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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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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Lasagna Bolognese

It’s Sunday! Meaning there’s only 4.5 days of work left until we drive a long ways away to the northeast for the holidays. Meaning, there’s more chances of crazy children this week. I will probably have to be institutionalized after this week of work.

Holidays means lots of gift giving. I don’t like receiving gifts as much I enjoy giving them. Is that weird? Maybe I should be institutionalized already.

I got an AMAZING cookbook from my lovely mother-in-law filled with drool worthy recipes. The pictures are the best part…I could so easily be entertained by pictures of food for hours.

Well in this cookbook, one recipe immediately stood out: lasagna bolognese. I just recently watched Anthony Bourdain in Naples, Italy, and in the episode, there was a grandmother (who stood about 3 feet tall) who made a ridiculously good looking bolognese. It was filled with veal, pork, and beef and simmered for what I believe at least 5 hours. Could you imagine?7

But one problem with today’s cooking expedition: dog problems and lack of grocery stores. The dog had her 3rd vet trip in 24 hours today so that was exhausting in itself. I was not in the mood to go hunting down for the ingredients called for in the recipe. But even if I did have the energy, I live in Pensacola. Never heard of it? I hadn’t either until a couple months before we moved here. Here, in the land of Pensacola (and as I have said numerous times before), there is nothing. By nothing, I mean it’s hard to find a lot of ingredients, such as pancetta and veal. Not kidding, it’s hard to find veal. It’s simply not in demand here in the Panhandle. And when I need Asian ingredients? Forget it. There’s one Vietnamese store that doesn’t scream “murder house” and even in there, there’s not much. One time, when we were driving down from Atlanta, I randomly decided to look up “Korean grocery” on Yelp and indeed, there was one in Montgomery, Alabama. Yes, I went Korean food shopping 3 hours away from home because it does NOT exist here.

End complaint rampage. So what I was originally attempting to say above was that I just wasn’t in the mood to go find veal and pancetta for this recipe. As I always do in cooking, improversation (google Michael Scott) is key. Or, just elimination of ingredients and still making it taste good. So I’ll be honest. I’m typing this post up as I lay in bed with the dog. If you’re a crazy dumbass like me, you’ll make the lasagna pasta sheets (see my ravioli recipes for how to make homemade pasta). It took quite a bit of work to make the pasta but I know it’ll be worth it.

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You’re going to look below and ask “What about ricotta cheese?” No ricotta cheese here. The recipe calls for a bechamel sauce, as well as whole milk in the bolognese. Strange but I’m excited. I know as Americans, we’re used to lasagna that has loads of ricotta cheese and mozzarella cheese, along with tangy spaghetti sauce but not today. Not. Today. The bechamel sauce was basically a replacement for the ricotta cheese…I think. Let’s just go with that. But man…this bolognese sauce is just to die for. Yes, it takes a while. But it’s worth it. Really worth it.

So with that, I present to you my improversised (it’s a word now) lasagna bolognese.

Time: 3-4 hours (mostly from letting the sauce simmer)

Ingredients:

Bolognese sauce

1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 red onion, diced
3-4 minced garlic cloves
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 can tomatoes, blended until smooth
1 can tomato paste
2 cups water
Fresh parmigiano reggiano
extra virgin olive oil
red pepper flakes
dash of salt, pepper, and sugar

1. In a pot, heat up the oil over medium high heat. Add the onions, celery, and carrots.

2. Allow to cook for about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables have become translucent.

3. Add garlic, ground beef, and ground pork.

4. Saute until the meat is cooked through. Add the blended tomatoes, tomato paste, red chili flakes, cheese, and water.

5. Allow to come to a boil while mixing.

6. Let simmer for 2.5 hours. Add salt, sugar, and pepper to your tasting.

Bechamel Sauce

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup whole milk
dash of nutmeg and salt

1. In a pot, melt the butter over medium high heat.

2. In a separate pot, warm up the milk.

3. Add the flour and whisk. You want to cook the flour with the butter, so lower the heat and continue to whisk for about 1 minute.

4. Add warmed milk, nutmeg, and salt. Whisk.

5. Allow this mixture to boil until thickened, about 5 minutes.

6. Set aside and allow to cool.

Lasagna Preparation

Bolognese sauce
Bechamel sauce
Shredded fresh mozzarella
Fresh lasagna sheets

1. Butter your baking dish.

2. Layer the bottom with sauce.

3. Alternating with mozzarella cheese, bechamel sauce, bolognese sauce, and fresh pasta sheets (or store bought), assemble your lasagna! Top off with bechamel sauce and bolognese.

