February 26, 2014

Bibimbap --- dolsot style

Have you ever eaten Korean Food?
Many people are familiar with Kimchi- which is fermented cabbage and
Korean BBQ, especially the cook at the table style and the side veggies called banchan

One of MY favorite and my bf's favorite dish is 'bibimbap'.
Not just any ordinary bibimbap but dolsot style.

Bibimbap is a Korean word meaning mix & rice.
Bibim means mixed and the bap translates to rice.
The breakdown of dolsot is dol meaning rock and sot translates to pot -- aka: a rock bowl.
The rice gets mixed with all the side veggies in a bowl in this case a rock bowl.

This by far is hands down the BEST way to eat bibimbap.
The rock bowl comes in handy because the rice gets slightly burnt and crispy with
brushed sesame oil on the bottom as you finish the rice off on the stove.

The side veggies are your choice. Some the the standard banchans
I add are usually spinach, shredded carrots, shredded zucchini or squash, cabbage,
sliced bell peppers and typically a protein either tofu or beef.
Some other items you can add are shredded lettuce, blanched sprouts, fern stems,
shredded radish and pickled cucumber just to name a few.

For the spinach- simply blanch it in hot water for about a minute. Strain the water and mix
with 2 tsp of sesame oil. Sprinkle some sesame seeds on top as well (the roasted ones)
I usually use the throw away gloves to simply toss it with my hand or you can use tongs.


For the shredded carrots (you can just buy already shredded or shred it yourself)
You can blanch the carrots or saute them in a drizzle of sesame oil. Again, top with
sesame seeds and a sprinkle of salt (to taste)

For the zucchini/squash you can lightly saute them while adding a sprinkle of salt (to taste).

The same can be done for bell peppers - saute with drizzle of oil and top with sesame seeds and salt.

If you are using cabbage or lettuce - you want to keep that raw and no seasonings on it.

For the tofu, cut into a shape that you favor and saute with 
a drizzle of both sesame oil and soy sauce. (about a TBSP of soy sauce for 1/2 a brick of tofu)

Traditionally, the rice would get cooked in the rock bowl from the beginning. 
I like to save time and make it easier by cooking the rice in a rice cooker, then simply 
brushing sesame oil on the bottom of the rock bowl and then lining the bowl with rice. 
(For every 2 people you want about 1.5 cup of rice)

These little bowls are perfect as one size servings and are super cheap. $5.00
They conveniently fit on a burner whether gas or electric. 
They will work on a ceramic stove also.

Cook the rice on low to medium low for about 15-20 minutes until the rice is crispy 
and almost burnt.  Once the rice is done, you want to add all the veggies (banchan) 
and then top it all with an over easy egg... or for those yolk- not popped fanatics-- 
you can simply just fry it. You want to line up the veggies separately on top of the rice
because it looks pretty with all the natural colors of the veggies and part of this dish 
is to mix it and eat it with a spoon. It's called bibimp (mixed) for a reason.

The sauce you mix on top is a pepper paste sauce. The easiest way of making it is..
take 1 TBSP (per person) of pepper paste and add about a teaspoon of soy sauce 
to dilute and to add as the salt flavor while adding a teaspoon of rice vinegar and 
a sprinkle of sugar.  (the sugar is optional)

We like to LOAD the veggies on! Super tasty and healthy.

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food

February 24, 2014

6 year old kids Cooking Class

This past weekend, we had another Kids Cooking Class with 3 adorable
6 year old ladies!  I call them ladies because they were so mature for their age
and were so attentative and easy to  teach and cook with.

We started off with putting on some personalized chef hats. These girls were celebrating
a birthday with an In-Home Cooking Class.

We made some Veggie dumplings with 2 home-made sauces. 
We also made some home-made pizzas in the shape of snowmen. 
We used different color veggies to decorate the snowmen. 
I think it's really great to be able to use veggies especially
with kids so that not only can they use to decorate their food but it really 
does make it more fun for them to eat.  When we do cooking classes--
it's always great to meet different people. Kids are also great to meet and they 
can be so entertaining especially in what they say. You never know what kids will say... 

One of the dipping sauces for the dumplings was a soy sauce dipping sauce and
I asked the girls if they knew what sesame seeds were and they answered, 
"they are from Sesame Street!"   hahaha!

How does one not love baby carrots for the nose of the snowmen?

