Making Baked Baguette French Toast with Blackberry Sauce
So early it's still almost dark out.
I'm near the window with coffee,
and the usual early morning stuff
that passes for thought.
When I see the boy and his friend
walking up the road
to deliver the newspaper.
They wear caps and sweaters,
and one boy has a bag over his shoulder.
They are so happy
they aren't saying anything, these boys.
I think if they could, they would take
each other's arm.
It's early in the morning,
and they are doing this thing together.
They come on, slowly.
The sky is taking on light,
though the moon still hangs pale over the water.
Such beauty that for a minute
death and ambition, even love,
doesn't enter into this.
Happiness. It comes on
unexpectedly. And goes beyond, really,
any early morning talk about it.
- Raymond Carver
BAKED BAGUETTE FRENCH TOAST with BLACKBERRY SAUCE (recipe from Dash and Bella, serves 4):
[ 1 stale baguette + 3 tablespoons butter + 3 eggs + 2 cups whole milk + 2 teaspoons vanilla extract + 2 tablespoons orange juice + 1 teaspoon orange zest + + 3 tablespoons brown sugar + powdered sugar for dusting + 2 tablespoons sugar + 1 tablespoon water + 3 cups blueberries or blackberries + 1 tablespoon lemon juice + kosher salt ]
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Trim 1/2 inch off of each end of the baguette (I ended up using the ends to fill my baking dish) and slice baguette in half. Cut into 4-5″ long pieces. Place bread cut-side up (don’t overlap them) in an ovenproof dish and butter the top of each piece.
Whisk the eggs in a bowl. Add the milk, vanilla extract, orange juice/zest, and salt. Whisk until foamy and pour over bread. Flip the pieces around every 10 minutes or so for 30 minutes in total to make sure both sides are soaking up the liquid. After the 30 minutes of flipping, you can also leave it overnight if you want to. It will have a soft, souffle texture when baked. The bread should be resting in a small pool of the liquid but not drowning in it. You might need to pour off a few tablespoons of the liquid if the bread doesn’t soak most of it up.
Meanwhile, make the blackberry sauce. Place sugar and water in a medium-sized saucepan. Cook over medium heat. Swirl it around by the pot handle to keep it cooking evenly. When it starts to smoke and turn light brown, toss in the blueberries. Stir until blueberries have released their juices (2-3 minutes). Take off the heat and stir in the salt and lemon juice. Let cool for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool completely
Make sure all pieces are cut-side up. Sprinkle brown sugar all over the top. Bake until the bread is puffed up and golden (30-40 minutes). You might need to throw it under the broiler for optimum crispy crunchy caramelized beauty. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with blackberry sauce or other toppings you like.
When I was doing the internal medicine rotation one of the attendings was actually my first cousin, twice removed. I had a Nephrotic Syndrome patient at the time and I thought I’ve known everything there is to know about his disease. The theory, the patient history, his daily fluid balance, his current weight and waist circumference. In came this attending, sauntering by his bedside and what did she ask? “How many grams of protein is he allowed for his meals?”
Stumped. And about dietary needs too, ironically. The devil’s in the details. It really is.
I have noodles in my nostrils. I have noodles on my nose. There are noodles on my cheeks and chin and dripping down my clothes
I've got more upon my forehead. Some are sticking to my neck. It's completely disconcerting. I'm a noodle-covered wreck.
I can see them on my kneecaps, and I know they're in my shoes. (When I stand they're somewhat squishy and I feel them start to ooze.)
There are several in my pockets. There's a handful in my hair And I'm pretty sure that some are even in my underwear.
So try not to do what I did (I'm a total nincompoop), and don't ever fall asleep while eating chicken noodle soup.
- Kenn Nesbitt.
Thankfully this isn’t chicken noodle soup, but it will warm you up nonetheless.
KAKIAGE SOBA NOODLES (serves 2):
[ 1 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks + 1 small onion, sliced thinly + 3-4 green beans, cut into thirds, then cut the thirds into halves + 1 green onion, sliced lengthwise thinly + 1/4 cup all purpose flour, sifted + 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon rice flour or cornstarch + 1/2 cup ice cold water + 1 egg + 1/4 teaspoon baking powder + 1/2 teaspoon salt + + vegetable oil for frying + 2 bundles of soba noodles + 4 tablespoons Mizkan (bonito flavored) soup base + 3 cups of water + 3 radishes, sliced + 2 green onions, sliced thinly + 1/2 cup of pre-cooked or canned sweet corn + 2 egg yolks + dried seaweed, for garnish ]
Prepare the soup broth by heating up the water and bring it to boil. Add the bonito flavored soup base and boil for one minute. Add in the sweet corn (if you’re using canned sweet corn, drain and give it a good rinse with water) and the sliced green onion. Set aside.
Cook the soba noodles until al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside in a bowl.
Heat the vegetable oil in frying pan to 350F.
In a bowl, sift the cup all purpose flour and baking powder. Add in the 1/4 cup rice flour and salt. In another bowl, gently beat the egg with the ice cold water. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just combined. The batter can be a little lumpy but it should be slightly runny.
