This is one of those incredibly good, incredibly simple recipes that you come across every once in a while. I had something similar to this from one of the Chinese places downtown, decided to try to find a recipe to make it myself, and then did a bit of a riff on it based on what I had to hand. This is done in 15 minutes, incredibly simple, cheap if you have most of the stuff on hand, and has a good umami flavor about it.

Chinese Egg and Tomato Soup
Lasts three lunches, roughly

Ingredients

  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes (I used fire roasted)
  • 1 t sugar
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger, grated
  • 3 c vegetable stock
  • 1 T soy sauce (I used dark aged soy sauce)
  • 2 large eggs
  • (finished with a dash of fish sauce, recipe also recommends a dash of sesame oil)

In a medium sized pot over medium heat, add your tomatoes and sugar, and bring to a simmer (pic 1). Then add your grated ginger, veggie stock, and soy sauce, and bring to a boil (pic 2). While the soup is being bought to a boil, whisk your eggs until broken up (pic 3). Once boiling, slowly pour the eggs into the soup while stirring the soup (pic 4). Then, finish with a dash of fish sauce (and sesame oil, if you so choose), and enjoy!

Ye gods, I actually made a new recipe and posted it within twenty four hours. This is kinda new. 😛

I basically spent last evening listening to the Los Campesinos! Christmas EP that they released last year, watching the snow outside, and making these (and one other thing I’ll be posting today). I haven’t felt all seasonal like this in years, and ngl, it’s a real welcome feeling right now.

And these may be my new default sugar cookie recipe. The Chinese five-spice powder adds a lovely twist to the standard sugar cookie recipe. (And using my few cookie cutters reminds me I need to get more from that place.)

Chinese Five-Spice Sugar Cookies
Makes appx 20ish cookies

Ingredients

  • 1.25 c flour
  • 2.5 t Chinese five-spice powder
  • pinch salt
  • .5 c sugar
  • 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter at room temp
  • 1 large egg at room temp
  • 1 t vanilla extract

Whisk together the flour, Chinese five-spice powder, and salt in a bowl, until combined completely (pic 1). Using your mixer (sweet sweet stand mixer here), beat the butter and sugar together until creamed, and then add your egg and vanilla extract and mix until it’s good and fluffy (pic 2). Then, slowly add your flour in (pic 3), and mix until everything is just barely incorporated (pic 4).

Then, shape the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic (pic 5, I didn’t have my normal plastic wrap on me), and refrigerate for about an hour.

When you’re ready to make your cookies, heat the oven to 375. Take your dough out of the fridge, unwrap it, and roll it out to .25 inch thickness (pic 6). (The recipe recommends sticking it in the freezer at this point for five minutes to firm it slightly; I did not do this, but did put the dough in the freezer between batches to refirm it, as the dough does go soft quickly at room temp.)

Use your favorite cookie cutters to cut out cookies, and place them on the baking sheet (pic 7). Reroll the leftover dough and repeat until you have enough cookies to fill a baking sheet. (You will be doing this in two batches or so, minimum.)  Bake for 13 minutes, until golden brown on the edges (pic 8). Immediately transfer to a wire rack to cool, and then enjoy with a nice glass of milk.

So, earlier in 2015, I received a large amount of frozen steaks from my mom and her boyfriend, as a result of an auction they won. They mostly lived in the freezer for a good long time, and I was trying to figure out what the hell to make with them, as the amount of steak I had was, shall we say, slightly excessive to my norms.

And then I came across this recipe, and given that I was on a kalbi kick at the time, decided to give it a try. It was the right choice.

Simple, quick, and a good meat preparation. You can’t get too much better than that.

Korean Style Steak
Makes however much steak you want it to. 

Ingredients

  • 3 T sugar
  • 6 T soy sauce
  • 2 T vegetable oil (or other mild cooking oil), plus more for the grill pan
  • 2 T sesame oil
  • 1 T fresh ginger, grated
  • 5 cloves garlic, grated or minced (whichever you prefer, I went crushed)
  • 1 small shallot, minced (I think I skipped this, it was long enough ago that I honestly don’t remember)
  • sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • (recipe recommends 2 lbs hangar, skirt, or flap steak, I used whatever steak this was that I had in the freezer)
  • (scallions, sliced, and sesame seeds for serving, again, pretty sure I skipped this and just put it over a bowl of white rice)

In a large shallow bowl (large enough to fit your steak eventually), stir together the sugar, soy sauce, vegetable oil, sesame oil, grated ginger, garlic, shallot, sea salt, and pepper together until the sugar has dissolved. Add the steak, turn to coat with the marinade, and let sit at room temperature for about fifteen minutes. I marinated mine in the fridge overnight, I’m pretty sure.

