Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Kimchi-Tofu Soup

I've been interested in Korean dishes the past few days; this soup is made primarily of kimchi (Korean fermented cabbage...spicy!) and tofu. It's really easy to make, and there are a variety of different kinds of kimchi in grocery stores. Some are spicy, some garlicky, and others very mild. Serve this over rice and it's a meal in itself.

5-6 cups chicken stock (homemade!)
1/4 c soy sauce
1-1/2 c kimchi, coarsely chopped
1 c mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 c scallions, thinly sliced
1 tsp ginger root, finely grated
8 oz firm tofu, cut into cubes (soft tofu will fall apart)

Bring stock and soy sauce in a soup pot and bring to an easy boil. Add kimchi, tofu, mushrooms, scallions, and ginger. Simmer for about 20 minutes (a little longer won't hurt). Serves 4.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Garlicky Shrimp

A simple, easy way to cook shrimp--and very versatile. This is great with crusty bread and a salad.

1 lb shrimp (leave tails on it you'd like)
1-2 cloves garlic, pressed
some red pepper flakes
juice of 1 lemon
chopped parsley or cilantro
1-2 T olive oil
1 T butter

Begin by heating olive oil and butter together in a large pan (I use a wok), add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook until slightly browned. Add shrimp and cook until pink. Finish be squeezing lemon juice over everything and adding parsley/cilantro. Toss and serve.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Korean Vegetable Pancakes

This past Saturday morning was spent at our local farmer's market in Printer's Row. We bought way more than anticipated, and my bike basket had almost reached maximum load. In a quick decision to use some of the fresh veggies (and give in to our cravings for Korean) I decided to try this out. The dipping sauce is essential...I think these have become a household staple!

Korean Vegetable Pancakes
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 carrot, cut into thin strips
1 zucchini, cut into thin short stripes
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 T sesame oil
2 eggs
1 c flour
3/4 c water
canola oil

Wash & prep the veggies. Mix together flour, eggs, and water. Heat the sesame oil in a pan and lightly stir fry the veggies until tender. Set veggies aside in a separate bowl to cool.

In the same pan (clean off if there are veggie chunks) heat up a few tablespoons of canola oil over medium-high heat. Place small mounds of veggies in the pan and then pour a small amount of batter over them. Cook on one side until browned, then flip. I found that the pancakes fell apart slightly with this flipping action, but settled together nicely once cooked on both sides.

Keep warm and serve.

Dipping Sauce
1/2 c rice vinegar
1/4 c soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
2 T sugar
1 T grated ginger root
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp red pepper flakes

Mix together and let stand for while you prepare the pancakes.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Road to Portobella Burgers


Before I type any other words, I must say this: I just finished reading I Like You by Amy Sedaris and it is freaking hilarious. And simply put, awesome. It is probably the best food/cooking/entertaining book I have read in a long, long time. Ms. Sedaris, please start a magazine, too!! Then I may finally subscribe to one.

Okay, now on to the reason for the oddball photo above (I say oddball only because it doesn't do this dish any justice). The other night, portobella mushroom burgers just sounded good. The trick is to marinate it before cooking. As for the toppings--sadly, the only burger-appropriate toppings I could locate in our fridge were goat cheese (yum!) and red onion (passable). Use whatever you like.

4 portobella mushrooms
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
2 T olive oil
1 tsp Italian season (I tend to skimp on this--too much can be overpowering)
1 clove garlic, pressed
sea salt & pepper, to taste
goat cheese or other cheese

Clean the mushrooms up, and place smooth-side down on a shallow plate or baking dish. Mix the vinegar, oil, and seasonings and pour over the shrooms. Let stand for about 10-15 minutes, turning over twice to evenly distribute the liquid.

Preheat a grill or broiler to medium-high. If grilling, be sure to brush grate with oil; if broiling, line a pan with foil because this can get messy. Grill/broil on each side for about 5-8 minutes. Brush with more marinade if needed.

For the last few minutes of grilling, add cheese. Serve on buns with more toppings!

Monday, July 09, 2007

A Buckhorn Birthday

It was my birthday this past Saturday--yes, that lucky 07-07-07. That, along with lets-go-camping-together plans a year in the making, brought us to Buckhorn State Park on the Wisconsin River for camping with Brent & Michelle. It was hot. And humid. We were snacks for the local mosquito population, and hauled everything to our campsite with a cart. Climate conditions and bugs aside, though, it was a fantastic weekend.