Add the vegetables into a bowl. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon rice flour and coat the ingredients. Pour the batter over the ingredients and mix.
When the oil reaches 350F, take a scoop of the ingredients with a mesh sieve or spider catcher and let the excess batter drip off. Slowly slide the ingredients into oil. Keep the ingredients from separating by gathering them together with a chopstick during frying. Deep fry until golden-brown and put into a cooling rack (not paper towels!). Repeat with remaining mixture.
Reheat the soup broth. Divide the noodles into two bowls and ladle with the hot broth. Top with egg yolks, sliced radishes and the deep fried kakiage. Garnish with sliced green onions and dried seaweed. Serve immediately.
Making Brown Butter Shrimp Spaghetti with Dandelion Greens
For someone who cooks food, talks (in sleep too, apparently, as verified by the Sister) food, dreams food and eats [a whole lot of] food, there are a lot of staple ingredients I have yet to taste; kale, canned anchovies, watercress, ricotta cheese, capers, all dried herbs save for oregano and basil, butter beans, dandelion greens. Sometimes I convince myself that I know what these ingredients taste like, based on hours of procrastinating, when I should be studying reading and extensive research. And in my head these informations stay, until one day when I finally taste the real thing.
As it happens to be, our small patch of garden is of the unruly sort. I think the last patron of the house had a green thumb, since there were already an eggplant patch and a papaya tree, if I’m not mistaken, when we took the place. Alas, it is now a weedy affair, with bushes I can’t identify threatening to take over. Weeds have grown through the cracks in the pathway and I saw a yellow flower that reminded me of younger days, blowing dandelion seeds across the wind. Now I’ve read one or two Kinfolk magazine to know that they’re edible, but what does it taste like?
Bitter. That’s a common word in all my searched results. Boil it twice, they say, to leech off the bitterness. Pair it with rich flavors, they say, cheese, bacon, cream, egg, bacon fat and more cheese. Perfect, I say, a new ingredient to cook in hearty ingredients to taste and commit to memory.
BROWN BUTTER SHRIMP SPAGHETTI with DANDELION GREENS (serves 4) :
[ 1 lb whole wheat spaghetti + 1 lb large shrimp, cleaned and deveined + 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter + 2-3 rashers of turkey bacon (or bacon) + 2 cups fresh dandelion greens, torn into 1” pieces + 4 cloves of garlic + 3 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley + 1 teaspoon chopped red chili + juice of 1 lemon + 3/4 cup panko, or regular bread crumbs + 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg + 1/3 to 1/2 cup parmesan cheese ]
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta al-dente according to the package instructions.
In another pot, heat water to a boil and cook the dandelion greens for 5 minutes. Drain, and cook again in a new pot of water for another 4 minutes. Rinse with cold water and set aside.
Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Chop the bacon and add to the skillet and brown. Take it out and set aside. Remove oil and fat until you have about two tablespoons left. Add in the breadcrumbs, nutmeg and 1 tablespoon of parsley. Stir occasionally until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
In another skillet, heat the remaining tablespoons of butter over medium heat. When the butter melts and begins to foam, give it a good whisk and add in the garlic and chopped red chili. Keep whisking until the butter begins to bubble and brown flecks begin to form at the bottom of the pan, about 5-8 minutes. Add in the shrimp and cook until they just turn pink. Add in the parsley and lemon juice and stir. Add in the dandelion greens and turn the heat to low.
Drain the pasta and toss it into the butter-shrimp mixture. Stir to combine, making sure all the pasta is coated in brown butter. Throw in the bacon and toss again. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Divide into plates and top with breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Serve warm.
I’ve lost love which was fine, but realizing that it won’t ever come back in the form of friendship makes me sad. I’ve lost a feline companion to old age. He once sat with me while I challenge myself to see how much caffeine I can consume in one go (a large mug of black coffee and a large bar of dark chocolate affair that left me throwing up with a side of throbbing headache when the caffeine crashed). We’ve just gotten out of the woods with my mother’s illness and are now back home safely after two flights that were delayed. Twice. It’s exhausting and for the past few weeks it has gotten harder and harder to cook anything worthwhile. Until yesterday, when I found the kitten that used to hang around the house before we took off for the 17 day treatment. It has grown now. Sturdier, its meows less raspy. But still hesitant and eyes me with distrust, even with my rapidly blinking eyes and crouched stance next to the eggplant patch it cowers itself in.
I went inside and looked at the stacks of cans of tuna we left for the housekeeper to feed my old feline friend. I picked one of up pulled the tags and as I did, it felt like everything’s going to start to be okay. Why mourn things you cannot change? There is a perfectly ripe eggplant waiting to be picked, a scared and hungry kitten waiting to be fed and loved. A sliced olive salad in paprika oil from a salad bar last night waiting to mingle in a stew. I’ve left the candied ginger aside for another time and ice creams begone (for now, at least); I can’t keep up the fruity, cheerful charade. It’s time for some real cooking. I’m back, and I’m planning to make it worthwhile.
