The Korean Dinner Party

Kimona wine bottle cover

The Korean Dinner Party was a two-part adventure. The first party was held at Seoul Barbeque in April.

The thought of making the food for an actual Korean party was a little overwhelming. We thought we would partake in one of the best Korean restaurants in Denver first.

at the restaurant

Look at all the little side dishes that go with the sliced beef!!!

Seoul Barbeque

While we munched on all the delicious food, I showed this article from Bon Appétit about hosting a Korean dinner party.  After a short discussion we decided that we could put this party together! Barb volunteered to host.

Fast forward five months….

Shopping at M Mart

All adventures must start with shopping. M Mart is a Korean/Japanese Grocery Store.  We let Barb take the lead with shopping she had more experience. She and her husband adopted their son from Korea. Barb has visited Korea twice and raised her son by exposing him to his native land. M Mart has a great choice of meat and authentic Korean ingredients.  The meat for bulgolgi is thinly sliced rib eye steak on the cross grain.

stacks of rice

stacks of rice

IMG_3202Korean radishes

After filling our baskets we ventured over to the H Mart which is a large Asian grocery market. It was huge. The produce and kitchen wares were overwhelming. What fun it was!

long green beans

Really long green beans

tons of wares

Asian housewares

Now, lets get down to cooking.  First with the rice.  This is a Korean rice cooker – the Cuckoo. Three minutes before the rice was cooked, the top shot off steam. Then it spoke in Korean that the rice was done (I’m guessing) and it tweeted “Cuckoo!” So cute!

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This is when it is good to have a lot of people in the kitchen… chopping and shredding and mixing ingredients.

chopped vegetables

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Bibimbap

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Doenjang Jjigae soup

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Bulgolgi

Doenjang Jjigae

Rice starch water:  rinse rice once with water and drain.  Add a 1/2 cup of water again, toss and swirl around the rice for 30 seconds. You will see the water turning milk-like.  Add 2 cups o water and swirl to collect all the starch from the rice. Drain to save the starch water in a bowl (it doesn’t say how much rice to start with – we used a couple of cups of dry).

2 cups rice starch water (see above)
6-7 dried anchovies (cute little silver fish)
1 piece (3″) dried sea kelp
2 generous TBSP Doenjang (soybean paste)
1/2 package (4 oz) firm tofu, cut into 1″ cubes
1/2 onion diced
1/2 zucchini diced
1 tsp Korean chili flakes
1 garlic clove chopped
1 green or red chili sliced (I didn’t use this)
1/2 package enoki mushrooms or one handful of any mushrooms sliced
1/2 Asian leek or 1 green onion sliced

Directions:

1.  Bring small 1 quart stone or heavy bottom pot over medium high heat.  Toast the anchovies for 1 minute and pour the rice starch water into the pot.  Add the sea kelp and bring to boil; simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove the anchovies and sea kelp and discard them.
2.  Using a course mesh strainer, mash the Doenjang paste into the pot so it incorporates into the stock. Add onion, zucchini, chili flakes and let them boil.  Add tofu, garlic, chili and cook for 2 minutes.
3.  Lastly add enoki mushrooms and green onion.  Remove the pot from heat and serve hot with rice.

Patty’s Points:

1. The key to a good Bulgolgi is how the meat is cut. Barb said that she once purchased a ribeye at a local market and tried to get the butcher to cut it thinly on the cross grain. It didn’t turn out that well.  This is where an authentic Korean market shines.

2. The bibimbap bowl is made of granite. It is heavy-duty so it can be heated on the stove top. It has a specific handle that looks like a clamp, to transfer it to a serving plate. The hot bowl crisps the cooked rice, then each ingredient is added and topped with a fried egg. Prior to eating, all the ingredients are cooked when mixed together.

3. The Doenjang Jjigae reminded me of Miso Soup (which is Japanese). The difference is that all the ingredients are Korean based.  The fish broth was easier than I thought. The dried anchovies were cute.  Anchovies and kelp were added to the rice water but removed/strained before combining the ingredients.

4. Barb said that everywhere they went in Korea, they were served watermelon for dessert. Our dessert was watermelon, Asian pear and a matcha tea roll cake.  They were nice and light sweets after a full meal.

