Fusing cultures with LA-style Sweet Rice Cakes!

Yes, I know, it seems like I’ve forgotten all about this blog. But don’t worry! I just have a lot of college-related things to do, but I’ll try to post at least once a week.

Anyway, onto the recipe. This is a recipe from Koreans who began to move to LA, but missed the sweet korean rice cakes they had back home. Instead of recreating them, they tweaked the recipe so that the rice cakes are baked (!) rather than steamed. The result is a wonderfully delicious bar that has the interior of a mochi (if you don’t know what mochi is, it’s a chewy, soft sweet made of pounded sticky rice) yet a slightly crunchy, golden brown exterior akin to a quickbread crust. The fillings are completely up to you!

Action shots of mine –

Ready to stir; I recommend azuki beans and sesame seeds!

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I love this recipe because it’s so simple! My favorite filling is azuki/red beans to go with the asian theme, it may sound weird to put beans in a dessert but you just have to try it. Also sesame seeds (of both colors) add a nice toasty flavor.

From Beyond Kimchee

LA Style Sweet Rice Cake Bars

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: about 20 bars

LA Style Sweet Rice Cake Bars

Ingredients

3 cup glutinous rice flour (DO NOT SUB RICE FLOUR, you can find this at an asian/specialty grocery)
1-1/2 to 2 cups brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cup milk (Soy, lowfat, skim, whole, I bet even almond would work)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 cups fillings (nuts, raisins, pistachios, COOKED azuki beans, chocolate chips, sesame seeds, etc… possibilities are endless)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF
  2. In a large bowl whisk together rice flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pour milk and vanilla and stir to mix well.
  3. Add the fillings. Mix well.
  4. Pour the batter over well greased 9×13 inch pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the top gets brown and crisp.
  5. Cool completely and cut into bars. Wrap leftover bars with plastic wrap and store in the fridge.Happy munching!

Greek Yogurt Soufflé

Ah, greek yogurt. Thick, luscious, creamy. A compliment to any fresh fruit, a vehicle for swirly jam, the basis of a cooling sauce, or the finishing touch to a warm bowl of soup.

Greek yogurt is perfect for breakfast. It’s refreshing and light, yet full of protein to keep you full all morning. But what about when winter comes, temperature drops, the berries are scarce, and you’re too cold to eat a parfait? No fear, soufflé is here.

Imagine fluffy, soft, greek yogurt. Pillowy, creamy, and rich. Lightly sweetened and tangy, fresh from your oven. Talk about delicious! I love having this greek yogurt soufflé as an accompaniment to a Sunday breakfast. It feels rich and indulgent, yet is surprisingly light. It also makes an impressive (and fancy!) brunch dish for company. And did I mention how easy it comes together?

My favorite way to eat the souffle is straight out of the oven, either plain or with a dollop of jam. It is equally delicious in the hotter months when it’s been chilled (though the souffle will fall a little). Little cheesecake heaven!

Greek Yogurt Souffle (adapted from Jules Food here)

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1 cup greek yogurt, plain (I typically use Greek Gods yogurt 0%, though any amount of fat would do)
3 eggs, seperated
3 Tbsp AP flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 cup sugar

6 ramekins

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F degrees DO NOT TURN ON CONVECTION
  2. Spray six 6 oz. ramekins, set on baking sheet.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together yogurt, egg yolks, flour, salt and vanilla.  In a medium bowl (or with a stand mixer if you’re fancy) beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy. Gradually add  sugar and whisk until firm, but soft peaks form. It’s OK if you overmix but try not to.
  4. Fold in whites to yogurt-egg mixture in thirds, being careful to retain volume.
  5. Divide the batter evenly among the ramekins.
  6. Bake on the tray for 15 minutes until they are risen and a nice golden brown. Yes, you can peak, according to this. So be curious. But if it takes longer than 15 minutes because you peak that much, step away from the oven!
  7. Serve immediately so they don’t fall (they do fall). Of course I took pictures and they fell while I sprinted to get my camera.
  8. Pour on the jam, maple syrup, fresh fruit, chocolate – whatever your heart desires! You can even cover the tops with sugar and brûlée them muahaha. Or, refrigerate for cheesecakes later!

Happy eating!

 

¡Ceviche!

Yes, I know, this post is going to be about the perfect summer food. 

When I just made one about winter food. 

Oh well, I simply couldn’t wait to post this recipe!