MORROCAN CHICKEN WITH EGGPLANT RAGOUT (adapted from this recipe, serves 4)
[ 3 tablespoons olive oil + 1 1 /2 pounds chicken legs, or any cuts you like + 2 small or 1 medium eggplant + 1 small onion + 4 cloves of garlic + 1/4 cup water or low sodium broth + 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes with juices, or the same amount of chopped fresh tomatoes + 1/4 cup chopped or sliced green olives + 2 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice + 1 teaspoon sugar + 2 tablespoon minced parsley + salt + ground black pepper ]
Cut the eggplants and onion into cubes and mince the garlic. In a bowl, season the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and black pepper and 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice. Toss to coat.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and heat 2 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the chicken, skin side down, and cook for 8-10 minutes per side, turning once. Remove the chicken and set aside in a plate. Drain off excess fat until you have only 2 tablespoons left.
Add eggplant cubes to the pan and cook until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Add remaining olive oil, onion and garlic. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Increase the heat to high and add water or stock to the pan. Scrape up any browned bits and add in the the tomatoes, lemon juice and sliced olives. Season to taste and place the chicken top. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 35 minutes.
Sprinkle with chopped parsley and cut a lemon wedge or two to serve on the side.
Serve immediately with bread or oven chips. Enjoy!
Just going to say that this is my favorite so far. I think a more sour strawberry works better with the coconut cream, but any fresh or frozen will do just fine.
VEGAN STRAWBERRY RIPPLE ICE CREAM:
[ 2 cups coconut cream + 3 cups fresh strawberries + 1/3 cup raw honey or 3 tablespoon agave + 1/2 teaspoon agar-agar powder + 1 tablespoon cornstarch + 1 tablespoon sugar + 1 teaspoon lemon juice + 2 tablespoon water ]
Blend the coconut cream, 1 1/2 cup of strawberries, agar-agar powder, cornstarch and honey or agave in a blender until well combined.
Pour ice cream base into a bowl and freeze for 1 hour, stirring occasionally as it freezes to prevent crystals from forming.
Meanwhile, heat the rest of the strawberries, sugar, water and lemon juice in a large pan and bring the mixture to the boil, stirring regularly. Reduce the heat until the mixture is simmering, then continue to simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until the fruit has broken down.
Give the ice cream base a final stir either with a fork or better yet, a hand held mixer until it smooth.
Take an airtight container and put half of ice cream and spread at the bottom. Take half of the cooled strawberry sauce and dump it on top. Repeat with the other half of ice cream and sauce mixture. Using a blunt knife, marble the ice cream and sauce lightly, then cover the container with a lid and freeze for 3-4 hours, or until solid. Thaw at room temperature for a few minutes before serving.
There’s a slight change in the line-up of ice creams to be posted. It was supposed to be one involving candied ginger (and lemongrass!) but today the old and faithful “banana soft serve” trick is coming back with grassy matcha, a kick of peppermint and bites of chocolate. It takes virtually no time to make, so long as you have a food processor or high speed blender, which I don’t. If your blender is as desolate as mine, then whiz up the ingredients in batches. You can of course omit the peppermint and chocolate and up the coconut cream to 3/4 cup for the sole matcha flavor .
VEGAN MATCHA MINT CHOCOLATE CHIP ICE CREAM:
[ 4 bananas, peeled, chopped and frozen + 1/2 cup coconut cream + 1/4 cup condensed rice milk (recipe here) + 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoon matcha powder + 2 teaspoon peppermint extract + 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract + 1/2 cup mini dairy free chocolate chips or chopped chocolate ]
Combine two tablespoon of coconut cream with the matcha powder and whisk until there are no more lumps.
In a food processor (S blade attachment) or blender, blend all the ingredients except for the chocolate chips. Blend at high speed until smooth and thick.
Pour into an airtight container and fold in the chocolate chips or chopped chocolate.
Freeze for at least 3 hours before serving. If it freezes solid, then leave to sit at room temperature for a few minutes until scoop-able.
When I was writing the first draft of this, I was waffling on and on about the different milk and cream alternatives you can use for a vegan ice cream base. Then I realized that the writing comes across as insincere, less personal. The truth is this: I’ve never made vegan ice cream before. I don’t wish to purchase pricey cashews and/or almonds and then soak them to make cream. I don’t have an ice cream maker. I don’t quite understand why raw sugar is considered superior to brown or white sugar (I’m pretty sure the body can’t tell the difference).
What I do know is this - that there is a universal recipe for a no-churn ice cream base consisting of heavy cream and condensed milk. With that in mind, I tried recreating it by using coconut cream and condensed rice milk (recipe below). I’m not oblivious enough to say that this tastes exactly like vanilla ice cream, but the coconut flavor itself is very subtle and if you amp up the vanilla by throwing in the real deal; as in real vanilla seeds from a real vanilla bean instead of drops of essence like yours truly, then it’s a pretty close approximate.
CONDENSED RICE MILK (makes 1 cup):
[ 2 3/4 rice milk (can be substituted with any non-dairy milk) + 1/2 cup sugar + 1/4 teaspoon salt + 1 teaspoon vanilla extract ]
Simmer all the ingredients in a small pot on low heat for approximately one hour and 15 minutes while whisking occasionally. Don’t let the mixture boil aggressively; a very mild simmer is okay.