4. Bake at 400 degrees F until bubbly.

Enjoy!

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Homemade Ravioli 2.0

I’ve been told by my husband that I need sensitivity training. On the daily.

Husband. Still weird to say. I don’t think I’ll be able to say it without cringing for a while…

So as per the wedding, we got many cooking tools. Mainly because the ENTIRE wedding registry consisted of every cooking tool I could think of choosing.

We received (I think by far) the best one from one of our law school friends: Imperia Pasta Machine.

The dog felt it was necessary to be part of the action:

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It’s not the cheapest tool but good lord, is it amazing. It’s worth the price, the pain in the ass cleaning involved, as well as the lovely arm work out you get while rolling out your pasta dough.

Homemade pasta is just divine. It’s not ridiculously chewy to the point where you think it may be made with some indigestible ingredients. It’s soft, light, and it just tastes fresh. And it’s insanely easy to make…well the dough part, not the ravioli assembling process. It’s definitely a weekend project…unless you don’t work during the week. If you think it’s too hard, well then go f…never mind. I guess that’s a prime example of why I need sensitivity training.

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I’m not going to lie. This was a laborious process. By the end, I just wanted to throw the ravioli out the window at the stupid stray cat that’s been torturing Lady. But once dinner was served…everything changed.

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The goat cheese filling was just…to die for. I just don’t understand when people don’t like goat cheese. It makes me want to slap people. It’s tart, rich, and matches perfectly with garlic and spinach. Add in some caramelized onions and bam, you’re in heaven.

Time: 1.5-2 hours

Ingredients:

Pasta dough (see: https://kimchiandkogi.com/2014/07/21/roasted-butternut-squash-garlic-ravioli/)

Goat Cheese & Spinach Filling:
1/2 cup goat cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup ricotta cheese (I used part skim)
1 large bunch spinach
3 cloves garlic, finely diced
1/4 cup diced caramelized onions

Sausage Filling:
2 hot italian sausages, casing removed
1/4 cup diced caramelized onions

1. Sautee your spinach with olive oil in a large pan on medium high heat.

2. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes on medium heat.

3. Set aside to cool.

4. Mix your sausage and caramelized onions. (see: https://kimchiandkogi.com/2014/09/15/three-flatbreads/). Add ground pepper.

5. Chop your cooked spinach relatively small. Add onions and mix.

6. Once your spinach is cool, add the cheeses and mix.

7. Assemble your ravioli. (see link above in Ingredients for Butternut Squash and Roasted Garlic Ravioli)

8. When prepared, boil your ravioli for 4-5 minutes (for the sausage) and 3-4 minutes for the goat cheese.

9. Serve with homemade pasta sauce and enjoy!

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*If you don’t have a pasta machine, you can roll out the dough by hand. But after using this pasta machine, there is no way I will return to the old method. The pasta sheets come out incredibly thin, almost see through, and is the reason why the ravioli doesn’t get overpowered by chewy pasta dough.

*Make sure you flour your pasta dough really thoroughly at all times.

Spicy Pork Belly

Oh god. OH dear god. Oh oh lord.

It’s taken a while to get used to being back in Pensacola…the land of Walmart’s and rednecks. We went to New Orleans last weekend for Halloween and dressed up as Walter and Lebowski from…well The Big Lebowski. Man, New Orleans is a weird place. This was our 4th (maybe 5th?) time there and it just gets weirder every time. We saw all sorts of costumes…mostly Wayne’s World, Dexter, and some woman who was completely naked but painted…so that apparently made it ok.

I love  Sundays. It’s the day of actual rest after my Saturday, which usually consists of heavy sleeping and napping. Trying to teach students how fractions, coordinates, variables, decimals, etc., is exhausting…it’s also my recharge day of everything. I have time to cook and time to realize that my job is far better than sitting in a cubicle working for a boss.

Today we did our crazy day of shopping and boy, was it a successful one. While meandering Publix (supermarket of Florida), we stumbled upon the pork section. And we saw it. We saw pork belly and all of a sudden, the rest of the market or world didn’t exist. I did my quick ocular pat down of the sliced pork belly: did it have white fat? was it nice and pink? how thick is it? 3 out of the 5 packages passed the test and now, it will end up in our bellies in a matter of hours.

Be very careful when buying your pork. I have seen terrible quality packages of pork belly before: yellow fat, discolored flesh, too much fat. You want the fat to be really white, flesh to be super pink, and a nice layering of fat versus flesh.

