Friday, January 31, 2014

Lox & Cucumber Crostini

Lox, nova, smoked salmon, whatever you like to call it is fine, just call it delicious. I love the flavor and the texture and the smell and the color; it's a treat for all of the senses.

Over the weekend, I had a sudden craving for lox so I bought a little packet at the grocery store, along with some great crusty bread and cucumbers and put together some cute open-faced sandwiches. I felt super Barefoot Contessa-y as I was making these because they're just so visually appealing. Ina Garten is my hero when it comes to making food that looks fresh and colorful and beautiful.

Ugh, I'm seriously in love with my own photography in this post. And not because I'm some narcissist who's in love with my own photography skills (which are totally amateur and riddled with flaws) but because the food itself just photographs so well. Note to self: eat (and blog) more colorful foods.
Ingredients:
bread - something delicious and crusty like french bread or ciabatta, sliced (and toasted gently, if desired)
lox / nova / smoked salmon (I believe there are v. slight differences between each of these but I'm unfamiliar with the details)
cream cheese (I used vegetable cream cheese but plain, chive, sundried tomato, whatever you like is good)
baby seedless cucumber, thinly sliced
red onion, thinly sliced
capers, drained

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Overnight Oats

This week is all about oats, it seems. Oat week! Anyway, one of the most obvious oat recipes is oatmeal but I am not a fan (though I do enjoy The Oatmeal). For me, texture is a huge part of enjoying food and the texture of oatmeal just doesn't do anything for my mouth; it's just too mushy and soft.

I've been seeing overnight oats everywhere for probably over a year now and I automatically assumed it was just going to be too similar to oatmeal so I had no motivation to try it. However, I pride myself on being the type of person who will try (almost) anything once. I have my limits but in general, I don't like to write things off on the assumption that I won't like it. I want to try it and confirm whether I dislike it or be pleasantly surprised and since I had purchased a humongous tub of oats (to make granola with) it was the perfect time to try. And obviously, since I'm sharing, the result was that I was pleasantly surprised to find that I like overnight oats.
There are several recipes out there but I'm sharing the proportions that I prefer. Most recipes I've seen use a lot more liquid (equal ratio of oats to milk to yogurt) but I prefer to use a little less milk and yogurt so that the oats have less liquid to soak up and end up having a little bit of chew (remember what I said above about the texture of oatmeal?). Plus, I like when it's less soupy and goopy. If you prefer the soupier, goopier version, then go Google someone else's recipe. I won't be offended, I swear. But please come back and take a look at some of my other recipes!

Ingredients [for one]:
½ cup old fashioned oats
¼ cup milk (I prefer almond milk but you can use regular old cow's milk or soy or coconut, whatever you like)
¼ cup yogurt (I prefer Greek yogurt and flavored yogurts are yummy too)
+ optional flavorings (I've listed a few ideas below)
     fruit - berries, apple, pear, banana, melon, mango, peach
     sweeteners - honey, brown sugar, raw sugar, caster sugar, agave nectar, maple syrup, stevia, etc.
     flavorings - cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract, nut butter, cocoa powder
     other toppings - chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, nuts, dried fruit, flax seeds

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Yogurt & Granola

Today's recipe is one of my favorite breakfasts (I can't just choose one favorite breakfast; this is in the top ten), and it makes an awesome afternoon snack and it's also a nice, healthy dessert alternative. It's yogurt and granola with fruit, if you couldn't tell by the photo below.

In college (Ithaca, NY), there was a Mediterranean restaurant in town called Aladdins. They had this "fruit and nut salad" which was essentially a ton of honeydew and cantaloupe (which I'm slightly allergic to and are the un-yummiest, dumbest fruits, in my opinion), a handful of grapes, and maybe one or two strawberries topped with yogurt and honey and a sprinkle of granola and a bunch of walnuts (which I kind of hate). And people would pay $8 for this stuff! A lot of my friends were obsessed with it to a point where I judged them because it was a dish that could easily be made at home.

