Monday, July 26, 2010

Mamma's Green Bean Salad

This is one of many entries, to come in the future, dedicated to my Mamma, whom I also like to call Om-ma (the Korean version). If you have had a chance to read my "About Me" section, you may have caught a glimpse of how important and truly special this person is to me. My Om-ma is the single most influential person in my life for a multitude of different reasons. Because of her I am the woman I am, everything I know is because of the principles and fundamentals of life she has taught me. I couldn't possibly be more blessed and grateful to have spent my formative years around such a spectacular woman. With every passing day of my life, I become more aware of the magnitude of adversities she has overcome in her life and all the vast accomplishments she has achieved. Her physical stature is so little, as she barely measures 5 feet and yet her personality and strength measure that of a giant. In her lifetime she has grieved the death of her father at a tender age of 12, dropped out of middle-school to help her mother raise a family, fought hunger in a post-war, 3rd world South Korea, escaped the claws of an abusive husband and given her own children the kind of opportunities she only dreamed of as a child.

She is my mother, she is my heroine, she is my friend. I miss her dearly every day as she lives thousands of miles away in Germany. It is also she, who inspires me to cook and keep on dreaming. I am honored to share with you one of her German inspired recipes: green bean salad. She made this when she came to visit in Hilton Head and it was a hit! Even SB, who hasn't seen, let alone, eaten a green bean in his life loved it.

Now, if I were to give you the recipe in the words of my mother it would read something like this "cooked green beans, minced garlic, chopped onion, salt, pepper, oil, vinegar, titch of light soy sauce, pinch of sugar, flavor to taste." You see, my mother doesn't believe in measuring anything. All the measures come to her intuitively as she cooks and that is at times hard to replicate. However, I have tried just that, in hopes that it tastes as close to the real thing as possible.

Here it goes:
  • 2 lbs fresh green beans
  • 1/4 medium sized red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cloves of finely minced garlic - depending on the size (feel free to use your microplane if you have one)
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of distilled white vinegar (white wine or apple cider vinegar should be ok too)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • a splash of soy sauce
  • 2 pinches of pepper

In a mixing bowl add the finely chopped onion, minced garlic, veggie oil, vinegar, low sodium soy sauce, and a pinch of salt, pepper and sugar. Set aside. In a pot bring water, seasoned with salt, to a boil. In the meantime wash and trim the ends of the green beans and cut them in half. Add them to the boiling water. Cook until tender. Approximately 10 minutes and drain. DO NOT shock them in ice water. Add the HOT green beans into the bowl containing the onion, garlic and seasonings and toss everything together. This step is important because the temperature of beans will help the seasonings to come together and also to cook the garlic and the onions ever so slightly. Enough to bring out the essential oils. Taste it, make sure it doesn't need another pinch of salt and you are ready to serve and eat!!!

I really hope you try this recipe as it is truly one of my favorite by my Om-ma.

Happy eating!!


Burgers on the Fly

The embarrassing truth: the contents of my fridge

Last night I found myself in the rare and peculiar situation of having almost nothing edible in the fridge. After coming back from an amazingly fun filled trip of visiting family in Hilton Head, working through the weekend, and preparing SB for an upcoming trip, all that was left in the fridge (as depicted above) were condiments, beer and coconut water. Now don't get me wrong, I like my chilled coronas, and you may already be familiar with my coconut water obsession - but a girl has got to eat! All the perishables had tragically perished, the can of tomato soup was not calling my name, and let's face it, there are only so many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches one can eat (although SB might beg to differ - one day I'll have to break it to him that PBJs, in fact, are not one of the 5 major food groups).

So here I was, with an empty stomach, it was too late to order and a pile of laundry was staring at me with puppy eyes - in need of dire attention. It was a new challenge: make something magically appear out of almost nothing. Fortunately, I still had about 1 lb of ground beef leftover, which I had frozen after I made Momma B's Taco Salad. I also had an onion and some garlic lurking around. Burgers it was. My goal was to make it as tasty and interesting as I could, with what I had, because I simply didn't have the staple items that normally go with a burger.

