Posts Tagged ‘recipe’

In college I was known for cooking, a lot. And more specifically, baking. It calmed my nerves, soothed my mind, and, half the time, let me play with dough.

Dumplings ready for their strawberries
Photo by Anna Waigand

This week, a past roommate of mine (who is getting married this weekend and I’m incredibly sad that I can’t be there to be one of her bridesmaids, but I will be thinking about her all week, and everyone needs to think happy thoughts for sunshine and warmth in Charlottesville, VA for this weekend!!) sent me a message that simply said, “btw http://smittenkitchen.com.” We are both avid bakers and cookers, especially in the late-Saturday-night-don’t-go-to-Burger-King-for-drunk-munchies-because-Logan-and-Anna-are-making-butter-drenched-biscuits-for-everyone kind of a way. Cooking is the glue that stuck us together at parties and late nights when our boyfriends were playing Halo in the other room. Knowing that she has a good eye for food porn, I checked the website out. First, I must say that the photography is gorgeous. Second, the recipes look delicious. And third, Smitten Kitchen’s admittedly small kitchen still seems moons larger than ours over here at Seoulful Adventures.

I’m impressed at everything she does in such a small space, don’t get me wrong, but it made me realize just how small our kitchen is. I mean, our kitchen is essentially one-quarter of our entire living space. Plus, we have a pre-teen sized fridge, three simple burners (an upgrade from our previous two!), four cabinets for food and dishes, about two square feet of cooking counter space, and, the biggest blow, no oven.

Strawberries and sugar ready for stewing
Photo by Anna Waigand

So, after searching Smitten Kitchen’s site and eagerly reading what beautiful creations they’ve made in their own teeny cooking space, I found one that I couldn’t resist for my own cramped kitchen: Strawberries and Dumplings. It’s a simple dessert recipe that involves all of my favorites: strawberries, sugar, butter and dough. Mmm, mmm goodness! And it’s entirely all too easy to make, even if you have a kitchen the size of a handicap bathroom stall.

After doing our nightly ballet around our narrow cooking space (Andre prepared some amazing vegetable stock while I was cooking…it tastes like Thanksgiving in a shockingly rich and satisfying way! Mmm!), Andre and I gulped down these little doughy morsels. They’re just what the summer’s plump strawberry stock demands.

Strawberries and dumplings
Photo by Anna Waigand

To make it yourself, check out Smitten Kitchen’s Strawberries and Dumplings Recipe.

Personally, I substituted low-fat milk for whole milk, salted butter for unsalted butter and half-white/half-brown sugar for the white sugar in Smitten Kitchen’s recipe. Don’t follow what I did though. I only made these substitutions because they are what I had on hand. I wouldn’t suggest the first two substitutions, unless you’re on a diet and want to forego the whole milk. There is some loss of flavor, but that’s just the price paid for calorie loss, isn’t it? Do opt to go with the half-and-half sugars–it’s richer and healthier.

Oh also, the recipe says it “serves 6, in theory.” Andre and I downed them all in a mere 30 minutes (at most). I’d say it could serve 6 very self-controlled, already full eaters. For everyone else, it serves 3-4 people, if you serve them as a dessert. It serves 2 people if you serve it as a mid-afternoon/pre-dinner snack (don’t worry, no one is judging here–dessert before dinner is a time honored right denied to the young so that you can enjoy it more when you are all grown up…go on, live a little.)


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DSC_0020-11Photo by Anna Waigand

Inspired by a sunny street-side market and the serving style of galbi and samgyeopsal, I decided to make a salad eaten as a lettuce wrap. For those of you who haven’t had galbi in Korea, you grill meat at your table. The most common way to eat it is to make a sort of mini-taco with lettuce like a tortilla and adding any number of toppings from the side dishes around the grill.

This salad has lots of big pieces, which makes it hard to cut up with a fork and eat. If you’re really opposed to eating a salad with your hands I guess you could dice all the ingredients and eat it with a fork, but that would be much less messy and so much less enjoyable, in my opinion.

