Friday, October 31, 2014

Pumpkin & Chocolate Babka

I haven't jumped on the pumpkin spice bandwagon at all the past couple of years. I'm sort of jumping on this year. I mean, I'm not going to overload you with pumpkin recipes. In fact, I'm only sharing this one. But, I think it's super appropriate for today - Happy Halloween by the way - as it's orange and black and sweet and festive. It's a pumpkin and chocolate babka. I associate babka with Jewish delis. It's basically a swirled bread made with a brioche-ish dough. It's delicious.

I'm wearing bear ears to work today because we're not really expected/allowed to dress up in my office but I still wanted to chuck on a little something.
Ingredients [2 regular loaves or 4 mini loaves]:
dough
½ cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
2 teaspoons dry instant yeast
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups flour
6 tablespoons butter

chocolate ganache
⅔ cup dark chocolate (60% cacao)
3 tablespoons pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup milk
1 tablespoon loose chai tea
3 tablespoons cocoa powder

syrup
¼ cup honey
¼ cup water

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Providenciales Part 1: Hemingway's

A few weeks ago, I went to Turks & Caicos for the second time for a little start-of-autumn getaway. Last time I was there, our hotel didn't have an attached restaurant and our room only had a kitchenette. However, this time around, we stayed at The Sands which has an attached restaurant, Hemingway's, and our room had a full kitchen. So, we dined a little differently this trip. We ate hot breakfasts and lunches and the occasional dinner in our room and we had planned on dining out just a handful of times. But, every place we went to was delicious and worth sharing, so I'm going to be doing little recaps and reviews of our meals. That was my warning to you that the next week and a half of posts is going to be all TCI related.
First up is Hemingway's. Last time we were on the island, we went to Hemingway's out of desperation. Our other dinner plans fell through so we just drove over and tried to get seats without reservations. During this recent trip, we were actually staying at the Sands so we decided that for our first meal, we'd make it really easy on ourselves and have an easy dinner at an eatery within walking distance of our room.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Roasted Baba Ganoush

It's leaf-raking season around here. I mean, it has been for a while. As annoying as that task is, it's kind of awesome to come back inside, cheeks pink from the cold, and reward myself with a delicious snack. If the snack requires firing up an oven to warm up a chilly house, then thats even better.

So, what better snack than chips and something to dip them in? But let's skip the cliche stuff and go for something a little different. How about some baba ganoush? Usually, I cook it in a pan on the stove but this time around, I opted for something a little different. I decided to roast the vegetables and then five them a rough chop and a quick stir and tada! Perfect for topping pita chips.
Ingredients:
3 baby eggplants
3 tomatoes
½ sweet onion
4 cloves garlic
1 red bell pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
+ pita

Monday, October 27, 2014

Beef Bitterballen

So just over a month ago, I went to Toronto for a super quick weekend trip with my friend, H. While we were there, we ate a ton of amazing food. For our last meal in Canada, we ended up at The Ossington, where they serve Dutch snack food on Sundays (Borrel!). We basically ordered the entire menu, minus one or two items, and it was delicious. H was particularly smitten because she's basically only been back in the States for a few months now, having moved back from, you guessed it, Holland.

Because I was missing H and our Toronto trip and the food, I decided to relive it a little by making my own bitterballen at home. I don't think my recipe is particularly authentic. However, I have to tell you, I corresponded with a friend of a friend's grandmother, who is half Dutch, to find out how to make bitterballen from scratch. Oma, as she asked me to call her (a word which means 'nana' in Dutch) told me that these days, bitterballen are almost always storebought. Dutchies just go to the grocery store and buy them in the frozen food aisle, and then just heat them at home. But, she said that as a kid, she watched her mother make them from scratch. Basically, she would cook beef for hours until it was tender and shreddable. Then, she'd make a really thick gravy and stir in the beef. The beefy gravy mixture would be cooled, formed into balls, breaded, and fried.

