As a Christmas Special entry, I present to you, Gourmet (Magazine)Thanksgiving Update!
Pre-requisite reading: here
Morning dough for the cranberry apple pie, dUn, and into the fridge. It’s been almost a month since this happened, so I can’t remember the details of what I did immediately after this. I most likely went back to sleep, or went to the grocery store to get last minute things. But I remember clearly the previous day, when I bought these colorful carrots at the farmer’s market at end-of-the-day price.
As attractive as they were, the flavor was akin to unspectacular potatoes. As long as they soak up the flavors from the other stuff, they were good enough for shepherd’s pie filling.
After a long morning of chopping and mixing, around midday is a good time to pop a bottle of wine. You can also pour some into whatever you’re making if appropriate.
So the parsnip is boiled and cooling and draining for the top of the shepherd’s pie, and I think some cauliflower and celery root also made it into the mix. Anyway, here is the result-
But this is hours later. After this is assembled, it sat for a long time before going into the oven, while all the other things are being made, like the cranberry apple pie.
Next to the pie is the ginger pear cake that Amanda made, her first vegan cake ever. It was perfect. Matt made candied yams. It’s something southern.
It seems like I’ve been hanging around the kitchen all day, but I only made 3 things. Of course, everyone brought something delicious, so there was enough for everyone. I’m happy to have managed to make all the things I had planned to, and my dear friends showed up. Here’s the menu (from myself, only):
Veganified Gourmet Thanksgiving 2009
By the time we sat down, it was already dark.
My 1st plate.
By the end of the night, people started to show their true selves.
떡볶이 (tukbokgi). Or ddukbokki. (Or whatever. I really hate writing out Korean words in Roman alphabet.. sorry. But it’s so easy for you to learn.) The yellow pancake looking thing is my new favorite dish: butternut squash pancakes. I learned in from Maangchi’s video, and added some scallions, garlic, and ground black pepper to adjust to my taste.
The initial reaction I received from the ladies in the picture can be roughly translated to something in between , “I’ve never had 떡볶이 like this before.” and, “what the hell kind of a 떡볶이 is this?!”
For those unfamiliar, it’s not normally that colorful of a dish. It’s just orange-ish red, with way less veggies. It should look more like this:
This is the more proper version we made on our previous full-moon 떡볶이 get together, with the ramen, oden, and the whole thing. I get the relaxed, warm feeling just looking at the pictures from that night. In fact, I am convinced that one will find very few Korean people who cannot feel that warm, nostalgic sentiment when talking about this dish. It’s the ultimate after school snack, and it’s probably the meal that many people had during their first time ever dining out “only with friends” experience. Thinking back, I feel a little guilty for perhaps ruining the essence of 떡볶이 by making massive changes for my fellow aficionadas. But I think the real spirit of it is being chatty and overeating together, and we got that part down for sure.
But I had my own reasons for hippifying the street fast food supreme. The night before, I had went to the Lubalin exhibition opening at the Cooper Union, and afterward, conveniently ended up at Song 7.2, the soju bar/ Korean fast food place in the East Village where 75% of the food menu consists of empty carbohydrates, and the other 25%, deep-fried empty carbs. We had already planned our tukboki gathering days in advance. So that night, after devouring my plate of fried sea weed wrapped glass noodles drenched in more traditional tukboki sauce with my pumpkin soju, I realized that should respect the message from my body urging me to not repeat this two days in a row. That is how the tukboki turned out purple and orange.
The main adjustments that took place in this version is the amount of rice cake vs. vegetables (red cabbage, carrots, onions, garlic, butternut squash, and mushrooms), the sea weed broth, and the substitution of tofu shirataki noodles in place of ramyun noodles. Ramyun is generally my favorite part about home made tukboki, so this was a bit of a risky experiment. My verdict: Ramyun can never really be replaced, but shirataki noodles are acceptable, especially counting in the lack of bloated feeling afterward. But the dashima, and the 3 different kinds of mushrooms I used really made the dish.
And this made me feel a bit like a real adult. There was a time when I didn’t care what the hell was in the red sauce. I just wanted it to be spicy with just the right amount of sweet. The biggest worry I had was to not get the sauce all over my shirt. I still worry about that, but I am worried more about the consequences of my intake. I considered Coca Cola to be ultimate accompaniment, but now I opt for Chianti.
It turned it into something completely different than what tukboki should have been, but I liked it regardless. I am growing up, slowly, and it’s just fine with me.
Oven roasted delicata squash and mushrooms, with kale dressed in tahini sauce
"Left over special" continues-
I think that I have expressed numerous times in one way or another that this Halloween weekend was unusually pleasant, but I left out the highlight. Sunday morning after the Samhain festivities, I woke up to the smell of garlic and thyme roasting in olive oil. It was already lunch time, and my guilt-tripping-Matt-into-cooking-for-me-after-the-master-cleanser had finally paid off.
