Kimchi Fried Rice (Kimchi Bokkeumbap)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

When I was first introduced to Korean food in high school, I immediately fell in love with three dishes--cold noodles, bibimbap, and kimchi fried rice. Being Vietnamese, I grew up on noodles and rice so it wasn’t a surprise that I gravitated toward those dishes. I usually order the cold noodles and bibimbap at the restaurant since they’re a bit more complicated to make. 

On the other hand, when I’m craving for rice and something spicy, kimchi fried rice is my go to! Surprisingly simple but so darn addicting, it’s on regular rotation with our traditional Vietnamese fried rice and Thai pineapple fried rice. 

My Korean friends told me that the eggs are usually cooked with the rice but I prefer mine with a fried egg on top, actually two because one fried egg is never enough!

Kimchi Fried Rice (Kimchi Bokkeumbap)
3 tbsps olive oil
¼ cup white onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
½ tbsp ginger, minced
1 cup of Napa cabbage kimchi, chopped
2 cups of cooked white rice, one day old
4 eggs, fried sunny-side up
Scallions and cilantro for garnish, both sliced thinly
Freshly ground pepper
Extra kimchi to serve (optional)

1. Heat a wok or large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.

2. Add 2 tbsps of olive oil and stir-fry the onion and ginger until fragrant. Add the garlic and continue cooking for another minute, making sure the garlic doesn’t burn.

3. Add the chopped kimchi and rice and stir-fry for another 5 minutes.

4. Decrease the heat to medium-low and press the rice down with a spatula and let the bottom crisp for another 5 minutes then turn off the heat.

5. In a separate pan, heat the remaining olive oil on medium-high heat and fry the eggs, one side until the white is just set.

6. Divide the fried rice among four plates, top each plate with a fried egg, and garnish with freshly ground pepper, scallion, and cilantro.

Cookbook Review: Good and Simple by Hemsley Hemsley

Thursday, April 21, 2016!important;%20margin:0px%20!important;%22%20/%3E
I was so excited to get the Hemsley sisters’ book Good and Simple since healthy and plant centric food is a part of our lifestyle.  After perusing the book three times, I was rather disappointed in the recipes.  Most of the recipes have been done in other books like chia pudding, smoothies, huevos rancheros, zucchini and carrot noodles, and many egg dishes.  There were a few that stood out to me like the butternut and almond butter porridge and brocomole but even then they didn’t sound tempting enough to try.  I was left rather uninspired to cook anything from Good and Simple.  If you’re looking for delicious and creative plant-based recipes then get a copy of Green Kitchen Travels, My New Roots, or a Modern Way to Eat.  I have cooked from all those books and found the recipes fantastic and left even my non-vegetarian family members and guests wanting more.             

*I received this book to review complementary of the publisher

Blueberry and mascarpone galette

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Galette is definitely one of my favorite desserts, even more so than pies or cakes. I love how rustic and forgiving the crust is. The spelt flour and almond meal crust is a wonderful base for all seasonal fruits--apples and figs in the fall, citrus in the winter, rhubarb and strawberries in the spring, berries and stone fruits in the summer. 

With the warm weather in San Diego, the berries started appearing early at the farmers market so I made one of my favorite galettes instead of waiting until summer. I love adding a layer of mascarpone and almond meal to give the galette a subtle richness. 

Wonderful on its own but even better when eaten with a few scoops of vanilla ice cream, this galette is a perfect way to end a meal.

Blueberry and mascarpone galette

2 cups of organic blueberries
Finely grated zest of 1 organic lemon
1 tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup of brown sugar
1 tbsp of cornstarch
¼ cup of mascarpone cheese
2 tbsps of almond meal
2 tbsp of sanding sugar or turbinado sugar

For the pastry dough

¾ cup of spelt flour (if you don’t have spelt flour, you can replace with another wheat flour or all purpose flour)
½ cup of almond meal
6 tbsps of butter, chopped into cubes
2 tbsp of icing sugar
pinch of salt
2-3 tbsps of ice-cold water

For the glaze
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp heavy cream

1. Sift the flours together. To make the pastry crust, place the flours, sugar, salt, and butter in a food processor and process until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

2. While the mixture is being processed, gradually add cold water until the dough comes together.

3. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead gently.

4. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for 60 minutes before rolling.

5. In a bowl, add the blueberries, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, and cornstarch. Toss with your hands to combine. Set aside.

6. Remove the dough from the fridge. Roll it out on a lightly floured surface to a circle of about 12 inches wide and ¼ inch thick. Move the dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

7. Spread the mascarpone cheese on the dough and leave about 1 ½ inch border. Sprinkle 2 tbsps of almond meal on top of the mascarpone cheese.

