Monday, March 12, 2018

koreapalooza

So, Korean food.  Have you have it lately?  I am obsessed. 
Why do I love it so?  

Is it because my family lived in Korea for two years when I was a babe?  
Or because our beloved dog's name was Yobo?  
 
Is it because my dad would walk in the door every night and sing out, "yoboseyo"!? 
Although those are fun facts, the answer is simple.I love Korean food because it is freaking delicious.

Make this tonight.  I mean it.  (Unless you're vegetarian, in which case I am just so sorry. But I'm sure tofu would be great, too.)  Seriously.  In a half hour  you'll get yourself a little slice of heaven;  filling, balanced and incredibly delicious. 
 
All the things that make the magic.
The only semi-exotic ingredient is Gochujang and trust me, once you  make this you will decide to always have it on hand, 'cause Korean food simply kicks ass.  Our local grocery store stocks it.

 30 Minute Korean Beef Bowls with Veggies

Korean Sauce - whisk together in a bowl:
  • 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 2-3 tablespoons brown sugar 
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine 
  • 2-3 tablespoons Gochujang or more if desired*
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
 
Cook up a pot of rice or quinoa.  

Brown 1 lb ground beef, a 1/2 onion in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 3 cloves minced garlic and 2 tsp minced ginger and sauté an additional 30 seconds. Drain off any excess fat.
  This is good to have on hand when you don't have fresh ginger
  1.  
    Add Korean Sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 5-10 minutes or until reduced and thickened. Taste and add chili paste for spicier, brown sugar for sweeter. 
    Remove meat mixture from skillet but do not wipe out.
Add one teaspoon olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add zucchini, carrots and red bell peppers (or other desired vegetables) and stir fry 2-3 minutes or to your desired crisp-tenderness.

Layer the love: rice, then beef 
 Then veggies 
Feed to your starving 16 year old.    
Plan your next Korean meal.

30 Minute Korean Beef Bowls with Veggies
Ingredients
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 4-5 cups cooked rice/quinoa, sprialized veggies
Korean Sauce
  • 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 2-3 tablespoons brown sugar (See Note)
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine 
  • 2-3 tablespoons Gochujang or more if desired*
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
Stir Fry
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 large zucchini, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • *may add or substitute different vegetables
Garnish
  • green onions
  • chili paste
  • sesame seeds
  1. Whisk together Korean Sauce in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  2. Brown beef and onion in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and ginger and sauté an additional 30 seconds. Drain off any excess fat.
  3. Add Korean Sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 5-10 minutes or until reduced and thickened. Taste and add chili paste for spicier, brown sugar for sweeter. Remove from skillet but do not wipe out.
  4. Add one teaspoon olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add zucchini, carrots and red bell peppers (or other desired vegetables) and stir fry 2-3 minutes or to your desired crisp-tenderness.
  5. Layer 4 bowls with rice/quinoa and top with Korean beef and vegetables.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Sunshine and wine in a girl world

I just returned from a weekend full of laughter, wine, vitamin D and some of my favorite girls.

My sisters Jacquie, Julie and I took our annual/bi-annual littles trip, this time to Santa Barbara.  We started with a quick and fun night in LA and got to visit with the future bride and groom,
 then toodled up the coast for 48 hours in the beautious world of Santa Barbara. 
It was glorious.   We ate some wonderful meals.


Julie hooked us up with some wonderful wine tastings.

Jacquie scored us a free upgrade in the penthouse suite.
We basked in the sun and hiked in the range.
We had LOTS of HDR (heavy deep and real) talks and LOTS of laughter.  Holy shit did we laugh.
 

 It was straight up soul-refreshing and my miss my sisters already.
Jacquie drove us back to LA on Sunday, where Julie peeled off to help Col and Brenton pack up their life and move back east, 
and I peeled off for a couple days in LA with my dear friend Laura Gabbert and her two lovely daughters.  It was wayyyy overdue, and just so wonderful.  We reconnected, we hiked, we walked the dogs, we sat in the glorious sunshine and talked, we drank good wine and cooked good meals.
Both of these chapters of this much-needed trip were fantastic.  I loved catching up with my sisters and Laura and I had gone way too long without connecting. I also loved spending time with her kids, who were wee lasses when last we met.

