Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Chocolate Pizza

Every few months when the seasons change, I always feel like I'm experiencing it for the first time. So, in the recent weeks as we were transitioning from summer into autumn, it's felt really surreal. All of a sudden, it's gotten to be pitch black outside when my alarm goes off. I'm greeted with a chill when I let the dog out to do his business in the morning. I'm craving soups and stews. These changes, for some reason, feel so foreign, as if I've never experienced them before.

But, my favorite "new" thing is that I can turn on the oven without feeling guilty about wasting the air conditioning because it's cool enough that we don't need that sucker anymore.  I've mostly been snacking on fruit and s'mores as an after dinner treat; basically only summer-themed desserts for the past two months. But, after what's felt like years of not using an oven, I finally fired it up again to make this decadent dessert of chocolate pizza.

Inspired by Max Brenner's, I took a literal pizza crust and topped it with sugary ingredients 
This isn't a full-blown recipe post because honestly, it's friggin' easy and you can customize it with whatever you like. However, you can scroll down to the bottom for my quick pizza dough recipe page.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Grilled Corn Salad

As a tribute to the end of summer, I've been really holding onto any summer produce that's still going strong. Our grocery store is still carrying some really great stone fruit, summer squash, and we've still got super fresh corn. The corn crop was extra good this year (at least what we've eaten was fantastic) so I've mostly been doing it really simple and just grilling it in the husk.

But recently, I made this grilled corn salad (from giant ears of corn that we scored at our town's farmer's market) and it was a huge hit. My sister meandered into the kitchen and asked, "What is this?" and before I could even answer, she was scooping some out onto a chip (as if it were salsa) and making yummy noises to herself.
Ingredients:
3 to 4 ears corn
¼ red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
½ bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
½ avocado, chopped
½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 oz. queso fresco, crumbled
1 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

Friday, September 25, 2015

Sweet & Spicy Chicken | Kkanpoongi (깐풍기)

Late September into early October is my favorite time of year. I love the crisp fall breeze, the changing leaves, and the cozy comfort food. I'm getting geared up to make lots of soups and stews and sauces. As much as you'd think the freezer gets a workout in the summer (holding gallons upon gallons of ice cream), it takes a more strenuous hit in the cooler months because I like to make huge batches of soups, ladle them into containers, and then pop them in the freezer to eat for weeks and weeks.

And, even though I despise the shortening of the days (because it makes it that much harder to photograph my dinners for the blog) I am loving the cozy scarves and boots that I get to chuck on every morning. We've also gotten past swimsuit season (although I'm going to Grand Cayman in November so I've still got to be a little watchful) so I feel a lot less guilty about eating hearty, not-so-good-for-you fried foods and today's post falls right into that category.

This sweet and spicy (and a little bit sour) chicken is typically eaten as an appetizer or side dish with jjajangmyun. But, it also makes a delicious star of a meal too. The chicken is crispy and coated in a delicious sauce and it looks pretty impressive whilst being a cinch to whip up.
Ingredients:
crispy chicken
1½ lbs. chicken thighs, cut into chunks
⅔ cup potato starch
1 egg
¼ cup water
oil for frying

sweet & spicy sauce
1 tablespoon oil
½ onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon minced ginger
4 Thai chilis, split
½ cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon hot pepper flakes (gochugaru)
½ cup corn syrup
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1½ tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon apple vinegar
3 scallions, chopped
1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Peach Pie

Today we officially say goodbye to summer and greet autumn with a huge smile (even if the weather hasn't quite caught on yet). I don't know if it's because we've still got some relatively warm weather but the stone fruit season has not yet ended. Our grocery store still has a wall of peaches and they're actually ripe and amazing; I can smell them from two aisles away before I've even entered the produce section.

As a tribute to summer, I made a peach pie. It was my first attempt at a lattice top and I was pleased with the turnout. I think I might do a lattice top on all of my pies from now on because it's just so pretty. The pie came out rather delicious, although, my sister said she kind of felt like she was eating a candle because it had that super pungent peach flavor. I took it as a weird compliment.

