Monday, February 29, 2016

Homemade Mini Bangers

Mrs. Featherbottom is my favorite English nanny; sorry Nanny McPhee.

I bought a meat grinder attachment and then I bought a sausage extruding attachment for my Kitchenaid mixer a little while ago. I thought about what kind of sausage I wanted to try making for my first go around. I considered breakfast sausage and Italian sausage, but considering that they're both readily available at my local grocery (and already pretty delicious), I thought I'd give something a bit less accessible a go. My sister brought up an amazing sausage we had at the Wetherspoon's chain at the London Victoria station years ago. It was a super tender, soft sausage that made us go wide-eyed. That settled it: I was going to try and make a banger.

Bangers got their name from their tendency to explode during cooking. During WWI, the sausage mixture was literally watered down (with water) and with bread. The increased moisture content would cause the mixture to expand drastically and split the casings. I decided to go with smaller sausages, which I thought would help prevent the splitting phenomenon (because that makes it harder for the sausages to cook evenly). And, I thought it would be cuter.

I didn't water down my sausage mixture with water but I did add breadcrumbs. The breadcrumbs give the sausages a more tender texture, which is exactly what I was going for. I used fresh thyme and grated nutmeg because I like the way they taste with pork but I think sage is also a common seasoning (and I think it would be delicious). I had actually bought sage to use in this recipe but I guess it fell out of the cart at the store. It worked out in the end though, because the thyme was fragrant enough and the sausages turned out delicious.
Ingredients [yields 3 to 4 dozen links]:
3 lbs. pork shoulder, cut into chunks
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon thyme leaves, chopped (or sage)
3 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup breadcrumbs
+ ⅜" sausage casing

By the way, this whole week is going to be dedicated to English fare.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Spicy Baja Fish Tacos

I love my fishmonger. My sister and I go grocery shopping every Saturday and usually we're too lazy to go to more than one shop. However, lately, we've been making an effort to go pick up really fresh seafood from a local fish shop. It's definitely more expensive than the fish sold in our grocery store but so much fresher and more delicious and there's more variety. So, I've been ignoring the cost and enjoying the seafood.

Two weekends in a row back in January, we bought chilean sea bass and enjoyed some amazing fish tacos. I hadn't had fish tacos in a long time, probably not since my original baja fish tacos post which was over a year ago. Now, all I want to eat is fish tacos.

This recipe is only slightly different from my previous one; I just added some spices to the batter along with a little more leavening. But it's a delicious change that I thought was worth sharing.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
fried fish
1 lb. chilean sea bass, cut into strips (or any sturdy white fish of your choice)
½ cup flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ancho chili powder
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon cumin
 to ½ cup beer
+ oil for frying

fish tacos
dozen tortillas
pico de gallo
1 avocado, sliced
1 lime, cut into wedges
chipotle sauce
sour cream
hot sauce
cilantro leaves
escovitch pickles

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Yellow Corn Tortillas

Most of my Mexican food knowledge comes from the year or so I spent in Baltimore for work. I've mentioned this before, but my coworker G's wife who is an amazing cook, would spoil G with home cooked lunches and sometimes G would spoil me. The white corn tortillas that I shared years ago was a result of conversations with G who explained that his wife would make masa (with dried corn and lye) but in a pinch, she would use masa harina.

In browsing through my grocery store's website, I realized that I'd been buying masarepa to make my tortillas instead of masa harina. I'd just been grabbing the bag of white cornmeal from the latin section without even thinking about it. This led me down some insane Google hole; I was trying to figure out the difference between masarepa, masa harina, harina de maiz, and basically anything with the word "harina" (which means flour in Spanish) and "maiz" (which means corn) and "masa" (which means dough).

In the end, I didn't make any intelligent conclusions because, as it turns out, combinations of these words are used in several different countries and can mean several different things. And, I figured it really didn't matter, as long as the end result was edible. I bought a bag of Goya-brand yellow "harina de maiz" (which I suspect is literally just cornmeal, as it had a recipe for corn muffins on the back) and used Goya-brand white "masa harina" to make these yellow corn tortillas and they turned out awesome. I guess the moral of the story is that research is great but the execution is what actually matters; or something like that.
Ingredients [yields 1 dozen tortillas]:
1½ cups yellow harina de maiz
½ cup masa harina (or masarepa)
¼ teaspoon salt
1¼ to 1½ cups hot water

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Escovich Pickles

Back in November, my family and I went on holiday to Grand Cayman and we enjoyed so many amazing fish dishes. One preparation that we enjoyed multiple times (because it was that good) was escovitch. Basically, it was fried fish topped with pickled onions and habanero peppers. The acidity of the pickles cut through the grease of the fried fish; it was a perfect and complementary combination.