8. Arrange the blueberries in the center of the dough leaving a one and a half inch border uncovered. Fold the dough edges over the blueberries, pleating it loosely and leaving the galette open in the center. Patch the dough together if it breaks. Pour the juice from the blueberry mixture into the galette.

9. For the glaze, whisk the egg with heavy cream in a bowl. Brush the dough with the egg mixture and sprinkle the sanding sugar over the whole galette. Refrigerate the galette for 30 minutes.

10. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

11. Remove the galette from the fridge and bake for 40-50 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and crusted with sugar, and blueberries softened. Remove the galette from the oven and let it cool on the baking sheet.12. When ready to serve, cut the galette into eight pieces, transfer them to a serving plate, and top with vanilla ice cream.

Cookbook Review: Food with Friends

Monday, April 4, 2016


Food with Friends is such a gorgeous book and a great cookbook for entertaining.  Broken into six major sections--breakfast and brunch, tea time, happy hour, potlucks and picnics, desserts, and tiny takeaways--you’ll find many ways to cook for two, small gatherings, and big groups.  

Breakfast is one meal we rarely skip so I picked a few recipes from that chapter.  We loved the different steel cut oats with toppings especially the tropics (coconut, pineapple, and passion fruit) and the cozy (apples, cranberries, almonds, and cinnamon).  Similar to other porridge recipes, Leela’s recipes were easy and quick to put together.  The strawberry and balsamic lassi was really different but in a good way.  I’m used to balsamic strawberry ice cream so the flavor profile wasn’t entirely new to me but I would probably use less cardamom and eliminate the pepper next ime.  The lemon-poppy seed Dutch baby was a hit and it rose nicely in the oven, unlike many of the Dutch baby recipes that I’ve tried.  Unfortunately, the lemon and lavender French toast was a flop because the lavender flavor was overpowering and we didn’t particularly enjoy something that reminded us of soap.  The breakfast section had a great selection of recipes and I’m looking forward to trying the chocolate orange challah and roasted plum with burrata when stone fruits are in season.   

Other recipes that are memorable are the beet pickled eggs featured on the front cover.  We made this for our friends and they were mesmerized by the color and wanted to know how to make them.  This recipe is a keeper for the next Easter brunch we have.  My favorite recipe so far would be the the blueberry galette with oat crust which had an amazing texture.  This recipe would taste amazing with seasonal fruits--stone fruits in the summer, apples and figs in the fall, and even cranberries in the winter.   

Besides the delicious and creative recipes, Leela also included a lot of helpful tidbits on how to create an inviting table, where to source for housewares, stocking the pantry, and sending guests off with delicious parting gifts.  My only complaint is this book has too many sweet recipes and not enough savory.  The photography is absolutely gorgeous and vibrant, truly reflective of her work.  I really enjoyed cooking from Food with Friends and can’t wait to try more of Leela's recipes.

*I received this book to review complementary of the publisher

Cookbook Review: Eating in the Middle

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Eating in the Middle initially caught my eyes because I saw Aran Goyoaga (one of my favorite photographers) photographing the cookbook.  I didn’t read Andie’s memoir It Was Me All Along so I have no preconceived notion of who Andie Mitchell is.  I’ll just dive into the book and the recipes.  

Her baked banana donut recipe was the first one that caught my interest.  The recipe itself was pretty easy to make but texture-wise, it was not what I would imagine a donut would taste like. My husband is a huge donut fan and he didn’t approve.  If anything, it leaned more toward banana bread.  I also tried the Greek yogurt pancakes but they were just ok, nothing spectacular to be honest.  That light, fluffy texture that you would expect from a good pancake was definitely missing.  

I was about to give up on trying more recipes but the  tomorroats with blood orange and mint salsa sounded really good.  We usually buy about 20 pounds of citrus from the farmers market every weekend so I had a lot of blood oranges lying around.  I didn’t have any excuse not to try it.  Finally a winner!  The blood orange and mint combo was so refreshing and added so much flavor to the oats.  I will definitely be making this again.  The last recipe that I made was the skillet apple crisp with whiskey caramel sauce since both my husband and I like apple desserts.  The whiskey caramel sauce added so much goodness to that dessert and definitely made us feel like we weren’t cheated out of a real dessert.  We also had it with a few scoops of vanilla ice cream so that might have defeated the healthy factor.

Overall Eating in the Middle has a lot of healthy recipes but they might be too healthy for my taste.  I applaud Andie’s effort for creating these healthy and delicious recipes but felt like some of the recipes could have had better substitution in ingredients to really make the dishes shine.  My standard for healthy eating without sacrificing the delicious factor would be Diana Henry’s a Change in Appetite and haven’t found a book to beat that.  To pit Andie Mitchell against Diary Henry is definitely unfair so you'll have to check out Eating in the Middle for yourself. 

