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Archive for January, 2011|Monthly archive page

Kimchi Quesadillas

In Food, Recipes on January 11, 2011 at 10:00 pm

This past weekend marked my first turn at making my own kimchi from a recipe of Momofuku chef David Chang’s. For the uninitiated, kimchi is a Korean fermented vegetable dish and is often made with cabbage. The key ingredients are fresh ginger and garlic, along with chili pepper and the result is earthy, spicy, salty, and savory-sweet. In a word, delicious. The results were even better than I could have imagined. The mixture should hit its prime after two weeks, but can be enjoyed after 24 hours. Patience has never been my thing, and so we tucked into just a little bit last night and made Kogi truck-inspired kimchi quesadillas using Kogi founder Roy Choi’s recipe. And they were AWESOME. To fein some stab at virtue, I also tossed a salad with a fresh ginger-sesame vinaigrette (fresh ginger, garlic, green onions, sesame oil, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and canola whirred in the blender). First time I’ve ever seen my husband go back for seconds on salad. And also the first of many times to come that we’ll be devouring these ooey-gooey kimchi quesadillas.

Kogi Kimchi Quesadillas

Adapted from a recipe by Roy Choi

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup cabbage kimchi, drained and chopped

2  flour tortillas (tho we used Whole Foods Whole Wheat tortillas for extra nuttiness)

2 tablespoons roasted sesame seeds

1 cup grated sharp Cheddar

1 cup grated Monterey Jack

Vegetable oil

Melt butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat, then cook kimchi, stirring occasionally, until edges are golden, about 6 minutes. Cool kimchi.

Spoon half of kimchi on one side of each tortilla and sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, and 1/2 cup of both cheeses. Fold in half to enclose filling.

Brush a 12-inch nonstick skillet with oil and heat over medium heat until it just begins to smoke, then cook quesadillas, turning once, until golden and cheese is melted, about 4 minutes total. Serve immediately.

Prison Cheesecake

In Food, Media on January 11, 2011 at 3:54 pm

My book club is the bomb. Ten years ago, my cousin Stefanie’s childhood friend Bianca left NY and returned to her native Los Angeles, where she formed a group largely of women she’d gone to high school with years ago at Marlborough School in Hancock Park. I was included in this awesome group of girls because I was new to town and I am lucky enough to be related to Stef, one of my favorite people on Planet Earth. Over the past decade our book club has been through a lot together. But just when you think you’ve seen it all, along comes Courtney toting Prison Cheesecake, which we served with the good silver. Let it be said that Courtney does not present as a prison cheesecake kind of girl. But then, neither does Piper Kerman, the Smith grad and author of the book we were reading: Orange is the New Black:My Year in a Woman’s Prison, a memoir about Kerman’s year in a women’s prison. Here’s a link to Kerman’s Prison Cheesecake recipe on NPR’s site. (Warning: it involves Laughing Cow cheese, vanilla pudding and powdered creamer.) Her look at life in prison is brilliantly and poignantly told, but perhaps most important is the underlying message of the book, one that resonated with our book club. Women are pretty incredible and their friendships extraordinary. The proof is in the prison cheesecake.

Sharon Suh Photography

In Baby Love, Design, Media on January 10, 2011 at 9:47 am

I love this photo of me and Tiny G scrunching up his little nose, taken by the very talented Sharon Suh, a former photo editor at Vanity Fair, Glamour, and Bon Appétit, which is where we met. Right now, Sharon is running a special through February 5 that includes $75 off her rate, plus you get to keep digital negatives—and trust me, photographers almost never let you have negatives without paying thru the nose. She’s amazing with kids (and grown-ups, too!). But seeing is believing. Check these out. To contact Sharon, call 646-244-1024 or visit sharonsuhphotography.com.

All images © Sharon Suh Photography

The Kimchi Chronicles: Part One

In Food on January 9, 2011 at 7:19 pm

One of my favorite ethnic foodstuffs is kimchi—a traditional Korean dish of fermented vegetables, frequently with napa cabbage and loaded with ginger, garlic and chili powder. I’ve always wanted to try making my own but had never gotten past the idea phase until a rogue head of cabbage in my CSA farm box this week forced my hand. Of course I jumped at the opportunity to go shopping at HK Market in Koreatown on Western x 1st. Which is where I found salted shrimp. I have enough here for about a hundred batches of kimchi, but I’m thinking about deploying them in scallion pancakes or some kind of stew. This is between us, of course, so please don’t breathe a word to Mr. Foodinista. I’ve hidden the jar at the back of the fridge.

