April 29, 2013

Mixed Mushroom Salad

Although growing up I didn't favor mushrooms too much, I do enjoy all sorts now.
I made a mixed sauteed mushroom salad the other night and it was Balsamic, full-flavored
and herbaceous.


I diced 1 medium sized onion and grated in 2 garlic cloves and sauteed them in some butter.

While they were heating up in the pan on medium high--
I washed and sliced up some shiitake mushrooms, baby portabellas, 
one pack of enoki mushrooms and some oyster mushrooms.

There is a myth that you shouldn't wash mushrooms. Again, there is a myth.
If I'm using them right away-- I usually give a quick rinse and squeeze them
in a clean kitchen towel or a paper towel.  If you are going to not use them
right away-- I do not recommend washing them. It is better to store them in
the refrigerator unwashed. They will last longer and not be water logged. 

I simply added the marvelous mushrooms into the pan once the onions had caramelized.
I added about a TBSP of Balsamic Vinegar along with chopped up herbaceous thyme.
I had some fresh figs on hand that were rich in their ripeness so I simply cut them in half 
and added them to the mixed mushroom salad. The mixed sauteed mushrooms
were put on top of a bed of sliced romaine lettuce. The salad was not heavy even though
I used a spoonful of butter to saute the mushrooms. The blend of garlic, butter, balsamic 
vinegar and thyme gave the mushrooms a seasoned and flavorful taste that you don't
even need salad dressing to put on the lettuce.

Zestfully, Let's Cultivate Food

April 26, 2013

Gifts for GRADUATES!

Graduation time is right around the corner!  

Remember those days away from home sweet home, those late nights, 
gulping caffeine-infused energy drinks, sleeping all day-staying up all night, 
random drives to 24 hr open stores for no reason, late night junk food galore,
cold pizza and fries the next day and oh yeah the classes!  haha.

As those hard-working graduates graduate... it's also time for many of us
to start thinking (if we haven't already) of what to get those graduates!

You want to get something extra special for them that they will 
ALWAYS remember even years down the road, don't you? 
Why not make it simple and purchase an activity you can enjoy together!

An In-Home Cooking activity!   
Maybe that graduate has a favorite food entree or cuisine that you as a group can
have fun making together and of course eating as well!!!  Good times. Good times.

My sous chef can take pictures from start to finish while you, the graduate and your
friends/family get your "fun-on" and "laughter-on" making and cooking delicious food.

We can also take your pictures and make it into a poster collage for the 
graduating person as well.  

This special "Graduate Price" will be offered from April 26th - May 25th, 2013.
Please keep in mind that this is a type of gift where you pre-purchase through Paypal.
(blue "P" on top right of page is the Paypal button link)

We'll mail you a card (greeting card style) so that you 
can write a message and present it to your graduate.... simply when they graduate or earlier.
Then you can choose a date/menu and get your "cook-on"!
The April 26th - May 25th time is just the promotional time when the graduate deal
will be offered... the class activity itself will take place most likely after May 25th.

The discounted Graduate Price is $50 for the class 
plus $15 per person for the ingredients. The food basically. 
So whether there are 3, 4, 7, 10 in your group- It will be $50. times $15 per person.

Just in case you didn't get that... 
for a group of 4 it would be $50 + $15X4 = grand total of $110.
the breakdown of that is $27.50 per person. Not too shabby!?!

For more info of the class itself... you can click the class link.

Lastly, to purchase/order the Graduate Gift you can simply click "FORM"
to see what menus are available (custom ones available as well)

Zestfully, Let's Cultivate Food

April 24, 2013

HOT POT at home!

One of the first times I had a hot pot meal served in a restaurant was in Chinatown, Chicago.
It was more of a soup where you picked and chose items off of a list and then cooked the 
items in the broth yourself. 

Another take on a hot pot dish is to make a healthy stir-fry. 
You simply take any veggies you and your friends or family would enjoy smelling and 
hearing the sizzle of.  This specific hot pot stir-fry was all veggies and bulgogi in the center.

In this particular hot pot made at home- we added:
~button mushrooms (sliced about 1/2 a pack)
~wooden ear mushrooms
~scallions (sliced long and diagonal)
~enoki mushrooms (1-2 packs)
~napa cabbage (1/4 head of medium size or 1 small)
~2 carrots cut in jumbo match-stick
~1 red bell pepper
~ vermicelli noodles

You simply add the veggies all around an electric skillet type of equipment and place the
bulgogi (click to see marinade for bulgogi) in the center (already marinaded)
You can pour about a cup of beef or veggie broth or simply water to get it started!

