Homemade Hamburger Buns, Pulled Pork, and Spiced Pickled Onions

Pulled Pork Pickled Onions Homemade Hamburger Bun

I’m planning our wedding menu, and since we’re going to be in my hometown in North Carolina, I wanted it to follow a Southern theme. I got so excited when I saw the caterer’s suggestions (chicken and waffle bites!), that I had to stop everything and make pulled pork sandwiches for dinner. I didn’t even make a side. Just one giant pulled pork sandwich to sate this GRIT’s craving.

YA’LL. This might have taken all day, but it really didn’t take much effort. I’m going to share my dinner and today’s lunch with you. That’s right. I’m eating it again, and I plan to eat it for dinner, too. It’s that stinkin’ good!

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Ridiculously Easy Thai Steak Salad

Thai Steak Salad

THIS SALAD. I’m still thinking about it.

Last night was warm enough, so I decided to whip up a steak salad. But, not just any old steak salad — one infused with explosive Thai flavors: a little lime, a splash of fish sauce, a spoonful (or two) of chili garlic paste. Heaven.

If you’ve ever tried the Tiger Cries (aka Crying Tiger, Tiger’s Tear, etc.) salad at a Thai restaurant, only to return home and want it again and again for the rest of your life, this steak salad recipe will sate your craving. It’s not too spicy, either, so if you’re sensitive to heat, this won’t kill you. That being said, it’s super easy to pump up the fire with additional chili garlic paste or a fresh pepper. Continue reading

Gluten-free Dinner Challenge: Collard Spring Rolls

collard greens vietnamese style spring rolls

I think I’m finally starting to like dinner parties. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Martha Stewart — I hate tidying the house for company — but I love creating menus for family and friends. I go into a sort of Sherlock frenzy as I attempt to recall food-related conversations and piece together known preferences and dietary restrictions. It’s exciting having an excuse to cook things you wouldn’t normally prepare for yourself. Continue reading

Dumpling Party!

I’m not one of those lucky gals that has a foodie for a partner. I’m pretty sure my fiancé hates cooking. At the very least it’s painfully clear that he doesn’t enjoy hanging out in the kitchen with me. Cue foodie friend, Bee. Bee lives within biking distance in Old Oakland, a lively, up-and-coming area downtown, but you better believe I still lock that bad bike up somethin’ fierce when I visit her beautiful, modern apartment. We get together once or twice a week (more often when we were both enjoying funemployment) to tackle cooking projects. There’s no rhyme or reason to the projects; we just cook what we want to, inspired by recipes we see online, taste at new Bay Area restaurants, or recall through simple nostalgia. Most recently, we were inspired by my summer vacation to Korea and this omg-amazing video from The Mind of a Chef and decided to have our very own kimchi party. It’s delightfully simple — lots of chopping and mixing — and we end up with jars and jars of the fermented goodness. We’ve done it twice in two months, and, yes, that’s a lot of kimchi.

Kimchi party favors.

Kimchi party favors.

Needless to say, we’ve had to get creative with our cooking in order to get through the kimchi. Kimchi stir-fries for breakfast are no rare occurrence in either of our households; soups are a given; and last night, we took a successful stab at making homemade kimchi pork dumplings. It was a simple — almost meditative — project that just screams ‘quality time with a pal.’ We chopped, mixed, and stuffed 100 dumplings while watching the perfectly appropriate Sardinia episode of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. Good food, good friends — it’s what family is all about.

Pork dumplings with kimchi, tofu, and chives.

Kimchi, Tofu, & Pork Dumplings (based on BeyondKimchee’s Kimchee Tofu Dumpling)

Ingredients:

  • 100 dumpling wrappers (we used the “jumbo” sized ones, but it’s not necessary)*
  • 3 oz / 1 bundle Korean sweet potato noodles (당면)
  • 14 oz extra firm tofu, pressed and crumbled
  • 1 lb kimchi, chopped
  • 1 bunch chives, chopped
  • 2/3 lb ground pork
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 T rice wine
  • 1 egg,  beaten
  • salt and pepper, to taste

*If you’re feeling adventurous, try to make the wrappers yourself. They’re not particularly difficult to make, just a bit time consuming.

Recipe:

  1. Cook the sweet potato noodles (dangmyeon) in boiling water for 5 minutes, or until done.
  2. Press the tofu to remove liquid. I place a kitchen towel or paper towels under and on top of the tofu, and then stack a weighted object on top of the towel. Do this for about an hour and then crumble the tofu with a fork or your fingers.
  3. Chop up the sweet potato noodles, kimchi, chives, garlic cloves.
  4. Combine all ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix with your hands.
  5. Take one dumpling wrapper and fill the center with a tablespoon of filling. Trace the circumference of the wrapper with a wet finger. Fold the dumpling in half and pinch the seams. You can leave it like this, or you can take the ends and pull them towards each other in the center, overlap them and pinch to form a different shape. The former shape is best for pan frying, and the latter is better for soups/boiling.
  6. Cook them fresh by pan frying (add a little water and steam for 10 mins. after both sides are golden), or cook them in beef broth and rice cakes to make a simple mandu guk (dumpling soup). You can also freeze the dumplings in a single layer on a tray to ensure they maintain their shape. After they’re frozen you can store them in a plastic bag.

Decorative Gourd Season

It’s fall. How do I know? Because, everywhere I look it’s pumpkin this, butternut squash that. A friend of mine sent me a photo the other day from a Trader Joe’s in LA demonstrating just how out of control the commercialization of fall has gotten.

Trader Joe's Fall    Trader Joes Fall

Don’t believe autumnal hype is reaching catastrophic proportions?  I’ve got three words for you: pumpkin dog treats. Yep. Pumpkinpocalypse is upon us. Truth be told, while I have a lot of fun poking fun at the gourd-obsessed, I’m really making fun of myself. Today, I purchased a perfect lil’ sugar pumpkin and spent the better half of the day consuming it. I made a delicious seafood, pumpkin curry; roasted the seeds for a snack; simmered the pulp and skin for broth; and even took a stab at making my own pumpkin spice syrup for my morning coffee (suck on that, Starbucks). By the way, peeling a raw pumpkin is no joke. I honestly can’t believe I survived it. Let me know if you want to see the recipe for the curry (or syrup, or anything else for that matter) — I’ll happily post it!

The best damn pumpkin curry in the universe.

The best damn pumpkin curry in the universe.