There's nothing particularly special about this pie. In fact, it's my basic go-to pie recipe (except I've become a convert from using flour as a thickening agent to using potato starch now). And if I were making an apple pie, I'd essentially do the exact same thing, except obviously I would use apple instead of peach. But, it's still worth sharing because it's delicious.
Ingredients [yields one 9" deep dish pie]:
1 batch pie dough
flour for dusting
6 large peaches
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons potato starch
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1 egg white
1 tablespoon raw sugar

Monday, September 21, 2015

Falafel

The first time I had a falafel was at a salad bar. I was in high school and a bunch of my friends met up for lunch one weekend. I grabbed a falafel because I thought it was a meatball. When I bit into it, I was met with disappointment, not just because it wasn't the meatball I thought it was, but because it was just a sad, soggy, flavorless, mushy mess.

Fast forward a few years and I met up with a couple of my college friends at Mamoun's in St. Mark's. A, the vegetarian of the group, insisted we all try the falafel and I fell in love. Who knew this meatball-wannabe could be so flavorful?

I have to admit that I once tried to make falafel using canned chickpeas and it was a disaster. But, having played around with dried chickpeas for my Dizengoff hummus recreation and realizing that they aren't so scary, I decided I had to have a go at making falafel too. Even though the resultant product wasn't necessarily the prettiest thing, they tasted amazing and I can't wait to make these again (and again, and again). Seriously, I might need to dedicate an entire shelf/shrine in the pantry to dried chickpeas because they're taking over my life and I love them.
Ingredients [yields 12 to 15 falafel]:
½ lb. dried chickpeas (approximately 1 cup)
1 tablespoon baking soda
3 scallions
3 cloves garlic
5 parsley stalks
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon roasted cumin
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
oil for frying
+ pita
+ tzatziki
+ diced tomato
+ diced onion
+ chopped parsley
+ pickles
+ whatever toppings you like - diced cucumbers, hot sauce, feta crumbles, avocado, etc.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Scotch Egg

A couple of weekends ago, I met up with a friend for brunch. We got together way downtown to walk around and chat and then we went to The Dead Rabbit in Fidi and enjoyed really good food. I had the scotch egg, which was sublime. Scotch eggs are the perfect breakfast/brunch food. I mean, it's an egg encased in sausage; need I say more? Whenever I eat awesome dishes, I'm compelled to try and recreate them at home. So, I whipped up my own version.

It's not fun to share a recipe unless there's some kind of a twist to it, right? Well, there's no huge, innovative twist here but I made my own sausage mix. If you want to play with the seasonings on your own, then feel free. I went for a spicy, slightly smoky mix of seasonings. I basically grabbed every container out of the spice drawer that caught my eye and the results were so good.
Ingredients [yields 4 scotch eggs]:
4 + 1 eggs
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 lb. ground pork
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper (freshly ground)
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground mustard
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg (freshly grated)
½ teaspoon dried rosemary
¼ cup flour
½ cup breadcrumbs
oil for frying
+ mustard
+ cornichons

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

What I Ate: Fruit Smoothie

Right around this time of the year, I go into a major denial about summer's end. Even though I'm no longer a student that has to mourn the end of summer because of the upcoming school year, I think that feeling is sort of just embedded in my brain. After all, I was in school from age 4 through age 21.

So, right about now is when I start clinging to summery things to make me feel happier. For instance, after work, I change out of my office garb right into a particularly summery, tropical-looking playsuit which puts me in a great mood. I've also planned a trip to the beach for next weekend because it's no longer high season which means that dogs are allowed. And of course, I've been gorging on pineapple and coconut because they make me feel like I'm sitting in sunshine on holiday.