As the mixture reduces, lower the heat a bit more. In the last 10 minutes, whisk in the vanilla extract.
Transfer the condensed non-dairy milk to a container, cover and cools to at least room temperature before using.
Making Honey Pan Roasted Butternut Squash Grilled Cheese
I love honey. I love any and all variaties of them. Clover honey? Sure. Black Forest honey? Bring it on. Honeycombs? Bring me some and we’re best friends. On the day that I finished my water-fast, I took a piece of white bread, slathered it with peanut butter and Nutella, folded it in half and set it on a small plate. I then drowned it in honey and ate it. With a fork. It promptly came back out after 15 minutes, because anyone who’s ever done a water fast knows that you need to ease back into food. I knew too, but that’s just how much I love honey.
I’ve never had butternut squash. I’ve had the old sugar pumpkins, yes, but never butternut squash. My mother’s feeling unwell so all she eats as her in-between meal snacks of grilled fish and porridge are bananas and steamed butternut squash. I sneaked a bite and now here we are. I had to cleave off a large chunk of her last butternut squash for this. Sorry not sorry (I’ll buy you another one, mother!).
The steamed bite that I snuck was tender and sweet, and while that tasted pretty good, I wasn’t sure it would work in a grilled cheese. So we’ll cook this like we would gyozas - by searing them over high heat before throwing in some water and covering the pan to make sure the buttery notes come through. This then gets tossed in a honey dressing with sultanas and sauteed onions. This mixture will work with any cheese, I think, including *cue dramatic music* processed cheese. So let’s stop the hate.
[ 1 small butternut squash, cut into 1/2 inch cubes + 2 tablespoon olive oil + 1 teaspoon honey + 1 clove of garlic, minced + 1 tablespoon lemon juice + a small handful of sultanas + 1 large onion + 4-6 slices of bread + cheese, type and amount of your choice+ salt and pepper to taste ]
Slice the onion and saute in a pan or skillet over medium heat with 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil until translucent and soft and brown in some parts. Season with salt and set aside.
Combine 1 tablespoon of olive oil, lemon juice and honey in a large bowl and give it a good whisk. Add in the sultanas and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Using the same pan, heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-low heat and saute the minced garlic until fragrant. Toss in the butternut squash cubes to coat with the oil and turn up the heat to medium high. Cook for 3 minutes.
Give it a gentle stir to make sure the all sides brown up, and cook for another 3 minutes. Add two tablespoons of water and cover up with the lid. Turn the heat to low and cook for another 2 minutes or until fork tender. Take off the lid and give it another stir to make sure all the water has evaporated.
Tip off the butternut into the dressing and toss to coat.
Built the sandwich by dividing and piling the butternut squash on top of 2-3 slices of bread. Top with cheese and another piece of bread and butter the outside of both bread. Cook in a pan or in a panini press until cheese is melted. Serve immediately.
Are you ready for this? I ask because if you’re still in that “eating healthy resolution” phase, you might want to skip this. Actually, if you’re a burger purist, you also might want to skip this because we’re going to talk about not just any old burger - we’re going to talk about the Ramly burger.
Imagine this: two thin yet juicy patties sandwiching a slice of processed cheese. Now imagine it smothered with a deluge of Worcestershire sauce, a shake of Maggi seasoning, and a healthy dollop of margarine. Margarine, please, never butter. This then gets placed in a thin layer of omelette and folded in such a way that it seals all the condiments. A few slices of tomatoes, shredded cabbage usually (emphasizing the word “usually”, since some forego it altogether) crowns this creation before it’s transferred between a split bun that’s been slathered with margarine and toasted on the flat top.
Takes on recreating this burger attempts to get it to pay homage to its burger roots by adding things like caramelized onion, arugula, coleslaw, cheese not of the processed kind, butter; sacrilege! Its rudimentary components are its charms. It’s quick to make. It’s messy, it’s calorie laden. It looks pretty ugly but tastes damn delicious. Hey, if you’re going to do something wrong, you might as well do it right. Then you contemplate upon it, and never do it again. That’s how we learn, baby. So let’s get started.
RAMLY BURGER (serves 2, but will allow 4 for the faint hearted):
[ 2 burger buns + 4 homemade or store-bought beef or chicken patties (if you’re making your own, make sure the patties are no more than 1/2 inch thick) + 2 slices of processed cheese + 2-4 eggs + 1-2 tablespoons margarine + 1/2 teaspoon Maggi curry seasoning powder + 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce + 4 slices of tomatoes + a small handful of shredded cabbage + mayonnaise and ketchup to taste ]
Beat the eggs and season with a little salt.
Heat 1 teaspoon of margarine in a skillet and cook the burger patties to your preference. Put a slice of cheese on top of a patty and stack another on top. Repeat with the other patties. Set aside.
