Gochujang is a fermented chili paste made from red pepper powder and is used in a lot of Korean dishes. The great thing about this recipe is that it makes a lot and can be stored for up to a year in the refrigerator. It isn’t too hard to make, but it does take some time to acquire the right ingredients. I could not find soybean flour/powder at the local grocery store so I bought it at an asian market instead. Malt powder is the same thing as “malted milk powder” which can be found at the grocery store. Glutinous rice powder is the same as rice flour and I bought the “mochiko” brand which worked nicely. I am letting the jars sit out in the sun for a few days to ferment and age properly. Right away, the gochujang had a nice spicy and sweet flavor so I can only expect it to get better with age.
Kare Udon, or Curry soup, is a Japanese noodle soup made with potatoes, carrots and curry roux. Curry roux is a form of instant curry which can be found in most supermarkets. The soup can be made with beef, chicken, pork, or tofu. So far I have made it with beef and tofu so I thought I would try it with chicken next. I really enjoyed this version and the curry flavors were great with the chicken.
I had the idea of using couscous in a warm Greek salad for a while now. I decided on Israeli couscous just because the pasta is larger and works better as a salad. The recipe reminded me a lot of the Lebanese Tabbouleh, though the flavors are definitely grounded in Greek cuisine. The recipe resembles a classic Greek salad as it contains olives, lemon juice, feta cheese, tomatoes and red onions. What gives the recipe a twist is that the salad is warm and the onions and tomatoes are lightly sauteed. The result was a delicious side dish that was great with the Chicken Kalamaki.
Kalamaki (or Souvlaki) is a Greek food that can be made with chicken, beef or vegetables. The meat is marinated and grilled on a skewer. I marinated the chicken in lemon, yogurt and oregano for a few hours before grilling. It was a simple marinade of fresh ingredients that went really well with the flavors of the grilled chicken. Putting the chicken on a skewer is optional but it does end up being more fun to eat.
One of my favorite combinations is mint and chocolate. For St. Patrick’s Day, I decided to make some green chocolate chip cookies and to give the recipe a little kick I added mint extract to the batter. The chocolate and the mint were great together and it was even tastier dipping the cookies into milk. For whatever reason dipping the cookies in milk caused the mint flavor to be more pronounced. This was an easy and tasty recipe for St. Patty’s day!
A classic way to eat gnocchi is with a brown butter and sage sauce. The sauce is really easy to make as it only involves melting some butter in a pan, letting it brown for a few minutes, and then frying fresh sage leaves in the butter. It is a perfect sauce for both pumpkin and sweet potato gnocchi. The next step is to toss the gnocchi in the sauce for a few minutes and the result is a delicious pasta with flavors of pumpkin and sage. I added a little lemon juice at the end to give the pasta a little more flavor.
Banana bread is a great excuse to let a few bananas sit on the shelf a little bit longer than you would think is a good idea. Banana bread is strangely the best when the bananas are almost entirely brown and soft. My theory is that the bananas start fermenting in the skins (they smell like alcohol) and the flavor becomes more concentrated. This time I decided to try something different and add coconut to the batter. I looked at a few recipes and a lot of them only use coconut extract for the flavoring. I thought it would be nice to use real coconut milk in the batter so I threw that in. I don’t really care for coconut flakes but in most coconut banana bread recipes they are toasted and sprinkled on top of the batter. I decided to go without the flakes and use the coconut milk instead. I’m glad I went with that instead as the banana bread was soft with a nice afterthought of coconut flavor.
Gnocchi is a flavored pasta dough and it can be mixed with sweet or russet potatoes, butternut squash or pumpkin. I made sweet potato gnocchi a while ago and I thought it would be fun to try it with pumpkin instead. Making gnocchi is somewhat time consuming but really isn’t too bad compared with making other pasta from scratch. All you do is mix the dough with the flavoring that you want, roll the dough into logs and cut them into small pieces. The dough is boiled and then fried. The whole process takes about 2 hours to complete but it is worth the effort as the little pillows of pumpkin practically melt in the mouth!
Since I had a jar of maple butter I decided to make a great bread to go along with it. This bread has a really nice maple flavor that makes the kitchen smell great while it’s cooking. Maple syrup is used in the dough and the loaf is topped with rolled oats and brown sugar. This is a yeast bread so it takes a little more time to prepare. It’s also important to incorporate the flour gradually so the dough can rise properly. The bread was really tasty fresh out of the oven and even better with the maple butter.
Maple butter can be made two ways..with a candy thermometer and boiling syrup or with a mixer. I went with the mixer which is a somewhat simpler method. The result was a fluffy, whipped butter with a strong maple flavor. Use real maple syrup, not the artificial stuff. This butter is perfect as a spread on breads, scones, or muffins.