Molasses Cookies

Holy Santa Claus sh*t! It’s been so long since I’ve blogged. Long story short: the Navy. We’ve moved twice in the past few months and have lived in three different places (duh?) in 2015. Now we are settled down in Virginia. Well not we. Well sort of we. My other half has been deployed since August so it’s really just been me and the dogs here. I had planned on getting back into blogging as soon as we moved here but it suddenly dawned on me that me being alone = barely any cooking. There have been many weeks where I order pizza and eat it for several meals in a row. Cooking is a family event and when your present family members are dogs, well…your motivation to cook goes away. Sorry that was depressing.

However, the weather has been amazing here. The high has been about 55 the past couple of days and I have been in the best mood ever. Yes, you read that right. I love cold weather. I love snow, I love rain, I just love chilly days. Chilly days like these really get me in the mood for the holidays, even though it’s only mid-October. But actually, I’ve already seen Christmas stuff out at the stores so I guess I’m not the only one.

Holidays equals lots of food. And lots of baked goods that have either cinnamon or nutmeg or any type of spice in it. I will say yet another thing that may seem blasphemous to most of you: I hate pumpkin spice. Yes, I’ve had it. No, it’s not good. I just don’t like it, I’m not sure why. Now if we’re talking about apple cider and all things apple flavored, then that’s a different story.

However, one of my favorite holiday cookies is a molasses cookie. It has small hints of cinnamon and nutmeg, as well as ginger. And did I mention I love molasses? I find that it’s really an underrated ingredient to work with. I’ve made sauces to baste chickens with in the oven that have molasses and it’s amazing every time.

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This recipe is intense with molasses flavor and the amount of spice can be adjusted to your tasting. This is also a very fool proof recipe, as I am completely baking impaired but these turned out super chewy and awesome.

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Enjoy!

Time: 10 minutes prep + baking time

Makes about 1 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

2 cups flour
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 stick of unsalted butter
1 egg
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Extra white sugar to roll dough in

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, and spices. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, cream together your butter and sugar.
  4. Add your molasses and egg. TIP: molasses is crazy sticky so spray your measuring cup with oil to make it WAY easier to add
  5. Once combined, add in your dry ingredients in 4 parts, making sure to scrape down the bowl every time.
  6. Take golf ball sized pieces of dough and roll into a semi-flat ball. Cover one side in the white sugar and place on your baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes.

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MIA

Hey all! Long time no see. For real. Just a quick update on why I haven’t been posting…but an update on the fact that I will be starting posts again in the next couple weeks! 

As a Navy family, we have been moving about and lived in a hotel (for training) for the past two and half months. Hence why the lack of posts! I’m sure you could imagine the lack of amenities in the hotel, leading to the result of no blogging. I won’t lie the hotel was great. It had a mini kitchen with two electric burners but NO OVEN! Most dinners consisted of pork belly, rice, and lots of Korean side dishes. Lots of tacos. Lots of spaghetti. But being in a tiny hotel meant my days were filled with taking care of the dogs and keeping things tidy in such a tiny place. And yes, I said dogs. Introducing BEAN:

  He’s that brown blotch on the right. My new favorite thing in the world. Story on how I acquired him to come later.

To keep it short and sweet, I hope some of you are still liking my blog and I can’t wait to start posting again. Until then:

  

