Homemade Kimchi

I consider myself to be more of a socially awkward person. I dislike networking and I am surprisingly shy when I am in a group setting with people who I’m unfamiliar with. In these situations, instead of turning on my charm, I think I actually become what some would call…borderline creepy.

Despite that, I love it when I can make a new friend. I love the process of when a stranger come into your life, and somehow the two of you stumble upon something that you share in common – you both get really excited, and scream, and talk about it non-stop for 15 minutes, and then you laugh together. Sometimes,  you end up keeping in touch with the stranger and the two of you become friends. I love that. For me, the process is always slightly awkward, but the result is always worth it.

This is what happened between our wedding photographer, Melia and I. Actually, it didn’t happen exactly like what I described above. Melia is very calm and graceful, so screaming is not really her thing. But I screamed, loud enough for the both of us, so it’s all good.

Aside from being an incredible photographer and a mom to 2 adorable boys, Melia is also a kimchi connoisseur. After confessing to her my love for kimchi and mentioning that I’ve always wanted to try and make kimchi from scratch, Melia shared with me her favourite recipe.

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This recipe is originally from Dr. Ben Kim, and folks…it’s a definite winner. I will never be buying kimchi from a grocery store, ever again. The kimchi keeps well in your fridge for at least 1 month and you can make some many things with it, the possibilities are endless – kimchi fried rice, korean pancake, kimchi stew, I could go on for hours.

Here is what you’ll need:

1 head of Napa Cabbage
1/4 cup sea salt
1/4 cup Korean red chili powder (ko choo kah rhoo//고추 가루)
3 stalks of green onions
2 TBsp fish sauce*
3-4 garlic cloves
A chunk of fresh ginger, skin removed, maybe 5-10 grams
1/2 ripe apple
1/2 ripe pear
1/2 medium yellow onion

  1. Roughly chop the napa cabbage into large bite-size pieces. No need to wash the cabbage leaves just yet, that will come later. Throw the cabbage into a big non-plastic bowl.
  2. Completely dissolve the sea salt into a mug of warm water, add it to the cabbage and toss the leaves around to evenly distribute everything.
  3. Let the salted cabbage sit at room temperature for about 4 hours, undisturbed. The cabbage leaves will shrink while the salt draws water out of them.
  4. Strain off all the liquid and throughly rinse the cabbage leaves to get rid of the salty brine. Return the cleaned cabbage leaves to a large bowl
  5. Mix the Korean red chili powder with 1/4 cup of warm water until a red paste forms. Add the paste to the bowl with the cabbage
  6. Roughly chop up the green onions into large bite size pieces, add them into the bowl, along with the fish sauce
  7. In a blender, blend together garlic, ginger, the half apple, half pear, and half onion with a cup of water until everything turns into a smooth puree. Pour it into the bowl with the cabbage.
  8. Put on a pair of plastic disposable gloves. Use your hands to throughly toss all of the ingredients in the bowl so that everything is mixed evenly and that every cabbage leaf is coated with the red peppery marinade. (According to Dr. Kim, gloves are necessary as the pepper will burn the skin on your hands…I took his word for it and I recommend that you do too).
  9. Firmly pack your kimchi into a large, clean glass jar. Really use those muscles and pack the cabbage in nice and tight, this helps with the fermentation process. Then pour in some of the red pepper liquid that’s now in the bottom on your bowl. I like to cover all of my cabbage leaves with 1/2 inch of the liquid
  10. Do not fill your glass jars up to the brim. The kimchi inside will expand slightly as it ferments. Also, do not cap the glass jar too tightly, give it a bit of wiggle room so that air can escape
  11. Leave the jar of kimchi on your kitchen counter, at room temperature for 24 hours. Then tighten the cap and transfer the jar into the fridge and it will keep for at least 1 month
  12. You can eat the kimchi as soon as the first 24 hour mark has passed, and it will be delicious. The cabbage will get more and more sour as it continues to slowly ferment in the fridge. We like it best after it has been in the fridge for 2-3 days, and then it just keeps getting more and more delicious by each passing day.

