Friday, February 28, 2014

Korean "Army" Stew (2) | Budae Jjigae (부대찌개)

My original budae jjigae post is so ugly! I had to redo it. HAD to. That old one doesn't even look appetizing; it's so unappetizing-looking that it makes me think budae jjigae is gross. Anyway, as I explained in that original post, budae jjigae is a dish that originated during the Korean war. After the war, there wasn't much food so some resourceful Koreans used the leftover rations from US bases - namely hot dogs and spam - and combined them with a Korean staple - kimchi jjigae - to create a saltier, mish-moshy version that makes me really happy.

It can be made many different ways but for me, the must-have components are kimchi (duh), some sort of salted processed meat (ham, spam, hot dogs, bologna), dduk, and noodles (either ramen or glass noodles, a.k.a. dangmyun). Some places even put pasta in their budae jjigae. But honestly, it's up to you what you throw in and it will probably depend on what you have in your fridge and pantry because that's what the spirit of the dish is all about. It's making do with what you have and turning it into something delicious.
Ingredients:
2 cups chopped cabbage kimchi
1 cup water
½ lb tofu, sliced
package of ramen (the spicy kind)
2 to 3 hot dogs, sliced
handful of rice cakes
1 egg
chopped scallions
+ glass noodles, spam, dumplings, cheese, the kitchen sink - seriously, you can put almost anything in here
*by the way, this is a great way to use up overly fermented kimchi

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Crab Cakes with Spicy Aioli

So remember yesterday I said I had a reason for making mayo? Well, this is it. I wanted to make crab cakes with garlic aioli; the mayo was used in the aioli. Womp womp. Just kidding! There are no womps here. This is an exciting thing because it's yummy and yummy things are exciting and if you disagree, then why are you reading a food blog?! You weirdo.

This crab cake recipe is kind of like my little cheap-o secret because I use canned crab meat. What?! Yeah, you heard read me right, I use canned crab meat. Lump crab meat can be pretty expensive, especially if it isn't in season, and I'm not going to buy a bunch of crabs and de-meat (is that a word?) them myself. Canned crab meat, however, is readily available, v. affordable, and it's tastes pretty good if you know how to mask that canned taste. Plus, the crab in crab cakes is mixed with a bunch of other stuff and usually there's some sort of tasty sauce to go with it so why not use the canned kind? Save the good lump crab meat for something where the crab really shines, like a simple crab salad or ooh, a crab ceviche.
Ingredients [yields 6 small crab cakes]:
the cake
6 oz. can lump crab meat (in water, NOT brine)
1 tablespoon lemon juice, fresh squeezed
1 egg
2 tablespoons finely minced red onion (about ¼ of a small red onion)
2 tablespoons finely minced red bell pepper (about ½ baby bell pepper)
1 tablespoon finely minced parsley (curly or flat-leaf, doesn't matter)
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons regular Italian breadcrumbs
¼ cup panko breadcrumbs

the sauce
¼ cup mayo (homemade if you have it)
2 tablespoons finely minced red bell pepper (use the other half of the baby bell pepper from the crab cake)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Sriracha hot sauce (or Vietnamese chili garlic sauce)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Homemade Mayonnaise

I HATE MAYO! I'm sorry but I've never been the biggest fan. It's not about the fat and calories and cholesterol, it's the flavor. There's just something about it that I don't like. I can tolerate it - I won't have a mental breakdown if it's mistakenly spread on my sandwich; I just won't enjoy the sandwich as much.
You might be wondering, "Uh, if you hate mayo, why are you sharing a post about mayo?" I was making a spicy aioli (which will be shared in tomorrow's post) and aioli is essentially mayo with garlic. Since there are zero mayo fans in my house, we didn't have any in our fridge or pantry. And instead of running to the store to buy some, I decided to make some from scratch (because that's what I always seem to do). And then, I figured that since there may be people who like my blog that also like mayonnaise, I'd document it for those special people.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Houston Eats

On Valentine's Day, I hopped on a plane and flew to Houston just for the weekend. I'd never been to Texas before and since my cousin and cousin-in-law were happy to host us and I had a three day weekend, it was the perfect opportunity to go.