Turn the heat to medium high and heat another teaspoon of margarine. Add half of the beaten egg and spread thinly. Place one patty stack in the middle and put half a tablespoon each of Worcestershire sauce and ketchup, 1/4 teaspoon of curry seasoning powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of margarine. Wrap the patty stack with the egg to make a nice pocket. Keep warm.
Split and spread the buns with margarine and toast it on the same skillet. Place the patty-egg pocket between the buns and top with 2-3 slices of tomato and some cabbage (I didn’t have any). Drizzle with mayonnaise and ketchup. Serve immediately.
I tried your Lemon loaf recipe but unfortunately the result was not satisfying. It's a matter of measurements. Somehow all recipes I try with a conversion from cups to grams (or ml) don't end up right. Can you please give the measures in grams/liters? Thanks a lot. I love your recipes!! So inspiring!
My father told me I should just catch the red eye from Kuala Lumpur to Doha to get there as soon as possible . It wasn’t a bad prospect. If anything, you’d remember looking down, misting the windows, watching the lights blurring together with the night sky. New Year’s Eve at 30,000 feet, sitting next to a complete stranger.
Was the year kind to you, I’d ask. And I would listen to their answer. And if the gesture was reciprocated, what would I tell them?
I’ll tell them that it’s been peachy. That I started the year sitting at the opposite side of the physician’s table that I’m used to. That I celebrated my birthday in the “pit”, a high five from an anesthesiology resident. That April fools coincided with the 7th year anniversary of a relationship. That May to August was uneventful, but I’ve second assisted an orthopedic surgery and scrubbed in for a craniotomy. That September brought with it bounties - a first signed contract and a kind offer to contribute to a calendar and cookbook. That December came in with heartbreaks and a revelation. A gamble on a future career path.
I’ll tell them I find resolutions poignant. The truth is it is just as easy to break resolutions as it is to make them, but I’ll leave you with a few words of others that I will strive to live by in the following year;
That much unhappiness has come into the world because of things left unsaid. If you cherish a person, find a way to tell them, and then hope for the best. Parents don’t live forever, fathers have buried their sons. People don’t pine for eternity, so grab your chance.
That when nobody else celebrates you, learn to celebrate yourself. It’s not up to other people to keep you encouraged. Also to never dismiss the achievements of others. We are akin to dew drops hanging precariously on a spider’s web, each movement affecting us and those near.
That people are not always what you want them to be. Sometimes they disappoint you or let you down, but you have to give them a chance first. You can’t just meet someone and expect them to be everything you’re looking for and then be angry when they’re not everything you projected onto them. Sometimes, when you give them a chance, they turn out to be better than you imagined. Different, but better.
Perhaps most of all, though, is the assurance that you deserve to be okay. You deserve to know that a day in which you can just barely get out of bed because you are sad, or sick, or simply not ready to see the outside is not the end of the world. You deserve to know that moments of weakness do not make you fundamentally weak, only fundamentally human. And that sometimes it is okay to be selfish and have things turn out the way you prefer them to.
Which is why I chose to stay a little longer to have these with friends and sister on New Year’s morning, instead of being a chatty stranger up in the air.
SHORTCUT CROISSANTS with HONEY CARDAMOM BUTTER:
[ 1 (13-ounce) packet ready rolled butter puff pastry + 1 egg, beaten + 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature + 1 tablespoon honey + 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom + a pinch of salt ] OPTIONAL: sliced almonds + powdered sugar.
Thaw the puff pastry by leaving it at room temperature for an hour.
To make the honey cardamom butter, mix butter, honey, salt and cardamom to combine in a small bowl. If you wish to, you can shape it into a log with some cling film and refrigerate it until needed.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or sprinkle it with a bit of flour evenly.
Place the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface. With a light floured rolling pin, gently roll out the puff pastry, extending the dough about 1 inch on all sides. Lay the dough horizontally and divide into 4 rectangles. Cut each rectangles diagonally to make a triangle.
Place each triangle so the wider part is toward you and the point is away from you. Cut a little slit at the base of the triangle and roll towards the point. Once rolled, curl the ends toward the center slightly.
Place the croissants on the prepared cookie sheet. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle each top with a bit of sliced almonds if using.
Bake at 425 degrees F for 10-15 mins or until golden brown. Leave to cool for 5 minutes before lightly dusting them with powdered sugar, if using. Serve warm with the honey cardamom butter.
It’s been a jjigae kind of week here, with all the downpour. Today is no different. Budae jjigae, or Korean army base stew, was an invention of necessity during and after the Korean war. People made this dish by combining leftover Spam and hot dogs from U.S. Army facilities (hence its other name, “Johnson tang”), and mixed it with whatever else that was available. All the ingredients were combined with water and red pepper seasoning in a large pot and boiled. Essentially, it’s a hot and spicy stew with one packet of ramen and a sliced of processed cheese slapped on top, with the seasoning packet chucked out and chock-filled with pseudo-healthy proteins and vegetables and shared between 2 or 3 people. Not very photogenic, but excellent for the nippy weather (and your wallet) and possibly a good hangover cure.
