Monday, April 24, 2017

Meatloaf (2)

The first memory I have of meatloaf is from grade 4. I met a girl who wasn't in my class but she rode the same bus. She was only the third Asian girl I'd met from my school and by chance she sat next to me one afternoon on our way home. We chatted about children's things, I'm guessing. Anyway, fast-forward a couple of days: she told her mom about me and her mom invited me over for a playdate and dinner.

Honestly, I do not remember that girl's name. Sorry! I do remember that she lived in an apartment building, she had a younger brother, her mother was Korean and her father was Japanese, and she was really girly. Like, she had such an impressive collection of Barbies and I was envious because my parents liked to buy me things like Legos and puzzles (which I still love, but hey, sometimes a girl wants to dabble in fashion and hairstyles).

The other detail I remember is that for dinner, we had meatloaf. It was my first time having this blob of meat covered in ketchup and I just fell in love. Apparently they had all different sorts of cuisines for dinner all the time, which by contrast to my household where we Korean food 99% of the time and maybe the occasional burger the other 1%, this was really cool to me.

Even though I shared a meatloaf recipe previously, I've since improved on it; it's since gone from something that's just a burger in loaf form to a really tender dish in its own deserved category. I've also improved on my food photography so I thought it was time for a little update.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
loaf
1 lb. ground beef
1 slice white bread, torn into pieces
¼ cup milk
½ onion
4 sprigs parsley
2 oz. mushroom
3 cloves garlic
1 jalapeno
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon crushed pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire
1 egg

sauce
½ cup ketchup
2 tablespoons Sriracha
2 tablespoons A1

Monday, April 17, 2017

Cornmeal Crusted Soft Shell Crab Sandwiches

Soft shell crab season will be here soon! Actually, I'm flying down to Florida this coming weekend and I'm pretty sure it's already soft shell crab season in the south.

In the northeast, it's traditionally marked by the first full moon in May and the season lasts through early fall. Blue crabs begin to molt their hard shell and then they become 100% delicious, instead of like, 30% delicious, 70% shell. There's a v. short time frame to keep them in their soft shell state; as soon as they molt, there's just a few hours before their shells start to harden again so they have to be removed from the water before that happens.

During our regular visits to Denville Seafood, we see soft shell crabs on offer here and there. Ideally, the crabs should be alive; soft shell crabs don't move much but they should still be moving. If they've already been killed and cleaned by your fishmonger, you should plan on cooking them that v. day (or freezing them immediately) because they will go off rather swiftly.
Ingredients [serves 2]:
cornmeal crusted soft shell crab
2 soft shell crabs, cleaned
¼ cup flour
1 egg
¼ cup buttermilk
¼ cup cornmeal
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil

mango & red cabbage slaw
1 mango, julienned
½ cup shredded red cabbage
1 scallion, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
½ teaspoon lime zest
2 tablespoons lime juice
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar

sandwich
2 buns
1 tablespoon butter

Monday, April 10, 2017

Lambchops with Rosemary & Garlic

With Easter coming up this weekend, I thought I would share an Easter-y dish. I do find it a bit morbid that we call Jesus the "Lamb of God" and then we proceed to eat lamb for Easter. But I suppose it's in the same vein of pretending we're eating eggs when we crack open a Cadbury creme or devouring hollow chocolate bunnies like it's not violent and sick.

Either way, I'm not going to complain about delicious food.

I do tend to find lamb to be a bit gamey so I like to prepare it simply with bold seasonings. I prefer the simple method because I would hate to spend loads of time on something only to have it still taste a bit gamey. On this particular day, I went with lots of garlic, rosemary and lemon zest. I also made a quick gremolata, which I find to be just the most elegant topping for a simply prepared cut of meat, and it hit the spot so well.
Ingredients [serves 2]:
chops
4 to 6 lamb rib chops
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 sprigs rosemary
1 teaspoon lemon zest

gremolata
¼ cup parsley leaves
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons lemon zest

Monday, April 3, 2017

Mango Salsa

Every winter, we attempt to cheer ourselves up with food. I turn to flavors like coconut and pineapple in the hopes that the tropical vibes will at least help me imagine it isn't 26F outside. This past winter, we ate spicy baja fish tacos almost every other week as a similar sort of pretend-it's-warm therapy. To amp it up, we'd also been making mango salsa.