Ceviche is a Latin American seafood dish marinated in citrus juice, often accompanied with diced fresh vegetables. It’s a great way to highlight summer’s bounty, as well as use up those lemons/limes. Most commonly I’ve had ceviche with the bare minimum of white fish, lime, and onion, but I’ve seen some crazy variations, like Ceviche with tuna, scallops, sriracha, plum, or clams

Ceviche is the perfect appetizer to a mexican feast, or could even make a great light meal. The key in the process is to allow the fish to marinate for adequate time, while not over-marinating. I typically use cheaper fish, like tilapia, since I like to save my expensive fish for sashimi or cooking. Finely diced vegetables also add a nice textural contrast, as well as my favorite addition, avocado, to bind the whole thing together. 
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Basic Ceviche

  • 4 fillets of flaky white fish (tilapia, cod, snapper, etc.)
  • Juice of 3 limes (enough to cover the fish)
  • Pinch salt & pepper
  • 2 medium Roma tomatoes, diced (heirloom are too watery)
  • 1/2 medium Red onion, diced
  • 1 handful Cilantro, chopped
  • Jalapeno, finely diced (optional)
  • Avocado, diced

Dice the fish and place in a bowl with lime juice. Season with a bit of salt and pepper, cover with plastic. Marinate for 10 minutes or so (Check out this post for the science behind marinating). 

Meanwhile, dice tomatoes, onions, and cilantro, and toss in a bowl with a bit of salt and pepper, to taste. Add jalapeno, if desired. Stir in cubes of avocado (Can’t cut avocado? No worries, learn how here!). 

After the fish is done marinating, drain the lime juice from the bowl, and add the fish (which should be white now) to the chopped vegetables. Mix, gently, and taste. Adjust seasoning accordingly. Serve chilled alongside chips, warm tortillas (I prefer corn), with lettuce cups, or sliced cucumber. 

So, there you go, Ceviche. Buen Apetito!

Soup-er

Fall is settling in and the weather’s getting cooler. Salads no longer satisfy, and in my house, we turn to soup as a staple. Whether for a light meal or a nourishing one to revitalize amidst flu season, soups are always comforting. Some can be whipped up in an instant; some prepared over a few hours, or even overnight. Regardless, soups offer an endless variety and are flexible enough to never become a bore. 

Soup basics: 

  • Use stock (store-bought or homemade) in place of bouillon. 
  • Make sure your vegetables are cooked, but not overcooked. 
  • Plan the day before if you want to add dried beans to your soup. 
  • Follow directions carefully if you are making a soup from scratch with bones.
  • Fish Sauce, Soy sauce, Miso paste, or Doenjang are excellent sources of salt that add a great depth of flavor. Choose one that fits the soup you’re making!
  • Shredded leftover meat makes a great addition to a vegetable soup. 
  • For italian soups, add some cheese rinds to enrich the flavor. 
  • Don’t be afraid of acidity! Sometimes a squeeze of lemon will complete the flavor profile. 
  • Go crazy with  vegetables! Soup is the best way to retain all the vitamins in vegetables, too, and it’s a good way to use up those wilted greens or mushy tomatoes. 
  • Pre-roast vegetables for extra-oomph, but if you’re short on time, you can buy canned roasted tomatoes, bell peppers, and even corn!

For more tips, check out thekitchn’s tips here.
Soups are amazing ways to experiment with building complexity. Have fun with them!

Cottage Cheese, Please

Cottage cheese is my favorite cheese to make at home because it’s the only one I can make without any special tools! All you need is a gallon of milk, a cloth, vinegar, and a little bit of patience. It’s full of protein, low fat, and makes a great addition to breakfast. 

In all honesty, I used to think cottage cheese was gross. When I was little, my mom would plop a mound of it on her plate along with a scoop of pineapple, and it would become this goopy mess. Yuck. Not until a few years ago did I truly give cottage cheese another chance. I found that going the savory route with it (a crack of pepper over garlic bread or with sliced cured meat) was the way to go!

Also, cottage cheese is the same as paneer. That indian cheese you’ll find in your spinach or peas (palak paneer, mattar paneer, respectively) is indeed made in the same process as cottage cheese, it’s just not salted or crumbled. 

And so, cottage cheese, the same cheese known to body builders and little miss muffet (little miss muffet sat on a tuffet, eating her curds and whey) is used all the way across the globe, how cool is that!
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Adapted from Alton Brown’s Recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/quick-cottage-cheese-recipe/index.html?oc=linkback

Cottage Cheese

Ingredients
1 gallon 2% milk (I have used 1% milk as well and it works)
3/4 cup white vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup milk (any fat will do, even half and half)

Directions
1. Pour the skim milk into a large saucepan and place over medium heat.

2. Heat to 120 degrees F. 

3. Remove from the heat and gently pour in the vinegar. Stir slowly for 1 to 2 minutes. The curd will separate from the whey.