The four of us - cousin, cousin-in-law, sister, and myself - are really into good food so indulgent eating was a big theme. We're all going to France together in May as well; I expect that to be one crazy awesome food fest. Anyway, we went to some amazing eateries and I took as many photos as I could remember to and that's what I'm sharing today.
First up: Hay Merchant

Friday, February 21, 2014

Spicy Queso

It's hard to resist those little jars of yellow goo when I'm in the snack aisle grabbing a bag of tortilla chips. It's also pretty hard to say no to Velveeta. But why put God-knows-what chemicals in your body when the real deal is just as delicious and quite simple to make? I don't know! There really is no excuse.

I made this queso wayyyy back when (for our Super Bowl feast). I'm always a few weeks behind on sharing posts just because I have so many queued up. And that's what I have to do to be able to post regularly. I aim for every weekday and sometimes I drop the ball but in general, I do it. Okay, blah blah blah, I completely went off on a tangent there, sorry. So, enough rambling and onto the cheese!
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ onion, diced
½ cup milk
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (or American or Monterey Jack or whatever smoothly melting cheese you like)
1 plum tomato, diced
1 jalapeño, diced

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Jamaican Beef Patties

I've been slightly obsessed with Jamaican beef patties for the past few years. When I lived in Manhattan, I'd often buy one from a local pizzeria on my way home from work. My roommate had similar cravings so she'd get them all the time as well. Recently, I saw them in my market and I threw them in my shopping cart and the obsession flame was ablaze again.

So, I did my best to recreate the flavors of my new favorite store bought Jamaican beef patties. I failed because I have this suspicion that a combination of chemical flavorings and sodium are what made the from-the-box patties super yummy. However, the ones I made were still quite good as well so I'm sharing them.
Ingredients:
crust
2 cups flour
1 stick butter (½ cup)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup cold water

filling
1 lb. ground beef
1 teaspoon olive oil
½ onion
3 cloves garlic
1 habanero pepper
2 sprigs thyme
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon cardamom
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
½ cup breadcrumbs
½ cup beef broth

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Coconut Ice Cream

I'm so sick of winter. But you know, I'm even sicker of people saying that they're sick of winter. I mean, winter happens every year; you'd think we'd all be used to it by now. The reason we're having such a hard time is because we're spoiled. Last year, it hardly snowed so this year, the weekly snow storms seem like overkill and I'm growing tired of wearing thick socks and scraping ice off of my windshield and avoiding the yellow snow spots my pup has been creating all over the yard.

It may seem counter-intuitive and completely inappropriate to make ice cream in the winter, but this is coconut ice cream and the tropical flair encourages me to dream of sunshine and palm trees and that lovely thing called warmth. The last time I had coconut ice cream was at Manelly's in Belize. It was creamy and decadent and amazing. So, I thought I'd make my own version to remind me of that happier, warmer time. Plus, I need to have my own version since I can't visit Manelly's on a daily basis (which I wish I could).
Ingredients:
2 cups half & half (or 1 cup cream and 1 cup milk)
1 vanilla bean
15 oz. can of cream of coconut (sweetened)
2 egg yolks
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
+ toasted coconut flake garnish

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

What I Ate: Dahk Jook

I shared a super easy version of a Korean chicken porridge a little while ago. A few weeks ago, I made it with cornish hen and it was so much better! Like, so freakin' good that I had to use the word "freakin'" which I think is an ugly word but that's how good it was. The chicken bones add a ton of flavor, I guess. Who knew? Everyone knew, myself included; chicken thighs are just way more convenient and less gross to handle. Anyway, I didn't document it in proper recipe fashion, but you can follow my regular recipe and replace the chicken thighs with cornish hen.

Oh! And another thing I did was to add in thinly sliced super spicy hot peppers (the little tiny Thai peppers) to the chicken mix. It was a delicious addition that set our mouths on fire (in a good way).

Monday, February 17, 2014

Spicy Chili

Happy President's Day! I'm still in Houston this morning but will be getting on a plane shortly to head back to the chilly northeast. Speaking of chilly, today, I'm sharing a chili recipe, which I feel like is also nicely in theme with my Texas trip, am I right?

Every February in Ithaca, there was a chili cook-off. This year's festival was actually this past weekend. What perfect timing! Anyway, it's an awesome event because you'd get to try a bunch of different chili recipes and enjoy a bit of live entertainment and just have a lot of fun with friends and strangers alike. Not all of the chili recipes suited my taste though. My perfect chili has a good balance of meat to vegetables, a bit of spice, and be thin enough to be enjoyed like a hearty stewy soup but thick enough to smother a bowl of noodles. This recipe addresses all of those things on my checklist.