I experimented with two different varieties, one with lots of red bell pepper and scallion and a variation with lots of baby cucumber and red onion and I think the latter was different enough and delicious enough to share. Of course my partiality may be due to the fact that the mango I scored at the grocery store that week was super ripe and juicy and sweet, but I do think that the cucumber is great because it soaks up the flavors of the salsa eagerly.
Ingredients:
1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
1 baby cucumber, diced
¼ red onion, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
3 sprigs cilantro, chopped
juice of ½ lime
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

Monday, March 27, 2017

Korean Noodle Soup | Janchi Guksu (잔치국수)

As the chilly weather finally leaves us, we're no longer eating as many cozy comfort foods for dinner. So every year, March is a month full of soups and stews because I want to get my fill before it's no longer appropriate.

This noodle soup is a simple dish my mom used to throw together when we didn't have much in the house because it's made with mostly pantry ingredients. So, on a Thursday evening when we didn't have much left in the fridge, I took inspiration from Mum and threw this together. The irony (to me, at least) is that this is called 'janchi guksu' which translates to 'banquet noodles.' I don't really think these are worthy of a banquet, but apparently Koreans think this is wedding food.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
8 cups water
¼ cup dried anchovies
4 cloves garlic, minced
¼ onion, sliced
½ small daikon radish, sliced
1 zucchini, chopped
1 long hot pepper, sliced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
4 eggs
3 cups baby spinach
4 bundles wheat noodles (somyun)

Monday, March 20, 2017

Wontons in Chili Oil

Honestly, I'm still sore from last week's snowstorm. Not only was there a lot of snow, because the first few hours of the snowfall were a bit warmer, it was that dense, kind of melty snow on the bottom which meant shoveling was an extra intense workout. I also got a physical last week and the doctor told me that I seem pretty fit, which was a great compliment since I only started my gym membership in January. It's great motivation to keep it up.

Like I shared last week, I went wonton crazy a few weeks ago. I used the leftover wontons from my spicy chicken wonton soup-making adventure and decided to prepare them Szechuan style with lots of spicy chili oil, black vinegar, and garlic.
Ingredients [serves 4 as an appetizer, 1 as a meal]:
1 dozen spicy chicken wontons
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon grated ginger
½ teaspoon crushed pepper flakes
1 tablespoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon black vinegar
1 scallion, chopped

Monday, March 13, 2017

Spicy Chicken Wonton Soup

I recently got an intense craving for wontons. I think it's because we haven't had Chinese takeout in a while - which is something we don't do often in general, but it's been an extra long time, like six months - and I missed the free cup of wonton soup that comes with my meal. It's such a simple dish; a few wontons floating in a delicate chicken broth is as homey as it gets. It hits the spot so well, especially on chilly days.

True to my form, I couldn't just go with the simplest preparation though. I had to put my own spin on it, which basically means I made it spicy. I'm pretty sure that 99% of the time I "put my own spin" on a dish, I just add a spicy element and call it a day. Luckily for my tastebuds, adding spice is really all I need to take a dish from being ordinary to one of the best things I've ever eaten.
Ingredients [serves 4 to 6]:
wontons
1 lb. ground chicken
1 egg
2 scallions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated ginger
4 Thai chilis, sliced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
½ teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
package of wonton wrappers (48 wrappers)

soup
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon crushed chili flakes
4 Thai chilis, sliced
1" piece ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 bunches baby bok choy, chopped
2 scallions, sliced

Monday, March 6, 2017

Crispy Plantain Fritters

I need to give a little shoutout to my coworker, L, for this recipe. I was telling her that I love plantains but how I was traumatized by the ripe plantains at my grocery store because when I made maduros, they kind of tasted like bananas. But I also wasn't that big on making tostones during the week because they were so labor intensive.