Pork belly is truly an underrated cut of meat. Yes, I know, bacon is pork belly, and yes bacon is amazing. But there’s a lot more to pork belly than just bacon. In Korea, pork belly is barbequed over hot coals and the results are always mind blowing. The fat itself is like pork butter. The meat is just…delectable. Ok, now I’m 2 beers in and I’m going to talk forever. Pork belly is really special. If it’s prepared correctly, it is insanely flavorful and addicting. The fat, the meat, the flavors, are irresistible. Pork belly is so good that it’s great by just dipping it in salt and pepper.

There’s two ways I prefer to eat my pork belly: marinated and un-marinated dipped in sesame oil, pepper, and salt. The marinated version is to die for: the combination of red chili paste, brown sugar, garlic, and sesame oil searing over hot coals is mouthwatering. I prefer to cook my pork belly very thoroughly for a couple reasons. First, my stomach can’t handle a whole ton of pork fat so I try to render it out as much as possible. Second, allowing the pork belly to cook longer allows all the flavors to really caramelize and also creates a really nice texture in the pork belly.
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If you look in the photo above, I intended to make another marinade consisting of miso and rice wine vinegar with the pork belly. Then I remembered “Portion control” and decided not to make even more pork belly. But, if you have enough eaters and pork belly, try the miso version out as well.

Another underrated and also relatively unknown ingredient that I think should be used more often is the Korean chili paste. Fermented, spicy, sweet, and tangy, it adds loads of flavor to anything. I always add it to my barbeque, whether it’s pulled pork or ribs. The spiciness is subtle but packed with flavor from the fermentation of the paste. If you haven’t tried it yet, do it now. You will never live without it ever again.

If you can find this cut of pork, PLEASE try this. You won’t regret it. If you can’t find pork belly, I would definitely substitute any cut of pork with a bit of fat in it. And please try Korean chili paste. If you haven’t had an extensive experience with Korean food, this is the place to start.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

1 pound of sliced pork belly (I used strips that were about 1/2″ thick)
1/2 cup Korean red chili paste
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
6-8 cloves of garlic, diced finely

1. Place your pork belly into a large mixing bowl. If you bought really long strips, I would suggest cutting them in half. Ours were only about 6 inches long.
2. Add in remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly until each piece of pork belly is coated.
3. Allow to marinate for at least 1 hour.
4. Grill thoroughly until most of the fat has dripped off. However, it is entirely up to your preference in how well done you want your pork.

Serve with rice and kimchi. Enjoy!

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Three Flatbreads

Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, oh my god. Walnuts. No seriously, walnuts on a flatbread is what I came up with yesterday and it was amazing. The texture and the richness of the walnut combined with balsamic vinegar and pesto was to die for.

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Sundays are usually the big meal days. Aka, the meals that take a bit more effort and thinking compared to a weekday meal such as spaghetti. Well, Sundays were the big meal days for a while because I was working and had recuperated enough over the weekend to cook a nice meal. I don’t work yet but…I decided to keep the tradition alive.

Honestly, I’m not sure what the difference between a flatbread and pizza is. I assume it’s the thickness and shape of the dough that alters the name. Okay, I just googled it. I guess it’s the difference between unleavened and leavened dough, as well as the optional use of toppings (sometimes) with flatbreads. Regardless, whether you want to call this pizza or flatbread, all I care is that it tasted amazing.

Keep in mind, this is a post focused on the toppings, not the process of making the pizzbread (new name). Although I will include some tips.

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Tip #1: Your dough needs ample time to rise. Try not to use the hot-0ven-proofing method if you have the time. I find that the dough just gets too mushy and tastes more yeast-y.

Tip #2: Use good yeast. Like I’ve said time and time again, I only use Dr. Oetker’s. This is just my opinion on a good yeast but I promise, there is a huge difference between using this and Fleischmann’s. If I could, I would use live yeast but have no idea where I can buy it.

Tip #3: You need a cast iron pizza pan or a pizza stone. The biggest issue with using a cookie sheet is that it’s temperature fluctuates way too easily. It just doesn’t retain it’s heat like a cast iron pan does. Using cast iron makes the crust have a thin layer of crunch on the bottom (which all pizzas should have) rather than some chewy piece of somewhat cooked dough. I promise, if you buy the cast iron pan, you won’t regret it. And it’s quite inexpensive too.

