Sunday, October 31, 2010

Kitchen Memories: October 2010

I just got to thinking.

I MISS our dumpster diving rituals.
The 'harvest'
The anticipation and imagination
that went into every meal.

I'm still feeding friends
and experimenting with
unfamiliar foods.
But it's not the same.

So, I'm going to get a little nostaligic.
Remembering what I made about a year ago.

Last October was all about the Eggplant.
I made four incredible dishes.
I remember rave reviews on this
"Easiest Eggplant" with "Fresh" Marinara

Another thing I've been missing this fall is canning.
Last October I did some killer Kosher Dill Pickles
and the most amazingly delicious
Freezer Strawberry Jam

And the greatest joy is always in sharing the meal or snack
with dear friends.

It's official.
I miss my 519 Kitchen and dinner guests.

Fortunately Korea isn't holding too much out on me.
Still have a kitchen (although not as homey and cozy and perfect as 519)
And still have Fabulous Dinner/Snack Guests.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Ramen Stir-Fry

Ramen Noodles in Asia are better than ramen noodles anywhere else - South Korea is not exception! Our dear friends mentioned something about making ramen stir-fry when they wanted a qucik easy meal, so I thought I'd give it my best shot. Mike and I were, fully satisfied with the way this dish came together and it's one of the quickest, easiest meals I've ever prepared.

Simply prepare some ramen. Saute your favorite stir fry vegetables - or whatever happens to be in the fridge (I used carrots, mushrooms and onions). Drain your noodles, cut them up and add them to the skillet. In our house hold, we operate under the premise that "everything is better with a fried egg on top" so of course the ramen stir-fry was topped with a fried egg before being gobbled down!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Beer Cheese Soup

New Life for: Max [Korean Beer] and curd-y cheese

One great truth about Korea is...the beer is not of the utmost quality. Fortunately, for a good beer cheese soup, Max or Cass are fully acceptable.

1/2 cup Butter
1 cup Flour
3 cups Chicken Broth
1 cup Beer
1 cup minimum Cheese (grated is preferred, Velveeta is what most recipes call for - but we don't do processed cheese)
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups Milk or Cream
Cajun Seasoning to taste
Carrots, Mushrooms, Onions - as much as you like in your soup
Chives for Garnish

Melt butter, then slowly add flour and mix until you have a semi-thick butter/flour paste. Add to chicken broth, stir until butter/flour mix is fully incorporated. Throw in cheese, garlic cloves and veggies. Turn slow-cooker on to low for 6-7 hours or high for 3-4 hours. Add Cajun seasoning last 30 minutes or so. Stir in milk last 20 minutes. Enjoy with chives on top and as many new friends as you can round up (so long as they each contribute to the meal by bringing a dish to share).

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Korean Cooking: Class Three

Our second Korean cooking class covered the preperation of one of our absolute favorite dishes: man-du -- Korean dumplings. Man-du comes in a variety of forms; steamed, in soup, fried, filled with meat and veggies or kimchi.
For mandu - you'll need a little magic. Only because they're tricky to close and I can't accurately tell you how to make the dough or where to purchase it - however, I assume something like wonton skins would work.

To make the filling finely chop:
Chunk of Pork (1/8 cup) -- loin or chop
Tofu (1/4 cup) -- after squeezing out the moisture using cheesecloth and your hand
Small portion of Leek or Scallions
Clove of Garlic
Kimchi (2 Tbsp.) -- liquid squeezed out

(Measurements given are HUGE approximations and would only allow for about 6-8 dumplings.)

Place a tsp. or two into the center of the dough circle bring edges of dough together using a light touch of water if needed to assisst the coming together of the dough -- this is where the magic comes in. It's a learned art, this folding of Mandu and at this point - I have no tips for the perfect folding technique...sorry.

Using a steamer, steam the dumplings for 8 - 10 minutes, enjoy dipped in soy sauce. Your tastebuds will love you for it!

The second dish we made was 'goong joong tak pok ki' -- Mike describes the dish as a Korean twist on stir-fry. We were informed that this dish is finding increasing popularity among the younger generations of Koreans - so, here are the rough directions for a 'trendy' Korean dish.

In a skillet, fry up some thinly sliced beef (perferably marinated in soy and sesame oil). Add thinly sliced carrots, onion, green pepper and cabbage. Too the skillet add a dressing of soy sauce, oyster sauce and sesame oil (for our small skillet we used probably 2tsp of the first two ingredients and 1 of the oil). Then add to the pan a small bit of water and heat the dish until much of the water has evaporated. Now, for those of you in America, I hope you have a glorious Asian market or some connection because the rice cake noodle may be hard to duplicate -- anyway, find yourself some rice cake noodles, cut into thirds coat with a little sesame oil and soy sauce and add toward the final minutes of meal preperation. Enjoy with mandu and a few good friends, you can't go wrong!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Slow Cooked Banana Bread

My desire upon arriving in our Asian kitchen was to conquer baking. The Korean kitchen does not often house an oven. Stove-top yes. Oven no. Many choose to avoid baking or purchase a toaster oven. However, toaster ovens are pricey and kind of small. I took about 5 minutes to consider my baking desire, our financial desires and within those 5 minutes I'd decided a crockpot was cheaper, had more uses and provided a few more challenges that I was anxious to take on! So, after Frito Pie came Banana Bread in the Slow Cooker.

