recent recipes

Recent Adventures

Sunday
Nov272011

jong ga house - korean BBQ adventure

I'm almost too full to be writing this post, but I'm compelled to share the amazing lunch adventure we just had at the Jong Ga House in Oakland.  It all started while we were having our morning coffee, watching Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre Foods.  He happened to be in Korea and we happened to think everything looked amazing.  So, the quest was on to find lunch.  Enter the Jong Ga House.

As we approached the restaurant, it started to smell really good and I knew we made the right decision. I'll admit it though, we were intimated by the menu.  It was approximately six pages long, front and back.  So, 12 pages of dishes that all sounded great.

We really didn't know what to order, but since we were literally one of the first tables in the entire restaurant (I think we entered at 12:01 pm), the friendly staff were more than willing to help us out. As we were looking through the massive menu, I saw something really delicious pass by, so I knew whatever that was, would end up on our order too.  It was sizzling like crazy and smelled really good.

Before I even get to what we ordered let's discuss the delicious cold kim chee (or kimchi) soup and the many little dishes of condiment-like treats that come out before the meal.  

Cold soup is not usually my thing and honestly, kim chee is not usually my thing.  Fermented spiced cabbage hasn't always agreed with me,  but this was good. Really, really good.  It was a cold veggie, noodle and kim chee soup.  I really liked it and could imagine that it would taste just fantastic on a hot day.  

When we finished our soup, out came the dozen or so little dishes of nibbles and treats.  It was so fun tasting every single one.  Some I liked better than others - the fish cake and the silver noodles were two of my favorites.  There are a few things I'm still not sure what they were, but I liked them.  So that's all that matters.

On to what we actually ordered for lunch.  We decided on three traditional dishes: Bi Bim Bab, which is a salad type dish with fresh seasoned vegetables, beef, rice and a fried egg; Dae Ji Bul Go Gi or grilled pork seasoned with spicy marinade (this is the sizzling dish); and Hae Jang Guk, which is a mild beef soup with vegetables.

The waitress told us the soup was very good, especially if you have a hangover because it cleans out your blood. Neither of us had a hangover at that moment, but we both agreed that it would really do the trick if we needed some help in that department.  Hangover or not, it was tasty.

We agreed that the Dae Ji Bul Go Gi (the grilled pork pictured above) was the winner of the afternoon. It was truly delicious.  I will be thinking about this dish for a very long time and will definitely be back soon to try it again.  

The Bi Bim Bab was really quite tasty too.  It was very fresh and had a lovely sesame taste to it.  I'm also a sucker for anything with a fried egg on it. The salad was served with a delicious red sauce that wasn't too spicy, but it was chock full of flavor.

After making our way through all of the dishes, we felt great and very full. One of the restaurant staff members said we should come back in the evening for dinner because the portions are bigger.  I couldn't even imagine that but I will definitely be back.

Saturday
Nov262011

vanilla bean and coconut tapioca pudding

As you may have noticed, I'm a huge fan of coconut milk.  Tapioca pudding is no exception.  Add some vanilla bean and fresh fruit and you have a near perfect dessert, in my humble opinion.  

Ingredients:

1 cup pearl tapioca

2 cups whole milk

3 cups coconut milk

1/4 cup sugar

1 vanilla bean

2 eggs (separated)

pinch cayenne

pinch salt

fresh fruit for garnish (optional)

This recipe is pretty easy, but the timing is of critical importance.  Add your tapioca pearls, milk, coconut milk and sugar  to a sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Once boiling and reduce to simmer.  You'll want to simmer for about 30 - 35 minutes stirring constantly. 

Now that your tapioca is simmering, get ready for the vanilla bean and the eggs.  Working with vanilla bean is awesome.  Sure, it's way too expensive, but it smells so good.  To get the beautiful little vanilla bits out of the bean, cut it in half and then split the two halves lengthwise.  

Once the beans are cut open, you can take a pairing knife and just scrape the delicious vanilla innards into the pot with the tapioca.  Separate your eggs and lightly whip the two yolks.  Add the yolks to the pot with the tapioca and then add your pinch of cayenne and salt.  It may sound weird to add cayenne and salt, but trust me.  It's delish. 

Continue to simmer until the tapioca is cooked thoroughly, which you can tell by just testing a few of the pearls. It should be firm but not hard.  As soon as your tapioca is done, remove from heat and let cool for about 10 minutes or so.  You can serve the tapioca pudding warm or cool.  Garnish with fresh fruit and enjoy! Easy, huh?