DSC_0013-9Photo by Anna Waigand

Serves 2

1 medium mackerel or one can mackerel
A dozen leaves of interesting looking lettuce
1 tomato
1 green onion
2 in. ginger, minced
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil

1. We made this salad by cooking up a whole fish, which turned out to be a big hassle. It was only beheaded for us, not gutted, and the bones were as thin and plentiful as hairs. Not sure what fish we got, but we’d recommend mackerel instead. Or, for a much easier route, just get a can of mackerel. Either way, put the fish in a hot, oiled pan with half the ginger. Saute until cooked or hot.
2. Mix half the ginger with the lemon juice, olive oil, and green onion. Salt and pepper to taste. These are guessed proportions and mine took a lot of finagling, but this should get you started.
3. Slice the tomato into large circles.
4. Arrange the lettuce in a circle on each plate. Place a slice of tomato on top of each piece of lettuce. Put a small squirt of olive oil, a pinch of coarse salt, and a dash of pepper on each tomato.
5. Shred the fish if it’s whole, otherwise pile it in the center of the lettuce. Drizzle the dressing over everything. To eat, pick up a piece of lettuce and fold it into a U. Pile some fish on top of the tomato. You can eat it in two bites if you feel you aren’t up to the challenge, but the juicy, salty flavor is best enjoyed with a full mouth.

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Sunday afternoon sun was coming through our window and our mountain-calibrated weather report said visibility was average. A morning of clicking keyboards and reviewing photos to classic rock had stirred our hunger. We have been trying to reform our weekend eating habits, which usually involve minimal snacking until late afternoon and then either a dinner out or a cooking extravaganza. Feeling like we had slighted lunch for a couple weeks, we thought it deserved some attention.

Much of my cooking style comes from the time I spent beside my dad in the back-hall like kitchen at his house. Outside of chicken on the Weber and tacos, our favorite meal was stir fry. With two guys living in the house this often turned into back-of-the-fridge stir fry – dicing whatever vegetables were around and tossing them with a sauce made from a well stocked fridge door. Though both my dad and mom owned The Joy of Cooking, it was spread open on the counter more often at my mom’s house. I seemed to pick up a style of improv, frequent tasting, and cooking by color from my Dad. A meal that got too white with potatoes or pasta had to be broken up with a green ball of broccoli or a yellow pile of corn. Now, Anna is the recipe cooker while I like to think up dinner after a good stare at the open refrigerator, which will often lead to me exclaiming an hour later that I have no idea what I’m doing, but that I think it will be good.

Photo by Anna Waigand

So, today’s lunch was a back-of-the-fridge grilled sandwich served on the latest example of the ever-present image of skating star Yu-Na Kim. Anna picked up a bagel this morning with Yuna and a bagel symbol seared into the top. I decided to try to make a sandwich to live up to Yu-Na’s talent.

The ingredients I had to work with were a grapefruit, cherry tomatoes, a bell pepper, stumpy mushrooms, pickled radishes, salsa, homemade bacon, two bags of garlic, some cheese, mackerel poaching liquid and half a dozen sauces. Fruit, spicy liquids and typical Korean ingredients were out so I decided to take the veggies and garlic. I roasted the garlic and mashed it into a spread with rosemary and then used our hand-held grilling grate to grill the pepper and mushrooms over our stove burner. The tomatoes and an onion were sauteed and the last of the cinnamon-cured bacon, which gives off a smell that can put anyone into an eating mood, topped off the sandwich.

Photo by Anna Waigand

The meaty mushrooms, juicy tomatoes and fresh taste of the grilled peppers were seasoned by the salty bacon and warmed by the garlic. It all came together into a big, juicy bite best enjoyed in the sun with a warm breeze. The grilling made some blacks and browns to balance the red and white of the veggies into a good color scheme. Anna preferred hers without the bacon, but I thought the salt and change in texture really helped the sandwich. Up to you whether to include it, unless you are a vegetarian. Then I guess you don’t have a choice.

