Friday, August 26, 2011


There is only one Korean restaurant in our neighborhood. It's okay, not great, and they charge $13 for bibimbap. $13! For a bowl of rice and veggies and a fried egg. Some of my Korean friends have told me that ordering bibimbap at a restaurant is silly anyway, because it's such a homestyle dish. I guess it's like going to a restaurant known for great seafood and ordering a boring roast chicken.

So I figured now is as good a time as any to make some homemade bibimbap, when there are lots of good veggies to choose from. Of course, the types of veggies in this dish vary from place to place and home to home, but I went fairly traditional and stuck to carrots, zucchini, spinach, napa cabbage, mung bean sprouts, and shiitake mushrooms. I went through the trouble of prepping each ingredient separately so as to get that classic picture of every vegetable in its own little quadrant, but being as how you just mix it all up before you eat, it seems fairly unnecessary if you have no one to impress. Recipe after the jump:

Serves 4

4 cups cooked short grain Asian rice
1 medium zucchini, julienned
2 medium carrots, julienned
1 cup mung bean sprouts
1 lb baby spinach
2 cups napa cabbage, chopped into thin strips
4 large shiitake mushroom, sliced thinly (if dried, rehydrate with hot water. If fresh saute for a couple minutes with a touch of sesame oil)
4 teaspoons dark toasted sesame oil, divided
1 tbsp white sesame seeds
4 eggs, fried sunny side up
salt, to taste
1/4 cup gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste), or to taste, served on the side

Bring a small pot of water to boil. Blanch the carrots for one minute and remove with a strainer. Do the same with the zucchini, then the mung bean sprouts. Set all aside while you prep the rest of the vegetables.

In a medium skillet, heat 2 tsps of the sesame oil over medium heat. Be careful not to overheat or it will smoke. Add the spinach leaves, a pinch of salt, and saute until wilted. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and set aside. Do the same with the napa cabbage, which will probably take a minute or two longer than the spinach. If you are working with fresh shiitakes, also saute them for a minute or two in the oil.

In a large bowl, fill the bottom with rice, then top with the vegetables, keeping each in their own section if you desire. Top with a fried egg and serve with gochujang on the side and a big spoon.

Continue Reading "bibimbap"

Thursday, August 18, 2011

great grains

I love big filling salads on a summer night, based around some good old starch. Pasta or grains, please. And with grains, there are endless choices. I do lots of salads with quinoa, wheat berries, different rices, freekeh, farro, bulgur, spelt; the list goes on and on. This week, it was barley, a grain I usually only use in soups, but has a wonderfully nutty flavor and satisfying bite when cooked and cooled.

The great thing about having a variety of grains in your pantry is how easy it makes improvising a meal after you've raided the farmer's market for the freshest veg you can find. There's always a base to work off of, they keep for ages, and they keep things interesting. Recipe for my barley, heirloom tomato, arugula, zucchini, mozzarella salad after the jump:


1 cup whole grain barley
1 lb heirloom cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 medium zuchinni, quartered lengthwise and sliced thinly
3 or 4 big handfuls of baby arugula
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 lb fresh salted mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes
salt and pepper, to taste

For the dressing:
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepot. Add the barley, bring down heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 35-40 minutes until tender. (You can also soak your barley overnight, which cuts the cooking time down to about 15 minutes. You need less water to cook if you soaked it). Fluff the barley with a fork and set aside to cool well. You can cook the barley well ahead of time and cool it in the fridge so that it's ready for the salad any time.

In a large bowl, toss the cooled barley with all of the vegetables. Whisk together the dressing ingredients and dress to taste, adding more salt and pepper if needed. Top with the cubed mozzarella.

Continue Reading "great grains"

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

variations on a theme: apricot and almond crostata

It takes about an hour to bake a full-on pie, and with the summer we've been battling in the northeast, keeping the oven on for an hour is not advisable. But I really can't go very long without pie. Especially when it's high season for so many delectable fruits. The answer? A crostata. A rustic, free-form tart that bakes in half the time and totally satisfies the pie craving. A simple pate brisee crust, fresh fruit, a touch of sugar, and whatever complementary flavor you're in the mood for.

This time, the apricots at the farmer's market were both adorable and ripe, and I had a bag of sliced almonds that I wanted to use. I always end up pairing fruit with nuts nowadays, because I pretty much want some kind of crunch in everything I eat. Or, as Beth might tell you, because I love nuts. Recipe after the jump:


For the pate brisee:
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) (unsalted butter, chilled, and cut into 1 inch pieces
3-5 tablespoons ice water

For the filling
1 1/4 pounds fresh apricots
1/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
pinch salt

Make the crust: Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor and pulse a few times to mix well. Add the cold cubed butter and pulse until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the ice water one tablespoon at a time, pulsing between spoons, only using as much as it takes to get the dough to come together. Turn the dough out onto plastic wrap, flatten into a disk, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. When it is fully chilled, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Make the filling: Split the apricots along the seam and remove the pits. Slice each half into 2 or 4 pieces, depending on how large your apricots are. Combine in a bowl the the sugar, salt, and almond extract and toss to coat. Set aside while you roll out your dough.

Roll your dough into a 13-inch circle and transfer onto a sheet pan. Place the apricot slices in a decorative circular pattern from the center radiating to the edges, leaving at least 1 inch of uncovered crust. Sprinkle with the almond slices. Fold the edges of the crust over the fruit. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the fruit juices are bubbling. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Continue Reading "variations on a theme: apricot and almond crostata"