tasty nom nom an exception to the daily meal


Grilling while grilling is good

Hi J -

One of the things I miss about not living in SF Bay Area is the food. Almost exactly two years ago, I had the occasion to visit Palace BBQ Buffet in Sunnyvale - same as it ever was.  (Check out this post, she has lots of photos and write up. Mmm.) I was so spoiled. Now I frown when I think about twenty miles drive to eat tasty Korean food.  Then I remind myself there is a small (but good) Korean grocery store near our house, Southgate Oriental Grocery. They are friendly and has all the essentials, banchan, not to mention yummy Korean sushi.

Anyways, with trepidation, since N mentioned he does not like Korean BBQ (and kimchi), I selected a few dishes to make, along with kalbi, beef short ribs, for Saturday dinner.

G grilling, bundled up in a sweatshirt. It started raining just as he finished.

Chow has a good introduction to Korean "BBQ". One of the hallmark of Korean cuisine to me is banchan - side dishes.  I keep replaying my mom's comment, 'all those dishes", by which she means all those dishes to wash!  With endless variety of banchan, I selected one of my favorite, sukju namul, bean sprout salad. There are many recipes on the Internets, I prefer this one. I've found not all bean sprouts are created equal. I had some below average bagged stuff from grocery stores. At Southgate, I got fresh and crispy ones from a giant plastic bag.  A quick light blanch in boiling water, drained well, tossed with minced garlic & green onion, and drizzle of sesame oil & soy sauce.

Another popular side dish is potato salad. I have not learn to appreciate it. To me, it tastes like average western potato salad. But I thought N and G may like a potato side. I found a potato side - jorim, soy sauce potato. Encouraged by N's short list of ingredient Dill Potatoes last week, I used this recipe. So easy and the result was better than the sum of it's part. And I am not a potato person, with the exception of fries.

I didn't get a picture of all the little dishes

A few weeks ago,  I had very good kimchi fried rice from Marination. I'd thought I'd give it a go. Usually serve with a sunny side up egg, I opted to scrambled the egg due to G's preference.  I also wanted to try to make this tofu stew, stir fry fish cakes recipes ... but

Oh! I almost forgot, the ribs. Unlike American style beef ribs, these ribs are cut cross wise, flanken style, into about 1/4 inch thick. These ones from Southgate are slightly thicker. During one of the do-I-have-enough-food-moments, G "I think that should be enough. 4 ribs per person". The ribs are marinated overnight in a mixture of soy, garlic, green onion, malt syrup, sesame oil, pineapple juice, and a touch of sugar for 24 hours.

I was not surprise N liked the beef ribs, but I was surprised he had seconds of the kimchi fried rice, and didn't hate the rest of the sides. After dinner, we try a new to us game - Modern Art (BGG link).

after four seasons, G won, of course

For many weeks (months?), I've been talking about getting new games for our Saturday nights. I got Imperial (BGG link) a few weeks ago, but I didn't feel any enthusiasm around that game. So I got Modern Art. Designed by Reiner Knizia, who also designed Ra, which N likes. I played Modern Art many years ago. I remember liking the game - multilayer, strategy, and no dice roll, but not much details. Fast forward to reintroduction, I still enjoyed it. Although I needed to remind myself that in auction games, G likes to jack up the prices. (See also Ra).

Almost like Real Life, the more paintings the artist sells, the more fame and fortune.  On each of our turns, we play both seller (and maybe buyer).  Buy low, sell high, and speculate which artist will be popular! I always have trouble bidding on auction games. For many rounds, all I had was one very expensive painting. The art is cheesy good, but the monies is plastic. Judging by how N packed up the game after our trial, I am not sure he liked it. How about you?

traditional moon cakes and fancy new style

In between Modern Art and our next round of game. We had some Moon Cakes. September 12th was Mid-Autumn Festival (Hi wikipedia). As a little one, this was one of my favorite holiday. We ate moon cakes, light fancy lanterns, and hang out with our friends in the neighborhood. Moon cakes have changed a lot over the years. The boxed stuff I get at the grocery stores are nothing special. Perhaps next year, I will check out the Regent Bakery.

We must have felt pretty optimistic when we selected Castle. Castle, where we argue, be mean, and generally cranky to each other. Although, I have to say after we correctly interpret the solider and seige engine rule, the game is more interesting.

And here is to a few more weeks of grilling!


Half-Smoked, All-In

Hello E!

This weekend is brought to you by my 8am hockey practice and 80°F temperatures outside!


