Friday, July 31, 2015

What I Ate: Ojinguh Bokkeum

I'm driving up to Ithaca today for a little long weekend trip with my family. The dog is coming too, which is nice. I'm excited to hit up my old favorites (even though a few have closed) and to revisit my alma mater, which I love and has a special place in my heart. I'm also super excited to hit up the farmer's market. Ithaca's farmers market is gorgeous and so much fun and there's tons of amazing food and beautiful produce.

I wish we had a more substantial farmers market in my town. Luckily for us, our grocery store is pretty well stocked and they recently set up a little stand with local produce. They've also upped their meat and seafood game. The selection isn't always that varied but once in a while they have some gems.
And when they do, I pounce. This time, it was a delicious looking package of squid which I turned into ojinguh bokkeum.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Seaweed Side Dish | Miyuk Moochim (미역무침)

I'm convinced that in a past life, I was a mermaid. For one, I love to swim. I'm actually a pretty strong swimmer (despite what you may think when you look at my small, chunky frame) and snorkeling is probably my favorite leisurely activity ever. I also added some pink streaks to my hair and I think that's a desire that only mermaids have. And, the final clincher is that I've always had a thing for seaweed.

When I was a kid, miyuk guk (seaweed soup) was always my favorite. And despite being flavored with beef stock, I would pretend I was just drinking a bowl of warm ocean water; if that's not an indicator of mermaiditis, then I don't know what is. Oh, and of course, toasted seaweed (which has become a pretty popular snack) is still served at my dinner table all the time.

I haven't been as into dealing with seaweed lately, mostly out of laziness. My mom only ever used seaweed for soup but here and there, I've had it in a spicy side dish at restaurants. While digging through the pantry to see what needed restocking, I found a package of seaweed and decided to give the spicy side dish a go. It's not the prettiest looking dish, but it's yummy and seaweed is super healthy.
½ oz. dried seaweed
1 clove garlic, minced
1 scallion, chopped
1 tablespoon hot pepper paste
½ teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
½ teaspoon rice wine vinegar
+ sesame seeds

Monday, July 27, 2015

Thai Red Curry with Fish

I've diagnosed myself with no-planned-holiday-on-the-horizon depression. I am a big lover of going on vacation and I don't have anything concrete planned right now and it's driving me crazy. Because I'm contemplating taking the Professional Engineering exam either some time this fall or next spring, I've been apprehensive to book anything just yet. I think I might book something for November though because right now, I'm in such a slump. Being at work feels extra mundane when I don't have a break to look forward to so I've really got to do something now or I might have a nervous breakdown.

Similarly in my cooking life, I've been feeling kind of uninspired. This happens every summer because I regard heat sources with such disdain, especially when my wallet and my environmentally conscious conscience can't be bothered to up the air conditioning enough to offset the beads of sweat that collect on my forehead (and if you'll indulge my disgustingness for a second, my pits) when I'm standing next to a lit stove.

Plus, when it's hot, I'm inclined to eat light but there are only so many salads a girl can eat without developing a hatred for all things green. This fish curry was a great solution in many regards. For one, it's super low-maintenance with minimal time standing next to the stove. Secondly, it's full of vegetables so it feels fresh and light but it has some tender fish which gives it some substance. The last bit of praise I'd like to give this curry is that it's easily customizable to whatever you've got in your crisper drawer. Wait, one more advertisement: the leftovers are so good, especially when the ingredients have had time to really soak up the flavors of the curry sauce.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
1 teaspoon oil
¼ onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons minced ginger
2 teaspoons minced lemongrass
4 Thai chilis, chopped
13.5 oz. can coconut milk
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons red curry paste
1 tablespoon roasted chili paste
1 tablespoon brown sugar
4 heads baby bok choy
1 squash, sliced
5 oz. (drained) can bamboo shoots (8 oz. undrained)
¾ lb. flounder (or any soft white fish)
1 tablespoon chopped Thai basil