There are a lot of steps, but the ingredients and techniques aren’t too complicated. Though this veggie combo worked out, I encourage you to make it up as the back of your fridge dictates.
Recipe after the jump

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On Saturday Anna decided to take the plunge she had been researching for a month or two and buy a new camera, specifically a Nikon D90 to replace her D100. We were going to go get one at camera alley in Namdaemun, but instead found a great one on Craigslist. We met the seller and now friend Patrick at a coffee shop and got to talking about our blog. Patrick was excited about our homemade bacon recipes so he wouldn’t have to “go to Costco every two weeks and pay a bunch of money” for some imported bacon.

His excitement got me thinking about the sweet smell of cinnamon bacon so I decided to make up another batch for my upcoming birthday. And off to the market we went for a kilo of pork belly. Since the cinnamon cured one was so good last time I decided to make another pound of that with some added cloves. The other pound I split up between two experiments.

Prep time in the bacon lair Photo by Anna Waigand

Many curing recipes suggest aromatic ingredients so I decided to make a savory bacon with bay leaves, black pepper and ginger. I also wanted a nutty bacon, but Anna and I decided that chopped peanuts just wouldn’t transfer enough flavor to the meat. That left curing it with peanut butter. I searched around to see if anyone had tried anything this crazy before and while I found plenty of people touting the tastiness of peanut butter and bacon sandwiches, it seems no one has written about combining them long before they hit the bread. I figure since the other ingredients in peanut butter are sugar and salt, which are already in the curing mix, then it will be fine. Right?

Cinnamon-clove cured bacon
500g pork belly with skin
1/4 cup coarse, uniodized salt
1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Ginger and bay leaf bacon
250g pork belly with skin
3 medium bay leaves, chopped
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 tsp fresh ginger, chopped

Peanut butter bacon
250g pork belly with skin
1 tbsp peanut butter
1 tsp cinnamon

For all three recipes follow these directions.
1. Wash off the pork belly and pat dry. Cut off any bits of hard cartilage in the meat.
2. Cover the pork belly thoroughly with salt. Make sure to get it everywhere.
3. Combine the other spices in a bowl. Cover the pork in the mix. (For the peanut butter bacon, do not combine the peanut butter with the other spices. Instead, cover the pork with the salt, sugar and cinnamon. Then run a spoon under hot water for a minute, dip it into your peanut butter and carefully apply the peanut butter along all sides of the pork. It’s a tricky and sticky task, but just try and get some of it on each side.)
4. Place the pork in a heavy-duty sealing bag or in a Tupperware container. Don’t settle for cheap plastic bags. Get some Ziploc brand freezer bags. Double zipper.
5. Refrigerate for 24 hours. Drain the juices out of the bag and return to the fridge.
6. Refrigerate for another 4-5 days, occasionally jostling the bag to make sure the spices are well distributed.
7. After it’s done curing, wash off all of the dry rub. If you don’t have a meat slicer, put the slab of bacon into the freezer for an hour and then slice into strips. The freezer should make the difficult cutting process easier. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate or freeze.

Check back soon for the experiment results.

For some more bacon goodness read the taste test of my first attempt, see Anna’s photos on Flickr and use your bacon in our romanesco bacon soup.

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I came home today to joyful news: one of my best friends from high school is engaged. In fact, she is the first of my close friends from high school to get engaged.

It’s moments like these that I get that little twinge of homesickness. I wish I could put on my imaginary running shoes complete with Hermes-like wings on the heels. I would run and fly as fast as I could straight home so that I could sit in Lauren’s living room, the hot fingers of a fire crawling up our backs. We would sit there with warm blankets wrapped around us, a Ledo’s pizza in front of us, and mugs of spiked hot chocolate ready for us to devour then go back for seconds.

“How did he do it?” I’d say. “Where was it? Did you cry? Show me the ring!” I wouldn’t give her a chance to talk until all of my questions were out of my system. Then she would show me the dazzling ring, tell me the full story with all the boring details, and we would giggle well into the night.

But this little, flitty, girlish fantasy will not come true. We will skype…once she is awake. I will see the ring…in gritty, blocky pixels. I will ask all of the questions…one at a time since there will be a lag in the audio and she will start answering after she hears the first question, thus blocking out the rest.

It’s at times like these that I get that little throb in my chest telling me I can’t live abroad forever. It’s at times like these that I just want to sit with my closest friends and watch a movie, we don’t even need to talk. It’s at times like these that I get up, put my apron on, and cook. Because, quite frankly, it’s at times like these that cooking is the only thing that makes me feel like home, no matter how small my kitchen is.