Simply turn your skillet on 350 degrees/medium high/ #4... depending on your device
the temperature setting will be different and that's it!
If you are just using water rather than a broth... I would add a sprinkle of salt over the veggies
or you can add 1-2 TBSP of soy sauce mixed in with the water.

Serving with rice is optional but definitely recommended!  YUM!

Zestfully, Let's Cultivate Food

April 19, 2013

Black Bean Sauce with Noodles "Jajangmyun"

Ja-jang-myun is a Korean noodle dish.
Traditionally, it consists of wheat noodles that are topped with a delicious,
thick, condensed, salty and gratifying sauce.

"Myun" is noodle in Korean and the "jajang" translates to "fried sauce"
This noodle dish originated from the Shandong region in China years beyond years ago.
The dish immigrated to Korea and is an extremely popular dish in Korea-
so popular that it also immigrated to the United States.
You can order Jajangmyun in many Korea-town areas throughout many different cities.

The Chinese and Korean Jajangmyun are very similar but the Korean version uses
a lot more onions and has caramel in the sauce.
These days, the black bean sauce is already made and in jars where you can simply
scoop out the black bean paste rather than pressing and fermenting the beans yourself.

Jajangmyun is always accompanied with pickled radish (yellow-it is dyed) and often with
a little bowl of largely diced raw onions and a scoop of raw black bean paste.

I made a really quick version of Jajangmyun the other night.
The sauce is always made from pork which gives the sauce that heavy but flavorful taste.
The other veggies in the sauce are :

~1 potato (I substituted 2 small sweet potatoes)
~1 large diced onion
~pork chunk  (I substituted beef)
~2 carrots diced
~1 zucchini diced
~2-3 fresh cloves of garlic minced or 1 teas of garlic powder
~potato or corn starch (1 teas) - to thicken the sauce (mix equal parts of luke warm water)
~3 heaping TBSP of black bean paste
~pack of dried or fresh wheat or flour noodles (can use whole grain to make super healthy)
~ cucumber- julienne or matchstick cuts for garnish

I decided to cut some carrots like a flower for a garnish.

I started with sauteing the onions first --
(cooking them for a while starts to caramelize them making them sweeter)
I then added the beef cubes and once the beef was cooked-
I added the potatoes, carrots and lastly the zucchini.
(You don't need to add any oil because the fat from the meat is more than enough oil)

When everyone in the hot tub(saute or frying pan) has cooked down...
you can spoon in your black bean paste.
Lastly, you can add in your 1:1 ratio of warm water and corn starch.
You want to make the thickener in a separate little bowl rather than just tossing it in the pan
simply because otherwise- it will clump in your sauce and not do its job.

It's a shame the plated image came out blurry. By using beef instead of pork made the sauce
a lot lighter in taste which was nice because often after eating Jajangmyun- you feel very heavy
from the pork fat.  It was a good, tasty and yummy bowl of Jajangmyun!

Zestfully, Let's Cultivate Food

April 18, 2013

Spicy Korean Cucumber Salad

Spicy Korean cucumber salad is a great "banchan" side-dish
when it comes to Korean food.  It's great any time of the year and is refreshing.
The tangy, tart vinegar along with the spicy pepper flakes and the crisp crunchiness
of the cucumber itself is a great combination.

It's pretty easy to make as well. Below are the ingredients.
Once you slice your cucumbers- you simply want to take the rest
of the ingredients and mix them in a bowl and then toss it around with the sliced cucumbers.

It's best when they sit for a little while so the seasonings especially the vinegar gets
soaked into the cucumber to give it best flavor!
(Kirby cucumbers or English cucumbers will work best for this banchan)
(simply because they will have less seeds)

2 Kirby cucumbers
2 teas of rice vinegar
1-2 teas of pepper flakes (the Korean kind where there are no pepper seeds!)
1 teas of sesame oil (the toasted kind of course!)
sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds (maybe about 1 teas)
1/2 teas of salt AND sugar

Zestfully, Let's Cultivate Food

In Home Cooking Class Philadelphia        Birthday gift present activity cooking class

April 17, 2013

Hot Dog! .....waffles

Hebrew Nationals + Bisquick pancake mix = Hot Dog Waffles!

It's pretty self-explanatory how these came about.  I was craving pancakes but wanted a hot dog also.
So what better than to have both at the same time.  LITERALLY.  Right?

