gifkitchen

GIF Kitchen: Fried Egg Salad

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I am the laziest of lazy today. I topped turnip greens, fresh dill and arugula with a fried egg and bacon cinnamon tomato sauce. It seriously took less than 5 minutes.

Dat fork says hi. Also…I love egg yolk money shots, don’t you?

GIF Kitchen: Making pancetta at home

After our successful bout with making bacon at home for the first time, I wanted to take it to the next level with pancetta. It’s going to take longer but it’ll be worth it to cut that baby up for breakfast in two weeks. My first order of business was to acquire a good amount of local pork belly. My friends Jake and Michael at Green Grape Provisions hooked it up with 3.49 pounds of Arcadian Pastures heritage pork. When I got home, I had to do a bunch of math to convert my 5 pound pancetta cure mix to 3.49 pounds (hate math, dudes). When I was done, I weighed out the ingredients to the nearest gram.

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Then it was time to coat the entire pork belly in the mixed cure.

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Gotta make sure every side is coated, even the ends.

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When I was satisfied, the belly was put into a large ziploc bag for resting in my fridge. It will be there for 7 days and I will flip it to redistribute the juices every other day. Hold on to your (pork) butts!

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Special thanks to Michael and Jake from Greene Grape Provisions for making my visit extra awesome. Say hi to them if you go into the store, they’re the best and they know their meat!

GIF Kitchen: Linguine with Pancetta

Do you know who my favorite food personality is after the three A’s (A. Brown, A. Zimmern & A. Bourdain)? Nigella Lawson. Is she named after her father Nigel or the “black cumin” seeds of nigella sativa? I’ve been stumped for years. In any case, her cooking shows are entertaining because she’s pretty, has funny words to describe cooking techniques and she always has a midnight snack shot after the show ends. She’s such a self-aware fatty and I love it. I like her ideas because they’re quick and fusion-ey but not so short-cut like Rachael Ray. It helps that Nigella has a brainy English accent; for better absorption.

Anyway to the linguine! It calls for 4 ingredients but I only ended up using 3. Guess which one I left out of the equation.

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I’ve always been bad about pasta. I finally had the patience to let the water come to a rolling boil. Not just little bubbles sort of coming off the sides, but big bloop de blup bubbles and steam. If you put it in too early and then it comes to a boil, you’ve probably let a lot of the glutens out and it’ll get slimey. I added a generous pinch of salt to the water and fanned out my handful of pasta when I put it in. The noodles will just slide in as the water dances in the pot.

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While the noodles were swimming, I cut up the garlic and pancetta. It feels good to use my own home-cured pancetta! I can cut it any which way I want!

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As the pasta was finishing up, I sauteed the pancetta for a couple minutes before I added the garlic. Since pork is so fatty, I didn’t need to add olive oil to the dish at all (back into the cupboard with you!). I switched the pan to high heat and added the pasta with probably ½ a cup of the salty pasta water. FWOOOSH!

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Quick tosses with tongs to make sure all the noodles get some garlicky oil.

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Uh-oh! Someone call the authorities! I didn’t put cheese on something! Instead, I finished the pasta with a smattering of chives. While very plain, once I bit into the pancetta a tinge of salty juniper entered the ring. It’s surprising how great this dish is. I found myself struggling not to add more things to it. That’s it! 3 ingredients.

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Pardon me, I’m going to get my 2nd bowl now.

GIF Kitchen: An adventure with zucchini 4 ways - tempura vegetable nests

I didn’t want to waste ANY part of the giant zuke, even the the skin that I peeled. As I was cooking all day, I kept the stringy peels and carrot discards in a bowl of cold water to keep them from going limp.

After I drained the peels and dried them, they went into a sticky batch of tempura batter. I sort of didn’t know what I was doing, I envisioned little stringy nests that I’d deep fry. These bundles were so unruly! How could I tame them before I stick them in the fryer?

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Ah-ha! Just freeze them!

Once the nests were solid enough to handle, off they went into the hot oil. Be careful not to freeze these too long or they will stick to whatever surface you put them on (wax paper, tupperware, etc).

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I fried them until they were golden brown. The strands were so thin, you really only have to cook them until the batter is done. Instead of an unctuous dipping sauce, I opted for green tea salt, which I made by pulverizing a Starbucks green teabag with salt.

Yum-sauce 3000. I wonder if you can mold these into muffin tins and make them into veggie cups!

GIF Kitchen: Vegan Yasai Sushi

My friend Steve has taught me a good amount about vegan eating. I find his food perspective pretty interesting. He’s not necessarily vegan but prefers to cook that way because he likes the taste of vegetables. If someone offers him meat he will not turn it down in addition to any opportunity to try new things like reindeer on his upcoming trip to Sweden. My main gripe with veganism is the lack of flavor, the feeling of more hunger after eating and general snootiness toward proteins. However, every vegan meal I’ve made with Steve has been inventive, flavorful AND filling.

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We set out to make vegan sushi with a nut paste made of onion, soaked walnuts, herbs and sunflower seeds. Steve says the mix can sometimes take on the consistency of sushi rice. I chimed in that vegetarian sushi is typically referred to as yasai at Japanese restaurants. See, we both bring something to the table!

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A bamboo mat helps form the roll if you didn’t make it tight enough.

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And gosh darn, make sure you have a super sharp knife or you’ll smush the insides (like on the end of the roll in the gif).

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I added a little ginger puree to my roll and it was perfect with a little soy sauce. What a fun way to make dinner! I kind of prefer the nut alternative to rice because it doesn’t fill you up too quickly but is substantial enough overall.

GIF Kitchen: squash blossoms stuffed with roasted scape cream cheese

Squash blossoms were at the Ft. Greene farmer’s market for $5 a box!