This recipe is inspired by that one but it's better. Actually, it's infinitely better because it only has stuff I like in it. This is the joy of making stuff yourself; you can put in ingredients that you like and change up the proportions and customize the portion size too.
Ingredients [for one]:
½ cup greek yogurt (flavor of your choice, I like plain or vanilla and my brand of choice is Chobani)
¼ cup granola (preferably homemade!)
½ cup assorted fruit (berries, apple, pear, mango, banana, kiwi, peaches, nectarines, plums, pineapple, pomegranate; whatever is in season and/or whatever you like, even honeydew and cantaloupe)
drizzle of honey (optional)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Granola

Granola is an adjective I often use to describe overly boho girls who wear hemp and hug trees and sort of grungy guys with heavy dreadlocks and tie-dyed t-shirts who like to play hacky sack. I threw the term around a lot while I was living in Ithaca.

But granola (the noun) is also a delicious, crunchy breakfast treat and that's what I'm sharing today. This version isn't necessarily the healthiest recipe on the planet, but it tastes really good and that's the main component that matters to me. Oats have lots of fiber so even if you're taking in a few calories from the sugar, at least you'll feel full for hours and your BMs will be regular. TMI? Whatever, man. It's natural so get over it.
5 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, cashews, peanuts, etc.) OR 1 additional cup of oats if you don't want to use nuts
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup maple syrup or honey or agave nectar
½ cup canola oil
*optional: you can add dried fruits and seeds to the granola after it's been baked; e.g. dried cranberries, raisins, chia seeds, banana chips, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds,

Friday, January 24, 2014

Strawberry Tartlets

Local strawberry season is late spring to summer around here (northeast US) but lately, my market has been stocking the most amazing (organic) berries, which I guess are from California or Florida or somewhere else warm. Typically, I like to shop for local and seasonal fruit because that's what tends to be the freshest and yummiest but the smell of these berries was so phenomenal, I couldn't pass them up.

I knew I wanted to make a dessert and I considered a few ideas like strawberry shortcake and strawberry cheesecake and a strawberry handpies. But then, I settled on a strawberry tart because I wanted something that would really showcase the fresh berry. And then I decided to make personal-sized tartlets because I thought that they'd be cuter. "Tartlets. Tartlets. Tartlets. Word has lost all meaning." Name that show!
Ingredients [6 tartlets]:
Crust
  ¾ cup all purpose flour
  ½ cup blanched almonds
  2 tablespoon sugar
  1 stick cold butter
Custard
  1 cup cream
  1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  2 tablespoons sugar
  1½ tablespoons corn starch
  ½ teaspoon salt
  2 egg yolks
  1 teaspoon vanilla extract
and you'll need 2 pints of strawberries

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

What I Ate: Butter-Basted Steak

My favorite technique for cooking steak is to baste it in butter on the stovetop.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Potato & Cheese Casserole

Not to sound like a snob, but I hate the way Americans pronounce "potatoes au gratin." It's "oh gruh-TAN," where the 'n' is barely pronounced, not "aww GRATT-in." Honestly, I hate when people exaggerate foreign accents - for example, saying "chee-lay" for Chile or "gabba-gool" for capicola - but there's a difference between forcing an accent and pronouncing something correctly.

Whatever, let's just bypass the problem and call it a potato and cheese casserole instead. Crisis averted, people. Now, I'm calling this particular version gruyere potato casserole because I used gruyere but you could use almost any melty cheese you like.
Ingredients:
4 medium potatoes
1 cup shredded cheese
1 cup cream
2 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
butter for greasing

Friday, January 17, 2014

What I Ate: Fresh Tagliatelle with Pesto

I am in love with my pasta maker. I want to shout it from the mountaintops. Today, I'm sharing a hand-cut tagliatelle with pesto. We ate the pasta with flounder cooked in a parchment paper packet with lots of lemon, cilantro, and garlic and a salad and green beans. It was a good meal.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Nutella Hot Chocolate

I shared a hot chocolate recipe about a month ago but it's time for another one. I mean, it's winter time, the weather is cold, and drinking warm treats just makes the world seem like a cozier place. Yesterday morning, I was dreaming about this hot chocolate as I was scraping ice off of my car.