I'd been meaning to make escovich since the day we got back. Unfortunately, no grocery stores near me had habanero peppers in stock for months. Well, recently my sister spotted them in the produce section (finally!) so we bought a bunch and I finally made my escovitch pickles. Instead of a normal fried fish dish, I ended up making fish tacos (which I'll be sharing on Friday) and using these as a topping. I don't think I can limit myself to putting these pickles only on fried fish. They're so good and spicy and a perfect kimchi alternative for non-Korean foods.
Ingredients [yields ½ pint]:
4 shallots, sliced
4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
4 habaneros, cut into strips
¾ cup malt vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Mixed Rice with Sashimi | Hwe Dup Bap (회덮밥)

Yesterday's spicy scallop rolls were just an appetizer before the star of our meal, hwe dup bap. Hwe dup bap is basically bibimbap except with fresh sashimi, greens, and seaweed salad as the mix-ins. When I was young, my parents would get hwe dup bap all the time while my sister and I would get either regular bibimbap or rice with pieces of grilled unagi on top. As kids, we were just too squeamish about raw fish.

But, now that we're older with more refined palates, we're all about that sushi. We frequent a local all-you-can-eat joint regularly and it's been great. But, I was in the mood for this more Korean preparation of sashimi. So, I popped by the fishmonger and bought up their sushi-grade fare to make this old favorite at home.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
4 cups cooked sushi rice
2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

½ lb. salmon, thinly sliced (sushi-grade)
½ lb. tuna, thinly sliced (sushi-grade)
1 avocado, sliced
2 cups chopped red leaf lettuce
1 cup seaweed salad
1 scallion, chopped
handful nori, cut into strips
baby cucumber, julienned

½ cup hot pepper paste
¼ cup apple juice
½ teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

Monday, February 22, 2016

Spicy Scallop Roll

Everyone tells me I need to watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Perhaps once I watch it, I might be a bit better at making sushi; the keyword in that sentence being "perhaps." I'm pretty rubbish at making sushi (not counting Korean "sushi" a.k.a. kimbap, which I've got some standard skills in) though, to be honest, I don't make it v. often. The only other sushi post I've shared so far is salmon skin rolls, which are kind of a cop out, as they don't contain raw fish. Oh well. But, here's the thing: I'm not a sushi master so me sharing how to make a standard tuna roll would be kind of dodgy, you know? And really, what is there to a standard roll other than nori, rice, and the chosen piece of raw fish, right? I mean, in that case, you should go watch Jiro do his thang. Instead, I'm sharing slightly more complicated rolls with accoutrements and fancy seasonings to make it more worth my while (and frankly, worth your while as well).

Anyway, I'm here to save those salmon skin rolls from their insane loneliness of being the only sushi recipe on the blog. I'm rescuing them with spicy scallop rolls. Spicy scallop rolls are actually one of my favorites (along with white tuna, yellowtail & jalapeno, salmon skin rolls, and unagi). I love the soft texture of the scallops and the spicy seasoning. On a whim, I decided I wanted to make hwe dup bap (which I'll actually be sharing tomorrow). Whilst at the fishmonger's, I just generally asked what they had available that was sushi-grade. The answer: tuna, salmon, and scallop. So, I decided to use the tuna and salmon for the hwe dup bap and the scallops to make some sushi.
Ingredients [yields 1 to 1½ dozen rolls]:
6 scallops, cleaned and dried
¼ cup spicy mayo (see below)
½ scallion, finely chopped
¼ cup shallot crunchies
1 cup cooked sushi rice
2 sheets nori

spicy mayo
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
½ teaspoon malt vinegar
dash Worcestershire
2 teaspoons Sriracha
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon sesame oil
¼ cup canola oil

shallot crunchies
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons panko
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon chopped shallot
+ oil for frying

Friday, February 19, 2016

What I Ate: Fried Chicken

I applied the breading technique used to make my spicy chicken sandwiches with a pile of chicken wings. I made some buttermilk biscuits. I also made sauteed rainbow chard. And, we had some leftover rice pilaf because we really needed another carb on the table.
Basically, I made mini fried chicken with some awesome sides and it was like a little mini southern comfort-esque meal.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

What I Ate: Pasta with Sausage & Arugula

I normally like to have a minimal amount of words in my 'what I ate' posts. However, today's is a bit different. It's a 'what I ate' because I didn't do a full on photo diary. However, I wanted to share the recipe because it was such a success. I didn't really know what I was doing when I started this pasta dish, but by the end, I was just throwing in a bit of this, a bit of that, and then I ended up with this awesome pot of deliciousness. It was so delicious that I think each of us went in for seconds, then thirds, and my sister went in for a fourth.

