Fresh Corn and Cilantro Salsa

Where has the summer gone? As the last of the warm-weather produce disappears from the market, I’m finding myself getting mentally prepared for broccoli rabe and butternut squash. But hey, I honestly can’t complain about those prospects.

With summer wrapping up, I thought I’d share a recipe for corn salsa. (Hopefully some of you are lucky enough to get your hands on some fresh late-season corn!) The recipe is inspired by the corn salsa at Chipotle, which I adore. I love how the sweet corn and spicy jalapeno is accented by the fresh lime juice. It’s a nice respite from the old canned tomato salsa routine. And to top it off, it’s incredibly easy to make.

Fresh corn is always the best, but you can substitute with frozen in a pinch. Use this salsa atop everything from chips and quesadillas to chicken and fish. It adds a nice crunch to any dish and a healthy kick of spiciness.

My adoration of Chipotle food doesn’t stop with the corn salsa. I’ve tried to actually replicate the entire Chipotle burrito bowl at home with very good results. To make the rice, I mix caramelized onions, cilantro, and fresh lime juice into cooked jasmine rice. Then I pile on the chicken, lettuce, guacamole, and black beans. Finally, I top it all off with this salsa. Amazing.

Even though Chipotle is a giant company with franchises around the world, I respect their efforts to disrupt the broken fast food system. Last year, the company launched an unbelievable ad campaign to champion their commitment to sustainable food. Some called it phony; others thought it was brilliant. The commercial almost brought me to tears, so that should give you some indication of where I stand on the issue.

In case you missed it, here you go!

Continue reading

Cold-Brewed Vietnamese Iced Coffee

When it comes to iced coffee, I’m convinced that cold brewing is the winning method. Pouring piping  hot coffee over ice generally results in a flavorless, diluted mess. That has been my experience anyway. Cold brewing doesn’t require any heat at all–just a little time and patience. 24 hours of patience, in this case.

I will spare you from my full blown cold-brewing spiel. (If you’re interested, you can just mosey on over to this post that I wrote last summer from Montana) But I will say that this method works especially well for Vietnamese-style iced coffee, which requires very concentrated coffee to stand up to the sweet condensed milk.

Traditional Vietnamese iced coffee is of course brewed using a small metal drip filter, or a cà phê phin. I know I badmouth kitchen unitaskers all the time, but I do own a cà phê phinActually, I own four–not gonna lie. I love them! They make the best Vietnamese iced coffee on the planet. They also take for eternity to extract mere drops of glorious coffee goodness from the grinds. It’s basically like watching water boil.

Sometimes you just want a little instant gratification, which is why I like to keep a jar of concentrated cold-brewed coffee in the fridge. When you want a Vietnamese-style iced coffee, just bust this stuff out, and mix with sweetened condensed milk, normal milk, and ice. Easy peasy.

If you’re entertaining, this is also a great way to prepare multiple iced coffees quickly. On a side note, Trader Joe’s now sells sweetened condensed milk in a squeeze bottle. GENIUS.

This recipe is originally from Food & Wine magazine. It calls for 2 ounces (about 4 tablespoons) of sweetened condensed milk, which was a little too sweet for my tastes. I recommend starting out with about 3 tablespoons and adding more to taste. You can always add more sweetness, but you can’t take it away once it’s in there! I think the ratios that Food & Wine magazine used are pretty spot on. But feel free to play around with the measurements until you make your perfect Vietnamese iced coffee.

Cold-Brewed Vietnamese Iced Coffee
Adapted from Food & Wine
Yield: About four drinks

For the coffee concentrate:

  • 4 1/2 cups cold water
  • 1/2 pound coarsely ground dark-roast coffee

For each drink:

  • 3/4 cup coffee concentrate
  • 3-4 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk (add more to taste)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Ice
  1. Brew the coffee concentrate: In a bowl, stir the cold water into the coffee. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours. Strain twice through a coffee filter, a fine-mesh sieve, or a sieve lined with cheesecloth. (Don’t forget to compost the spent grinds!) The concentrate can be refrigerated for up to 1 week in an airtight container.
  2. Make the drink: Pour condensed milk into a tall glass. Add the coffee concentrate and milk. Stir well. Top with ice.