*Omit the fish sauce if you are making a vegetarian version. If you are feeling adventurous, I heard red miso paste or kale powder (dissolved in water) make can make good substitutes for the fish sauce.

Recipe from Dr. Ben Kim.

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Kale, Apple & Mango Green Smoothie

Mornings have always been tough for me. I am a natural night-owl, or at least that’s what my body tells me. By the time 11pm rolls around, I am either bouncing around the living room singing loudly off-key to a Mariah Carey classic or dancing aggressively to the latest top-40 list on Songza. 11pm is when I am my best (crazy) self.

Mornings, however, are unfortunately a whole different story. By 8am, I would’ve pressed my snooze button at least 7 times, and moving at the pace of a giant sleepy manatee, I would roll out of bed – grumpy, confused and very hangry.

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This green smoothie is like a magic potion that reverts me from grouchy sea cow back to human form. It is my favourite green drink to make in the Vitamix and it also gives me a nutritious start to my day.

This smoothie does not call for a strict set of ingredients, you can adjust according to what greens you have in your fridge and to your taste. Kale can easily be swapped with spinach, and pineapple would be a great fruit alternative to mangos. If you are looking for an extra boost of protein and Omega-3, then add a tablespoon or two of hemp or chia seeds to the recipe. I sometimes pop in a few small slices of ginger to fire up my immune system during the flu season.

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1 handful of organic lacinato kale
1 fresh ripe mango or 1 heaping cup frozen mango
1 organic granny smith apple, cored but unpeeled
1/2 frozen banana
2-3 ice cubes
*1/2 cup orange juice, or coconut water, or water

  1. Pop the kale and juice/water into a high-speed blender. Blend on high until everything is liquified and turns into a smooth green paste
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend on high until smooth; serve immediately
  3. If you made more smoothie than you can drink all at once, pour the rest into popsicle molds. Freeze them for a healthy, refreshing afternoon snack

*Feel free to add more liquid for a runnier smoothie

Apple Cinnamon & Peanut-Butter Steel Cut Oats

It’s been a while since I’ve been here. 1 year and 2 months to be exact.

Where did the time go? Blogging almost feels foreign to me now, but I’m willing to give it another go, if you’re still willing to read 🙂

Life has been busy, in a great way. K and I got married 5 months ago in the mountains, underneath these stunning cottonwood tress, and we spent the entire weekend there celebrating with our closest family and friends. It was incredible and we now have memories to last us a lifetime together.

AK Wedding

Married life has been nothing short of amazing, with the exception that both K and I injured ourselves. I tore a tendon on my foot while running/falling down a set of stairs, and he broke his right knee while playing basketball. The both of us have been in casts of various sorts over the past few months, and we have creatively mastered the art of walking with crutches and standing on one leg.

This was not the way we had intended on starting our marriage together, but over the last few months, I think we’ve learned more about our relationship than all of the 4 years prior. I saw first-hand that K handles these set-backs in life with incredible courage and positivity, and that despite all this, he continues to be an amazing partner to me – forever supportive & understanding.

Our dearest friends, the people who stood beside us as we became Husband & Wife 5 months ago also have proven to be the best friends anyone could ever ask for. Our endless requests of grocery deliveries, food orders and rides to the hospital have never yet been refused, and many have offered to cook & clean for us to help us stay off of our feet as much as possible. If ever I am feeling down due to my (temporary) lack of mobility, all I need to do is to look back on my chains and chains of supportive messages from our friends over the last few weeks, and I am quickly reminded of how lucky we really are.

Aside from learning how to take care of each other while on 1 leg each, we’ve also started cooking a lot more homemade meals. A busy 2013 (moving to a new home, wedding planning, new business) had us eating out most of the time. With the both of us staying at home for the majority of this year, we are determined to cook most of our meals from scratch.

