Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Blinchiki so Myasom

So now that I am enjoying a proper COLD climate, I have started to get reminiscent of Russia.  So this week I made Blinchiki so Myasom(Pancakes with meat).  Russian pancakes are thin like crepes.  But they use them is so many ways, they make them sweet and full of jam, sour cream, sweetened condensed milk etc.  They also have the melted cheese and ham version, but the really fantastic way to have Russian pancakes is used like a burrito wrapper around some seasoned ground meat.
I typically use straight ground beef, but the best way is a mixture of ground pork and veal.
Note to my companions from Russia, this is the blini recipe I used to make your breakfasts all the time.

Meat Filling
500-600g ground meat (70% lean is best, you don't want completely lean - the fat is where the flavor is!)
1 medium-large onion, shredded, juices and all
3-4 garlic cloves minced
a good handful chopped parsley
a good handful chopped dill (you can use dried for either of these, but compensate with more, for flavor)
salt & pepper

combine all these ingredients and mix well.
cook on medium heat until browned through and simmered a little bit
remove from heat and set aside

3 eggs
3 cups milk
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons oil

mix all ingredients together until they form a creamy consistency and the batter pours out of the measuring cup in a smooth creamy stream.
Heat a flat-bottom skillet to medium-low and pour 1/3-1/2 cup of batter in and turn the skillet in your hand to coat, depends on the size of the skillet for the amount of batter. cook through and flip - remove quickly - repeat until the batter is gone

Building your bundles of joy! Make an Eggwash with one egg and some water.

I set up my filling station like this
two heaping spoonfuls of meat onto a blin
fold the edges in

the bottom up
dip your fingers in the egg wash

smear on the bottom flap

and close up shop

repeat until you use all your meat

heat the pan again with some olive or vegetable oil - lightly fry the fat sides to close the cover firmly and heat the meat through again

serve with sour cream on the side
it really isn't complete without awesome sour cream

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


I know it's been um....many months.  But I traveled Europe this summer (more about the amazing food I ate there later).  I also moved to Beijing, volunteered at the Tour of Beijing and started a new job.  So I've been busy.  But I have also been collecting more inspiration!
While traveling Europe I came across fantastic food and even more fantastic people.
I'd like to re-inaugurate my blog with a dish that I have been wanting to cook for awhile, and with Winter starting to set in here in Beijing it's just the ticket for filling your stomach with exactly what your body needs!
Gogumabap is Korean Sweet Potato Rice.  Goguma is a sweet potato and bap is rice.  I love sweet potatoes and they are a great source of vitamin A and can be found in most countries and climates in one for or another, as can rice.  They keep well and taste fantastic, so look forward to possibly seeing more sweet potatoes as the winter months progress.
I made this a few nights ago with the intent of eating it for lunch at work the next day.  So I didn't put the whole deal together right away - but let me tell you, when I fully assembled everything at work, it was absolutely delicious.
Serving for two

1 cup of short grain brown rice(short grain is important)
450g or 1lb washed peeled and cubed sweet potatoes
fresh water cress with shortened stems(you can grow this easily in your kitchen window, even in winter)

1/4 cup soy sauce (if you are picky, I recommend going to your local Asian market and getting a good Dark Soy Sauce - it really tastes so much better than Kikkoman)
2 Tblspn Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 cup of finely chopped asian chives, green onions can be substituted
1 Tblspn toasted sesame seeds
1 tsp Honey
1 clove of finely minced garlic
1 tsp of Korean chili pepper flakes, if you don't want to go to the Asian grocer, take regular whole chili flakes and chop them finely

wash the rice 3 times or so, until the water rinses clean.  set the rice with one cup of water in a thick bottomed pot - or a stone one if you have that lying around.  let the rice soak for 30 minutes while you prepared the potatoes.
place the potato cubes in the pot with the rice, put on high heat until it comes to a boil - and let it cook for about 15min, then turn the rice and potatoes over and cook for an additional 15-20min until the rice and potatoes are cooked fully
remove from heat - let cool slightly