While at HK, I also grabbed a ton of ginger and garlic, as well as a huge thing of kochukaru (Korean chile powder) and some usukuchi, which is a lighter-colored soy sauce. From there, I followed David Chang’s recipe for Momofuku Kimchi.

The recipe calls for julienned carrots and I thought why not give the never-been-used julienne blade a go on the mandoline? At which point I lost my mind trying to figure out how to work the damn thing. While fluent in straight blade and crinkle cut, apparently I flunked julienne. What am I missing? Defeated, I resorted to julienning the old-fashioned way, with a knife. (Peeling potatoes and julienning rank as my two least favorite things to do in the kitchen, btw.) Can someone tell me, do I have this blade on there wrong? I mean, I think the blade is on there right but do I need to have the straight blade on there, too?

But I’m over it, I promise. Because—mandoline rage notwithstanding—the kimchi came together so much more easily than I imagined. It has to refrigerate at least 24 hours (this after 24 hours of the sliced cabbage first sitting doused with salt and sugar) so tomorrow night we are planning kimchi quesadillas. The kimchi reaches its prime in two weeks—on the very day I return from South Africa—so quite a homecoming it will be. Stay tuned!

Vintage Linen Bread Bags

In Design, Food on January 8, 2011 at 10:13 am

I’d read about these Swedish bread bags on Momfilter‘s facebook page a while back—and, off topic—for those of us still mourning the loss of Cookie mag, how excited are we for Momfilter’s launch this year? The online Scandinavian design shop Huset sells these gorgeous Farmor bread bags made from vintage cotton linen tea towels that are sewn and embroidered by a little old lady in Sweden, or so I’m told. Unlike paper bags, which harden bread, or plastic, which renders it soggy, bread stays fresh longer in cotton linen. And seeing is believing. It really, really works. Days later the above boule of Homeboy multigrain bread that I picked up at Black Cat Bakery was still fresh after storage in this chic little bag. When ordering mine online, I mentioned in the comments section that our kitchen colorway was brown and gray with copper and pale blue accents. The bag looks like it was tailor-made to live in our kitchen. Each bag is unique so let the good people at Huset surprise you! Or, if you’re feeling crafty, why not make your own out of a favorite tea towel?

Bacon, Fried Egg, Manchego, Tomato Sandwich with Sriracha Aioli

In Food, Recipes on January 7, 2011 at 9:59 pm

I am missing my husband, who is in Las Vegas for CES this week, something terrible. But when the cat’s away, the mouse will stay up past midnight drinking cava with her book club girls and then crave like the dickens a fried egg sandwich the following day. Fortunately, I had all the fixings, including bacon, a sliver of Manchego left over from book club last night and half a boule of Homeboy Industries whole grain bread. In a bowl, I mixed together a little brown sugar, cayenne and cracked black pepper.

I liberally sprinkled the mixture on top of a couple slices of bacon and baked them at 350 F degrees for 20 minutes. Then I flipped the slices and cooked another 15 minutes until they were crispy and caramelized. (Caramelized bacon = crack.)

While the bacon was cooking, I mixed a little mayo and Sriracha together in a bowl and then slathered it on two thick slices of bread. Then a slice of tomato from my CSA farm box this week, a fried egg, and a few shavings of Manchego got topped with that naughty, naughty bacon.

It was perfect in every way except one: that my one true love wasn’t here to enjoy it with me.

Cornbread Jam Muffins

In Food, Recipes on January 5, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Silly girl. It might have been helpful if when I posted yesterday about my toddler’s favorite Cornmeal Jam Muffins I had included a recipe. The original recipe comes from the excellent Macrina Bakery & Café Cookbook (the book’s recipe for Brown Sugar Almond Coffee Cake is worth the price of admission alone). An aside: I have seen a LOT of cookbooks in my day; as in writing what seems like hundreds of cookbook reviews for the Culinary Institute of America a decade or so ago, and going on seven years with Bon Appétit magazine, so please believe me when I say this little paperback cookbook is a gem. The recipe calls for raspberry preserves, but I think you could use whatever you like. In fact just this morning as I was enjoying some toast with loquat jam my friend HJ made from her garden, I was thinking how tangy loquat preserves would be the BOMB on these savory-sweet muffins.

So have fun. And I’ll share the recipe if you promise to buy the book. Deal?

Macrina Bakery Cornbread Jam Muffins

[FOODINISTA NOTE: One note about cornmeal. What I have on hand is a toothier, coarse-ground cornmeal, which I like. But I think a fine-ground cornmeal would be even better and more kid-friendly. Also, I used crushed unsweetened pineapple in place of the diced. Finally, I put mine in cupcake liners to make them seem more cupcake-like for the kiddies. Hey, whatever works!]