Homemade Fettucine

Homemade pasta is just to die for. Yes, it requires extra work but once you’ve done it once or twice, it’s far more enjoyable than you think. The pasta maker itself is about $70 and it’s definitely worth every penny. You’ll use it way more than you would expect and the bit of labor required is definitely worth it. Today was the first time I used to attachment for the maker, where it will cut your pasta for you into fettuccine. It is just AMAZING.
Now, the only explanation I will give for the pasta making will be brief here. When you go to roll your pasta, use a racquetball sized piece of dough every time. And make sure to really coat your dough with flour…trust me, you don’t want to learn the hard way of what happens if you don’t do this. Have the dough go through the machine at the widest setting, folding it into a rectangle every time. Add flour as needed! Once it has smoothed out, start changing the settings gradually until you get a nice, long sheet of thin pasta dough. Once again, make sure to COAT your pasta so it doesn’t stick. Once you have your sheets, put it through the fettuccine attachment, hang them to dry for 5-10 minutes, cover with flour and allow to dry in a “nest” on parchment paper.
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Dried pasta is just way too…chewy. Homemade pasta stays extremely light and feels like it’s melting in your mouth. And it surprisingly stays just as good for leftovers the next day. I won’t lie, the part I hate the most is kneading the dough. It seems like it’ll never become smooth but it really does.
Now here comes the super McGyver part. Usually, you need to use a pasta drying rack, which looks like a stripped down tree where you hang your pasta to dry. I never really thought I would need it when I was registering gifts for our wedding…lo and behold, the day came and I was pissed at myself for not getting one. But instead of going out and buying one, I improvised. With a clothing hanger. Hanging off my blinds. Was it extremely redneck of me? Yes, absolutely. But it worked and that’s all that matters.
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This weekend, we also decided to go to our local “Whole Foods” and bought a ton of salamis, cheese, and the lovely pancetta. Pancetta is cured pork belly that goes great with pasta. Usually, you will see it used in carbonara. It’s not a completely obscure ingredient and considering I was able to procure it in Pensacola means that it can virtually be purchased anywhere.
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Ingredients:
Pasta dough (see my Butternut Squash Ravioli recipe)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 pound diced pancetta
1/2 onion, finely diced
4-5 garlic cloves, finely diced
5-6 basil leaves
dash of pepper and salt
1. In a large sauce pan, heat up olive oil over medium heat. (Also start boiling your water)
2. Add your pancetta and allow it to cook until it starts turning light brown.
3. Add your onions and sauté until the onions are translucent. Add your garlic.
4. Start boiling your pasta; this will take about 3-4 minutes.
5. Add the heavy cream and about 2 ladles of the pasta water.
6. Add pepper, salt, and basil.
7. Toss your pasta in sauce and serve!
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Ricotta Cheese Pound Cake

I had a ton of ricotta cheese left over from making tortellini the other weekend. I am not one to waste food so I figured I would incorporate it into a baked good. And it ‘TWAS a good decision. Oh and the homemade tortellini? That’s a post for the future.

It seems like 50% of the time, people I know HATE ricotta cheese. I absolutely love it. Its texture and smoothness makes pastas and baked goods super awesome. Now, for the skeptics: you would never know it was in this loaf of pound cake. I’m serious. The cheese blends perfectly into the batter and after the loaf is done baking, you have an extremely light and soft pound cake, not a dense and sugary one.

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Oh, by the way, it is HOT here already. Well, I think it’s hot, it’s been above 70 degrees here. Most people probably think I’m crazy but I thrive in cold weather. Give me hot weather? I become an angry grinch.

If you’ve got some ricotta cheese left over or want to try out a new pound cake recipe, try this sucker out!

Time: 1 hour
Makes 1 5×10″ loaf

Ingredients:
2 sticks softened butter
1.5 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
3 large eggs
1.25 cups sugar
1.5 cups flour, sifted
2.5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon zest

1. In a large bowl, sift your dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder). Set aside.
2. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, start mixing your butter, cheese, and sugar until it is light and fluffy.
3. Add your eggs one at a time.
4. Add the vanilla and lemon zest.
5. On low speed, add your dry ingredients in 4 parts.
6. Once incorporated, pour your batter into a buttered loaf pan.
7. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 1 hour or until it is golden brown and passes the poke test.
Enjoy with some whipped cream and berries!

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Ugly Donuts

Holy crap, it’s been a while. It’s been extremely busy around here…big life changes. Updates to come.

I’ve been recording the show “Donut Showdown,” although my husband couldn’t care less for it. Have you seen it? I mean, come on. You get to watch people make donuts, aka a wheel of crack. Watching the show makes me want to just jump into a pile of donuts, glaze and all.

Today is also the day I finally feel better. You see, working around students who have no sense of cleanliness means you are prone to getting sick. All the time. Two weeks of sickness made me really appreciate hand sanitizer and Mucinex. As well as Kleenex. I polished off two boxes worth. Overflowing garbage can? Check. Bright red nose? OH yes.

So since I felt better today, I thought it would be the perfect time to make donuts. I remember my boss at my first job at an Italian bakery would punch out these donuts out of a huge sheet of dough. It was quite impressive…I would have lost a finger somehow. Now, frying is my deepest, darkest fear. Is it just me, or is anyone else afraid that they might fry off their finger?

