blind baking it in a 350 oven for 8 to 10 minutes. The crust should be baked through but still pale. While the crust is baking (and then cooling) you can assemble the filling.

Friday, December 14, 2012

San Juan Food

I was in San Juan last month and I considered doing posts on each restaurant but 1) I am way too lazy (I'm sorry but it's almost the end of the year and I am in relax mode) and 2) I didn't take any incredible photos of the food. So, I'll just link you over to my travels blog where I've already done a post on the food we enjoyed on holiday.

I'll just share one photo from a meal we had at Metropol, right near our hotel. It's chicken stuffed with yucca and congri rice. The chicken was good, but not spectacular; however, the rice was amazing. I need to get try and recreate it! If you don't know, congri rice is rice cooked with black beans and it's flavorful, delicious, nutritious, and wonderful.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Egg Pinwheels (계란 말이)

계란 말이, gae-ran ma-ree, is a Korean side dish made from egg. It's like a rolled up omelet that is cut into pinwheels. It's kind of like the lazy mom banchan (side dish) because it's so quick and easy but it's a good kid-friendly source of protein.

2 eggs
1/4 cup cream (or milk or half-and-half)
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon vegetable oil (or more for cooking)
Start by mixing all of the ingredients together. I love the second frame in the photo below because it looks like a smiley face!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Burdock Side Dish

Hello! It's 12/12/12! And it's the last time something like this is going to happen in most of our lifetimes, which is sad but makes today extra special (because the next time it happens will be 01/01/01... that's the year 2101). Anyway, today I'm sharing a recipe for a burdock side dish.

Burdock, which sounds like some sort of magic witch's potion ingredient, is a root that can be peeled and eaten. My mom used to make us this banchan (side dish) of burdock with soy sauce and sugar, which is similar to how the Japanese prepare it, except I think they also add in some sake. The texture is a bit difficult for me to describe but I'd say it's like a hybrid of bamboo shoots and water chestnuts.

The root itself can be cumbersome to prepare because it needs to be scrubbed clean of dirt and then the skin needs to be scraped off. However, you can find already peeled and shredded burdock, which is packed in water, in most Asian grocery stores. Though the texture is a bit softer and less crisp than fresh burdock, it's still yummy. This recipe was the first time I used prepared burdock and I have to say, it was just so easy, I don't know that I ever want to go back to doing it myself.

2 cups burdock (cut into matchsticks)
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
sesame seeds for garnish
Start by preparing the burdock. I drained the package into a colander and then rinsed with cold water.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Jjajangmyun (짜장면)

I'm so excited about this post! I'm finally sharing my recipe for jjajangmyun, or noodles with black bean sauce, which is probably the most popular dish in Korea. Jjajangmyun is a Chinese/Korean hybrid dish, created by Chinese immigrants in Korea in the early 1900s. Koreans prepare the dish a bit differently, using Korean black bean paste (chunjang). The best thing about jjajangmyun (in my opinion) are the hand pulled noodles, which is why I prefer going out over making the dish myself since I don't have the skill to make the noodles.

There are different types of jjajang sauce, which you might see when you go to a jjajangmyun restaurant. There's the default sauce, which is usually made with pork, but some places offer a seafood version (삼선짜장면, sam-sun jjajangmyun), a vegetarian version, and even a "fire" version (불짜장면, bool jjajangmyun, which is super spicy). The fire version is usually served with the sauce on the side so that the patron can portion out the sauce according to how much spice he or she can handle. You could potentially ask for any version with the sauce on the side, which is referred to as "간짜장면," or gan jjajangmyun.

There is also 짜장밥, or jjajangbahp, which is rice (Korean sticky rice) with jjajang sauce on top and even 짜장떡볶이, jjajang ddukbokki, which is rice cakes made with the jjajang sauce. And, for those of you in a hurry, there is a ramen version; the two brands I know (and have tried) are "Chapaghetti" which is made by Nong Shim and "Chacharoni" which is made by Sam Yang. The difference between the two? Taste-wise, not much of a difference but Chapaghetti comes with a brown powder and oil (which become the jjajang sauce) and Chacharoni comes with a brown paste instead.

