Wednesday, October 15, 2014

EHK's Tteokbokki

A few months ago I asked my friend EHK to teach me how to make her family's tteokkbokki (pronounced, approximately, tuppoki, except the t is sort of like a d, and the p is sort of like a b and there's a sort of stop after the u and the k is on the verge of being voiced-- you get it, just say tuppoki and you'll be ok). The first time we tried, we kind of went on a wild goose chase to find ingredients (my fault entirely-- EHK is savvy about this stuff).

But today, she made it happen! There's a bright red, spicier/sweeter version that I've had at restaurants, and I like that too, but this is what I wanted today-- it's a much more homey, comfort-food-style autumnal dish.

A few years ago, I would have said I could take or leave the fish cakes. But they grew on me-- a lot-- I now find them one of the best parts of the dish.

So I present to you EHK's tteokbokki. Thanks, EHK!

EHK's Tteokbokki

Soak your rice cakes for a few hours before starting; drain.
Boil vegetables in a minimum of water: carrots, sliced thin on the diagonal; onions, cut large; or cabbage, cut in squares; turn down heat to simmer
Add 2-3 huge spoonfuls of gochujang, sweetened with sugar or honey, to taste. Stir it up.
Add a package of ramen noodles or two-- depending on how much you are making.
Slice a package of fish cakes into large strips; Add to the pot.
Add the rice cakes, stir it up, put on the lid and cook, covered, until the rice cakes are soft. (They will always be very chewy, but they should not be hard.)

The tteokbokki should not be very soupy at all; it should resemble a casserole in texture much more than a stew, and not at all like a soup.

Eat hot, and enjoy!

Friday, October 10, 2014

My really rather triumphant guacamole

Last weekend, I tailgated. The overall night would have been an astonishing bust except for the fact that my guacamole, carefully researched and with final preparation on the spot, was a triumph. It was even hidden under a hoodie and carried away to another tailgate by someone who loved it and wanted it for his own tri-tip steak, and not the across-the-aisle brisket. It was fine with me; his tri-tip steak was delicious. I designed my guacamole scheme from my native preferences, but also from several online suggestions of how to make a reliably great and crowd-pleasing dish-- including Naomi Duguid's rather strange (but heavily endorsed) addition of fish sauce. She's right-- you in no way taste 'fish sauce' flavor (which I don't find very 'fishy' anyway). It just adds a subtle layer of salty smoky umami depth.

A long-looking recipe for the simplest thing in the world, and also something everyone knows how to make. But it's my recipe box and so here it is as I did it and would like to do it again.

My guacamole 

Mince-- truly mince; no chopping, no dicing, no squashing, just honest mincing:
1/2 sweet onion, purple or white; most onions these days are huge, but if you find a small one, you could use the whole thing, I suppose
1 roma-sized tomato, seeds and jelly goop carefully removed
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded, according to your taste; or some other small non-lethal pepper

Mash 1 large garlic clove, chopped, in a mortar with 1/2 t salt to make a paste.

Mix garlic/salt paste with minced onion, tomato, and pepper; put in a strainer over a bowl and drain it in the fridge for up to several hours. Stir it and squish it and make sure it is exceptionally well-drained.

1 T fruity olive oil
1 t fish sauce
1/2 t ground cumin (I actually used ras al hanout, not to be strange but because it was the most cumin I had)

You can drain it further at this point, but you don't want to lose that yummy fish sauce and olive oil (although if you let it drain just long enough to release the liquid that comes out from the extra salt content, you will end up with liquid leftover that makes a fantastic quick dressing on lettuce and would probably really bump up some soup or stock).

Pack your beautiful, fine-grained salsa to your party with your avocados, limes, and a salt shaker. And, of course, appropriate utensils, bowl, and plastic wrap.

On the spot, Mash 3 ripe Haas avocados. I prefer it moderately well-mashed-- no particularly big chunks-- but with a fork-- I also do not want a homogeneous blended cream. Add your salsa. For three avocados, the salsa should not be dense in the avocado matrix. This guacamole is still about the avocado. I want the onion, tomato & co to meld, and never overwhelm. Squeeze a lime or two in, to taste. I used one juicy lime. Salt to taste. You could even add some cilantro if you're into that.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Shellbark Nut (or Filbert) Pound Cake

Another good one from Mom-works-through-the-Penzeys-catalogs,-slightly-adapted.

This one is from a Diane Braden who has a shellbark hickory tree and a good recipe for its use. We do not, and so we used filberts/hazelnuts.

Baking recipes-- cakes and cookies-- can produce quite different results depending on where they are made. Some recipes worked great in New York but not in Utah, and some recipes I knew to be reliable in Utah did not work in New York. Not only are there altitude effects, but I'm convinced there are factors that have to do with the hydration levels of your flour and sugar as well.

Be that as it may, despite being developed at a low, dry altitude, this produced a beautiful cake here at the foot of the Wastach. The Utah cake was denser and baked up relatively flat in the tube pan; the picture of the nearer-sea-level cake is domed with a lighter crumb. Denser pound cake is the pound cake I know and love, so the Utah result seemed pretty perfect to me.

Shellbark Nut (or Filbert) Pound Cake

2 sticks butter, room temperature
1/2 c shortening
3 3/4 c sugar
5 eggs
3 3/4 c flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking powder
1 c milk
2 t vanilla
1 1/4 c hickory or filbert nuts, finely chopped (a blender/food processor works well for this; no need to blanch and remove the skins-- they give the cake a delightful speckle)

Preheat oven to 300 F. Grease and flour tube pan and set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, shortening, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well. In a separate bowl, measure the flour (the catalog says that Diane sifts the flour THREE TIMES. Here in the shadows of the everlasting hills, this did not happen). Add flour to the fat/sugar mix gradually, alternating with milk and vanilla. Gently stir in chopped nuts. Pour into the prepped pan and bake at 300 F for 2 hours. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes before turning out of the pan onto a serving plate. The recipe suggests sprinkling with powdered sugar but we did not.

1/24 of the cake: 360 cal; 17g fat 48g carb; negligible fiber; 5g protein