Monthly Archives: December 2006

Happy Holidays!

Latke and Sufganiyot, originally uploaded by c(h)ristine.

This Hanukkah, I decided to really pay homage to oil–it’s a blessing to fry! And fry I did: latkes (I like mine extra crispy) as well as sufganiyot (donuts filled with apricot jam).

I hope your house is filled with lots of love and good food, too.

‘Tis the Season for… Faux Gingerbread Houses!

img_3270.JPGEvery year for the past dozen years, our family has hosted a gingerbread-house making party.  The first year, I had no idea what I was getting into.  My father, in his wheelchair, carefully designed the houses and cut beautiful templates out of cardboard.  I mixed up giant vats of gingerbread cookie dough which took a day to mix and roll out, then cut in the template shapes, bake and put together, with equally giant vats of icing glue.  In years after that, we made smaller houses, shaped around little milk cartons.  Then we came upon the ingenious fake-gingerbread, actually madeimg_3261.JPG with graham crackers.  Genius!  These little beauties can be put together in just a couple of hours. Everyone knows the best part is decorating them, so why waste time on making real gingerbread?  Here is this year’s gingerbread village.

holiday alchemy

mrmmm vodka collins w fresh squezed lemon juice and organic maraschino cherries, originally uploaded by c(h)ristine.

It’s one of the biggest booze buying days of the year–everyone’s stocking up for the parties! My list? I bought some of the following: Lillet and Lillet Blanc, Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, and Grey Goose Vodka. Oh and big ass bottle of natural maraschino cherries (I’m addicted).

 

mrmmm maraschino cherries.  without artificial color!

What am I going to do with my purchases this holiday season?

  • Lillet Blanc is great with club soda over ice as an apertif. Or with a twist of orange. Or in a Corpse Reviver:
    3/4 oz Gin
    3/4 oz Lillet Blanc
    3/4 oz Cointreau
    3/4 oz lemon juice
    2 drops Pernod
  • I’m in love with a “Dark and Stormy” (my new discovery at a dissident chef dinner–though for many of you it may not be so new). A Dark and Stormy is Gosling’s Black Seal Rum with ginger beer in a 1:2 ratio. That’s the basic recipe, although I hear you can add a touch of lime or lemon juice. I’m so loyal to vodka and gin drinks, I’m surprised how much I like this rum-based drink. But it’s a winner.
  • If you want something different from a cosmo or lemon drop, but still want one foot in fancy martini/vodka land…try a French Martini (one of my fave drinks–my first french martini was at Balthazar in New York over five years ago). It’s vodka, chambord, and pineapple shaken together and served in a martini glass. That’s another drink I’ll be serving this season.
  • Of course I bought a ton of club soda and tonic water for the mixers like gin and tonic, etc.

Funny. I’m not making any of the drinks that bartenders hate to make: the lemon drop, cosmo, mojito, and manhattan. (btw, two of my favorite cocktails are the lemon drop and cosmo–I’m going to look closely at the bartender’s face to see if he/she grimaces when I order them).

The site I reference throughout this post is The Art of Drink, run by a bartender who cares to share his thoughts on drink.

sullung-tang: Korean beef knucklebone soup

homemade sullungtang: aka beef knucklebone soup, originally uploaded by c(h)ristine.

COMFORT ME WITH SOUP!

This soup is one of those “special” soups not because it takes a lot of skill to prepare, but because it takes so much time to make. I like to boil this soup for at least 8 hours, until the gelatin falls off the beef knuckle bones in soft and savory pieces that float in the millky white broth and then melt in your mouth.

I love this soup–it is a childhood comfort dish for me–but it has become one of those dishes I make while the hubby is out of town; the concept of beef knuckle bones is just not that appealing a thought to most Western palates.

What’s a “beef knuckle?” It’s the cow’s lower leg, including the hoof itself. It is damn tasty. You do not know what you’re missing if you’re saying “ewwwww” right now, you savage beast. :P
aka beef knucklebone soup

The house is filled with the savory, gamey aroma of the soup while I boil it for hours and hours, checking to see if the gelatin has softened (it starts out solid, then it becomes very very chewy and tough like tendon, and then ultimately something soft and delicate (you can feel the give of the gelatin under a spoon). The soft and delicate stage is what you want).

This soup takes a lot of patience, but on a homebound, cold winter day alone, this is a comforting activity. Keep simmering, putter around the house, wait for soup, savor smells, feel the anticipation. When you serve it to someone who KNOWS what this soup is, they’ll feel the love–after all, it took you 8 hours (or more) to make this soup!

