Tuesday, July 24, 2007

TIP: Job Chae - Korean Noodles

Another yummy recipe to check out is Maangchi's jobchae video-recipe. I link to her Blogger page on the right-hand panel, and she has a number of great recipes, but I will also insert the video here:

I had no idea how easy this delicious recipe is, and it uses yam starch noodles, which are perfect for mom's gluten-free diet. These are the grayish/purplish ones that come in large packages, called "dang myun". (I made it with some other Asian noodles I had, and it still turned out fine) . Jobchae can be made with chicken rather than beef, for Jeff. Since the recipe is relatively inexpensive to make it will hard to pay restaurant prices for this dish in the future. Mmm...now I want to make some more!

Porky Kraut

This recipe has one of the greatest deliciousness:ease ratios that I know of. I learned it from our Hungarian cousin Kriszti, and I can't remember the Magyar name for the life of me, so I made this one up myself. All you need is:
  • 1.5 lbs pork shoulder roast, cubed or sliced fresh Polish sausage
  • 2 big jars/cans of sauerkraut
  • 1 bay leaf
  • white pepper
  • nutmeg
In the example photos I used the Polish sausage and home-made sauerruben (pickled turnips), because I'm an overachiever.

Brown the pork/sausage in oil or fat in a heavy pot. Rinse the kraut in a colander and squeeze out (if you like it milder, rinse less. Knowing our family, you won't rinse at all). Dump the kraut on top but do not stir. Grind some white pepper and nutmeg on top and stick a bay leaf in, if desired. Trust me--even without any seasonings this is delicious. Add some water or broth so that there is moisture in the pot, but I wouldn't add more than a cup. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer for 45 min - 1 hr. More liquid will have appeared and the pork will be incredibly tender and tasty. Stir and season with S & P. Serve over egg noodles, spaetzle, or mashed potatoes.

I love this recipe: it's a total crowd pleaser, makes the lousiest cut of pork decadently tender it and has the added benefits of preventing scurvy and promoting regularity. It can be made in the crock pot or oven. I strongly encourage you to try it. Enjoy!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Too Much Zucchini?

Forget about the dang pancakes already! This is something you have to taste - The recipe is taken, shamelessly and without editing, from the Joy of Gardening Cookbook with frosting from Grandma Gwen's recipe box. It is so incredibly delicious and if I am doing my arithmetic right, it is about 75% zucchini. (Just don't tell anyone that claims they don't like squash in any form).


4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 TBSP vanilla (yes, TBSP!)
2 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup buttermilk or sour cream
3 cups coarsely grated zucchini
(I left out the nuts, but you can certainly add some)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour two 9" round pans.

Melt the chocolate and oil in a small saucepan over very low heat. Cream the butter until light; add the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Beat well. Add the melted chocolate and mix well.
Sift together the dry ingredients and add them to the batter with the buttermilk. Mix the zucchini and optional nuts into the batter. (I squoze the moisture out of the zukes while I was doing the rest. I think that is a good idea. In fact, I salted the grated zukes to help draw out the moisture instead of adding salt to the dry ingredients).
Divide the batter between the pans. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 40 mins. or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool the cake completely before frosting.


(Gad, I sure miss my mom. This is one of her killer "secret" recipes that she used for every birthday cake she made, and so did our Aunt Ettie. I can still see her look of determination when she tried to stir the dang roux for 10 minutes!)

2 1/2 TBSP flour
1/2 cup milk

Mix over low flame until thick. Cook while stirring 10 minutes. Let cool. Go sit and have a beer now that you are exhausted.

1/2 cup butter - room temperature
3/4 cup powdered sugar

Cream butter with powdered sugar until smooth. Add thickened paste and beat until light and fluffy. Fold in 1 tsp vanilla.



On another note, I finally found the perfect photo opportunity. I have been searching on all of our road trips for the ideal Van Gogh field. Know where I found it? Yup - St. Paul Campus!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Beef Borscht - Lillian's Way

This week we got beets from the CSA. They're still small but already perfect for borscht! These ones have light-colored insides, so they're better for beef borscht (rather than the all-veggie cold borscht, which I prefer to be magenta).