5. The key to our successful party was gathering together to prepare it. We all brought our own knives and cutting boards to keep up with all the chopping. All week I thought about how much fun the party was; it brought a smile to my face 🙂

드세요
deuseyo
“bon appetit”: French » Korean
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ExperimenTea-ing

I have revved up my tea and herbal infusion intake over the past year. Here is a sampling of types I tried.

tea 1

Celestial Seasonings Herbal Infusions

tea 3

Organic

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Potpourri

For Christmas I received this super Cordless Programmable Kettle by Cuisinart. This appliance has kicked my tea consumption into high gear.

Cuisinart tea pot

  • Six pre-set temperatures
  • 30-minute keep warm option
  • Memory-holds settings when removed from a swivel base

teapot 2

The readings are in Fahrenheit, heating your water for tea to the perfect temperature:

160 = Delicate tea

175 = Green tea

185 = White tea

190 = Oolong tea

200 = French Press

Boil = Black tea

This tea bag squeezer helps get every last bit of your steeped tea or herbs from the tea bag.

tea bag squeezer

I purchased this “squeezer” at the Celestial Seasonings Tea Shop. Great, inexpensive buy.

tea bag squeezer 2

Bagged teas are readily available almost everywhere with many brands and flavors to pick from. Because of the popularity, the tea aisle at my grocery store is completely separate from the coffee aisle. I used to pick the same teas and herbal infusions every time I went. It was easy and didn’t take much thought. Now I spend a lot of time there perusing the brands.

I have discovered that I like certain brands. I’m preferential to Celestial Seasonings. I think their Master Tea taster has excellent taste buds. I also like Stash, Bigelow and Twinings brands. I continue to check out different brands.  I am now drinking Organic Zhena’s Gypsy Tea Coconut Chai black tea. It has a lovely flavor with steamed milk.

Every morning I have one cup of black tea steeped in hot water and almond milk and one cup of green tea with lemon. I split one Stevia sweetener packet between the cups. I never used to drink green tea because it tasted bitter, adding the lemon juice helped.

Midday, I have a cup of decaffeinated Earl Grey with almond milk. After dinner I have an herbal infusion that is calming or will help me sleep. I’m drinking about 4-5 cups per day!

Patty’s Points:

1. I have so much to learn. I have barely scratched the surface of tea. There are a growing number of tea blogs out there in WordPress-Land.  People are cuddling with tea cups and tea pots, writing poetry about tea, steeping leaves of all kinds in hot water, and hanging out in tea houses.

2. So far I haven’t much cared for the taste of roobios, it tastes like licorice. I’ll have to give it another try someday. I’ve tried oolong tea once and thought it was good.

3. I love my hot water kettle and the temperature settings. It was a pricey little kettle, but I got it discounted at a department store. There are lesser priced kettles out there for around $20.00 or more; but they have only one temperature = boil.

4. Tension Tamer by Celestial Seasonings has catnip in it. Yes, catnip tea.  It helps with headaches and is detoxifying. My husband drank it and felt sleepy immediately.

5. I follow a blog called Scrubs Nurse.  She has a recent posting on the health benefits of tea that is worth reading.

6. Tea is becoming more popular in the U.S.  You know tea is becoming mainstream when you see more varieties than Lipton at a truck stop next to the coffee. Tea has been around for thousands of years and is universal. I guess us Yankees are just catching on.

Right now I have 17 boxes of tea in my cupboards. My husband wonders why I need that many and continue to bring new varieties home. I like choices.

Loose tea and tea pots are my next adventure. In the meantime, happy sipping and tasting!

tea at Brown Palace

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Kitchen essentials field trip

One thing I have learned since “becoming fearless” in the kitchen is that the equipment and supplies you use makes a big difference in the outcome of your cooking.

I’m a no-nonsense type of person who likes organization so I’m drawn to kitchen tools and products that are multi-purpose. Also having something that is easy to store is a plus since I have a small kitchen. Every purchase is calculated.

The Fearless Cooking Club took a field trip to the Standard Restaurant Supply Store. There are two located in our area. It was an adventure.

Standard Restaurant Supply

rows and rows

Rows and rows of products. This aisle was all on glassware and barware.

B-52 Flavoring?