I also figured glazed would be the way to go. I’ve never been a fan of chocolate glazed donuts or filled donuts. But glazed donuts? Give it to me! Right meow. We also bought WAY too many strawberries yesterday and I figured I would make a strawberry glaze as well…and it was a good decision.

OH…the reason I call these “ugly” is because well…look at them! I didn’t have a donut cutter so I resorted to using my multi-sized biscuit cutters…meaning the hole in the center turned out to be way too large. But, regardless, these turned out perfect.

1As for the glaze, it is an incredibly easy step for these donuts. I imagine any fruit could be used in a glaze, as well as any flavoring like any extracts or powders.

Time: 2.5 hours

Makes about 10-12 donuts

Ingredients:
3+ cups of all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup hot water
3 tablespoons butter
1 packet active yeast
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
(*I used a bread machine to knead my dough, but if you need to do it by hand, you can follow these steps.)

1. In a small bowl, combine the yeast, hot water, and honey. Mix and allow to proof (all foamy and bubbly).
2. In a small pot, bring your milk, butter, and salt to a simmer. Once you see the milk steaming, turn it off.
3. In a large bowl, place 1 cup of your flour and pour in your hot milk mixture. Mix carefully.
4. Add your yeast mixture and 1 cup of flour. Mix thoroughly.
5. Add your remaining flour. You want the dough to be soft and workable. If it’s too tough or dry, add some more warm milk. If it’s too sticky, add some more flour.
6. Knead until the dough is really smooth. This will probably take about 8-10 minutes.
7. Place in a bowl and allow to double in size. A great way to have dough rise is to warm up your oven (then turn it off!) and place your bowl (covered with a towel) inside.
8. For the glaze, mix 3:1 powdered sugar and whole milk. You want the mixture to be quite ‘goopy.’ I completely forgot to measure here so…sorry! Also, at this point if you want to use a fruit, pulverize your fruit into a liquid and add enough powdered sugar to make it goopy as well. Set aside.
9. Roll out your dough to about 1/2″ thick. Cut out your dough, place on parchment paper, and allow to rise for about 30-45 minutes.
10. Heat up your frying oil over medium heat. I used about 3-4 cups of vegetable oil. The way I tell if my oil is ready is by taking a wooden spoon or chopstick and sticking into the oil to the bottom of the pan. If it starts bubbling, it’s ready.
11. Carefully put in your donut. You will see it turning golden brown. At this point, flip your donut. I used wooden chopsticks to fry and remove my donuts…easy and disposable!
12. Remove from the oil and allow to cool off on a cooling rack.
13. Once cooled (it will be slightly warm to the touch), dip your donuts away in your glaze! Place back on the cooling rack and allow to sit for about 10 minutes. This will allow the glaze to be soaked up by the fried dough.
14. Enjoy!

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Pork Buns

I’ve had cravings lately. From boiled pork belly to garlic snapper, I don’t know why. I promise, I am not preggo. Just hungry.

Today was the day of pork belly. In addition to the fact that we had bacon for breakfast, it was the day to make some pork buns. Sweet, tangy, and oozing with pork fat, these buns are a great project for a lazy Sunday. Well, I guess that’s not so lazy then. I’ve said this time and time again. Pork belly is underrated. Completely. It is an incredible piece of pork that many Americans neglect to use. I’ll be honest, it’s not ALWAYS found in markets but it DOES exist. If I can find it here in Pensacola, then it can definitely be found anywhere you are.

It’s an amazing piece of pork that can be beautifully layered with meat and fat. When it’s slowly cooked…dear god, it is literally like butter.

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It has also gotten really warm in Florida. It’s February. I repeat, it’s February and it was almost 75 degrees today. People look at me crazy here when I say I hate the sun. We headed to the beach with the dog and the end results are here:

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A tired, sleepy, and sore puppy.

So this recipe can definitely be tweaked. I bought char-siu sauce from our local asian market. To be quite frank, I think I like plain hoisin sauce better. This char-siu sauce (which is used for that glowing red pork you see hanging in the windows of Chinese restaurants) is a bit too salty for me. But of course, to each their own.

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Oh god. Isn’t this beautiful?

