Gogijeon - Meat Pancake
Roughly, gogi means meat and jeon means pancake. I say roughly because pancake to a Korean does not bring to mind the classic Americana imagery of fluffy flapjacks covered in syrup. Instead, the batter is meant to be savory like with Kimchi Pajeon, or just some kind of egg coating.
I make mine with ground pork for the tenderness, and don't add salt because it's naturally salty, and will be served with a soy - vinegar dipping sauce.
Kimchi Pajeon - Korean Pancake
When my husband decided he wanted to change to a vegetarian lifestyle, my mother was stumped. She was concerned, and still is to this day, that there woudn't be enough for him to eat at our family gatherings, or when she came over to drop off food in fear that we were starving. Then we remembered the beloved savory Korean pancake. Success!
This pancake is not sweet in any way, and is actually great with pretty much any combo of ingredients you'd want to try, like seafood. The base of this dish is in the translation of the name: Pa (green onions) jeon (flour type batter). Mine are thicker and fluffy - because I use club soda, sorry mom! - with a crispy edge. I usually add tons of garlic and other pungent ingredients to my food, but the sour kimchi takes care of all of that.
Mandu - Korean Dumplings
Mandu is the Korean version of lumpia, pot stickers, gyoza, or any other dumpling out there. Mandu-mania is the fun you have making about a hundred of these tasty bundles.
Having flashbacks of my childhood with my umma and her friends gathering around making thousands of these together makes me realize two things: dumplings take some love to make, and it helps to clear the mind. Cheaper than therapy and at the end you get to eat!
The main difference between the varieties of dumplings is the filling. This recipe is a base on what I usually start with, then add whatever else I want as an extra bonus, like kimchi and spiciness. My umma would tell you this isn't the filling she would have done, but I say every household has their version of memory filled meals.
Crispy Hash Browns
I'll cut to the chase. Grate your potatoes if you want crispy hash browns that cook all the way through. That's the secret.
Just like the biscuits we've made together that uses grated butter, this simple recipe - is it even a recipe if there are only 3 ingredients? - bows down to the grater that's usually an overlooked tool in the big ol' kitchen drawer.
I will say the best thing about these hash browns is the fact that it takes less time to make than cooking store-bought frozen potatoes. I've stood in front of the stove for too long, too many times, before I learned my lesson that frozen potatoes never get crispy. NEVER. At least for me anyways.
Potato, Green Bean, and Olive Salad
The side dishes I love to make are the ones that I can throw together pretty easily. Yea, if you're kitchen is empty - I mean really empty, not "I can't find anything to wear when you have a closet full of clothes" empty - then you are a salmon out of luck. But that's why stocking your fridge and pantry with staples makes home cooking easy.
So I'm putting down a recipe for this salad, but really you can take the measurements and even the ingredients into your own hands. Here's how I map my decision: Start with something that's cheap but the substantial part of the salad (roasted potatoes) add a crunchy veggie (fresh green beans) mix in something briny (olives) add fresh herbs (parsley) and finish with a light dressing (mustard). Side dish. Done.
It's time to kiss 2015 goodbye and hope that 2016 treats us well.
Charcuterie plates, traditionally with slices of prosciutto and the like, are my favorite way to feed a group of folks that want a little variety. The possibilities are endless to what you end up putting on the platter, but I usually stick to some briny items, creamy cheese, flavorful meats and a thin cracker that doesn't get in the way. All the extra bits just make everything even more special.
In true Northwest fashion, I thought I'd do some switching around and add seafood to the platter. These particular clams and salmon are smoked, and the best part about them are they are ready to go right out the package. Fanciness on a budget and short deadline.
No, the cranberry dish isn't just decoration on the Thanksgiving table.
This tart relish is an annual staple for me. It's the soprano of the choir. The Screech in a high school clique. But most importantly, it's the taste that cuts through all of the heavy food. And the best part is, it's freaking easy to make.
Ok, real talk. I make this for the actual holiday, but I honestly love it the day after. When you're making that turkey sandwich and it needs a little zing. Because we all know the leftovers are the best part.
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
There is an unfair advantage, with 2 heads of roasted garlic dotted into these savory clouds. But it makes me feel anchored when I'm building my plate. I also make this during the year when I'm wanting another option other than rice. Blasphemy, I know.
Some like gravy to be the star of this dynamic duo, but the flavorful potatoes are the winner for me. It's easy to make with only five ingredients, being the least burdensome on the menu.
Sage, Celery, and Walnut Stuffing
Stuffing. The second most important thing - arguably the first - on the table during the day of thanks. Unfortunately, the pressure to be a star can make this dish fall short. Too dry? No thank you. Too mushy? Bleck. The biggest offense? Bland.
So how are we going to get full flavor when this dish is vegetarian. That's right. No animal meat. Even in the broth. We're going to flavor said broth with some umami and use large chunks of veggies and herbs so you can see the ingredients you're eating.
I always end up using a fresh loaf and dry the bread pieces in the oven. This recipe is still perfect for those of us that remember not to toss the loaf that's a couple days old.
Pan Fried Brussel Sprouts
I was a really good eater when I was a kid. Broccoli, tomatoes, mushrooms. Bring it on.
But then there were brussel sprouts. I was so confused how something so cute, that was obviously made as cabbages for dolls, had such a foul smell. When I actually tasted one, the mushy texture caught me by surprise in a negative way.
As with most jarring food memories, we usually discover alternative ways of cooking dishes to our liking and actually become a fan. Or, maybe it's tasting the difference between something fresh instead of in a plastic bag from the freezer aisle, covered in what could be butter.
Endive and Honeycrisp Apple Salad
This is the salad to take to a potluck this fall.
