Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Kimchi- the introduction

I was at my neighborhood grocery store (called Food Ranch and for some reason open for 24 hours, which is strange, no one in Forest Hills walks the streets after 10pm (not because it's dangerous, but because they're all in bed)) and noticed that they sold kimchi.

I'd never had kimchi before, never cooked with it, not quite sure what it was. But it was late, I was tired and thought to myself "ADVENTURES IN FOOD?!?"

So here is the low down:
Kimchi is a Korean fermented cabbage.
I've broken some cardinal rule by buying it instead of making my own, burying it in a glass jar and letting it ferment for years in the backyard.
Korean food tends not to be very vegetarian friendly.
Unless properly packaged, the kimchi juices will get EVERYWHERE.

Against these odds and through some crafty Internet research, I found some recipes for kimchi noodle salad and decided to try my own.

Kimchi and Soba Noodle Salad

10 oz kimchi- chopped (save the left over liquid).
1/2 head red cabbage- chopped
1 english cucumber- sliced into thin pieces
3 green onions- chopped
5 basil leaves- chopped
1/2 onion- chopped
1 package soba noodles- cooked
3 Tbsp braggs liquid aminos
3 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsp rice vinegar
sesame seeds

-cook the noodles. Rinse in cold water.
-put the vegetables, oil, vinegar and braggs in a bowl. Mix around.
-add the noodles to the bowl, use your hands to mix it all together.
-garnish with sesame seeds and cashews

Couple of things:
You are going to have really rank breath after.
The salad gets better (or worse?) over time. More fermented, more juicy, more bad breath.
When handling kimchi, don't touch your eyes!
Legit, pack a mint. You're going to have really, really bad breath.
All in all, I'm pretty happy with this. I think I'll leave the kimchi handling to the pros, but this curiosity didn't kill me (this time).

I am way behind in music land. There is a ton of stuff that has come out lately that I've loved loved love. 
Instead of trying to play catch up and write about Norah Jones and Danger Mouse, Sara Watkins, Eliza Rickman or  Steel Wheels , I decided that this space of the Internet was better used talking about David Bowie!

This man can do no wrong. He marinates like tofu, he just gets better with age. 
My love for Mr. Bowie goes so far to include semi-embarrassing and totally awesome dance parties whenever my phone rings ("Oh You Pretty Things") to dressing up at the Goblin King from Labyrinth for Halloween (complete with 2 socks as stuffers). 
But seriously, a living artist who has a period classified as their neo-classicist era?! How can you not love that. 
I could listen to David Bowie for every event in my life. I'm going to walk down the aisle to "Suffragette City" (just to stick it to the man). 
This blog post is a paltry attempt to convey my love. I'm failing at that, so I leave you with this:

and this:

Monday, May 14, 2012

Never buy pre-made food again.

A nutritionist recently told me that it was easy to make your own garden burgers, soy links, vege sausages etc... and I believed her.

Never going back.

Chipotle Black Bean and Millet Burgers
1 c millet
2 cans black beans
1 c frozen corn
1 red onion
4 garlic cloves
4 dried Serrano chilies- Put them in hot water for 15 mins, then de-seed
4 Tbsp chopped cilantro
2 eggs

-Cook the millet. (bring 3 c of water to boil, add millet and let simmer for 30 mins. Fluff with fork).
-In a food processor, combine red onion and garlic. Process until chopped.
-Put 2 Tbsp olive oil in a pan. Saute onions, garlic and corn for about 5 mins.
-Put black beans, cilantro, chilies in the food processor. Process until smooth.
-In a large bowl, mix onion stuff, black bean stuff and millet.
-Make patties with your hands (if you don't know what a hamburger patty looks like...I can't help you).
-To Freeze- put parchment paper on a baking sheet. Put the patties on it. Freeze until they're solid, then you can put the millet hockey pucks in a bag and cook later.

-To cook- fry up in a pan, broil at high, grill (if you have one).

Here's my only issue.
The draw of pre-made vegetable sausages etc... is just that. They are pre-made by someone else. I don't have the time to swear off convenience foods. But I'm going to pretend I do for a little while.
I fear this "make all my own food" experiment may begin to go too far. Too far and too tasty.

I feel the need to name my food processor. I'll make dinner for whoever comes up with the best one. All I've got right now is Ralph or Otis.