Matcha (Green Tea) Ice Cream

I have a confession to make. This might come as a surprise coming from someone who claims to love food. I don’t really like ice cream. There, I said it. It’s often just too rich, too creamy, and too cloyingly sweet for my tastes. Blasphemous, I know! I’ve always been more of a frozen yogurt kind of girl for this reason. Most ice cream recipes use eggs to create a creamy, custard base. I usually avoid using eggs entirely. This not only takes the fuss out of ice cream making, it also yields a much lighter texture.

I was in frozen dessert heaven when I was in Japan. The ice cream and frozen yogurt was complex in flavor and not too creamy. With flavors like black sesame & honey, matcha, cherry blossom, and sweet tofu, my sister and I made it our mission to try every single flavor we couldn’t get in the U.S.


Oh, don’t mind me while I devour this black sesame & honey fro-yo and every other flavor in this store…I’m an Amerikajin!

While I loved all the novelty flavors that I tried on my trip, my favorite will always be matcha ice cream. Matcha is just finely milled green tea leaves that’s often used in Japanese tea ceremonies. It’s available at Asian grocery stores and even some specialty grocery stores like Whole Foods. Matcha varies greatly in quality and price. If it’s available, look for “culinary grade” or “culinary quality” matcha, which tends to be a little cheaper.

I found this recipe on a wonderful blog called Just One Cookbook. Nami posts delicious recipes for authentic Japanese dishes like Tonkatsu and the ever popular Japanese Beef Curry. She does an amazing job demystifying Japanese cooking techniques, and her photography is gorgeous. I can literally get lost on her site for hours!

I love this matcha ice cream recipe because it comes closest to the stuff we ate in Japan. The matcha lends a slightly bitter note that complements the sweetness of the ice cream. And as always, there are no eggs in this recipe, so the texture is a little less creamy, but no less delicious.

Hope you enjoy!

Matcha (Green Tea) Ice Cream
Yield: About One Pint
Recipe from Sweets by Sillianah via Just One Cookbook

  • 2 cups half and half (I used 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of heavy cream)
  • 3 tablespoons 100 percent green tea powder (matcha powder)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  1. In a large sauce pan whisk together the half and half, green tea powder, sugar and salt. Heat the mixture until it comes to a full boil. Keep whisking until mixture starts to foam, then remove from heat.
  2. Refrigerate the mixture until completely chilled.
  3. Churn for 15-20 minutes in ice cream maker, according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Transfer ice cream into an airtight container and freeze until hard. (At least three hours)

Ceviche de Camarón

Ceviche is one of my favorite warm weather dishes. It’s so basic, yet incredibly tasty. Ceviche is traditionally made out of raw seafood that is marinaded in lemon or lime juice until the proteins are “cooked.” Additional ingredients such as avocado, red onion, cilantro, tomato, and cucumbers are mixed in.

Like most popular dishes, the exact origin of ceviche is in dispute. Every country and region seems to have its own distinct contributions to the dish. When I was in Peru, we ate ceviche with giant corn kernels and purple potato. At my local Mexican food joints, they serve it tostada-style, atop a fried corn tortilla. This is my favorite way to eat ceviche–probably because it is what I grew up on. I love how the salty crunchiness of the shell complements the tangy ceviche.

Ceviche de camaron (shrimp ceviche) is a great way to ease your way into the wonderful world of ceviche. Traditionally, the raw seafood is “cooked” by the citrus juices and never touches any form of heat. I am totally fine with this method when it comes to fish. However, when it comes to shellfish, there is much less room for error because it goes bad so quickly. A quick poach will do that trick, and the results are still very tasty. Cooking the shrimp ahead of time will also cut down on marination time so you can enjoy your ceviche faster!