OH GOD:

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Now the dough is a pain in the ass. Thankfully, I have my bread maker that kneads and rises my dough for me so I really shouldn’t complain. But it’s not really the kneading part that gets me angry. It’s the assembly of the bun itself that I could not do. I watched one video after the other, trying to figure out how these people so gracefully pleated their buns, while mine looked like baby diapers filled with poo. Practice, I suppose, would make perfect. But my patience ran out. Quickly.

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If you have access to a nice, big slab of pork belly, make these buns!

Time: 1.5 hours
Ingredients:

Filling:
1.5 lb pork belly
Char-siu sauce

Dough:
2 cups flour
1 cup hot water
2 tablespoon shortening
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon honey

1. Preheat your oven to 450. (P.S. start your dough [step 8] while your pork is roasting)
2. Clean off your pork belly. I’ve said this before, but I always rinse my pork. It’s a dirty animal, I don’t know how clean it was when it was cut, so therefore, it must be rinsed!
3. Lay out a big piece of foil then lay a large piece of parchment paper on top.
4. Place your pork in the center and brush on the char-siu sauce.
5. Tightly close the pork in with the foil and bake in the oven for about 1 hour.
6. After the hour is up, open up your pork belly surprise and bake for about 15 more minutes. Remove and allow it to cool.
7. Once cooled, cut your pork belly into big slices and place into a food processor. Roughly pulse the meat until it is ground up into a chunky consistency. Place to the side.
8. In a small bowl, combine your hot water, yeast, salt, and honey and allow it to proof.
9. In a large bowl, combine your flour and shortening. Add in your yeast mixture (when it is foamy).
10. Knead for about 10 minutes. Add more flour if needed. I added about 1/4 cup of flour.
11. Set in a large bowl and cover. Place in a warm place and allow to rise for about 1 hour.
12. Place your dough on a floured surface and cut into golf ball pieces.
13. Youtube how to assemble your buns. I would love to tell you how to do this step, but to be honest…mine looked terrible. TERRIBLE.
14. When ready, place your buns on top of small squares of parchment paper and steam for about 5-7 minutes, or until the dough is cooked.
15. Enjoy!

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Korean Style Sliders

Holy poopsticks! This one’s a winner. Seriously. Big time. No joke. Good lord.

We originally planned on having fish tonight for dinner. But as we were meandering about town with the dog, I began blabbing, as per the usual, about meal ideas. I typically ask my husband repeatedly throughout the day what we should eat for dinner. We’re both not quite sure why I ask him because no matter what, I end up deciding in the end. Usually the decision has nothing to do what we initially planned on eating but it always turns out to be good. I guess even though I ask him what we should eat, I’m pretty much having a conversation to myself all day about it.

As we walked under the underpass, the idea came to fruition: a Korean inspired burger. How had I not thought of this before? Well, I probably did but knowing my brain, I go through hundreds of ideas throughout the day, continuously forgetting about one after the other.

Radish. Chili paste. Soy sauce. These were just a few of the things that popped into my head on what to add to the burger. The patty recipe was already done; I ripped it off my dad’s recipe for these AMAZING beef patties he makes. After we had them during our trip up to New Jersey this past Christmas, my husband repeatedly asked if I could make them. Did I oblige right away? No. Should I have? Maybe. Am I glad I finally made them? Yes.

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There’s a ton of topping ideas I can think of at the moment: garlic aioli, kimchi, green onions, some type of sesame oil infused sauce, etc. This is an awesome way to totally customize the food per the diner. Today, I decided to make a garlic, mayo, ketchup, chili paste mixture. It was seriously good. BIG TIP: obviously, raw garlic is pretty potent and unless you don’t plan on speaking for several hours after dinner, you need a way to tone it down. I didn’t want to cook the garlic, mostly because I felt lazy. But I thought I had heard about “roasting” garlic in the microwave so I tried it. It initially sounded like WWII in the microwave but it actually worked! Take a few cloves of garlic (skinned), cut onto pieces, wrap it up in a paper towel and zap it for about 20 seconds at a time until it’s soft. Weird technique, but it works. Dice up the garlic, mix with some mayo, ketchup, and chili paste. It’s pretty damn good.

