Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving Recap 2014

I hope everyone had an amazing Thanksgiving. We had an extra low-key Turkey Day this year and it was awesome. We spent the morning day drinking and cooking and then we stuffed our faces. I thought I'd share the dishes we whipped up.
I'm already psyched to eat the leftovers.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Breakfast Bread Bowls

I'm not sure what you, my audience, does with my blog. I'm sure there are plenty of you who pop on to grab recipes and actually make them. Some of you are just here for the food porn. And some of you are just my friends and family who are here to help me out (thanks, guys).

No matter the reason, you're likely here because you enjoy food. However, if you're not that passionate about cooking, I think maybe you need to revisit that thought. I think learning to cook is a worthwhile way to spend your time, even if all you do is learn the basics (and I don't mean knowing how to cook ramen noodles). It's also important for every budding chef to take a step away from reading recipes and just experiment in the kitchen. Trust your instincts, rely on a little trial and error, and do your best and you might end up with something fabulous. The point is that you try.

I bring this up because 98% of the time, the recipes I share here have been slapped together and developed after a little bit of experimenting and they turn out to be delicious. Mind you, some are not so successful, but the good ones are so good. And, as you may have seen, I try lots of delicious dishes at restaurants and the first thing I do when I get home is try to recreate it. I just trust my taste buds to help me figure out what flavor components are required to make the dish perfect.

If you haven't really experimented much, then today's dish might be a great place to start. It's just an easy breakfast bread bowl and I've given you suggestions for what to fill it with, but you can totally make this your own. You don't have to follow my recipe exactly. Just throw in what you like and just roll with it. Maybe by this time next year, you'll be whipping up Thanksgiving dinner on your own, without being being a slave to a cookbook.
Ingredients [for 2]:
2 bread bowl rolls
2 eggs
2 oz. salt pork or 2 slices bacon, chopped
¼ onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 to 5 mushrooms, sliced
¼ bell pepper, sliced
jalapeno slices (add as little or as much as you like, depending on your spice level preference)
¼ cup grated cheese (I used gruyere)
2 tablespoons heavy cream
salt & pepper to taste

Monday, November 24, 2014

Pumpkin Ricotta Pancakes

You guys, it's my birthday today. I don't want to make a big deal of it because I actually despise birthdays, as they are a reminder that I am aging. Entering my "late 20s" is kind of depressing. The feeling of losing my youth is not fantastic. However, I am proud of what I have accomplished so far in my life. I managed to make it through high school unscathed. I graduated from an awesome university (I freaking love Cornell so much; I'm borderline Andy Bernard's twin sister). I have a great job. I paid off my student loans! I bought myself a car. I redesigned and renovated our kitchen. I have an awesome family and an adorable dog. My friends are superb. I've traveled to really cool places and will continue to do so. And, of course, I have my blogs. I love this food one dearly and my travel one is a winner (at least in my eyes). Every year that has passed has been a good one, so I have already assumed that the coming year will be great too. I don't know, is it time to just 'get over it?' "It" meaning the fear of getting old. Ugh, no, I can't.

Anyway, in the spirit of celebrating and also in the spirit of falling victim to cans of pumpkin puree (that are on sale), I've got a dessert-like breakfast to share this morning. Or is it a breakfast-like dessert?
Ingredients [serves 2]:
½ cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup pumpkin puree
¼ cup ricotta (homemade if you got it)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs, separated
2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon brown sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup milk
butter for cooking the pancakes
+ syrup
+ powdered sugar

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Broccoli & Cheddar Soup

Sometimes, I like to share little tidbits about myself in these introductions. I think that maybe it makes me a little more relatable, hopefully more likable, and gives some personality to the "voice" that I type in on this bloggy thing. Today, I thought I would share with you my issues with anxiety. To be clear, I am not one of those people whose worlds come to a tire-squealing stop with humongous panic attacks. However, I do struggle with bouts of weird anxious oh-my-gosh-why-God-why-can't-I-just-be-human? moments.

For example, if, as I am cooking, a pot boils over and spills all over the stove, it is extremely difficult for me to just lower the heat and allow the pot to keep cooking away. I get super anxious because I, so badly, want to clean up the spill. I know that the stove is hot so I shouldn't, and sometimes I successfully convince myself that the spill can be cleaned later. Sometimes though, I can't fight it and I'll just move the pot over to a different burner, don some oven mitts, and scrub away at the spill. It's so strange to fight my natural compulsions. And horrifyingly enough, it seems to be getting worse with age. Many of you will not understand, but some of you will.