Totally my jams. Completely and utterly.
They've got major soul, major grit, major sound, but with a raw, homemade quality.
Listen to this album, they are going to be huge from now on, meaning they won't ever be this un-produced again.
Their album "Boys and Girls" (released in April) inspires "Dirty Dancing" esque moves in my kitchen. It's like Swayze is back from the grave.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

She's so a (green halibut) curry - BOOM!

They're so hot, they're making me sexist. Bastards.
This post wasn’t actually brought to you by Flight of the Conchords, but it was brought to you by several things, including but not limited to: Bota Box Shiraz, two lovely ladies and fellow contributors to assist me, and Milo the Cat.

The Lovely Ladies

Alright, down to business. Like I said, WINE. Pour yourself a glass. Or three. Or pour yourself a whatever; I don’t care, just get it done. This curry doesn’t take a whole lot of effort, or even super-complex ingredients, but it does need a little time so you’ll want to be sure you have something delicious to sip on. I almost always make a green halibut Indonesian-style curry. It’s not that I don’t enjoy or appreciate other curries (well, that’s a lie. I’m actually not really down with Indian curry. I just don’t care for it, ok? Give me a lamb-something that’s Indian and lots of garlic-cilantro naan to eat it with, and I’m fine. Otherwise, I don’t care for it) but I’m really just partial to this particular curry. Furthermore, The Wife (Margaret) requests it just about as often as she requests my pork adobo - another time, kids - which is to say, constantly.

If you don’t remember my last post, here are a few ground rules:
1. Don’t sass me.
2. Pour yourself a draaaaaank before you get underway. It helps. Swearsies.
3. Understand that there is a lot of room for variation in these dishes, so adapt it for your own tastes/whatever you have on hand, within reason.

Ingredients, assemble!
Green Halibut Curry
Oil, such as canola or peanut oil (olive in a pinch; something with a higher smoke point is better if you’ve got it)
1-2 large shallots, halved and sliced thinly
1 ½ to 2 tblsp green curry paste, Mae Ploy if you can get it (for the love of Christ, stay away from Thai Kitchen)
½ a yellow onion, sliced in to ½ inch chunks
¾ lb crimini mushrooms, quartered
2-ish crowns of broccoli
1 bell pepper; red/yellow/orange are best to add some color
1-ish lbs of small red or Yukon potatoes with the skin on
2-inch chunk of ginger, sliced thinly (peel it with a paring knife or leave the skin on)
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans of coconut milk, preferably light
1 – 1 ½ tblsp fish sauce (this is some smelly stuff – be wary and keep it in the pot or else you will smell of The Fermented Sea Apocalypse forever and ever)
4-6 lime leaves
1-2 lbs of halibut, depending on how many you’re feeding and how much you have
Handful of cilantro, chopped roughly
Small handful of Thai (or regular, if you can’t find Thai) basil, chopped roughly
A lime or two, sliced for squeezin'

Heat up a wok, a really wide and deep skillet, or a Dutch oven - whatever you’ve got that’s closest. It needs to be pretty dang hot. Throw some oil in there, about a tablespoon. Once it’s hot, throw in your shallots and move those suckers around in the pan with your stirring implement of choice. After they start to get translucent and then a bit crisp, add the green curry paste. Obvs adding less will make it a little more mild and adding more will make it more spicy, but green curry is meant to be an herbaceous, medium-heat curry. Get the green curry incorporated with the shallots, add a little more oil if necessary, and then throw in your mushrooms and onions with just a sprinkle of salt to help draw out the moisture.

I put the bell pepper in a bit early; I'm a rebel like that.
 You can leave those on their own for the most part – move them around a bit so that the onions don’t get too brown but you can finish your last minute prep right now if you need to, such as cutting up the fish. I like to do large chunks, about an inch square, but you can do them a bit smaller if you prefer. Halibut will flake nicely so you’ll end up with bite size pieces anyway and keeping them a little larger will help you control the cooking process better, especially if you’re not totally comfortable with cooking fish. Put the fish aside in a bowl with some salt & pepper.