Here is what I did:
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 small - medium sized Vidalia onion
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (this is an approximation as I wasn't measuring precisely. Sames goes for the Maggi)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Maggi seasoning
Place the beef in a mixing bowl. Work your clove of garlic through a microplane (or very finely mince it). Finely dice 1/4 of the onion. Add the garlic and onion to the meat. Add the Worcestershire, Maggi seasoning, a pinch of salt and pepper to the meat. Mix everything together with your hands until well incorporated. Form patties and place into preheated skillet with olive oil. Cook the patties about 7 minutes on each side.

As soon as I placed the patties into the skillet I put a lid on it to prevent the oil from splattering but also to create a steam chamber. When the patties where almost ready to flip, I took the leftover onion, julienned them (cut them into thin strips), and placed them into the pan with/around the burgers. I then flipped the burgers and a few minutes before they were ready to be taken out, I removed the lid completely. After the patties had finished cooking, I set them aside and let the onions continue to caramelize in the pan for few more minutes, until they reached a golden brown color (This will happen fairly quickly). A lot of the seasoning and juices from burgers had seeped into the pan and flavored the onions wonderfully!

To serve, I spread a little bit of mayo (and ketchup for SB) on slices of sourdough bread, added the patty and the caramelized onions. YUMMY!!!! I mean not to toot my own horn, but I thought it was pretty fantastic. The seasoned patty with the caramelized onions had so much flavor that I really didn't miss any of the other staples, like the cheese or the tomato, at all. Just goes to show, delicious food does not have to be complicated at all. Kind of like life: why make it complicated when it can be simple. Ahhh and another parallel.

SB gave it 2 thumbs up (maybe even a few more, if he had more thumbs :)).

If any of you try it, let me know how it goes and if you like it!

Happy eating!!


Sometimes a fridge that looks like this is a blessing in disguise

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Julie, SB, Linds, B, Abe & Arthur


Let me ask you a question: How can an evening that starts out with oysters be a bad one? Let me answer that question for you: it can't. I can't say that I have always felt that way. To be perfectly honest with you, I haven't always loved oysters. As a matter of fact, it's a fairly new acquisition in my food / flavor repertoire. I don't know why, but up until recently I've been sort of apprehensive about trying oysters. In the past they've looked a bit scary to me so I never really bothered to try them. SB has really opened my eyes to a lot of different kind of seafood. You must be thinking: how can I claim to be a foodie and not have had oysters for 30 years of my life. The truth is that I really don't have an answer to that. I am certainly no Anthony Bourdain that's for sure. Perhaps, in my mind I always thought that they would be kind of fishy tasting, and therefore have been resistant to them. But for any of you out there who feel the same as I did and feel hesitant to try oysters or other types of seafood: give it a shot!! What do you have to lose?? I now know I've truly been missing out all these years!! Also note that fresh, high quality oysters do not taste or smell fishy at all.

I'd definitely start out with these cute little Blue Point oysters, like the ones I had at Abe & Arthur's. Put some of the lovely condiments on top and you are golden. They are fantastic and less intimidating to start out with. If you don't happen to be the biggest fan right away, try it at least once or twice more. I feel like with a lot of foods that we are resistant to trying, we immediately have an adverse reaction because we want to hate it, to be right. It's almost like our minds set us up for failure. But if we try things a few times with an open mind and get over the initial reaction, we might be positively surprised. Don't you feel like that's true for many other situations in life too? The parallels of food and life, isn't it beautiful :)?

Truffled Fries

Mac & Cheese

The rest of our evening proceeded just as beautifully as it had begun. Good food, great wine and even better company. Linds is such a dear friend of mine and any time I get to spend with her and her fiancee B, I appreciate so much.