There was one side of the aisle devoted to 50 types of non-alcoholic syrups, regular and sugar-free .

Fiesta ware look alike

Several rows of serving plates, cups and platters. These are Fiestaware look a-likes.

Take home buys

Our purchases: the cheapest item was bamboo skewers,toothpicks with American flags, and a plastic squeeze bottle $0.59 each. The most expensive item $7.49 for a glass syrup server. The different flavored syrups were $5.49 each for a large bottle. Other purchases were foil mini cupcake liners (gold and silver), racks for candy making, different sizes of cookie sheets, and a pastry cloth and plastic pastry boards. Gabe, our pie man, mentioned that both of these were good substitute for rolling out pastry if you didn’t have a marble board.

Patty’s Points:

1. B-52 syrup is named for the famous bar drink made from Kahlúa liqueur, Irish Cream and Grand Marnier. This non-alcoholic syrup is a combination of coffee, Irish Cream and a hint of orange flavor. They also had a carrot cake flavored syrup. Who knew these flavors existed and how fun to see so many choices in one place!

2. This is a store that anyone can shop at but it is directed toward restaurant owners. They had furniture, cleaning products, industrial stoves, refrigerators, freezers, popcorn makers, paper products, silverware, professional knife-ware, and on and on.

3. You have to carefully look at the prices. Some items are quite cheap and then right next to it a similar item is two to three times the price. What is the difference? Maybe the detail on the glass is more detailed, then it is more expensive.

The sale racks were quite good. We got a pack of 12 dish towels for $6.59, marked down from $12.00. That makes the towels $0.50 a piece. The Fiestaware look a-likes were of good quality and inexpensive. It depends on what you want and what you want to spend.

4. Appliances are not routinely discounted for the public. I saw a mandolin for shaving veggies that caught my eye, $79.00. I would have to do some price comparisons at like Macy’s, Kohl’s or Bed, Bath and Beyond. Those stores routinely have coupons for 15%-30% discounts that I might get a better deal.

If you are a restaurant owner with an account you can get a price that is comparable to other supply stores. They also have on-site vendors who can customize your kitchen. That is if you want a commercial type kitchen. The manager said it could cost $10,000 to $350,000 to set up a kitchen, depending on what you are cooking and where you are located.

5. I spent $33.00. I’m not ready for the commercial kitchen yet.

Tea is Hot

teacup

The January issue of Bon Appetite cited tea as one of the top 25 food trends for 2013. How cool is that?  If you watch Downton Abbey, you know that sitting down to tea is part of life for the residents upstairs and downstairs. A refined drink for all social classes.

Several Fearless Cooking Club (FCC) members have been on some tea adventures the past few months.We started out with a day trip to Boulder at Celestial Seasonings.

Sleepytime tea bears

We donned our hair nets and went through the production rooms for the free tour.  We learned about black, green and white teas and many herbs and spices that are hand-picked from all over the world. They have a chief taster who has been in the job since the start of the company.

The Mint Room is quite the experience. Our tour guide directed us in and closed the door. Sinuses opened immediately, eyes watered, slight throat burn. You can mark your survival with a postcard or cup in the gift shop.

I survived the mint room

Following our tea tasting and scooping up great deals from the gift shop, we headed to downtown Boulder for lunch at the Dushanbe Tea House. The house is a gift to Boulder from the country of Tajikistan. Dushanbe is the capital and Sister City to Boulder. We had a lovely lunch along with three different pots of loose tea.

Dushanbe Tea House

Tree of Life panel by ceramic artist Victor Zabolotnikov.
outer panel

Then I hosted a pajama tea party on the Season 3 Finale of Downton Abbey. It was a tea potluck as we munched on scones, breads and desserts to enjoy with our tea. Don’t you just love the tiara?

Slumber Tea Party

The last adventure was high tea at the Brown Palace Hotel. My daughter and her three girlfriends came home for Spring Break. They got gussied up in hats, pashminas and furs to fully enjoy a proper English tea.

Spring Break Quartet

The scones, sandwiches and desserts were sumptuous.

plates of sandwiches

Tea makes one feel civilized and refined. Oh, to take a break and enjoy the moment.

Patty’s Points of learning on the Tea Tasting Trail:

1. The origin of tea dates back to 2737 BC by Shen Nung Emperor of China. A leaf fell into a cup and it brought a pleasing and therapeutic flavor to water.