The contrast between Laura's house and mine, aside from the obvious SoCal vs winter in Chicago nonsense, was stark.  For starters, girls talk.  To eachother, to Laura and to me.  And then the food.  Cute quantities of healthy snacks, small portions on dinner plates that aren't quite polished off. Adorable portions of ice cream after dinner.

Sometimes you don't realize your life is a certain way until you see another way.  I bought 13 boxes of girl scout cookies over the last two weeks and they are, as noah's friend tyler told me last night, "long gone."  Our way, especially with Corey gone,  is most definitely the boy way.

I went to the grocery store yesterday and bought mountains of food. Two big bunches of bananas.  Two bags of clementines.  Four loaves of bread.  Two lbs of deli meat and cheese.  Four bags of chips.  Two gallons of milk.  Six boxes of cereal.  And on and on.  It's so normal to me I don't even think about it.  Until I was reminded that not everyone feeds an army every day. 

I received a couple calls from home whilst there. Dylan called to ask how to make pasta more interesting. Noah texted at one point and I asked him how it was going and he said they were starving, lol.  I reminded them that they have cars and debit cards and could have brought their butts to the grocery store and bought more food. Didn't happen. My boys appreciate my cooking.  It was a pleasure to cook for them last night.   But boy do I miss my sunshine girls.

Chicken Piccata

 Cut a few chicken breasts into cutlets, rinse and pat dry, sprinkle with salt & pepper & dredge through some flour.
 Heat up a good amount (3 Tbs for 4 cut-up breasts)  olive oil on medium high heat and sautee the chicken, about 4 minutes per side, until golden brown.
  Remove the chicken from the pot and add about 1/4 cup dry white wine and 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, cook on high heat about a minute, scraping up the brown bits with a wooden spoon.
 Add 2 Tbsp capers and about 2 Tbsp butter and stir until all mixed together.
 If you like it a bit saucier, add a little more white wine and even a little chicken broth.  I do. 
Pour the sauce over the chicken and add a couple Tbsp chopped fresh parsley.

Enjoy!!



Wednesday, February 7, 2018

More Instalove

So as I mentioned last time, I bought an InstaPot.  The thing is incredible.  And a tad scary, so I decided that I would make all of our meals in the InstaPot for the first two weeks, at least.

I am in love.

It's miraculous, truly.  I'm pretty good at planning meals but with the InstaPot, you really can throw a meal together in no time.  It's wild.  I made spaghetti and meatballs and the entire prep time, including making the meatballs and cooking the pasta and the sauce, was about 20 minutes.  Total.  You sear the meatballs then basically throw the raw pasta and the ingredients of spaghetti sauce in the pot and close the lid, set the timer and say a prayer then, voila, you have cooked pasta and a yummy sauce and meatballs 12 minutes later.

I've made pork fried rice, sweet potato and kale soup, sausage & peppers - all with a max prep time of 20 minutes.  Hard boiled eggs are perfect in 6 minutes - you just set the timer and walk away.  Sweet potatoes are glorious in 10 minutes.   Rice is a snap - there's a rice setting and you throw all the stuff in, set the lid and it is perfect. Every time.   It's bizarre.   How does it do that, exactly?

According to the website, Fastcooking.ca
Pressure-cooking is a cooking method that uses steam sealed in a pressure cooker, which is a special airtight cooking pot.  Sealing a liquid such as water, wine, stock or broth in a pressure cooker traps the vapour that rises from the liquid.  This in turn raises the pressure inside the pressure cooker along with the maximum temperature that the liquid can reach.  The increased temperature and pressure significantly speed up the cooking process.  The pressure infuses the hot steam into the food.  Pressure-cooking can cook foods in 1/3 the ordinary time on average and often over 10 times faster.  Compared to a microwave, the food tastes considerably better and compared to slow cooker, only takes a fraction of the time.