Chicken nostalgia
Photo by Anna Waigand

So tonight, I share my recipe for a simple white wine sauce with chicken legs. Nothing fancy. Nothing fresh. Nothing new. Instead, sometimes it’s just that little touch of “There ain’t nothing Korean about this” that makes it all worthwhile.

Simple chicken legs in white wine sauce
Photo by Anna Waigand

Chicken legs simmered in a simple white wine sauce
(For my Ghetto BBJG and her new plant in the garden)

5 chicken legs (medium)
Coarse salt
4 tsp dried rosemary, crushed and chopped (Fresh is better, if available)
Butter, 1 Tbl and 2 Tbl
3 garlic heads, minced
1 medium white onion, sliced
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth (or water if chicken broth is unavailable)
3 squirts of lemon juice (about 1/2 tsp)
White pepper

1. Rub chicken legs with coarse salt, white pepper and 3 tsps of rosemary.
2. Melt 1 Tbl butter with 1 minced garlic head in a frying pan over medium-high heat.
3. Place chicken legs in pan. Brown on each side.
4. Remove chicken legs and set aside, covered.
5. Turn heat down to medium. Melt 2 Tbl butter. Add onions and 2 minced garlic heads to pan. Saute until start becoming translucent.
6. Add white wine, 1 tsp crushed, chopped dried rosemary, chicken broth (if using water, add more salt to taste), lemon juice in pan. Salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 10 minutes.
7. Add chicken legs to white wine sauce. Cover and cook for 15 minutes (or until done), turning the chicken halfway through.
8. Serve on rice and enjoy the delicious simplicity.

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Stuffed Squash
Photo by Anna Waigand

I was at our local outdoor market when I saw a couple boxes of produce out of place next to the rice cakes, red bean pastries and bread of a baker’s stand. There were three boxes of small green squashes. I’ve never cooked with squash before, and it isn’t something I would order at at restaurant, but the smallest squashes were adorable and I thought Anna would like them. Plus it was two mini squashes for 1000 won, pocket change.

The next day Anna and I brainstormed ideas for stuffed squash on the subway trip to an expat Thanksgiving, but it took a week before we had a chance to try them out. There were a couple moments where I was sure my experiment was doomed, but I was reassured just by the rush of deep smells as I lifted off the top of the steamer. The two tightly packed balls came out beautifully.

The steaming squash
Photo by Anna Waigand

The squashes are stuffed with poor-man’s pureed carrot seasoned with pine nuts, cinnamon-sugar bacon and garlic. It comes out warm and sweet with enough depth of flavor to have you scraping the last bits of squash off the dark green rind. The juicy stuffing is absorbed into the squash and keeps it moist while steaming, and the seeds are saved and cooked up as a colorful and crunchy topping. If you can find individual-sized squashes this makes for a great first course or side dish. If you don’t have your own cinnamon-sugar bacon, look for sweet cured bacon and add a dash of cinnamon to the mix. And outside of the bacon this is a really healthy recipe. Virtually no oil, very little salt and lots of fresh veggies.

The Squash Stuffing
Photo by Anna Waigand

Serves 2 as appetizer/side dish
2 mini squashes – about the size of a cup measure
1 strip thick cut home-cured cinnamon-sugar bacon
1 1/3 cup chopped carrots
4 cloves garlic, grated
1 tbsp pine nuts
1/3 medium onion, grated
pinch coarse salt