Today, I'm sharing the default pork version, but if you are a vegetarian, you can omit the pork and just make sure the chunjang or jjajang you are using doesn't contain any meat.

Ingredients [serves 4]:
4 servings of jjajangmyun noodles, fresh preferably*
1/3 cup black bean paste (jjajang) - this is a specialty ingredient that is typically not sold in a normal American grocery store so you will have to go to an Asian market for this one
2 cups water + 1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced potato (1 small potato)
1/2 cup diced zucchini (about 1 zucchini)
1/2 cup diced pork (about 2 thin-sliced pork chops)**
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon + 1 teaspoon vegetable oil

*I think the udon noodles, made by Nasoya, are a great substitute if you can't find jjajangmyun noodles and are probably available in your local grocery store. In my market, I found them near the tofu and were shelved next to the fresh wonton wrappers.
**I used pork chops because they were on sale but you could use pork belly or even the meat off of pork ribs, whatever you like. Or you can substitute in seafood if you prefer.
Start by preparing the vegetables and chopping up the meat. I cut everything into little pieces, about 1/2" or smaller.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sprouts Side Dish (숙주 나물)

숙주 나물, sook-joo na-mul, are mung bean sprouts, not to be confused with 콩나물, kong na-mul, which are soybean sprouts. The two are quite similar in flavor and texture except that soy bean sprouts have a little yellow bean at the end of each sprout. Mung bean sprouts are quite nutritious and contain calcium and potassium and iron, as well as Vitamins A, B, C, and E, plenty of fiber, and are cholesterol-free. Soybean sprouts have a similar nutritional profile. And when you are shopping for either of these, look for sprouts that are nice and white from top to tail; browning is an indication that they are already starting to spoil. Don't smush or crush the sprouts when you're bagging your groceries and get them in the refrigerator as soon as you get home. The sprouts will probably start to get kind of slimy after four or five days, but they are still usable. However, if you haven't used the sprouts after about a week, they'll start to turn translucent, the thin tails will turn brown, and they'll start giving off a lot of liquid. At that point, you should just throw them out.

This recipe is a really easy Korean-style side dish, which is served at most Korean restaurants because it's easy but delicious. And actually, this type of seasoning is an easy way to make any vegetable taste Korean, which I'm sure I've mentioned before. Sesame oil, sesame seeds, some sort of pungent onion/garlicky flavor (in the form of scallions or garlic), and salt are the four ingredients that will transform sauteed carrots or blanched greens (spinach and watercress are two good examples) into a Korean-y side dish.

2 cups bean sprouts (mung or soy)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1 scallion, chopped
sesame seeds (optional garnish)
Start by blanching the sprouts. Boil water, add sprouts, leave them for about one minute, and then drain and rinse in cold water immediately.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Chinese-style Baby Back Ribs

So this recipe was inspired by two things: 1/2 racks of baby back ribs were on sale at the grocery store AND I wasn't in the mood for normal barbecue sauce. So, I decided to make a glaze-type of sauce using the flavors I enjoy in Chinese food, like soy sauce and orange and garlic. I think my best recipes are created from my weird cravings. The best thing about this recipe is that it's finished in under an hour, which I think is pretty impressive for ribs. But don't worry, they'll still be tender and amazing.

Ingredients [serves 2]:
1/2 rack baby back ribs (around 1.5 lbs)
1" piece of ginger
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon + 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1-1/2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon mustard powder (or 1/4 teaspoon dijon mustard)
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce (or 1 teaspoon hot sauce of your choosing)
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup orange juice (which is about half an orange's worth of juice)
scallions for garnish
Start by peeling the ginger and grating it, mincing the garlic (or using a garlic press like I did), and zesting the orange. Reserve 1/2 teaspoon of orange zest for garnish. Also, preheat the oven to 400F.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sugar Snap Pea Salad

Sugar snap peas are one of my favorite vegetables, though I'd take that statement lightly because there are many vegetables that I love. But sugar snap peas are a great people-pleasing veggie because they've got a nice crunch, so much sweetness, and they look cute. Unlike regular peas, there are no fibrous membranes in the pod so they're great for snacking on raw as well as being cooked into a stir-fry.