While I was off getting my butt whipped in hockey practice, N hard smoked some salmon. I love hard smoked salmon -- even more than cold smoked. N marinated the salmon in a teriyaki and pepper glaze and smoked it with applewood in the Big Green Egg. Mmm. We had it with some rye crackers and marinated red onion.

hard smoked salmon
hard smoked salmon

In the farm share, I had received some gorgeous red beets. While I was out picking up the rye crackers, I happened to find some golden beets. I decided to throw together a quick beet salad. The beets were boiled and peeled, then tossed in a dijon-orange juice dressing with walnut pieces and goat cheese. Initially I was just going to serve this as the salad, but decided that other people might not like beets as much as I do, so I instead served them atop a bed of baby greens. The dressing wasn't very good though I did like the beets (but I think I may always like beets...).

beet salad
beet salad

Our quick dinner was smoked hot dogs -- inspired by DC's half-smokes -- potatoes, and a quick tomato + green bean salad.

e's plate
e's plate

N peeled and then boiled new potatoes and immediately tossed them with dill and a small amount of olive oil. I was skeptical about the amount of dill + oil in the bowl but they turned out great.

I wasn't happy with the tomato+green bean salad. I keep trying similar salads and they just never seem to come together the way I expect.

Games-wise, I think we pretty much just played with the new toy. Shuffle shuffle shuffle!

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Test Kitchen

Dear E,

The Labor Day long weekend gave N the inspiration to finally build the cold smoker he's been talking about for ages.

cold smoker
cold smoker

I admit I was a little skeptical about it, especially after seeing the first batch of salmon, which was brined and ended up a bit wetter than it should have. Each subsequent batch was better and the cold smoker works great. Not bad for less than $100 investment in terracotta pots and trash cans!

While N was out buying fish to smoke, he discovered beef ribs. We haven't been able to find beef ribs in years, so of course he picked up a couple of racks and he though he'd give them a try.

Huge rib
blurry beef rib

The ribs were absolutely enormous! I think they tasted fine but the texture was a little off. They were great reheated.

I threw together a quick cabbage salad with two types of cabbage, onion, green onion, granny smith apple, and thin-sliced bell pepper. It was a very simple dinner!

While we played some Uno and Bohnanza, N smoked more fish in the cold smoker. I anticipate more test kitchen trials in the next few weeks! Get ready! Worst case I guess we order a pizza!


Wait for it…

Good morning J!

My hand still smells like garlic. Just thought I'd share.

Last week, I lamented how our hazelnuts are duds. Perhaps something about boy and girl trees? I need to do more research. I had picked out some hazelnut recipes in anticipation of our first hazelnuts. I was so disappointed. Then N mentioned Safeway has them in bulk. We were both very skeptical. But he was right.  Now I am happy I have the chance to try a recipe. I like hazelnuts, a lot.

A multi-sub-recipes recipe - a bruschetta like small plate from L.A.'s Osteria Mozza in the September 2011 Bon Appétit. (I can't seem to find the recipe on epicurious.) It consists of hazelnut paste, goat ricotta, or fresh 'ricotta' cheese, garlic confit, vinaigrette  (which turned out to be more an aioli), and crostini.

my plate, what is everyone else having?

In the morning, I made the fresh cheese.  The instruction calls for putting the milk, cream, salt and lemon juice in the pot and bring it just to a boil.  I had to make special effort not to stir. Do not disturb. Wait, then wait some more, then drain, then wait some more. G tasted it, made a face, and said "it tastes like warm cheese." Ominous start. Here is to hoping the sum of all the parts is better than the individual recipes.

In the afternoon, after All The Canning, I enlisted G to peel two heads of garlic. I looked up from my task of grounding the hazelnuts into a paste and noticed he had the faucet running, puddle of water on the cutting board, generally making a very large mess. "What are you doing?" "The peel is sticking to my hands." He was trying to wash the peel off the garlic clove, then rinsing his hands, after every one. Hmm. Yea. I took the task back and finished peeling all the cloves, then slowly simmer the garlic. Wait, wait some more, wait ...

After the confit cooled, I blended some of the garlic with lemon juice and made the aioli. Then brushed the bread with the garlic infused olive oil. G quickly grilled them. A quick assembly of hazelnut paste, fresh cheese, drizzle of aoili, then sprinkled with chopped toasted hazelnuts and lemon zest. I think, everyone agreed, the sum of the parts was pretty good. Phew.