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Before I go onto the recipe, let me address one last thing: grind your own beef. Seriously. I’ve never liked buying ground beef. It’s chewy, it’s rubbery, it’s watery, and overall, it’s just gross. Well, I’m going to guess you’re probably thinking, “I don’t have a meat grinder, idiot.” Well, ya don’t need one, idiot. All you need is a food processor. Take some lean meat (I prefer top round) and grind away. You’ll be surprised how much better the beef will taste when you grind it up at home.

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Time: 30 minutes
Ingredients:
1 pound lean beef, ground up with food processor
1/2 onion
3 cloves garlic
4-5 stalks green onion
1 egg
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
ground pepper

1. Grind up your beef, onion, and garlic using a food processor. Place into a big bowl.

2. Dice your green onions and add to the bowl.

3. Add the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly by hand.

4. Cook/grill your burger to your liking.

5. Assemble on your bun with toppings of your choice.

 

Toppings that I used:
(1) Pickled radish (see: https://kimchiandkogi.com/2014/07/09/daikon-radish-salad/)
(2) Ketchup and sriracha combo
(3) Grilled onion
(4) Lettuce

Toppings I can also suggest:
(1) Hoisin sauce
(2) Kimchi
(3) Fried egg
(4) Grilled scallions

Enjoy!

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Dulce de Leche Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread

Well…that was a long title.

It’s about time I make this bread. I’ve seen it endlessly on recipe websites and today just felt like the day to make it. Quite frankly, I’m actually making this because I can’t stop using my bread maker. Don’t have one? Get one. Seriously. It’s the best thing to wake up to homemade bread that cost less than a couple dollars to make.

This particular bread maker (Breville, to be exact) is a bit more fancy than the one back in New Jersey. In addition to making jut regular bread, the machine will knead your dough and keep it warm while it rises. It also has an insane amount of settings for all different types of dough. Oh, and did I mention it makes JAM? Well…not very exciting. Honestly, I thought this was a strange function within a bread maker. But nonetheless, it’s still awesome.

Obviously, this doesn’t mean literally you have to go out and buy a $300 bread maker. I’m just saying it’s pretty amazing…

So, this recipe (which I am sure you have seen everywhere as well) is awesome. Especially if you have a bread maker to do the annoying work of kneading for you. Ok, I’ll stop talking about the bread maker. However, the ingredients are super simple and the best part is, it doesn’t have to be perfect. This was the greatest part for a person who could really care less about making things look pretty.

In most of the recipes I’ve seen, the bread is usually topped off with a powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla mixture. I also think a cream cheese drizzle could work but today, I chose dulce de leche. Did I make the dulce de leche? No. God, no. I’ve seen how people make it by placing a can of condensed milk, unopened, in the oven to turn into a caramel substance. I, for one, find this terrifying. The thought of an unopened can in a hot oven is like a bomb waiting to go off (well in my mind). Considering I’m still scared to open a Pillsbury crescent roll package, I don’t think I can take on this challenge. ANYWAY, I bought some dulce de leche at Trader Joe’s and have been trying to find a way to use. So I did!

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 Time: 2 hours

Ingredients:

3 cups flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 packet active dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water
1 teaspoon honey
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup 2% milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons butter, melted

Filling:
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted

1. In a small bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and honey. Mix and set aside.
2. In your bread maker, start mixing the flour, salt, sugar, eggs, milk, butter, and vanilla.
3. Add your yeast mixture (once foamy) and knead for 10 minutes.
4. If you don’t have a bread maker, either do steps 2 and 3 with a stand mixer and dough hook

OR:

By hand:

1. In a large bowl, place your flour, salt, and sugar and mix.
2. Add your eggs, milk, butter, and vanilla. Mix to combine.
3. Add your yeast mixer and mix thoroughly.
4. Turn out your mixture onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth. If it gets too sticky, add bits of flour. Continue below…:

BACK to the amazing bread machine…

5. Let your dough rise for 1 hour in a warm place or until it is doubled in size. Brush a loaf pan with melted butter.
6. Roll out your dough on a clean surface. Try to roughly roll it out into a rectangular shape of about 1/2″ thickness.
7. Brush your dough with the melted butter and spread out your brown sugar mixture.
8. With a sharp knife or pizza cutter (I used my ravioli cutter), cut your dough in half, lengthwise. Do the same to the halved pieces.
9. Carefully place one piece of the dough on top of another so that you are left with two stacks of dough.
10. With your cutter, cut your dough (roughly) into squares.
11. Prop your loaf pan on it’s side and start layering your squares. Be gentle so that the sugar doesn’t all fall off.
12. Set your dough to rise for another hour in a warm place.
13. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
14. Bake your bread for about 45 minutes.
15. Allow to cool and drizzle warmed dulce de leche on top. Enjoy!

