Monday, August 21, 2017

What I Ate: Grilled Chicken

We've been doing this thing a lot this summer. And by a lot, I mean once a week. We buy boneless, skinless chicken thighs at the grocery store, because they're cheap and delicious, and pound them out and grill them to eat with rice and beans and mango salsa and chimichurri and other Mexican-style fixin's.
It's so simple and delicious and really good bang for your buck. We've also been loving making arroz amarillo (the secret ingredient is chicken bouillon).

Monday, August 14, 2017

Garden 2017 Update

The garden had a slow start but the plants started flourishing in July. One exciting thing that happened was the cilantro plant flowered and then left behind some coriander seeds. Next year, we'll plant the cilantro from seed.
We've harvested some broccoli, peppers, squash, and we've even snipped some hydrangea booms to brighten up the kitchen.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Pasta Arrabbiata

I love spice; a meal without spiciness is bland to me. If I'm eating a burger, I'll want some pickled jalapenos. I liberally sprinkle crushed pepper flakes onto pizza. I douse my eggs with hot sauce. It's a compulsion driven by the fact that so much of Korean food is spicy.

Whenever I see arrabbiata on an Italian food menu, I get excited by the description: pasta tossed in a spicy tomato sauce. But, I'm always sorely disappointed, as the spice levels are usually almost undetectable (at least to my palate). The solution, as always, is to make it at home.

Arrabbiata literally translated means angry, which means you should be adding liberal amounts of crushed pepper flakes. I like to keep the sauce super simple, limiting the whole recipe to under five ingredients (plus salt and pepper). The goal is to have the sweetness of the tomatoes shine on the taste buds before quickly being engulfed by the heat of the crushed pepper.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon crushed pepper flakes*
28 oz. can San Marzano tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
+ 1 lb. pasta
+ fresh basil leaves

*Increase or decrease per your preference.

Monday, July 31, 2017

What I Ate: Strawberry Madeleines

Madeleines are the perfect dessert when you kind of want cake but you kind of also want a cookie.
The original post is an oldie but a goodie. This time I mixed it up by adding a little wedge of strawberry into the pan. It was pretty good.

Monday, July 24, 2017

What I Ate: Banana Bread

The obvious solution to overripe bananas is banana bread.
Banana ice cream is also an option, but this time around, I went for banana bread. I didn't swirl in Nutella because we didn't have any (sobbing) and subbed in some of the flour with oats just because.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Sticky & Spicy Braised Chicken Wings

We eat a lot of crispy hot wings in our house. Even when we have Korean-style wings, they're fried off first. Well, we have a new beloved preparation in our house.

On this particular day, I didn't feel like setting up a frying station. Typically, if I'm going to fill up a pot with oil, I want to have multiple reasons to use it (maybe donuts or donkatsu); but I had no such plans. So I decided to braise the wings in Thai and Vietnamese-inspired seasonings and the end result was a pile of really sticky sweet and spicy wings.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
2 lbs. chicken wings
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon canola oil
¼ onion
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1" knob ginger
6 Thai chilis, chopped
2" piece orange peel
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon black vinegar
2 oz. yellow rock sugar
1 scallion, chopped
1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Monday, July 10, 2017

Black Tea Cake with Salted Honey Buttercream

I read a lot as a kid. Mom would take us to the library every weekend to pick out a new selection of books, which was probably my favorite part of the week. In grammar school, I particularly loved Amelia Bedelia and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle.

Amelia Bedelia was always misinterpreting her boss's directives, often mistaking the chore for its homonym; for example, when she was asked to "draw the curtains in the sitting room" she literally sat and sketched them. However, she always made up for her mistakes with her amazing baking. I distinctly remember one book where Mrs. Rogers asks Amelia to make a tea cake to take to a friend's house. Amelia interprets this a bit too literally and empties a tea bag directly in the batter. Mrs. Rogers is upset at first but the cake turns out so deliciously, all is forgiven.

This cake is somewhat inspired by Amelia Bedelia but was also inspired by the fact that I just wanted to make some honey buttercream and thought that since tea and honey go so well together, it made perfect sense.
Ingredients:
tea cake
1½ teaspoon + 1 teaspoon black tea
1½ cups milk
¼ cup + ¼ cup honey
1 cup butter, room temperature
½ cup packed brown sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2½ cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda

salted honey buttercream
¼ cup honey
½ cup sugar
¼ cup water
2 egg whites
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Monday, July 3, 2017

Lemon Ricotta Stuffed Squash Blossoms

We planted six seeds worth of squash blossoms and they recently started flowering. I thought I would sacrifice a few squash so that I could make some stuffed squash blossoms. Was it worthwhile? Yes. Especially because the day after I picked this batch, there were loads more blossoms growing on the vines.
Ingredients:
8 to 10 squash blossoms
¼ cup lemon ricotta
1 egg, separated
2 tablespoons grated parmesan
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ cup potato starch

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Sauteed Garlic Scapes | Maneuljjong Bokkeum (마늘쫑 볶음)

As promised, here's the sauteed version of garlic scapes. So the pickled version that I shared earlier this week is really bright and crunchy with a good bite. Today's version is a bit sweeter and more tender. This one spends a bit more time over the heat and gets subtly seasoned with a little soy sauce and honey, which really complements the delicate flavors of the garlic scapes.

This dish comes together pretty quickly and it's best when enjoyed with a big bowl of rice. It holds up well in the fridge for a week (if it even lasts that long) and actually gets better as it sits in the seasoning for longer.
Ingredients:
6 to 8 garlic scapes
1 tablespoon canola oil
½ teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Monday, June 26, 2017

Spicy Pickled Garlic Scapes | Maneuljjong Moochim (마늘쫑 무침)

My little town has a farmers market every Saturday in the late spring through early fall. Since biking is my sister and my new favorite hobby (George Michael, my dog, loves it too) and we ride past the market every weekend, we finally made an effort to stop by and do a bit of shopping.