Meatball appetizer

Miniature Tuna Tartar Taco assembled by none other than: moi

Tuna Tartar

All the food was wonderfully prepared. From the tuna tartar tacos and meatball appetizers, to the truffled fries and the carnival dessert. Everyone loved their entrees and I thought the cod I ordered was spectacular. It was moist and flaky, the sauce so flavorful with a hint of ginger and soy, and crisp sugar snap peas provided for a perfect contrast in texture I love so much in my food.

Grilled Pork Chop

Wood-Grilled Branzino

Yellowfin Tuna

Pan Roasted Cod

I usually have mixed feelings about new, "ueber" trendy restaurants. I tend to feel that a lot of these types of places do not have the goods to back up all the hype. I had been wanting to try Abe & Arthur's for a while, even though it would fit into that trendy mold. I must say it didn't disappoint. Kudos to executive check Franklin Becker. The food was amazing. I would definitely go back anytime. Although, I will say this: if you go, be prepared to dig deep into your pockets, Abe & Arthur's in not what you would call economical or cost-effective. It's definitely a treat!

Doughnuts - YUMMMMM

Smores in the restaurant... ummm, what?!?

Happy eating!!


Friday, July 23, 2010

Pappa Dukes' Famous Ham Salad

Ham salad in a sweet soft roll

So far I have brought you two hit recipes by Momma B. I am now presenting to you another family favorite: the ham salad, by none other than Pappa Dukes. If you know anything about the B-clan you know that Pappa Dukes is the resident chef in the household. Any major holiday he is your go-to guy. He cooks the Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners and many of the other 362 dinners a year.

I love love LOVE this ham salad. First of all, I like ham (how can I not!), but I am obsessed with pickles! Ham meets pickle, pickle falls in love with ham, ham and pickle live together happily ever after. To me this recipe is a match made in heaven! It's sweet, it's salty, it's juicy, soft and crunchy. It's perfection. Pappa Dukes serves it in a soft sweet roll but as far as I am concerned I could just spoon it out of the dish and eat it just like that. What?!? I don't see anything wrong with that!

SB actually is not a huge fan of ham but he looooooves this ham salad. It's that good.

Here we go:
  • 2-3 lbs of boneless sugar (or honey, or maple) cured ham, not the sliced deli meat, get a whole chunk
  • 1 (16 oz) jar of gherkin pickles
  • Hellmanns mayo
Cut the ham into big cubes. Add the ham and pickles into a food processor and pulse together. Don't puree - you don't want it to be mush. You still want to know and see what you are eating. Transfer mixture into a bowl and stir in the entire jar of pickle juice (I KNOW!! How awesome!! Music to my ears!!). Stir in Hellmanns mayo until the salad is moist (about 1/4 cup). Use your judgment. You don't want the mayo to overwhelm the salad. It really is only there to bind the ham together. You want to err on the side of less rather than more. You can always add but not take away! There you go! Serve in a sweet bun and you are ready to eat! YUM!!!

This ham salad keeps for about 7 days in the fridge.

Happy eating!!

JThis entry is dedicated to executive chef Pappa Dukes

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Momma B's Taco Salad

As promised I am bringing you the coveted Taco Salad. I have heard so much about this salad over the past few months. I was so excited to finally try it! Let me tell you - it did not disappoint!! On the day of our arrival to Hilton Head SB's parents had prepared a wonderful feast for us. It was such a perfect welcome for us because after traveling for 11 hours my stomach was ready to eat itself! I just couldn't wait to dig my fork into the mountains of shrimp cocktail,

ham salad (recipe by Pappa Dukes still to come!), brats, blueberry salsa and of course, the taco salad. It is a classic family favorite in the B-clan and it is simply scrumptious. Needless to say we all went back for seconds, maybe even thirds, but honestly - who is counting anyway. This recipe was passed down to Momma B from her mother, and Momma B was gracious enough to share it with me so I could share it with all of you.