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Japanese Ramen

Or…at least my take on it. You see, when we were in NYC this past Christmas break, we ate. And ate. And ate. From Doughnut Plant to Rice to Riches to Chinatown Dim Sum, we ate our butts off. But the most memorable was Ippudo, a Japanese ramen restaurant right outside St. Mark’s street, known for its tonkotsu ramen that has a creamy, rich broth.

I won’t lie. I didn’t think much of it when my brother said we were going to get this for dinner. I know I claim myself to be a foodie, but I had never been to a ramen restaurant before. All I thought of ramen when I heard the word was a 25 cent packet that every college student ate at some point. That is probably the most ignorant thing I have written on this blog so far. Ok, well let me be clear. I KNEW there were these ramen restaurants in existence and obviously, they didn’t serve noodles that were flavored with a little silver packet with choices of shrimp, chicken, or beef. But what I didn’t know was the amazing ingredients in a nice bowl of ramen. To be fair, most places I’ve lived didn’t have many Japanese restaurants, let alone a ramen restaurant.

The ramen we got at Ippudo was mindblowing. It was the strangest but most addicting broth I had ever consumed. It was a milky looking broth complemented with pieces of braised pork, soft boiled egg, scallions, and most importantly, a dark, mysterious oil.

At first, I couldn’t tell why this dark oil made my bowl of ramen taste so much better than my dad’s, which was sans the dark oil. But, over time as I stuffed my already full face/stomach, I figured it out: burnt garlic. Apparently it’s called “mayu” and it is essential to this dish. The burnt (literally) garlic has a strange, slightly bitter, flavor that works great with the mild broth.

In addition to the mayu, this recipe is topped off with crushed browned garlic. If I could, I would just eat this by the bowl.

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As I researched for a ramen recipe to adapt from, I struggled a bit. Most of the pictures showed a clear chicken or pork broth. Not what I was looking for. I needed that milky, brownish looking broth.

Through some more research, I found that the milky-ness of the broth is achieved through a lot of work. Which makes sense, since those rich, flavorful broths aren’t created within minutes. Bones, collagen, hours of boiling, charred onions…so on and so forth. Just too much work for my Sunday. So through even more Google-izing, I discovered the use of soy milk in broths. It makes sense. It’s somewhat creamy and doesn’t have a flavor that overpowers everything else. I took some tips from recipes and added my own changes (as usual) and created something incredibly similar to what I had in NYC. But PLEASE make sure you purchase unsweetened, unflavored soy milk. Even the packages marked “Plain” contain sugar. So unless you want a sweet broth…read carefully.

Oh, need I say a reminder for the pork belly portion of this recipe? It’s delicious. It’s like pork candy. This cut is, unfortunately, not too common in American supermarkets. Your best bet is a Korean market. Look for a nice white fat layering. No yellow. EVER. And make sure there is a good alternating pattern of fat and flesh. You don’t want a huge, thick layer of fat and a minutia of flesh. Think of a good cut of bacon.

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So, is this a difficult recipe? No…at least not for a semi-experienced cook. It does require a bit of time though and a decent attention span. More so for the braising of the pork belly because that takes at least 2 hours and can burn easily. Add other ingredients to your liking, such as sprouts and onions. I added a LOT of scallions and while they tasted great, I’m sure the aftermath of scallion-breath wasn’t pleasing to those around me.

FYI make sure to soft boil the egg. I clearly completely forgot to take my eggs off the stove in time…but a full proof way to get soft boiled eggs is to simply place your eggs in a pot of water, set it on max. high and let it come to a boil for 10.5 minutes. Done.

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If you’ve got the time, take on this culinary challenge and have yourself a nice bowl of ramen.