L said her favorite preparation of plantains was when they were grated and fried. It was like a lightbulb went off in my head and that weekend during my weekly grocery shop, I bought a plantain to give it a go. The results were fabulous and I can't imagine pounding tostones ever again. No, that's a lie; I still love tostones but with this crazy simple preparation, I can't imagine pounding tostones all that often anymore.
Ingredients:
plantains
+ oil for frying
salt & pepper, to taste

Monday, February 27, 2017

Chicken Parmesan

Chicken parm is one of those highly debated dishes in the NY metropolitan area. People argue about which restaurant does it best, what constitutes a "properly" made dish, whether it should or should not be consumed on a sandwich, and it all gets a bit tedious.

Frankly, my favorite chicken parm is the kind I make at home because I can enjoy it however I please. I like to use thighs (because dark meat is better than white meat), I use panko breadcrumbs for a thicker, crunchier crust, and I sprinkle a little lemon zest and crushed pepper flakes on top for extra pizzazz. I love chicken parm on a buttery garlic bread for lunch but prefer it served with a side of pasta for dinner.
chicken
4 chicken thighs (boneless, skinless)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
¼ cup flour
1 egg, beaten
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
¼ cup + ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
+ olive oil for frying
1 teaspoon crushed pepper flakes
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

sauce
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
pinch oregano
pinch basil

Monday, February 20, 2017

What I Ate: Falafel Pita

I love homemade Greek food; I'm particularly partial to falafels. I'm all about soaking the chickpeas and adding loads of yummy spices and then deep frying them until they're crisp. Sure, there are restaurants that do a great job, but short of flying to the Mediterranean, I think they're best at home.
Of course, that also means that homemade tzatziki and pita pockets are compulsory. Oh, and if you're not keen on keeping the meal vegetarian, a little chicken souvlaki will hit the spot.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Asiago Cheese Crackers

A few weeks ago, I was feeling rather unwell. It started out with that scratchy pain in the back of my throat on a Friday night and by Monday morning, I'd lost my voice. In my younger days, being sick was just an inconvenience; I could still play and eat and feel fine. Now that I'm older and more fragile, getting sick is a travesty. I lose my appetite (which honestly, I can afford) and I can't do anything without feeling like I might fall over.

During this past illness, I was also feeling really dizzy and nauseated, which meant that even when I made some porridge (I needed something easy to eat because of how sore my throat was), it made me feel super blegh. A few days later when my appetite finally started to creep back, all I wanted to eat was cheese crackers. The problem? We didn't have any at home. The other problem? I was still too dizzy to trust myself behind the wheel of a car.

I ended up whipping up these insanely easy asiago crackers. Seriously, it was a ten minute assembly and then another ten minutes waiting for them to finish baking. I plan on making these again and again to serve with cheese platters and you know, as my own personal snack stash.
Ingredients [yields 3 to 4 dozen crackers]:
1½ cups flour
½ cup butter, cubed
2 oz. asiago cheese, grated
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
¼ to ⅓ cup heavy cream

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Atelier September-Inspired Avocado Toast

Last November, I had the pleasure of visiting Copenhagen for the first time. We went to the sweetest little spot for breakfast, Atelier September, and I got to have some of the yummiest and simplest avocado toast ever. I decided that this was the only way I ever wanted to enjoy avocado toast ever again and I've been true to my word.