Tip #4: Use proper mozzarella, do not use shredded mozzarella in a bag. Not living in New Jersey puts me at a disadvantage because I had access to all the fresh mozzarella in the world. But I resort to using Belgioso cheese from Sam’s Club. It’s not what I normally use but it’s what I got. So yes, I am a cheese snob. But using good cheese makes a world’s difference. Bagged (or that white block of what people call cheese for a reason) shredded cheese is equivalent to rubber to me. You want that white, stringy, non-greasy cheese on your pizza, not opaque, rubbery, chewy cheese.

Tip #5: Blind bake your crust before putting toppings on.

Tip #6: Use the highest temperature possible for the oven. Most ovens only go up to 500 degrees F. And let the oven properly preheat; don’t just throw your pizza in there once the oven claims it’s at that temperature; you need the pan or stone to be heated all the way through.

Tip #7: Bake your pizza at 500 degrees F just until the crust starts to turn light brown. Once at that stage, blast it with the broiler at 500 degrees F again. It gets the cheese bubbling; there has been one too many times in my practicing of pizza making where the crust is dark brown and the cheese in the center is just barely melted. No good.

Tip #8: Let your pizza cool before cutting it. Sounds basic but let the cheese set before diving in and having a soupy mess on your table.

Tip #9: As you can see, my pizzas are on top of parchment paper. This is because although I normally like to put the pizza directly on the pizza pan, not having a pizza peel puts me at a disadvantage. So I place parchment on a large cutting board, put the toppings on, and just slide the whole thing onto the pan. Trust me, I’ve had incidents where I dropped the entire pizza because I was trying to balance it on two spatulas.

Here are the toppings I used for three different pizzbreads (this name is really sticking). Please refer to my previous foccacia and pizza recipe for proper instructions for dough making and pizza assembling. I mean, pizzbread (https://kimchiandkogi.com/2014/07/20/rosemary-focaccia/ and https://kimchiandkogi.com/2014/07/28/margherita-pizza/)

Toppings:

Pizzbread #1:
Thinly sliced shallots
Thinly sliced sweet pepper
Tomato sauce
Feta cheese
Mozzarella

Flizza #2:
Balsamic reduction
Pesto
Feta cheese
Mozzarella
Chopped walnuts
Caramelized onions

Flatzza #3:
Diced cooked chicken
Barbeque sauce of your choice
Caramelized onions
Mozzarella
My favorite was #2; it was just completely addicting. Enjoy!

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Chicken Noodle Soup

Fall is near…but it doesn’t feel like it here in Florida. It is just so…hot. But regardless, I decided to make some homemade soup today. Primarily because after our trip to New Orleans, we just felt horrible for some reason. And well…isn’t chicken noodle soup supposed to help with that?

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I have little to no idea what traditional recipes for this soup are like. But my way is always fail proof and addicting as well. The chicken is soft and the broth becomes full of flavor. No rubbery chicken or overly salty soup here.

Quick dog photo shoot resulted in this:

lady

The only ingredient I fell short of today was some fresh parsley. The thought of going outside and sweating after a 15 second walk from car to store was a little unappealing.

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Serves 3-4 people
Time: 1.5 hours

Ingredients:
2 chicken breasts
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 sweet onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups egg noodles
2 cups water
4 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon salt

1. In a large pot over medium high heat, saute the onions, carrots, and celery with 1 teaspoon olive oil.
2. Add in chicken breasts and sear as much as possible.
3. Lower heat to medium and add garlic. Saute for 1 minute.
4. Add broth and water. Bring to a boil over high heat.
5. Once boiling, reduce the heat back to medium and let simmer for 30 minutes.
6. Carefully remove chicken breasts and shred. I use two forks.
7. Add chicken back into the pot and season with salt and pepper.
8. Allow the soup to simmer for 15 minutes.
9. Add noodles and let simmer for 15 minutes.
10. Enjoy with some biscuits!

My favorite is to add sriracha to the soup. It gives it a great kick that’ll really make you want more.

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Thai Red Curry Chicken

Ohhh boy, is this dish good. Spicy, coconut-y, flavor filled chicken that goes great with white basmati rice. If you’re willing, add some chewy roti and you’re good to go.

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Asian food has an amazing range of flavors. Strange combinations result in eye opening experiences. Ingredients such as ginger is such a great ingredient that is not as well used as it should be in other ethnic dishes.

I bought red curry paste at our local international food stores. Then I discovered our Walmart had it too. For half the price. Damn it. You’d think the local Walmarts wouldn’t have it because the term “Oriental” is still used here to refer to Asian people and foods.  Trust me, it’s not something I appreciate or find endearing.