I'm not sharing my usual step-by-step, but if you scroll to the bottom, I have a recipe page for you.
Ingredients [serves 4 to 6]:
1 lb. pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon crushed pepper flakes
½ onion, diced
½ bell pepper, diced
4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
2 anchovy fillets
1 lb. Italian sausage (I used a mix of hot and sweet)
4 oz. tomato paste
1 cup chicken stock
½ cup milk
salt to taste
2 oz. parmesan rind, chopped
¼ cup pickled cherry peppers + juices
2 cups baby arugula
¼ cup + ¼ cup grated parmesan

Monday, February 15, 2016

Spicy Braised Monkfish | Agu Jjim (아구찜)

Happy Birthday to a bunch of presidents! I have a much needed day off from work today during which I am going to lounge around and get some blog posts written. It's going to be a good day for that because it's frickin' cold outside and the wind is howling so hard I can't even concentrate on the television. It's definitely the type of weather meant for steaming hot dishes and today I'm sharing one of my favorite dining out Korean dishes: spicy braised monkfish.

Monkfish is one of the most terrifying, ugliest creatures on the planet. If you've never seen one, go have a google and then come back. But, they say it's what's on the inside that counts and in this case, what's on the inside is pure deliciousness. Monkfish meat is really hearty and firm (almost like lobster) which makes it delicious in a stir fry, in a soup, in a stew, grilled, roasted; basically the point is that it's pretty versatile.

My initial exposure to monkfish was through Korean food. On the occasion that we would go out for Korean food (which was rare considering my mom was an awesome home chef specializing in Korean food), my parents would order agu jjim. I didn't know what 'agu' was for years. I just ate it contentedly. When I found out it was monkfish and saw how ugly it was, I continued eating it contentedly because that's just the kind of person I am. (Don't get me wrong, if I was happily enjoying a dish and someone told me it was puppy or baby or poison, I would stop; but in general, I'm pretty unaffected by the contents if they're delicious.)

Eating agu jjim in restaurants is delicious but the proportions are always a bit off for me. There's maybe 3 or 4 pieces of fish surrounded by an endless sea of bean sprouts. Restaurants also add sea squirts, which look like dehydrated eyeballs (and taste like it too) and I am not a fan. Obviously, that's why I love making it at home. I can customize the proportions to my liking and I can eat it in my pajamas. Oh! Also, the monkfish served in restaurants is often times the tail end with the bone and skin left in tact, which means, you have to suck the meat off the bone and then spit out the stretchy skin (which is like chewing a rubber band). I buy monkfish fillet, cleaned and deboned, which makes for a much more elegant eating experience.
Ingredients [serves 2]:
1 tablespoon canola oil (or any neutral tasting oil)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 long hot pepper, sliced
3 Thai chili peppers, split
3 tablespoons hot pepper flakes (gochugaru)
¼ cup water or chicken stock
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 monkfish fillet (about ¾ lb.)
3 cups mung bean sprouts
1 cup greens (baby kale, watercress, spinach)
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 scallion, chopped
+ handful dduk
+ fresh noodles

Friday, February 12, 2016

Carne Asada Fajitas

When I was younger, on the rare occasions that my mother didn't want to make dinner, we would go out to one of three restaurants: Bennigan's, Macaroni Grill, or Chili's. Chili's was a favorite of mine because someone at the table would always order fajitas and I always looked forward to the sizzling pan of meat and peppers being brought out and presented to the table. That sound will forever be one of my favorites.

Accompanying the fajitas was a little round tortilla warmer that always contained just three tortillas. We, as a family, always found it mind boggling that the pan had enough meat for probably five or six fajitas and my mom said it was because they were being cheap. So, as soon as the food was brought over, she'd immediately ask for more tortillas. Making fajitas at home means that we overcompensate by making a ton of each ingredient so that we won't run out of anything which is why I think dining in is the best.