Michelle made these great little campfire pizzas with an eclectic mix of ingredients (some from the garden, some from a local Polish grocery...the only one in the area). We were licking our fingers afterward and wanting more; I think someone said, “Hey, that's pretty ballsy! Putting that on pizza!"... thus, the little dish was given its name.

Michelle’s Ballsy Pizza
(feeds 4 as an appetizer)
2 Garlic pitas
chopped tomato
chopped mustard greens
chopped mushroom
a veggie bouillion cube
4 big slices Provolone cheese
some butter

Lightly spread some butter on one side of each pita. Then, crumble about 2/3 of the bouillion cube and sprinkle on the pitas. Add chopped veggies, and top each with 2 slices of cheese. Cook on a grate over a campfire, or on a grill until the cheese is nicely melted. Cut each in half and serve to hungry campers.

Michelle was so sweet and made me a birthday dessert as well! They were little shortcakes with raspberries and a liquer on them. The creamy stuff was some sort of Swedish pudding/creme filling. They were served with little bits of filled chocolate. Yummmm......

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Ichiban Eggplant Pizza


What does one do with an ichiban eggplant? I asked myself this very question as I harvested our very first little eggplant. It was almost a sad harvest, as the eggplant had looked so cozy nestled in among the plant's leaves. All's well that ends well, though—this pizza was a delicious solution to the conundrum.

1 japanese eggplant, sliced into 1/8" rounds
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 small head broccoli, cut into slivers
1 medium sweet onion, sliced
4-5 oz goat cheese
2 T pressed garlic
1 T red pepper flakes
olive oil

1 pizza crust

First, toss the eggplant and red pepper with olive oil, salt & pepper. Broil for about 3 minutes, turn pieces over, and broil another 3 minutes (more or less--you want them to be just slightly undercooked). Set aside.

Meanwhile, carmelize the onions in a little olive oil (sprinkle with salt & pepper); when they are browned, add the broccoli and cook for just a few minutes. Do not overcook the broccoli! Remove from pan and set aside.

Heat about 2 T of olive oil in the pan, and cook garlic & red pepper flakes for about 30 seconds. Remove from pan and set aside.

Pre-heat over to 350 degrees.

Now is the fun part, getting your hands into it! Smear the pizza crust with some olive oil. Then, layer on the eggplant, red bell pepper, broccoli, and onion. Dot with pieces of goat cheese. For the final step, sprinkle the garlic mixture over everything.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or when the crust becomes a nice golden brown.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Simplicity of a Scone


The other night I suddenly had a burst of energy and decided to make scones! There are so many variations on this, add currants and orange rind...or a touch of maple syrup. I have often mixed together everything except the buttermilk, store in the fridge overnight, and finish it all up in the morning. Minimal effort for a breakfast of fresh scones and hot coffee!

Preheat over to 400 degrees (F)

2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c sugar
1-1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 c (1 stick) butter, cold and cut into pieces
1/2 c chocolate chips (or any number of other things!)
2/3 c buttermilk (I've used 2% regular milk too, and it works fine)
1 egg + 1 T milk (mix for egg glaze)
powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar

Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt. Cut in butter until the mixutre resembles cornmeal. Add chocolate chips, then buttermilk. Be careful not to overmix!

Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly. Transfer to a lightly greased baking sheet. I usually form a flattened circle with the dough, about 8" or 9" in diameter, and score into six wedges. Brush with egg glaze. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

When out of the over, dust with powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar, and broil for a couple minutes to melt (I think this step is probably optional...they're just as good if the sugar topping isn't melted). Careful, sugar burns easily!

Enjoy with a hot cuppa really strong coffee.

How to Cook a Tart (by Nina Killham)

It's been a tough week, and maybe it's the call of the sunshine outside but I haven't been very inspired by food lately. Just in time, however, a package was delivered to my door via an indie bookseller in Michigan: How to Cook a Tart by Nina Killham. It's light-hearted, funny, dark, contains way too many references to food...and I found it to be perfect. All I can say is, it is a great summer read and highly recommended.