*Like I mentioned above, the bok choy and squash are merely (delicious) suggestions. Feel free to use your favorite produce items here. Some suggestions: bell peppers, asparagus spears, broccoli, eggplant, the possibilities really are endless.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

What I Drank: Watermelon Limeade

I've been really into limeade lately. On this particular day, I decided to jazz up my mug by adding a little watermelon juice.
It's subtly sweet, incredibly bright, tart, and a perfect drink for sipping in the backyard.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Tres Leches Cake

The best tres leches cake I've ever eaten was from a little Mexican restaurant that I found in Baltimore. That place made the most amazing sopes and pambazos but I thought that the tres leches cake was the star. The thing that made it so good was the hint of cinnamon. And let me be clear, the cinnamon was incredibly subtle; the cake smelled sweet and autumnal but didn't necessarily taste that way.

I thought for a while (I guess it was a thought I came back to over the course of three years, considering I ate that infamous tres leches back in 2012) trying to figure out how I could achieve the same subtle cinnamon flavor. Then it occurred to me: flavor the soaking liquid with a cinnamon stick!
Ingredients [yields 8" x 8" pan]:
3 eggs, separated
½ cup + ½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
¼ cup milk
pinch cream of tartar
1½ cup light cream
½ cinnamon stick
5 oz. evaporated milk
14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
1½ cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Spinach & Garlic Rice

I've featured this rice a couple of times on the blog already and I think I shared a slightly different version in a recipe card previously but this is how I've been making it lately. It's a rice that was inspired by a curry place I went to when I was visiting my cousin in LA a few years ago.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
1½ cups jasmine rice
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups water

2 tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ package frozen spinach (5 oz.)
2 teaspoons salt

Monday, July 20, 2015

Garden Update 2

Over the weekend, I drove down to Philadelphia. I met up with my friend, H, who was there for work. We've been doing lots of little city weekends together (with plenty of biking) and this weekend was no different except that it was boiling hot.

Luckily for me, the garden has been basically in "maintenance mode." The end of June into July was full of rainy days so there was no need to water. There was zero threat of frost so we didn't have to baby any of the plants. All I've been doing is going out to snap a few photos and harvest what's ready.

This is an exciting and extra cool garden update because I discovered a nest that a robin made in the bush by the driveway. I park next to this bush every day and every morning on my way to work, the robin would fly out of the bush and scare the crap out of me because apparently, me getting in my car disturbed her beauty sleep. I know that I'm not necessarily growing these birds the way that I'm cultivating my garden but I figured that this nature-filled post was a perfect opportunity to share a few snaps.
A lot has happened this past month so be prepared for a slew of photos.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Nutella Swirl Banana Bread

I'm not a big fan of bananas. I mean, it's the only fruit that isn't juicy (that I have encountered) and it has a really strong flavor. My sister, on the other hand, has always loved bananas. In fact, as a kid, when Mum would let us pick out snacks from the Korean grocery store, I would usually opt for Peppero (a.k.a. Pocky) whilst Mich went straight for the Banana Kick, which was like cheetos except instead of fake orange cheese powder, it was dusted with banana-flavored sugar.

Fast forward a decade and we're still basically on the same page. I'm still in the 'bananas are meh' camp and baby sister is still in love with bananas. However, she is somewhat picky and prefers slightly underripe bananas (ones with a green tinge) so as soon as they go slightly freckled, she's done. And that means, it's banana bread time. Even though I'm not a big banana fan, I'm definitely on board with banana bread (which isn't really bread, it's cake disguised as bread), especially when it's swirled with my favorite condiment, Nutella.

This is a spin on the banana bread recipe I've been making for years. Seriously, this recipe dates back to when I was a freshman in high school (back in the year 2000, you know, the year we feared the computers would explode). I don't know where it came from - possibly some old cookbook that's lost in the basement - but it's a good one. It's so good, it didn't really need changing but come on, it's Nutella for crying out loud.
Ingredients [yields 1 loaf]:
4 to 5 overripe bananas
⅓ cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup melted butter
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1½ cups flour
½ cup Nutella

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Korean-Style Grilled Baby Back Ribs

Whenever I see baby back ribs on sale, I automatically toss them into my shopping cart. It's such a delicious cut of pork, it tends to be pretty expensive.