Today, I’m feeling the love for myself! I think I need it–for some reason I’ve been in the doldrums. Life seems complicated and loud–so I decided to reach for a simple, soothing soup with a good dose of patience. For the past twenty-four hours, I’ve been focused on one thing: this soup. Yah. Like dudes diminish their focus to a video game for a day, I’ll tunnel on soup, thank you.

aka beef knucklebone soup

As with many Korean dishes like sam gye tang ginseng chicken, this soup is known to have medicinal qualities. My health-conscious mother always told me this was “bone soup, with lots of calcium!” It does have a lot of calcium. (Today, it’s been healthy to me in other ways).

Haha–bone soup! Because were totally Americanized kids, she didn’t tell us WHICH bones until we had fallen in love with the soup.

Some people like to add sliced daikon radish to the soup (I do, too–though I didn’t have daikon radish at home this time). The essence of the soup, however, requires very little but the beef knucklebones (called “sagol or “tongani” at Korean grocery stores).

Recipe follows after the jump…

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Is my food telling me something?

my ramen at Santa Ramen, originally uploaded by c(h)ristine.

First, it was the smiley face hidden in the carrot cake cookie, now it’s a grinning bowl of ramen. It’s not like I see the smiley faces as I take the picture–only a sense of wellbeing and balance as I compose the photograph.

Then, as I sift through the multiple shots, I see it. There. A smiley face!

Is my food trying to tell me something? I think so.

Btw, the above is a bowl of pork flavor, extra spicy, stewed pork ramen with a boiled egg addition from Santa Ramen (yes, I break my ban against pork for this place). I’ve blogged about Santa Ramen before, with a horrible cameraphone shot of my delicious steaming bowl of noodles. I had to go back for another bowl, and for a more decent picture. I’m sorry it took so long (not for you, for my tastebuds!) but we were in luck tonight–a mere ten minute wait! That’s rare! The happy face couldn’t wait to greet me, I guess.

I did check out my husband’s bowl of ramen. No happy face for him:

Ari's ramen at Santa Ramen

portable carrot cake

carrot cake cookies, originally uploaded by c(h)ristine.

When I was growing up, my mother made us carrot cake: she would take a box of Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker cake mix, grate up a bunch of carrots, and add it to the mix. (My mother, an expert cook of Korean dishes, never really bothered to learn how to cook anything else, let alone desserts, which she saw as unhealthy).

She was so thrilled at the concept of “adding fiber and vitamins” to a cake, that she began adding grated carrots to ANY cake mix. THAT–became my idea of carrot cake. It wasn’t bad. But it wasn’t the carrot cake that the rest of the world knows and loves.

Now I can make all the “real” carrot cake I want–and when I feel like just a bite of carrot cake, these carrot cake cookies are just perfect! Every little bite gives you that combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, carrot, raisin and cream cheese frosting (never will you suffer from a bite of carrot cake WITHOUT the delectable and rich cream cheese frosting).

I’m making these for a company party tomorrow night (I volunteered to bring desserts). But of course, I couldn’t wait–I snuck one for myself just now.

Recipe follows after the jump….

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pumpkin rocks

pumpkin rocks, originally uploaded by c(h)ristine.

Despite the name of this cookie, every bite of these very soft and moist “rocks” takes you to a cozy place infused with warm spices and the sweet flavor of pumpkin. If you want something that reminds you of autumn, or want something to do with the remaining Thanksgiving cans of pumpkin in your pantry, or love pumpkin and small bites, these cookies are just really perfect.

You may think I’m on a pumpkin kick. I sort of am (witness my pumpkin muffin recipe from last month). Pumpkin lends a savory edge to desserts, and I welcome that balance this time of year, when I’m staring out the windows of a storm, or bundling up in the cold. While I have an insatiable sweet tooth and am known for my chocolate cravings, sometimes I like a dessert that is less butter and sugar and more…well, savory. (sorry, lack of words there).

pumpkin rocks

These cookies are supposed to be made with a glaze, but I omit the glaze; they are perfect on their own. The other thing I love is that these cookies are super easy to make. (I never make this cookie with chocolate chips, but I list that as an alternative because lots of people love a chocolate and pumpkin pairing–I prefer the raisin pairing). Based on the recipe in the Maida Heatter Book of Great Cookies, I’ve upped the spice content quite a bit to what you see here.

Recipe follows after the jump…

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