Here it is:
  • 1 1/2 - 2 heads of iceberg lettuce, chopped
  • 1 - 1 1/2 lbs of ground beef
  • 1 pack of taco mix seasoning
  • 4 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 small (or 1/2 large) Vidalia onion, diced
  • 16 oz. pack of Taco shredded cheese
  • 1 bag of Nacho Doritos, crushed
  • Kraft Catalina dressing
Break up the ground beef in a skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil. After it is fairly broken up, add the taco seasoning and finish sauteing in pan. (This is optional: I like to dice half an onion and one minced clove of garlic and lightly saute it with a tablespoon or two of olive oil before I add the ground beef.) Drain any excess fat and let the cooked beef cool in fridge for a few hours or overnight.

Take your chopped lettuce, diced tomatoes, onions, shredded cheese, cooled beef, 1/2 a bag of the crushed Doritos, and toss together in a salad bowl with an entire bottle of the Kraft Catalina dressing.

Pour the rest of the Doritos over the top right before serving. Voila - all ready to eat!!

The great thing about this salad is that is so tasty and simple to put together. It involves minimal cooking but is still so flavorful. You can also eat it in a variety of different ways. You can put it in a wrap (KG, SB's brother in law likes to do that), you can put it into a hard shell corn taco and serve it as a traditional taco, but you can also served it as a side salad, or have it as your main entree with a slice of buttered bread. No matter which way you serve it or eat it - it is equally DE-LISH!!

I really hope you try it!!

Happy eating!!

JThis entry is dedicated to Momma B

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Blueberry Salsa in Hilton Head

Fresh ice cold lemonade

As promised, here I am with a recipe. It's late, but rather late than never, right? The laundry has kept me busy pretty much busy all day. It's truly amazing to me how two people can produce so much laundry!!

Upon our arrival SB's parents had already prepared a huge jug of ice cold lemonade. They are just amazing. It was just so perfect and refreshing on the super hot and humid day that it was. I always thought that it was humid in NYC during the summer. Well, let me tell you something, it is nothing in comparison to the humidity in SC. I mean they just take humidity to a new level.

In addition to the lemonade Momma B made blueberry salsa for us to snack on. I know what you're thinking - blueberry salsa??? It's definitely an interesting concept - but I can tell you that is just DE-LISH!!! When I first looked at it I was expecting more of a sweet taste because it kind of looks like a berry salad mix that one would have for dessert. But this salsa is just a satisfying as your regular savory, tomato salsa. I actually think that it is a little more flavorful because the blueberries really add something special. Momma B stumbled across this recipe in an issue Southern Living magazine and thought it would be perfect because KB (SB's brother) and KG (SB's brother in law) are allergic to onions. Regardless, of whether you can or cannot eat onions, this salsa simply fantastic and really hope you all try it. We ALL loved it!

Blueberry salsa as featured in Southern Living

  • 3 cups fresh blueberries (2 cups coarsely chopped, 1 cup whole)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced (use less or more depending on how spicy you like it)
  • 1/3 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (add a pinch more if you like it a little saltier)
Mix all ingredients together and eat - or cover and let chill in fridge for 8 hours.

Prepared by Momma B

Happy eating!!


Monday, July 19, 2010


I have returned and with me I have brought gifts for all of you: recipes!!! I have had an UNBELIEVABLE weekend with family and loved ones. As predicted it was a weekend of full of food, fun, love and little sleep. As exhaustion is setting in - I promise I will have some great stuff for you guys tomorrow.

In the meantime - happy sleeping :)



Saturday, July 17, 2010

Soul-connection at Apiary

Linds' skate

My roasted chicken

Beauty shot

I strongly believe that everything in life happens for a reason. I also believe that the people come in and out of your life with a purpose. Every once in a while you meet someone that you have an instant connection with - a soul connection. I recently experienced that with my friend Lindsey. We have known each other for a year through work, but never were close friends. Well, that changed in an instant this summer. Fate threw us together on our commute to work and we discovered that we have had almost identical lives, in different corners of the world. It was an instant love connection that was a year in the making. My Irish twin :).