[ 3 cups low sodium chicken broth + 2 tablespoon gochujang + 2 teaspoon gochugaru + 1 teaspoon sesame oil + 1 teaspoon soy sauce + 2 garlic cloves, minced + 100g minced beef + 3-4 sausages, score lightly and slice into thirds + 150g tofu, sliced + 1 onion, sliced + 1 cup kimchi + 6 mushrooms, sliced + a handful of baby bok choy or other greens you like + a bunch of spring onions, chopped + 1 packet of Korean instant ramen + 1-2 slices of processed cheese + 1 tin baked beans (I’m using kidney beans) ] Note: I didn’t use Spam because there wasn’t a kosher alternative for one here. You can just add more sausages (which I did) if you like.
In a bowl, mix together the gochujang, gochugaru, sesame oil, soy sauce and minced garlic. Add in the minced beef and mix to combine, being careful not to mush up the beef too much.
Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a saucepan.
Arrange other ingredients except cheese and ramen in a wide, flat bottom saucepan, claypot or heatproof casserole dish. Put the gochujang beef mixture on top. Add the prepared soup base to the ingredients and bring stew to a boil over medium heat.
Reduce heat and simmer covered for 10 minutes. Add the ramen (without the seasoning) to the stew. Simmer uncovered for another 3-5 minutes. Add cheese and simmer till cheese melts. Top with a sprinkle of chopped green onions, sesame seeds and a drizzle of sesame oil.
Serve hot with rice (double carbin’ yo) and banchans.
Making Jjajang-myeon (짜장면) / Black Bean Sauce Noodles
Some days when I’m feeling upset, I like to make pickles and sauces. Frustrated? make a bottle of pesto. Depressed? pepper relish sounds good. Stressed out? make two pounds of kimchi. It gives another meaning to bottling up your feelings. I like to think that it’s much more lucrative than just brooding around indulging yourself.
A few days ago my paternal grandmother was hospitalized due to GI-tract bleeding. It’s been managed and she’s much better since, but I was home that day and felt helpless and ended up making two batches of Korean pickled radish - kkakdugi and danmooji. Add that to the lingering wad of kimchi and now I’m in a bit of a pickle. No one in this house is as big of a pickle enthusiast, so I’ll have to find a way to eat them all before I leave to Qatar in a few weeks. This is one of them. It’s a re-post but with a bit better pictures, methinks. Feel free to add minced chicken, beef or pork and fry them with the garlic in the cooking step below.
JJAJANG-MYEON (serves 2-3):
[ 1/2 cup diced carrots + 1 cup diced zucchini + 1 onion, diced + 1 cup peeled and diced potatoes + 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms, any kind + 3 cloves of garlic + 2 tablespoons vegetable oil + 1/4 cup Chunjang (Korean black bean paste) + 1 1/2 cup water + 2 tablespoons cornflour dissolved in 1/4 cup water + 2 tablespoons sugar + 2 teaspoon sesame oil + noodles or spaghetti ] OPTIONAL: 1 teaspoon grated ginger.
Heat one tablespoon of vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Saute the garlic and ginger, if using, until fragrant. Add potato, onion, and zucchini and keep stirring until the potato looks a little translucent.
Clear a space in the center by pushing the ingredients to the edges. Add the other tablespoon of vegetable oil to the center of the wok, then add the black bean paste and stir it with a wooden spoon for 1 minute to fry it. Mix the vegetables in the pan into the sauce and keep stirring.
Add water and let it cook with the lid closed for about 10 minutes. Open the lid check if the vegetables are fully cooked. Stir in the dissolved cornstarch. Keep stirring until it’s well mixed and thick. Add the sesame oil and remove from the heat.
Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the package. Warm the sauce if needed. Serve with hard boiled egg, cucumber strips and danmooji.
I think you can call yourself very lucky if you have more than a handful of bosom friends in your lifetime. You know those kind of friends; the one who you can talk to about anything and everything, the one you share your deepest darkest secrets. One you get into fights over the smallest things that then require another fight just to make up. One you can pick up a conversation right where you left it and continue without a jarring or awkward moment.
Karina is one of those friends to me, We haven’t truly talked to each other for about a year and have only started to do so when my clinical rounds were almost coming to an end. And when we did talk, it was almost like we never left high school where we’re almost joined at the hip. We talked about boyfriends and exes, reminisce about how we used to share a cup of pot noodles (what’s the girl equivalent of bromance?) and get massive headaches from the MSG, about parental expectations now that we’re getting older and the excitement to see each other again in a couple of months after almost 3 years since we last met.
You guys know I hate pancakes. I hate them like it’s nobody’s business. But she adamantly requested for a recipe post for them and so here they are, and here is to everlasting bosom friends.
BLACK FOREST PANCAKE (serves 2 ):
[ 1 cup flour + 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder + 1/4 cup sugar + 1/2 teaspoon baking powder + 1/2 teaspoon salt + 1 cup buttermilk + 1 egg + 2 tablespoons butter, melted + 1/3 cup chopped dark chocolate + 2 cups cherries (I’m using strawberries) pitted and halved + 2 tablespoons sugar + 2 teaspoons corn starch + 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon water + 1/2 cup whipping cream + 2 tablespoons sugar ]
Whip the cream with sugar until it forms soft peaks. Refrigerate until needed.