Seeds from squashes
1 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil

The Squash
1. Put the chopped carrots in a pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Boil for 20 minutes until soft.
2. Cut off the very top of each squash. You shouldn’t cut it in half or even far enough down to be able to see the pulp. Hit the center of the hard yellow meat with the wrong end of a spoon to break a hole into the seedy center. Scoop out all the seeds and pulp. Set aside the seeds and discard the pulp.
3. Fry up the bacon (preferably with extra to snack on). Pat dry and finely chop once cool.
4. Grate the garlic and onion into a small bowl.
5. Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan. Finely chop.
6. When the carrots are cooked, drain them of water and return them to the pot. Mash them finely with a fork unless you have a blender. In which case, blend them. Add the carrots to the garlic and onion. Add the bacon, pine nuts and a pinch of salt. Mix.
7. Stuff the squash with the mixture. There will be a lot of juice from the mixture. Like a lot. Do not squeeze it out or drain it off, it will keep the squash moist. Place in the steamer and steam for 20 minutes or until the squash flesh is soft. Keep a close watch of the squash, you don’t want it to over cook and become dry. The flesh should turn from yellow to a solid green. If it begins to crack or become flaky it’s done, and you should take it out immediately.
8. Finish with the squash seed garnish (below) and serve immediately.

Frying squash seeds
Photo by Anna Waigand

Sauteed squash seed garnish
1. Thoroughly wash the seeds. Use a strainer to repeatedly wash and pick out pieces of squash and pulp.
2. Lightly coat a small frying pan with olive oil and sauté the seeds over low heat. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and cumin. As we often say, use an oven if you have it. Roast them on a cookie sheet with the spices sprinkled on top. Otherwise improvise along with us.
3. Cook until dark brown and preferable crispy. It’s tricky to get them crispy on the stove without burning them, but they will be good no matter what.
4. Garnish finished squash with the seeds.

As I’ve done with my other food experiments, here are a couple lessons I learned while making this dish.
1. Grating onions is a sure-fire way to clear out your tear ducts. So if they’re blocked, pull out the fine-toothed grater.
2. I throw a lot of garlic in things, but I was sure I had finally gone too far on this one. I tasted the carrot mix, which has the raw grated onion and garlic in it, and was almost knocked off my feet. I reassured myself that after cooking and soaking into the squash it would mellow out, but I didn’t really believe it. I was preparing exit strategies and back up plans both to be able to eat the squash and to make something else for dinner. Thankfully it worked. Phew.
3. The carrot mix was far juicer that I was expecting. As an experiment I squeezed out a lot of the juice from one squash and packed in extra mix while the other got a juice-laden mix. As you might expect, the one with more juice had moist squash flesh while the other was too dry. Embrace the juice.
4. Raw squash is seriously hard. Like rock hard. I guess that is what you get for being a squash newbie. There’s always more lessons to learn.

Us playing with our food and more squash photos on Flickr.

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Round Two of Bacon
Photo by Anna Waigand

In preparation for my upcoming personal bacon day (Nov. 30, more on why in a later post), I decided to make another round of home-cured bacon. I picked up half a kilo at the butcher and decided to make a sweet version. Last time I made bacon I made a traditional dry rub and a Korean spiced batch. The traditional bacon wasn’t quite sweet enough so I decided to add a bunch more brown sugar and some cinnamon.

The cinnamon smelled amazing in the mix, but I had a problem getting the salt to stick. The much finer sugar and cinnamon mix took up most of the available surface area before the coarse salt could stick. So if you make this I recommend covering the pork with the salt and then adding the cinnamon and sugar. Instead I just added two extra pinches of salt to the bag before putting it in the fridge to make sure it cured properly.

.5 kg pork belly with skin
1 tablespoon natural salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Wash off the pork belly and pat dry.
2. Cover the pork belly thoroughly with salt. Make sure to get it everywhere.
3. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Cover the pork in the mix.
4. Place the pork in a heavy-duty sealing bag or in a Tupperware container. (For people in Korea, don’t settle for plastic bags from Daiso. Find a Home Plus for Ziploc brand bags. Double zipper.)
5. Refrigerate for 7 days, turning the bag over every day to distribute the juices and mixture. The salt will suck a lot of liquid out of the pork, don’t worry about it.
6. After it’s done curing, wash off all of the dry rub and slice into strips. Refrigerate or freeze and then cook like normal. Now is also where you would smoke it, but we don’t have an oven or a grill, so we can only cure it.

It has been curing away in my fridge now for a couple of days and will be ready for tasting on Monday night. I’ll let you know how it goes.

If you can’t get enough bacon, check out my taste test of my first attempt, see Anna’s photos on Flickr and, if you want to use some bacon, try our romanesco bacon soup.

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