If it’s not the dead of winter and you have access to a grill, heat up your grill. If not, heat up a grill pan on the stove. Either way, heat till medium-hot.

Lightly brush a paper towel with vegetable oil, and then rub that over the rack or pan using tongs. Transfer the steak to the grill area, and discard the leftover marinade. Grill it on each side until done to your liking (five minutes or so a side gets you medium rare, depending on how thick the steak is – adjust over or under according to your tastes). Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let it rest for five minutes.

Slice the steak thin, at an angle against the grain, and top with the sesame seeds and sliced scallion if you so choose, or put it over a bowl of rice from the rice cooker for a kinda donburi, do whatever you want!

Happily, kind of, I am currently so far behind on this blog that this has now completed the loop to this being back in season! Go me!

Egg nog. Dutch babies. This is pretty much an A+ combination on all fronts, especially as the cold finally starts to settle in over Chicago. So make this this weekend, and treat yourself. You’ve earned it.

Egg Nog Dutch Baby
Makes one dutch baby

Ingredients

  • 2 T butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 c egg nog
  • 1 c flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 t vanilla
  • .5 t nutmeg
  • 1 T sugar

Preheat your oven to 400, place the butter in the cast iron skillet, and place the skillet in the oven to melt the butter (see what pic 3 looks like for what this will look like after the oven has preheated).

Combine all other ingredients in the blender (pic 1), and blend until combined (pic 2). Once the oven has preheated, swirl the skillet to coat it in butter, and then pour the batter into the hot skillet (pic 4).

Place back into the oven, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden and puffed (pic 5), and then om nom it!

Even though I haven’t used it as much as I would like to this year, this waffle iron is one of the best things that has happened to me, in terms of weekend breakfasts. Especially with these waffles. These babies are thick, so the batter will require some thinning, and a heavy dose of butter applied to the iron to make sure it doesn’t stick, but trust me, they’re wonderful.

Cherry Almond Muffin Waffles
Makes: waffles. Again, don’t remember how many.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 c flour
  • .75 c sugar
  • .5 t salt
  • 2 t baking powder
  • .33 c vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • .66 c buttermilk
  • 1 t almond extract
  • 1 c frozen pitted cherries (Trader Joe’s does these super cheap)
  • melted butter for the waffle iron (DO NOT SKIP)

Whisk the dry ingredients (flour through baking powder) together in a large bowl, make a well in the center, and add the wet ingredients (veggie oil through almond extract), stirring together until just combined. Fold the frozen cherries into the batter.

Using the melted butter on the iron to make sure the waffle doesn’t stick, make your waffles according to waffle iron instructions, and enjoy! If the batter seems a bit thick, don’t be afraid to thin it out slightly with more buttermilk.

So, hey kids. I’m back. Kinda. Just getting back into the swing of this, and I miiight have a not insignificant amount of recipes I should finally write up.

Basically: unemployment and depression are rough, and getting yourself stabilized after all of the above is even more fun. For now, I appear to be settled enough that I finally feel comfortable getting back to this blog. So. Sorry for kinda disappearing since September, and thank you for sticking with me.

Pork belly is becoming a thing right now, and luckily for me, I have several Asian markets in the Chicago area that do cheap as shit (and well cut) slabs of pork belly. I came across this recipe on Lucky Peach, and decided to give it a shot. One major note – the original recipe calls for you to brown it on top of the time it spends in the oven, but to be very honest, it’s perfect as is after it comes out of the oven.

Momofuku Pork Belly
Makes however much pork belly you want; above was appx 2.5 lbs

Ingredients

  • Desired amount of pork belly (again, above was in one package from their meat counter, about 2.5 lbs I would guess; original recipe said skinless, I got mine with the skin on, didn’t make any large difference)
  • 1 T plus 1 t/lb sea salt
  • 1 T plus 1 t/lb sugar
  • a dash of fresh ground black pepper

The night before you want to make your pork belly, season it with salt and sugar, and a few twists of black pepper from the grinder. Cover it (I used one of the many many containers I have lying around) and let it sit in the fridge overnight.