Dissolve the cornstarch in 1 tablespoon of water. Simmer the strawberry, sugar and 1/4 cup water over medium heat until the strawberries soften. Add the cornstarch liquid and cook over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Set aside until needed.
Combine the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Give it a whisk to break up any lumps. Combine the buttermilk, egg and butter in another bowl. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. You can add the chopped dark chocolate now and stir to combine, or sprinkle some on top of the batter while it is cooking.
Heat a pan over medium heat and melt a touch of butter in it.
Pour 1/4 cup of the mixture into the pan and cook until the surface starts to bubble and the bottom is golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.
If you’re putting the chopped chocolate into the batter, flip the pancake and cook the other side until the bottom is golden brown, about 1-2 minutes. If you’re putting the chocolate on top, cook it only for 30 seconds. Repeat for the remaining batter.
To assemble, start by laying a pancake on the plate, top with a little bit of berry sauce, followed by a small amount of whipped cream, about half a teaspoon of each.
Keep building layers like that until you run out of pancakes, or until tower has reached desired height. Finish by topping with berry sauce, a dollop of cream and a sprinkling of dark chocolate shaving.
I would say that my kitchen is pretty well equipped. There’s a gas stove top, a toaster oven, a convection oven, a mixer, a blender and a juicer. I can’t, however, say the same about my tableware. If you look closely at all my recipe posts, you’d see that I’ve been using the same plates, cups and cutleries since three years ago.
So imagine my dismay when I found out that you need a stone dolsot or bowl to cook and serve this kimchi soft tofu stew in. I went to my cabinets in search of a black bowl to emulate the dolsot in photograph, but in vain.Instead I found a soup bowl that I haven’t used since the mac & cheese post
And I thought to myself:
Question: Is this big enough for one serving? Answer: Yes, plenty.
Question: Will it crack and break, sending shrapnels everywhere when heated over direct flame? Answer: Put it on and find out.
And so I did.
Note:If you’re planning to make this, I’d prefer it if you don’t take any chances and just use a saucepan. As it was, I kept my flame very low and I also heated up my stock, because the difference in temperature (hot clay pot, cold stock) was a possible recipe for disaster.
KIMCHI SOONDUBU JJIGAE / 김치 순두부 찌개 (serves 2):
[ 2 cups anchovy stock, water or any other stock + 1 11-ounce package soondubu (extra soft/silken tofu) + 1 cup sour kimchi + 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil + 6-8 shrimp + 2 teaspoon vegetable oil + 1 tablespoon gochujang ( Korean red pepper paste) + 2 tablespoon gochugaru (red chili pepper flakes) + 3 green onions + 2 cloves of garlic + 1 teaspoon soy sauce + 1 teaspoon sesame oil + 2 teaspoon sugar + 2 eggs ] Note:You can add any other vegetables (mushrooms, zucchini, onion, carrots etc) or protein (beef, pork, mussels etc) you like.
Roughly chop the kimchi and mince the garlic. Heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan and saute the garlic until fragrant. Add the chopped kimchi, gochujang and gochugaru.
Add in the stock or water and bring to a boil. Add in the soft tofu and break into smaller pieces. Add in the sesame oil, soy sauce and sugar. Adjust to taste.
Add the shrimp and cook for another 2 - 3 minutes. Add the chopped scallion right before turning the heat off. Crack an egg into the stew right before serving while it’s still boiling hot.
Top with a drizzle more sesame oil and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. Serve immediately with hot steamed rice.
A few days ago I must be possessed by the kimchi spirit because I made a buckload of kimchi. We’re talking two heads of Napa cabbage and three cups of gochugaru - ye much:
And now I’ve been challenged by the sister to eat kimchi for the rest of the month which in comparison should be a breeze than trying to eat daal for a whole month. I’ve got nothing against daal, but the lack of texture did make for a swift surrender.
I slightly modified the recipes from the great Korean food goddess with multicolored wigs, Maangchi. I watched the recipe video for this and got to the part where she was cutting the onion
and had a nasty flashback when I myself did the same thing and, um, forgot to move my thumb resulting in one of the worst cuts in the history of my kitchen escapades (worst than the time I cut myself with a serrated knife - them teeth!). So yeah, moral of the story - watch out for them appendages and thou shalt be rewarded with delicious, crispy and tangy pancakes. I served these with the onion pickles I made yesterday and used the pickling juice as the dipping sauce. To make the pickled onion, roughly chop a large onion and boil 1/3 cup each of vinegar, sugar and soy sauce. Put the onion in a jar and pour the boiled pickling juice over it and put the lid on. Leave at room temperature for a day before refrigerating until ready to use.
CHOPPED KIMCHI PANCAKES:
[ 1 cup chopped kimchi + 2 tablespoon chopped onion + 1/4 cup water + 3 tablespoon kimchi juice + 1/4 cup flour all purpose flour + 1/4 cup rice flour (can be substituted with all purpose flour) + 1 tablespoon chopped green onion + 1 Korean green chili pepper, chopped + 1 teaspoon sugar + 1 teaspoon salt + vegetable oil ]
Mix all the ingredients except the vegetable oil in a bowl, mix until combined.
