Batter Licker

September 2, 2011

bibimbap (korean mixed vegetable and brown rice salad with spicy-sweet chili pepper paste)

A three-day weekend is upon (most of) us, and this time around, that means Jay and I will be attending no less than 5 different get-togethers with family and friends. We certainly get our socializing on.

For once, I don’t think I will be cooking for any one of them. (If I am, no one has told me yet, although they could very well be operating under the general assumption that, where meal-time events are involved, I tend to come bearing the fruits of my kitchen labor. I should probably hit the market tomorrow just in case.) But if I find out that someone would like me to contribute a dish, I would be delighted to throw together this version of bibimbap, mostly because it can be thrown together quite quickly while still delivering an unexpectedly flavorful result. Especially for something that is essentially a mixed veggies and rice salad.

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In my favorite Korean restaurants, bibimbap is served in an extremely hot stone bowl, coated with just a bit of sesame oil that causes the cooked rice to develop a delicious toasted crispiness around the edges. But the beauty of this dish is that everything can be prepared in advanced, and it will still function equally well at room temperature or slightly chilled, making it well-suited for potlucks and barbecues but more interesting than the starchy side dishes typical of those types of events.

This time around, I cooked up some brown rice, then tossed grated zucchini and carrots in toasted sesame oil for a 2-minute saute. Arrange the zucchini, carrots, cucumber, and kimchi (and meat, if you choose to use some – and it would be a wonderful use for leftovers from one of the inevitable barbecues happening this weekend) in colorful patches over the brown rice for a presentation that’s much more beautiful than the haphazard mess I threw down for an impromptu dinner. Plop a few fried eggs on top – one for each person.

But please, for the love of visual appeal, let guests individually douse their bibimbap in the spicy-sweet gochujang (Korean chili paste) for less of a bloody roadkill appearance than what I did here while under extreme duress due to threats coming from my growling tummy. (more…)

November 16, 2010

mexican rice and fajita-spiced steak, poblano peppers, and onions

I grew up eating Mexican rice of the Rice-a-Roni quality. In other words, boxed rice and unknown spices + canned tomatoes + butter + water. It was delicious. But it was not Mexican. And I clearly didn’t know any better. But even if I had known better, I have forgiven the follies of my foodie-less youth.

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Fast forward a few years, and I’ve figured out that this Mexican rice wonder of my childhood can not only be made at home, but (not surprisingly) tastes way better than the romanticized Rice-a-Roni of yore. Plus, this rice can be made without any canned vegetables and with discernible spices that I always have on hand anyway, making it fresher and cheaper than the boxed stuff.

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Because rice was always the highlight of Mexican feasts growing up, whether in my super plain bean-cheese-rice burrito or as a side dish to any number of restaurant main courses, I like to say that I “know” Mexican rice. That may or may not be true, but I have been exposed to a wide variety served everywhere from fancy Mexican joints to chintzy taco shops. (more…)

October 19, 2010

farrotto with mushrooms, chard, garlic, and ginger

Cold weather is creeping back into San Francisco after a glorious month and a half of summer weather. To me, that means it’s time for warm, comforting dishes like risotto.

I especially love risotto because it tastes naughtier than it is. Although it looks and tastes incredibly creamy, risotto doesn’t contain any cream. Usually, the only high-fat ingredient I add is cheese, and even then, I don’t add much. Plus, without anyone noticing (ahem, Jay!), I can almost double the recipe’s output by adding tons of vegetables. As far as I see it, the only downside of risotto is the constant stirring.

But constant stirring is a double black diamond, super steep downside, probably covered with ice and moguls. It’s no gentle, downward sloping bunny hill. There’s no denying it: standing in your kitchen for 35+ minutes, stirring every minute or so, then adding broth every few minutes is downright laborious. And incredibly boring. It often makes me wish my rice cooker had a risotto-cooking mode.

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Enter my knight in shining armor: farro. (more…)

May 31, 2010

creamy corn and mushroom risotto

Filed under: rice,vegan,veggies — Tags: , , , , — Kristen @ 9:53 am

San Francisco and I will soon celebrate the five-year anniversary of what I’m pretty sure will be our life-long love affair. Over the years, we’ve really grown together. I’ve come to share her love for farm-fresh, locally grown produce and CSAs. We’ve shared many eating adventures, eating our way through a large percentage of the Indian restaurants in the city within a mere month, seeking out restaurants like Red’s Java House and Boulevard that couldn’t be more different but are each foodie landmarks in their own right, and making a Saturday morning ritual out of walking to the farmers market to peruse the goods while sipping Blue Bottle cappuccinos and munching on Downtown Bakery apple swirls and seasonal fruit galettes. We’ve become weekend hikers and city explorers, avid museum-goers, sometimes concert attendees, and periodic wine country visitors. But for all the shared enjoyment, we still can’t come together on one issue: the weather.

You see, San Francisco is whimsical, constantly changing her mind, wanting what she wants and needing to have it now. Quite honestly, she’s a little high maintenance when it comes to this particular issue. I, on the other hand, prefer the sun, though I don’t really mind the wind or the rain or even the fog. But the one thing that drives me crazy is her insistence on starting off with a windy, rainy mess of a day, then giving a brief glimpse of sun, and later dashing all hopes of good weather by issuing a complete downpour. And then fluctuating between beautiful sun and windy rain as often as some San Franciscans take coffee breaks.

Last week alternated between caught-in-a-downpour-without-protection and sweating-in-rubber-boots-and-turtlenecks moments, keeping my feet consistently wet and causing my appetite much confusion. After scoping out summery produce at the market and enjoying barbecued summer fare the weekend before, I allowed myself to get too excited about light, chilled, produce-centric meals.

But amidst the largely cold and rainy weather this past week, I found myself yearning to eat something warm and comforting, yet also summery. A serious dilemma, indeed. So thank goodness for corn (more…)

May 25, 2010

chicken and rice à la 53rd and 6th’s halal cart in new york

Filed under: chicken/turkey,rice — Tags: , , , , , — Kristen @ 7:49 pm

This week, my Barbri class began, which means I have ten straight weeks of doing little else except intensely studying California law. That’s right; I’m lawyering up. Unlike the last two years of law school, the California bar exam doesn’t let me pick and choose which subjects I’m interested in or focus on the specific areas I’ll likely practice in. Oh no. That would be too kind. And far too practical for this great state. California makes you learn it all, from the humdrum of wills and trusts to the intricacies of contract law (a subject which, by the way, the instructor claimed was about as fun and exciting as getting a prostate exam; being female, I wouldn’t really know much about that, but I’ll make a semi-educated assumption that the comparison is spot-on). Needless to say, thinking about the next ten studying- and memorization-filled weeks and the Big, Bad Bar Exam lurking in the final days of July has me longing for simpler, fun-packed times. Like last spring, when my law school’s moot court program paid for my trip to New York, where I stayed for five days and ate at the infamous 53rd St. and 6th Ave. Halal Cart … on four separate occasions.

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If you aren’t already aware, for $6, the fine men at the cart will load you up (or you and a friend – seriously, I recommend sharing, especially when it’s a late night post-bar binge) with chicken and rice, topped with a handful of lettuce. Then, you step around to the side of the cart and go to town dressing it up with the white sauce and the red sauce. No labels. Just giant squeeze bottles full of white, and others full of red. The white sauce is magical (more…)

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