Monthly Archives: September 2014

Throwback Tuesdays – Instant v. Slow

I love instant noodles of all kinds….

Instant mac and cheese, we don’t really eat it because we think it’s delicious, it’s easy and for the time you invest it’s good! I’ll do it from time to time but we eat these things more out of convenience than taste. The only exception I can think of is haet ban. The Korean instant rice things, I don’t know what they do to that rice but it’s so good (I digress).

Good foods often take a lot more time than their instant counterparts. Just like people. Relationships that are reinforced with time and energy are often better than “instant” ones. I have a lot of “instant” friends, we could get a beer, we could have dinner, go dancing, but I wouldn’t share my life with them. The relationships that go deep are ones gilded with lots of time, energy and are often costly. They are and should be my favorites.

To prove the point here is my Mac and cheese recipe. It’s expensive, it takes a long time to make and there is so much fat that it’ll stick with you for a while.

1 stick of butter (doesn’t matter salted or unsalted…)
1 pint of heavy whipping cream
1/2 lb. of cheddar cheese (sharp) Shredded
8 oz. of Velveeta spread
2.5 tablespoon flour
¼ teaspoon dry mustard powder
salt & pepper

noodles.. Whatever kind you want, try to get stuff with lots of curls and maybe ridges on the outside… get more sauce

1. On low heat melt all the butter then sprinkle in flour and cook for a minute or so
2. Stir in cream (stir like crazy!), make sure you don’t get any lumps
3. Get the Velveeta, melted in
4 Get the cheese melted, save 25% of the cheese
5. Sprinkle in mustard. Salt and pepper to taste (make it a little saltier than you want it since you aren’t going to season your noodles).
6. While making the sauce cook the pasta.  Cook it till it’s just a little undercooked…
7. Stir in pasta
8. Transfer to baking dish.
9. Top off with the remaining cheese
10. Place in oven (375F) till it’s golden (~30 minutes)

Don’t microwave leftovers! This is a béchamel-type sauce, if you microwave it the sauce will separate into oil and milk solids… so heat it back up in the oven. This doesn’t happen with the stuff from a box because a really smart food scientist did their magic…  Before placing in the oven the mac and cheese should look runny, if it isn’t add more cream, it needs to be runny or the final product will be too dry.

You can switch out for different types of milk. Just realize that the less fat the milk has the thinner the cheese sauce. So do one of two things to keep the consistency of the sauce, back off on the total amount of milk you use or make more of the butter/flour (which is called a roux) combo.

Oh yea, and don’t cook the roux too much, melt the butter slow on a low heat and cook the flour for a while, but don’t let it get brown. If it’s not cooked enough you’ll get a gross raw flour taste but if it gets to brown you’ll get some weird brown notes that aren’t indicative of a good mac and cheese.

Tomato, Tomato, Labor of Love – Naeng Myun

There are so many ways to make Naeng Myun, or Korean Cold noodles.  From the noodles, to the soup base, to the condiments, and acceptable toppings there is no shortage of variations.  Nothing says summer to me than Naeng Myun, but which recipe will we start with?

First off, let’s start with the basics, Naeng Myun was first created somewhere in the 1300’s in Korea in the Chosun Dynasty.  Originally, it was a whole family production.  Buckwheat flour was hand milled, then used to prepare a rudimentary dough.  That dough was pressed through something that reminds me of a play dough noodle maker.  The press was placed above a big caldron of boiling water. The noodles were rinsed well and placed in a bowl. Then the liquid from cold white kimchi (dong chi mi) was poured on top.  Sounds delicious? Well to me it sounds delicious but to the unaccustomed pallet, I guess chewy buckwheat noodles in pickle juice don’t really sound that appealing.

Anyway talk about regional differences, for such a small country we sure are particular!  Noodles made from potato, buckwheat, varying percentages of sweet potato and wheat flour.  Broths made from anchovies, dashi, and moo radish to beef broth based to tomato based.  Naeng Myun culture that thinks hot sauce is a must and other purists that believe it is almost vulgar to add any. With all these variants what is a girl to do?  Same thing I do every time I’m a little overwhelmed, make up my favorite iteration and call it winning!

One of my favorite family friends made this for me on a very hot summer’s day and it really hit the spot.  It’s a lot of work but at least you don’t have to turn on your stove for too long in the summer heat.

Warning this recipe requires and insane amount of tomatoes… and time

The base
 (for 3 people, 2.5 really if you like a lot of broth)
15 medium sized ripe tomatoes (should make ~ 3.5 cups tomato water)
2.5 cups water
1 tablespoon concentrated white vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
|1 tablespoon naturally brewed soy sauce

Wash all your tomatoes then core and slash an “X” on the top of each tomato.

Place the tomatoes in hot boiling water for ~ 10 seconds, if you don’t feel like boiling a big pot do it in sections.  Then place the tomatoes under cold running water.  The skin should just glide off.  Line a strainer with cheese cloth, if you don’t have cheese cloth line it with clean paper towels.

Now, here’s the fun part, squish the tomatoes.  If you’re incredibly civilized you could place the tomatoes into a kitchen aid with a paddle attachment and let the paddle have the fun.  For the rest of you cavemen, squish with your hands!  I found that squishing above my lined strainer helped move the process along.

Leave the whole set up in your fridge till the tomatoes are dry.  Save tomato solids for awesome tomato sauce.


(yup, that’s a big tub, with a small bowl flipped upside down to suspend my big strainer filled with tomatoes, it works….)

You should now have around 3.5 cups tomato water, of course it depends on how much juice the tomatoes have and how patient you are.  Now add the remaining ingredients and make sure everything is dissolved and that is the broth!

I’ll post how you make the other toppings in the next episode.

Till then a recipe for the remaining tomato solids:
Like I mentioned before, I don’t like wasting food, so I took the tomato solids and cooked them down with a good portion of olive oil, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes and salt.  Cooked tomatoes have higher lycopene content.  Lycopene is what makes a tomato red; it also is good for prostate health and skin (yay for carotenoids!).  I cooked the tomatoes down till there wasn’t much water left.  I let it cool and put it in a plastic bag in the freezer.  I’m going to save that for any time I feel like making spaghetti or maybe even my meatloaf!

Throwback Tuesdays – Grapefruit Gimlet – some gin and juice

1.) This wasn’t my idea, I had a beverage called a something gimlet at Leon’s full service in Atlanta (great place) and thought I could make it at home, so I did.
2.) Gimlets are usually made with Vodkas, but I like gin and alliteration.

¼ cup of a good gin
½ cup of grapefruit juice
2 tablespoons of St Germaine liquor
1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice
Dash of  Angostura bitters)
Club soda  or Seltzer (it’s the amount of bubbles and salt content… that’s the difference)

Fill a high ball glass with ice, combine all ingredients and top off with seltzer, shaken not stirred.

Tips and other thoughts

WOW, St. Germaine only comes in two sizes, ginormous and tiny, go ahead buy the ginormous! There is so much you can do with it.   Add a little to Sangria and it adds a little jeux neu cie quex.  A hummingbird – some sparkling wine, a shot of St. Germaine and top it off with seltzer and a twist of lime and garnish with a raspberry.. delicious…..

Bitters give the drink a lot of depth and gives you some weird saltiness that I love, but if you don’t want to purchase them (they’re around 10 bucks a bottle)… just have the Gin and Juice!