While the rice is cooking, make the sauce.

serve into bowls & place water cress on top with 1/2 the sauce in each serving.  Mix - enjoy! Don't forget to have some kimchi on the side!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

two springtime side dishes

so a few weeks ago I was again craving potatoes, and my good friend Patty was going to Chile for a month and demanded that I come over and cook her something.
The funny thing was, that when I was biking over to her house, I saw her out walking...going shopping.  She told me to just let myself in and start cooking.
She lives in a Villa compound, she has a separate private home, this villa compound is like being in little Western World.
Anyways, I made her these two dishes, it was the week before Easter and these would be perfect Easter sides.  I also made a bread pudding...but I was less impressed with that, so I'm not going to post about it.
please don't judge me for not making my own puff pastry, yes I know how to make it, and I'll talk about that another time I guess.

Potato Tart
7-8 good sized white round potatoes, halved and thinly sliced
one package of puff pastry
parmesan cheese
1/2 red onion sliced
salt & pepper
fresh chopped parsley

boil the potatoes until they can be pierce with a fork, remove from water and dry on paper towels or kitchen towels
roll out the thawed puff pastry and cover with a layer of shredded parmesan cheese, leave a 6cm(2in) border
layer the cooled potatoes with the red onions prettily over the parmesan
top with more red onions, season with salt and pepper
turn the edges over to close the sides of the tart
bake at 200C for 15-20 min until the pastry is golden and browning on the edges
top with more fresh cracked black pepper and the freshly chopped parsley

Braised Peas, Leeks and Little Gem Lettuce with Mint I didn't alter this recipe at all! (although I'm sure it would taste even better with a healthy splash of white wine instead of water to wilt the lettuce)
just follow this link here!
 Mine looked like this -

tortilla española con pico de gallo

oOtherwise known as tortillas de patatas,  this is a delicious down to earth meal that can be eaten at nearly any temperature and for any meal.
Basically it is a potato omelet.
lately I have been on a potato kick....and when I say lately...i think I mean all the time.
when I get mochi, I get purple potato flavor...when I go to the cafe with friends, I get the white sweet potato latte...if I can, I put potatoes in everything lately. for the tortilla:
3-4 large sliced potatoes
1 medium onion sliced, or 1/2 a large onion
2 cloves of garlic crushed
4-5 eggs depending on their size, large-ish
olive oil
salt pepper

fry the potatoes with the onions in the olive oil until the potatoes are tender and start to color and the onions are starting to caramelize, add the garlic, cook another 1-2 minutes.
in a separate bowl beat the eggs until they are well blended
remove the potatoes and onions from the heat, allow to cool briefly, then add the potatoes to the eggs, mix loosely, return the frying pan to the heat and add the egg/potato mixture, make sure the potatoes and onions are spread evenly around the pan.
allow the eggs to solidify a bit, lift the sides of the omelet and allow more liquid egg to run underneath
repeat this process until the egg it relatively solid on top
with a large plate cover the frying pan and flip the omelet onto the plate, then slide the uncooked side back into the frying pan cook for a few more minutes until the other side is crisp
remove from heat and cut with a pizza cutter

pico de gallo
sweet tomatoes chopped
red onion chopped
yellow pepper chopped
cilantro roughly chopped
lime juice
roasted corn kernels (optional)
jalapeño or anaheim chile chopped (optional)

mix all ingredients to taste and serve on top of slices of the tortilla, can be served with soy sour cream or standard sour cream if you are not dairy free

this can be a gluten and dairy free meal

Monday, March 5, 2012

green smoothies

all this becomes....
this tiny bit of liquid
so I am back on my biking regime, and I have started ending my morning rides with a nalgene bottle filled with green smoothie as a rush off to class.
Ok, so after reading about them, and thinking...yes, I need more vegetables and I'm starving after my morning ride, I went for it.
I read some books I bought on Kindle and off I went.
Here is what I have come up with...a very BASIC guide to building your own green smoothie.
1. Fill up your blender with spinach and 1/2 cup of soy milk, or regular milk or water. *I use non-fat vanilla soy. Also note, the better the blender you have the more milk you need, if you have a blendtec or something similar add a bit more milk.
2. blend until you have a lovely bright green liquid at the bottom
3. add two or three more veggies
4. blend
5. add three fruits (make sure one is a "base" fruit i.e. Apple, Mango, Durian, or Banana, these blend well and aren't too water heavy and are strong enough in flavor to take the bitterness out of the greens)
6. blend
7. drink

