Friday, January 29, 2016

Pom-Clem Fizz

When it's chilly out, I usually turn to Nutella hot chocolate or tea. But you know what's really good at warming you up? Alcohol. I still remember in college, my friends and I getting ready for a night out by "pre-gaming" in our apartment, not only to save money but also to get ready for the chilly outdoors. We all thought coat checks were bullsh*t and a total waste of money so we'd load up on liquor so that we could brave the night air without our jackets.

These days, I'm not quite as tacky because let's face it, I'm just too old for that now. But, in a similar vein, in order to save money on heating bills, I pile on layers of clothes and sip on a nightcap to warm up. Today's cocktail is delicious and seasonal, as it incorporates my two favorite winter fruits: pomegranate and clementine. And, I love the celebratory feel of this cocktail, which is totally appropriate because I am celebrating today. Well, I'm celebrating the fact that I'm about to board a plane to Phoenix to enjoy some time with my friend and revel in nature and sunshine. I'm really craving some Vitamin D right now.
Ingredients [for one]:
1 oz. pomegranate juice (I just seeded a pomegranate and muddled the juice out)
1 oz. clementine juice
1 teaspoon agave nectar
1.5 oz. white rum
3 oz. fizzy water or sparkling cider
pomegranate seeds and clementine slice for garnish

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Honey Tart

A couple weekends before Christmas, my sister and I went to visit our cousin in Philly and we ate at several Michael Solomonov restaurants. We went to happy hour at Abe Fisher where we enjoyed an amazing honey tart for dessert. It was decadent and delicious. The tart was served on a plate drizzled with honey and decorated with diced pear, walnuts, and a sprinkle of bee pollen.

During my weeklong holiday break at the end of the year, I made an effort to cook a few new dishes and because I wanted to make a yummy dessert for our fancy New Year's dinner, I decided to try and recreate the honey tart at home. It didn't taste exactly like the one we enjoyed at Abe Fisher but it turned out pretty awesome. I used lots of honey - my sister says that my honey addiction is greatly affecting the bee and honey shortage - and a vanilla bean to enhance the floral flavor of the honey.
Ingredients [yields (1) 8" tart or (6) 4" tarts]:
half batch pie dough
2 cups milk
½ cup honey
4 egg yolks
1 vanilla bean, scraped
¼ teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon butter

Monday, January 25, 2016

Ribeye Burgers

I am so sore right now. I started exercising last week (to get warmed up for an impromptu trip I'm taking this weekend) which is actually really good because I suspect I'd be much more achy if I hadn't done anything at all. Anyway, I basically spent the weekend shoveling and napping, as there wasn't much else to do. Saturday morning, I woke up to blustery winds swirling snow all over the yard. My sister and I got dressed and shoveled our walkway and the driveway. A few hours later, we had to go out and do it all over again. Luckily by evening, the storm passed. Sunday morning, we went out for one last clean up and then the sun shone all day and melted enough of the snow to clear off the roads.

I was a little peeved by the timing of the snow (I was hoping to get a snow day off from work) but I was glad that we were snug at home without a need to go out. The storm was pretty terrible and I was happy to be safe indoors (minus the hour or two we spent shoveling). And honestly, I'm grateful that I had a reason to exercise because I've felt pretty cooped up lately. I really despise winter and I know George Michael loved prancing in the snow and getting outdoors too.

Anyway, it's comfort food season and I've been really into burgers. The few times I've gone out for lunch during work this past month, I've ordered burgers. I feel like they're my default comfort food. During my Christmas kitchen shopping spree, I bought a meat grinder attachment for my new stand mixer. And of course, I christened it by making some amazing burgers.

I wasn't sure what kind of meat to go with so I just went to the market to browse and make an impromptu decision. Because I'm not the biggest fan of ultra lean meats I didn't want to use something too boring like sirloin. Short ribs were too expensive, skirt steak seemed to sinewy, and I didn't think chuck would offer much flavor. Then, I found a pair of amazing looking ribeye steaks and I was sold.
I basically recreated my stacked burger recipe and it was honestly the most decadent burger I've ever had. To offset the decadence a smidge (and to give some crunch and vegetation to the meal) we had a lightly dressed Caesar salad.

This isn't going to follow the usual format of my posts. Instead, I'm going to walk through the steps I took to use my meat grinder and to assemble some of the best burgers ever.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Korean Sweet Filled Pancakes (2) | Hodduk (호떡)

Korean adults are notoriously picky when it comes to desserts. When I was growing up, our family parties were great but when it came to dessert, we had fruit and barely sweet rice cakes (the sticky Korean rice cakes, not those popcorn-y kind); we never had chocolate or cake or anything made with white sugar.