Why, oh, why am I talking about anxiety this morning? Well, when I was making this soup, I had to fight this (v. real) struggle. Chopping broccoli means that the little green balls (the leaves of the tree, if you will) go rolling all. over. the. place. It was an intense day of food blogging for me, as I wrestled with myself whilst photographing and chopping and simmering. Luckily, I managed to survive and ended up with a bowl of cheesy goodness. Cheese is the best medication.
Ingredients [serves 6 to 8]:
1 head broccoli, chopped
1 onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock for a vegetarian option)
4 cups whole milk
2 cups grated cheddar
salt & pepper, to taste

*You can certainly substitute almond milk and vegan cheese if you want a vegan version.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Bread Bowl Rolls

Baking bread at home is something I rarely do. I have several lovely bakeries nearby and my local market does a really good baguette and ciabatta and Italian loaf, I live a quite spoiled carbohydrate loving life. Despite this abundance of bread at my feet, I couldn't find a decent loaf suited for making a decent sized bread bowl. One option I had was a gigantic sourdough boule but yeah, that's like, 17 servings. My other option was to buy pathetically small baby dinner rolls, but that's like, 0.0004 servings.

Alas, what else could I do but make my own? I tinkered and experimented and came up with something in between my recipe for homemade buns and homemade baguettes. I wanted a hybrid of density; hearty like the baguette but light and fluffy like the buns. And I wanted it to be really lovely and chewy on the inside with a crunchy, crusty exterior. You know what happened? I came up with a crazy delicious recipe and after the first bite, I decided that this is the only bread recipe that I ever want to make ever again. Okay, not true, but I do want to make this again and again and not just in a bread bowl shape. I think that's when you know that a recipe is a winner; you've already decided to make it again before you've even finished the batch.
Ingredients [makes 4 bread bowl rolls]:
3 to 3½ cups bread flour (start with 3 cups, you may need more depending on the humidity)
1 teaspoon salt
1¼ cups warm water (cooler than 110F)
1 package instant yeast (approximately 2¼ teaspoons)
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon + ½ teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon cornmeal
1 egg

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Dahk Doritang (2) (닭도리탕)

When I started this blog, I felt zero pressure. I was doing it because I'm a big food lover and because I wanted my sister to be able to recreate some of our favorite dishes while she was away at college. I didn't really have an audience, besides my sister, and it was just a fun hobby.

Fast forward 3+ years and I'm still having a good time. Once in a while, I get slightly stressed out because I feel like I don't have much inspiration. But, I remind myself that blogging is supposed to be my stress reliever and I calm myself down. Then, I get hungry and I'm inspired again. I guess that's the great thing about maintaining a food blog. I like to eat so I'll always have something to write about.

Today, I'm revamping my dahk doritang recipe. I have a super old dahk doritang (spicy stewed chicken) post. It's a good recipe but I make a slightly different variation now so I thought I'd update it. Besides, that old post is pretty ugly so I'm excited to share this prettier version. I love doing these updates. I like to see my own growth, both in recipe creativity and food photography. It's another fun aspect of blogging.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
1½ to 2 lbs. chicken (I like thighs but you can do drumsticks or breast or a mixture of meat)
3 to 4 potatoes, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
3 to 4 cloves garlic, chopped
½ bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped (or any variety of spicy pepper you like)
3 tablespoons hot pepper paste (gochujang)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon hot pepper flakes (gochugaru)
¼ teaspoon sesame oil
1 cup water
+ scallion, chopped
+ sesame seeds

Monday, November 17, 2014

Thanksgiving Round Up

With Thanksgiving just over a week away, I thought I would share some Turkey Day-appropriate recipes today. I've got a whole slew of recipe posts labeled with the tag "Thanksgiving" but it can be challenging to sift through my poorly organized archive of recipes. After all, I have over 700 posts. So, I did a little bit of legwork for you, and I'm sharing a few of my favorites. Even if you don't make these exact recipes, perhaps they will inspire you.
So, without further ado, here are my top picks:

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Cucumber Moochim (오이무침)

A jillion years ago, I shared an easy Korean cucumber side dish. I thought it was time for an update. I make this dish all the time because it's so quick but also because my family loves it. It's delicious. Because I make it all the time, I don't follow an exact recipe and I kind of throw things into a bowl. It's just one of those dishes that you taste and go, which are the best, I think. Plus, you can customize it to suit your needs.
6 baby english cucumbers or kirby cucumbers
1 tablespoon salt
⅛ onion, thinly sliced
2 scallions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon hot pepper paste (gochujang)
½ teaspoon rice wine vinegar
½ teaspoon honey
¼ teaspoon sesame oil
+ sesame seeds

*Optionally, you can throw in some sliced spicy peppers or grated carrot. Mix it up!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

How To: Make Korean-Style Vegetables

We're really into vegetables in our house. When we were growing up, my mom made it a point to make sure we were eating some sort of greenery with every meal. So now, if we don't have something fresh and crunchy on the table, we feel like we're missing something and in all honesty, we feel a little gross.