2. Sleepy Time tea is Celestial Seasonings most popular tea and it really isn’t tea. It’s an herbal infusion. That is also why it is caffeine-free.

3. Many pieces of the Dushanbe Tea House were assembled in Tajikistan and shipped to the US; the Teahouse was built by hand.

4.  According to Afternoon Tea the drinking of tea not only became a social event for the upper classes, it altered the time and manner in which they took tea. Afternoon Tea became the bridge between meals because many wouldn’t eat their evening meal until maybe 8pm. As such, Afternoon Tea became a ‘mini meal’ in itself. High tea is taken at a table; afternoon tea is taken at a low comfortable chair or sofa. The upper classes developed their own variation of high tea as a meal that could be eaten when their servants were away or not available, as it was so easy to prepare.

I will be posting again on tea….I am still sipping and sampling.

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Pizza pie is amore!

Oh Dean Martin, I wish I had your song playing while we made pizza a couple of weeks ago. The second half of our pie adventure was making pizza with Gabe. It was dough love!

pulling apart the dough

  Gabe Mill’s Neapolitan Pizza Dough Recipe

Makes two pizzas

500 grams unbleached flour

1 teaspoon salt (6 grams)

3 grams yeast

325 grams water

Place all the ingredients in a Kitchen Aid mixer with a bread hook and process on the mix setting of “2” for six minutes. Put the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a towel and let it rise for about 1-2 hours. Punch down the dough and divide into two balls. Let it rest for 10 minutes on the counter before forming into a pizza.

To form the dough into a circle, grab the edges of the dough and let it hang down (see the top picture of Gabe) and go round and round with your hands on the edges. Slowly a bigger pizza pie dough circle will develop.

the cooking club members

Patty and Gabe

Pizza pointers from Gabe:

1. Measure everything with a scale. Flour is sensitive to humidity and you get a more accurate end-product.

2. The temperature of your oven should be turned up as high as it will go (without going to the broil setting). My oven went to 500 degrees F but I think 450 would’ve been ideal for my little oven. Gabe, being a carpenter, has built his own brick oven kiln in his backyard. The temperature of his kiln can get to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. You can use any type of pan or stone to put the pizza in.  Don’t oil the pan.

4. If you are not using the dough right away, oil the dough and bag it for the refrigerator.  When you take it out of the refrigerator , let it have a chance to come to room temperature for 20 minutes to 1 hour.

5.  You can use Semolina corn meal on pizza peel if you use a stone and a paddle to take the dough in and out of the oven.

6. Put toppings on pizza dough and sprinkle olive oil lightly over top.

7. Check on the pizza after about 8 minutes, then continue to check on it every 1-2 minutes. You can turn the pizza 180 degrees if your oven is not very even in baking.

8. Gabe’s Sauce for Butter knots: minced garlic, butter, white wine, olive oil, and cream.  Combine the ingredients in a pan and heat on the stove top. All the ingredients are to taste. It was fabulous!

9. Use fresh tomatoes with some salt for the pizza sauce. It brings out the freshness of all the ingredients.

10. This dough is great for bread making too. After it rises,punch it down, form it into a baguette then let it rest for 10 minutes before putting it into the oven.

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pizza uno

pizza

I lost track of how many pizzas we made, maybe ten? We had a variety of toppings, feta cheese, fresh basil, fresh mozzarella, parmesan, sun-dried tomatoes. We even had a dessert pizza. Bake the pizza dough without anything atop, spread a mixture of marscapone cheese with fig jam and crinkle malt vinegar with sea salt potato chips atop. Sounds weird but it was yummy.

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We all gathered around the table to finish up our pizza, drink some wine and limoncello to cleanse our palate. Julie, our school teacher among the group, read the book below. The Little Red Hen didn’t bake any pizza but she did do the dishes. It was a nice ending to a beautiful day and everyone pitched in to clean up which was even better for me as the host.

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Gabe the Pie Man

appletini pie

The Fearless Cooking Club met last weekend to celebrate National Pie Day January 23rd. We invited self-taught baker, Gabriel Mills, who demonstrated his expertise at pie and pizza pie making.

