Saturday, October 11, 2008

Chapter Thirteen: Gratuitous Food Blogging

So, it's about time to post about my cooking this week. It all started with last weekend's trip to HomePlus once I overcame another awful kid-virus. Being a teacher means getting sick in ways that you had completely forgotten were possible after elementary school. Anyway, pictured above is the batter for my sesame cookies. I thought they would be a great "fusion" dessert for my Seoul Food night (which ended up being more Soul Food That I Can Make in Korea From Typical Korean Ingredients).

Here they are cooking. For this little bit of alchemy, I figured that I would need to make it so that the bottom of the cookie pan (or aluminum foil pie dish, as it were) did not touch the bottom of the pot. If it had, I'm sure they would have just been badly burnt and never turn out like cookies. What I did was line the pot with an inverted pie dish, then place one right-side-up on top. That way, the heat filled up the whole "oven" instead of being focused at the bottom of the pan. Pretty ingenious, if I do say so myself. This recipe wasn't even for stove-top baking, but I successfully made an oven that cooked the cookies nearly as evenly as if they were in a real oven. It did take about 40 minutes to cook a tray of four, but it was worth it.
The recipe, if you're interested, came from Martha Stewart, my favorite domestic goddess. I don't care what that says about me. Actually, I might be a proud fan.

As you can see, I added in some dried cranberries. Sesame seeds have such a nutty flavor and I thought I needed something tangy to balance it out. I'm quite pleased with the results.

My HomePlus purchases! I've never seen vanilla powder before, but it was the only kind of vanilla I could find. I kind of like it now, though. I can add it to just about anything that could benefit from a hint of vanilla-and it's much easier and cheaper than real vanilla. Next to it is my baking powder! Sweet nectar of the gods! I am so excited about all of the things I can do with real baking powder instead of my baking soda+acid concoctions.

Finished cookies! Don't they look tasty and perfect? On Thursday, I took the left-overs to work. No one seemed phased by the idea of sesame cookies, so I must have picked well in my choice of foods that are both Soul Food and Korean food. Hmm. The next dessert is the real link between the two. When I was searching for recipes, all I got were sites about Soul Food and Korean food.

Preparing the ingredients to make the custard base... What could it be?

Cooking up some Korean sweet potatoes. They have a really great, unique flavor. It kind of tastes to me like cardamom. They are definitely not your grandma's sweet potatoes, but they will work.

Making a puree.

Mixing it all together... More on this later.

I need to pause for a moment to show so photos of how beautiful cooking can be!
This stainless steel pot full of cherry tomatoes just waiting to be stewed down to be a red-bean chili base is so pop-art, isn't it? I love the way that the pot reflects the tomatoes.
It's just pretty! And the chili turned out pretty good too. It was too sweet, though, from the red beans and the sweet tomatoes. Next time, black beans and regular tomatoes.
Now, back to the sweet potato dish:

Ice cream! It was amazing, even if I did screw it up because I fell asleep before I was done churning it and it turned into one big rock. I spent a lot of time moving it from fridge to freezer and back again. Unfortunately, I cannot find cream in Korea so I couldn't get it nice and smooth. It's also really difficult to make without an ice cream maker. It turned out okay in the end anyway!

Another dish that I kind of made up: Corn custard! Corn is just about the only canned vegetable you can get in a normal Korean grocery store which leads me to believe it's a pretty popular one. Also, they're big on eggs. Since I don't have an oven in which to make a real corn pudding (don't be fooled by the name, it's a nice savory side-dish), I had to make do on my stove top and cread a corn custard. I think it was really tasty and Chris ate a ton. Also, I made this entirely without a recipe. I just threw stuff together in a pot and saw what happened. Think, corn quiche without the crust.

But wait, there's more! It's Saturday. I had planned to go hiking today, but after a long night of Outback Steakhouse, Ice Bar (where you throw your ice beer mug at a target to try to win free food and drinks), and Norae Bang (Korean karaoke), I slept in this morning. I got up and thought, "Saturday, overslept, can't go hiking... French toast it is!" It was the best idea ever. Korean bread is also very thick, I can't imagine it being used for anything else! Luckily, at HomePlus last weekend I also bought Korean "cake syrup" which was certainly not Mrs. Butterworth's, but it'll do.
Mmm, happy Saturday!

Lastly, what the ice cream really looks like. It looks freezer burnt, but you can't taste it because of the strong flavor. Did I mention that it really tastes like chai? I put a decent amount of vanilla and cinnamon in, plus the natural sweet potato flavor made a nice chai taste. It even looks the right color to be chai ice cream... maybe next time I'll make chai ice cream for real?


  1. My aunt makes a great corn dish- Bechemel sauce (couple tablespoons butter, couple tablespoons flour, cook, then add a couple cups milk. Can be made vegan. make sure to cook the flour/butter for long enough that it doesn't taste like flour. i'm pretty sure you could also use cornstarch...) For this particular dish she subsitutes some of the corn juice for some of the milk. Then once that's cooked, add the corn. she tops with bacon. She bakes it, but it don't need to be baked.