Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bulgogi - Beef Korean Style

This is probably one of my all time favorite dishes from growing up. It is the kind of comfort food that brings me right back to my childhood. I remember when my mother used to cook this, the smell would perfume the entire house, and every minute I had to wait to eat was torture! I'm salivating just thinking about it.

I thought that it was just me (and probably every other Korean child) that loved this dish, but it isn't so. When I made this for SB for the first time, he couldn't get enough of it. I believe the words out of his mouth were "I could eat this every day for the rest of my life!"

But without further ado here it is:
  • 2 lbs of beef sliced into thin strips against the grain (any cut of your choice is fine - obviously the more tender of a cut the better but you don't have to go crazy)
  • 1/2 cup of soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of Mirin
  • 1/4 cup of beef broth (or water is fine too)
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger (or ground through microplane)
  • 3 cloves of minced garlic (or ground through microplane)
  • 1 small onion julienned
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 diced green onions
In a mixing bowl combine the soy sauce, brown sugar, Mirin, beef broth (or water), ginger and garlic and toss the beef strips in the marinade and set aside. In a frying saute the julienned onion in olive oil. When the onions are translucent, turn up the heat to high, and all the entire beef marinade mixture. Cook until the beef is cooked through. The cooking times will vary depending on how hot the pan is and how thinly sliced the beef is. Turn the heat off and as a finishing touch sprinkle the green over the top and it's ready to be served. I will generally served with over brown rice with a side of kimchi. In Korea no meal is complete without a side of kimchi :).

Happy eating!!


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Eat at eat!

Tuna tartar, wasabi honey ginger, avocado chutney, soy ginger

I don't know about you, but for me, every once in a very rare while I experience those special, key moments in life, when everything comes together perfectly in front of my eyes. When everything just seems to make perfect sense and a feeling of peaceful happiness fulfills me. I really don't know any other way to explain it but to call it a visual and visceral epiphany of sorts - although I don't think that description really does it justice either. The kind of moments that make you feel like jumping for joy, laughing out loud, wanting to cry out of happiness - and all at the same time. And somehow you just end up with a big grin on your face, while everyone else wonders what is the matter with you. But I'm sure you know what I mean. They are those moments you wish you could bottle up and keep with you forever. The kind that fills you with a deep sense of gratitude. These moments that give you the kind of serene knowing that, as confusing, complicated and challenging this world may be at times, that everything has its perfect place in this universe and everything truly does happen for a reason.

I feel as though I have uttered these words so often, mindlessly, as sort of a mantra, as I do my best to navigate through this labyrinth called life. But in gifted moments of clarity these simple words resonate so true within.

That is exactly what I experienced at eat! in Hilton Head. Everything in my life leading up to that moment made perfect sense and it was beautiful sight. It was one of these momentous occasions for me that will forever be etched in my memory. Momentous not because anything big or extraordinary happened but because it was simple and therefore perhaps extraordinary in its own right. Life at that moment was reduced to what is truly the only important thing in life, to me: family and the people I love. Kind of like a sauce that you reduce to its essence. All the excess and unimportant things evaporate and what you are left with is the heart and soul, the backbone. For the first time, I was with my family and my SB's family together at one table, sharing a spectacular meal. I was in the company of the most important people in my life and I couldn't imagine anything better than that.

We were laughing, eating, translating, sharing stories, hand-gesturing and chatting eagerly like reunited old souls. We were celebrating Momma B's birthday, our families and the gift of each and every day of good health.

The gang: Pappa Dukes at the head of the table; to the right of him in order: SB, me, Mamma, the little one and Wonni. To the left of Pappa Dukes: Momma B, Pies, Gibs, MS and KB.

Now, I am sure you are curious about the food. I mean after all this is a food blog of sorts, right? Well, let me tell you - it was fantastic! The restaurant is owned by chef Robert Irvine of Food Network's Dinner: Impossible. It comes as no surprise after you eat his food that he once was a White House chef and also worked on Charles & Diana's wedding cake. I will let the pictures do most of the talking, but I urge you - if you find yourself in the Hilton Head area, make yourself a reservation at eat!. You won't regret it.

Cornmeal crusted oysters, Tabasco butter, blue cheese, Asian slaw
This was my mothers favorite dish. My Mamma thinks similarly to me in this regard: how can a meal that includes oysters be a bad one? It can't. The crunchiness or the cornmeal and the slaw provides a very nice contrast in texture. This dish is definitely not your traditional fried oyster. It's a must try!

Blackened snapper and grits, bay shrimp, tomato havarti grits, red pepper goat cheese coulis, balsamic
This, as it was explained to us by the waiter, would be their signature dish if they had one. One of the most popular items on the menu. 4 people from our gang ordered it and loved it!

Fried green tomatoes, brown butter, feta cheese, balsamic
I mean, you can't go to the South and not have fried green tomatoes, right? This was a first for me and my family and we loved it. But then again, can you think of anything that is fried and doesn't taste good?

Seared diver scallops, cajun spice, mango butter
I loooove me some scallops. To be honest, I haven't met a scallop that I didn't like (so far, at least). This was no exception. Yum, yum, yum!!!