To kick-off the ‘relaunch’ of this blog, I think an easy recipe of a hearty breakfast item is in order. Steel cut oats have become one of my favourite things to cook and eat. They also keep well both in the fridge and in the freezer. You can make them in the morning if you’re an early bird, or you can throw some into a slow-cooker the night before for a quick meal the next day.

Apple Cinnamon PB SteelCut Oats

The recipe I have here is one for stove-top cooking. It has been slightly adapted from The Gouda Life as I added a little peanut butter flair into my pot of oats. A recipe for slow-cooked oats will come as soon as I make my next batch.

1 cup steel cut oats
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups  2% milk, organic if possible
1  Gala apple, peeled and cut into 1/2” dice
1/2 tsp  ground cinnamon
1/8 to 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 to 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 heaping TBsp peanut butter
4 TBsp brown sugar, or more to taste
Toasted almond slivers, apple slices (unpeeled) or banana slices for garnish

  1. Combine water and milk in a pot and bring it to a boil
  2. Pour in oats. Once the mixture begins bubbling again, turn down the heat and reduce it to a simmer
  3. Add apples, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamon into the pot and continue cooking for 20-25 minutes until the oats are tender and cooked through, stirring regularly
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the peanut butter and brown sugar until desired sweetness is reached
  5. Serve oats immediately, topped with toasted almonds, apples and/or banana slices

Creamy Mushroom on Rye Toast

I’ve been on a serious rye bread kick lately, putting everything from brie cheese, raspberry jam, to avocado and hot sauce on it! And yes, avocado and hot sauce on toast IS delicious. Don’t believe me? Check out this sweet little video by Claire Thomas, and you’ll be trying it by tomorrow, guaranteed.

Buttery mushrooms on toast is one of my favorite comfort food items, and by putting a fried egg on top, this dish has just been elevated to another level!

I only had brown button mushrooms on hand, but if your local farmers’ market has a more diverse selection of these delicious fugal fruting bodies (sorry, I was a biology major)… please, go wild.

Here is what you will need:

2-3 TBsp butter or margarine
1 large shallot
3 (heaping) Cups mushrooms (button, porcini, chanterelle, etc.)
1/4 Cup red wine
2 tsp fresh flat leaf Italian parsley
salt and pepper, to taste
1-2 tsp canola oil
4 free range, organic eggs
4 rye slices

  1. Gently brush the mushrooms to remove any dirt, then cut into slices. Also roughly chop the shallot and the italian parsley, set aside.
  2. Melt 2 TBsp of butter/margarine in a large pan over medium-high heat and throw in the shallots. Once the shallots have softened, pour in the red wine and let the sauce simmer and reduce by half.
  3. Add the mushrooms, along with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Stir everything around until the shrooms are soft and picking up colour (about 8-10 minutes). As the mushrooms soften in the pan, throw in another small dollop of butter…just because more butter, the better.
  4. Add in the chopped parsley and turn off the heat. Continue stirring for a bit to incorporate the green leaves.
  5. Meanwhile, as the mushrooms are almost done cooking, heat another small pan with canola oil on medium high heat and fry the eggs sunny side up. Also, toast your rye slices too!
  6. Top each slices of rye with big spoonfuls of mushrooms, and a fried egg. Sprinkle with salt/pepper, and any left over parsley leaves. Serve immediately.

* If you like to add little bit of acidity, feel free to squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the mushrooms!
* Obviously, if you are vegetarian, omit the eggs and use margarine.

I’m back, with a bowl of French Onion Soup

I’ve taken a little big hiatus it seems! My apologies everyone, I left without a warning and… didn’t know when I’ll be back again (name that tune).

Life has taken me on a wild and awesome ride over the past 5 months. Every time I sat down to write a post, another crazy/amazing thing pulls me away and I end up with yet another incomplete draft sitting in my blog feed.

Here’s a 30 sec update on my life in the past 4 months:

  1. This happened, right here, with this incredible guy *happy dance*
  2. I started working with yet anther incredible company, picking up a big, amazing (but terrifying) role and have been happily working non-stop ever since.
  3. Because of #1, we’re planning a party here for 70 of our closest family & friends
  4. We bought a condo, in our favorite city, in our favorite neighbourhood
  5. I turned 25. Time to look for a walker.