Saturday
Nov192011

creamy roasted garlic mashed potatoes

Have you roasted garlic before?  If not, it's amazing.  Not to digress, but one of my favorite pizza spots in the Bay Area, Little Star Pizza, serves their garlic bread  very simply -  a few slices of bread and head of roasted garlic to spread on it.  Genius.  Once roasted, the garlic has the consistence of butter.  The roasted garlic in these creamy mashed potatoes is just perfect. 

Ingredients:

6-8 Yukon Gold potatoes (skins on)

1 head roasted garlic

1/4 cup butter

1 tsp olive oil

1 cup heavy cream

salt and pepper to season

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Cut the entire top off the head of garlic (about the top 1/4"), rub with olive oil and salt and pepper and place in a baking dish.  Cover your baking dish with tin foil and wait for the oven to heat up.  As soon as the oven is at 400 degrees, place the covered garlic in the oven and bake for about 40-45 minutes.

Wash your potatoes and put them in a stock pot or dutch oven and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and boil for about 30 minutes, or until you can poke the potatoes and they feel soft.  

Your garlic should be done just before your potatoes, so remove the pan from the oven and take off the tin foil.  Give the garlic a bit of time to cool, about 5 minutes.  Your roasted garlic should be a lovely brownish caramel color.  

Your potatoes should be about done right now, so drain the water and put them in the bowl of your mixer.  If you don't have a stand-up or a hand mixer, not to worry, you can definitely mash the potatoes with a hand-held potato masher.

Now that the roasted garlic is cool enough to handle, just take a knife and dig the garlic out.  Put the garlic in the bowl with the cooked potatoes.  It should be pretty easy to get the garlic out - take a look at the demonstration below:

Besides how delicious and easy these mashed potatoes are, there's another reason I love making them - I get to use my bright pink ("raspberry" to be official) Kitchen Aid mixer.  This little gem of an appliance has made life in the kitchen really amazing

Back to the potatoes.  Now that your garlic and potatoes are in the mixer (or bowl), add your butter, heavy cream and salt and pepper.  Mix those potatoes until they're mashed, about 2 minutes in the mixer.  Season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.  Serve with some gravy or strait up.  I think you'll like these.

Saturday
Nov192011

the very best thanksgiving stuffing

I was never much of a fan of stuffing.  I always felt it was slightly boring, a bit too mushy and really not interesting at all - kind of like season three of True Blood.  Enter my mother in law's stuffing, which I tried for the first time a few years ago.  I couldn't believe how enjoyable it was and I couldn't stop nibbling from the pan before it went into the oven.  Here's my take on her delicious Thanksgiving must-have. For the vegetarian version, skip the sausage and use veggie broth. 

Ingredients:

1 loaf of stale bread

2 stalks of celerey (chopped)

3 cups chicken broth (warmed)

1 lb ground sausage 

1 onion

1 shallot

2 cloves garlic

2 tbsp butter

1/2 cup crumbled feta

3 tsp Bell's Seasoning

salt and pepper 

If you don't have stale bread on hand, just take your loaf of bread and chop it into 1" cubes.  Place it in a bowl and leave it on the counter for the day.  It will become stale.  If you have pets, as I do, make sure you keep the bread out of reach.  My doggies will stop at no end to get their little paws on some bread.  This desire for carbs has, in the past, involved counter surfing.  

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and saute all of the veggies in the butter over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until the onions and celery get a bit soft and fragrant.  Add a bit of salt and pepper and put in a bowl that's big enough to eventually hold all of the stale bread.

Brown your sausage in the same pan you cooked the veggies in.  You don't want to over cook it so the sausage gets dry, but you'll want just a bit of crisp.  Cook for about 10 minutes. When the sausage is cooked, add it to the bowl with the veggies.  Now warm up the chicken broth in a saucepan.  Add your bread to the bowl with the veggies and begin to add the chicken broth, about 1/2 cup at a time.  It will seem kind of soggy, but don't worry, it will dry while baking.  Mix well, season with salt and pepper and now it is time for the most important ingredient:

This recipe would be lost without Bell's Seasoning.  I haven't used Bell's for any recipe besides this stuffing, but it's a must have here.  Add the Bell's and mix well.  Now add your crumbled feta cheese and continue to mix. Once everything is mixed well, sneak a nibble (or three) and place the stuffing mixture in a lasagna pan.  Bake it for about 45 minutes, or until the tops of the bread begin to look toasty.