I really enjoy the balance of salty, sweet, and tangy flavors in this dish. While most people don’t do this, I like to add a couple pinches of sugar to balance out the flavors. This is just personal preference though. I found that a lot of people will use ketchup to achieve that mild sweetness. I couldn’t bring myself to add ketchup to my ceviche this time around. But if you find yourself sitting there thinking, “wow, this just needs that ONE last ingredient to make it super delicious…,” just know that it’s probably ketchup. And I won’t judge you.

As I mentioned, there are so many different ways to enjoy ceviche. If you want to make your own tostada shells, check out this tutorial from Simply Recipes. You will want to make about 2-3 shells per person. If you don’t feel like making tostada shells, use store-bought tortilla chips and treat the ceviche like one big, delicious dip. You can also tear pieces of crusty bread off the loaf and pile on the ceviche. Some people even eat it with saltines which I don’t necessarily endorse.

Hope you enjoy, and happy Cinco de Mayo!

Ceviche de Camarón
Yield: About 4 servings

  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup red onions, finely chopped
  • 1-2 serrano chiles (depending on how hot you like it), ribs and seeds removed, minced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled, seeded, and diced into ½” chunks
  • 1 cup tomatoes, seeds removed and diced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Sugar (optional)
  • For tostada shells, check out this Simply Recipes tutorial. Make about 2-3 shells per person.
  1. Place a 1-gallon stockpot over high heat and fill with 2 quarts of water. Season the water with 1/4 cup of salt and bring to a boil. Once the water comes to a boil, add the shrimp to the pot and immediately turn off the heat. Let the shrimp sit until just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the water run under cold water to stop the cooking. Pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel.
  2. Chop shrimp into 1/2″ pieces and place in a medium-sized stainless steel or ceramic bowl. Add the lemon juice, lime juice, red onion, and chiles. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Stir the tomato, avocado, cilantro, and olive oil into the shrimp mixture. Add salt and sugar to taste, if desired.
  4. If serving tostada-style, use a slotted spoon to lift the ceviche out of the liquid and place on top of tostada shell.

No-Fail Banana Bread

Last week we had our first official guests come to visit us in San Francisco. Rebecca and Jason were our best eating/drinking buddies in Seattle, and we continued the tradition down here in the Bay Area. We went a wee bit crazy to say the least. During their three night stay, we hit up Russian River Brewery, Nopa, Nihon, Bourbon & BranchChile Pies & Ice Cream, and Chez Panisse–to name a few. We had a great time exploring our new city with them, but I’m still detoxing as we speak.

I bought some bananas before our guests came thinking that some fruit would help offset our eating and drinking extravaganza. Lo and behold, nobody touched them. By the time we took Jason and Rebecca to the airport, my well-intentioned bananas were looking pretty brown and generally unappetizing. This could only mean one thing: banana bread tiempo!

Everyone who loves to cook has a favorite banana bread recipe in their repertoire. I fussed around for years trying to find my idea of the perfect banana bread. The kind that is so deliciously moist and dense that it could be served as a legitimate dessert with a dollop of whipped cream. My search ended the day I found this recipe. The addition of cream fraiche (or sour cream) is completely brilliant. I haven’t tried another recipe since.

I’ve always made this recipe with good old tried and true canola oil. But coconut oil has really been having its moment lately, so I thought I’d give it a shot. Coconut oil has gotten a bad rap in the past, but minimally processed and virgin oil is said to have some very good health benefits when used in moderation. This is a great article on the topic from Melissa Clark, in case you’re curious.

If you use virgin coconut oil, like the one I bought from TJ’s, it will give off a slight coconut flavor when baked. This is great for people who love coconuts (like me!), but not so awesome if you don’t. Also, virgin coconut oil does not come in liquid form like we’re used to. You literally have to scoop it out of the jar, almost like peanut butter. When you bake with it, melt the oil and let it cool before using. This way it will get evenly distributed into the batter.

The coconut oil gave the bread a subtle, nutty complexity which I absolutely loved. Just when I didn’t think I could l love this recipe any more, coconut oil has to come and shake things up.

What do you think about using coconut oil in baked goods?

Have you used it in savory dishes too?

Some people swear by it. And based on my minimal experience, I’d say it’s pretty magical.