Also, a funny little anecdote to accompany this post: my aunt and uncle came over just as I was finishing up this chili. My aunt asked me what I was making and I replied, "Chili." "Shilling?" "Chili." "Shilly?" "CH-ili." "Oh, chili? Like what they have at Wendy's?" Thanks keun-umma (Korean word for aunt - specifically the woman married to my dad's brother). By the way, this chili is better than Wendy's chili, okay?
Ingredients:
1 lb. ground beef
3 strips bacon, chopped
½ onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, chopped
1 habanero, seeded
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 can Ro*tel tomatoes with chilies (or plain diced tomatoes)
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
3 cups water
15 oz. can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
15 oz. can of red beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn
2 tablespoons masa (or corn meal)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day! I'll actually spending this evening on a plane. I'm heading to Houston to visit one of my favorite cousins and her husband (who is now one of my favorite cousins-in-law). Maybe United will give us some heart-shaped cookies. Or maybe, the flight attendants will all be grumpy that they have to work on this fake holiday and refuse to give us the entire can of cola. We shall see.

Valentine's Day is a cute but evil holiday, whether you're in a relationship or not. Single people have to suffer through the agony of feeling extra single because it seems like every happy couple is shoving their love in everyone else's faces. And people in relationships have that pressure on them to do something extra romantic and one-up their Facebook friends with photos a candlelit dinner at the most expensive restaurant in the city, a helicopter ride around some scenic mountains or whatever, and a gift box full of puppies with a rogue kitten that sneaked its way in there - or whatever you personally think is romantic. I've been on both sides of that coin and it can get pretty dumb either way.

But you know what isn't dumb? Eating awesome food. So, I'm sharing a few of my favorite recipes that you could prepare - alone or as a couple - to make this a fun and relaxing Valentine's Day for once. Well, unless you find cooking to be stressful, in which case, skip the trip to the grocery store, order some delicious takeout and turn on the television and veg out a little - alone or as a couple. Maybe throw on a red sweatshirt or heart-stamped socks to commemorate the holiday with just a bit of oomph.

APPETIZERS

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Berry & Poppyseed Bread

I was debating whether or not to bake/cook something Valentine's Day specific. I wasn't really in the mood to brainstorm so I was leaning towards 'not.' But then, I realized we had a bunch of strawberries in the refrigerator that were starting to get past their prime. We also happened to have a few blueberries and raspberries and blackberries. And then, this recipe was born. It's not an obvious V-Day recipe but berries are sweet and romantic so I think it still works.

I wanted to bake something bread-ish that could still be a dessert so this is a multi-tasker. The bread can be eaten warm - either fresh from the oven or toasted - with just a smear of butter for breakfast or with a scoop of ice cream and maybe some chocolate syrup and it would make the perfect dessert. It's not overly sweet, the berries burst in your mouth, and the poppy seeds give great texture.
Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup grated apple (about 1 medium apple)
½ cup almond milk (or regular milk)
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2½ cups fresh berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries)
2 tablespoons poppy seeds

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Vegetarian Soon Tofu Jjigae (야채 순두부찌개)

Soon tofu jjigae was among my first posts back in 2011. I think it's time for an update, don't you? Soon tofu is probably one of the most popular Korean dishes. If you told me that you were sort of new to Korean food but you've tried a few things, I would guess first that you've tried kalbi and/or Korean barbecue but the second thing I would guess is soon tofu.

If you've never had soon tofu jjigae, shame on you! No, I'm kidding, but go try it because it's delicious. Soon tofu is silken tofu (it's just the Korean term) and it's mixed into a spicy and delicious soup. My favorite part of ordering soon tofu jjigae in restaurants is that they bring it to the table while it's still boiling hot and then you crack an egg into it right away. It's awesome.