At first I thought it was weird that I hadn't shared any fajita recipes on my blog yet, but then I realized that we don't really eat them all that often. We eat skirt steak with rice & beans and tortillas all the time but I always call that a taco or a weird burrito. I don't know what the official definition is, but I call it a fajita whenever the meat has a chili pepper seasoning and there are fried onions and peppers alongside the meat.

Oh, and by the way, I know Valentine's Day is this weekend and I think that if a guy gave me some sizzling meat (pun intended?) I would find it super romantic. What I'm trying to say is that you should make carne asada fajitas to celebrate with your honey or for Galentine's Day or just because you want to and not because you buy into this Hallmark holiday.
Ingredients [serves 4 to 6]:
marinated meat
2 lbs. flap meat or skirt steak
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 teaspoon clementine zest
2 tablespoons lime juice
¼ cup clementine juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
2 teaspoons chipotle chili flakes
1 teaspoon Worcestershire
¼ cup olive oil

1½ to 2 dozen tortillas (flour or corn)
½ red onion, sliced
½ sweet onion, sliced
1 bell peppers, sliced
pico de gallo
lime wedges
hot sauce

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Guacamole (2)

Avocado is one of my favorite foods ever. I love the color, the creamy texture, and the versatility. My favorite preparation is simple avocado toast (or loaded avocado toast) for sure, but my first introduction to avocado was guacamole so it'll always have a special spot in my heart (and stomach).

I shared a guacamole post a few years ago but I thought it was time for an update. The recipe hasn't changed drastically but the photography looks much nicer, I'd say.

I honestly don't make guacamole all that often because these days, I tend to prefer avocado in its "purest" form. However, whenever I have an avocado that looks like it's about to go off and is maybe just a little too soft to be sliceable, then I see it as the perfect opportunity to mash them up. Guacamole is definitely best when made with slightly overripe avocados, as the softer texture makes them easier to smash up and even if there's an unsightly brown spot here or there, it gets blended into the rest of the dip so it doesn't even matter.
1 ripe avocado
1 tablespoon lime juice
½ jalapeno, finely diced (remove seeds if you're averse to spice)
1 baby orange pepper, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Homemade Flour Tortillas

I had purchased a package of sirloin steak tips with the intent of slicing the beef against the grain and then marinating it in some sort of Korean kalbi seasoning but after watching a salsa commercial on television, I was immediately hit with a craving for Mexican food and decided I needed to make fajitas with the beef. I rifled through the shelves of the pantry to see if we had any tortillas and when I came up empty, I naturally decided to make my own.

This recipe is loosely based on one that my coworker gave me when I was working in Baltimore a few years ago. G always brought in homemade lunches, made by his wife, which we all looked on with envy. When he found out that I loved food, especially Mexican, he would occasionally bring in a second portion for me to enjoy; one time he included a slice of tres leches cake (I know, I'm so lucky). One day, he handed me a foil packet to accompany my little pile of carnitas. I opened it up to reveal steaming flour tortillas. They were amazing and made me want to burn down every Mission tortilla factory, as they are a crime against genuine tortillas. Anyway, I asked for the recipe but because his wife would always just throw in a little of this, a little of that, what I ended up with was a list of five ingredients but no proportions. I had to work that out myself and this is the end result.
Ingredients [yields 2 dozen tortillas]:
2 to 2½ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup shortening
¾ cup hot water

Monday, February 8, 2016

New Orleans-Style Beignets

Did everyone enjoy the big game yesterday? I really couldn't have given the smallest F about the teams this year so I did what I usually do - I watched everything other program on television except the Super Bowl and just tuned in for the halftime show and then rewatched it again on youtube later in the evening before going to bed. Yes, I am a proud American.

I do always participate in the main Super Bowl Sunday tradition of gorging on junk food though and it was glorious. I had a bunch of Americanized Mexican food (re: nachos and inauthentic tacos and dips), sipped on a beer (or three), and topped it all off with a clementine because hello, it's still the first quarter of the year and I'm trying to watch my weight. For dessert, I partook in a few hot beignets, which I am outlining below. I had smartly frozen the leftovers in anticipation of future donut-related hunger pangs and it paid off.

Back in October, I went to New Orleans for the first time. We felt like a trip to Café du Monde was obligatory so H and I went to share a plate of beignets with a cup of coffee each. Even though I felt as though the experience of chowing down on hot beignet in one of the most humid cities ever was rather hyped up, it turns out that the praise is totally valid. The beignets were super light and airy with a crisp exterior and even though the pile of sugar was excessive, it was compulsory.