No-Fail Banana Bread
Adapted from Flour’s Famous Banana Bread
Yield: One Loaf

  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup virgin coconut oil, melted and cooled
  • 3 1/2 bananas, very ripe, mashed
  • 2 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of a loaf pan with parchment paper and lightly grease the sides of the pan.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat sugar and eggs until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Drizzle in oil. Add mashed bananas, creme fraiche, and vanilla. Fold in dry ingredients and add walnuts if using.
  4. Pour  batter into the lined and greased loaf pan and bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Maple Pecan Olive Oil Granola

Hello again, dear readers! It has been a while but I have a really good excuse for my absence. We finally found a place to live! This past week has just been a whirlwind of unpacking boxes and trolling One Kings Lane for furniture. The first couple days were very stressful, but we’re finally beginning to feel settled. Some people can move from one place to the next with grace and ease. I’m definitely not one of them. There’s nothing more unnerving to me than bare walls and an empty fridge. But I guess that’s just process of turning a house into a home. Little by little I think things are starting to come together.

While our move wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, our new place is definitely growing on me. It has a lot of old San Francisco charm and two (yes, TWO) eating areas. We now have a dining nook, and a formal dining room. We ate dinner every night on our coffee table at our old place, so this is a big deal for us! I have a feeling we will be very happy here.

I wanted to make a batch of granola that could sustain us through all the heavy lifting and grumpy moments. Olive oil granola recipes have been making the rounds lately, so I thought i’d give it a shot. I got some delicious olive oil in my Foodzie box last month and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to bust it out. I decided on this Food52 recipe–the perfect mix of nuts, coconut, and oats, balanced with maple syrup and olive oil. Needless to say, the granola never even lasted for the actual move–my family ate it all within 48 hours.

This granola is great on its own, but especially magical sprinkled on top of yogurt. Between the pepitas, sunflower seeds, and olive oil, I think it’s safe to say that this granola is not only delicious but also pretty nutritious. To top it off, the coconut pieces somehow remind me of Samoa Girl Scout cookies. You just have to try it to see what I mean. I could just be straight-up crazy.

I’ll be sure to post some pics of my new kitchen soon!

Maple Pecan Olive Oil Granola
Yield: About 7 cups
Recipe from Food52

  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds), hulled
  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds, hulled
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut chips (I got mine from Whole Foods)
  • 1 1/4 cup raw pecans, left whole or coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • Coarse salt
  1. Heat oven to 300°F.
  2. Place oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut, pecans, syrup, olive oil, sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl and mix until well combined. Spread granola mixture in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Transfer to oven and bake, stirring every 10-15 minutes, until granola is toasted, about 45 minutes.
  3. Remove granola from oven and season with more salt to taste. Let cool completely before serving or storing in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

Easy Blood Orange Ice Cream

Disclaimer: This is the last time I talk about blood oranges this year. I promise.

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that we went to Chez Panisse to celebrate my sister’s 18th birthday. The whole meal was delicious, but my favorite was dessert–blood orange ice cream with almond biscotti. If Alice Waters and I ever met, I’m pretty sure it would be a blood orange love fest. We appear to share the same affinity for this strange little fruit.

The minute I got home, I plucked some oranges off the tree and started researching base ratios for my ice cream. The thing about ice cream is that it doesn’t have to be hard to make. I generally try to stay away from custard bases because it requires cooking and more waiting. I know, I’m super lazy. I finally decided on a really simple base of whipping cream, half-and-half, sugar, blood orange juice, and vanilla. Super simple, right!

The whipping cream gives the final product a fluffier texture, almost like a sherbet. I actually preferred it to the dense custard-based ice cream we are used to. The ice cream itself reminds me of a slightly more tart Creamsicle. (Do they still make those things?) But the best part about this ice cream is its beautiful pink color–so vibrant that it almost looks artificial. Of course blood oranges vary in color, but you’re bound to end up with some shade of pink on the spectrum. I once heard that the more dimpled the rind is on the outside, the more pigmented the juice is on the inside. Who knows if this is actually true.