Today I'm sharing a vegetarian version. You can certainly add some meat or seafood if you like, but the soup is so flavorful on its own, it's really not necessary.
Ingredients:
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon hot pepper flakes (gochugaru)
¼ cup chopped kimchi
4 to 5 cloves garlic
hot peppers (optional)
2 cups water or vegetable stock
2 teaspoons hot pepper paste (gochujang)
2 teaspoons bean paste (dwenjang)
8 oz. silken tofu
enoki mushrooms
2 scallions, chopped
1 egg
*Without the egg this dish is totally vegan too! Just make sure to check the ingredients - vegans and vegetarians alike - in the kimchi and bean paste as sometimes they can contain fish products.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Korean Braised Short Ribs (2) | Kalbi Jjim (갈비찜)

So, it's been two years since my original kalbi jjim post. Compared to my current posts, I find it v. visually unappealing and the writing is sub-par. I don't know, maybe my posts are still visually unappealing and my writing is still sub-par and I'm just delusional. No, you know what? I'm not going to do that whole fishing for compliments, sad sack attitude thing. My blog looks really cute these days and I'm proud! *Clears throat.* Anyway, I've made kalbi jjim I-don't-know-how-many times since that post and when I made it again a few weeks ago, I decided to update my recipe post with prettier photos and a slightly different recipe. Honestly, I cook certain dishes so often that a lot of the time, I just throw things into the pot and measure with my eyes so sometimes I put a little more of one ingredient and sometimes a little less.
Ingredients:
2½ lbs short ribs
2 small daikon radishes
1 onion
1" knob of ginger
6 to 8 cloves of garlic
hot peppers (optional)
¾ cup soy sauce
¼ cup packed brown sugar
½ teaspoon sesame oil
½ cup chestnuts (optional)
4 to 6 cups water
*This version is best if started the day before you want to serve it.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Spicy Octopus Stir Fry (2) | Nakji Bokkeum (낙지볶음)

Recipes evolve and sometimes they can be or have to be adapted to the ingredients you have in your fridge. Last time I made nakji bokkeum, I made it with bell peppers. Today's recipe has dduk (rice cake) and mung bean sprouts because that's what I felt like using that day. And that's how I cook in general. I like to buy what looks fresh and just throw in things that I think will taste good.
Ingredients:
1¼ lbs octopus or squid
2 teaspoons canola oil
3 to 4 garlic cloves
6 to 8 hot peppers (the tiny super spicy kind)
½ onion, sliced
4 king oyster mushrooms
2 cups mung bean sprouts (kongnamul)
½ cup rice cakes (dduk)
handful fresh noodles
2 tablespoons hot pepper paste (gochujang)
1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes (gochugaru)
1 teaspoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
+ sesame seed garnish

Friday, February 7, 2014

Pizza Bread

Remember pizza Fridays in grammar school? I feel like anyone who went to public school had pizza Fridays, but maybe it was just my school district. Whatever. Let's pretend we all had pizza Fridays, okay? Anyway, I used to particularly love French bread pizza Fridays and today's post is inspired by those memories.

The bakery inside of my local market makes really good bread so every weekend, when I do my grocery shopping for the week, I'll take a walk through the bakery section and buy still-warm loaves of fresh bread. I go around, gently pressing each kind of bread until I find one that has the perfect amount of "give" where the crust is firm and crisp but the inside is fluffy enough to respond to my loving squeeze.

I love the Italian bread, in particular, because it's the perfect vessel for making pizza bread. By the way, I don't know why we started calling this "pizza bread" in my house but it's in my vocabulary now and that can't be helped.
Ingredients:
Italian bread or French bread - something with a good hearty crust
tomato sauce (regular or bolognese)
shredded cheese
+ toppings
*I'm not giving exact amounts because it's pretty intuitive. And if you don't think it's intuitive, maybe you haven't consumed enough pizza in your lifetime... and you need to fix that.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Crab Jjigae (게찌개)

The summer after I completed fourth grade, my family went on a vacation to Virginia Beach. We went to Busch Gardens, Colonial Williamsburg, and did a bit of swimming in the ocean but the most memorable part of that trip was the day we spent crabbing.

We went to the local fishing supply place to rent some crab traps - a.k.a. wire cages with a door on one side and a long rope tied to the top - and then we went to the grocery store to buy chicken thighs. My dad tied the chicken to the inside of the cages and then we dropped them into the water and waited. A few minutes later, we pulled up the traps and there were five or six blue crabs in each one! It was so much fun. If my memory serves me correctly, I'm pretty sure we went home with two huge coolers full of those ugly (yet delicious) suckers. Most of them ended up in the freezer and we probably ate them slowly over the course of a year.