Once in a while though, when we had catered parties, we would get treated to hodduk a.k.a. Korean pancakes with sweet filling. The downside though was that the hodduk was usually filled with red bean paste, which I abhor. However, sometimes, we got ones that were filled with honey or brown sugar, which I loved.

So, now that I'm old enough to make my own dietary decisions, I make hodduk all the time and I always make it with good fillings (re: anything that isn't red bean). I usually go with a brown sugar filling because the moisture from the honey can make the dough soggy which makes them impossible to make ahead.

I shared a hodduk recipe a few years ago but I thought it was time for an update because I've adjusted the ingredient quantities slightly since that initial post. Plus, like I've been doing here and there, I'm revamping some of my older posts that were made with poorer quality iPhone photos.
Ingredients [yields 2 to 2½ dozen]:
¾ cup milk, warmed
2 teaspoons sugar
1½ teaspoons dry active yeast
3 to 3¼ cups flour
1 teaspoon salt

¼ cup brown sugar, packed
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup finely chopped nuts (hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, or whatever you like)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Bibimbap Bar

For our family Christmas party a few weeks ago, we decided to make bibimbap. We love setting out food buffet style, so we turned our kitchen island into a bibimbap bar and everyone got to make their own.
We served:
cucumbers (salted and squeezed)
mung bean sprouts (blanched, squeezed, and seasoned with sesame oil))
zucchini (sauteed)
red onions (sauteed)
spinach (blanched, squeezed, and seasoned with sesame oil)
oyster mushrooms (sauteed)
shredded carrots (sauteed)
romaine lettuce (shredded)
julienned radish kimchi
ripe avocado (cubed)
ground beef (seasoned with soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, and sesame oil)
diced chicken (seasoned with soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, and sesame oil)
and fried eggs

Monday, January 18, 2016

Barley Tea | Boricha (보리차)

Barley tea was almost always in the fridge when I was growing up. Barley tea ("boricha" a.k.a. "보리차" in Korean) is really good for you. I feel like most of the time, my mom would have to force feed me the random healthy dishes she'd make (like anything with ginseng) but barley tea was probably the only thing I ever consumed of my own accord.

Barley tea is full of antioxidants and it's good for circulation and digestion. It has a light, nutty taste (it almost has a toasted popcorn flavor) and when it's chilled, it's incredibly refreshing.
Ingredients [yields 2 to 3 quarts]:
½ cup barley
2 to 3 quarts water

Friday, January 15, 2016

Blistered Shishito Peppers

Back in September, I visited my friend H in Connecticut and we had an amazing happy hour at Max Fish. One of the dishes I most enjoyed was a bowl of roasted shishito peppers. So, when I finally got my hands on a package, I decided to make them the same way.

This post is going to be stupidly simple so I'm also sharing the salt rock beef that we enjoyed alongside the peppers. Maybe that's some consolation.
½ lb. shishito peppers
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Yeasted Buttermilk Waffles

Our family is pretty casual about Christmas gifts and this past holiday was probably the most casual its been in years. We got my dad a pair of comfy slippers and the only gifts under the tree for my sister and me were pajama sets and slippers that we'd each picked out for ourselves a few weeks prior. However, my kitchen always cleans up Christmas. Because of Black Friday deals and all of the sales, I end up buying lots of bits and bobs for the kitchen and this year, I made two larger purchases including a waffle iron.

Back in college, our dining halls had awesome cast iron waffle makers - the kind that flip over and beep when they're ready - so that's what I wanted. I found one that fit the bill on Amazon and it's even more awesome because the waffle plates are removable which makes cleaning it a breeze.

To christen this babe of a waffle maker, I was just going to whip up a regular batch of buttermilk batter but then, I went ahead and made a yeasted batter because I wanted something a bit more special for the first go. Even though this batter takes some time, the result is an amazingly flavorful, crisped up waffle that is certainly worth the effort.
Ingredients [yields 2 to 2½ cups batter]:
¼ cup warm water
2 teaspoons honey
1¼ teaspoons dry active yeast
¼ cup butter, melted and cooled
1 cup buttermilk
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1¼ cups flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 egg, room temperature

Monday, January 11, 2016

Loaded Smashed Potatoes

As much as I love Trader Joe's, we live two minutes from a major grocery store so we don't go there quite as often as I'd like. However, since TJ's is located adjacent to our favorite Vietnamese restaurant, I try and coordinate the visits together; I'm an engineer so I'm all about efficiency. On our most recent trip, I was looking for halloumi and though I was unsuccessful in that regard, I found a block of truffle cheddar which was a different kind of victory. I have a hard time resisting anything with the word 'truffle' in it (minus the chocolate kind) so I popped it in the cart.