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I made scape cream cheese and piped them into the flowers, breaded them and fried them to a crisp! It was like a light jalapeno popper but with flowers!

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GIF Kitchen: Tonkotsu Ramen

I grew up with the notion that ramen came from crinkly packs for 50 cents or in those microwave styrofoam cups. I didn’t discover the nectar of tonkotsu ramen until I moved to New York 5 years ago.  I initially imagined cooks carefully emptying the last of the little silver flavor pouch into vats of bubbling water. Friends told me legends of pig heads simmering in giant stock pots for 5 days. I didn’t see it until I went to Totto Ramen and sat at the bar. They really do simmer whole chickens and pig heads for hours! They use a telescope tool that scoops up samples and tells you the viscosity of the broth! I had to figure this out!

And I feel like I did. You can read about the process in my Bacon Takedown essay. Coincidentally, I cracked open the Momofuku cookbook and spied bacon dashi as a base for ramen broth. Pretty awesome that I nailed it! I made so much broth that I decided to have an impromptu ramen shop at my house.

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Hey look a spinning piece of pork shoulder! I marinated this lump for two days in jalapeno tequila, white vinegar, garlic, chili peppers and peppercorn. After I drained the liquid, I patted the shoulder with sugar and salt before it rested on a rack in front of a fan for about 3 hours. In the oven it went at 240 degrees for 6 hours. It was tough to not pick off little pieces through the evening.

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For a festive fall ramen, I decided to use acorn squash. It actually doesn’t take that long to cook after you slice it up! Added bonus: it makes the bowl look like the sun is rising.

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I’m also a fan of daikon radish in my soups. When you boil them, they mellow the hell out and provide a hearty potato-ey texture. I boiled the daikon and squash separately in the broth ahead of time so I could prepare individual bowls later on.

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Then things got a little silly in my kitchen.

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I need to stop eating the garnishes before dinner is ready…

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Oh hey a spinning bowl of ramen!

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For each serving, I put down a slice of cooked squash with a couple cubes of daikon; swished the ramen noodles in boiling broth until they were soft, plopped them over the vegetables, ladled broth into the bowl and dressed it with seaweed, toasted sesame seeds, crackers and slices of pork shoulder (crisped with sugar and a pastry torch) or pulled pork fried in mirin / soy sauce/ yuzu juice.

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It’s a whole hell of a lot of work but worth the time on a cold day. Thanks to Emily Hanhan and Matt Timms for hanging out!

GIF Kitchen: Kimchi Chigae

Oh no, do you feel that? The onset of a cold? Look no further for the preemptive cure! Kimchi Chigae or  김치찌개, 콩나물 무침 or kimchi jjigae or more simply: Korean spicy stew. For our mise, we have rectangles of cut and dried firm tofu, a jar of local kimchi bok choy, scallions, cabbage, scallion tops split and resting in cold water (for decoration!) and sliced raw beef.

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I started with a simple broth with the steak bone, scallions, a little kimchi and sriracha. 

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Once the broth was done, I pretty much threw everything into the pot and carefully laid the beef on top so that it would get indirect heat. A general rule that I follow is to either cook beef quickly or for a long time. Think of this as “shabu-style.”

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Let the stew simmer enough to cook the vegetables, then swirl the beef around after you turn off the heat.

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Kablam, ladle that sucka over rice and stick a scallion flower in it!

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GIF Kitchen: The Hangover 3, Rockaway Beach

Angela wanted to celebrate her post-birthday morning at Rockaway Beach as sort of an aubade to our amazing summer of sand n’ sun. We met up at Choice Greene, both in sweats, hoodies and general cold-wear; grumbling about snacks. I picked up us up a small tup of sweet soppressata, a hunk of sottocenere (I’ve heard…things), charcoal crackers, couple bags o’ chips and cucumber soda. We grunted our way to Broad Channel, giving strange looks to all the “crazies” also going where we were going in this brisk Fall weather.

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We were literally the only people at beach 96th street save 3 surfers and a guy with a metal detector. I bundled up in my towel and broke out several issues of Edible Mag, while Ang showed off her coveted birthday present from Ma: The Momofuku Cookbook. We snacked, read and fell asleep a couple times. I got scared of the birds looming around…stay away from my McClures Pickle potato chips!

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When it got way too cold and pockets of sunlight were hidden by grey clouds, we headed to the good ol’ Tap and Grill on Rockaway Beach Boulevard. A cold Bud, lobster bisque and an enthusiastic chat with the bartender about the death of soap operas.

Happy Birthday Ang!

GIF Kitchen: Lechon Kawali

I had to cut the skin and gristle off some pork I was grinding at home. In the most Filipino way possible, I did not let those bits go to waste!

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Lechon kawali is Filipino-style salted pork that is par-boiled and then deep fried so the fat puffs up. I threw my leftover pork straight into the fryer because I was hungry, BUT, I will probably do this the correct way next week.

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Oh hey, a crunchy thick piece that resembles deep fried pork belly!

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I ate my lechon with vinegar that had been steeping in chilis and garlic on my counter for like 2 weeks.

GIF Kitchen: Happy Birthday Summer Camp - Bulgogi at the fire

As it got dark, we settled by the campfire to relax. The pulse of techno echoed from a nearby camp and I watched the lights seeping through the ambient tent. Our friend Sean brought kimchee chocolates (from Haeyoung’s Korea trip!) and suggested that we try kimchee s'mores! They were spicy and not at all cabbage-y, as I feared. We also made a new friend who sauteed bulgogi over the fire and served it up in sesame leaves with more kim chee! Unexpected korean bbq!

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