Many thanks to Margaret's dad, who doesn't know he contributed this delicious halibut.
 Put your potatoes into a bowl with some water and toss some plastic wrap over the top, then put it in the microwave for about five minutes. You want to par-cook the potatoes so that they cook faster in your curry while absorbing the flaaaavas. Throw your broccoli and bell pepper into the pan and get it moving around with all the other goodness; after a couple of minutes, throw in the garlic and ginger. After about thirty seconds, empty your cans of coconut milk into the pan and add the fish sauce, stirring well. Throw the lime leaves in, turn the heat to low, and throw a half-cocked lid over that bad boy. I recommend eating rice with this (I guess you could eat it as-is, but I’m all about shamelessly doubling up on the carbs) or maybe some kind of rice noodle, so get your rice or whatevs going while your curry slightly simmers away.

Don't be a bunch of filthy perverts (like Liz). It's just coconut milk in slow-motion.
 While that’s all doing its thaaaang and getting happy, slice some limes into squeezable chunks, then chop up the cilantro and Thai basil. I happen to have some nice little ramekins that I put each of these into, because I’m fancy as fuck like that. However, you can literally throw it all in a bowl or pile it on a plate or do whatever you gots to do. If you’re working with larger chunks of fish, put it into the curry about ten minutes before the rice is done, gently folding it in so that it gets covered with yummy, thickened coconut milk. so.
FINALLY, once the rice is done (man, seriously, rice and I aren’t friends. Half the time I totally eff it up – like I did this time – and have to start over. Rice and frosting: they are both a culinary Waterloo for me) and the curry has been getting happy for awhile, put that good stuff in a bowl.

Sprinkle your lovely additions over it with maybe some soy sauce/Braggs amino acids, perhaps some Sriracha, and then put your face in that bowl. For real.

We played the new Santigold album, Master of My Make Believe, which I have been digging on for the last week or so because NPR had it up on their First Listen site, along with new Rufus Wainwright, the new Royal Headache, and the new Norah Jones/Dangermouse collaboration.

After a couple glasses of wine, we also listened to some Pitbull. Keep your shade to yourself, haters.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Finally, the answer to your public drinking dilemmas!

Ok, this isn't a recipe post. But I would argue it's BETTER.

Alaska readers will know that summer here is mainly comprised of 18+ hours of daylight, drinking too much on weeknights, and trying to find the right beverage to accomplish said drinking if it's nice enough to be outside.

Beer is obviously the beverage of choice, but you GUYS, look what someone invented:

Those are stackable, plastic wine glasses, PRE-FILLED with wine.

Apparently you can buy it here, but I haven't checked to see if they can make it up here yet. (Edit: Just checked, they totes do. I am going to be the classiest girl at the bonfire.)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Asparagus Slaw

Summer is just around the corner. 
I've never experienced a New York summer, but believe me, I've been warned and I live in fear. 

I'm prepping for the complete and utter rejection of any hot foods and building my cold foods list. 

I don't really like traditional coleslaw. too much mayo = no fun at all. 
But the food blogosphere is atwitter with new takes and updates on slaw. 
Here's my humble contribution

Asparagus Slaw
2 bunches asparagus
2 carrots
2 cucumbers
4 green onions, thinly sliced
3 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp Braggs Liquid Aminos or soy sauce
1 lemon, juiced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp parsley, minced
1 tsp raw honey 
2 tbsp unrefined sesame oil 
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
-Boil a pot of water, wash the asparagus and snap off the woody ends. Blanch the asparagus (drop in the boiling water for 5-10 secs, remove and put in a bowl of ice water.
-Julienne or shred the asparagus, carrots and cucumber. Add in onions, toss. 

-Prep the dressing- whisk the tahini, Braggs, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, parsley and honey. Whisk in oil. 
-Pour over the veges, toss to coat. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Let sit for 15-20 mins to get juicy. 
I really really liked this. There was just a tad too much juice, but that is the definition of a first world problem. 

Everyone (i.e. VH1 when it's on the TV at the gym) is talking about The Black Keys, so I finally broke down and gave their new-ish album, El Camino. 
They should be my jams. It's blues-rocky, it's dirty, dark and dance-able. 
But I'm really not digging them. 
Maybe I'm just too late to this bandwagon, maybe they remind me of Kings of Leon a little too much, maybe I've heard too many bands just like them, maybe I'm over the hipster caveman vibe (that's a lie, I'll never be over it) and maybe I'm not a air guitar kind of gal.