Ohhhhhhh.  I get it. Kinda.  It's a miracle!  At least a cooking miracle.  and I love it.

To try out a recipe my friend Margie sent to me, we invited some of our favorite family peeps over.  I figured they'd be polite if it sucked.  Plus, we love Cal & Rob. 
Cal is my first-cousin-once-removed.  IE, her mom Patti is my first cousin, and one of my favorite people on earth, AND a new grandmother!  Congrats, Mimi!!  But I digress. We are lucky enough to have Cal and her fantastic fella Rob over with some regularity.

Many Instapot recipes are awesome in their speed and simplicity - this is not one of those.  But we had a lovely night and what I, in no humility, thought was a killer meal.

Spicy Korean-style Pork Shoulder

This required some exotic ingredients, most of which I had on hand, some of which I had to buy.  Which is fine, because I want to make this meal every day for the rest of my life.  But I'll settle for weekly.

This is the rub for the pork:  garlic, brown sugar, chili flakes, salt & pepper.  Um, yum.


Smear it all over pork, then let it sit for a while. Then sear it in batches, then slow cook it for 7 hours or pressure cook it. For 90 minutes.  This is the miracle of the pressure cooker. 

While pork cooks, prepare barbecue sauce: In a small pot, warm peanut oil over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger, and sauté until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Cook until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Set sauce aside. (It can be made up to 1 week ahead and stored in the refrigerator.)






After you're done with the sauce, prepare your cucumber salad. 

Let it marinate for at least 30 minutes.

When the pork is done, let it cool then shred it and lay it on a lined baking sheet.
 Mix in the bbq sauce and a couple tablespoons of cooking liquid. 
Broil it for a couple minutes to crisp it up, then serve on slider buns w/ the cucumber salad &  chips.  Really yummy.
 And then? Invite your first cousin-once-removed and her adorable boyfriend and have yourselves a feast!


For the pork:

  • 5 garlic cloves, grated on a Microplane or minced
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar or honey
  • 1 tablespoon Korean chile flakes (gochugaru) or other chile flakes (Maras, Aleppo or crushed red pepper)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 5 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into two or three pieces

For the sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, grated on a Microplane
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger root
  • cup gochujang (Korean chile paste) or other chile paste or sauce such as Sriracha
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Asian fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

For the sesame pickled cucumbers:

  • 6 Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced (or about 4 cups sliced cucumbers)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds

For serving:

  • Cooked rice or toasted slider rolls
  • Kimchi (optional)

Preparation

  1. To prepare pork, combine garlic, brown sugar, chile flakes, salt and pepper. Rub marinade all over pork. If you have time, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour to up to 24 hours. Otherwise, proceed with recipe.
  2. Set electric pressure cooker to sauté (or use a large skillet). Add pork in batches and sear until browned all over, about 2 minutes per side. Add 3/4 cup water to pot (or to skillet to deglaze, then move to pot), cover, and set to cook for 90 minutes on high pressure. Or cook in a slow cooker for 5 to 7 hours until tender.
  3. While pork cooks, prepare sauce: In a small pot, warm peanut oil over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger, and sauté until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Cook until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Set sauce aside. (It can be made up to 1 week ahead and stored in the refrigerator.)
  4. Manually release steam. Let pork cool until you can handle it, then shred it into bite-size pieces. Pork can be made to this point up to 3 days ahead.
  5. While pork cools, strain liquid from bottom of pot. Pour off fat (or chill liquid, then scoop off solidified fat with a spoon). Reserve.
  6. Prepare cucumbers: In a small bowl, combine all ingredients except sesame seeds, and let sit, tossing one or twice, for at least 20 minutes. Stir in sesame seeds.
  7. When ready to serve, heat broiler. Toss pork with sauce and 1 to 2 tablespoons cooking liquid — just enough so pork is evenly coated but not wet or runny. Spread mixture on a rimmed baking sheet, and broil until crisped on top, 2 to 3 minutes; it will char in places, and that’s fine.
  8. Serve pork over rice or on slider rolls, with cucumbers and kimchi, if desired.