Food, Wine, Rock & Roll

Part food blog, part jam session

Bibimbap

Posted by Becca On January - 28 - 201220 COMMENTS

My husband and I both love Korean food.  When we lived in a more metropolitan area, we were able to go out about once a month to a great little Korean restaurant and eat until we thought we would explode.  Unfortunately, the area in which we now live does not have a single Korean restaurant.  We were both heart-broken until he decided to find a good recipe for our favorite Korean dish: bibimbap.  Now, this is a dish I usually make once a week.

Bibimbap is incredibly easy to make.  There are several different forms of bibimbap (hot stone-bowl, sanchae) and many different recipes that call for  a wide variety of ingredients; it is rare to find two identical recipes for this dish.  I spent a good bit of time experimenting with several recipes until I came across this one.  It is the one which most closely resembles the dish we used to get at our favorite Korean restaurant.

This version is vegetarian BUT I have also used rib-eye (1/2 lb., thinly sliced) instead of tofu and it is equally tasty.  I have also been thinking about experimenting with shrimp, chicken, and/or pork.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger, grated
  • 8 oz. firm tofu, cut into thin slices
  • 1 1/2 zucchini, shredded
  • 1 lb. baby bok choy, roughly chopped
  • 1 lb. shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • handful of julienned carrots
  • handful of bean sprouts
  • eggs (optional)
  • hot rice
  • gojuchang red pepper paste (optional) – can be found in most international markets or on Amazon.com
  • rice wine vinegar (optional) – I don’t use this but some people like it

Preparation

Cut tofu into thin slices.  Place slices on an absorbent towel and cover.  Allow tofu to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.  The towel will absorb the excess liquid from the tofu, which will prevent it from falling apart while cooking.

Combine the soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil, sugar, garlic, and ginger in a plastic seal-able bag.  Add the tofu and coat.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Warm 1/2 tablespoon of the sesame oil into a large wok or skillet over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and cook until they are tender and soft.  Set aside in a large bowl (large enough to hold the other ingredients when ready) and cover with a towel to keep warm.

Warm 1/2 tablespoon of sesame oil in the wok or skillet and add the shredded zuccini and chopped bok choy.  Cook until it is tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the handful of julienned carrots and cook for 1-2 minutes (carrots should still be firm and crunchy).  Add to large bowl, covering to keep warm.

Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, bring a few cups of water to a boil.  Add the bean sprouts and cook for about a minute.  Drain in a colander and add bean sprouts to large bowl with other cooked ingredients.

Increase heat in wok or skillet to high.  When hot, add the tofu.  Cook, stirring constantly until the tofu is browned on all sides.  Add to large bowl.

Optional:  In a medium non-stick skillet, add remaining 1 tablespoon of sesame oil over medium heat.  Cook the eggs until the whites have set, but the yolk is still runny.

Place hot cooked rice in the bottom of bowls.  Add all cooked ingredients over hot cooked rice, placing the fried eggs on top.

Break the yolk and stir all ingredients until well mixed.

Serve with gojuchang paste and/or rice wine vinegar if desired.

Moussaka

Posted by Becca On January - 21 - 2012ADD COMMENTS

This is not a recipe for someone who is new to cooking or isn’t willing to spend a significant amount of time in the kitchen; be prepared to spend around 2 hours working on the prep & another hour in the actual cooking.  In the end, though, the time and effort are worth it, especially if you love Greek food (like I do) and can’t always go out for it.  Though it would be more “Greek” to use ground lamb in this recipe, I most often use ground beef and have found it to be just as tasty as it is with lamb.

Ingredients

  • 2 eggplants
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 large onions
  • 2 lbs. ground lamb or beef
  • 3 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 6 tbsp. flour
  • 1 qt. milk
  • 3 eggs
  • nutmeg
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup fine bread crumbs (I like to use the herb & garlic)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preparation

Peel the eggplants and cut them into slices about 1/2 inch thick.  Brown the slices quickly in 4 tablespoons of the butter.  Set aside & cover to keep warm.

Heat 4 tablespoons of butter in the same skillet and cook the onions until they are brown.

Add the ground meat and cook 10 minutes.

Combine the tomato paste with the wine, parsley, cinnamon, salt, and pepper.  Stir this mixture into the meat and simmer over low heat, stirring frequently until all the liquid has been absorbed.  Remove the mixture from heat.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Make a white sauce by melting 8 tablespoons of butter and blending in the flour, stirring with a whisk.

Meanwhile, bring the milk to a boil and add it gradually to the butter/flour mixture, stirring constantly.

When the mixture is thickened and smooth, remove it from the heat.

Cool slightly and stir in the beaten eggs, nutmeg, and ricotta cheese.

Grease an 11×16 inch pan and sprinkle the bottom lightly with bread crumbs.

Arrange alternate layers of eggplant and meat sauce in the pan, sprinkling each layer with Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs.

Pour the ricotta cheese sauce over the top and bake one hour, or until top is golden.

Remove from the oven and cool 20-30 minutes before serving.


The Times They are A-Changin’

Posted by Becca On January - 14 - 20122 COMMENTS

If any of you are regular followers, you will have noticed my long hiatus from this blog.  For that, I do apologize.

The last year of my life has been filled with some significant changes; some were not so great, while others have been amazing.  They all have brought their own challenges and adventures.

The most significant change in my life has been the most challenging but also the most amazing.  I left my teaching job in Texas to pursue my PhD in Theatre History and now live in Southern Illinois.  Yeah; it’s been a big change.  If I thought I didn’t have time to cook and maintain a blog while teaching, it’s been nothing like the last six months of my life.  The few hours a day I don’t have to be in front of a computer are very precious and I take full advantage of them.

On the other hand, the opportunity to live in and experience a different part of the country has been such a wonderful adventure (especially for my culinary skills)!  The region in which we now live has been referred to as “Little Egypt” because of its fertile soil and abundant farmland.

For the first time in my life, I live somewhere that has a REAL open-air farmer’s market!  It runs from April to November and is amazing.  Within a week of moving to the area, the Saturday morning farmer’s market became an integral part of my weekly grocery shopping.  The produce is incredible (and inexpensive), the people are friendly and helpful, and there is a sense of community that pervades the market.  I have learned more about the importance of ecological farming and supporting farmer’s markets in the last few months than I ever thought I would.  Because the produce is so fresh, tasty, and inexpensive I am slowly incorporating more and more vegetarian/vegan dishes into my repertoire and it has been great (so, be on the look-out for some of these great recipes)!

Another fun adventure to living in this region is the fact that it is surrounded by wineries.  The rich soil that is so conducive to farming is also perfect for the growing of grapes, as is the warm summer and cool fall weather.  Southern Illinois wines are generally on the sweeter side but are unique and quite wonderful.  I have spent a few beautiful Saturday afternoons exploring the multiple wineries scattered throughout the area.  Much like the farmer’s market, the people who run the wineries are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable.  The drive is always stunning and the wineries themselves are relaxing and fun.  As an added bonus, it is not uncommon for local bands to play at these wineries.

Though I now REALLY live in an area that was practically custom made for this blog, I do have to admit that the long hiatus probably won’t be a rarity.  I am closing in on the end of my winter break and will soon be back in the trenches of school work.  I will make a more concerted effort to post more often, though they may be much more abbreviated.  I may take a different direction and simply focus more on recipes as opposed to my previous format.  I will, however, try to include some posts about the local wines.

For now, thank you to those who have stuck with me.  Hopefully, I can return to this blog more often than I have in the recent past.