Full disclosure: I've had really good salads in the past, but I find the harmony of the ingredients to be the same. In this particular recipe, the warmth from the walnuts are married with the creamy goat cheese. The apples dusted with nutmeg make you think of everything Fall, and the endives are dressed with a clean note that ties everything together like a bow. We're ready to party.
Oven Roasted Carrots
Before I tell you how naturally sweet and delicious this simple recipe is, I have a confession: I used to hate carrots. Before you judge, let me say that my avoidance was the same reason I didn't want anything to do with iceberg lettuce and that tasteless addition of sliced tomato to the salads of my childhood.
Now, I love to go to the farmer's market in my neighborhood and nab these vibrant beauties. I take a bite of one of the carrots first when they're raw, because sometimes they are so sweet that they don't need the touch of sugar to round out the magical lemon and parsley combo.
Crock Pot Apple Butter
Autumn in Washington State is a magical time in our farmers markets. There is a bounty of squash, hearty greens and of course the mighty apple.
In the state where most apples are born in the good 'ol U. S. of A., I was amazed that my born and raised Northwestern husband didn't know what apple butter was. Of course, not every family from the same region eats the same meals, but I have a feeling my (half) southern roots might have given me a higher chance of exposure to the buttery gold. I knew I had a task - nay, an obligation - to make this a familiar spread in our household.
Open-faced Cucumber Sandwiches
I don't remember playing "tea party" growing up. Come to think of it, I've never had a Mr. Potato Head either. Obviously, I've been robbed of many childhood normalities.
These cucumber sammies are incredibly easy to make and a crowd pleaser, even for the pickiest of eaters. There are only a few ingredients - which is why my homegrown cucumbers shine in this recipe - and take minutes to assemble. Since these are for a grown-up tea party, you can have a drink while you assemble them. Because so many things are better as an adult.
Cole Slaw with Green Apple
When my husband told me that one of his favorite foods was cole slaw, it was almost a deal breaker. All I could hear out of his mouth was mayonnaise mayonnaise-mayo-mayo-mayo.
So when something is just a tad too creamy for me, I like to add some sharp flavors like lemon and green apple to balance it out. Now, this dish has become a staple and we are no longer a house divided ... on cole slaw. We are still split on the issue of how many times a person really has to see The Godfather in one's lifetime.
Grilled Veggie Salad
I mean, the vegetarians can eat this too. This is one of those salads that bring the water filled lettuce sides to their knees.
Too often, the side dish is cast as the second fiddle, but what do you do when the salad upstages the main event? The secret is, when there's charred goodness involved, no one will be the wiser. Maybe you'd like a different combination of vegetables. No problemo darling, because this dish is as versatile as the count of stars in the night sky. Just make sure to have a holy trinity of vegetables and Zeus himself will light that grill for you.
Grilled Peaches with Cinnamon Whipped Cream
I would eat a mushroom over a cupcake any day of the week.
I have to say, I do indulge into the white crystals when the uncontrollable temptation wins. But sugar, savory morsels will always win with me.
This is why I love fruit, especially when it's grilled. There's a natural sweetness that comes out that caramelizes to perfection. This dish is paired with a kiss of sweetness in the whipped cream, then topped with a sprinkle of brown sugar. Because if you're going to eat sugar ... eat the sugar.
Roasted Almonds with Herbs
I know. You think I must have checked into crazy-ville, suggesting you turn on your oven in hot weather. For nuts.
But I have to tell you, with a recipe that can be a topping for a variety of things (salads, pasta, chicken) it'll be worth it. Frankly, calling something so simple to make a recipe is a little weird for me, but the outcome is quite delicious. I'm using dried herbs - so they don't burn - on my nuts, but you could really set your imagination free on these jewels. Taking a savory or sweet route is up to you.
Marinated Green Olives
I've had a love/hate relationship with olives. I don't blame my younger self for dodging the black, sliced and shriveled specimens that found their way on my pizza. But then one day, my husband-to-be showed me a new world of briny goodness. I couldn't believe that I was depriving myself of the different varieties of olives, with their wonderful flavors and texture. I'm all aboard the love train.
Now I'm going to show my affection with a warm olive oil bath, infused with aromatic flavors ... for the olives. The husband gets to have homemade mac and cheese whenever requested, so he knows where he stands.
Quick Marinated Radishes
I like briny things because I'm addicted to kimchi. My taste-buds have trained themselves to seek out that extra oomph on the side with meals, in order to be satisfied. Sadly kimchi is not always an option (because of the availability and because some have not adapted to kimchi's glorious scent). So I turn to the radish, not only for being beautiful jewels in the spring garden, but because they naturally have a bite on their own.
We've roasted radishes, which brings out their sweetness, but today we're going to celebrate their sharp and crisp flavor.
No Mayo Potato Salad
Mayo and I have no hard feelings towards each other, but sometimes it's annoying to look over at the side dish you made, and wonder how it became unappetizing 5 minutes under the sun. Switching out a few things makes this potato salad perfect for your next bbq, creaminess included.
You can use any combo of ingredients, making sure to add:
- Fresh and crunchy (cucumber, celery)
- Sharp brine flavor (olives, capers)
- Acid (lemon, vinegar, mustard)
- Herbs (parsley, dill, basil)
Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs
Like myself, most people have a love-hate relationship with deviled eggs. Each delectable bite casts a spell that morphs all your logic, making you forget that - no - you do not need to eat the whole tray.
Then there's the peeling of the shell, that can lead to yelling curses out of frustration. Thank goodness Epicurious shows some tips on the best way to get a smooth egg every time.
But let's go back to how delicious they are. And how adding some Northwest flavoring with smoked salmon elevates this classic dish to a heavenly level. It almost validates how many you ate when no one was looking.