On this particular occasion, I was craving Korean food so I made a Korean-style rib and of course, since we're right in the thick of summer, I made them on the grill
Ingredients [serves 4]:
2 lbs. baby back ribs
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon tamari
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons hot pepper flakes (gochugaru)
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
+ sesame seeds
+ scallions

¼ cup ketchup
¼ cup hot pepper paste (gochujang)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
½ teaspoon sesame oil

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Thai Style Grilled Clams

So I had never had top neck clams prior to this recipe. Because they're so huge, I thought they would be perfect for grilling. And because I was craving it, I also thought it would be a great vessel for a delicious Thai style sauce.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
2 dozen top neck clams (or 4 dozen little neck clams)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon oil
1 teaspoon grated ginger
½ teaspoon minced lemongrass
4 Thai chili peppers, sliced
½ cup chicken stock
1½ tablespoons fish sauce
1½ tablespoons tamari
1 tablespoon sugar
juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon minced thai basil
1 tablespoon minced cilantro

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Japanese Milk Bread

If you've ever been to an Asian bakery, you've had milk bread. It's fluffy and light and stretchy and probably one of my favorite dessert-y breads. It's similar to challah but more moist and a bit more delicate.

I love making this because it's gorgeous and it's a fun dough to make. The dough is super soft and kneading it is pretty therapeutic.
Ingredients [yields 1 regular loaf or 2 mini loaves]:
2 tablespoons bread flour
6 tablespoons water
¼ cup heavy cream
1 egg
¼ cup warm milk (110F)
1½ teaspoons dry active yeast
1 teaspoon + ¼ cup sugar
9 oz. bread flour (2 to 2½ cups)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
+ egg wash

Monday, July 13, 2015

Grocery Shopping & Meal Planning

I actually get comments from my friends all the time regarding what I eat: "Wow, what is that elaborate meal? Do you eat like that on a daily basis?" And yes, 99% of what I post here are just my everyday meals and dishes that I'm eating on a normal day. The key to eating like a boss everyday is to plan ahead so you can compose well-balanced meals.
The more often you do it, the easier it'll become.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Mixed Noodles (2) | Bibim Guksu (비빔국수)

Apparently my blood is extremely delicious because every summer, without fail, I accumulate dozens of bites. The second I step outside, they flock and I become the mosquito buffet. It's just something I have to put up with during this season. Cooking also seems to be something I "put up with" during the summer instead of being something I enjoy. It's just so hot that my appetite wanes and I'm really unenthused about standing over a stove.

This was the case a couple of weeks ago. It was a sweaty hot weekend and I had no motivation to get up off of the couch to get dinner started. Then, I realized we had a bunch of vegetables in the crisper, begging to be used, and I decided to make bibim guksu. My old bibim guksu post is outdated and in need of an update so I photographed this version to share.
Ingredients [yields 4 servings]:
4 bundles Korean wheat noodles (소면 / somyun)
1½ cups cabbage kimchi, chopped
¼ cup hot pepper paste (gochujang)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon grated ginger
2 teaspoon sesame seeds
+ 2 eggs
+ 1 baby cucumber, sliced
+ ½ bell pepper, sliced
+ 1 scallion, chopped
+ ½ avocado, sliced
+ sesame seeds

*The first 8 ingredients are the necessary bits and to be honest, 90% of the time, it's all I use when I'm making bibim guksu for lunch. The egg and vegetables are really just extras that you can throw in when you're feeling fancy or serving to guests. The 10% of the time that I add in the extras, it's because I'm making bibim guksu for dinner and I want to make it more filling.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Grilled Accordion Potatoes

I freaking LOVE grilling season. I've touted my top three reasons for grilling so many times already, but for those of you who don't read every single one of my posts, I will reiterate. For one, it makes food taste amazing. Secondly, the cleanup is a breeze and there are no pots and pans to clean. And best of all, cooking outdoors keeps the air conditioned house nice and cool.