Time: 3.5 hours
Serves about 3 people
Ingredients:

Toasted Garlic Powder

1 bulb of garlic, cloves peeled and diced
1/2 cup canola oil

Burnt Garlic Oil

1 tablespoon of the toasted garlic (from above), crushed into a fine powder
oil leftover from toasting the garlic
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Braised Pork Belly
1 pound pork belly, cleaned
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
8 large cloves of garlic
1.5-2 cups water

Broth
Reserved liquid from braising pork belly
1/2 onion, charred
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups soy milk (unsweetened, unflavored)
1 teaspoon bonito dashi
salt
Ramen noodles

PORK BELLY

1. In a pot that is just big enough to fit your pork, heat up the pot at medium high heat.
2. Sear your pork belly on all sides.
3. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer.
4. Allow this to boil for at least 2 hours over low heat. Make sure to keep an eye on it and flip around the pork belly as it simmers. (I had to add a bit of water near the end when a lot of the water had evaporated)
5. Remove from the pot and allow to cool. Refrigerate once cooled.

GARLIC OIL AND SUCH

1. In a small pot, add your canola oil and diced garlic and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
2. DO NOT walk away at any point. Garlic can burn very quickly. Allow your garlic (while stirring occasionally) to simmer (while occasionally stirring) until it becomes a nice golden brown. It’ll get sticky but just be patient.
3. Strain the oil from the garlic and set your golden garlic onto a paper towel to cool off and drain. Return the oil to the pot.
4. Once your golden garlic has cooled, crush into a crumble using a mortar and pestle. If you don’t have one, I would use a ziploc bag and rolling pin.
5. Take about 1 tablespoon of the crushed garlic and make into an even finer powder. Return this to the oil and bring to a boil over medium heat.
6. Carefully watch your oil until the garlic turns BLACK. Seriously. The oil will become brown as well. Set aside.

BROTH
1. Take your reserved liquids from braising the pork belly and place in a blender with a cup of chicken broth and the onion. Blend until smooth. If needed, add some of the chicken broth to help liquefy it. Strain this liquid to catch any chunks.
2. In a large pot, combine the strained reserved liquids and onion mixture, soy milk, chicken stock, and bonito dashi. Bring to a boil. Add salt to your liking.
3. Assemble your bowl of ramen. Place your cooked noodles first, then add the burnt garlic oil, soft boiled egg, scallions, and then sliced pork belly.
4. Carefully ladle the broth over the bowl contents.
5. Top off with the crushed garlic and enjoy!

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Kimchi Fried Rice

It’s Saturday. The day where I take the time to make the foods I want to eat. Today was the day for kimchi fried rice. Every Korean child grew up eating this (at least, I hope). It’s salty, it’s savory, it’s just everything you want for an easy lunch. The best part is the rice stuck to the bottom of the pan. It’s crunchy and pretty much what I look forward to the most.

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This is also a great dish to add in pretty much whatever you want. You want more onions? You got it. Want to make it super spicy? Go right ahead. But today’s twist was: BACON. I’ve seen Spam used more commonly as a meat component to this dish. But to be honest…Spam scares me. It comes in a can that I feel like could sit around for decades and never go bad. Just not my cup of tea. But! The bacon in this was perfect. It added a nice fat flavor to the tangy kimchi, which matched perfectly with the fried egg.

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If you don’t have a cast iron pan, that’s fine…but I still suggest you go buy one. They are INCREDIBLY useful for any type of cooking. It was great for this dish because (1) cast iron pans retain their heat very well compared to their counterpart standard frying pans (2) it creates the nice layer of crunchy rice stuck to the bottom of the pan. If you have a bottle of kimchi sitting around, make this for an easy lunch!

Serves 2

Time: 35 minutes (20 minutes for cooking the rice)

Ingredients:
1.5 – 2 cups of cooked rice
2 strips of bacon, cut into small pieces
1/4 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup diced kimchi
1/3 cup kimchi juice
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon butter
plenty of olive oil (or any cooking oil)
1 fried egg
1 cast iron pan

1. Heat up your pan over medium high heat. Add about 2 tablespoons olive oil.
2. Add the bacon and onions and cook until onions are translucent.
3. Add the rice, garlic, and butter. Stir and cook for about 2 minutes.
4. Add your kimchi and stir.
5. Add your kimchi juice and sesame oil. Continue to stir the rice as it binds with the ingredients for about 3 minutes.
6. Lower the heat and allow the rice on the bottom to become crunchy.
7. Serve with a fried egg. Enjoy!

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