Since there are so few ingredients that go into the base, I recommend buying high-quality whipping cream and half-and-half. It makes all the difference, and I’m not just saying that to be snobby. Also, be sure to use quality vanilla extract–not the crappy imitation stuff. I used my homemade vanilla, which is like the gift that keeps on giving!

If you have a little extra time on your hands, try making candied orange peels with the juiced oranges. They look beautiful when served with the ice cream.

Anyone else out there love blood oranges as much as I do? What do you like to do with them?

Easy Blood Orange Ice Cream
Yield: About 3 cups

  • 1/2 cup blood orange juice (the juice of about 6-8 small oranges)
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar
  1. In a large bowl, combine the heavy whipping cream, half-and-half, vanilla extract, and blood orange juice in a bowl. Add the sugar and gently stir to combine. (Blood oranges vary in tartness, so start by adding 1/2 cup of sugar and increase from there. Mixture should taste slightly sweeter than what you want your final product to be. It will decrease in sweetness once it’s frozen.)
  2. Place the bowl in the refrigerator until the mixture is completely cold. Alternately, put the mixture in a metal bowl and place in a larger bowl filled with ice water. Gently stir the mixture until it’s completely chilled.
  3. Add the mixture to your ice cream machine and mix according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Ice cream should look like soft serve at this point.
  4. Transfer ice cream into an airtight container and freeze until hard.

Brussels Sprout, Bacon, and Roasted Onion Pizza

It was unseasonably warm last week in the Bay Area. I can’t lie–the minute it hit 70, I broke out my bikini top and sunhat and got my tan on. After eight years in Seattle, my mind has become programed to savor every last bit of a sunny day. And wear ridiculous summer wear when the temperatures climb above 60.

After being afflicted with a monster cold virus that put me out of commission for a week, I am finally back on my feet and cooking non-liquid food again. With the prospect of spring right around the corner, I’m trying to cook all my favorite winter veggies while they’re still around. This includes the controversial brussels sprout.

Nobody is indifferent to brussels sprouts–you either love the things or hate them. And I totally get it, these cruciferous little vegetables are strongly flavored and can be very abrasive if they aren’t prepared correctly. My mom is a great cook, but when I was little she had an affinity for boiled, unseasoned brussels sprouts. I hated them for years. It wasn’t until well into my adult life that I discovered how delicious they could be when roasted, sauteed, even fried. Anything but boiled.

This pizza was inspired by a delicious warm brussels sprouts salad I recently had at a restaurant. Brussels sprouts and bacon (or pancetta) seem to complement each other effortlessly. The saltiness of the bacon seems to offset the bitterness of the brussels sprouts and gives the pizza a nice smokey flavor.

In this recipe, I render the fat from the bacon and use the grease to coat the shredded brussels sprouts. I know it sounds really unhealthy, but it’s really just two pieces of bacon for the entire pizza–nothing too crazy. I just have a hard time throwing away bacon grease because it adds so much flavor to dishes. It’s like throwing money away. You just don’t do it.

I shredded my brussels sprouts into about 1/4 inch slices. This is just personal preference really. They cook much quicker in the oven this way, but you are welcome to quarter the sprouts if you want them to be a little chunkier on the pizza.

In terms of cheese, I ended up going with a Fontina because it’s mild and melts well. Trader Joes also carries a very affordable and delicious Fontina–the one with the red rind. If you don’t have access to Fontina, you can definitely play around with other white melting cheese such as classic mozzarella.

Finally, I love using this Alice Waters technique for stress-free roasted onions. Just coat one small chopped onion with olive oil and a pinch of salt in a small oven-safe saute pan. Pop it in the oven on 375°F for about 30 minutes, and done. I love using these roasted onions on pizzas because they cook while you tackle the dough and other toppings. They also make the house smell amazing.The other day I actually went to Chez Panisse to celebrate my sister’s 18th birthday. I ordered the mushroom pizza, and it definitely had these onions on it! They add a very distinctive flavor to pizzas and other dishes.