Day of, preheat your oven to 450. Put your belly in a pan, and then sear at 450 for about a half hour. Turn it down to 275, and let it roast slowly another hour or two (I want to say mine sat for closer to the two hour mark at 275), until it’s nice and tender (but not mushy. ew).

Let it cool to room temperature, wrap it up/put it in a container in the fridge to store, and then warm it and nom as you desire!

 

I haven’t tried making a pie in a while, and frankly, I felt it was time to try again, especially with the strawberries and peaches at the height of their season. It didn’t exactly turn out amazing (fumbling around with thawing pie crusts and super juicy fillings translates into a sudden cobbler transformation), but it’s good for a first try. Plus, it’s generally an amazing flavor combination – warmed, honeyed peaches and strawberries, with just a dash of bourbon and vanilla. 

Honey Strawberry Pie

Ingredients

  • 2 frozen pie crusts (one for the bottom, and one for the lattice top or whatever you can manage) (if you want the recipe for the crust as in the original recipe, click the link above)
  • 5 fresh sliced and pitted peaches (roughly 5 c)
  • 2 c strawberries, halved and hulled
  • 1/3 c dark brown sugar
  • .5 c flour
  • 2 T honey
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 1 T bourbon
  • 2 T butter, sliced thin
  • 1 beaten egg
  • sugar, to sprinkle

Line the bottom of your pie plate with the crust. Toss together your peaches, strawberries, dark brown sugar, flour, honey, vanilla extract, and bourbon, and then spoon the filling into the pie plate, being sure to get all the juices. Add the thin butter slices over the top. 

Place the top crust over the top of the pie – if you can make a lattice, go for it! Otherwise, just crimp the edges on, and be sure to cut vents in the crust. (I tried to lattice it. It didn’t go very well.)  Brush the crust with the beaten egg, and then sprinkle the sugar on top. 

Chill the pie in the fridge until it’s firm, usually about 1 hour, but up to several days in advance. 

When you’re ready to bake the pie, preheat the oven to 350. Once heated, place the chilled pie on a baking sheet, in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, until the juices are bubbling and the crust is a good golden brown. Let the pie cool, and then om the nom out of it!

I actually tried making these waffles a few weeks ago, but made a fatal reading mistake – instead of 1/3 c of warmed Nutella, I somehow decided to include ¾ c warmed Nutella. Now, while more Nutella usually isn’t a bad thing, in this situation, it led to a waffle that was half Nutella, and a bit crispy. I finally did these this morning using the right proportions, and the resulting waffle is lovely. This recipe doesn’t make that many waffles (5 total), so you may want to consider doubling the recipe. 

Nutella Swirl Waffles
Makes 5 waffles

Ingredients

  • .75 c flour
  • (original recipe recommended .25 c cornstarch, I found it didn’t need it)
  • 1 t sugar
  • .5 t baking soda
  • .5 t sea salt
  • 1 c buttermilk
  • 1/3 c vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 c Nutella
  • 1 T vegetable oil

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and sea salt, followed by the buttermilk, vegetable oil, and egg. Let the batter sit for twenty minutes.

Towards the end of the twenty minutes, heat your waffle iron according to its instructions. Scoop the 1/3 c of Nutella into a microwave safe glass measuring cup, along with 1 T vegetable oil, and heat for about thirty seconds to warm and thin. Drizzle and swirl it into the batter (see pic 2 for what this looks like). 

Then, make your waffles according to your maker’s instructions, and enjoy!

Tried this on a whim last weekend, as I’ve been on a creme brulee kick lately, or at least the idea of it, and the idea of that plus french toast sounded grade A amazing. I think this needs another go around to get it perfect, especially with the topping. Maybe caramelizing the sugar will work better under a broiler, or with a blowtorch? Any suggestions would be appreciated. 

Seriously, though, be sure to flip the toasts to get the perfect goldenness to it, and and have some fresh berries to make it even more amazing (these are Tay barries, a cross between raspberries and blackberries). I also used a loaf of shokupan (a type of Japanese milk bread) instead of brioche, and I still think it tastes amazing. Plus, odds are you’ll have some left over, for some lovely breakfasts during the week. 