I actually only used the paste for the first time a few days ago. It almost smells like a spicy fermented tomato paste (and looks like it too) with a kick. It’s pretty interesting but tastes great.

Using tomato paste? Well, it kind of came from my big noggin while I was trying to brainstorm how to make this dish really flavorful. Tomato paste provides flavor without any pungent tomato taste.

And of course, coconut milk. Yes, yes, it’s high in fat but I really don’t care. If you want to cook great food, you need to use the proper ingredients. In my opinion, at least.

So I won’t lie…the end product looks like what my dog’s #2 looks like after she’s drank too much saltwater at the beach. But seriously, the meat just falls off the bone and the sauce is irresistible. And it’s super easy to make. It’ll taste like you slaved over the stove for hours!

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Serves: 3-4
Time: 2 hours

Ingredients:

4 chicken thighs
1 head of broccoli, roughly chopped
1 bell pepper, sliced into 2″ cubes
1 onion, sliced 2″
2.5 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon red curry paste
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
1 teaspoon salt

1. Heat up sauce pan on medium heat.
2. Take your chicken and mix in a bowl with the pastes.
3. Take the garlic and ginger and sauté in the sauce pan with oil.
4. Add your chicken and brown all sides, mixing constantly. This should take about 3-4 minutes.
5. Add the chicken broth, coconut milk, salt, and fish sauce and bring to a boil on high heat. Lower to medium after 5 minutes.
6. After 30 minutes of simmering, add your remaining vegetables and allow to simmer over low-medium heat for at least 45 minutes.

Serve with basmati rice (or any other rice) and enjoy!

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Beef Souvlaki

Well…at least, this is my take on it.

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I love Greek food. It’s flavorful and filling, but still remains light on the stomach aka it doesn’t leave you feeling like a load of crap. I think it’s a highly underrated cuisine and it baffles me as to why that is. Maybe because it’s not deep fried or covered in butter? Oh, America.
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Now this recipe can be used with any type of meat, such as chicken or lamb, but I always find beef to be the most flavorful. I also add some red wine vinegar to the marinade to make the flavors pop.

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Serve with rice, grilled (or sautéed) red onions, a Greek salad, and yogurt sauce (see my Chicken Shawarma recipe) and you’re all set for dinner! If you’re feeling savvy, I suggest making some homemade pita bread to go along with dinner. I was feeling, well….lazy today so that didn’t happen. Next time!

Serves 2-3 people

Time: 2 hours

Ingredients:

Cubed beef (I used rib meat…poor choice, my jaw got tired from chewing. I suggest sirloin)

1 lemon, juiced

4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground oregano (or fresh, finely diced)
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Combine all ingredients into one bowl and mix. Let marinate for about 1 hour.

2. Cook the meat! I used my cast iron to avoid getting eaten alive using the charcoal grill outside.

Jeez, I didn’t realize how simple and boring this recipe would be. But I promise, it tastes wonderful. The tanginess of the vinegar and lemon mixed with garlic really makes the beef taste great. And the best part is, the flavor of the beef doesn’t get masked by all of it, it just melds into a great combination of flavors.

Enjoy!

P.S. I am off to Los Angeles for wedding planning. See you all in 5 days!

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Slap Ya Mama Shrimp Pasta

Before I get to talking about the pasta, LOOK at these stone crab claws:

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Aren’t they beautiful? Our local seafood market had tons of these today and I just had to get them. They were like lobster-crab claws. So good. If you have these available to you, GET THEM.

Anyways, the pasta. Of course, during our trip to the seafood market, I had to get the royal reds. By royal reds, I mean sweet baby Jesus shrimp that taste like lobster butter. So with these, I decided to make some pasta for dinner with super simple ingredients. And of course, some Slap Ya Mama spice. If you don’t have this available to you, I suggest using some cayenne pepper and garlic salt.

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Serves: 2 people
Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

Pasta of your choice (I used spaghetti today)
1/2 onion, finely diced
2 large cloves of garlic, finely diced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
8-10 deveined shrimp
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon Slap Ya Mama
2 tablespoons butter

1. Get your water boiling for your pasta.
2. In a sauce pan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter and add the onions and mushrooms. Sauté until caramelized over low-medium heat.
3. Add the garlic and sauté for a couple minutes.
4. Add your cooked pasta and remaining butter.
5. Add the cream, shrimp, and cheese and mix thoroughly. Let simmer for 1 minute while mixing.
6. Serve with grated parmesan cheese and enjoy!

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