Oma didn't have any measurements for me to work with, but having the concept down, I just did a bit of experimenting and came up with the recipe you'll see below. If I can be dorky and pat myself on the back, I've got to say that they came out pretty frickin' good and close to what I tasted on my trip to Amsterdam a few years ago.
Ingredients [yields 2 dozen small bitterballen or 1 dozen krokets]:
shredded beef
1 lb. stew beef
2 cups beef stock
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

gravy
¼ cup butter
1 teaspoon minced garlic
¼ onion, grated
½ cup flour

breading
½ cup flour
1 egg
¾ cups breadcrumbs (unseasoned)

+ whole grain mustard

*By the way, you could make this with chicken (use chicken chunks and chicken stock). You could also make a vegetarian version by using mushrooms and vegetable stock.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Katsu Curry

In college, we'd frequent a little eatery called 'Eat Dessert First' (or EDF for short). They served ice cream, a variety of cakes and cookies, but they also had savory Japanese fare as well. One of my favorite meals was the katsu curry. Katsu is basically breaded and fried protein. There's chicken katsu, don katsu (pork), salmon katsu, even tofu katsu for the vegetarians. And of course, curry is Japanese curry (which was referred to as 'kah-reh' in our Korean household). Japanese curry is a thick sauce made with plenty of vegetables, a roux as a thickening agent, and you guessed it, curry powder.

In my house growing up, my mom always bought ready-made curry roux. So, that's how I do it. Good enough for mama; good enough for me. It's easy enough to make yourself, if you don't have access to it. I referenced a quick one in my old curry rice post but do a little google search and you'll find dozens of others.
Ingredients [serves 2]:
curry
1 small potato, diced
½ small onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small carrot, diced
4 to 6 mushrooms, chopped
3 cups chicken stock
2 cubes curry roux
spicy pepper (optional)
2 teaspoons oil (canola, vegetable, olive)

don katsu
2 thick cut pork chops
½ cup flour
1 egg
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
+ oil for frying

+ sticky white rice
+ hard boiled egg

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What I Ate: Bleu Burgers & Sweet Potato Fries

I dream about burgers almost daily. They're one of my favorite foods.
This time around, I went for a plain-jane burger (just ground beef seasoned simply with salt and pepper) topped with a bleu cheese sauce (just bleu cheese crumbled into sour cream), sauteed onions and mushrooms, and bacon on a buttered round roll. Oh, and just for some added flair, I made some oven baked sweet potato fries.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Potato Leek Soup

You guys, I'm in a terrible mood this morning. I flew back from Turks & Caicos on Saturday and I've just been feeling crummy because vacation is over and now I'm back in this chilly weather, which just sucks. On the bright side, I think we can all be pretty happy about the fact that soup season is here! In the summer, I think I really lean towards fresh dishes that don't require much help from the stove, for obvious reasons. Who in their right mind wants to turn on a heat source when it's 90+ degrees outside? However, as soon as there's a chill in the air, I want to be hugging my active stove to warm myself up. And I welcome any chance to stand over a hot pot or be splattered with hot oil. Okay, so maybe not so much the latter, but certainly the former.

Today, I'm sharing my take on potato leek soup. I say "my take" because as you might see in the photo below, it doesn't look super traditional. The first thing you might notice is that it's kind of orange. The second thing you might notice is that it's got some yummy looking crispy toppings. Well, scroll down for the recipe below to find out to solve the mysteries of the orange color and the crispy toppings.
Ingredients:
for the soup [serves 6 to 8]
2 oz. salt pork, cubed
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 celery stalks, diced
½ onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 leek, whites sliced thin
leek stalks
1 teaspoon crushed pepper flakes
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 bay leaf
2½ lbs potatoes, peeled and diced
6 to 8 cups chicken stock
½ cup milk

*You could totally make this a vegetarian soup by leaving out the salt pork (just use a little oil in the pot to substitute for the rendered fat) and substituting the chicken stock with vegetable stock. And, if you wanted to make this vegan, you could substitute the milk with some almond milk.

crispy leeks
1 leek, whites sliced thin
½ cup + ½ cup potato starch
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg white
oil for frying

Thursday, October 16, 2014

What I Ate: Kimbap & Rabokki

Sometimes we have what I call "lazy" dinners. It's a meal made up of stuff we just slap together.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Grilled Nutella & Marshmallow

First of all, happy birthday to my baby sister! We're on holiday right now, and we've got reservations to dine at Coco Bistro tonight. We're going to get some of their world famous coconut pie. If you've never been or you're craving coconut pie, you could totally make some yourself. Anyway, this is a recipe dedicated to her because she loves marshmallows.

This is a modified take on grilled nutella. For some reason, we had piles and piles of bread so for dessert, I whipped together this grilled nutella and s'mores hybrid. It was delicious. I feel like this could have been just another 'What I Ate' type post and just reference you to the grilled nutella post. But, I wanted to make this an official recipe post because it turned out so delicious, I just wanted to share it properly.
Ingredients [for one]:
2 slices challah bread
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon Nutella
1 jumbo marshmallow, cut into pieces

Monday, October 13, 2014

Jeyuk Bokkeum (제육볶음) (2)

I'm in Turks & Caicos people! Right now, I'm likely hanging out on a pristine beach or snorkeling. Sorry, did that make you jealous? Anyway, the thing I seem to miss the most when I'm on holiday is Korean food. I suppose the only exception to that would be if I went to Korea, in which case, I'd miss American food.