Creme Brulee French Toast

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf rich bread of choice (again, Deb recommends brioche, I used shokupan, sliced to about an inch or so thick)
  • 1 1/3 c whole milk
  • 2/3 c heavy whipping cream
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/3 c white sugar
  • pinch fine sea salt
  • 1 T alcohol of choice (original recommended Grand Marnier, I went Kahlua)
  • 1 T vanilla extract

Topping

  • 2/3 c white sugar

If your bread isn’t already sliced, slice it into generous, thick slices – Deb recommends 1.5 in thick slices, my loaf was cut into 1 in slices, about 9 slices total. Whisk together the milk, heavy whipping cream, eggs, white sugar, sea salt, booze, and vanilla extract. If you want to use a vanilla bean, you can do so – just follow Deb’s recommended steps for whisking in the vanilla bean scraping in the linked recipe. 

Preheat your oven to 325. Take a rimmed tray or pan that will fit as much of your bread as possible (I ended up going with two separate glass pans, and even those weren’t the greatest fits, as you can see), lay out the bread, and pour the custard over it. Let the slices absorb the custard for a half hour, flipping over about halfway through to ensure every side is soaking up the custard evenly. (You can also toss this in the fridge overnight to soak if you’re so inclined, and you won’t need to flip them if that’s the case.)

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper if you have it (I do because the people before me in this apartment left a lot of stuff, hallelujah), and space out the french toasts so that there’s juuust enough space that they can breathe a bit. Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, flipping halfway through so that each side gets a lovely golden sear to it (I didn’t flip them, and I think they look better with both sides seared). You’ll know they’re ready when you lightly slice into the center of the bread and twist, and no wet custard comes out. 

About five minutes out from the toast being done, take a small, heavy, completely dry pot and melt 2/3 c white sugar over medium heat, stirring with a fork, and until it’s fully melted and the color of honey (see pic five). Time this so that this happens as soon as the toasts are done. Remove the bread from the oven, and then drizzle about 1 T of the caramel over the toasts, attempting to do so evenly (I just ended up doing a fancy drizzle). 

Add berries, and voila – a lovely, decadent weekend breakfast. 

(If anyone’s tried the broiler method for caramelization that Deb mentions, please let me know if it worked for you – I want to try that next time. Or maybe the hot spoon method would also work.)

“You begin to suspect your bowl is a portal to the meat dimension… In order to finish this bowl, you must have Understanding of your limits, Knowledge to control your pace, Courage to face this unrelenting tide of beef, and Diligence to persevere against this colossal challenge." 

So, one of the things you can do to raise your stats in Persona 4 is to take the Aiya Bottomless Beef Bowl Challenge. On rainy days, you go to the Chinese restaurant, and for 3000 yen (~$30), you get a huge ass beef bowl that you have to try to finish. You can’t actually finish the beef bowl until you have all five stats maxed out (and then it’s free), so typically when you do it, you get three of four random stats increased, which is super useful in game. 

This is basically a combination of two existing recipes (Pixelated Provisions, and the now defunct Gourmet Gaming), but I like the end result I got better than the other two recipes. (I’ll likely include the onions on another run through, but I mostly just wanted the meat, egg, and rice for this.)

I’m thinking of trying something similar with reverse engineering recipes from the Odin Sphere remake, so any tag suggestions for this kind of thing would be great!

Aiya Bottomless Beef Bowl

Ingredients

  • Steak, sliced thin (note: I got chuck steak for this, about a pound and a half, and that lasted for two servings; get something reasonably priced that you can get in large quantities)
  • 3 T mirin
  • 3 T sake
  • 3 T sugar
  • 9 T aged dark soy sauce
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 3 T grated ginger
  • rice 
  • egg

Whisk together your mirin, sake, sugar, and soy sauce. Take your steak, slice it thin to your taste (you can see the approximate size I got from my photos), and marinate in the mirin/sake/sugar/soy sauce mix in the fridge. I let mine sit covered in the fridge for the better part of a day; you should marinate it for a minimum of fifteen minutes. 

About an hour out from when you’re looking to eat, toss together your rice according to its instructions in your rice cooker, and let it do its thing. 

Fifteen minutes out from when you’re looking to eat, take a large pan, heat it to medium high, and add the sesame oil. Take your grated ginger and garlic, and fry for about two minutes tops, until fragrant. Then, take your steak and marinade, and cook for about ten minutes, until your steak is browned on all sides (see difference between pics 4 and 5). 

As your steak gets close to being done, heat a small pan and a dash of olive oil over high, and fry your egg until you get your desired doneness (I like having a sunny side up with a runny yolk). 

Scoop out your rice, add a bunch of the steak, and then drop the egg on top, and open your portal to the meat dimension!