The hardboiled egg might seem a little random, but it really complements the flavors in the pizza. I usually use about two chopped eggs per pizza, and let people add it to their own slices so they can control the amount. It tastes great and adds some additional protein.

Hope you enjoy!

Brussel Sprout, Bacon, and Roasted Onion Pizza
Yield: One 12 to 14-inch pizza

  • 1 pizza dough, store bought or homemade
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • About 2 cups shredded brussels sprouts, cleaned and shredded into 1/4-1/2 inch strips
  • 2 cups Fontina cheese, grated
  • 1 lemon
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • Hardboiled eggs, diced (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Place diced onions in a small oven-proof saute pan and add enough olive oil to coat, along with a generous pinch of salt. Stir well and place pan in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent onions from burning. The onions are ready when they are tender and golden.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the brussels sprouts: trim the ends of the brussels sprouts and discard any discolored or damaged leaves. Cut each sprout in half then into 1/4 to 1/2 inch strips. Clean the shredded sprouts with water and pat dry. Set aside.
  3. Cut bacon into 1/2 inch slices and add in a saute pan over med-low heat. Slowly render out the fat until the bacon is cooked and crispy. Using a slotted spoon, remove the cooked bacon and set aside on a paper towel. Turn the heat off. Add the shredded brussels sprouts to the pan, and toss with the remaining bacon grease until evenly coated. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Once the onions are cooked and removed from the oven, turn the oven up to 450°F. Roll out the pizza dough and start assembling. Distribute the grated Fontina cheese onto the pizza and top with the brussels sprouts. Top with the bacon and roasted onions. Brush a light layer of olive oil on the crust so it will brown nicely.
  5. Cook the pizza on a preheated pizza stone (if using) until the crust is crispy and the cheese is melted, about 10-15 minutes. Serve each slice with a few drops of fresh lemon juice. If desired, garnish with the chopped hardboiled eggs.

Bulgogi Bibimbap

Asian food can sometimes be a little intimidating to cook at home. But the truth is, most of the dishes you order at your local Korean, Chinese, or Japanese restaurant can be easily recreated at home using everyday ingredients and a little creativity.

I started my blog almost a year ago, and oddly enough, I’ve never posted an Asian food recipe. Since I’m Asian, my boyfriend’s mom is under the endearing impression that I grew up on a strict diet of sushi and dim sum–thus making me a bona fide Asian food expert. While this isn’t actually true, I do in fact love experimenting with a variety of Asian dishes at home, including Bibimbap.

Bibimbap is one of my all time favorite dishes to order at Korean restaurants. It’s a mixture of seasoned vegetables and meat over a bowl of rice. It’s usually topped with a fried egg, and then mixed up and eaten with some Korean red pepper paste called gochuchang. At first glance, this dish seems very complicated to make. But once you get the basic flavors down, it’s a very healthy and simple way to get rid of leftover veggies in your fridge. My variation of bibimbap may not be completely  traditional, but I’d say it’s pretty darn good.

The trick to making bibimbap without going insane is staying organized. Make sure all of your vegetables are cleaned and chopped before you get started, and use one large plate or platter to put all the cooked vegetables and meat when they are done. Also make sure that your other basic ingredients are within reach at all times–including soy sauce, sesame oil, salt, pepper, and sugar.

The great thing about bibimbap is that you can really use any type of vegetable that’s available. Carrots, shiitake mushrooms, bean sprouts, and spinach are generally the norm, but you can also include lettuce, cucumbers, seasonal summer squash, or even cabbage into the mix. To get the nice julienned slices, I highly recommend using a mandolin to save time.

As you cook the vegetables, taste them as you go. The balance of flavors is really a preference thing, so I was intentionally a little vague about the measurements. Start out with a “splash” (teaspoon or so) of sesame oil where noted, but feel free to increase that amount if you want. Do the same with the soy sauce, salt, pepper, and sugar.

I chose to use bulgogi in this recipe simply because it’s delicious. You can really use any type of meat or tofu–or, you can just stick with just the vegetables. If you do make the bulgogi, ask your butcher to thinly slice the meat for you, or put the meat in the freezer for 30 minutes before slicing to make the job much easier.

