Monday, November 30, 2015

Thanksgiving Recap 2015

We had an awesome and successful Thanksgiving this year. We made everything on our list, finished cooking on time, and everyone enjoyed the meal.
I started the prep a few days ahead of time. I brined the bird and I chopped up a huge container's worth of vegetables. The evening before, I made the dessert, cranberry sauce, and bread dough. Then, on Thanksgiving morning, we started cooking around 9AM. My sister and I made everything.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving Preparedness

This year, my sister and I were really gunning for a low-key Thanksgiving. So low-key, in fact, that I'm taking a wee break from blogging this week (i.e. this will be my only post this week) so that I can concentrate on all the yumminess of Thanksgiving with even fewer responsibilities than usual. The past few years have been somewhat hectic with several family members coming over and we kind of wanted to be able to lounge around in our sweatpants, shoveling turkey down our gullets with Netflix on in the background.

I think we're set to do just that and I think we just have a small handful of relatives coming over this year. The only downside of not having a huge party of people over for Thanksgiving is that we can't have as massive of a feast as we usually do since we'd never be able to even make a dent in the pile of food. So, we're being really selective with the dishes that will make up our meal.

Along with an amazing turkey (that is currently brining and will be brining for at least 96 hours), we'll be having a selection of carefully chosen side dishes. Here's what I'm currently thinking (but subject to change based on mood swings, ingredient availability, and laziness):

Friday, November 20, 2015

Korean-Style Meatballs

Earlier this year, I shared a Vietnamese-style meatball recipe. Well, today, (as made obvious by the title of the post) I'm sharing a Korean-style meatball recipe. The two recipes are pretty similar but whereas the Vietnamese meatballs were seasoned with lemongrass and fish sauce, the Korean meatballs are seasoned with soy sauce, sesame oil, and ginger, quite like a typical kalbi marinade.
Ingredients [yields 1½ to 2 dozen meatballs]:
1½ lbs. ground beef (or ground chicken or ground pork)
1 egg
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
¼ cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 scallion, chopped
¼ cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon crushed pepper flakes

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

What I Ate: Korean Food

I thought it would be fun to share a bunch of the dinners I've made over the past few weeks with my major Korean food shopping haul. Once a quarter, we hit up H-Mart and buy a massive amount of Korean food ingredients. For about three weeks after that major shopping event, we eat tons of really delicious (and slightly more complicated) Korean foods. I love it because it's all of the foods I grew up on and it makes me a bit nostalgic and also, it's the type of food that my stomach (and body in general) best tolerates.
We eat really well in our house. But, as much as I love to cook, I really only like cooking for my family because they're not allowed to complain. Also, I hate that feeling of making something and having my friends feel like they're being forced to eat it just because I put effort in and they're too shy and/or embarrassed to say they hate it. Oh the stress of first world problems!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Loaded Avocado Toast

I try not to get sucked into super trendy foods because it's annoying but as made obvious by my food blog, I've totally jumped on the green smoothie bandwagon, which led to me jumping on the chia seed bandwagon, and I'm totally into kale.

Avocado toast is one of those things that cool people love to Instagram (and subsequently eat, hopefully) and I was never that impressed. I love avocado but I didn't really see anything that novel about smashing it onto bread. However, I've always loved eating it on sandwiches and it always makes the presentation of any food a bit prettier.

So, I thought I'd make my own avocado toast spin and just make a really intense breakfast sandwich loaded with several delicious ingredients in addition to avocado.
I don't have a recipe post for this avo toast because it's pretty straightforward and I honestly think you should just personalize it with whatever you have in your fridge.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Roast Cornish Game Hen

I made this chicken for a Monday roast. I was actually off of work on this particular Monday (I made this on Columbus Day about a month ago) and decided to spend the afternoon in the kitchen whipping up a warm and comforting meal. When you transition from warm weather to cool weather, 65F feels like an icicle and it makes you bundle up and start craving soups and stews and roasts.

What I love about this particular roast is that I used cornish game hens, which are tiny little birds, that cook up insanely quick and are a breeze to "carve." I say, "carve" because you don't really carve these little guys. You just chop them down the middle and each person gets a half-bird portion. But seriously, they cook up in about an hour so you could totally even make this on a regular weeknight after work.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
2 cornish game hens

herb butter
4 tablespoons softened butter
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1 tablespoon crushed pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, minced

cavity ingredients
2 cloves garlic
12 parsley sprigs
2 baby carrots
1 rib celery, chopped
½ lemon, cut in 2
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs thyme

giblet gravy
chicken giblets
2 cups water
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
+ flavorings - in this case, I used mushroom but you could use onion, garlic, rosemary, whatever you like in your gravy.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Apple Cider Sangria

We've been brainstorming our Thanksgiving menu for about a week now. I'm all about equality and I like to give each holiday its deserved time but as soon as the holiday is over, it's onto the next one. This is a lot easier during the first three-quarters of the year, since the big holidays are more spread apart. But, from autumn into winter, we've got Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Eve to give evenly divided attention to.