Remove from pan, let stand for about 5 minutes and serve with your favorite Thanksgiving fixings. Honestly, why wait until Thanksgiving to have this lovely stuffing?  It's my pledge to make it a year-round tradition.

Thursday
Nov172011

braised short ribs with chinese five spice and ginger

It's hard to deny the deliciousness and tenderness of a braised short rib.  Well, that is if you eat beef.  I really enjoy the subtle Asian spices in this recipe.  You can serve it over rice, as I did, or stir fry some bok choy or baby spinach.

Marinade:

3 lbs short ribs, cut into 2" strips (the butcher will do this for you)

1 tsp lemongrass (minced)

1 tbsp fresh ginger (minced)

1 tbsp Hoisin sauce

1 tsp Chinese five spice

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 clove of garlic

1/2 tsp salt

Other ingredients:

2 carrots (peeled and diced)

2 stalks of celery (diced)

1 onion (diced)

1 cup dry red wine (such as Cabernet Sauvignon)

2 cups beef broth

1 whole star anise

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp flour

Start by mixing all of the ingredients for the marinade together in a small bowl.  You should be able to find all of the ingredients at your local grocery, but you might have to head to an Asian market for the hoisin and the lemongrass.  It's nice to have hoisin on hand anyway, it's worth the trip if you have to take it. 

Cover the short ribs with the marinade (you're going to have to get in there with your hands), cover with tin foil, and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.  In the mean time, rest a little, then chop your veggies and get decent sized dutch even ready to go.

After a few hours in the fridge, remove the short ribs,  preheat your oven to 300 degrees and heat your dutch oven over medium high heat with a bit of olive oil in the bottom.  When the dutch oven is very hot, take half of the short ribs and place them in the pan.  Don't move them for 2-3 minutes, then flip to the other side and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Remove and place in a clean bowl.  Repeat with the rest of the short ribs then reduce the heat to medium and add the diced veggies.  Be sure you don't drain your pan before adding the veggies, you'll want all that delicious juice.

After your veggies are lightly browned, add the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan.  Simmer until the wine has reduced by about 1/4, it should take about 10 minutes.  Add the beef broth, the short ribs and any juice that has accumulated in the bowl, and the star anise.  Cover and place in the oven, cook for about 2 1/2 hours or until the short ribs become very tender.

After 2 1/2 hours in the oven, remove the dutch oven and take the short ribs out and remove any bones that haven't already fallen out.  Place the short ribs in a bowl and tent with tin foil. If you're making rice, you should start it now.  Meanwhile, strain the dutch oven to remove all of the veggies and any of the short rib bones that have come loose.  Make sure you reserve the juice that was strained.

Take the reserved cooking liquid and put it in a saucepan over medium low heat. Add the flour and cook until the sauce has thickened, about 15 minutes and drizzle over the short ribs and rice.  Delish! 

Tuesday
Nov152011

quinoa salad with herb roasted potatoes and maple toasted almonds

Just imagine the smiles when you whip this delicious salad out for your Thanksgiving feast.  The herb roasted potatoes are a perfect balance to the subtle sweetness of the maple toasted almonds, and the feta is just yummy (as usual).  It's nice and hearty, perfect for vegetarians and carnivores alike.

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa

6 red potatoes

2 tsp fresh rosemary (finely chopped)

1 tsp fresh thyme (finely chopped)

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tbsp butter

1/2 tsp maple syrup

1/3 cup shaved almonds

1 cup diced cucumber (peeled)

1 red bell pepper (diced)

Juice from one lemon

1/4 cup feta

1 tsp fresh dill (finely chopped)

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and soak your quinoa in water for about 30 minutes.  If you haven't cooked with quinoa before, it's awesome.  It cooks very similar to rice but has this fantastic nutty flavor. Evidently, quinoa is not a true cereal or grain, it's a pseudocereal, or so says Wikipedia. It's also a complete protein, chock full of amino acids.  Make sure you get fair trade quinoa though, there's growing demand for quinoa worldwide and it's important to support the farmers growing and harvesting it in South America. 

While your quinoa is soaking, cut your potatoes in quarters, chop up your rosemary and thyme and mix the herbs, salt and pepper with about 1 tbsp of the olive oil.  Bake the potatoes for apx 30-40 minutes or until they are cooked through and lightly browned (just poke them with a fork and you'll be able to tell if they're done).