Today I'm sharing a grilled accordion potato recipe. I shared accordion potatoes a while back, and I still love those, but that recipe is more conducive to indoor cooking. But today's version is perfect for a backyard barbecue and can easily be doubled or tripled, as necessary to feed a crowd.
Ingredients [yields 4 to 6 servings, approximately 2 potatoes per person]:
2 lbs. yukon gold potatoes
½ onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 slices bacon, chopped
2 tablespoons butter, cubed

basting butter
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons bacon fat (or just use all butter)
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Monday, July 6, 2015

Strawberry Picking Treats

A few weeks ago, my family went strawberry picking. When we got back, we gorged on fresh berries and I whipped up a couple of treats too.
My two favorite strawberry treats were made with a lightly sweetened strawberry puree. I made strawberry popsicles and with a little leftover puree, I flavored a batch of limeade.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Pineapple Cake

It's Independence Day weekend, y'all! I love July 4th, not only for giving me a day off of work (my office is off today and we have a three day weekend because we rock) but also because I love what it represents. In celebration of this holiday, let's just ignore the unsavory nature of a bunch of randos coming to America and basically stealing land from the v. kindly people already living here and concentrate on the fact that oppressed people escaped from an unkindly king and declared their independence. It's a pretty beautiful sentiment, right? Fast forward a couple hundred years and it's basically become a day devoted to barbecuing, day drinking, and donning anything remotely patriotic, even if it's just an old 'I voted' sticker you found in your wallet.

In the spirit of Independence Day, I will not be sharing anything barbecue-y, boozy, or a cloyingly sweet dessert covered in berries swirled in a patriotic scheme. Instead, I'm going to share whatever the heck I want, and in this case, it's a fluffy pineapple cake. To be fair, it is pretty appropriate for the holiday because it's super summery (hello, pineapple) and incredibly easy to whip up, which means you can slap one together to bring to that impromptu get-together you want to host tomorrow afternoon.
Ingredients [yields one 8" x 8" square or 9" round]:
box cake mix (yellow or white)
20 oz. can crushed pineapple (with the juice)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
+ butter for greasing the pan
+ whipped cream
+ toasted coconut flakes

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Green Smoothies (2)

I originally posted about green smoothies back in 2012 and then gave a little update in 2013. I didn't share anything last year because 2014's green smoothies were exactly the same as 2013's. This year, I've changed it up a bit so I thought I'd share what I'm drinking now.

When I first started drinking green smoothies, it was mostly a way for me to shed a few pounds. However, when I noticed the increase in energy, glowing skin, stronger nails, and shiny hair, I became addicted. I tend to start up my smoothie regimen around April, as the weather is starting to get warmer. It's at this time of the year that I'm over comfort foods and I'm craving more fresh produce and greenery.
Ingredients [yields 1 large smoothie]:
2 handfuls of greens (about 3 loosely packed cups; I prefer baby greens because they're easier to process in the blender and baby spinach and baby kale are my usual go-to greens)
½ cup frozen fruit (I tend to go with light colored fruits, like peaches or mangos because they're mild and keep the smoothies looking pretty and green)
½ cup coconut water or unsweetened nut milk (or ¼ cup of each)
1 teaspoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon lemon juice
+ ½ baby cucumber
+ ½ teaspoon grated ginger
+ 4 mint leaves

I'm not a nutritionist so I don't want to delve into the health benefits as if I'm an expert. However, I'd like to say that everything listed in the ingredients is feel-good stuff.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

What I Ate: Cheese Rabokki

This is one of my favorite weekend lunches because it's easy to whip up and it's so delicious. This time I went with beef instead of seafood, but otherwise I followed my regular recipe.
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