4. Cover and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

5. Pour the mixture into a colander lined with a tea towel and allow to sit and drain for 5 minutes.

6. Gather up the edges of the cloth and rinse under cold water for 3 to 5 minutes or until the curd is completely cooled, squeezing and moving the mixture the whole time. This will remove the vinegar taste.

7. Once cooled, squeeze as dry as possible. At this point, if you leave it, it will become paneer. If you desire cottage cheese, proceed in the next steps. 

8. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the salt and stir to combine, breaking up the curd into bite-size pieces as you go. Stir in the milk/cream/half and half.

9. Transfer to a sealable container and place in the refrigerator. Serve any way you’d like, on toast, with tomatoes, with pineapples (ew), or just plain! Enjoy!

Get your whole grain on!

I have definitely been neglecting my carb intake lately. I tend to fall into the habit of avoiding carbs, since I’m a bit of a carbophobe (haha), but when I feel fuzzy headed and fatigued I know I need to up my carbohydrate intake (see here and here for more about eating low carb).

Typically, snacks I turn to when I feel the “low carb-flu” coming on are whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal (mentioned in my previous post), or popcorn! These carbohydrates contain more fiber than stripped white flours, pasta, and breads, and also have a lower glycemic load (they don’t spike your blood sugar and cause you to feel sleepy or “crash” afterwards).

Yesterday I decided to fall back on one of my favorites, popcorn! Popcorn is the only whole grain that we eat in its 100% whole form, and contains polyphenols. It’s a great quick snack, that is, if you don’t use the pre-packaged microwave variety.

I make my own bagged popcorn at home so I know exactly what goes in it, and it’s much healthier! The best way to have popcorn, in my opinion, is sweet and salty, coated in caramelized sugar, like the kind you get fresh from the farmer’s market. Here’s my recipe for mock- kettle corn in the microwave:

Kettle corn in a Brown bag! 

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What to do:

  1. Grab a brown paper bag. Fill it with about 2 T popcorn kernels (any kind will do), 1 T sugar, and a pinch or so of salt.
  2. Spray the inside of the bag with some oil spray.
  3. Fold the bag over at the top 2 or 3 times and shake it up.
  4. Put it in the microwave for between 2:00-3:00 minutes. Play around with timing – I still haven’t perfected it. You should take your popcorn out when popping is about 1  per second.

Snack time! Get your grain on!

Breakfast?

Morning meals seem to be natural for me. Regardless of how early or late I wake up, my day always starts with a good breakfast. The days that I am forced to miss this meal – you don’t even want to talk to me. Breakfast gets me alert and awake in the morning, and I feel it’s the most important meal of the day. Being American, I lean on the sweeter side. I grew up eating cereal and eggo waffles; looking to improve my health, I began to make my own baked goods for breakfast, such as whole wheat scones, muffins, and pancakes.

High school rolled along and I noticed I’d be starving by 2nd period. Looking for a heartier, yet healthy breakfast, I switched to eating steel cut oats. I’m sure you’ve heard of this; if you haven’t yet added it to your pantry, it’s the type of oatmeal that they sell at Jamba juice and Starbucks. Not as mushy as the microwave dinosaur oatmeal I’d grown up with, steel cut oats allow you to feel each grain on your tongue, almost like risotto. I began to love waking up to my bowl of hearty oats each morning, that I’d reheat after cooking them every sunday (they take 30 minutes to cook).

My typical favorite add-ins are jam, brown sugar, maple syrup, and cocoa powder (all time best). Check out this recipe for the chocolate oats. Typically I omit the banana because I like my cocoa 100% unsweetened. Dark chocolate is the best thing to wake up to in the morning.

When I feel particularly adventurous, I go savory with my breakfast route. Since I don’t have much time in the morning, I don’t add an egg (though that would be delicious), but instead opt for scallions, soy sauce/fish sauce/miso, and vietnamese chà bông, also known as rousong or, in english, pork floss. Personally, I think the translation of chà bông in english sounds terrible, like some bizarre meat cotton-candy; rather, “pork floss” when added to a liquid, soup, or even oatmeal becomes more like pulled pork.

Yes, this might sound odd to some of you but it’s very similar in taste to congee, juk, or chao, asian savory porridges that are great to start a wintry morning. Check out this recipe here:
Asian Inspired Savory Oatmeal Recipe

Lately, I’ve been eating oat bran because 1) I’m too lazy to cook steel cut oats and 2) there are nutritional differences. I’ll get into that in a later post, but for now, I implore you to add steel cut oats to your daily breakfast routine!