Drain the water from your quinoa, rinse and add the 1 cup quinoa with 2 cups water on a pot.  Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to low for 20 minutes.  While the quinoa is cooking and the potatoes are roasting, chop the cucumber, red pepper and dill and put in a big serving bowl.  Time for the almonds!

The key to the success of these almonds is moving quickly and not letting them burn.  Melt the butter over medium high heat, add the maple syrup and heat it until the butter browns slightly.  Add the sliced almonds and cook for about 20-30 seconds, stirring constantly.  You just want to toast the almonds, not scorch them.  Remove from the pan and put aside to cool.

Your potatoes should be done soon, as should your quinoa.  When your potatoes are done, remove from the oven and let cool.  When the buzzer for your quinoa goes off, remove from the heat but let the quinoa stand with the cover on for another 5 minutes or so.  After about 5 minutes, transfer the quinoa to the bowl with the chopped cucumber, pepper and dill.

Once the potatoes are cooled, add to the quinoa and veggies, add the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil and juice from one lemon.  Toss all of the ingredients together and sprinkle with feta and almonds. Season with salt and pepper and dig in.  

Sunday
Nov132011

coconut and squash curry soup with chicken

This is probably one of my favorite fall soups.  It's so easy to make and super gratifying.  It's easy enough to make after work on a weeknight, and you'll have plenty for leftovers at work.  You'll be the envy of the office when you heat up this bowl of soup.  My husband loves coconut, so a few years ago I bought him a cookbook from Fiji called Unforgettable: A Coconut Cookbook and this recipe is adapted from a recipe straight from Fiji. 

Ingredients:

4 cups diced kobocha or butternut squash

2 boneless and skinless chicken breasts

1 onion

3 cloves garlic

2 cups coconut milk

4 cups chicken broth

1 tbsp cumin

1/2 tsp cayenne

1/2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cracked pepper

Preheat your oven to 450 and get to work on the squash.  Start by cutting your squash in half (either butternut or kobocha), clean it of the seeds and dice into 1" cubes. Toss the squash cubes in olive oil, salt and pepper and bake for 30 minutes or until the squash is soft.  

Meanwhile, cut your chicken breast into small cubes 1 -1 1/2", dice up your onion and garlic, and saute over medium in your stock pot or soup pot, using a splash of olive oil for about 10 minutes.  Add the cumin, cayenne, chili and a bit of salt and pepper.  Saute for a few more minutes and get ready to assemble the soup.

I've tried a lot of different kinds of coconut milk in my day, and while I'm not trying for product placement here, Chaokoh brand is my favorite (call me if you're reading this Chaokoh).  If you can't find this particular brand, really, any will do, but I'm hesitant to fully endorse the low-fat versions.  Sure, I've slipped them in from time to time, but why not just go for the gold on this one. 

Your squash should be about done by now, your chicken and onions are nice and sauted, so add your chicken broth and your coconut milk to the stock pot and give it a good stir.  Bring to a boil, reduce to low and simmer for about 45 minutes.  This soup is just the right amount sweet, just the right amount spicy, and definitely just the right amount yummy.

Sunday
Nov132011

fantastic frittata with chorizo, mushroom, kale and red onion

Now this one is a real winner, but I'm a true sucker for anything baked with cheese in it.  I came up with this one because I had some kale to use and was going back and forth between a pasta dish and a quiche.  So, what better than to combine the two? I couldn't have been happier. Great for dinner and even better for a nice leftover lunch the next day.  

Ingredients:

6 eggs

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 chorizo links (taken out of the casings - about 1 cup)

1 cup grated gruyere, swiss or emmentaler cheese

8 oz spaghetti or linguini

1 small red onion (diced)

1 anaheim pepper (or a similar mild pepper)

2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms 

2 cups fresh kale (or another leafy green like spinach)

1 tbsp fresh thyme

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tbsp salt

Cracked pepper

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Start by taking the chorizo out of the casing (UPDATE - I've just received feedback from a vegetarian friend that the word casing, grosses her out.  For that, I am deeply apologetic and for those vegetarians reading this, you can use a meat subsitute in this recipe that doesn't involve taking anything out of the "you know what") and brown it in a small pan, but don't over brown it. Meanwhile, dice up all of your veggies and the thyme and saute over medium heat in the olive oil for a few minutes, just until the veggies start to soften.  You don't want to overcook them because they'll be baking for awhile, too.  When the veggies and chorizo are done cooking, put them both aside to cool.