He had oven roasted delicata squash and mushrooms, with loads of garlic and fresh thyme. He even toasted pumpkin seeds to sprinkle! With just the right amount of salt and pepper, it could have been the best thing he’s ever made for me. And the kale with tahini sauce was great too. Obviously, I was very pleased.
By the following evening, we only had just enough of the squash left for one person, and in the bottom of the baking dish was a little too much garlic and thyme infused oil to just wash away. In an attempt to make this last as long as possible, I turned it into a pasta dish. It was fantastic. I do succeed at times, thanks to other people’s hard work.
Oven baked autumn squash pasta with pumpkin sauce
1/2 or more of cubed delicata squash, and mushrooms, baked in garlic, fresh thyme, and olive oil until the squash is softened
a package of fusilli (this texture rules for holding on the thick sauce) or other kinds of pasta
2 or more cloves of garlic
2 scallions, chopped
1/4 or more of a red onion, chopped
1/2 cup of soymilk
1/3 cup of pumpkin purée (save the rest for pancakes!)
1/2 cup of bread crumbs
a handful of sun dried tomatoes, chopped
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Under cook the pasta, until it’s softened but not quite al dente.
Make the sauce by combining the pumpkin purée, soymilk, garlic and onions, and salt and pepper.
Mix the well-drained pasta, pumpkin sauce, and the sun dried tomatoes in a well-oiled baking dish.
Sprinkle the top with bread crumbs, and bake for 20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
I made a heaping portion of pasta for a last minute dinner party of 3, using all the vegetables I could find in the fridge. Major players were obscene amount of garlic cloves, olive oil, sundried tomato, lots of black pepper, toasted pine nuts, and basil from the garden.
After 20 minutes of prepping, cooking, and cleaning, I covered the pan with aluminum foil and walked over to the location.
Appetizer: arugula salad with tofu with lots of ground black pepper
Main: pasta, potato salad with dill, and zucchini tian with tomato sauce
+ wine, smokes, kitties, and chats through out the meal with favorite people= life not so tragic.
Next morning I mixed the pasta and the zucchini tian for the lunch box.
Strangely, I haven’t thought about bulgogi since I stopped eating meat 12+ years ago. It’s probably largely due to the fact that this is so much about the quality and the texture of the meat unlike something that still tempts me after all these years like KFC chicken which is all about the crust which is not even really the part of the chicken.
I recently decided to treat bulgogi like KFC- away from the meat. (But of course, with a bit more respect. Please don’t get mad Korean people) Because bulgogi sauce is too good to be forgotten. I had it with kimchi stew, and packed the rest for lunch the next day with leftover rice.
One big misconception about bulgogi is that it’s a type of barbecue dish. While I am sure it’s great grilled, traditionally, it should be more like a stew, with a lot of simmering. I made mine a little more dry than it should be which might explain whey it looks a bit dry. I didn’t know any better.
Aside from the whole no beef part, this recipe below is pretty authentic/ basic. Nothing crazy here.
Mushroom Bul-Seitan (a.k.a. Vegetarian Bulgogi)
1 pack (about 1 lb) of seitan- sliced
For the sauce
1/2 yellow onion-blended- blended
1/2 pear (preferably Korean)- blended
1 1/2 cup filtered water
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp chungju, soju, white wine, or mirin
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp crushed/chopped garlic
ground black pepper to taste
Combine all the ingredients for the sauce, and marinate seitan for up to 6 hours in the fridge.
When it’s ready to cook, prepare the following vegetables:
1 lb mix of different kinds of mushrooms
2 scallions- julienned thin
1 onion- julienned thin
1 or less carrot- julienned thin
In a heated pan, start cooking the marinated seitan in medium-high heat. When about 1/2 of the liquid have simmer away, add the vegetables, and cook in high heat, for about 5 more minutes.
Left over special Pt. I
A couple of weeks ago, I made a pretty big meal for Ben’s birthday and reaped the benefits of not having to cook for the rest of the week. Here’s the acorn squash in the day light which I packed for our lunch to take to work the following day, and the day after.
With the extra stuffing of fresh corn and leeks kept in the tupperware uncooked, I literally whipped up a simple dish of instant polenta and quick greens with field roast the following day before heading to the Guggenheim’s 50th anniversary event.
Lucy insisted on having her polenta with our kimchi, noting that any savory starch dish goes well with it. Having savored my share of oatmeal with soy sauce and sesame oil like a Korean rice porridge in the past, I couldn’t really argue.
Sunday lunch that Matt made while I was on the Master Cleanse
There are certain things that I just never consider in my diet. Fortunately, Matt seems to be happy with the most things I choose to cook, but some of those that I leave out are things that he really likes. Pierogi and okra are prime examples. I like both just fine when done right, especially Matt’s mom’s fried okra, but usually, they’re not on my shopping list.