Gabe was born in Baker, Oregon (really) and he and his sister were raised by three sets of people. His mother was bi-polar where home was chaotic. Then raised by a nice elderly couple where the woman taught he and his sister how to cook and bake. There was an atmosphere of no fear and she was a kind teacher. Then they were sent to live with a not-so-nice aunt and uncle. It was never okay to ask for a toy as a gift, but to ask for a practical gift like a rolling-pin or kitchen tool was fine. At age 13 years he began his quest to unseat his aunt as the family Pie Queen. He became the family Pie King when the relatives gathered for Thanksgiving and they gobbled up his pie and left hers still in the plate. So began his baking career.

Gabe brought us all a pound of butter he buys wholesale, $2.00 apiece. That’s a lotta butta!

James Farm Butter

85 grams flour (2 cups)

1/4 teaspoon salt (use a pinch for a sweet pie)

1 Tablespoon sugar

155 grams unsalted butter (cold) or (2/3 cup)

113 grams cold water or (8 Tablespoons )


prepping for pie crust

Add the cold butter cut into small cubes and cold water to the dry ingredients on the pastry sheet and work them together using two dough scrapers with the goal of keeping it cold. Work the dough by stacking formed pieces together on top of each other making thin folds.

pastry scrapingWrap the dough in plastic wrap and put in freezer for at least twenty minutes before using it in a recipe or for up to four days in the refrigerator. It may be placed in the freezer almost indefinitely.

Each crust weighs 120 grams for a 9-inch pie pan. Pre-heat the oven to 370 degrees and place in the middle of the oven. Follow the directions for the filling of your pie recipe.

Gabe’s Go-To-Tips:

1. Measure everything with a scale. Flour is sensitive to humidity and lack-there-of (especially in the Mile High City where it is pretty dry). You get a more accurate end-product if you do.

2. Gabe likes the Pie and Pastry Bible  cookbook by Rose Berenbaum as his baking reference. He said that some of the recipes are quite lengthy to prepare, but the result is worth it.

3. Gabe uses a non-slip pastry sheet for rolling out the pie dough. As you can see in the picture, Joy brought her vintage Tupperware pastry sheet. I had one just like it oh-so-many years ago but it got cut up and damaged. You can still find them at Tupperware or you can find a vintage one on EBay. A marble slab is the ideal board for keeping the pie ingredients cold.

4. Gabe likes aluminum pans as he gets a consistent end-product result. He brushes the crust with egg white and sprinkles it with sugar.

5. Gabe likes Gold Medal flour, but King Arthur flour is his prime choice as it is organic. He usually buys it if it is on sale as it is a little more expensive.

6. If you use your hands working the dough, it warms the dough. The pie dough is very forgiving because it eventually ends up in the refrigerator or freezer before using in a recipe. If need be, the dough can be placed there for a time to get the temperature right and then return to the work board to get it back to a good consistency.
Gabe the Pie Man

Patty’s Points:

1. I looked up James Farm butter and could only find that it is distributed out of New York. What little I could find on the internet was that in the Julie and Julia movie, Julie Powell leaves a pound of James Farm butter at the Julia Child kitchen replica at the Smithsonian. Butter made in the old USA. There is also a band called James Farm. They got more hits on the internet than butter searches.

2. The pie pictured above was baked by Gabe prior to the baking party. It is an Appletini Pie with gin and vermouth added in. He likes to use Honey Crisp with Granny Smith apples together. He also likes the Pink Lady variety which adds a pink color to the pie. He doesn’t add a lot of sugar to the fresh fruit, instead choosing to let the fresh fruit shine in the recipe.

3. The pie crust was flaky and light, the apples were so fresh, without being heavy. He does NOT use Crisco. He has used lard on occasion but butter is best.

As Gabe was telling his story of how he started baking as a child I had memories of other pie makers and the stories behind them.Art of the Pie , a blog written by Kate McDermott is one. I met Kate this past summer at the BlogHer Food 2012 conference in Seattle when she personally shared her story about her kind neighbor. And of course there is the movie Waitress. The lead actress played by Keri Russell, baked and created unusual pies with titles reflective of her unhappy marriage, unexpected pregnancy and affair with her doctor.

The pie story continues on the next post as we made pizza pie dough and lotsa pizza.

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