Seriously.  That's all I do.
Try different combinations.
So far my favorite has been
Spinach, Cucumber, 1/4 Red Onion, Apple, Mango, Strawberry.
I would recommend also using other greens like Kale, Mustard, and Arugula.
If you are counting calories these do pack a punch...however, they are all great calories.  I am not hungry and full of energy after these.  I seriously don't need to eat lunch until later because of these awesome smoothies.
If you are doing intense cardiovascular work before consuming these(like me) I actually have started to add soaked instant oatmeal and steamed and cooled edamame to my smoothies because I need the protein and carbs after 40km on my bike. If you have hemp or soy protein powder I recommend add that too!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

ugly food

I have embarked on an odyssey of making ugly delicious food for a little while(stay tuned for green smoothies!) Sunday I had made crockpot split-pea soup.  I was a bit disappointed in it, so I didn't post about it.  I saved the leftovers for another day.  Today was the day, it was cold and rainy(finally!) so I busted out the leftovers and thought...well, I definitely need to make it better this time around.
Sunday I didn't have any carrots when I threw the soup into the slow cooker, so I committed a cardinal sin of aromatic omission.  I correct this by added some cubed sautéed carrots, heavy cream and a healthy fingerful of extra sharp cheddar cheese at the end.  The result was astounding.
Serve with toast rye bread(Jewish style, not Russian)
this can be made dairy free by substituting non-dairy sour cream and non-dairy cheese and omitting the butter.  Forego the bread for a gluten free meal!

Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup
1lb. dried split peas
ugly lookin thing...
6cups chicken stock
6 slices of bacon cut small and fried crispy, set aside
one red onion diced
two stalks of celery chopped
three garlic cloves minced
one large carrot or two normal, diced
half of a fuji apple chopped

Aussie Cheddar I use all the time
in the bacon grease, saute the onion, celery and carrots until soft, then add the garlic for about 2min
add all the ingredients to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 5-6 hours.
When it's ready to eat, stir in some salt, pepper and two tablespoons or so of heavy cream or sour cream and a tablespoon of butter.
serve with shredded cheddar cheese and rye bread

Thursday, February 9, 2012

this week in food

so this Sunday I made an AMAZING Cheddar Ale soup with Irish Soda Bread....but I totally forgot to take pictures....I know sorry.  But I included the recipe at the end...because I did remember to take photos of some other foods I ate and made this week! can you resist locally grown perfectly ripe strawberries in February!!! 

 I went to the wet market on Wednesday and visited a fruit stand that I often go to, and the proprietor offered me a strawberry.  It was heaven.  The best strawberry I have had since I did U-Pick when I was thirteen years old.  I bought not a few, and took them home to serve to my friends Domé and Susie(and Susie's boy Jared) that came over that evening to visit me.  I whipped up some slightly sweetened cream and added some Belgian caramelized biscuits to the fray. MMMmm!
Pomelos are like fortresses
At the market I also bought two Pomelos.  Pomelos seem to be in season because they are crazy cheap and sweet right now.  I took my beauties home and began to hack away at the rind and pith of one.  I think I understand what it is like to try and lay siege to a U-Boat now.  Getting to the fruit in these tanks is no easy task, and then you are confronted by the worlds biggest pips! The pith and skin in Pomelos cannot be eaten or tolerated like in an orange, it is far more bitter, so you have to extract the citrus from within the membrane area, it's a lot of work - but such a lovely reward.