Pan roasted free range chicken roulade, pork sausage stuffed, pan jus, roast vegetable couscous

Pan seared breast of duck, black bean more, cherry gastrique, cilantro and micro herb citrus salad
My mother orderd this dish and loved it. I must warn you though, if you try to order this dish anything but rare the waiter may bite you head off. My mother isn't a big fan of rare meats and prefers them at medium temperature at the least. Well the waiter insisted and was quite adamant about serving this duck rare and if she wanted it cooked anything more than medium "she should order something else." It was definitely one of the more interesting conversations I've had at a restaurant. lol

Fennel brined pork chop, orange pepper gastrique glaze, house made kraut, veal stock
DE-LISH!!! I just love a good pork chop. This was everything I was craving at the time. It was hearty but lean. It was sweet and savory and it was cooked just the way I like my pork: medium ;) with just a little pink in the middle. My mouth is watering just thinking about this dish.

Lobster mac & cheese
Need I say more?

I am showing you only a fraction of the food that we had. I think we ordered pretty much one of each item on the menu (whoever said our families love to eat??). By the time the appetizers were consumed I was already bursting out of my seams. I was so grateful that I had chosen to wear a forgivable and expandable dress versus pants. It may have gotten ugly. What we accomplished that night truly bordered on competitive eating. And just to drive my point home here's a photo of one out of 4 desserts we ordered:

eat! gets 3 and 3/4 out of 5 meltingpots!

Happy eating!!


Friday, August 13, 2010

Pizza Pizza Pizza

After an extended hiatus I have returned to the world of blogging!

I thought a perfect way to return - is with pizza! Everyone loves pizza, right?? From a recent get-together that SB and I hosted we had a lot of cheese leftover. It was too precious for me to throw out but at the same token way too much for two people to possibly consume. I thought about how I could put all this cheese to good use. I thought about Mac and Cheese but somehow that didn't excite me and then I thought about Fondue but for that I didn't have enough of the right cheeses. The only option in my mind left was (yes, you guessed it): Pizza! Ahhhhh!!!!

I remember growing up in Germany, pizza was always one of my all time favorite foods to eat. But it was also one of my favorite foods to make. Some of my fondest memories of my childhood are in the kitchen with my mother and my brother and sisters. We would knead the dough, throw flour at each other, laugh together, and throw any toppings we wanted onto the pizza. (OK - so perhaps not one of my mother's fondest memories as she was left to deal with the mess and destruction that we left behind in the kitchen). The anxious wait to eat what we had made always seemed to last forever. But when we finally got to eat it, it was so satisfying, and perhaps as a child even a little tastier knowing that we had made it ourselves.

Now as an adult I still enjoy a good pizza and there is still something so satisfying about getting your hands dirty and kneading the dough. I know, some might still prefer to have a big, sweaty, hairy Italian dude get his aggression out on the dough. Let's be honest here with ourselves, that is how it's been done traditionally. Not that there's anything wrong with that - but why let him have all the fun?? I'm telling you if you have never done it before you're missing out! You might find it quite enjoyable; plus every now and again it's nice to defy tradition.

I got this recipe for pizza dough from Giada on the Food Network:
  • 1 pack dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cup warm water
  • 5 cups flour
  • Pinch of salt
In a bowl combine the warm water and yeast and stir a little to dissolve the yeast. In a separate bowl combine the flour and salt and mix. Combine the dry and wet ingredients and mix. Dump the mixture onto a clean working surface and start kneading the dough. Now - I have found that 1 1/2 cup of water (as the recipe calls for) was not enough. So much of baking and working with flour depends on environmental conditions, such as humidity as well. In my case I needed about another 3 tablespoons of warm water to get the consistency that I wanted. My suggestion is, as you knead the dough add additional water one teaspoon at a time and see how the dough comes together. You want the dough to be soft, smooth, workable, elastic but not stick to your hands.

Then place the dough in a greased bowl with either butter or olive oil, cover it with a damp kitchen towel and place it in the oven (turned off). Let it rest and rise for 2 hours. Then remove the dough from the bowl and knead for few minutes and cut into 3 or 4 equal balls (depending on how small or big you want the pizzas). Place each dough ball into another greased bowl and again place a damp towel over it and place in the oven (turned off). Let rise for another hour.

After the hour has passed, knead the air bubbles our of the dough and roll it out on a floured surface. Place the rolled out dough on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Top it with any toppings of your choice and bake for 15-17 minutes at 475 degrees.

Here is my favorite, I call it the Fresh Fresh Pizza (here are the ingredients. Place in the order in which they appear):

  • A drizzle of Olive oil
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • Very finely minced garlic
  • Very finely sliced red onion (use a mandoline if you have one)
  • Whole basil leaves
  • Fresh Mozzarella
Another one I love, is my Veggie Pizza:

  • Tomato sauce
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Minced garlic
  • Sliced onions
  • Minced bell peppers (all colors)
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • Minced kalmata olives
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese
The beautiful thing is that it really is so easy to make and you can really put anything you like on it. Have fun with it - be experimental! This is truly such a fun activity to do with you family or even friends. Make the dough, have some friends over, open a bottle of wine and then reap the delicious fruits of your labor!

Happy eating!!

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