We also made some fruit flowers using kiwis for 
the center of the flower and sliced strawberries for the petals and chocolate chips
for the stems.  We also made some psychedelic cupcakes!  
Who doesn't love cupcakes!  

Let's Cultivate Food had a wonderful time with these cutie-pies! 

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food

February 23, 2014

Girls Night In Cooking Class

Teaching cooking classes is always a great experience. We have recently been in over
100 kitchens. Yes, 100.  Some kitchens are super small where barely 2 people can fit into.
Other kitchens are so large that you have to walk across the room just to get to the trash can.
Some have gas stoves, some are electric and some are broken.

This class was a girls night-in class among 4 great girl friends.
One of the ladies had just moved into this great new home and they chose the
Thai menu and some of the items that their menu included were the
veggie dumplings, chicken satays and veggie Pad Thai.
These 4 ladies were fun to cook with!

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food

February 20, 2014

Personal Chef Dinner in Philadelphia

Most Personal Chef Dinners are .... personal... sort of. Not really. Maybe?
We often take pictures of our In-Home Cooking Classes but
not so much for the Personal Chef Dinners.

This group was generous enough to take some pictures for us.
We started off with just one item for a taste test for this dinner.
(We have dinner options where the entire dinner is a taste test
if you choose that option)

Testing your taste buds with Let's Cultivate Food starts off by
viewing 5 different items-- in this case, it was cheese.
You get to taste 5 different cheeses that look very similar and sort of
taste similar but are VERY different at least in where they came from.

As you can see from the picture, you have to figure out which cheese
came from a cow, goat, buffalo, sheep or soy.

In this person's case- they got one correct. The circled 'buffalo' which is 
the mozzarella cheese. My sous chef takes care of this portion of 
the class and again, he was fascinated by the facial expressions and 
head tilts of this groups/ tasting and guessing. It's always interesting 
to watch and see how quiet and serious everyone gets trying to 
decipher which item is which.

The first dish in this 4 course dinner was the raw tuna and cucumber 
skewers. I cut Kirby cucumbers (because I wanted less seeds and a 
crunchier cucumber) into little cubes about the same size of the raw tuna 
(sushi-grade) that I cut after the cucumber. I cut the cucumbers first 
so that I wouldn't have to take the time to wash the cutting board 
to save time.  (Anytime you have a meat/protein- you want to 
wash your cutting board)

For Personal Chef Dinners especially-- it's all about time
management because dinner is served in a timely fashion
like the way it is (or should be) at a restaurant.

The 2nd appetizer for this group was another seafood item- butter 
sauteed shrimp on cucumbers with avocado and diced red onions on top.  
Both appetizer dishes had wasabi mayo as the sauce and gluing agent. 

The 2nd course dish was the mango slaw lettuce wraps with sweet 
and spicy pork belly.  Shredded scallions were served as a garnish and 
endive pieces as well to be wrapped in as a 2nd option to the pieces 
of red leaf lettuce. 

I like to take veggies and use them in a way that is not necessarily 
the norm. In this case-  I used different colored bell peppers and 
cut them in zigzag cuts and used them as a bowl.  
(The sweet and spicy pork belly was put in the  
peppers for this Personal Chef Dinner.

Here is a closer look at the mango slaw. It had cubes of mango,
savoy cabbage, red cabbage, red bell pepper, cilantro, tomatoes and
an easy marinade of rice vinegar, a sweetener, a splash of soy for
some salt and the juice of a lime.

The main entree was the 'World Peace Noodles'  
This is a dish I created- starting  with the name. 
It is a favorite dish among many people. I simply named it 
"world peace noodles" because it has many different kinds 
of noodles and of course veggies in it.

Have you ever watched a beauty pageant or the scene from 
"Miss. Congeniality"  with Sandra Bullock and she says that she 
really does want world peace. hahaha. This dish has 4 different 

kinds of noodles AND they are all stir-fried TOGETHER
AND they get along!  WHAT!??  They are different and they 
get along?  They simply get along EVERY.SINGLE.TIME! 