So Today I invited some friends over to play Wii and relax.  I decided that, like all my guests I wanted to treat them.  So I scanned the internet for inspiration.  I have to admit...I'm not an amazing baker.  But I did want to see what the big fuss back home was all about.  So I dipped my toe into the swimming pool of Cupcake-dom.
Cherry Coke Cupcakes
The Players
 So I used the core of my recipe from here, but inspiration and ideas from a few different recipes.  One recipe recommended using Kool Kola extract, I wish I could get my hands on some easily, but I couldn't. So I used vanilla extract instead.
1 1/2 cups flour
3 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 granulated sugar
1/2 cup or 113g unsalted butter
1 egg
1/2 buttermilk
3/4 cup coke(not diet)
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract(if you can substitute Kool Kola extract, you can find it online)
3 cups of coke
one can of cherry pie filling
1 cup of heavy whipping cream
4 tablespoons of powdered sugar
3/4 cup of powdered sugar
maraschino cherries for garnish
Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt together, set aside.
combine the buttermilk, coke and vanilla - set aside - don't worry if it looks curdled
cream butter and sugar, add the egg
alternately add the flour mixture and coke mixture - in four turns.
scoop into cupcake liners - bake 18-20min at 350F or 175C.
take out and cool
While the cupcakes are baking take 3 cups of coke and slowly reduce it to 1 cup of coke.
after the cupcakes are cool, use a paring knife to cut cone shaped holes in the tops of the cup cakes
then prick the tops with a toothpick around their edges
gently spoon some of the boiled down coke into the holes tilting and pouring a little at a time(note, don't soak the cupcakes, just moisten and give them more of a coke flavor, then with a tiny spoon fit 1-3 cherries in the wells that you cut with the paring knife, however many will fit
make a glaze by taking 2 Tablespoons of the remaining reduced coke mixture and add it to 3/4 cup of powdered sugar, let it sit to thicken a few minutes - then drizzle on top of the cupcakes.
add the 4 tablespoons of powdered sugar to the whipping cream and whip with an electric mixer until stiff
count out how many maraschino cherries are needed and rinse them well with clean water(otherwise they will drizzle red all over your whipped cream)
with a piping bag or a plastic bag with a hole cut in the corner pipe the whipped cream onto the cupcakes, top with a lovely maraschino cherry and enjoy.
They were moist, and kinda crazy delicious.  I would have liked a stronger coke flavor, but I didn't have that lovely Kola extract.  These are pretty, but a lot of work.  I think I will stick to dinners, and sloppy desserts.

Cheddar Ale Soup
I modified this recipe, with ideas and inspiration I gathered from the internet, Food Network and my own tastes.  I found that the bitey richness of the soup was complimented extremely well with the light sweetness of the soda bread.  This is a great winter meal, and let me say, that if by some miracle you have leftovers, both taste even better the next day!

6 slices of thick cut bacon cut small and cooked till crispy
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large leeks, halved sliced thin
1 large fat carrot, or two normal ones, diced
2 healthy sized celery stalks, diced
3 cloves of garlic smashed and roughly chopped
2 large par-boiled potatoes
1/3 cup all purpose flour
2 cups of pale ale
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups chicken stock
375g shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese - I used Beqa Strong&Bitey(a lovely Australian brand)
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

retain a few tablespoons of the bacon to cook the veggies, melt the butter with the bacon fat and toss in the leeks, carrot, and celery; cook until tender
add the garlic, cook for another minute or so
add the flour, make a creamy roux
add one cup of the ale, reduce out the alcohol
when the roux begins to thicken add the other cup of ale
reduce just enough to see the base thicken a tiny bit
add the chicken stock
heat through until it begins to simmer
add the milk and cream, heat through until simmering
add the potatoes
one handful at a time add the cheddar, otherwise it will clump
once all the cheese is incorporated I added the remaining 1/2 cup of ale at the bottom of the bottle
season with salt and pepper
serve with the bacon sprinkled on top, and Irish Soda Bread on the side

I am sorry but in my late Sunday hunger I completely forgot to photograph this meal.  Next time I guess.
But it was seriously a beautiful meal, very photogenic.