Friday, October 28, 2011

How to Make Potato Gnocchi

The first gnocchi dish I've ever tried was in Boston at Taranta Cucina Meridionale, a fusion Peruvian-Italian restaurant.  It was a yucca root gnocchi with spicy green lamb ragu topped with shaved parmesan.  It stands out as a dish I'll remember FO-EVA.  It's unfortunate that my first experience with gnocchi was so unforgettable.  Since then, I've come to accept that gnocchi isn't droppings from the gods.  The texture is chewy and without a sauce, gnocchi is pretty damn bland.  Forgive for drawing yet another comparison between the two cuisines, but does anyone else think gnocchi tastes similar to tteok 떡?

Anyway, I decided to make some gnocchi because I had a few guests over and it seemed like a fun dinner food that we could all make together.

Italian Sausage Pasta Sauce with Garlic, Peppers, Mushrooms, and Eggplant

This post is an addendum to the post on how to make gnocchi, but this sauce goes well with anything.  My friend, Kiara, was spooning straight into her mouth.

Pasta sauce is all about the seasonings.  I pretty much scoff at anything straight out of the jar because in most cases, the sauce is bland and boring.  Any jar of pasta sauce can be transformed with the addition of fresh vegetables and the right blend of seasonings.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How to Throw Away Old Oil in Korea

The trash laws in Korea can be exasperating.  Rather than trying to figure out all the little categories of disposal, I had a friend who would throw away his trash on the street. This caught up to him when he was presented with a hefty 200,000 won fine.  Apparently, they had gone through his trash and found a slip of paper with his address on it.

A bit of a deviation from the usual photos I post.

I've fried french fries for the masses, filtered the oil and reused it to make myself some fried ravioli and fried pickles.  The oil looks nasty.  I'm past the point of filtering and reusing, so I did some research on Naver, and found an answer.

Apple Brownies from Surplus Apples

Fruit prices are outrageous in Korea - so outrageous that every time I walk by a seedy fruit truck where an ajushi with one leg is yelling at you to buy kiwis, I actually do it.  And that's how I ended up with a giant potato sack of apples.

I love apples, but I've been spoiled.  Growing up, I ate through every kind of apple there is.  In Korea, there is one apple - the Fuji apple.  No Granny Smiths, no Red Delicious, no Gala, no Honey Crisp, no Macintosh, no, no, no.

Staring at a colossal bag of racially uniform apples growing squishier each day made me wring my hands in worry, waving apples in my sister's face and accusing her of not eating her was time to scour the internet for some way to bake these apples to freedom.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fried Ravioli from Egg Roll or Mandu 만두 Wrappers

I saw somewhere that Giada De Laurentiis made Spinach and Mushroom ravioli from mandu wrappers.  Mandu wrappers are widely available at any supermarket for about 2,000 won for 60 wrappers.  What is ravioli if not a cheesey, less-garlic-y ravioli?  I'm gonna get it for even drawing the comparison. 

Food sacrilege aside, I couldn't ignore my T. G. I. Friday's Fried Ravioli craving this morning.  It's 9:30 a.m.

How to Make Breadcrumbs Without a Blender or Food Processor

I had a massive party this weekend and was left with a dozen mismatched hamburger buns.  I didn't know whether to blame low-carb diets or the sangria.

A great way to turn stale bread rejects into an edible food form is breadcrumbs.  I ended up with some great fried pickles to accompany my buffalo wings and some fried ravioli with marinara sauce, both in the same day.

Making a Cheese Press and Mold - Homemade Goat's Milk Ricotta Salata

I discovered ricotta salata through desperation.  I don't have access to cultures needed to make cheese.  I did some research, and found that I could simply press ricotta into a cheese mold to produce a semi-hard cheese.

Linguine Primavera From Scratch with Homemade Ricotta Salata

Waiting for cheese to age is agonizing.  Especially if you're required to take the cheese out and lovingly rub it with salt every day for a week.  I felt as frustrated as the cannibalistic witch in Hansel and Gretel when Hansel was taking too long to fatten up.  Age, cheese, age!

But after two weeks, I had produced my first pressed cheese - ricotta salata.  It can age longer, but I could not wait longer than the requisite two weeks.  Or the more rational answer - I had to test it to make sure I was doing it right.  It would be devastating to wait four weeks only to find out the whole thing had gone rancid, no?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Making Homemade Yogurt in a Rice Cooker

After having lots of success making yogurt in my crock pot, I've started feeling selfish.  I have a crock pot, and most people don't.  How will the crockpot-less enjoy fresh, homemade yogurt?  It's basically the same feeling I get when I think about poor kids in North Korea without iPhones.  Such a travesty.