To celebrate our new found friendship, we went to eat. Of course. I wouldn't know any other way but to celebrate with food. So Apiary it was.

Corn and shrimp gazpacho

Linds' green salad

I started off with the corn and shrimp gazpacho and she started with the green salad - both of which were ok. I think Linds liked her salad but I wasn't crazy about the gazpacho. For our entrees she had the Skate and I had the roasted chicken. Her skate was great! The fish was moist and so well seasoned and the sauce was amazing! I unfortunately, didn't get so lucky with my ordering. The gravy was the best part of the dish but there wasn't enough of it. The chicken was just dry. I didn't even finish half of it. Linds and I pretty much shared her dish.

For dessert we both had the panna cotta, which was just DE-LISH!! So creamy and yummy!!! It came with a slightly tangy but sweet raspberry sauce that was just a perfect complement to the silky panna cotta!

But the star of the dinner definitely was the dessert wine that Lindsey turned me on to: Moscato wine. I mean, where have you been all my life??? As soon as I had a sip of it, everything else became blurry and faded into the background. All of a sudden it was just me and the Moscato, all alone. I mean WHAT???? It's what I would call uh-amazing!! It's fruity, it's sweet, it's heaven. It's like sipping on a perfect grape. No wonder the Greek Gods were sipping on wine and snacking on grapes. I mean c'mon!!!

I'm in heaven: eating panna cotta and drinking Moscato wine :)

Take away message: drink Moscato wine!!!

'Til next time, happy eating!!


Friday, July 16, 2010

East meets West in Hilton Head

After hours of delays and 3 canceled flights my Mamma finally made it to Hilton Head, 7 hours after her expected arrival. The meeting of East and West is complete...

As expected there is a lot of laughter, lost-in-translation jokes and an endless amount of food. Once I get back I'll have so many new and outstanding recipes to share with you guys. There is the blueberry salsa, the taco salad, and the ham salad. They are all phenomenal!!

On the agenda tonight is the restaurant (appropriately named) EAT, for Momma B's birthday. Can't wait! I'll definitely let you guys know how that goes, but in the meantime I have to run to join the rest of the crew.

Happy eating!!


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Falafel Wrap on the Run

Falafel wrap

Today is all about getting ready for my upcoming trip tomorrow. SB and I are leaving at the crack of dawn to Hilton Head. It seems like there is still so much to be done and just no time to do it. Packing, laundry, cleaning, manicure and hopefully I can even fit a hair appointment in there, because things are out of control, if you know what I mean.

Clearly I am running around like a chicken with its head cut off. On days like these I like to go to this little hole in the wall place near where I live, called Baba Ghanouge and get a falafel wrap on the run. The whole wheat Pita bread wraps around the crunchy but soft falafel including some lettuce, tomato, pickled veggies of sorts and a flavorful tahini sauce. Now, will this wrap rock your world? Probably not. But it is pretty tasty and has all the nutrients to get you through a busy day. If you want a Falafel sandwich that will actually rock your world I'd go to Mamoun's - but that is a whole other entry. Now back to laundry...

Happy eating!!


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

TriFFFecta: Family, Food, Fun

My Mamma and me

To my right: Pasadena sissy, to my left: the little one

The B-clan +++

I am sooooo excited to see my beautiful Mamma :)! She is coming to visit ALL the way from Germany - with a little stop-over in Cali. She's also bringing my two little sissies along with her. One of my sister's who lives in Pasadena with her lovely husband. My youngest sister, whom we call the little one, and who is not that little anymore, is traveling here all the way from Korea where she is attending a language program at a University. I haven't seen any of them in over a year so it will be a mini reunion of sorts, with some members of family missing out on the action, unfortunately.