*I received this book to review complementary of the publisher

Cookbook Review: Sweet off the Vine

Sunday, March 20, 2016!important;%20margin:0px%20!important;%22%20/%3E

I have been a follower of Yossy’s blog since its beginning and couldn’t be more excited to have her book Sweeter off the Vine in my hands.  The recipes are divided by the seasons and focus on fruits.  If you don’t like fruit desserts then you probably won’t like this book.  You’ll find just about any fruits--rhubarb, strawberries, and cherries for spring, stone fruits, berries, melons, and figs for the summer, grapes, persimmons, pomegranates, apples, pears, quince and pumpkin for fall, and cranberries, citrus, and dates for winter.  Yossy also included a  helpful chapter on recipes for year round essentials like pie crust, pastry cream, vanilla extract, etc.

Let’s dive into the recipes!  My husband is a huge fan of mint chocolate chip ice cream so I had to make the fresh mint ice cream with cacao nibs.  We used fresh mint from the garden and the flavor was phenomenal.  The only thing that didn’t work well was the cacao nibs.  We both prefer good old fashion chocolate chips over cacao nibs as they tend to be a bit more bitter.  Since citrus is in season, I made the grapefruit and Meyer lemon bundt cake.  It was bold in citrus flavor but nicely balanced by the sweet glaze.  I can't wait to bring this in for my co-workers. This would be a very nice dessert served at  Sunday brunch.  We also tried the gingery lime posset since it was simple to put together and had such a beautiful lime flavor.  We didn’t have any candied ginger but didn't feel like it would take away from the dessert.  Overall the recipes were easy to follow and worked out very well.  

There are so many recipes I’m looking forward to making like the chamomile honey panna cotta, rhubarb galettes, rhubarb upside-down cake, cherry and rhubarb slab pie, blueberry skillet cobbler, concord grape pie, and Marie-Danielle’s apple tart.  If you’re a fan of rustic fruit desserts and seasonal fruits, Sweeter off the Vine would be a wonderful addition to your cookbook collection.  Mine is already stained with splatter of fruit juices and butter.  As a food photographer, I appreciated how Yossy included a picture for every recipe!  Sweeter off the Vine will definitely have its place in the kitchen’s shelf next to one of my favorite books, Ripe by Nigel Slater.  

*I received this book to review complementary of the publisher

Korean Fried Chicken Wings

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

People often ask where I get ideas for recipes and my answer has always been--EVERYWHERE. Sometimes, it’s a recipe from a cookbook, a food magazine, pinterest, or someone’s blog. Most of the time though, it’s a delicious dish that I had a restaurant and tried to recreate at home. In the case of these Korean fried chicken wings, the inspiration came from a food court at a Korean supermarket near my house. I had many wings before but these Korean fried chicken wings were different! Flavorful, crunchy, sweet, and tongue hurting hot from the gochujang. They would give those hot sauce wings a run for their money. 

I couldn’t bear to pay $6.99 for a pound of wings so I set my mind to make them at home. Over the course of a few months, I would ask for tips from my Korean friends and used my wings making experience to develop the recipe for these morsels of deliciousness. I made mine a little less spicy than the restaurant’s so I can still taste other foods afterward. If you can handle the heat from the gochujang, feel free to add more, double or triple the gochujang!  Enjoy!

Korean Fried Chicken Wings
1 tbsp garlic, crushed
1 tbsp ginger, crushed
1 ½ tbsps gochujang (more if you like)
2 tbsps white rice vinegar
2 tbsps soy sauce
¼ cup of honey
1.5 lbs chicken wings, joints separated and tips removed
1 ½ tsps salt
Vegetable oil for frying
1 tbsp of toasted white sesame seeds, for garnish
¼ cup of green scallions, thinly sliced for garnish

Flour paste
½ cup of rice flour
½ cup of water

Flour dredge
1 cup of rice flour
1 tsp baking powder

1. To make the sauce, in a food processor, combine the garlic, ginger, gochujang, soy sauce, vinegar, and honey and pulse until well combined.

2. In a small saucepan, pour the sauce and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Once it starts bubbling, remove from heat and set aside.

3. Season the chicken wings with salt.

4. To make the flour paste, in a bowl whisk together the rice flour and water until it becomes a thin paste.

5. In a different bowl, whisk together the rice flour and baking powder.

6. In a large stockpot, heat 3 inches of vegetable oil over medium-high heat until it reaches 350 degrees F.

7. Dredge the wings in flour, dip them in the flour paste, and dredge them again in flour and shake off any excess flour before placing them in the hot oil. Fry for about 4-5 minutes until lightly golden.  (If you decide to use the whole wings, they'll need to be fried for about 6-8 minutes.)

8. Transfer the wings to a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain the excess oil.

9. Place the wings in a large mixing bowl, pour the sauce into the bowl and toss to coat evenly.

10.Put the wings on a plate, garnish with toasted sesame and scallions, and serve immediately.