Archive for the ‘Main Course’ Category

Kimchi Fried Rice (Bokumbap)

May 30, 2012

Sorry for the lack of posts! Real life has gotten busy. In the last year I’ve gotten engaged and as of last week, started down the road to buying my first home with my fiance. Between house hunting and wedding planning, food blogging has fallen to the wayside.

But here is an attempt to get back! So I think I wrote about my obsession with Korean dramas recently, and it continues. And because I continue to watch these dramas, every time I see the characters eat Korean food I suddenly crave it. First, it was all about bibimbap, and now my obsession is kimchi fried rice.

Kimchi fried rice is spicy and sour and buttery and oh so good!

I grew up with Chinese fried rice, but never kimchi fried rice, and man, I was missing out! Kimchi fried rice is a good way to use up leftover kimchi, but honestly, I’d buy a fresh batch of it just to make this recipe.

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Rabbit Ragù

August 19, 2011

So a little disclaimer about this post: I’m not really a fan of rabbit. It’s not that I object to the taste of it. It’s just that…there’s history.

Fresh rabbit cooked with farmers' market fresh vegetables.

When I was a little girl–about seven or eight years old–my parents drove down the street from my Wisconsin home to a nearby far. There my father purchased two bunny rabbits and brought them home. In our backyard he built a hutch from two-by-fours and chicken wire and the rabbits moved in. One was a black rabbit with sleek ears, and I named him Checkers. The second rabbit was a brown bunny, her fur almost like a tabby cat’s, save for a puff of white fur that served as her tail. I called her Cottonball.

My siblings and I would go visit the hutch regularly and drop in offerings of carrots and lettuce for them to eat. Eventually, the bunny family expanded and there were a dozen tiny little bunnys–black, white, and brown–hopping around. For my birthday party that winter, I brought in a box of bunnies into the house and let them hop around inside to entertain myself and my friends.

But then one day I went out to the hutch and Checkers and Cottonball were gone. The bunnies were all there, but where where the original two? I ran inside searching for my parents, but the search ended quickly when I walked into the kitchen and saw my grandmother hard at work at making dinner.

One plus one equals two.

Some people don’t eat vension because of Bambi. I didn’t eat meat for weeks after that incident, and for the next twenty-two years, I never had any desire to eat rabbit. But things change, and, the boy (now the fiance) does enjoy rabbit.

So if you survive this story of childhood woe and are still interested in this recipe, continue reading!

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Chicken Breasts and Morels

July 25, 2011

I love morels! I got morels at the farmers’ market this spring, but haven’t gotten a chance to post it until now. They taste woodsy and rich, and they absorb flavors beautifully. They need a sauce that compliments their flavor, yet allows them to stand alone. If you can’t find fresh morels, don’t worry. You can substitute dried with liquid or even sub other mushrooms (not quite as tasty, but still pretty yum).

This is a combo of a couple of recipes to make it my own. I did borrow mostly from the Chicken Breasts and Morels recipe from the Mycological Society of San Francisco‘s cookbook. Many people suggest to soak fresh morels to get off all of the grit. Don’t do it! This mutes their flavor. Just give them a good shake and lightly dab them with a moist cloth. MSSF offers other great morel tips, too.

I paired this dish with my homemade pasta, but that's a recipe for another post.

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Easy Gnocchi

January 14, 2011

I think I loved gnocchi the moment I tasted my first little potato pillow. I’d been craving potato dumplings. Back in my hometown of Madison, Wisconsin, there was this little restaurant downtown on State Street that sold pelmeni, or Russian dumplings. Some were filled with ground sirloin, and others were filled with potato. Covered with dusting of curry powder and squirts of spicy-sweet Srichara, it was perfect for lunch, dinner, or after a night out at the bars.

But then I moved away to Tucson, Arizona (and sadly, the restaurant eventually closed so when I go home it is no more) and I wasn’t sure where I’d get my fix. Of course I attempted to make pelmeni myself, but I was still growing as a cook then and it turned out pretty disastrous. Before I boiled them the dumplings were about the size of a Superball. Neat little balls of dough filled with mashed potato season and salted. But a few minutes in a boiling water caused them to go supernova. The potato burst out of the dough. The dough quadrupled in size and suddenly I was faced with a pot full of potato bits and doughballs the size of baseballs. I still ate it of course, but needless to say, it wasn’t the same.