First I made beef broth from scratch. I think this step really makes the soup, but obviously it's more convenient to use canned or crystalized. I roasted oxtails and boiled them with the usual: 2 bay leaves, 4 whole cloves, 1/2 bunch parsley, carrots, celery, and onions.

Meanwhile, I boiled the beets in one pot, and peeled potatoes in another pot (add a lot of salt to the potatoes). Drain each when cooked. The potatoes will be sliced into the soup at the very end. Once the beets are tender and cooled, slip their skins off (I think this step is the most fun part) and slice (or grate) into thin shreds. Pretty, huh?

Next you need to prepare the other vegetables--2 carrots, one large onion, and 1/2 of a small cabbage (green or red). These will all be made very fine. Chop the onion finely, slice the cabbage into fine shreds, and grate two carrots. Saute all veggies until in oil soft and slightly caramelized.

In your soup pot, heat up 2 Tbsp of oil or schmaltz until quite hot. Dredge in flour and black pepper one pound of stew beef cut into cubes, and then brown in the oil. Add 6 cups of beef broth to the soup pot, bring to a boil and lower to a simmer for 30 min. And the sauteed veggies to the soup and simmer 30 more min.

Before serving, add the shredded beets and adjust the flavors by adding: 2 Tbsp. pickle juice or vinegar, juice of one lemon, 2 tsp. dill (fresh or dried), plenty of salt and pepper, and a pinch of sugar if needed. Slice the boiled potatoes into your serving bowls and pour soup over them.

I served the borscht with sliced pickled turnips and summer squash with garlic and fresh basil:

Ok so where are your recipes?! Mom, maybe you should post your pancake recipe here once and for all! You don't have to put photos up here if you don't want to. I'm just putting them up for the heck of it. I hope you are all doing well.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Stuffed Zucchini - Kousa Mahshi

This is a pretty exciting recipe because it uses power tools. I meant for this blog to be more of a collection of our favorite recipes, but it is also fun to add new ones along with photos (such as this one).

This recipe was inspired by the arrival of zucchini season and by the tasty dishes I had in Jordan. I tend to steer clear of labor-intensive recipes that involve stuffing things, but I had to make an exception for the tender zukes clogging up my fridge and the crazy plan I hatched for breaking in my electric drill. I asked Alex to get me the zuke-hollowing tool that's common in the Middle East (where, alternately, you can buy vegetables pre-hollowed), but since he won't be back for ages I had to take matters into my own hands. In the end the recipe wasn't really that bad too make and I had fun doing it. I based it on two recipes I found online, one because it uses a pressure cooker (hooray!) and the other because it sounded tastier and was closer to the amounts I needed.

I'm a reluctant photo-taker, so the entire process isn't documented, but here are the highlights.

1) Get 6-7 small zucchini and if you're cool like me, cut the ends off and hollow them out with a spade drill set. I learned this from Alton Brown, but my version was way more bad-ass because the bits didn't fit in the chuck (grrr...they were even the same brand!), so I risked my fingers each time.

Take that you good-for-nothin' squash!

1.5) (oops numbering) While you're working, place hollowed zukes in a bowl of cold water to which you've added 1 tsp dried mint and 2 tsp salt. I don't know how critical this step is, but I did it anyway and it smelled good. Drain before stuffing.

2) Meanwhile, saute one chopped onion, add a large can of crushed tomatoes, and a few grinds of pepper and some salt. Simmer 10-15 min.

3) In a large bowl, knead together (with your hands) : 1 pound of ground lamb or other meat with 2/3 c. rinsed uncooked white rice, 1/2 tsp garam masala, 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg, 1 tsp pepper, and 1 tsp salt. There was no ground lamb to be had around here, so infidel that I am, I used 1/2 ground beef and 1/2 ground pork.

4) The recipe say to beat the rice and meat with a wooden spoon until 'fluffy'. What that means I didn't know, but my arm tired quickly, so I just laid into it with the electric mixer for a few minutes. Worked like a charm--I think.

5) Meanwhile, in the bottom of my pressure cooker, brown some beef oxtails or stew bones in a touch of oil.

6) Push the stuffing into the hollowed zukes, working only from one end to limit air bubbles, and make sure it's packed in there well. I had too much filling, probably because I didn't have a way to weigh meat when I combined it, so I put the remainder in blanched kale leaves (I would have used cabbage if I'd had it).