So I set out for alternative methods with the conviction of a Southern Baptist missionary.  Yogurt just needs a warm incubator to ferment for a few hours.  Crock pots work well because of the ceramic insulation that helps keep the yogurt at a relatively constant and warm temperature for 8+ hours.  After clicking around, I found that people use all kinds of crazy methods to incubate.  Oven pilot lights.  Heating pads.  Insulated beach coolers filled with warm water.  Then it occurred to me.  Rice cookers are essentially crock pots.  Everyone in Korea has a rice cooker.  Even if you don't eat rice.  They just come with the apartment.  Eureka~

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Homemade Mozzarella

My quest to conquer the art of homemade mozzarella was really the result of some irresponsible YouTubing.  Some random clickity clicks and my latent dairy affinity was piqued.

There are thousands of variations on making mozzarella, and before I knew it I had become one of those freaks reading page after page of mozzarella instructionals and watching unattractive housewives or dairy farmers making mozzarella.  I knew I had reached a low point when I caught myself staring numbly at a goat teat being milked.

Mario Batali's Pizza Margherita with Homemade Mozzarella

After failing four times, I've made mozzarella.  Thank god.  I was beginning to get pretty sick of blaring Beyonce's "Broken-Hearted Girl" while subjecting my sister and boyfriend to my sulky verbal abuse.

Don't judge me.

Losing a mozzarella baby is the single greatest loss a man can feel.  By the same logic, birthing a mozzarella baby is a pretty euphoric experience.  (My life isn't sad.)  I felt like friggin' Tom Hanks when he creates fire in Castaway.  To celebrate my laureate success, I feasted on my mozzarella in its most glorious manifestation - pizza.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Black Forest Chocolate Cake at Lazy Sue's

Lazy Sue's is the kind of place that I avoided going to because it looked "too Korean" in that it had the faux French-ish shabby chic thing going on.

You can tell right away by looking that it's Korean-owned and operated.  Obviously, I have nothing against Korean-owned and operated.  I'm Korean.  But I do have a problem with places that try to market themselves as "French" or "Italian" when they've clearly never spent more than a few months in the place.  The kind of place that serves pickles with their spaghetti and spells everything wrong.  For me, a telltale sign of this is superficial "French" decor - wrought iron, wooden wine box crates, hand-painted sign with little flowers...Lazy Sue has that.  But I was wrong.

"Whey" Freshly Baked Bread

This is bread I've made before using whey.

I love bread.  Low-carb diets work really well on me because most of my diet is bread.  Take that out, and I'm basically eating ice cubes and really big gusts of air.  Anyway, there are few things in life as delicious as butter slowly melting on hot-out-of-the-oven bread.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Homemade Goldfish Crackers

I stumbled upon this recipe for making goldfish crackers on Smitten Kitchen, and I just had to do it.  I love Pepperidge Farm goldfish crackers.  I used to get the massive containers from Costco that looked like a milk carton on steroids.  My siblings and I would selfishly shovel fistfuls of goldfish into our mouths like greedy squirrels until the entire container was conquered.  Then we'd sit around glaring at each other.  Love ya, sibs~

I adapted the recipe from Smitten Kitchen because I didn't have any whole wheat flour or a food processor.  I also don't have goldfish-shaped mini cookie cutters.  But a can of beer and some tape solved that.  (Btw, I don't drink beer, and if I did, I would not drink Coors Light.  I had to dig through my trash to find this.  I hope I've redeemed myself by letting you know I don't drink Coors Light but that I do dig through trash.)

How to Make a Watermelon Piñata

For my sister's 24th birthday, I needed to make something youthful for the final year before she turns a quarter century.  We grew up in Texas, so a piñata made sense though we've never had a piñata for our birthdays, we just wished we did.  I had my first piñata for my 24th birthday in college.  It was Dora the Explorer and it even talked.  We took the excitement of the piñata a little too far by lopping Dora's head off and setting it on fire.  Regardless of the disturbing behaviors piñatas seem to invoke in half-baked adults, I was determined to make one.  Unfortunately, all my internet searches came up with lame how-to's on how to make a piñata out of a inflated balloon.  I'm not trying to run arts and crafts hour at a mental institution.

So, I started from scratch.  Figuring out how to make anything without the Internet may seem daunting, but I went to college so this was easy.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Everyone has an inner Garfield, and it's sad that mine is stymied by the scarcity and cost of ricotta here in Korea.  Half a pint (250 g) of ricotta goes for a little over 10,000 won.  It also tastes like a bland rubbery paste.

