Throwback Tuesday – Meatloaf

I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that!
Meatloaf, what was that? What didn’t you want to do?

My best friend growing up was this Dutch girl who lived across the way.  Her mom made the best meatloaf.  I didn’t even know the Dutch ate meatloaf, but it was delicious.  First of all, it was laced with bacon and then she basted the bacon with ketchup, as it baked the sugar in the ketchup would start to caramelize and the bacon would crisp up.  The final result was this juicy, bacony, delicious cut of meatloaf.

The cover of this month’s Fine Cooking Magazine is meatloaf.  The article goes into all these variation on meatloaves; they encourage the home chef to experiment with various aromatic, meats, cheeses and toppings.

Meatloaf is pretty easy, you’re going to sauté some veggies, soak a bunch of stale bread in milk, mix everything together, make it pretty and bake it off.

Here’s the loaf I made for my sister, she likes her food good and straightforward.

STEP ONE: Sauté the vegetables. Fry them up till they are just translucent, you don’t want a bunch of color; just get the vegetables nervous and sweaty.  Pull them off to the side to cool while you do the next step.

2 Tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion (diced)
2 large cloves of garlic (minced)
½ cup diced carrot
½ cup diced celery
1 jalapeno pepper diced
Salt and Pepper

STEP TWO: The bread. Get about ½ of a stale loaf of bread and cut it into 2’’ pieces.  Soak the bread in a shallow dish; it should be wet but not falling apart (5-10 mins)

About 2.5 cups 2’’ pieces of stale bread
1 cup whole milk

STEP THREE: Mix!  Combine all the ingredients together. Get messy!

The Veggies (step one)
The Bread (step two)
¾ cup pilsner beer
2lb ground beef
2 large eggs
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper

Step Four: Mold the loaf it should be about 2 inches tall and rectangular. on a baking sheet no fancy meatloaf pan needed.  Then top with 10 strips of bacon! Baste with Ketchup

Step Five: Bake the baby! 375F for around 55 minutes get a thermometer (160F).

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)

VOILA!
Tips:
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.

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(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

Disclaimers:
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.

Recipe
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!

Cheers!

Throwback Tuesdays – Awkward Corporate America

Throwback Tuesdays – are older posts from days gone by, reuse and recycle entertainment!!

Awkward Corporate moments
There are definitely things that you do when you are in corporate America that you never do otherwise.
Excessive talks about the weather
Brainstorming about Excel, CRM, SAP,  or Lotus notes or some other internal system
Talking about a database that is very specific to your company, thus alienating everyone else!

And then the weird awkward conversations….
“Hey Jim, nice to see you in the cafeteria, I see you got some sandwich action”
The supervisor from Asia or Europe who uses his middle finger to point to things
European colleagues who talk about handing over the ball way too much… stop talking about balls.

OR like this….
There was pizza left over from another meeting, so I caved and had a slice of pepperoni.
Me:  “Ah, don’t judge, empty carbs at 3PM is a weakness of mine.”
Male coworker: “Oh I would have pegged you as a sausage girl”
Me: “hahaha, right”  
AWKWARD… and you can’t even point to how awkward that was and break the tension because it may be inappropriate so it just lies there like a dying cat… meow. (meow indeed!)

Pot Lucky – Grilled skirt steak and green bean salad

 

I was invited to a potluck today.  I like playing mini-iron chef with myself. Mostly because I love a challenge and because it helps keep waste down. They say that over 40% of food purchased in the US is never consumed, and the home chef is one of the major sources of waste. With this in mind, I try to only buy what I need or use everything I buy. I had a lot of green beans and tomatoes, so I tried to find a recipe that had both. it can be tedious to cut each bean in half unless you’re watching TV or something.  I mean who sits next to their computer and cuts green beans while watching Korean Dramas? um, no, not me. I mean, I’d never. Ok I do, I would, I did. 

Adapted from Food and Wine I love that the recipe writer intentionally used the whole onion, I know that sounds silly, but it’s a thoughtful detail!
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The Steak
Ingredients
½ small red onion
2 garlic cloves
½ cup olive oil
salt and pepper (be generous)
2 lbs. skirt steak (flank steak’s ugly and more flavorful cousin)

Instructions
Combine all ingredients in a blender pour the mix into a gallon plastic bag with the steak.  Place the bag in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.  The butcher at my grocery store had the time so he ran the skirt steak through a tenderizing machine which produced a really tender steak, it may be a cheat but it was a delicious cheat. Be nice to the people at the store and they will always go the extra mile, he even got me better cuts of meat from the back (I love Pete’s!).

I don’t have a grill, so these were pan fried, it was still delicious.  The steak is super thin so it will cook fast, and if you’re patient and only flip the meat once, it’ll turn crispy at the edges.  I like my steak rare but for the party I left it on for a little longer, about 3 minutes/side.  Let the steak rest and slice thin.  You have options here, you can serve the steak warm or cool it down and serve the whole thing cold.  I liked it cold.

