Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry 'Grilled Potato' Christmas

And all the other blah blah blah's...

Noooo I am not in a Grinch mood, just being silly. I have much to do, some traveling, and so many other things going on.

I have made a major decision in my life. I am having gastric bypass. After a year and a half of working out in the gym, making eating adjustments, a sugar addiction, and a metabolic syndrome diagnosis (not losing much weight) it is time to do something drastic.

Two of my friends here in New Jersey have gone through it and have successfully kept the weight off. But if any of you have gone through it and want to share with me you can email me at

Check out this site I follow. Her vegan eating and photography (she has a lot of blogs) inspires me. Pearl Pirie @ Eaten Up! is a published poet in Canada and keeps a log of her daily outings and prepared in home meals.

Photo above is also taken by Pearl. The red illuminates a continuous heat of the grilled potatoes.

Merry Christmas and a Happy 2012 New Year to you all!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Moroccan Lamb Chops (keep scrolling)

The Moroccan lamb chops are coming. these are goat cheese croutons. Yes big ones!

I decided to host the next wine tasting, and our theme was Bourdeaux. Lamb goes well with this wine and the locally raised lamb I chose would need to be served alone. Well, a small amount of basic home made mashed potatoes would hold it up, with a drizzle of sauce.

The beginning dish would be a salad of roasted golden beets with goat cheese medallions.

The lamb is dressed in a marinade of olive oil, ground spicy mustard; then dipped in crushed pistachio, garlic, Moroccan seasonings and finished off by a pan sauteed. Let them rest and serve.

Don't forget to let the chops sit for half hour before cooking for a perfect medium rare state. I often let a steak or meat period sit out for a half hour or so before cooking. It helps keep the meat cook to temp as need be.

You should chase this down with a good Syrah or Bourdeaux.

I didn't bother cleaning these chops up because I was in a hurry, and guest were coming soon. The last time we had dinner with our AWS friends, the men commented they would use their hands to eat the lamb chops. So I figured as an informal meal any meat still on these bones would be enjoyed. Have extra napkins on hand.

Our guest said they were succulent'ly good!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Korean Soup/Stews

I like my stews and soups all year long, so finding it in many variances was a good thing in Korea.

Soup or 'guk' are a common part of any Korean meal. Unlike other cultures, in Korean culture, soup is served as part of the main course rather than at the beginning or the end of the meal, as an accompaniment to rice along with other banchan. Soups known as guk are often made with meats, shellfish and vegetables. Soups can be made into more formal soups known as tang, often served as the main dish of the meal. Jjigae or 'stew' are a thicker, heavier seasoned parts of the meal.

My routine was a dip of rice, then into the jjigae.

The top photo is a seafood jjigae called- Tojangguk are seasoned with doenjang (soybean paste). Common ingredients for tojang guk include seafood such as clams, dried anchovies, and shrimp. For a spicier soup, gochujang is added.

The middle photo is a Malgeunguk, they are flavored with ganjang (Korean soy sauce). Small amounts of long boiled meat may be added to the soup, or seafood both fresh and dried may be added, or vegetables may be the main component for the clear soup.

This bottom photo is of a Sundubu jjigae. It is a soybean paste and tofu stew. If you like a soup that is more than fifty percent soft tofu, or a vegan, then you will like this. I began asking for it with less tofu. I did get strange looks, but I was put off by so much soft tofu. The last two photos do look alike, but they are different.

Stews are referred to as jjigae, and are often a shared side dish. Jjigae is often both cooked and served in the glazed earthenware pot (ttukbaegi) in which it is cooked. The most common version of this stew is doenjang jjigae, which is a stew of soybean paste, with many variations; common ingredients include vegetables, saltwater or freshwater fish, and tofu. The stew often changes with the seasons and which ingredients are available. Other common varieties of jjigae contain kimchi (kimchi jjigae) or tofu (sundubu jjigae). (Information from Wikipedia- and from my son's Korean friend- Cindy Lee)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sushi Came From Korea, Originally?

With my family touring Korea we often had versions of sushi and local students would say the trend started in their country. I am not totally sure, nor an expert, and what we had was not what you have had in America. It looked like Japanese sushi, but a variation.

Most of it is served with a spicy red past, sometimes wasabi was siting in your side dish waiting for soy sauce, and always with their own fermented sauce (made in jars), which is lighter and not as salty.

My son dragged us down the street from his apartment to have what he kept calling Kimbab. The spelling is different that what we were hearing as he said the name, Gimbab (G is the 'K' sound, and bab or bap is always rice).

Basically it is Bibimbap wrapped up in Gim, or as we know it Nori aka dried sea weed. They brush it with sesame oil after rolling it. The photo above shows Gimbab, often spelled Gimpap, made by the woman here.

Around the coastal towns haedobop is eaten in a bowl like it's cousin dish bibimbop. All the ingredients found in sushi or maki rolls, but on top of the rice. Usually fish or the 'hae' is the last ingredient topped off with minced garlic and a spicy fermented paste called gochujang.

Like bibimbop you stir the ingredients together adding more spicy red paste (looks like ketchup, and sweet). We had this in Jeonju, just outside of Busan near King Moonmo's sea side burial place. They often us tilapia, which is kept in fish tanks, and very fresh. You literally watch each restaurant cut the fish up on the spot..

This was my favorite the whole trip. Why, because of the fresh greens and salad, rice was served on the side. Many times Korean dishes like barbeque were served with lettuces and ggaenip leaves for wrapping, so this was a nice change. Most all dishes are served with banchan or side dishes, most often variances of kimchi and other pickled dishes. Each restaurant uses their own recipe for these sides, and I found some to be very spicy, but good.

Korean rolls (or kimbab) above in photo of woman rolling, are much more robust than Japanese rolls. The ingredients are usually fully cooked, the rice is either unseasoned, or seasoned with sesame oil/seeds. The ingredients will include all sorts of things like pickled daikon, fried or steamed egg, seasoned meat, sauteed julienned vegetables such as carrrots, mushrooms, fish cakes. Very hearty fare. It is tasty, but very different than Japanese maki. They are served with kimchi and soup or 'jjigae' or guk. A spicy red paste broth with seaweed and thinly sliced onion and zucchini, and  most often has soft tofu as an ingredient, lots of it known as Sundubu jjigae. They have many varieties of soup, which I enjoyed.

Below is a version of bibimbop where the egg is cooked on the side of a hot bowl. Next to it is the spicy paste. We had this in Jeonju for dinner- known as a popular bibimbap eating experience.

Traveling to Korea can be a bit of a food shock. Most Korean restaurant menus do not have English translations, so you might want to learn some Hangul, Korean. It helped my son has been there a while and translated as we went. There are western restaurants, but most have their own versions of our food, even chains like On The Border. Which I found the salsa my son brought us did not taste at all like what I know here. I found adjusting to their food a bit harder than other countries we have traveled.