We sat at a table in the window by the "kitchen" and watched as the two girls running the show whipped up plate after plate of food. The avocado toast was was made elegantly with thin slices of avocado fanned out on top of the best nutty rye bread and topped with flaky sea salt, chili flakes, and the most important ingredient: lemon zest. The lemon zest elevated the toast to something really special.
Ingredients [per person]:
2 slices bread
½ avocado
lemon zest
sea salt
crushed pepper flakes

Monday, February 6, 2017

What I Ate: Sprinkle Donuts

At my sister's request, I made donuts. I had already prepared a cast iron pan of shortening for something else anyway so she said making donuts was compulsory.
I know it's still weight loss resolution season, but hey, it's fine to treat yo'self once in awhile.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

What I Ate: Stuffed Pork Chops

This was a mish-mosh meal that came together because I really wanted to eat something with golden raisins and there was a can of baked beans in the pantry that I'd completely forgotten about.
The result was a stuffed pork chop. I stuffed it with panko, chopped parsley, garlic, mushrooms, and golden raisins, of course. Plus, I added a little slice of havarti because why not? And then more of the breadcrumb stuffing was sprinkled on top with a drizzle of olive oil so that it could create a nice crispy topping. To eat alongside the pork chop and the canned baked beans, I roasted some potatoes and wilted a little baby kale with some peppers and garlic.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Fig Tart

My mom restricted our diets a bit growing up. She didn't really let us eat much sugar or salt and she never really indulged is with processed foods. That doesn't mean she never let us have dessert. The thing is, to mom, dessert meant cutting up some fruit; it's a Korean thing. But I think that's why I'm always drawn to desserts made with fruit. It makes the dessert seem more appropriate, I guess. Maybe it's a nostalgia thing.

My favorite dessert is fruit tart. I love pie crust, so that's a checkmark right there. I love custard so that's a second checkmark. And I love fruit; triple winner.

I just want to get a little bit off topic, but also vehemently on topic for a second; I'm pleased with the timing of this post. Fig trees symbolize peace and plenty. With the way things are playing out in America's politics right now, we really need peace. We have plenty and we should be sharing. I read a quote recently, "Equal rights for others does not mean less rights for you. It's not pie." (or tart, ha!) and it made me smile but it also made me sad that there are people who don't realize this. I'm disheartened, but I'm doing what I personally can with prayer and good thoughts, donating to the ACLU, and standing strong with my fellow Americans who believe in what's right.
Ingredients [serves 8 to 12]:
crust
1 batch pie dough

custard
2 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, scraped
3 egg yolks
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt

toppings
2 tablespoons apricot jam
6 to 8 figs, sliced
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons honey

Monday, January 23, 2017

Pulled Pork

Even though barbecue is really summery, I think pulled pork is better to make in the winter. It involves a lot of simmering and stove time, which is not something I relish in the heat.

I made this pulled pork over the winter break between the holidays because I wanted to make something easy (it's a one pot wonder) and hearty. I served it with cilantro rice, rainbow chard, and spicy black beans for a weird, but delicious, southern comfort/Mexican mashup kind of meal.
Ingredients [serves 4 to 6]:
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 lb. pork shoulder
½ onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup tomato sauce
1 tablespoon mustard
2 tablespoons Worcestershire
¼ cup ketchup
¼ cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
12 oz. bottle cola

Monday, January 16, 2017

Pork Soup Dumplings (Xiao Long Bao)

I'm aggressively excited to share this post because it's a fun one. I finally got the motivation to make some soup dumplings. I even bought a new bamboo steamer for the occasion; yes, that is how enthusiastic I was about this whole thing.

If you've never enjoyed xiao long bao, please, get yourself to a dim sum place as soon as possible and partake. They're just little Hershey kiss-shaped dumplings with a soupy filling. There's literally soup inside the dumpling and it's amazing. Whenever my friends and I go out for soup dumplings, we'd make an effort not to spill the soup. Whoever spills the soup is deemed the loser. You too can play this game; it's not copyrighted.