Topped with your favorite raspberry-preserves, these golden muffins are a beautiful addition to any breakfast table. We like to use fresh pineapple in this recipe when it’s available, but unsweetened, canned fruit is a fine alternative.

Makes 6-8 muffins

2 cups pastry flour (or 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup cake flour sifted together)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups cornmeal

4 eggs

1 cup diced pineapple

1 cup pineapple juice

1/2 cup whole milk

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

1/2 cup raspberry preserves

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Brush insides of muffin tin with canola oil.

Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cornmeal into a medium bowl and mix with a wooden spoon. Set aside.

Crack eggs into a medium bowl and mix with a whisk, then stir in diced pineapple, pineapple juice and milk. Add egg mixture to the bowl of dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon just until batter starts to come together, about halfway mixed. Slowly add melted butter and continue mixing until batter is smooth and there are no visible streaks of butter, about 1 minute.

Scoop batter into oiled muffin tins, slightly overfilling them. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until muffins are peaked and golden brown. Test the center of 1 muffin with a skewer. The skewer will come out clean if the muffins are done. Let cool for 10 minutes, then gently dent each muffin top with a spoon. Crown with a generous dollop of raspberry preserves. Slide a fork down the side of each muffin and gently lift from pan.


Play Date

In Baby Love, Food on January 4, 2011 at 6:23 pm

As it turns out, Tiny G is something of a ladies man. Today he hosted three of his gal pals for a play date. Since I don’t have a daughter, I may have used G’s play date as an excuse to girl out. Using a monogram template, some pink construction paper, and these great little paper totes from Target ($.49 ea), I put together personalized bags filled with stickers and a bracelet for each of G’s friends. Only after I assembled them did I realize I was having flashbacks from working in fashion years ago. But then, I’ve always loved a good swag bag.

And because my little munchkin is the sweetest, I made his favorite cornmeal strawberry muffins to share with his friends. The cornmeal recipe (which is sweetened with diced pineapple as well as pineapple juice) is from Macrina Bakery in Seattle. They’re a good alternative to cupcakes as they’re not too sugary sweet and won’t have kids bouncing off the walls. While the muffins are cooling, you make an indentation on top using a spoon and then fill with a dollop of your favorite preserves. Tiny G requested strawberry, so I used some of my Aunt Margaret’s coveted strawberry jam. I’ll probably get in trouble for posting this last bit because my aunt didn’t make all that much of it this year and only a few of us got jars. (Expecting a prickly phone call from my mother any second…)

And really, the last thing I want to do is upset my wonderfully generous mother, who sent me a care package containing a bunch of anodized aluminum cups and bowls my dad got at Steve’s Hardware in St. Helena when I was a kid. They are a nontoxic and eco-friendly alternative to plastic and kids love the bright, jewel-toned colors. And they’re pretty much indestructible (to wit: they survived the 80s)—which make them ideal for a roomful of toddlers.

Box of Rain

In Baby Love, Design on January 3, 2011 at 10:41 pm

More rain here in Los Angeles makes for a stir-crazy toddler. To the rescue: Tiny G’s rainy day Pantone Metal Storage Box, filled with art supplies like construction paper, crayons, markers, maribou feathers, sparkly pom poms and glue. I love these boxes, avail in seven Pantone colors, for their functionality and of course they speak to my well-documented paint obsession. Tomorrow Tiny G is super excited to break out the contents of his Box of Rain once more as he hosts his first play date with Scarlett, as well as best buds Lila and Charlotte. In the meantime, one of my favorite rainy day songs:

Sitting Pretty

In Design on January 1, 2011 at 2:54 pm

In 2010, one of my dreams came true in the form of a 1940s Jacques Adnet red leather sling side chair with an iron frame and brass details. Adnet was a French art deco designer, whose furniture for Hermès is the stuff dreams are made of. Because this particular chair is “attributed” to Adnet rather than “by” Adnet, an all-important zero got knocked off the the price tag. I had to pinch myself when I saw it. The chair, which I’m picking up first thing Monday morning, is going to live in our bedroom, along with these vintage Liberty curtains in an art nouveau Ianthe pattern that I scored for a song on eBay a few years ago.

Update 1/3/11: The chair is home—and found its way into a corner in the living room beneath a sentimental aboriginal painting with beautiful crosshatching that I found in Australia when Mr. Foodinista and I were newly dating. So happy!