Homemade ricotta tastes decadent, slightly sweet and creamy.  It's also super easy to make.  Any other cheese I've messed up can be turned into ricotta cheese (mozzarella, yogurt that didn't set, etc.).  All my dairy failures find consolation in ricotta form because it's that easy to make.  Ricotta cheese literally translates to cooked milk.  That's all it is with a bit of acid to curdle it.

Banana Bread Featuring Homemade Butter

There are few baked goods in the world that can take a fruit and make it taste even more like that fruit.  Banana bread is one such baked good.  Once you're done baking up a loaf, your entire apartment will scream of the deliciousness that is banana bread.  I envy those who walk into a kitchen with their clean nostrils and fill 'em with the love-stank of banana bread.  It's not something the baker can experience, and that experience alone is a gift of love and sacrifice.

Anyway, the problem I seem to encounter here in Korea is that bananas tend to go from yellow to brown and covered in fruit flies in just a few days.  The best way to use them up is to make banana bread.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Dulche de Leche So Good I'm Openly Weeping Right Now

I had the idea to make dulce de leche to go with the "ice cream in a bag" I'll be making this weekend right after I go bungee jumping.  Do I sound obnoxious?  Cause my life really is that interesting.  (Said as I sit here in my granny underwear eating dulce de leche out of the jar with my paws.)

In case you don't know the wonders of dulce de leche, it's a Latin American caramel that's made by reducing milk with sugar and vanilla.  In French, it's known as confiture de lait which makes it sound even better than it already is.  I've had dulce de leche on ice cream, on a crepe in France, on a "pancake" in Thailand, and drizzled on top of cheesecake, brownies, lattes, my face, etc.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

New York Bagels in Seoul

The best bagels I've found in Seoul were at Dunkin' Donuts and Costco.  It was amazing because they tasted just like the bagels that sit in a bag on the grocery store shelf back home.  And with enough cream cheese, they taste alright.

So instead of whining about the lack of good bagels in Korea, I made some.  Chewy and a just a tad crunchy on the outside; soft, moist, and flavorful on the inside.  These bagels are amazing fresh out of the oven with some butter.  And when they're toasted with some homemade cream cheese?  OMFG.

Homemade Butter

Butter..... (to be read in Paula Dean accent).  Butter is the easiest thing to make (if you have a hand-mixer or blender).  If you don't have either of these things in your kitchen, you're probably one of those people who think margarine is something acceptable to put in one's mouth.  There are a million ways to make butter - blending, beating, mixing, churning, jumping up and down, strapping it to your ass while engaged in adult activities...the possibilities are endless.  You can also culture and sour the cream to get a better flavor or just whip it straight up.   This post is about making butter in Korea.  Only ONE cream works unless you have access to a sack of cow udder.  Denmark Fresh Cream.

Mini Chicken Pot Pies

I love chicken pot pies, but it's mostly a memory associated with my childhood - popping a frozen pot pie in the microwave for 4 minutes and then burning my tongue on flaky, buttery crust filled with piping hot chicken and vegetables smothered in gravy.  But somewhere down the road, I found out each one has over 1000 calories in it, and that was that.

Now I'm in Korea.  The weather's getting nippier and burning my tongue on flaky, buttery crust filled with piping hot chicken and vegetables smothered in gravy sounds pretty awesome.  I don't have big, deep pie pans or even small ones, so I used a silicone mini-cupcake mold instead.  It worked out pretty well.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cottage Cheese in Korea

Cottage cheese is nearly impossible to find in Korea.  I've found it once at Haddon Supermarket in Oksu-dong for 15,000 won for a quart (32 fluid ounces) of cottage cheese that disappeared in a day.  I've gone back to Haddon several times since then, and they haven't been stocking it.

Thankfully, cottage cheese is ridiculously easy to make.  You just need white vinegar, milk, cream and salt.  I've found that making cottage cheese isn't cheaper than finding it haphazardly - even at four times the price of what it would cost in the states ($4).  That's because milk and cream are expensive, and 1 gallon of milk only yields two cups of cottage cheese.  Also, white vinegar isn't sold in most supermarkets.  I found white vinegar at the Foreign Mart in Itaewon for about 5,000 won for a quart (32 fl. oz.), but you can get a massive 1.32 gallon jug of the same white vinegar at Costco for 7,500 won.  I also saw it at E-mart the other day.


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