Fast forward a day and I was making a steak dinner. And despite my sister's newly discovered potato allergy, we'd gone too long without them so I started making smashed potatoes as a side dish. I opened up the truffle cheese thinking it would make a yummy topping. I took a taste and I was blown away. It was super truffle-y and fragrant and then I decided I had to go all out and load up these potatoes generously so I could do this cheese some justice.

The end result was a pile of fluffy potatoes with crispy skins topped with generous amounts of flavor-laden toppings and we were all obsessed, including my sister with her allergy. And despite the steak being incredibly tender and delicious, and perhaps the best steak I'd made in years, it took a backseat to the glory of the smashed potatoes.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
2 lbs. baby yukon gold potatoes
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
3 slices bacon
½ cup grated truffle cheddar
½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup cream cheese
2 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tablespoons bacon fat
2 scallions, chopped
+ 1 teaspoon black truffle oil

Friday, January 8, 2016

What I Ate: Korean Food (2)

The last time I did a Korean food roundup, it went really well (and it got a lot of hits) so I thought I would do it again. It's a fun way for me to share my everyday dinners and I feel like it's a nice way to provide meal inspiration.
Basically, Korean food is always a favorite in the wintertime because of the spicy soups. They're super comforting and delicious and perfect for feeling cozy.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Coconut Peas & Rice (2)

You guys, I'm so depressed. On Monday, I went back to work after an eleven day Christmas staycation and when I left the house, it was 27F and it was the worst. And then yesterday, it was 8F. And now this morning, it's 11F and it took 15 minutes (which is basically the length of my commute) for the car windows to defrost. I know I should be thankful to have a job and that my house is so warm that when I step out into cold, my whole body hurts but these wintry cold days with truncated durations of sun exposure give me really bad case of SADD. I need a tropical getaway really badly. I know, I just went to Grand Cayman in November, but that feels like a lifetime ago and my tan has completely faded so I can't even hold onto that souvenir for comfort.

This is when I turn to food to comfort me and I like reliving meals I've had on my enjoyable holidays to sort of transport me back.

In the summer of 2012, I went to Turks & Caicos with my sister and we went to a fancy restaurant called Seven. We enjoyed an amazing dinner and had this great side dish of coconut peas and rice. It was so good that when we got home, I tried to recreate it and I came up with a pretty decent version. But since that first go around, I've modified the recipe and it's become a bit more coconutty and flavorful. Instead of water, I've been using chicken stock which adds a ton of flavor and savoriness. Anyway, it's become delicious enough that I decided I had to share the updated version. I love it because it's so yum but also because it reminds me of our holiday; this is like my weirdo self-prescribed medication for SADD.
1 tablespoon butter
½ onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1½ cups jasmine rice
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup coconut milk
½ cup chicken stock
½ cup peas
2 scallions, chopped

Monday, January 4, 2016

Caesar Salad Dressing

I've never really been into Caesar dressing. Actually, let me clarify that I've never really been into bottled Caesar dressing. It's always a little too salty and a little goopy and frankly, gross. I've never really been into the typical Caesar salad that's served in restaurants. However, at fancy restaurants, I absolutely love the Caesar. Fancy places use good quality parmesan and I can always tell when the dressing was freshly made because it has a good amount of tang and flavor.

During our recent trip to Philly, we had an amazing brussels sprout Caesar salad and it made me crave Caesar salads for weeks afterwards. Since we had anchovies in the fridge, I decided to make a batch for dinner one night.
Ingredients [yields about ½ cup dressing]:
1 egg yolk
1 clove garlic, pressed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
½ teaspoon Worcestershire
4 anchovy fillets (in oil)
¼ to ⅓ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
½ teaspoon pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons grated parmesan

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2016!
Thanks to everyone who reads my blog. I started this thing almost five years ago as a way to share recipes with my sister who was away at school and trying to cook for herself. Now, it's still one of my favorite hobbies. And, I've managed to branch out a bit and I've been trying to get more active on Food52 (and I actually won a contest!).

I hope to cook a lot more delicious foods this year and maybe branch out into other cuisines I've never explored before.

I want to try cooking more Brazilian dishes (my coworker gave me a stack of cookbooks months ago and I have yet to crack into a recipe), I want to try and make pho, and I really want to make soup dumplings. We shall see what the near year brings!

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