I’ve recently completed a 10 day master cleanse, and it bothered no one except for the person who is directly affected by my diet choice, Matt. He might like to cook even more than I do, but some how I became the primary cook in our house. Maybe over the years he’s become accustom to having dinner “served” after coming home from work, or maybe he just enjoys sitting in the kitchen table with me, but whatever the reason, he wasn’t so thrilled with my withdrawal from the kitchen. I told him “Now you can make all the stuff that I don’t usually like”, in an attempt to encourage him.
But when he started sautéing chunks of garlic and red onions, it was me who became irritated. He added the fresh kale that we had picked up from the green market, and five-grain tempeh with liquid smoke, and that’s when I almost lost it.
While I was sitting across the dining table sipping my lemonade while my friends enjoy their non-liquid, non-citrus based meals (a.k.a. poison!), they would tell me that they would never be able to do it, even if they wanted to because they enjoyed eating too much. On the contrary, I thought, that’s precisely how I am able to go through with it. Maple syrup is my favorite sweetener. It makes me think of the forests of Vermont and autumn leaves. And lemon is so refreshing. I was on the fast track of Lose Weight, Have More Energy, & Be Happier in 10 Days, when Matt stated polluting my senses with the deadly delicious scent. Even the pierogis looked tempting, and usually I find them to be too heavy.
In the end, my some what desperate attempt to believe in diet magic prevailed. To settle, I just snapped some pictures, and gave him dirty looks. I stuck to my refreshing lemon drink, although on the last day, I decided that I couldn’t take any more sweet and tart, and resorted to tea and water. Afterward, I did feel a bit lighter, and ready to welcome the feasting season with open arms, which is really, all I really wanted.
Now that I am off the cleanse, Matt, please feel free try to lure me into eating pierogi again.
I take after both of my parents. But when it came to food, I have always assumed that I was more like my father. I can’t tell you what he liked to snack on, or what his favorite food was, but I think that he loved to eat like I do. My mother on the other hand, sees food as a necessity. The pleasure of it is only supplementary. Her nutritionally balanced meals take 3 times a day in moderate portions with no seconds servings, or snacks in between. She also happens to be picky and difficult to please, even though she’s too polite to ever not compliment whatever is offered to her. So at home, she would only cook things that are beneficial in some how, in a minimal way (or at least as minimal as possible in Korean cooking) using carefully selected ingredients.
Since the passing of my dear grandmother a few days ago, I’ve been thinking often about my mother, and our relationship. The more I age, the more of my mother I am seeing myself in unpredictable ways, and this time, I was looking into this extra hippie- looking plate I’ve concocted.
I wanted to finish off the loaf of bread before it went stale, and I wanted something hardy to go with it. Sweet potatoes were readily available, so before I even made up my mind on what to make of them, I chopped and boiled them. I’ve wanted to make a marinated tempeh dish since I saw this delicious picture on 101 cookbooks back in January. I improvised by making the sweet potatoes and the tempeh made into a single dish.
As I was slowly enjoying my lunch in complacence, I imagined myself in my mother’s place, cooking for her self, eating alone. Because of the vastly different surroundings that have shaped us respectively, we naturally work with different ingredients, but I imagined that if she was in my place, at my age, right now, maybe she would be enjoying this too. Finding the orange and white to be a bit too heavy and assembling a last minute salad to go with the whole thing. And like her, I was doing this out of necessity. This is how I would sustain myself, and I was enjoying it because it was a necessity. And I cook for myself, because like her, I too am picky and somewhat difficult to please. I don’t know if habits are inherited or learned, but I’m thankful.
Pan-Glazed Tempeh with Sweet Potatoes
About 15 minutes ago, I started cooking some carrots and parsnips. Immediately, I got bored, and now they’re just sitting in the pot, overcooked and getting mushier by the minute. It’s one of those days where I can’t find a hint of excitement and desire for anything, and I’m wishing that I had some left overs to remind my senses of something pleasant from the previous day with minimal effort. But there’s not even some cold rice in the fridge. And I’m just going to assume that you don’t know what cold rice can do, which most likely is true, and show you the way:
After a very late night dinner over the weekend, this is what I made the next morning with the left over rice. It’s 김치볶음밥 (kimchi bokkem bop). It’s the easiest thing in the world to make. All you need is some kimchi, left over rice, and whatever else you want. In my case, a lot of carrots and onions.
Bokkem-bop means “stir-fried rice”, roughly translated, but I kind of hate saying fried rice. It’s not really fried! It’s more like, stir-cooked with minimal oil. That kind of goes against the definition of the description. Let’s just say there’s no direct translation in English for it, and digress.
This is one of the first things I started cooking for myself, and I never get sick of it. And it’s only just one of many things that can come out of the neglected leftover rice, but this one is my favorite. By the way, in Korean idiom, cold rice (찬밥) often describes a neglected person. In my ideal, I don’t want to neglect anyone, or anything. Not even cold rice itself. And certainly not my grumpy, hungry self. So. I think it’s time for me to pay some attention to the carrots and parsnips. But first, I’ll leave you with this to try when you’re feeling famished and wretched, or happy and adventurous.