Some people argue that the crispy rice in bibimbap is the best part. You can run out and buy a traditional Korean stone pot, but I think you can achieve a somewhat similar result by using a heavy frying pan or skillet. (Don’t use nonstick, since the nonstick coating likely isn’t safe for such high temps) Turn the heat up to high and lightly coat the bottom of the pan with vegetable or canola oil. (Sesame oil has a lower smoke point and will likely set off your fire alarm…I may or may not know this from personal experience) Spread the rice onto the pan and press down gently using a spatula. Let the rice cook, undisturbed, until you reach your desired crispiness. Break the rice up with the spatula and distribute into bowls.

Bibimbap can be eaten cold or hot. I personally like the veggies cold, so I prepare them ahead of time and keep them in the fridge. When dinnertime rolls around, all I have to worry about is the meat and the rice.

Bulgogi Bibimbap
Yield: 4 servings

Bulgogi
Adapted from All Recipes

  • 1/2 pound flank steak, sliced thinly
  • 2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 heaping tablespoon sugar
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoons dark sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

Bibimbap

  • Short grain rice, cooked
  • 1 bunch of spinach, washed
  • 2 carrots, washed, peeled, and cut into matchsticks
  • 2 large handfuls of bean sprouts, washed
  • 1 zucchini, washed and cut into matchsticks
  • 5-8 shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated if dried, and sliced into thin strips
  • Dark sesame oil
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Ground pepper
  • Eggs
  • Rice vinegar (optional)
  • Gochujang, Korean red pepper paste, for serving (optional)
  1. Prepare the bulgogi: Place the meat in a large zip lock bag. In a bowl, combine soy sauce, sugar, scallion, garlic, sesame seeds, ground pepper, and sesame oil. Pour mixture over the meat, seal the bag, and massage the marinade into the meat to ensure every piece is covered. Place in refrigerator and marinate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
  2. Cook the veggies: Place zucchini in a bowl and mix with a pinch of salt. Set aside. The salt will force all the excess water out of the zucchini so it doesn’t get mushy when cooked.
  • Spinach: Bring a large pot of water to boil. Place the spinach in the water and blanch for 1 minute, or just until it is wilted. Using a spider or small strainer, scoop the spinach out of the water and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Squeeze out all of the excess water and season with a splash of sesame oil, 1 teaspoon soy sauce and salt to taste. Mix and add to the platter.
  • Bean sprouts: Using the same pot of boiling water, cook the beansprouts until they are pliable, about 3-5 minutes. Drain the beansprouts well, and season with a splash of sesame oil, salt and pepper to taste, and a splash of rice vinegar if desired. Mix and add to the platter.
  • Carrots: Heat a splash of sesame oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the carrots and cook for 1-2 minutes until they are tender. Season with salt and add to the platter.
  • Mushrooms: Again, heat a splash of sesame oil to the frying pan and add shiitake mushrooms. Add 2 teaspoons of soy sauce and 2 teaspoons of sugar. Cook for 1-2 minutes until all of the moisture is absorbed by the mushrooms and add to the platter.
  • Zucchini: Drain the excess water that has accumulated in the bowl. Again, heat a splash of sesame oil in the frying pan and add the zucchini. Cook for 1-2 minutes until it is tender and heated through. Add to the platter.
  1. Cook the bugolgi: Turn an outdoor grill or indoor griddle on high heat and lightly oil the grill with canola or vegetable oil. Cook the meat until slightly charred and cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes per side.
  2. Assemble the bibimbap: Distribute rice into individual bowls. Top with the vegetables and meat. Add one sunny side up egg per bowl. Serve with gochuchang, and additional soy sauce and sesame oil, if desired. Mix and enjoy.

Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake

We’re three weeks into our San Francisco apartment search, and my patience is running low. The notoriously competitive rental market compounded by the recent influx of tech people relocating to the Bay Area has culminated in the perfect real estate storm. It’s not good, dear readers. On the bright side, I’ve become an expert at detecting Nigerian scammers on Craigslist and deciphering real estate listing language (e.g. “cozy”=less than 450 square feet; “unique”=former hippy commune; “garden apartment”=small patch of outdoor space to compensate for the dismal state of the actual unit)

Luckily, my family lives in the Bay Area so we have been living with them in the meantime. Living at home has actually been a lot of fun. Every Thursday, my sister and I make dinner for our family since since my mom works late. Last night we made 40 clove chicken, roasted veggies, and mac n’ goat cheese. It was quite the production. I love having access to a spacious kitchen and six burner range–something I am likely not going to have once we move to the city.

Another bonus to living at home: the garden. My family has a fig tree, apple tree, olive tree, and a variety of herbs. Just the other day, my mom told me we actually had a blood orange tree in the backyard too. I couldn’t believe my ears. I live for blood orange season–which lasts all of two months in the dead of winter. I love blood oranges in desserts, savory dishes, or simply juiced. But my absolute favorite way to eat blood oranges is in an olive oil cake. Deb from Smitten Kitchen posted this recipe last year, and I have been hooked ever since.

I know what you’re thinking. Olive oil in a cake? That’s what my family said too, but I turned them into believers. The olive oil combined with the greek yogurt (or sour cream) makes the cake really moist. It also gives the batter a much more complex flavor–way more exciting than your average butter-based cake! Since the olive oil completely replaces the use of any butter, I feel a lot less guilty about having an extra slice or two.

This recipe requires you to supreme the oranges–basically a fancy word for releasing the flesh of the orange from the peel and the membrane. I recommend using a sharp paring knife for the job. Check out this video if you need an extra visual.

I’ve probably made this recipe over two dozen times and it just does not get old to me. It can be eaten as a dessert with a little whipped cream and compote, but I much prefer it for breakfast–straight up, with a cup of coffee. If you don’t have access to blood oranges, you can always use normal oranges. I am also going to experiment with Meyer lemons in the near future. If you have experimented with other flavors in your olive oil cake, I would love to hear about it!

Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake
Adapted from In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite via Smitten Kitchen

  • 3 blood oranges
  • Greek yogurt or sour cream (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing pan
  • Honey blood orange compote, for serving (optional-see note)
  • Honey whipped cream, for serving (optional-see note)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and oil a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.
  2. Grate the zest from 2 of the blood oranges and place it in a bowl. Add the sugar and, using your fingertips, rub the ingredients together until the sugar is evenly flecked with the zest and smells strongly of orange.
  3. Supreme two oranges: Cut off the bottom and top so a bit of the fruit is exposed and the orange can stand upright on a cutting board. Starting at the top, cut away the peel and white pith, following the curve of the fruit. Slice down one side of a section and the other, using your knife to wiggle the fruit out, releasing it from the membranes and letting it fall into a bowl. Repeat with the rest of the sections and do the same to the second orange. Break up the segments with your fingers and set aside.
  4. Halve the remaining orange and squeeze the juice into a measuring cup. You should have about 1/4 cup. Add enough sour cream or greek yogurt to the juice until you have 2/3 cup of liquid. Pour the mixture into the bowl with the zested sugar and whisk well. Add the eggs and and olive oil and whisk until incorporated.
  5. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Gently whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ones. Switch to a spatula and fold in the orange segments. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top.
  6. Bake the cake for about 55 minutes, until it is golden and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes, then turn it out of the pan and onto the wire rack, right-side up, and cool to room temperature. Serve with whipped cream and Honey-Blood Orange Compote, if desired.

For Honey Blood Orange Compote: Supreme 3 more blood oranges according to the directions above. Drizzle in 1 to 2 teaspoons honey. Let sit for 5 minutes, then stir gently.

For Honey Whipped Cream: Chill a mixing bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes. In the mixing bowl, beat 1 cup chilled heavy cream with 1-2 tablespoons honey to taste, until soft peaks form. Do not over beat, as I clearly did in the picture above! This will make about 2 cups of whipped cream, so adjust the ratio of ingredients as needed.