Pineapple and coconut are amazing additives to a cocktail, but for the sake of health and my attempt to be healthy and get really fit for my upcoming trip to Grand Cayman, I blended it all up into a delicious smoothie.
And of course, a flamingo stirrer is always a nice touch.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Black Beans & Rice

As much as I enjoy rice and beans, sometimes I'm too lazy to drag out two pots and make two separate components. Lately, I've been dumping the can of beans right into the rice and have been loving the end product. So, I thought I'd share this super easy dish that serves as a delicious accompaniment to almost anything that comes off the grill.
Ingredients [serves 4 to 6]:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 oz. salt pork, diced
½ onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup medium grain rice
15.5 oz. can beans (drained, not rinsed) - black beans or red beans; both are great
1½ cups chicken stock

*If you wanted to make this vegetarian, you could omit the salt pork and use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Dizengoff Hummus at Home

In July, I went to Philly for the weekend to hang out with H and my cousin and her husband. It was a crazy hot weekend filled with super delicious food. One of the standouts for me was a trip to Dizengoff. The hummus is unreal and definitely the best hummus I've ever had and I knew I had to try and recreate it at home. Even though Philly's only a short drive away, it's hardly close enough to satisfy the unruly hummus cravings stirring in my tummy on a whim.

After a bit of googling, I found a recipe on Stovetop Story referring to Dizengoff's hummus. Julie took a class with Elaine Gardner (the chef at Dizengoff) and learned how to make the infamous hummus. I made a few small changes to the recipe. I decided to use dried chickpeas instead of canned because I thought they'd make a creamier hummus. Plus, canned chickpeas tend to have a slightly acidic taste that I wanted to avoid. I also added a good glug of olive oil, which I think added a bit of unctuousness and body. All-in-all, the final product was a definite winner. It's definitely more time consuming than my canned chickpea version of hummus but certainly worth the while.

I also took a shot at making a stewed cumin chicken and a spicy harif to go with the meal. I know that Dizengoff makes different hummus toppings daily, but the chicken was what we ordered and I really enjoyed it. The homemade harif wasn't quite as spot on but it was still a deliciously smoky condiment so definitely worth sharing. And lucky for me, I'm enjoying a bowl of this for lunch as I write so it's a little bit like inception. Plus, it means I'm not drooling with envy over my previous meal the way I usually am.

There are several components to this post but if you're impatient, you can scroll all the way down to the bottom for the individual recipe pages.
Ingredients:
hummus
1 cup dried chickpeas
1 tablespoon baking soda
5 cloves garlic, unpeeled
¼ cup tahini
juice of ½ lemon (2 to 3 tablespoons)
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup olive oil
+ olive oil
+ paprika
+ chopped parsley

harif
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon + ¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 dried chipotle chile or 2 dried ancho chile peppers
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon golden syrup

cumin chicken
2 chicken thighs
½ onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, smashed
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
1 cup chicken stock

the fixin's
4 flatbread pitas
cucumber and red onion salad
cornichons

Friday, September 4, 2015

Korean Sweet Potato Noodles | Japchae (잡채)

Baby sister used to scream that she hated japchae but guess what? She's decided that she likes mine. It all comes down to the fact that I do not use rehydrated dried shiitake mushrooms in my recipe. To be honest, I don't much care for the taste of dried shiitakes but I can get past the funky flavor to embrace my love of noodles. However, I think it tastes much better without them.
Ingredients:
2 teaspoons oil
½ onion, sliced
½ carrot, julienned
1 serrano pepper, sliced
6 oz. oyster mushrooms
handful baby kale
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Korean Pickles

This summer has flown by, hasn't it? It feels like just yesterday I was begging for sunshine strong enough to make me sweat and now I'm begging for fall foliage and cool breezes. One of the best things this sweaty summer has yielded is an incredible crop of cucumbers in our garden.

My sister will tell you that cucumbers are meant to be pickled so that's what I've been doing with them. For one of the batches, I made Korean-style pickles like my mom used to make. They're great because they're delicious with a sandwich but also pair well with a Korean meal of rice and banchan.
Ingredients:
pickles
4 to 5 lbs. cucumbers
2 to 3 hot peppers
½ cup salt
¼ cup apple vinegar
4 cloves garlic, smashed
6 cups water

pickle side dish
1 Korean pickle
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 scallion, chopped
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