The next couple of recipes are by products of the canning sessions. A few slices of peaches that didn't fit neatly into the jars turned into quick fresh peach salsa with this very simple recipe. Thanks for bringing chips! It was easy and tasty. The salsa was more successful then this blackberry shrub, made with blackberry vinegar simmered with sugar, topped off with bubble water and ice.


I followed a raspberry shrub recipe in one of Linda Ziedrich's books. The syrup smelled good, but we found it was lack luster. Here is that two ingredients issue again. After much discussion, we agree that an herb will definitely help. Oh, look here, a blackberry shrub with rosemary recipe.

zesty peach sauced

G grilled corn and two buckets of wings. One with a zesty peach sauce recipe and one with G's rubTM. I forgot to ask him to brush the peach sauce on the wings in the last few minutes to caramelize the sauce. Bummer. He pulled out a variety of bottled wings sauce for the plain bucket. The corn was very good. He soaked them in salt water for a few hours, grilled them on the top rack for about 30 minutes. He pointed out how we ate our corn differently - by column, row, or random. Wild.

tension, waiting for someone to play a merger tile

After the small plates dinner, we played G's favorite game. Seems like everyone had someone else'a merger tile. No one was going to make the move to break the jam. It turned out to be a close game.We finished the evening with a round of Bohnanza. I managed to have a six golds game. Go reverse me. I just order a new-to-us game. I am optimistic the crowd will like it and vote it in rotation. We need some variety.

After you & N left and I was unwinding with an ice-pack, G "if it was up to me, we would just have hot dogs and hamburgers." Our next menu!

P.S. Toast + fresh cheese + drizzle of honey for breakfast is divine.


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Peachy Keen

Happy Labor Day weekend!

Our summer has started late, in typical Seattle fashion. Energy has been low -- I think we used it up on all our canning!

One of my favorite quick and refreshing meals is tacos. Make some protein, chop a lot of fresh vegetables, and wrap in a tortilla. Easy, tasty, cool & crisp - perfect for a warm August evening. Added bonus? An excuse to serve some of the peach salsa I canned earlier that week!

peach salsa
peach salsa

N picked up a pork loin for salsa verde carnitas. He made in a cast iron dutch oven in the Big Green Egg, using indirect heat. First it braised in salsa verde, onion, and other spices.


Once it cooks down, the temperature is kicked up and the meat is browned and crisped up so that you get wonderful browned bits along with spicy soft pulled pork.

carnitas, getting crust
making the crust

While the meat was braising, N also made his special pico de gallo. He dices a blend of hot and sweet peppers, tomatoes, and onions and tosses them with salt, lime juice and cilantro. It's simple but delicious.

burrito for jess!

I tried my hand at making a cilantro rice (see the top comment) similar to what they serve at Chipotle. It wasn't quite right -- I think the soybean oil they use must make a huge difference.

Weeks ago when we were talking about the 2040 pounds of peaches we were receiving, N requested a peach cobbler. I acquiesced since he seldom requests sweets. However, while I was doing recipe research, N started describing what he wanted and it sounded like a crisp or a crumble, not a cobbler! I know, the terms are all sorts of confusing!

crisp filling
peach filling

I finally asked two questions: do you want the peaches on the top or the bottom? (bottom) Do you want a crispy top or a more biscuit-like top? (crispy)

I used Orangette's plum crumble recipe, substituting peaches for the plums. I almost did not include the ginger, but I really like the blend of peach and ginger, so I left it in.

peach crisp
peach crisp

Of course, N didn't expect the ginger and it threw him for a loop when he took his first bite! I think ginger almost ruined the dish for him. Ack! I guess I should have warned him.

I really loved how the crisp topping came out -- you blend flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon, then add a well-beaten egg to it. It makes loose chunks of dough, which you use to top the fruit. Then you spoon melted butter over it and bake. It gets deliciously crunchy and textured. I will be using this crisp topping again. I would use a little less cinnamon overall next time.

peach crisp
peach crisp

We finished off the warm evening of full bellies by playing with the card shuffler and two card-based games, Uno and Bohnanza (BGG). You kicked butt in Uno and won the game after 17 matches! It was a close game.

After a poor start, I had a couple of solid Bohnanza games. I seem to do better in Bohnanza when I plant Coffee Beans, though I'm not sure why! Maybe next weekend we can finally try Agricola (Bohnanza and Argicola were designed by the same fellow). I hope! I am ready for a new game.

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