In most cases, we just throw together a simple salad and call it a day. But, when we're dining on Korean food, salad isn't exactly the most appealing choice. That's why I'll make Korean-style vegetables. This "technique" is so simple and it's the easiest way to make any vegetable taste like a Korean banchan (side dish).
½ teaspoon sesame oil
½ teaspoon sesame seeds
½ teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 scallions, chopped
2 cups vegetables - suggestions: broccolini, broccoli, green beans, mung bean sprouts, carrots, cucumbers, mushrooms, spinach, the possibilities are endless!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Korean Chicken Porridge (2) | Dahk Jook (닭죽)

I'm done with Providenciales posts and back to regular recipe posts today. As fun as it was to re-live that lovely tropical holiday, I'm almost relieved that I'm done because it was getting depressing. It's getting painfully cold here so it's been difficult looking at 'previous me' in a tropical setting. I was getting jealous... of my past-self... is that weird? Anyway, I think it's good that I'm sharing something cozy today considering the weather has been quite blustery lately.

Two years ago, I shared a quick and easy dahk jook (chicken porridge). It's a great shortcut made with chicken thighs and hey, when dinner has to be on the table in an hour, it's the best fix. But, one day, earlier this year, I decided to make dahk jook with cornish hens just for kicks and it turned out to be frickin' delicious so I haven't made the thigh version since.

It's not necessarily more difficult to make but it is a little more time consuming since cornish hens, though they are small, are definitely larger than thighs and therefore take longer to cook. However, it's worth the time. Plus, you can just make the stock ahead of time and do the assembly on the day you want ot eat it. Problem solved! And on a chilly f-ing day like today, this totally hits the spot.
2 cornish hens
8 to 10 cups of water (or more depending on the size of the chickens and the pot)
6 to 8 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons salt

3 cups sticky rice (dry measure)
2 scallions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 to 6 Thai chilies, chopped
¼ onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
2 teaspoons salt (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon black pepper

Monday, November 10, 2014

Providenciales Part 7: Da Conch Shack

This is my last Providenciales post, for this trip at least. I'm sure I'll have more reviews after my next trip. Yes, I plan on going again.
If you ever talk to anyone who's been to Turks & Caicos, I'm 99% sure that they will mention Da Conch Shack. I mean, I went there on my first trip, I went there again this time around, and I'm pretty sure I'll go there again when I head back to TCI. I told you! I plan on going again.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Providenciales Part 6: Magnolia's

If you're looking for a dinner with a view but you're not into being right on the sand, then Magnolia's is where you need to go.
It's located in Turtle Cove and you've got to climb a big hill to get there.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Providenciales Part 5: The Patty Place

Dinners in Turks & Caicos are an elaborate process at fancy, expensive restaurants. But lunch? Lunch is when you can eat like the locals do at tiny little eateries.

I had my heart set on going to The Patty Place at The Petite Place just past the Ports of Call in Grace Bay. However, upon arriving there, we found out that they were closed and the staff was on vacation until the day after we were leaving. Luckily for us, the downtown location was still open and running.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Providenciales Part 4: Giggles Ice Cream

You can't hang out on an 80+ degree beach without craving a cold dessert.
Because we were visiting during the off season, several eateries had closed up shop. I mean, can you blame them? Everyone needs a vacation here and there.

So, we headed to the front desk of our hotel to ask if they knew if there was an ice cream place that was open. They directed us to Giggles in the Ports of Call.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Providenciales Part 3: Coco Bistro

When we were in Providenciales the first time, we fell in love with the restaurant, Coco Bistro. It was charming, had a great reputation, and the food was spot on delicious. So, for this trip, I might've gone a bit overboard because I booked two dinners. My sister wanted to be there for her birthday (Tuesday evening) and then I figured we should eat there again on Friday evening to close out our trip with a delicious bang.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Providenciales Part 2: Hotel Cooking

The first time I ever stayed in a "condo-style" hotel was when I went to Maui in 2012. Each unit was furnished by its owner and though you were at the mercy of that owner's preferences, it was pretty awesome. We actually lucked out and got a place with a fully stocked kitchen. I'm talking toaster, blender, Foreman grill, even a rice cooker. Last year when we went to Belize, we stayed in similar accommodations and again, we enjoyed every second of it.

Having your own kitchen on vacation isn't everyone's cup of tea because it's likely that if you're on holiday, you won't be keen to cook your own meals. However, if you're like me and you're a frugal traveler, it's a nice way to save money. So, when it came time to plan this year's trip to Providenciales, we booked a room with a kitchen at The Sands.
The kitchen was pretty spacious with a full-size fridge, electric range, microwave, and lots of counter space for prep work. We stocked it with plenty of groceries from Graceway Gourmet - enough to make ourselves breakfast all week, lunch for a few days, and three or four dinners at home (away from home).
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