Boil water for your pasta and cook the pasta until it's al dente.  Again, don't overcook the pasta because the last thing you want is a mushy frittata. It's not pretty, trust me.

Now crack your 6 eggs into a bowl and beat them for a minute or so.  Add the heavy cream and mix it all together.  Season with the salt and pepper and add your grated cheese.

Once the veggies and chorizo are cooled slightly, add them to the egg, cream and cheese mixture.  Be careful not to jump the gun on this step, if you add the veggies when they're still hot, you'll cook your eggs.  

I used a 8"x8" baking dish on this one because I wanted the frittata to be a bit thicker.  If you have one, great, if not, you can definitely use a pie dish or a lasagna pan but it will be much thinner.  Butter whatever dish you're using, dump the creamy, cheesy mixture in the pan.  Grate just a bit more cheese for the top and pop it in the oven.

My frittata was done after about 50 minutes of baking, but I used a pretty deep dish.  If you're using a shallower dish than the 8"x8" pan, it will likely be done well before 50 minutes is up.  I'd check in around 30 minutes and see what it looks like. Just keep an eye on it. You'll know it's done when you stick a knife in the middle and it come out clean.  Let the frittata stand for about 5 minutes before serving, so the eggs can completely set.  Dig in and enjoy.

Wednesday
Nov092011

rustic cannellini bean stew with italian sausage and kale

A perfect stew for a cold winter day.  Add some shaved parmesan, a chunk of rustic bread and a glass of Pinot and you're set.  That cold weather doesn't have a chance against you and your stew.  I like to poach an egg and add it to the top of the stew. Go on, give it a try.  This recipe requires soaking your dry cannellini beans overnight, so keep that in mind as you prepare.

Ingredients:

1 onion (diced)

1 fennel bulb (diced)

3 garlic cloves (diced)

3 hot Italian sausage links

1 cup dry cannellini beans

2 cups chopped fresh kale

3 cups chopped tomato

4 cups chicken broth

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp red pepper flake

Soak your beans in cold water and a touch of salt overnight (up to two days).  After the beans have soaked, remove, rinse and set aside.  Heat up a frying pan and cook your sausage links until they just begin to brown and are cooked about 1/2 way through.  Set the sausage aside and get all of your veggies together.

Brown all of the veggies except the kale in a large stock pot with some olive oil.  After about 5 minutes, add the beans and continue to cook.  Cut your sausage into 1/2" pieces and add to the veggies and beans.  Now add the chicken broth and tomatoes, salt, pepper and crushed pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce and simmer for about 1 hour.

 

After the soup has simmered for about an hour, add your chopped kale and season with salt and pepper as needed.  Simmer for another 30 minutes and serve with a big piece of bread and some shaved parmesan.  This stew just makes me feel good.

Tuesday
Nov082011

chocolate covered oreos with fresh mint

These cookies appear to have passed the coworker test today - well, at least by those who eat gluten and chocolate.  Sure, I didn't really make the actual cookies, but I did lovingly coat them in a delicious dark chocolate and garnish with a fresh mint leaf. Oh, did I mention they're really tasty?

Ingredients:

1 packet of oreos (I actually used Newman's Organics, but use whatever is convenient)

1 cup dark chocolate chips

2 tbsp milk

2 tsp powdered sugar

1 tbsp butter

Fresh mint leaves (1 per cookie)

This "recipe" is awfully easy.  The milk was really just prop in this picture, but as you know, milk goes very well with cookies so you might as well have some on hand.  Measure out your chocolate chips and get your double boiler ready or get ready to assemble a makeshift double boiler.

If you have a double boiler, fantastic.  If you don't, as I don't, just grab a pot, fill it with about 2" of water and place a bowl on top, just like so:

Add all of your ingredients in the bowl and boil the water.  If you're using my method of a double boiler, be careful, because the rim of the bowl will get very hot.  This recipe will give the chocolate a bit of a fudge-like texture.  If  you're looking for a hardened chocolate shell, use less milk.  

Once the chocolate is melted, grab a cookie, dredge in the chocolate and place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper.  There will be a little smudgy spot where you were holding the cookie, in my opinion, that's a perfect please for a little mint leaf.  After you've coated all of your cookies, place in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours or until the chocolate sets.  Pour a glass of milk and enjoy.