Simply take some Hot Dogs (Hebrew Nationals- winner of an In-Home taste test)
split them in half and cut them in half as well.  Take some wooden skewers and skewer 
the un-cooked hot dogs. Then line them up.

Haha! You don't actually have to line them up. 
Lay them in a waffle iron and then pour in your waffle mix.  
When your waffle iron is ready--- carefully take the waffle dogs out and cut them 
so they are easier to eat!

For the sauce in this picture- I used about 3 TBSP of whole grain Dijon mustard (had the seeds in it)
1 tsp of soy sauce and about 1 tsp of lemon juice and I also chopped 2 stems of chives.
(you could use scallions instead of chives also)
I got over my craving of waffles and hot dogs after these really easy Hot Dog Waffles!

Zestfully, Let's Cultivate Food

April 13, 2013

Korean BBQ- an easy take on it.

Korean BBQ is an awesome way of eating BBQ.
Especially if you have a grill or griddle type of cookery.
When we think of BBQ- we might often think of the southern style of BBQ
with ribs, coleslaw, biscuits, corn, and so much more which is also finger "lickin" good
but what's extra fun with Korean BBQ is that it's often interactive where you can
cook at the table while assembling lettuce wraps with your freshly cooked meat
right at the table!  You know it's yummy when the meat hits the hot pan and you
hear that sizzle and smell the smokey, flavorful scent of sweet, sweet and spicy BBQ.

Some of the side condiments can be
Roasted Garlic~~
An easy way to roast garlic is to take the whole head and slice the top off
so that the cloves are exposed--drizzle a little olive oil on top and wrap them
in aluminum foil and simply place them in muffin tins on bake in the oven
on 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.
You can do the same on an outside grill as well.
(If you are roast/grilling them outside- you don't need the muffin tin-just wrap them in foil)

Shredded Scallions~~
You can purchase a tool to shred scallions or simply just cut them with your knife
in long strands.  You can drizzle a teaspoon of soy sauce rather than salt.
You can also add a sprinkle of sesame seeds and pepper powder flakes as well.

When choosing which meat to BBQ for Korean BBQ---
the most common meats are:

Bulgogi which is thinly sliced rib-eye
(which is often the same cut of meat in really good cheese steaks)

Kal-bi which is Korean for short ribs-
You can purchase the ones with or without the bone for Kal-bi.
(this cut of meat will be the most expensive but worth the taste)

Pork Belly (thick cuts of bacon) are also a popular cut of meat when
BBQ-ing.  The sauce/marinade for the pork is often spicy.

The marinades are very similar but you can change it up by adding your desired
degree of spiciness to your friends and families comfort level.

Bulgogi (ribeye-not spicy)
sliced rib-eye, slices of onions, scallions, carrots, sliced mushrooms (optional) sesame seeds.
---marinade: soy sauce (enough to coat the meat but not have a puddle in your mixing bowl)
---sugar (about 1 TBSP per pound of meat)
---sesame oil (a few drops - about 1 teas)
---rice vinegar (any vinegar is ok-rice vinegar is often associated with Asian cuisine)
    (about 1 TBSP-equal parts with the sugar)
---grate in 1/4 Asian pear or apple (optional) - (natural sugar and a natural tenderizer)

You can use the same marinade for the Kalbi (short ribs).
Carrots and mushrooms are not used for the short rib recipe.

ingredients: pork belly, slices of onions, scallions,  sesame seeds (optional)
---marinade: soy sauce (enough to coat the meat but not have a puddle in your mixing bowl)
---3 TBSP of pepper paste (or more to your spiciness liking)
---grate in 1/4 Asian pear or apple (optional) - natural sugar and a natural tenderizer)
---grate about an inch of ginger (the ginger helps take away the smell of pork)
---sugar (about 1 TBSP per pound of meat)
---sesame oil (a few drops - about 1 teas)
---rice vinegar (any vinegar is ok-rice vinegar is often associated with Asian cuisine)
    (about 1 TBSP-equal parts with the sugar)

Lastly,  the best way to enjoy your Korean BBQ is to have some red leaf lettuce 
and wrap your freshly cooked meat wrapped in lettuce with rice- (optional),
the roasted garlic, the shredded scallions, spicy cucumber (optional) and 
of the course the yummy, delicious paste.

The paste is simply made from equal parts of Korean red pepper paste and miso paste.
a few drops of sesame oil, rice vinegar and  sesame seeds to garnish. 

Your friends and family will surely enjoy this BBQ feast that you can create with them...
as long as they are not vegetarians.
The Korean BBQ menu is surely for meat lovers!

Zestfully, Let's Cultivate Food