It will also be the VERY first time that Mamma and company are meeting SB and his side of the family. I have come to love SB's family as much as my own. They are amazing and so much fun and I just can't wait for all of them to meet! It will just be a huge love fest! I imagine that there will be a lot of hand-gesturing happening, since Mamma doesn't speak English that "fluently" i.e. barely any. I kind of wish we had a camera crew following us around so we could capture all the dialogue on film. It would be so funny to watch it back with some captions underneath, and see two people having two entirely different conversations. Haha! Maybe it's just funny in my head.

Of course, there also will be lots and lots and LOTS of eating. Every member of my family LOVES food just as much as I do - and no one ever goes hungry in the B-household. Pappa Dukes (as SB likes to call him) always keeps the fridge overflowing at all times. I know there are cookouts and various restaurants on the agenda. Momma B is planning on making her famous Taco salad, which I heard is always a huge hit. I actually haven't had it yet, so I'm very excited to try it. I will make sure that I ask her for the recipe, of course, so I can share it with all of you. And I am sure my own Mamma will whip something fabulous up, too. She always has something up her magical sleeve. I love corn on the cob - so I'm thinking about making the grilled corn on the cob recipe from Cafe Habana for the get-to-know-each-other-cookout (see recipe below). It is fantastic!!! We're also planning on going to EAT in Hilton Head for Momma B's birthday, which is one of chef Robert Irvine's restaurants. As you can see there will be no lack of food, food, food - my ideal kind of world :).

I'll have plenty to report when I get back.

In the meantime: Happy eating!!


Monday, July 12, 2010

SoHo kind of Lunch

My favorite Cuban sandwich

Today I decided to stroll through SoHo, just because. On my walk the path led me to Cafe Habana. I love Cuban sandwiches and I happen to think that Cafe Habana has the best Cuban sandwich in NYC. A great Cuban sandwich from a Cuban restaurant, makes sense right? The bread is crispy on the outside from the panini press, the pork has that slow-cooked flavor and the cheese just oozes all throughout the sandwich. But my favorite part is biting into the crunchy pickle in the middle. It's a fabulous little surprise. The other popular item from Cafe Habana and one of my personal favorites is their grilled corn. It's sweet, spicy, cheesy and simply awesome.

Look at those beautiful grill marks

Cafe Habana style Corn on the Cob Recipe:
  • Corn
  • Veggie oil (if you choose to grill the corn)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup of mayo
  • 1/2 cup of sour cream
  • Grated Cotija cheese
  • Pinch chili powder
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Lime
If you are grilling the corn, make sure you soak the corn in water for at least a couple of hours with the husks removed. Dry off and then brush with veggie oil, and throw on the grill for about 20 minutes. Rotate frequently. In the meantime mix the mayo and sour cream together. Slather the mixture on the grilled corn. Sprinkle a pinch of the salt, chili powder and cayenne pepper on it. Roll in grated Cotija cheese and serve with a wedge or two of lime. If you're not grilling but cooking inside, you can use this recipe on cooked corn all the same.

To complete the meal, I'd serve a Corona with a slice of lemon. Which is just what I had. I prefer my Corona with lemon, not lime. I think it tastes so much more refreshing! It kind of tastes a bit like a Shandy.

To top it of I had a not-so-little and very decadent treat from Rice to Riches. I love rice pudding and Rice to Riches has perfected the art of rice pudding making (Hmmm - Julie likes rice - nothing surprising about that LOL). They have flavors for pretty much every palate, which is about 21. My favorite are Old Fashioned Romance and Man Made Mascarpone with Cherries (I just LOVE mascarpone) and I got Cinnamon Sling with Raisins for SB. They are all equally creamy, milky, sweet and delicious!!!

Cinnamon Sling with Raisins

The rather unconventional way how Rice to Riches greets you

The afterthought that they leave you with

Happy eating!!

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