And of course, snap peas do have many health benefits like fiber, folate, and they're fat-free (alliteration!) so you can feel good about eating them. Of course they have more benefits than just those three things, like Vitamin C, Vitamin K, iron, and beta-carotene. They're great.

If you're new to the snap pea game, might I suggest you start off with something like this salad? It takes 2 minutes to prepare and requires just 6 ingredients.

1 cup sugar snap peas (contains as much Vitamin C as an orange)
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Whisk together everything (but the snap peas) in a bowl until combined into a smooth dressing.
Boil some water and blanch the snap peas for 30 seconds. Drain the hot water and shock in ice water (or use cold running faucet water) until the peas are cooled. Shake off excess water and toss in the dressing.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Fruit Tart

As much as I love being in the holiday season, I also get a small case of the gloomies this time of year. The days are short so I miss the sunlight and shivering while waiting for my car to warm up when I'm leaving work is always a bummer. So, what better way to brighten up my life than with some bright, summery looking food?

Back in college in Ithaca, we'd go to a grocery store (Wegman's which is a chain) and cheer ourselves up with fruit tarts. However, they were really expensive ($20+) which was something that did NOT cheer us up so I came up with an easy, cheaper alternative that was just as delicious. I used a lot of store-bought help, which is essential in college when time is of the essence, and though I could definitely do everything by hand these days, I still like taking those shortcuts. But don't get me wrong, if you decide to make one of these and bring it to a party, people will be still be dazzled and won't question the homemade-ness of your "homemade" tart.

Ingredients [makes 2 tarts]:
2 pre-made shallow 9" pie crusts (frozen) - not graham cracker crusts but actual dough-y crusts
1 box jello instant vanilla custard
2 cups milk (for the jello custard; the amount of milk may differ depending on the brand)
1 cup assorted fruit (I used strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, kiwis, and oranges)
1 tablespoon strawberry jam
1 tablespoon water
Start by docking the pie crust with a fork all over the bottom and then bake it according to the package instructions. My pie crusts (which were Stop & Shop brand) needed to bake in a 350 oven for 10 minutes (or until golden). Docking is important because it allows the steam to escape and prevents the pie crust from bubbling up and becoming uneven.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Salted Chocolate Krispies Treats

I love homemade Rice Krispies Treats. The storebought pre-made kind are too sweet for me so I steer clear of those. The best thing about RKT (isn't that a cool acronym?! kidding) is that they're super easy to make, insanely quick, and you can eat them immediately. Plus, they're easy to jazz up and make your own, and that's what I did a week ago. I decided I wanted a chocolate-y version so I used Cocoa Krispies and then took it a step farther and added some melted chocolate and a sprinkle of sea salt to balance the sweetness.

4 cups Cocoa Krispies
2 cups mini marshmallows
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1 teaspoon sea salt
*I like 60% cacao chocolate chips because they provide lots of chocolate flavor without the sugary sweetness.
**The recipe on the Rice Krispies box says to use a ratio of 2:3 (marshmallows:cereal) but I find that is way too gooey and sweet for me so I like a ratio of 1:2 but if you like the gooier classic recipe, add in another 1/2 cup of marshmallows.
Start by greasing a 9"x9" pan with some butter.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Braised Chicken (Soy & Honey)

This recipe has no back story or origin in my life. The reason I made it was that I knew I wanted to eat chicken drumsticks and I wanted it to taste like kalbi jjim. Isn't that a fun story? (SARCASM).

Ingredients [serves 4]:
1.5 lbs chicken drumsticks (4 or 5 drumsticks)
2 cups water
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
2 yukon gold potatoes
1/2 sweet onion
4 cloves garlic
2" piece of ginger, peeled
handful of baby carrots
This recipe is actually really easy. Just chop up the vegetables, put all the ingredients in the pot and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat to a simmer, put a lid on it, and let the ingredients cook for an hour, gently. Then, remove the lid, pump up the heat and let it really boil for around 15 minutes to allow some moisture to evaporate so the sauce can thicken a bit.
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