Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Confessions of a newbie food blogger

The reason why I started this blog is because I love food and I love cooking.  There is no better feeling you get after you cook something and it turns out great.  When it doesn't turn out great you figure out what went wrong and try again.  I know there are thousands of food blogs out there and what makes mine so special?  Nothing really?  I am just a person who enjoys cooking, taking pictures and sharing them.  I was already doing it on facebook on a daily basis.  I just changed platforms and want to reach more people.  I don't have a fancy page with a pretty background, I don't have breakthrough original ideas and I am certainly not a food expert.  I just cook what peaks my interest and what I feel like eating.  I get inspirations from what other people have cooked and see if I can put my own spin on it.  It took almost 3 years of trial and error to get to the point where I can call myself a decent home cook (and watching a lot of cooking shows).

For instance, this Challah bread I made for Hanukkah dinner 2 years ago was hard as a rock.  My yeast didn't activate as usual.  I really  need to get this "yeast activating" thing right at some point.

These cheesecake lollipops I made twice and failed miserably both times.  I brought them to a dinner party and nobody ate them.  The cheesecake wouldn't get hard enough (they were in the freezer for two days) and the chocolate didn't harden either.

These Blueberry muffins tasted like nothing because I mixed up baking soda with baking powder and I put the wrong amounts of each.

This blog will not always be pretty pictures and flawless recipes.  Cooking is all about trial and error.  I will be honest and frank when I know something doesn't work or if I messed something up.  I don't have great grammer ( I know this).  I scored rediculously high math scores but my English scores were above average.  I will have Josh proof my blogs but we may miss a mistake here and there.  Feel free to point it out.   

On a side note, my son is allergic to everything and I mean everything.  I will ocassionally experiment with allergen free recipes.  He is allgeric to milk, eggs, soy, tree nuts and peanuts.  Oh and we just found out that he is allergic to bananas too.  We don't have an allergen free home and I cook with eggs, milk and cheese all the time.  Thankfully my son doesn't throw a fit when he sees other people eat things he can't have.  The foods that he chooses to eat are Turkey, chicken, fruit and sweet potatoes.  That's it.  He doesn't like bread, pasta or red meat.  I've tried. 

The point is that, this blog was created to document my cooking as it progresses.  Share some stories and give someone an inspiration at some point.  I know a lot of you have at least visited my site and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I would truly love feedback, comments and suggestions.  A friend of mine is starting out as a home cook and said it would be helpful to see the steps narrated along with the pictures instead of having all the directions at the bottom.  Thanks for the suggestion girl!  Will experiment with recipe formats.  I read somewhere that if it weren't for the follower's comments the blog would be me just talking to myself and I whole hearedtly agree!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sunday Brunch

Crabcake Eggs Benedict with homemade English Muffins

When Josh and I started dating, I was still living in the city. Josh was living in the suburbs so we would miss each other during the week and he would come see me straight after work on Fridays. Our weekends usually consisted of going out to eat brunch and dinner, a lot of napping and a cocktail or two. We tried just about every restaurant in the city. We are talking about 2 dinners and 2 brunches during the weekend so we went to a lot of places (Josh spent big bucks on me, he loves me very much). Josh’s favorite meal is brunch and he would always order ham and cheese omelet with well done hash browns and literally a pot of coffee. I was not a big brunch person.  I would usually get a soup and a sandwich.  But the more we went to brunch the more I enjoyed breakfast food at lunch time. What is not to love about brunch?  You get up when you want to get up and you start a lazy day with a meal around 11.  That's not acutally true because I am an early riser so Josh would wake to me whining about how hungry I was around 7 or 8 in the morning.  We would finally head out of the house around 9.  At first I tried something different everywhere we went but after I tried an Eggs Benedict I seemed to order it everytime after that. Some places were better than others and I tried every kind of Eggs Benedict from southern to vegetarian to Florentine to your basic. Why do I love Eggs Benedict so much? Let me count the ways. It’s a perfect breakfast sandwich with a sauce! You can get all kinds of veggies on it! The yolk runs down the side when you cut into the eggs! It contains all the food groups, protein, veggies, whole grain and sauce!