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The Salad
Ingredients
Vinaigrette (this makes more than you need)
¼ extra virgin olive oil
2 limes juiced
1 tablespoon Sriracha
1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (or white, or champagne, or anything lighter and fruity, nothing heavy)
1 zest of a tangerine
salt and pepper

Veggies
¾ lbs. green beans (I used the fancy French kind (haricot verts) trimmed and sliced down the middle
1 pint Campari tomatoes cut into wedges
½ small red onion sliced super thin
1 jalapeno sliced super thin
¼ cup chopped Cashews (I picked the cashews out of my mixed nut blend from Costco… hehehe)
½ cup (about 1/3 of a bunch) chopped cilantro leaves

Instructions
To keep the onions and jalapenos extra crunchy and light, run them under cold water for about 10 minutes. It also ensures you don’t kill anybody with the power of the Jalapeno! Place all the ingredients in a large bowl to hang out while you prepare the vinaigrette.
Just combine all the ingredients in the vinaigrette add about ½ of the sauce, and keep adding till you think it’s enough. I like mine dressed lightly, and it’s much easier to add more…

Final Assembly!
For the pot luck I tossed the steak in with the salad, but you could also serve it how it is pictured above with the steak placed on top.  It’s your perogative, you can do what you want to do.  What’s bobby brown up to lately anyhow?

Dancing with Miso

My sister is down for the count.  I suspect a mix of wintery weather, lack of sleep, and too much time in airports made her sick.  It stinks when people are sick, as a common person (aka non-medical professional) there is very little I can do to help.  The best thing I can think to do is make her feel comfortable, aka feed her.  I was out with a friend last night she told me to make my sister miso soup, she believes that it’s a cure all for everything.  I’ll take that advice and put a spin on it!  Dwenjang Jigae, is a riff on your standard miso soup.  Ok, I lie, if miso soup is like Miley in her Disney days, this stew is like a long night dancing with Molly and Miley today…

My grandma taught me how to make it in middle school.  The way we make it is a little unconventional from the Korean standard.  The standard recipe usually doesn’t have the gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste), uses dwenjang (Korean fermented soy bean paste) and usually has a thinner consistency than mine. I prefer using Japanese red miso to its Korean counterpart.  I tried switching to Korean Dwenjang a few years back, but there is so much variation within the brands of dwenjang and I couldn’t find one that I liked.  My absolute favorite is the stuff my grandma makes but she’s back in the mother land and I don’t think I’d be able to get that through customs.

Here’s the recipe

Kim Family Dwenjang Jigae

6” dashima
5 large dried anchovies
2 small onions ½” diced
3 medium potatoes ½” diced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 tablespoon gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
¼ cup Japanese red miso
2 king oyster mushrooms (or about 1 cup shitake mushrooms sliced) shredded
1 zucchini ½” diced
1 pack (16 oz) tofu (soft) ½” diced
3 cloves garlic minced
1 jalapeno sliced thin
3 green onions cut into 2” strips

First the Broth, this is pretty basic in Korean cooking you want to make an anchovy broth, they don’t add a huge amount of salt but they pack in a lot of flavor.  In a pinch, skip this step, but using it does add another flavor dimension. Basically, it’s anchovy and dashima (aka Kombu) infusion… (I’d say tea but my nerdy side wants to protest, teas only come from the camellia sinensis plant!).  Place your anchovies and dashima into about 64 oz of cold water and let it boil while you’re preparing the rest of your veggies.

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I get to washing, peeling, cutting the veggies while the broth is steeping. This whole blog thing is new for me so the pictures aren’t the best but stick with me, I’m a quick study and this thing will be looking good in no time!

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By now, the broth should be finished, set it aside and now we begin!  Saute the onions and potatoes in a heavy bottomed pot with the vegetable oil.  When they are sweaty and nervous add in the hot pepper paste and miso, it’ll look messy. Stay with your pot and keep stirring if you burn this part it will be bitter.  When the mixture looks homogenous, like everyone is playing nicely with each other, pour in the broth.

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Bring the soup to a full rolling boil and add in the remaining ingredients, continue cooking for about 10 minutes.
Serve with rice.

This recipe makes a lot of jigae, but this stuff just gets better with time. Today it will be good, tomorrow it will be even better.

Notes:
Shred the mushrooms – king oyster mushrooms are pretty common in the Korean Supermarket, I like adding them like this because it looks pretty and it is easier to bite into than when you just slice them.  Cut the “shitake” looking cap off of the mushroom.  You’ll have a long log of mushroom.  The mushroom shreds lengthwise so cut the log in half and just put pressure on it, it’ll give and you’ll see how it can be shredded.  Think pulled pork or Jang Jorim.
Meat? Where is the Meat? – My family doesn’t really eat that much meat, but it’s really easy to add in.  Add about 1/2 lb of 1″ diced cubes of beef stew meat (usually chuck or even heel meat) to the potato and onion mixture.  Don’t let the meat brown too much or it’ll be tough. sweaty and happy..