Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Slow-Cooker Korean Beef Tacos w/ Kimchi, Gochujang BBQ Sauce, Asian Slaw & Quick Pickles

Food trucks are rapidly becoming this year's hot new culinary trend, set to strip bacon and cupcakes of their previous titles. One of the most well-known food trucks is Kogi BBQ in LA; they serve an eclectic mix of traditional Korean foods, but in a more portable option, such as tacos and quesadillas.

Being that I probably won't make it out to LA anytime soon, combined with my love of tacos and confidence in preparing Korean cuisine, I decided to try my hand at replicating the much-loved Kogi taco.

I decided it was best to use bulgogi as the meat of the tacos. However, wanting to make this entire meal "make-ahead" (ok, and not wanting to deal with slicing the beef wafer-thin), I opted to slow-cooker a chuck roast with bulgogi marinade, resulting in the great taco-friendly texture of pulled pork and tenderness of pot roast, but with all of the rich Korean flavors of bulgogi.

In addition, I whipped up a gochujang BBQ sauce a la Kogi, along with some thinly sliced quick tsukemono (pickles), and a tart Asian slaw. Along with tortillas and some kimchi, this meal did require some effort, but it was well worth it. Using the slow cooker and making the taco toppings ahead of time made this meal easy to throw together and yielded plenty of good leftovers to layer atop a steaming bowl of bibimbap

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Grilled Sweet & Spicy Salmon Tacos w/ Chipotle-Lime Dressing & Citrus Slaw

It's officially summertime here in Alabama; hot, muggy and swarming with gigantic summer insects. Which, as is the usual for the weekends, means another round of grilling. 

The BF & I are both huge fans of fish tacos, often going over to Cantina to satisfy the craving. Tonight, I decided to combine several recipes and try my hand at grilling salmon for fish tacos. In continuing with my love for cilantro and lime, both flavors appear in the marinade as well as the San-Diego influenced cream sauce. Served simply with grilled Mexican corn, dinner was quick, fresh and delicious!

This is a perfect make-ahead recipe; I did all of the prep work this morning. So, when it was time to prepare dinner, all I had to do was fire up the grill!

Elote - Grilled Mexican Corn on the Cob (Vegetarian)

Corn is abundant EVERYWHERE in stores and farmers markets right now. I often receive bags and bags full from friends whose family members grow corn every summer here in Alabama. With corn dirt cheap right now, and our newfound obsession with grilling, I knew that elote would be a perfect side dish for tonight's meal. 

Elote is a popular street food in Mexico and is simply corn on the cob. Boiled in the husk or grilled over hot coals, elote is typically served drenched with butter, then smeared with mayonnaise and seasoned with a myriad of flavors such as salt, chili powder, cheese (typically cotija), lime juice or even lemon-pepper seasoning. 

adapted from Homesick Texan
4 cobs sweet yellow corn
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
4 Tbsp mayonnaise or sour cream/crema mexicana
4 lime wedges
1/2 cup crumbled cotija (substitute Parmesan)
Cayenne pepper

Remove the husk from the corn, leaving only a single layer of husk. Grill the corn for 15-20 minutes, turning occasionally, until tender. Feel free to brush the corn with oil if desired. Some kernels may blacken and char - this is normal. 

While still hot, spread 1/2 Tbsp butter and 1 Tbsp mayo or sour cream all over the cob. Sprinkle with cotija and cayenne pepper, and squirt with a lime wedge. Serve hot. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Grilled Asian Pork Burgers with Kimchi

As you already know, we've been grilling a LOT lately. Being that we both love burgers, love pork, and that I've got 4 pints of homemade kimchi, I decided to try my hand at a Korean-style kimchi burger, much like the shortrib/Korean BBQ option offered on occasion at our local Flip Burger, owned by Top Chef All-Star Richard Blais.

A quick internet search yielded up a great recipe by Jaden Hair. I own her Steamy Kitchen cookbook and have made several of her recipes before, all of which turned out wonderfully. I knew I wouldn't have to worry about this recipe one bit! I did omit the tomatoes on the burger and instead whipped up a mayo/sweet chili/Sriracha spread instead of just plain condiments. This is definitely a dish I'll make again!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Two-Tone Peanut Butter & Chocolate Fudge

Making fudge seems to scare some people; probably because of all the stirring and super-precise temperature controls. Some folks are intimidated by candy thermometers and boiling-hot sugar lava. This recipe is incredibly easy, and doesn't require a candy thermometer. If you don't like peanut butter, feel free to substitute butterscotch chips or white chocolate chips to make this recipe your own!

You can add chopped nuts if desired; I prefer my fudge creamy and smooth, so I don't use nuts. If you do choose to add nuts, stir them in just before pouring the fudge into the pan.

Fiesta Ranch Chicken Cheese Ball

At a previous job I once held, we used to do monthly potlucks to celebrate birthdays. One item that ALWAYS appeared on our spread and was the first to disappear, was a chicken & cheese ball made by a coworker named Beth.

As we all hovered around the chicken ball, Beth was more than happy to share her recipe, which I've also seen reproduced online on dozens of sites. This is the perfect appetizer recipe; easy, inexpensive, and popular. Simply serve with an assortment of crackers!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Grilled Pork Souvlaki with Tzatziki Sauce

This past weekend, the BF bought a new grill. Since then, he's cooked me some amazing meals. I figured it was time for me to try my hand at grilling and grill a meal for him in return. I opted for a quick and easy souvlaki; you do need to plan ahead a bit since the meat needs to marinate for several hours, and it's best to make the tzatziki ahead of time. However, when it comes to cooking, this recipe will take just under 10 minutes. 

Souvlaki is a Greek "fast food" of meat, skewered and grilled. Traditionally made from lamb, I opted for pork since the BF loves pork, and also due to the price of lamb. Tzatziki is a cold, yogurt-based sauce, seasoned with cucumbers and dill. Typically served with gyros, tzatziki is often compared to Indian raita. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Baechu Kimchi (Vegetarian/Vegan)

Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish of fermented cabbage (baechu = Napa cabbage, also called "hakusai" in Japanese) with hot chili powder; it's a dish that you either love or loathe. No Korean meal is complete without kimchi, whether it takes center stage in a dish such as jjigae or jeon, or is served simply as banchan. Personally, I LOVE kimchi. It's not too incredibly expensive to buy in stores, but it's incredibly easy to make at home, and tastes much more authentic.

Aside from unavoidable garlic breath, kimchi has numerous health benefits. It is low-calorie but high in fiber, vitamin C and beta carotene. It is also rich in vitamins A, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), calcium and iron. Since kimchi is lacto-fermented much like sauerkraut and yogurt, it helps aid digestion as well.

To make your own kimchi, you will need to find gochugaru, which is a fine chili flake powder available at any Asian market. If you cannot find it, you can substitute crushed red pepper flakes; just grind them into a powder using a coffee grinder/spice mill. Also available is gochujang, which is a premade chili paste for making kimchi. For a vegetarian/vegan version, feel free to omit the fish sauce. The main difference between this recipe and the storebought varieties is the traditional usage of a pear/apple/onion blend for sweetness instead of the sugar used in commercial brands. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Chicken & Andouille Jambalaya

Jambalaya is a traditional Creole dish, closely related to paella. Consisting of meat and vegetables cooked in a large skillet, and then adding rice, tomatoes and broth, jambalaya is a true Cajun "one-pot" meal. 

This version contains chicken and andouille sausage as the meats; no seafood in this recipe as the BF is allergic to shellfish, which eliminates a lot of Creole/Cajun dishes for him. This recipe takes only a short amount of time to prepare and cook, and can all be cooked in a single large skillet.