The special thing about today's hot chocolate recipe is that it's flavored with Nutella. If you don't know, Nutella is a chocolate hazelnut spread and it's so delicious. I'm an incredibly big fan (seriously like one of those obsessive fan-girl freak out fans like omg) because I'm allergic to peanuts so while everyone else ate peanut butter sandwiches, I'd have Nutella sandwiches instead, but that has nothing to do with this recipe so I should move on.

Some winter nights, I want to have something sweet after dinner but I don't necessarily want to chow down on a piece of cake, and that's where this drink comes in. It's sweet and decadent without being too over the top and that little hint of Nutella makes it feel extra indulgent.
Ingredients:
1 cup milk (cow milk, skim milk, almond milk, etc.)
3 tablespoons chocolate chips
1 tablespoon Nutella
pinch of salt
+ marshmallows for garnish

*P.S. If you have a big sweet tooth, you can add in more chocolate and/or Nutella. Just don't go overboard, as you will end up with a ganache instead of a drink.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

What I Ate: Profiteroles

I've posted a step-by-step post for profiteroles previously so I won't be detailing them in this today. These are slightly different because instead of piping them, I used my trusty cookie scoop (1½ tablespoon size) and instead of whipped cream, I filled them with a vanilla custard, which is quite similar to the custard I make for my coconut pie except without the coconut, of course.
{the vanilla custard}

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Buttermilk Biscuits

If I were a cute little grandma from somewhere down south, like Georgia or Alabama or something, and I were sharing my passed-down-for-generations biscuit recipe, this post would be so much more exciting. However, I'm a Queens-born chick with Korean parents and we used to always have Pillsbury biscuits in our fridge (you know, the kind where you unwrap the can and then press with a spoon to pop the package) so I feel like you might be suspicious of the quality of the following biscuit recipe and I don't blame you!

But, these biscuits are pretty legit. I won't lie; I'm just going to toot my own horn and say that these biscuits are flaky, buttery, tender, and a decent attempt from a non-Southerner.
Ingredients [yields about 6 biscuits]:
1¼ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold butter
⅓ cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon honey

Monday, January 13, 2014

What I Ate: Balsamic Chicken with Polenta

Chicken can be boring, but not if you jazz it up with delicious balsamic vinegar and serve it over cheesy polenta.

Friday, January 10, 2014

DIY Bakery Box

I thought I'd share a quick tutorial for making a bakery box. I made one for the donuts I shared yesterday and I made a few more for the other treats I took to friends during the holiday season and I thought it was cute enough to share.
You'll need:
one half of a gift box (the bottom portion is usually plain and undecorated, which I prefer)
pencil
straight edge
craft knife
glue

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Glazed Yeast Donuts with Sprinkles

If you've made some sort of healthy-eating New Year's resolution, you may want to click out of here ASAP because there will be temptation in the form of cute sprinkle donuts. And unless you have amazing willpower or you're the type of person who hates delicious things, you will start to hate yourself for making that stupid resolution and you'll hate me for posting something like this, just a week into the new year. However, with all this nasty polar vortex business happening outside, you might want to forego the diet for a day and read on.

A hot, freshly made donut is one of the sweeter joys in life. Because (authentic/delicious/good) donuts are deep fried, they tend to taste stale if they're not super fresh (re: still warm), which is why I tend to avoid donut shops. Even the best donut shops will be less-than-delicious if your timing is less-than-perfect. That's why the safest option for avoiding stale donuts is to make them yourself and eat them while they're still hot. If you don't believe me, you've never had a fresh donut before. Besides, I'm the type of person where if I want something done, I'll do it myself; I'll make it and I'll make it right.
Donut Ingredients [yields 1 dozen "normal" sized donuts or 2 dozen mini donuts]:
2 cups all purpose flour
pinch of salt
½ cup milk
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1½ teaspoons dry active yeast
6 tablespoons butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
oil for frying