I’ve tried making Eggs Benedict at home once and it was not a huge success. The hollandaise sauce wasn’t great, I couldn’t get the eggs poached just right and I used store bought English muffins. I changed up a few things this time and I must say I outdid myself!  So here are the things I did differently this time.  I used
Ina Garten's Hollandaise sauce you make in a blender, I made my own English muffins, I used crabcakes as the protein and I pan fried my eggs over easy instead of poaching it.  There is no wrong way if that's the way you like it!

Crabcake Eggs Benedict with homemade
English Muffins

English Muffins:
1 Cup Milk
2 tablespoon sugar
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup melted shortening
6 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
Heat milk until it is luke warm. Place warm milk, warm water, sugar, and dry yeast in a bowl and let it sit for 10-15minutes. Add 3 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon of salt and melted shortening to food processor. Start processing and add milk mixture. Add the remaining flour and process until ball is formed. Let dough rest for 30 minutes in a warm place.

Place rested dough on a floured surface and roll out to about 1/2" to 3/4" thick and cut out 4" diameter rounds. Heat pan with canola oil and butter and pan fry dough on low heat until golden brown.

Ina Garten's Hollandaise sauce in blender:
1 1/2 sticks melted butter
4 large egg yolks at room temperature
3 tablespoon lemon juice
salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to taste
Place eggs, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper in blender and start mixing. Slowly add melted butter.

1 1/2 cups panko crispy bread crumbs
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives ( garnish)
2 tablespoons chopped red pepper (save some for garnish)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Hot sauce to taste
2 egg yolks
1 lb lump crabmeat
1 extra cup panko crispy bread crumbs
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons seafood seasoning
Add all ingredients together except extra panko bread crumbs and mix in bowl. Form into a ball and dredge crabcake in extra panko bread crumbs. Heat pan with canola oil and cook until golden brown.

Place English Muffin on bottom, then crabcake, a few arugula leaves for freshness, sunny side up eggs, top with Hollandaise sauce, chives and red pepper.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Cheese and I

prosciutto pizza with fresh mozzarella and basil

I wasn't introduced to cheese until I came to the states when I was seven.  I met American cheese for the first time in the form of processed yellow cheese.  I was not impressed. Since my first encounter with cheese I was well known to say, "I don't care for cheese".  Blasphemy! I know. I would get my burgers with no cheese and pick off the cheese on my pizza.  Many times my sanity was questioned.  How can you not like cheese?  When I got older I was introduced to good quality cheese.  I think the first cheese that I actaully enjoyed was shaved parmesan on bruschetta at a well known Italian restaurant I use to work at when I was in college.  Then I met brie and honestly I can say my opion on cheese changed.  Although I do enjoy cheese now, I don't crave cheese.  Most people would consider a good grilled cheese sandwich their ultimate comfort food, not so much for me. 
I made the most amazing pizza this weekend and I give full credit to the fresh mozzarella.  I have never had the pleasure of having fresh mozzarella before and I think it made all the difference.  It doesn't hurt that I made my own pizza dough and used san marzano tomatoes but I think what made this pizza so different from all the other pizzas I have made before was the fresh mozzarella.  I don't think that I will ever be able to use pre packaged processed mozzarella ever again.  The lesson I learned in this cooking experience is that when chefs always say fresh quality ingredients makes the difference, it really does!

Prosciutto Pizza with fresh mozzarella and basil
Pizza dough:
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 cups bread flour
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon sugar

Put water, sugar and yeast in bowl and let it stand for 10-15 minutes. 
In a food processor add flour, salt and olive oil and start processing.
While the food processor is processing add the water and yeast mixture.
The dough should form into a ball.  Place in bowl and cover with seran wrap.  Let it rest for about 1/2 hour.

