Saturday, November 27, 2010

Butternut squash soup in an organic chic bowl

 I did another shot of the the butternut squash soup with coconut cream swirl on top. The point of this shot is the organic shaped dishware which I also used in the Korean BBQ pork post. I am sure you can't find these chinaware anywhere else because they are one of a kind art work from a ceramic artist. He teaches ceramics where I take drawing class, and I happened to mention I took food photographs and had a hard time finding unique and stylish dishware. He very generously offered me to take a tour of his studio and borrow anything I want. So I borrowed these three pieces that are the good size and shape as dishware. For recipe, please check out my earlier post: Butternut squash soup

Bon appetit!
Have a good weekend.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Korean BBQ pork(Daeji Bulgogi) for Thanksgiving dinner

Happy belated Thanksgiving! I was invited to a friend's home for Thanksgiving dinner and thinking hard what food to bring. since I didn't grow up eating turkey or pumpkin pie, I don't really know how to cook a traditional Thanksgiving meal. I finally decided to bring something exotic-Korean bbq pork. The first time I had it was in a Korean restaurant in the Canadian border city Niagara Fall. It was served in a sizzling cast iron plate like the kind for fajita. Once I tried it, I decided to learn how to make it by myself!

We had five ladies,one man, and 2-year-old baby all together. All ladies are army wives, but their husbands are all being deployed in Agfganistan except mine who is going to next year. Since I became friends with them, I've appreciated these girls who gave up exciting urban life to live in this rural town. Since there aren't many job oppertunities here, even those with college degree have a hard time getting a job, but they still keep themselves optimistic, happy, and active. When the husbands are gone, wives keep each other company to share their happiness and sadness, they work out regularly to maintain a healthy life, hoping to drop a size or two before the hubbies are back. Good thing is there's only three weeks left for the one year deployment! 

Daeji Bulgogi is another popular Korean meat dish similar to bulgogi. However, instead of using beef, thin sliced pork loin is marinated in a specially blended red chili pepper paste with various assortments of vegetables.Spicy and sweet, belive me, it tastes better than it looks! It was also one of the favorite dishes at our Thanksgiving dinner.

Korean BBQ pork/Daeji Bulgogi Recipe

1 lb thinly sliced pork (lean & boneless preferred)
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp crushed garlic
½ tbsp crushed ginger root
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp kochujang (Korean red chili pepper paste, available in Asian store)
2 tbsp rice wine (sake)
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 onion, sliced
2tbsp cooking oil

1. Combine all the ingredients except pork and cooking oil to make its base marinating sauce.
2. Stir in a large mixing bowl.
3. Add the pork and marinate for 30-60 minutes.
4. Turn the stove to high and add cooking oil in a deep pan or wok.
5. When it's smoky, add marinated pork to stir-fry until onion turns translucent and soft enough.
6. Sprinkle toasted seasame seeds and green onion for garnish. Serve with steamed rice.

    Friday, November 19, 2010

    Cauliflower soup with dancing fish flakes and oven-baked cheese crisps-the final instalment of the soup trilogy

    Japanese dancing fish flakes? such a beautiful name, but what the heck is that? Well, other names of it include "Dried Bonito", "Dried Bonito Flakes", "Katsuoboshi", "Katsuobushi", "Katsuo-Bushi". Still don't recognize any?  It is actually dried and smoked bonito (skipjack tuna) that is then shaved into thin flakes. It is a key ingredient in Japanese cooking, specifically its use in making dashi, a fish stock commonly used as a base in many recipes. As for why it's called dancing fish flakes, it is because when you sprinkle some on top of something hot, the heat makes them crimple and toss as if dancing. Topping this cauliflower soup with Bonito flakes is kind of my imporvisation, and it turns out surprisingly good! The smoky falvor does a good job boosting the mild taste of the soup. I claim it a success! :)

    The cheese crisps are another improvisation. Although the soup by itself is good, warm and healthy by itself, it's always better to pair with something solid, preferally crunchy to munch on. I was unfortunately out of bread, but found leftover parmesean cheese. So here are the cheese crisps!

    Oven-baked cheese crisps

    1 cup grated hard cheese (such as Parmesean) - NOT the dried powdery stuff


    1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

    2. Toss cheese with any seasonings you'd like -- garlic powder (about half a teaspoon for a cup of cheese), hot pepper powder, even cinnamon. Or leave plain.

    3. Pile 1 to 4 Tablespoons of cheese (depending on the size you want) on a baking sheet covered with a alluminum foil or parchment paper oiled on both sides. Flatten the tops so they are in more or less an even pile. There should be at least two inches between smaller mounds, 4 inches between larger ones.

    4. Bake 5 to 6 minutes until they are a light golden brown (they will be a little darker at the edges). It happens fast, so watch carefully.

    Cauliflower soup

    1  tablespoon  vegetable oil
    2  medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
    About 1/2 tsp. salt
    3  garlic cloves, minced
    1/2  cup  dry white wine
    1  large head cauliflower (2 lbs.), chopped
    4  cups  chicken or vegetable broth
    Freshly ground pepper


    1. Heat vegetable oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and salt, cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are very soft, 5 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and wine. Cook, stirring, until liquid is almost completely evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes.

    2. Stir in cauliflower and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until cauliflower is very soft, 20 to 25 minutes.

    3. In 3 batches, whirl soup in a blender until very smooth, at least 3 minutes per batch (or, if you'd like a few florets in your soup, blend 2 batches and leave the last chunky). Stir together and season to taste with pepper and salt.

    Saturday, November 6, 2010

    Roasted beetroot soup-adapted from Russian Borscht soup

    It's been a while since I updated my blog last time. I've been busy preparing my portfolio for design graduate school these days. I did quite a few drawings, some fine art photography projects, and am still waiting for my rice paper and ink to arrive so I can write some Chinese calligraphy. Drawing is something that made me feel grudged to pick up a pencil at first, but once absorbed, I just can't put it down until I finish. Totally love it!

    This is what Northern New York state was like a couple of weeks ago.The biker definitely knows how to enjoy the fleeting fall, but now, trees are bald, colorful leaves are gone, and the outdoor colors are just boring. Well, that's why I made this soup to cheer me up! 

    Since last time I tried butternut squash soup, I have fell in love with the concept of a bowl of warm soup in a cold day's night, especially it has snowed twice here in the past week!! Jeez!I love colors, intense colors, colors with big contrast. This roasted beetroot soup adapted from the Russian Borscht soup satisfies both my tummy and eyes.I hope it warms you up too!

    Here is the recipe to make this Roast Beetroot Soup. I added toasted pine nuts to top to give it a nutty and aromatic kick and light coconut milk to make it taste smooth and rich.

    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • ½  onion, chopped
    • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
    • 4 medium beets, peeled and chopped
    • 1 carrot, finely chopped
    • 2 cups chicken/vegetable stock
    • salt and freshly ground pepper
    • 3/4 cup coconut milk
    • A handful of pine nuts. 
    1. Toast pine nuts in the oven for 5 minutes or until gold, set aside.
    2. Set oven at 375F. Roast chopped beets for 40 minutes.
    3. Warm olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in onions and garlic; cook until soft but not browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in carrot and beets to cook for 1 minute.
    4. Stir in stock, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; cover, and simmer until the carrots and beets are tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat, and allow to cool slightly.
    5. In batches, add soup to a food processor, and pulse until liquefied. Return soup to saucepan, and gently heat through. Add coconut milk. Ladle into bowls, and garnish with a swirl of coconut milk, pine nuts and fresh thyme.