Easy gnocchi

This gnocchi is seriously easy to make, especially if you use potato flakes...yes, potato flakes.

Enter Trader Joe’s. Enter gnocchi.

I spotted them in the freezer section (they’ve recently been vacuum-sealed and moved to the past section) and seeing “potato” and “dumpling,” I went in for it. They were pelmeni, but that day another food love affair began. I served them with curry powder and Sriacha. I combined them with kielbasa and vegetables.  Just last night, I cooked them up and served them with a Boursin garlic cheese sauce with grilled portobella mushrooms.

But last night’s dish didn’t involve Trader Joe’s. I’ve gone rogue, you see. I make my own gnocchi now.

In June of 2009 my boyfriend and I went to Rome. On our last night there, my boyfriend’s brother and his girlfriend (who were living in Trastevere at the time) took us for one last great roman meal. We went to the a restaurant in Rome’s Jewish ghetto, a wonderful, dreamy place called Il Giardino Romano where I watched a man peeling crate after crateful of fresh artichokes (we ordered fried artichoke hearts for an appetizer) while we waited for our meal.

I ordered the gnocchi in a fontina sauce, and the first bite I won’t ever forget. Soft. Pillowy. Delicious. Sorry, TJ’s, I love you, but you just don’t compare. Homemade gnocchi, friends, that what I bit into.

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Review: Morimoto

February 9, 2010

In high school, Iron Chef was on in the background of every house party, dirty basement, or hang out location my friends and I went to. We loved the hell out of it. Iron Chef had everything! Crazy food? Check! Competitions? Check! Nutty Japanese? Double check, because you know both the Chairman and his crazy cowboy shirt each get a count.

Of all the original chefs, Morimoto was our favorite. Young, handsome, and a chef! You can imagine how excited I was to go to his restaurant in Philadelphia.

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Lemon-Dill Wild Salmon

July 7, 2009

With spring (and now summer) in full bloom, it’s been a busy time. I’ve been cooking away and snapping photos in between a number of trips (weddings–Matzo’s, in fact!), holidays, and a vacation to Rome (more on that later, I hope, as I have been inspired to cook something like authentic Italian cuisine). One thing the trip to Rome wrought was the correction of my boyfriend’s circadian rhythms (he works until midnight during the week, which meant late bedtimes for a long while), which now allows him to wake up in time to accompany me to the Sunday farmer’s market. We live about a 10-15 walk from the market, so it’s been no excuse for our lack of attendance over the last three years, but then again, sleep is so wonderful, and after getting on average, 5-6 hours during the weekdays, having a full night on the weekend is a must. But going abroad has reset our clocks, and we’re both early(ish) to bed and early(ish) to rise.

Wild Alaska salmon in a light lemon-dill sauce that compliments, not overwhelms, the flavorful fish.

Wild Alaska salmon in a light lemon-dill sauce that complements, not overwhelms, the flavorful fish.

Vegetables are in full bloom now, and for the past two weeks we’ve been feasting on farm fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, and beets. Also, free-range chicken and, delight of delights, wild Alaskan salmon. Farm raised salmon tastes like rice paper compared to wild salmon. With farm-raised salmon I would marinate in soy sauce, ginger, maple syrup, or coat it liberally with some pesto to get it to take on some flavor, but the real thing? Amazing. And so amazing is the taste that one must keep any other ingredients light, lest you quash the natural, delicious flavor of the fish.

I keep it simple with a mixture of butter, lemon, and dill, and bake it until it flakes easily with a fork. A little salt and pepper to that, and I’m in heaven.

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Spicy Tofu and Pepper Stir-fry

May 19, 2009

I have to give my boyfriend loads of credit for making me a healthier eater. If not for him, I would probably not think about my calorie content as much. I wouldn’t make as conscientious an effort to eat vegetarian. If it happened, it would probably be by happenstance. For instance, as I write this, I am eating a Chipotle steak burrito bowl. I am tempted to eat the whole thing, but I’m distracted by my Twix bar and a bag of sour cream and onion chips. Granted, I don’t eat like this every day, but I don’t like to deny myself, but I also wasn’t the type to want to expand my cooking repertoire to involve a lot of vegetarian dishes simply because they were vegetarian.