I don't crave just any Korean food. I always want something really spicy. Something like jeyuk bokkeum, which is a spicy stir-fried pork dish. When I was a kid, my mom would make this for us in the "plainest" way possible, meaning she'd just marinate the pork and serve it up. Once in while, if she was feeling cheeky, she'd add in a little kimchi and tofu. Now that I'm cooking for myself, I will add in everything we've got in the pantry and fridge.
Ingredients:
1½ lbs sliced pork belly
½ apple or pear, grated
3 tablespoons hot pepper paste (gochujang)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon sesame oil
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
+ oil
+ 2 cups cabbage kimchi
+ noodles
+ tofu
+ dduk (rice cake)
+ mandu (dumplings)
+ scallions, chopped

Thursday, October 9, 2014

What I Ate: Stuffed Shells

Mermaid food, right? And that's kind of a perfect theme for my upcoming weekend and week. I'm heading to Turks & Caicos. Whoo! I'm going on holiday! I've got a few posts lined up to be published while I'm gone, so don't worry. And I'll have lots to share when I get back.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Bee Cake

I made a cake for a friend's baby shower at work. She is my coworker, but that sounds so distant. I prefer the term "friend" so much more. Funnily enough, we went to the same high school, though, I'm a few years older than she is so we never crossed paths. Last year, she married a lovely guy and now she's expecting a baby; her due date is actually in a week. This cute couple has decided to wait until the birth to find out the gender, which is fun.
I have a little secret about this cake.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Challah Bread Pudding

First, I want to say, "Happy birthday to my papa!"

Guys, Thanksgiving is like, a month and a half away. It's seriously one of my most favorite holidays ever. As a kid, I grew up eating a ton of Korean food so Thanksgiving was the one day a year that my whole family really celebrated being American with tons of food that would never grace a typical Korean dinner table.

In recent years, I've been throwing really delicious, exclusive Thanksgiving dinners at my house. It's an exclusive event because we like to buy tiny turkeys (under 10 lbs) so we can only invite maybe 3 or 4 people (in addition to our little default party of 3). Smaller turkeys are more delicious so we refuse to get bigger birds. It's basically become a family tradition. Another tradition is having bread pudding for dessert. Last year, I made a spin on my vanilla bean bread pudding using challah bread and omitting all the frills (nuts and raisins). It was delicious.

So, as we get ready for the best food-centric holiday of the year, I'm going to do my best to share appropriate recipes, starting with this challah bread pudding.
Ingredients:
½ loaf challah
2 cups light cream
1 cup milk
1 vanilla bean
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar, loosely packed
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons melted butter
+ more butter for greasing

Friday, October 3, 2014

German Chocolate Cupcakes

Did you know that German chocolate cake was originally called German's chocolate cake and it was named after Sam German, a guy that created a dark baking chocolate? Yeah, I didn't know that. I thought it was named after the country. If you've never had German chocolate cake, it's so delicious. It's basically a delicious and fluffy chocolate cake (duh) topped with a gooey mixture of caramel and shredded coconut and pecans. It's decadent.

I made a batch of German chocolate cupcakes recently and topped them with a super quick version of the coconut & pecan topping. Today's post is actually just about that topping because I don't have a German chocolate cake recipe to share (sorry). But I would just use wooden spoon chocolate cake recipe and substitute the cocoa powder with 4 oz. of baking chocolate.
Ingredients (yields enough for one cake or 1.5 dozen cupcakes):
½ cup sweetened condensed milk
½ cup shredded coconut
¼ cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon molasses

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Grilled Nutella

Oh, hello October. Now that it's pretty official that autumn is here, I'm excited for Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas. I know, I know, there's still plenty of time until the holidays, but as the air gets crisper and colder, it's difficult to avoid thinking about it, you know?

At the same time, I miss the summer. I miss the extra hours of daylight, I miss the warmth, I miss the growth in my garden. I've also been daydreaming a lot about my trip to France. I miss that too. A great way to relive a trip is to recreate a meal or dish that you really enjoyed. So that's what I did. I made a grilled Nutella sandwich, much like the one we had at the Crock 'n' Roll in Lyon.
Ingredients [for one]:
2 slices of bread (I used a sourdough boule)
1 tablespoon Nutella (or homemade chocolate hazelnut spread)
1 tablespoon butter
¼ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon brown sugar
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