My favorite dish that my mama made with our catch was a crab jjigae (게찌개, "gae-jjee-gae"). And as a kid, I loved meticulously digging through the shell just to get a tiny morsel of meat. I thought it was a lot of fun and the effort was 100% worth the reward. These days though, it doesn't seem worth it to me; it's just too messy and not satisfying enough to crack a shell and reveal a tiny, blueberry-sized morsel of meat. But, when I saw dungeness crab in the seafood section (during my most recent trip to the Korean grocery), my immediate reaction was to throw it in my cart with the intention of making crab jjigae where the effort would be worth the reward once again.
Ingredients [serves 4 to 6]:
1 dungeness crab (or 2 to 3 blue crabs)
½ lb fish fillets (I used swai, which is a type of catfish, I think; it's tender and flaky - you could use tilapia, cod, red snapper, choose something mild)
2 tablespoons hot pepper flakes (gochugaru)
1 tablespoon oil (preferably something mild like canola or vegetable, NOT olive oil)
3 cups water
½ tablespoon hot pepper paste (gochujang)
½ tablespoon bean paste (dwenjang)
½ cup chopped cabbage kimchi
½ onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, smashed
hot peppers (to taste)
1 package udon noodles
½ cup sliced rice cakes (dduk)
¼ lb firm tofu
2 cups mung bean sprouts (kong namul)
1 cup spinach
1 bunch enoki mushrooms

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Happy Nutella Day!

Today, February 5th, is Nutella Day. Hoorah! I wasn't planning on doing anything special for this faux holiday but I have a snow day (damn you and thank you Mother Nature at the same time) so I decided to try my hand at making my own Nutella from scratch.

Nutella is pretty perfect but if I could change it, I'd make it a little less sugary sweet and give it a more pure hazelnutty and chocolatey flavor and both these qualities are reflected in my recipe.
Ingredients:
½ cup hazelnuts
4 ounces dark chocolate (I love Ghiradelli's 60% cacao)
½ cup half & half
¼ cup icing sugar (a.k.a. powdered sugar, a.k.a. confectioner's sugar)
2 tablespoons canola oil (or vegetable oil, something mild)
1 teaspoon salt

What I Ate: Saury

Saury (꽁치, ggong-chee) is a skinny, delicious fish. In my family, we like to generously salt the fish and then just shove it in the broiler for 5 to 8 minutes until the skin is brown and bubbling. It's delicious with rice.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Israeli Couscous (2)

It's been almost two years since I shared my first Israeli couscous recipe. And two years ago, my family used to eat Israeli couscous constantly but recently, we've been on more of a rice pilaf kick. Well, we had a family friend over for dinner a couple weeks ago and decided to whip up a Greek souvlaki feast and thought that a Greek-ified (re: adding spinach and feta) couscous salad would be a great side dish.

I'm sharing a new way of cooking the couscous with a little less liquid. I used to just follow the package directions but using less liquid yields a less starchy result, if that makes any sense.
Ingredients [yields 2 to 3 cups of couscous]:
1½ cups pearl couscous
1 cup vegetable stock
1 teaspoon olive oil
+ dressing and vegetables - whatever you like - in this case, I used spinach, feta, baby tomatoes, olive oil, minced onion, baby bell peppers, lemon juice, salt, and pepper

Monday, February 3, 2014

Chunky Tzatziki

Did everyone enjoy Super Bowl Sunday? I ate a ton of junk food and it was awesome. I should probably only eat healthy food for the next two years to cleanse my system a bit. Today's recipe is a sauce, but it's pretty healthy so I think I could eat some and feel good about myself.

I love tzatziki and if you don't, you can't sit here. What? Anyway, my favorite tzatziki recipe is the one that my favorite diner makes. It's super chunky, thick, and delicious and it's changed the way I make tzatziki at home. Instead of cubing the cucumbers, now I grate them and I use four times as many. This sauce is really delicious but be warned, it's got a good kick of garlic so it'll make your breath really stinky. Ha, hopefully that won't deter you from wanting to make this sauce. If you make it for date night, just make sure both of you indulge - two garlics cancel each other out, I think. I guess you should have some gum or mints on standby, just in case.
Ingredients [yields approximately 1.5 cups of sauce]:
1 cup greek yogurt
3 baby seedless cucumbers (kirby cucumbers or small English cucumbers are the best)
1 clove minced garlic
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Super Bowl Sunday 2014

Kickoff is in ten minutes! Hope everyone is eating delicious food. Here's the spread we prepared this year:
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