So, as soon as Halloween was over and I packed away this years costumes, I was right onto Thanksgiving. The past few years, we've been serving white wine sangrias as the official T-Giving cocktail. This year, I wanted to try something a bit more autumnal and thematic so I tried my hand at an apple cider sangria. And it came out so delicious and I can't wait to make a gigantic batch in a couple weeks for the biggest feast of the year.
2 apples, chopped
1 orange, chopped
knob ginger
cinnamon stick
1 cup Calvados (French apple brandy)
3 cups apple cider
750 mL sparkling white wine (I like Moscato)

Monday, November 9, 2015

Apple Crisp Pie

So, I'd like to casually mention that I'm flying down to Grand Cayman tomorrow for a little snorkel trip and I've also started blogging about New Orleans so that you can either be excited for and/or jealous of me and you can go check out my travel photo diary.

We went apple picking last month and we spent $60 on apples. That's thirty pounds of apples. The v. first thing I did with the apples (besides eating them raw) was to make this crisp pie. I love apple crisp but it's just not enough breading for me so I decided to build it on top of a crust.

I thought this was a novel idea but I googled this just now and it turns out, I'm not the first one to make a crisp pie. Oh, the disappointment. I feel as aggressive as Ross Geller did about creating the "got milk" campaign.

Anyway, I used my usual crust and a v. basic crumb topping and it turned out delicious. It's best when it's still warm topped with a generous scoop of ice cream.
apple pie
½ batch pie dough
5 to 6 apples, peeled and sliced (I like crunchy and slightly tart apples, like Cortland, honeycrisp, pink lady)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup brown sugar
pinch salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons potato starch

crisp topping
¾ cup flour
3 tablespoons caster sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ cup cold butter (4 tablespoons)
3 tablespoons heavy cream

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Korean Seaweed Soup | Miyuk Guk (미역국)

Autumn is birthday season in our house - Dad and sister in October, me in November, (and in the past, my mom's was in September and my grandmom's was in November). Birthday season in a Korean household means one thing: miyuk guk, a.k.a. seaweed soup. My mom said the tradition of miyuk guk was born (quite literally) because its incredibly nutrient-rich properties made it an ideal concoction for expectant mothers and brand new mothers. So, relatives would bring the soup to the new moms and therefore, it became associated with births.

Mom used to say that it was good luck to have miyuk guk on your birthday because it was like toasting to one's own health by eating this super Vitamin-filled meal.

So, last month for my pop's 60th, I made a big batch of miyuk guk. My mom used to make miyuk guk with flank steak or brisket. I'm a non-traditionalist and also a whatever's-in-the-freezer-ist so I tend to use oxtails. However, seeing as it was kind of a special occasion (a man's sixtieth birthday only comes once in a lifetime) I grabbed a package of short ribs. Short ribs are super fatty and rich, which means that even after the broth bubbles away, the meat itself is still moist and delicious. Normally, I hate soup meat because it's dry and not-so-yummy but this time, I was all about it.
Ingredients [serves 4 to 6]:
1 lb. short ribs or oxtails
8 cups water
4 cloves garlic
½ oz. dried seaweed (wakame)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
salt to taste

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Osso Buco

Like I mentioned in yesterday's risotto Milanese post, I recreated a meal we had in Milano at El Brellin a couple of weekends ago. Luckily for me, my grocery store sells beef shanks so this was an easy enough dish to assemble, especially because the rest of the ingredients are pretty easy to find. Classic osso buco is made with veal but I am not a fan of veal; it tastes great but the thought of eating baby cows depresses me.

The best part of making osso buco is that it takes just a few minutes of prep work and labor and then the rest of the time is just simmering it on the stove for a couple of hours, allowing the stove to do the work for you and letting the meat get super delicious and tender.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
osso buco
2 lbs. beef shanks
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
¼ cup flour
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, diced
1 rib celery, diced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups white wine
3 cups beef stock
2 bay leaves
6 sprigs thyme
10 sprigs parsley

¼ cup parsley leaves
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons lemon zest

Monday, November 2, 2015

Risotto Milanese

When my sister and I were in Italy earlier this year, we enjoyed tons of amazing food. I've been working on recreating some of our favorite dishes at home, like spaghetti alla vongole, and it's been fun and delicious. However, I've been saving this particular dish for cool weather, since slaving over a hot stove, continuously stirring a steaming pot is not my idea of summertime fun.

As you can tell by the title, I'm making risotto Milanese. We ate at El Brellin and had some of the best risotto and osso buco ever. Based on my memory of the flavors, I did my best to recreate the meal. The arborio rice, saffron, and parmesan I'm using in this recipe were actually bought in Milan (at Eataly) so it feels a little more authentic.

And tomorrow, I'm sharing osso buco so come back for that if you're looking for the perfect match to this risotto.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
3½ cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon saffron (loosely packed)
3 tablespoons butter
½ onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup arborio rice
½ cup white wine
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup grated parmesan
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