7) Stick the stuffed zucchini into the pot around the stew bones, making sure they lie flat (if you have more than will fit, make another layer). Cover with the tomato mixture, bring to low pressure, and cook for 20 minutes.

8) Release pressure by opening valve or using cold water method. Remove zucchini to a serving dish and reduce the remaining sauce until it is thick and flavorful.

9) Stir into the sauce: 3 minced cloves of garlic combined with 1 tsp dried or fresh mint, 2 tsp salt, and the juice of 1/2-1 lemon and then simmer 3 more minutes. This is critical for yumminess.

10) Serve warm or cold. I slice them into 2-inch segments and set them on end in a serving dish so they make a little skyline of zucchini and then spoon the sauce over.

Okay so this is not the easiest recipe I ever made, but it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be and there were no major mishaps. It really came out well and, in fact, I think it was better than the stuffed zucchini I had in Jordan. The tomato sauce was particularly good with the added garlic/mint mixture. Even the impromptu kale-rolls stayed together! I would definitely make this again and would use a similar approach to stuffed cabbage (but increase the rice). You could probably vary the stuffing a lot, and a quick Google search gives many ideas, but I like the simplicity of this approach.

Alex and I were theorizing about how in many countries were women are badly oppressed often have extremely elaborate food. I looked at a site with Levantine recipes and all of the vegetable recipes were 'mahshi' (stuffed)! I remember this kind of multi-step, many ingredient, fussy cooking in Indian cookbooks as well. The entire preparation took me 3-3.5 hrs (I was doing a couple of other things at the same time), and it is definitely a labor of love, but not intolerably so. However, I can't imagine making these as well as numerous other dishes at the same time, and I think the theory has more than a little truth. I cook because I love it and it's my art, but I'm sure glad I can bust out a box of Velveeta mac'n'cheese from time to time.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Turnips: not just starvation food anymore!

You may or may not know that Dan and I are splitting a CSA (community supported agriculture) share with our friend Kristine. It still seems to be 'springtime' at the farm, so we're deluged in greens of all sorts. One nice break from those, though, are the sweet little Hakurei turnips we get. Unlike the big, tough, purplish turnips you get from the store, these are small and tender. As you are probably not surprised to know, I just read the book "The Joy of Pickling" from cover to cover and now I'm completely inspired. I've made a number of recipes already, but I thought I'd sharea few photos to test out our new blog.

Here are the turnips themselves, nice and clean. A few weeks ago none of them were more than 1" across. Now they're growing.

This time I pickled them thusly:
  1. Wash and peel one pound baby turnips, make X-shaped cuts in each end.
  2. Soak in brine of 1.5 c. water + 2 tsp. pickling salt for one hour, drain.
  3. Add one fresh jalepeno (it was supposed to be red, but I only had a green one and I added 1 tsp. of Korean hot pepper powder).
  4. Cover with 3 Tbsp. sugar dissolved in 1.2 c rice vinegar and place in a one-quart jar.
  5. Refrigerate 2 days before eating. Will keep for a long time.

Looks pretty yummy, huh? I'll let you know how they are in one day!

Here's one more turnip recipe for the non-pickling inclined. I got it from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by way of the Julie/Julia blog. Turnips and Parsley:
  1. Wash and lop the tops and tails off of a passel o' turnips, then quarter.
  2. Blanch in salted water, 2 min.
  3. Drain and return to pan, add enough chicken broth to cover + 1 Tbsp. butter.
  4. Simmer 15 min. or until tender.
  5. Drain off most of the broth, add more butter, plus minced fresh parsley and some white pepper.
It's a nice accompaniment to a meal, and the parsley really makes the dish. I was curious as to whether turnips actually have any nutrition to them all, so I looked them up. Legend has it, the French starved to death rather than adopt such a crude vegetable. This is probably not true, especially since turnips only have 33 calories per cup, and they probably would have starved anyway.

I also am fermenting some sauerruben, which uses grated turnips in place of cabbage in a lactic-acid fermentation. It should be ready in about a week and I'll let you know how it is. It had better be damn good, after hours of slaving away over a cheapo mandoline to grate the 'nips. Hooray for silage.