Now, I must mention, I DID NOT conquer this in the most perfect manner. I was a bit...extremely...impatient. Therefore, my bread was doughy and a little burned on the edges - but I'm confident it's only because I wanted a haircut more than perfect Banana Bread

2 cups Flour
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/2 cup Butter
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
2 cups Mashed Ripe Banana

Preheat crock on high. Mix ingredients together. Grease the sides of the crock-pot. Pour the dough into the crockpot (should fill up about 2 - 2.5 inches evenly). Bake bread for about 2.5 to 3 (maybe 4) hours until bread is cooked through. [Many websites recommend propping the lid open a tad to let some of the moisture out -- good idea. Many also suggest using a loaf pan - You can see how it's done here.]

Enjoy the bread for breakfast or as the perfect Settlers of Catan snack!

Korean Cooking: Class Two

We signed up for a Korean Cooking class. We signed up late though. So we missed the first class. If I would have made it to the first class, I would have known that I should bring a notebook and pen to write down the recipe so I wouldn't feel so helpless when it came time to cook. Regardless, I have a memory like an elephant and was surrounded by notebook toting (?) cooks - so our dishes were successful!

The menu for the event was: Fried Tofu and 'Hangover' Soup (aka Bean Sprout Soup)

Since I did not have a notebook, nor did I have to measure out my own ingredients, I can only give a rough estimate as to how these dishes would be re-created, but that's more or less how I record all my recipes these days, so nothing new there.

For Bean Sprout soup you need:

1 Large Handful of Bean Sprouts
4-5 Clams
3 cups Anchovy 'paste'/water with 1-2 dried anchovies disolved
About 1/4 cup diced scallions
2 cloves of Garlic, minced
A dash of salt

To prepare: Rinse off the bean sprouts, throw into a pot. Add anchovy paste/water, salt and clams. Boil for about 8 minutes [we were also warned not to open the lid because it would smell bad]. Check dish, if clams have opened you're well on your way to a complete pot of 'Hangover Soup'! Add the scallions and salt to taste! Enjoy after a night of heavy drinking!

For the fried tofu you will need:
1 package of Tofu
1 cup (or less) Anchovy paste/water
2 Tbsp. Chili Powder [unless you have a week tongue or gut]
2 Peppers (one red, one green) diced
1 Tbsp. Soy Sauce (I think)
1 Tsp. Sugar...maybe a Tbsp.

Begin by boiling the tofu in water. Remove block of tofu from water then slice. In skillet, heat anchovy paste, chili powder, soy sauce, sugar and peppers until HOT! Add slices of tofu, cook on each side until 'fried' -- brown. Remove from pan, serve with rice and hangover soup - you have yourself an official Korean meal!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Frito Pie

Everybody has a favorite chili recipe - and I'm not about to convince you that my Korean style chili was all that impressive and that you should switch over. On the contrary, it was too sweet! Between the corn and tomatoes and even the spicy sauce we have, this chili had too much sweetness to make me LOVE it, but I did enjoy it!
Korean "Fritos" - the ones on the left are better for frito pie, more sturdy
The best part about the meal, or a highlight to the meal, was preparing it in the crock-pot! I'm very grateful for my husband getting me a crock-pot one week into our Korean stay ^^. So - into the crockpot went: 2cans black beans, 2diced onions, 1 can sweet corn (not my best idea), 5-6 small chopped tomatoes, 3 cloves of garlic, about 1 pound of ground beef, some chili powder and seasoning salt (I would have loved to have this chili spice mix...but didn't) - cooked on high for 3-4 hours before being served over Korean Fritos with a little spicy sauce -- welcome cooler weather, I will perfect my Korean Frito Pie, don't you worry!

P.S. When eaten as a leftover, this chili takes on whole new meaning with a fried egg on top...but then again, most things take on whole new meaning with a fried egg on top

Sweet Potato Hash

Just like the 'old days' back at 519. Too much produce for Mike and I to eat solo. So...we called up some friends, I chopped up some veggies and served one of my favorite weeknight dishes - a dish I like to call hash. Any mix of vegetables fried up, add an apple toward the end and the best part, serve with an egg on top (runny). Back home, I'd generally add some sausage to give the dish better flavor - however, the sausage in Korea has not made it onto the list of favorite foods - so no sausage for this hash! The sweet potatoes, Korean 'spicy' sauce and tomatoes made this dish sweeter than I would have liked (a common problem I'm discovering here in Korea). Anyway, nobody complained and the dish was as satisfying as needed.
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