The veggies in this specific World Peace Noodle dish were: snow peas, 
celery, carrots, enoki mushrooms, bunapi mushrooms and savoy cabbage.
The noodles were: green veggie noodles (made from spinach and broccoli), 
linguine, vermicelli and stir-fry noodles (aka: lo-mein noodles)

The sauce for these World Peace Noodles is super simple. 
Drizzle some veggie oil into your saute pan and start with the heartier 
vegetables like the carrots and celery to have them cook down. 
(I don't recommend olive oil in this dish because it will throw the taste off) 
Add the rest of the veggies and drizzle in some soy sauce --
enough to coat the veggies- maybe about 3 TBSP and about a TBSP 
of sesame oil.  Add about 2 TBSP of sugar or sweetener of your choice. 
Toss in a handful of each different kind of noodle.  
(You want the noodles to be already boiled and ready to go) 
Once the noodles are mixed in with the veggies it's a matter of using 
your muscles to toss everything together.  
Add drizzles of more soy sauce as you taste it while tossing/mixing 
in the saute pan.   You can also add more sesame oil but keep 
in mind that the sesame oil is being used as a seasoning oil 
for flavor and not to fry with. 

What's great about this dish is that it's colorful and a little fancier 
than a plain ole 1 noodle dish and it's easy and the natural flavor of 
the sweet carrots, snow peas and savoy cabbage work really well 
with the different kinds of mushrooms in it.

Lastly, the group was served dessert after they finished their main entree.  
Because this menu was Asian Fusion friendly and slightly customized 
I wanted to make the dessert on the lighter side with fruit rather than a 
heavy cake/pie or baked dessert which is more associated with our 
other Personal Chef Dinner menus like the 'Italian Indulgence'
or the an 'American Tuscany', 'A Night in Bangkok' and many more!

Again, I like to take everyday things and make/prepare it in a way that 
is not the norm.  Why did I cut the fruit into cubes and pile them up 
almost like a rubics cube or tetris-like?

When would YOU like your Personal Chef Dinner
Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food

February 18, 2014

It's not always what it seems like.

Today, I wanted to share a poem 

Mashed potatoes on the ceiling.
Green beans on the floor.
Stewed tomatoes in the corner.
Squash upon the door.
Pickled peppers in my pocket.
Spinach up my sleeves.
Mushrooms in my underpants with
leeks and lettuce leaves.
Okra, onions, artichokes,
asparagus and beets;
buried neatly underneath the
cushions of our seats.
All the rest I've hidden in my socks
and down my shirt.
I'm done with all my vegetables.
I'm ready for dessert!

         ---Kenn Nesbitt---

This poem makes me laugh a little
because of the things we don't like to eat
as little kids...

I'd like to share a story of a little boy named M.
When M was little, he did not like certain vegetables
especially PEAS-- almost with a passion.
M wasn't the fastest of eaters but he wasn't the slowest
of eaters either BUT, when peas were presented for dinner 
he would take over an hour to finish eating.

M would somehow take the peas when no one was looking,
and throw them under the table for the family dog to eat and enjoy.
(You know how dogs love leftovers and such right!?!!)
Every time the peas showed up during dinner time--- this became the ritual.
(Throw them under the table for the dog to eat)

Years later, as an adult- M has grown to love all kinds of veggies.
Peas are NOT one of them though. M still doesn't eat peas.
M was reminiscing with his mom a little while back and they both
discovered some interesting things.

M:  Mom, Do you remember how the family dog loved peas.
Mom:  What do you mean the dog liked peas? The dog didn't like peas.
M:  Yes it did. I gave the dog peas under the table ALL the time.
Mom:  (with a burst of laughter)  OH! that makes sense now!

All these years-- M's mom thought that her younger son was
the messiest kid eater because she would notice food
under the table and would have to clean it up.
(realizing later that it was always peas)
M thought that the dog ate them because he would come home from
school and during the next night for dinner would glance under the
table and see that there were no peas under the table.

#Itisnotalwayswhatitseemslike   #hahaha

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food

February 10, 2014

3 month old baby took an In Home Cooking Class

As I continue to share pictures of cooking classes, I want to share this one also.
This class was with 4 adults (husband and wife) along with 2 of their friends
AND a 3 month old baby. Do you see the chalk board in the background?
"3 months old"   The baby didn't participate on the hands-on part of the class. Haha.

The menu for this In-Home Cooking Class was a custom menu:
Beef sticks, Veggie Dim Sum, Exotic stir-fried rice and General Tso's Chicken.

This group of 4 was enjoyable and they were great learners as well! 
That evening was delightful!  The island counter in the center of the kitchen 
made the space perfect for a cooking class as well!

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food