Wow I can't believe I've become a photo-posting food blogger. *shudder* At least this is for the good of the family.


This is so tritely named since the end product surprised me with a texture almost identical to risotto, and trite does not preclude apt.

It's a pretty simple pasta dish, good fridge velcro, and can really make you look like you know what you're doing, especially if you get to explain what a velouté is to whomever is eating (bonus points for a mother sauce that isn't tomato!)

Basically, make pasta, and put it in a velouté (light stock thickened with a blond roux). Less briefly put:

Make pasta: al dente is always good, but it's especially important for it to have a good bite in this application; this makes it risotto-y, and its going to be cooked a little more once it's out of the pot. Because it is going to be mated to a somewhat small amount of sauce with a creamy texture, use a tube- or shape-pasta rather than a string-style. Individual pieces will get impregnated with the yummy, and string-pastas will simply slide all over and leave half the sauce on the plate. Use something with a bizarrely hilarious name, like farfalle or rotelle (extra funny if you pronounce it like the Italian chef from the Simpsons).

Sauce: Here be veggies. I used a small red onion, some shallots, and some leftover scallions (at this point, I just added the tougher lower halves, and reserved the delicate green ends). Carrots would be good; whoever is wearing out its welcome in your pantry/vegetable drawer. Let your tongue be your compass; whatever it is, make it diced small or sliced thin, just like in a risotto. These I sweated in olive oil; light on the salt to guard against the reduced sauce being too salty. Make a roux (equal parts butter and flour) and get out some stock and white wine.

Sidenote: Technically, I used a beurre manié, where the butter and flour are merely kneaded (manier) together and added to the sauce as a paste, rather than being pre-cooked. This just ensures a light color, and reduces adulteration of the flavors you've got going on. Either way, you probably won't notice the final difference; I had just forgotten to make a roux ahead of time, and didn't want to dirty another pan.

Add stock, white wine, and roux to the pan, and turn up the heat a bit. For amounts, I pretty much eyeballed it based on the amount of pasta I was coating, etc. I used an entire 1 lb box, and probably ~1.5 cups of stock and .5 of wine, with 4 tbs of roux (2 tbs butter, 2 tbs flour). Let it all simmer together while whisking or otherwise encouraging the roux to propogate throughout, while cooking out the flour flavor (and cooking in the butter flavor, the best flavor of them all!).

While the sauce is hot and bubbly, I dropped in the pasta. Here, I added the more fragile ends of my veggie spectrum; the green tops from the scallions, some finely diced tomato, and some frozen peas. These things all would have fallen apart, lost flavor, and/or gotten mushy had they been included at the sweating stage. Also, herbs; I think I just used some chervil. I felt mine needed some punch, so I added a couple pinches of that weapons grade paprika they hawk at Penzey's, and then 2 lemons sacrificed their ichor to yield some high notes on top of the savory, lip coating sauce and fruitiness of the cheap ass white wine I cook with (as well as to use up all these damn lemons I have for no particular reason). Maybe some pepper too; this is all to taste. Here you can salt more if there wasn't enough in the sweat.

Bring it all together, let it cook in place for a bit. Done. As with all things, leftovers will probably be great with a fried egg on top. Seriously, I felt just like I was eating risotto from my first bite. Partially this is because the veggies (and wine) I used are the same as what I generally deploy for a basic risotto, but the texture was spot on as well. Even closer if I used that mini-shell pasta.

This would be killer with some seafood in the sauce, maybe canned clams. Since it's just basic pasta and basic sauce, two things that are the epitome of canvasses to paint meals upon, proffering recommendations would be futile. I only thought it warranted posting due to the interesting effect, and since arborio costs roughly 703.2x the price of pasta.

Welcome to our Blog!

Hi there family,

Joe and I had been discussing making a blog like this. I think this will be a good way for us to share recipes online and will hopefully encourage us to record what we cook. We all love and appreciate good food and, let's just be honest here, kick ass in the kitchen. I wasn't envisioning this being a very public blog--mostly just for us and the occasional friend who's interested, but we can do whatever we like with it. Feel free to post photos if you have them and links to other sites of interest. Happy cooking and eating!