Glaze Ingredients:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk (might need more or less depending on the humidity of the day)
+ pinch of salt
+ 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
+ sprinkles

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Thai-Style Coconut & Lemongrass Soup

Tom Yum and Tom Ka soups are so delicious but my favorite Thai place charges $7 for a tiny bowl. It's kind of ridiculous. So, the solution is to just make it at home. The following recipe isn't authentically Thai, as it is missing fish sauce, but it has that lemongrassy taste which is what I love about those Thai soups. The benefit is that you can get all of the ingredients at your local supermarket (at least I can) so special trips to exotic grocery stores are rendered unnecessary.
4 to 6 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
1 piece of lemongrass
1 knob of ginger
2" piece of lime peel
6 cilantro stalks
2 to 3 hot peppers, sliced
juice of 1 lime
¼ cup coconut milk
salt and sugar to taste
button mushrooms
cilantro leaves

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Garlic Bok Choy

I think it might be time for me to share something a bit healthier, in the spirit of the new year. I've just been sharing whatever I want, willy nilly, giving no thought to the majority of people out there who are trying to be more health conscious. Well, I'm taking a break from my normal day-to-day decadence to share a simple bok choy preparation. Bok choy is one of my favorite vegetables. It's got a yummy crunchy stalk, a tender leaf, and since it doesn't have much inherent flavor, it can be amped up however you like. Personally, I like it simply sautéed with a decent amount of garlic, and that's what I'm sharing today.
Ingredients:
2 or 3 small heads of baby bok choy
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Monday, January 6, 2014

Longanisa (Redo)

I shared a longanisa recipe two years ago - is that right? My, how time flies - but I wanted to update it. Since I have a nicer camera now, I feel motivated to redo some of my older, uglier posts. Longanisa is a type of sausage - it's got a bunch of roots. I think it's originally a Spanish recipe. There are different versions and recipes out there in the world but the version I make tastes just like the first longanisa I ever tried (at Cocina de GeePee, a Filipino restaurant) and I love it.
Ingredients:
1 lb ground pork (you could use ground chicken or turkey for a leaner option)
⅓ cup brown sugar
3 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soy sauce (I like low sodium)
¼ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Friday, January 3, 2014

Gruyere & Black Pepper Popovers

Yesterday, I shared sugary sticky buns and today I'm sharing a cheesy bread. I feel like I'm supposed to be posting gluten-free, paleo, vegan, vegetable-filled recipes for the new year but I'm doing the complete opposite; literally. There is an abundance of gluten and dairy in this recipe and a glaringly obvious absence of vegetables. Oh well, we can't all be cool and trendy, right? I'll just be the loser who eats herself chubby (or chubbier, if you think I'm already chubby) while the rest of you hit the gym and get all ripped and sexy for summer, which I'm sure will be here quicker than I know it. Or, at least I hope. Summer is my favorite.

Popovers are really delicious but also really cool. There's so much science involved. The batter is started off in a hot oven and immediately, the moisture in the batter - namely, the moisture in the eggs - turns into steam and forces the dough to poof up. Popovers can be made in regular muffin tins but popover pans exist for a reason. The cups in a popover pan are steeper and they're welded to metal dowels and spaced a good distance apart so that heat can travel around the base of each popover more freely. I picked up my popover pan at Home Goods for $10.
Ingredients [yields 6 popovers]:
1 cup all-purpose or bread flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter + more for greasing the pan
2 eggs
1 cup grated gruyere (about 3 or 4 oz.)
+ popover pan or muffin tin

Thursday, January 2, 2014

What I Ate: Sticky Buns

Happy New Year! I'm back at work today after a week and a half vacation. It's going to be rough. To cheer myself up, I'm going to look at photos of the sticky buns I made last, last weekend. Usually, I make Flour Bakery's recipe, but this time around, only the goo is from Flour Bakery. The dough is a just a basic yeast dough.
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