Now you can choose to either make one huge pancake or several little ones. I went with the latter. If you’re going for big, then depending on the size of your skillet, heat enough oil to cover the entire surface (about 1-2 tablespoon) over medium-high heat.
When the oil is hot, put enough batter to cover the entire surface for a pancake about 1/2 inch thick. Use a spatula to spread the batter evenly.
If you’re going for smaller ones, also heat up enough oil to cover the skillet, and drop 1 tablespoon of batter for each pancakes.
Cook for 1 minute and check if the bottom has crisped up. Flip the pancake over to cook the other side. Add a bit more oil if it’s not getting crispy enough. Cook for an additional 2 minutes and flip again if necessary. Take off the heat and serve with pickled onions.
The next kimchi pancake makes use of whole leaves of kimchi and stuffing it with a mixture of meat and tofu. I’m actually stuffing mine with a mixture of mushroom, shrimp and tofu because it has been a continuous downpour since last night here and I really can’t be bothered to drive my recently washed car through muddy puddles to go grocery shopping. You can use minced pork, chicken, beef or shrimp. Or a mixture of them - the more the merrier.
STUFFED WHOLE LEAVES KIMCHI PANCAKES:
[ 6 kimchi leaves, about 6-7 inch long, more if needed + 2 tablespoon chopped shiitake mushroom + 3 tablespoon minced shrimp (can also use pork, chicken, beef etc) + 2 chopped tablespoon tofu + 1 teaspoon sesame oil + 1/4 teaspoon salt + 1 teaspoon black pepper + 1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon kimchi juice + 1/2 cup all purpose flour + vegetable oil ]
Combine the mushroom, tofu, the onions, sesame oil and seasoning in a bowl. Mix well to combine.
Set up a shallow plate each for the beaten egg and flour.
Take the kimchi leaves and dab in the flour until well covered. Take a kimchi leaf and try to fit as much filling as you can along the length, but not overdoing it. Do the same to the rest of the leaves. If you’ve got some stuffing leftover, simply grab another kimchi leaf and repeat.
Heat enough oil in a skillet to shallow fry. Gently roll the stuffed leaves in the flour and then in the beaten egg.
Fry with the stuffing side down. Cook for 1-2 minutes and flip, cooking another minute on the other side.
Cut into bite size pieces and serve with some pickled onions.
I think pineapple fried rice is all about preferences. If you like your sweet,sour and savoury combo, then by all means go all out on the pineapple. Cut it to sizeable chunks and grill them before tossing into the rice. If you’re more like me, who’s been slightly traumatized from a wedding event eons ago where my mother tried to feed me a chili-spiked pineapple dish along with rendang rice, you might prefer a more subtle approach and finely dice them.
Another preference. Wok or skillet.
If you have a wok in your possession, then I say bust it out. There isn’t any way to describe how much better it is to cook a stir fry in a large wok. I mean, look at it.
So majestic. And the only thing to pair with it is the foot-long spatula. You’ll walk out of the kitchen feeling like a new man woman. Okay maybe not, but the feeling is close.
And last but not least - where to serve the fried rice. A hollowed out pineapple is a bit more work, what with getting out the paring knife and scoring the flesh out, but it does make it look pretty awesome.
PINEAPPLE FRIED RICE:
[ 3 tablespoon vegetable oil + 1/2 cup diced carrots + 1/2 cup diced red bell peppers + 1/2 cup diced onion + 2/3 cup diced pineapple (you can use canned ones) + 3 garlic cloves, minced + 1/2 tablespoon grated fresh ginger + 1/4 cup chopped green onions + 4 cups cooked white rice (preferably long grain and a day old) + 3 eggs + 1/2 cup chopped basil leaves (Thai basil, preferably, but Italian is okay too) + 2 tablespoon soy sauce + 1 tablespoon oyster sauce + 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil + 1 tablespoon pineapple juice ] OPTIONAL: Fried egg + fried shallots for garnish
To make the sauce, combine the soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil and pineapple juice in a bowl. Mix well and set aside.
If you haven’t got a wok, then in a large heavy skillet heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium high heat. Add carrots, red bell pepper and onion and saute for 4-5 minutes. Stir constantly until the vegetables are tender and lightly browned. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
Add diced pineapple and saute while stirring frequently until golden brown in spots. Transfer to the mixing bowl along with the other vegetables.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoon of oil. Add the garlic, ginger and green onion and saute until fragrant. Add the rice and use the spatula to break up the clumps. Toss to coat the rice evenly with oil and garlic.
Push the rice to one side of the skillet and crack in the eggs to the center. Stir quickly to scramble them and push the rice back in and stir to incorporate. Pour in the sauce and toss well. Season to taste, adding more soy sauce if needed.
Add in the sauteed vegetables and toss everything together. Add in the chopped basil and stir until the basil leaves just starts to wilt.
Serve inside a hollowed out pineapple or plates. Top with a fried egg, fried shallots and more chopped green onions.