Once again, my apologies for being MIA over the last few months. Thank you to those of you who have reached out to tell me that you’ve missed my blog posts and have encouraged me to post again, it means a lot to me. I will try my very best to update this blog on a more regular basis, I promise.

Now, back to food we go.

I should’ve made this soup a long time ago. I really should have.

I never really understood what the big deal is with French Onion Soup. People love it and it is a guaranteed menu item in every French bistro. After making this soup from scratch, I now 100% understand. A well made bowl of French Onion Soup is a steaming bowl of glory… it’s deliciousness cannot be ignored

Perfect for the fall, please find here the recipe I used to make the soup. Ingredients in the soup can easily be substituted for a vegetarian (ie. use margarine instead of butter, mushroom stock instead of beef, etc.)

And yes, I’m stilling obsessively following Smitten Kitchen.

More recipes and updates to come. Thank you for sticking with me.

xoxo,
-Annie

Homemade Tzatziki

Alright boys and girls, this may be the easiest recipe on the planet. It involves no cooking, no baking, and no knife skills.

All you need is a good grater, a refrigerator and some quality ingredients.

One of our favourite types of cuisines is Mediterranean. The moist kabobs, bright salads, and warm pitas make my heart go pitter-patter.

I’ve always wanted to try making Tzatziki at home, but never got around to looking up the recipe for it. Then one magical day, a photo of a fresh bowl of Tzatziki popped into my Pinterest feed, and that’s when I knew…it’s time.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1/2 English cucumber
1 – 2 garlic cloves
2 cups good quality Greek-style plain yogurt
salt and pepper to taste
Juice of  1/4 lemon (Optional)

  1. Grate the cucumber with a box grater onto 2 layers of paper towels or a cheese cloth.
  2. Gather up the cucumber in the towel and squeeze out as much excess water as you can. Really squeeze it like you mean it.
  3. Grate the garlic into a bowl using a microplane grater, add in cucumber, yogurt, salt and pepper and stir until well blended. If you like, add a squeeze of lemon.
  4. Refrigerate the Tzatziki until you are ready to serve it. The garlic flavor will intensify as time goes on.

**You can also throw in some fresh mint or a few sprigs of dill, if you have them handy. I like my Tzatziki simple, so I left the herbs out.

Recipe adapted from The Family Kitchen.

Butternut Squash Apple Soup

Butternut squash has always scared me for many reasons.

  • It’s bright orange.
  • Is it a fruit or a vegetable?
  • It grows on vines.
  • Chinese people don’t use butternut squash in their cooking. EVER.
  • If you use butternut squash when you’re cooking Chinese food…you should stop.

I’ve had butternut squash soup before, but have never cooked it. In fact, I have never picked up a butternut squash before last week. Butternut squash has never been on my grocery list.

I never gave butternut squash the attention that it deserves.

As I was making soups for my friend Jamie for the last few weeks, I decided that this was the perfect opportunity to give butternut squash a try.

So, the verdict.

Butternut squash is my new favorite fruit/vegetable/fruit….vegetable?

I don’t know what I have been doing in life before butternut squash came into it.

Butternut squash completes me.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 rib of celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 Tbsp butter or vegetable oil
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, chopped*
1 tart green apple, peeled, cored, chopped*
3 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth if vegetarian
1 cup water
Pinches of nutmeg, cinnamon, cayenne, salt and pepper

*Squash to apple ratio should be 3:1

  1. Set a large saucepan over medium-high heat and heat the butter (or oil) for a minute.
  2. Add the onion, celery and carrot and sauté for 5 minutes,  turn the heat down if the vegetables begin to brown.
  3. Add squash, apple, broth and water. Bring to boil. Cover, turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes or until squash and carrots soften. Puree, and return to a clean pot.
  4. Add salt and spices to taste, and garnish with chives or parsley.
  5. Serve immediately.

Recipe from Elise at Simply Recipes.