As I am prone to do, I wanted to make beignets at home because I can't be popping down to Café du Monde every time I have a beignet craving. I basically came up with this by combining a donut recipe with a brioche recipe to get that buttery but light texture that I so enjoyed in NOLA. And you know what? It's pretty good.
Ingredients [yields 2 to 3 dozen mini beignets]:
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon dry active yeast
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
2½ to 3 cups flour
2 tablespoons shortening
+ oil for frying
+ powdered sugar

Friday, February 5, 2016

Piña Coladas

We were actually pretty spoiled this season in terms of weather. There were a few days in December where it was over 70F and unlike the year before, we didn't see any snow until just a few weeks ago. And though we've had just a little snow this morning, I think it's supposed to be warm enough that it'll all melt this afternoon. However, I'm super sick of winter already. The short days are depressing and I hate the way I shiver in my car all the way to work.

When I'm feeling blue, I tend to turn to food for comfort. I don't mean that I sit in my pajamas, shoveling chips in my face, weeping over a bowl of marshmallows and cartons of ice cream. I like to use food to cheer myself up. On this particular occasion, I turned to a favorite tropical drink that reminds me of beach holidays: the piña colada!
Ingredients [for 2]:
1 cup ice
2 cups diced pineapple
3 oz. Malibu
3 oz. Rumchata
3 tablespoons cream of coconut
1 cup coconut water
4 pineapple wedges
2 marachino cherries
2 tablespoons toasted coconut flakes

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Bun Bo Hue

Last spring, I was sent to the Boston metro area for work for a few weeks. While I was there, I had a major craving for Vietnamese food and ended up finding a little banh mi shop called N&H Saigon Subs. I got a banh mi sandwich and at the suggestion of the shop owner, I got a bowl of the bun bo hue.

Bun bo hue is a noodle soup that originated in the city of Hue. It's my new favorite Vietnamese soup (sorry, pho) because it's deep, rich, and as made obvious by its red color, it's spicy.

After I got back from my work assignment up north, I headed to my favorite local Vietnamese shop and realized they also had bun bo hue on the menu. I immediately had pangs of depression that I'd been coming here for years without knowing about this awesome soup.

To pay tribute to my new love, I decided to try making my own version at home. I read a few articles, watched the episode of Parts Unknown where Tony goes to Hue and basically describes it as his favorite place, and researched where I might locally buy the ingredients I needed. I based the flavors of my recipe on the one I've been enjoying at my nearby Vietnamese restaurant and a version I tried whilst visiting Philly, where one of the ingredients listed in the menu description was pineapple. I found the proteins, seasonings, and produce I needed at an Asian market nearby and this post demonstrates the fruits of my labor.

It's definitely a long process (you'll have to dedicate about 4 hours one day and 1 to 2 on the second day) but it's worth it.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
2 lbs. pork neck bones
2 lbs. sliced pork legs
1 lb. beef oxtails
1 lb. beef shank
10 to 12 cups water
6 lemongrass stalks, bruised
8 cloves garlic, smashed
knob ginger, smashed
½ pineapple, quartered
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
salt to taste

½ cup canola oil
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons shrimp paste
2 lemongrass stalks, bruised
6 cloves garlic
8 Thai chili peppers

4 to 6 servings bun rice noodles
1 lb. Vietnamese pork roll, sliced
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
2 cups mung bean sprouts
2 cups shredded lettuce
2 limes, cut into wedges

Monday, February 1, 2016

Korean Rice Cake & Dumpling Soup | Dduk Mandu Guk (떡만두국)

Every year of my life, I've woken up on New Year's Day and eaten a big bowl of dduk guk. The past few years, my sister and I have been making kimchi mandu a few days before the holiday so that we could enjoy a heartier bowl of soup.

I've been a bit lazy about documenting the process of making dduk guk. In fact, my previous dduk guk post is just a singular photo and some vague instructions. So, when 2016 rolled around, I took the time to make a decent photo diary.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
1 lb. beef shanks
8 to 10 cups water
6 cloves garlic, smashed

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sesame oil
salt to taste
handful glass noodles
4 cups sliced rice cake
12 mandu
2 eggs, separated
1 scallion, chopped
1 sheet laver, cut into strips
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