Healthy and quick: thats two wins in my book!

Healthy and quick: that's two wins in my book!

This spicy tofu and pepper dish is a relatively easy stirfry, and it’s a fast one, too. I like my food just a little spicy, but if you really like it spicy, add more Sriracha to taste, but that stuff is hot, so be careful! If you want to temper the hotness, you can also try adding in some red pepper flakes.

I know there’s some sort of general wisdom out there that tofu can be gross or tasteless, but it’s all about prepping the tofu to give it flavor, to provide it the best possible texture. This recipe has both. The marinating gives the tofu a deeper flavor. The slight pan frying firms it up and gives it a nice texture that’s not at all slimy or unappetizing. Top it off with a sauce and vegetables, and it’s good times for everyone. Even for carnivores and omnivores like myself.

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Garlicky Pepper Shrimp with Black-Eyed Peas

March 19, 2009

For Christmas last year, my dear boyfriend gifted me subscriptions to Gourmet and Bon Appetit. Granted, I can find recipes from both magazines at Epicurious, but the inspiration comes less often. In last month’s Gourmet, which I had neglected initially, I found this delicious recipe that helped fulfill one of my many ongoing goals: to eat more beans. Not only are these lovely legumes healthy for you, they’re also inexpensive and keep well in my pantry.

xxx

Double-garlic and pepper maddness! Add these key ingredients to both the pea mixture and the shrimp before incorporating together in one fantastic dish.

I had some frozen shrimp in my freezer from when I made potstickers last month, so I hunted down those bad boys before they suffered any further freezer burn and gathered what vegetables I had in the fridge that also turned up in the recipe, and made a relatively quick and appetizing dinner.

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Irish Lamb Stew

March 17, 2009

I became a lamb convert the moment my lips tasted Irish stew in a pub in Kilkenney, Ireland. I’d been studying abroad in London for the past few months when a few friends and I took a weekend bus tour through southern parts of the Emerald Isle, and whoa if I be a Leprechaun’s uncle, that stew was the best damn thing my hoof-and-mouth-and-mad-cow-wary self ate in those 16 weeks abroad.

A hearty Irish stew gets a real boost of flavor from some rich, delicious Guinness.

A hearty Irish stew gets a real boost of flavor from some rich, delicious Guinness.

It would be years though, before I’d taste again anything similar to that magical concoction. Irish stews I’d find on menus in restaurants in the U.S. tended to be stews made from cabbage and corned beef, which begs the question, isn’t that just corned beef and cabbage then? (Which, incidentally, is going to be dinner tonight. I love a meal I can boil.)

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Portobello Mushroom Sandwich

January 30, 2009

I’m not really one for new years resolutions, but I tend to half-heartedly make a few here and there with the beginning of each year. There are your tried and true ones: lose weight (15lbs, which had been 10lbs before the holidays), read more, write more, exercise more often. I’ve also included in that list, “slow down.” I have a tendency to move fast (to compensate for my lack of height) which often leads me to getting caught on doorknobs, tripping on whatever is on the ground, (or on the ground itself), falling into walls, or running into people who don’t realize that yes, I am going to take that corner that hard and that fast (I’m talking about walking here, though I did recently have a unfortunate run-in with a curb that exploded my tire).

But that’s neither here-nor-there. I have another grand old resolution that many other people have: Eat healthier.

A portobello mushroom sandwich with the works.

A portobello mushroom sandwich with the works.

My boyfriend has been periodically trying to convince me to go vegetarian (not that he is, but since I prepare most of the food, me going vegetarian would mean that he would also go vegetarian), but my food-loving self can’t give up the variety of foods and flavors that does include meat. But eating MORE vegetarian is not only healthy, it’s also cheaper and a lot more environmentally sustainable, something I’ve also been meaning to work toward in this new year.

So what helps is finding really delicious vegetarian recipes that I crave constantly, and for me and the boyfriend, this portbello mushroom sandwich is #1 with a bullet.

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