This is definitely a more time-consuming recipe and it's not something I really plan on doing again. I mean, maybe I would for a super special occasion, but it's a long process and honestly, I would rather pay someone else to make them, cook them, and serve them to me. However, I am glad I tried and they did turn out really delicious so if you're into labor intensive cooking projects, then you should make them all the time!
Ingredients:
aspic
1 lb. pork tail
2 pork neck bones
¼ lb. Chinese ham
4 scallions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2" piece ginger, chopped
1 teaspoon white peppercorns
4 cups water

filling
½ lb. ground pork
1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon honey
¼ teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine

dough
2¼ cups flour
1 cup hot water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

sauce
3 tablespoons black vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
¼ teaspoon minced ginger
1 scallion, sliced

tools
bamboo steamer
parchment paper or cabbage leaves

Monday, January 9, 2017

Pho Rare Beef

In 2012, I posted an entry with a list of dishes I wanted to try to make as a New Years' resolution type thing. I ended up only making a few things from the list each year but I finally managed to finish it up, five years later (which just means I need a new list now and according to my track record, it's something I'll accomplish by 2022).

The second to last dish I tackled on that list is phở, which, if you didn't know, is a Vietnamese noodle soup, and it's what I'm sharing today. (By the way, the last dish I tacked on the list is something I'll be sharing next week so stay tuned because it's a really good one!)

I'm really excited to share this post because I think the dish turned out really delicious. I developed this recipe by combining my personal preference with a bit of research and working with ingredients that were readily available to me. I did have to take a special trip to the Asian market for the yellow rock sugar, but everything else I found in my local grocery store, which makes this a relatively accessible dish to make at home. However, simmering a pot of hot beef stock on the stove that's been enhanced with fish sauce will make your house smell not-so-great so that could be one great reason to go out for pho; you've been warned.
Ingredients [yields 6 to 8 servings]:
stock
2 lbs. beef shank
1 lb. oxtails
1 lb. beef marrow bones
4 quarts + 8 quarts water
1 large onion, quartered
6" piece ginger, split in half
3 whole star anise
½ teaspoon coriander seeds
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
2 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
1 oz. yellow rock sugar
2 teaspoons salt
¼ cup fish sauce

pho
rice noodles
beef eye of round, sliced
sliced onion
chopped scallions
chopped cilantro
lime wedges
sprouts
jalapeno slices
culantro leaves
Thai basil leaves

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Coconut Mushroom Curry

Remember the Indian feast I shared yesterday? Well, one of the dishes I made was a coconut mushroom curry. I sort of just made it up as I went and it ended up being pretty delicious. And considering that 90% of the Indian dishes I have in my repertoire are tomato based, I figured I needed to expand a bit. This ended up being pretty delicious and really flavorful in contrast to how easy it was to whip up.
Ingredients [serves 2]:
1 tablespoon butter
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Thai chili peppers, sliced
¼ onion, diced
4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
½ cup coconut milk
½ teaspoon garam masala
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

Monday, January 2, 2017

Spiced Tomato Dal

I've been adjusting my diet to eat less meat. I'm not a vegetarian by any means; I still enjoy meat. But, the morality and the environmental impact are concerning to me so I want to do my part to reduce my contribution.

I think one of the biggest complaints about eating vegetarian is that the food can be quite bland. The solution is Indian food. It's heavily spiced and super delicious so I don't think anyone could justify calling it bland. One of my favorite vegetarian dishes is lentils. They're super easy and unlike other dried bean dishes, you don't need to soak them beforehand which means that if a craving strikes, you can whip this dal together in thirty minutes.
Ingredients [serves 2]:
dal
1 tablespoon butter (or ghee)
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon grated ginger
¼ onion, diced
2 Thai chilis, sliced
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup lentils
¼ cup canned tomatoes
½ cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon lemon juice

tarka
1 tablespoon butter (or ghee)
¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
¼ teaspoon mustard seeds
¼ teaspoon crushed pepper flakes
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