Pizza toppings:
2 roma tomatoes
1 can san marzano pizza sauce
1 package prosciutto
1 package fresh mozzarella
1/2 red onion
handful of fresh basil
1 table spoon olive oil
1 teaspoom oregano
fresh shaved paremsan cheese

Oil the pizza pan with olive oil.  I used a pastry brush.  Place the dough on the pan and form into the shape of the pan.  Spread tomatoe sauce, add mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, prosciutto, oregano, and red onions.
Place in 400 degree oven and bake for about 20-30 minutes depending on how well done you like your pizza. Shave parmesan cheese over the pizza
Tip: add the basil after you take the pizza out.  I made the mistake of putting the basil on before and they burned. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Perfect Moments

my grandma's pyong yang style mandoo

After months of debating, here I am writing my first blog.  I was trying to think of the perfect recipe with the perfect story but the longer I thought about it, the more ideas I had to narrow down from.  I always say, "there is no perfect time if you wait for the perfect time".  The perfect time is when you just do it.  I wanted to explain my blog title in the first entry so I had written a bit about my grandma's kimchee fried rice with the crispy bits and burnt edges.  And now I just told you about the title.  The reason why I wanted to call my blog, "Crispy Bits and Burnt Ends" is, doesn't everyone love the crispy top of a bubbly mac and cheese or the burnt edge of a good bbq rib? 
Before my career in the Corporate world I was once an Architect.  When I was in Architecture school we would always talk about the "MOMENT".  A professor would say, "Oh I really enjoy this moment here in this piece.  I feel it captures the essence of the building".  I feel that saying relates to cooking as well. Foodies talk about how everything comes together and how the flavors build off each other, but I really think there are special moments in the dish that just make it phenomenal.  My grandma's (my mom's mother) kimchee fried rice had that moment.  Her perfectly weathered pan would create the most amazing crispy crust on the bottom.  Those are my favorite moments in cooking. 

So here is a recipe with a special moment.  My grandma (my dad's mother) was well known for her Mandoo.  Mandoo is the Korean word for dumpling.  You can have mandoo any kind of way with any kind of filling.  The way my grandma made it was with pork and kimchee.  She would cook beef bones for hours and hours and make the most amazing broth for madoo soup.  I have not learned that technique nor do I have the patience to make my own broth, so I boiled the madoo in water and also pan fried them.  Every New Years Day, our whole family would get together and make madoo.  It would be a 2 day event.  My oldest aunt (my oldest uncle's wife) and my grandma would prepare the filling the night before and start the broth.  The next day the rest of the family would pile into my uncle's house and cut out round shapes with the top of a kettle and start filling and shaping the madoo.  My aunts would always tell me that I had to fold and crimp my madoo pretty or I will have an ugly daughter.  I would obsess about making the prettiest madoo so I would overthink it and it would not be pretty.  I would put too much filling in, so the filling would ooze from the side and color the madoo the shade of kimchee.  I use to get so upset thinking I was going to have an ugly daughter (good thing I have a son, even though he is gorgeous)  Now that our family is all over the world we get together at my parent's house for New Years and whom ever happens to be in town gets to eat madoo.  My non Korean boyfriend, Josh has come to love madoo and looks forward to New Years Day just so he can have some madoo.  Now he doens't have to wait for New Years Day to get his madoo fix because I have grown confident enough as a home cook to make my own mandoo.

My Grandma's Pyong Yang Style Mandoo

1lb of ground pork
1/2 cup of kimchee
1/2 cup of silken tofu (sounds weird but trust me, it makes the madoo so moist)
1 tablespoon of sesame oil

Mix all the ingredients and put 1 tablespoon of mixture into wonton wrapper (if you feel it is too much filling, then slightly adjust so your filling doesn't ooze over the sides and end up with an ugly madoo).  Use an eggwash and paint around the edges of the madoo so the wonton sticks together.  Then you can steam it, boil it, pan fry, which ever way you prefer it.  Just don't microwave it like Josh did when I wasn't home one day.

4 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon red chili pepper (gochugaru)
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon green onion

mix first three ingredients and add green onion as garnish