Last weekend, we managed to get our hands on some garlic scapes. They do have a short season (late spring into early summer) so I wanted to share this recipe while it's still relevant. I have two recipes to share, one pickled and one sauteed; I'm sharing the second later this week.

Today's recipe is a spicy Korean version that my family loves. We hadn't had these in years so it was a nice throwback and probably an awesome treat for my dad because he really loves garlic scapes. It worked out nicely because last Sunday was Father's Day.
Ingredients:
6 to 8 garlic scapes
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon hot pepper flakes (gochugaru)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Monday, June 19, 2017

Chilean Sea Bass with Butter & Lemon

Every time I've purchased Chilean sea bass, I've used it to make fried fish tacos but I've finally ventured out and I've done something different. I think I've finally prepared this fish in its more traditional, usual way. I'm not going to lie; the battered and fried preparation is still my favorite. However, this was still really quite good and a hell of a lot easier and faster making this the winner when it comes to weeknight meals. Ain't nobody got time to beer batter and deep fry on a Tuesday evening.
Ingredients [serves 2]:
1 lb. Chilean sea bass
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons butter
¼ lemon, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced

Monday, June 12, 2017

Racheerachh Reviews: HelloFresh

A friend sent me a free box of HelloFresh so I decided to try it out. I ended up getting two free boxes thanks to a mix up on their end, which was kind of nice, but also a bit annoying because spoiler: I'm not really a fan.
I didn't care for any of the recipes we were sent so I ended up repurposing the ingredients to make other dishes.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Garden 2017

The weather was so erratic in early spring so we hesitated to plant the garden. We ended up planting everything mid-April and even planted a few vegetables from seeds.
The weather continued to be a bit weird through May - we had cold spells and hot spells and I think the plants were all v. confused - but hopefully we're in the clear now.

Monday, June 5, 2017

What I Ate: Chinese Takeout at Home

I read an article recently about how overloading on calories is almost inevitable when dining out because restaurants tend to use extra fat and salt to make the food taste better to entice you to come back.
I think this is especially true of Chinese takeout. It's always super greasy and drowning in soy sauce which is why I like making it at home. On this particular night, I made wontons in chili oil, scallion pancakes, mapo tofu, and garlic bok choy.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Composting 101

Happy Memorial Day! Thank you to all the men and women who have made sacrifices so that the rest of us can lead our best lives.

I'm slowly, but surely, trying to be more environmentally conscious. We don't generate a ton of trash in our house; we only put the rubbish bin out every other collection day (meaning just once a week) if that. We actually generate much more recycling (but that's probably due to an online shopping addiction and parcels constantly arriving at the house). I think the main reason we don't have a ton of trash is because we don't buy a lot of processed foods, which often come in odd plastic (non-recyclable) packaging. And I realized that the main makeup of our trash was food scraps and that made me realize that I needed to invest in a composter.

About a year ago, I bought the Deluxe Pyramid Composter through Amazon. It was $175, which seemed a bit pricey at first, but it's well made and has lots of great reviews so I figure it's worth it. Plus, it's not a heavy price tag when I weigh it with the benefits. It arrived promptly (like, a week ahead of the expected delivery date, so thanks Amazon) and we set it up in early April 2016. We aren't avid gardeners, by any means, but because my sister and I love our little garden box, we definitely appreciate having rich, hearty compost to nourish our plants.
We've only generated a small amount of compost so far, but I thought I would share what I've learned and what we throw in our compost bin.

Monday, May 22, 2017

What I Ate: Macarons

My friend L came over a few weekends ago to learn how to make macarons. We made cocoa macarons and vanilla macarons with a dulce de leche filling. And then the next day, I made some raspberry macarons with a fig butter filling (from Trader Joe's) and took a few snaps.
We shared a bunch with our coworkers, who were delighted, but made sure to keep plenty for ourselves. I mean, hey, we made them so we could decide what to do with them.

Monday, May 15, 2017

What I Ate: Chocolate Pudding Pie

Sometimes your sweet tooth gets loud and demands something sugary. And on occasion, you end up with a decadently sweet monstrosity that makes you feel like the three months of gym sessions you've endured have all been for nought.
 My sister asked if this was like Minnie's special pie in The Help, but not to worry, this pie is poo-free.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Blondies

My sister asked me what the difference was between blondies and the chocolate chip cookies I usually make. The answer is the butter. In blondies, the butter is melted and you essentially make a flowing batter to pour into a cake tin. With cookies, the butter is room temperature but still solid and it gets whipped and creamed together with sugar and the batter is much more solid and doughy.

Taste-wise, the two are kindred spirits considering the ingredients are quite similar. Texture-wise, blondies are more gooey and a bit more decadent because it's a bit chunkier and denser. I also really love blondies because they do not require the aid of an electric mixer, the butter doesn't have to be sat out on the counter ahead of time, and the batter whips together in the time it takes the oven to preheat.
Ingredients [9" x 9" pan]
½ cup melted butter
1 cup loosely packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1⅓ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon coarse salt
4 oz. chocolate, chopped

Monday, May 1, 2017

What I Ate: Dakgaejang (닭개장)

Even though it's May, we're not quite out of soup season. I mean, yesterday it was pretty chilly, especially compared to the sweltering temperatures on Saturday. So, we've still been having soup here and there. I wanted to share a few photos of this dish because it came out rather deliciously.
I basically married my dahk jook recipe with yukgaejang and ended up with this spectacularly homey soup.

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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