Cooking Frenzy

by Skimming

I’ve been cooking a lot in anticipation of starting a new job, which means I won’t have much time for cooking anymore.  Unfortunately, I haven’t taken a lot of pics because I’m increasingly feeling a bit foolish and self-conscious taking photos of food.  What happened to the simple joys of cooking, enjoying the process, and then eating with friends and family?  Well, then again, we weren’t blogging, Instagram-ing, Facebook-ing back in the day.  We’ve become such a visual culture.

But enough on that.  Here are some of my cooking adventures with links to recipes I used.

Mom’s Kimchee

I’ve made this and posted about it before.  It’s always a wonderful feeling to make some kimchee, jar it up, and then wait a few days for it to ripen.  This time I think I didn’t use enough salt.  I shared some with friends (though I worry about that a bit because it wasn’t the best batch I’ve made).  Already, I’m waiting to make another batch.  But I’ll need to wait for another free day.  kimchee copy

Homemade Pizza

This was one of my cooking highlights.  I’ve been hunting for a good pizza dough recipe for years.  I’ve tried all kinds.  For awhile, I was using Giada De Laurentiis’s recipe, but one thing I always found lacking was a yeasty, springy texture.  It was more cracker than dough.  Good for thin crust, but not great.  I finally came up on this recipe.  Easy to make.  You just have to make it a few days in advance (or make it way in advance and freeze it).  But it’s so worth the wait.  Soooo good.  And so easy to make the pizzas once they’re ready.  Something about the slow-yeast-rise adds amazing flavor.  This is definitely going to be my go-to.  And I hope the next I make it, it’s just as good.

The other part of the amazing pizzas were the toppings I chose.  I was cooking for my cousin and his wife who are big foodies (especially my cousin).  So I knew I wanted to do something simple, classy, and super-tasty.  I bought all my groceries at my beloved Berkeley Bowl for under $30!  That included fancy mushrooms (including chanterelles), arugula, bacon, buffalo mozzarella…

I chose not to use a red sauce or any kind of sauce for the pizzas.  I feel that sauces tend to drown out the flavor of the dough and the toppings.  So here were my combos, in order of deliciousness (top listed first):

  • brussel sprout leaves (not pre-cooked), caramelized red onions, bacon (chopped and pre cooked), dollops of buffalo mozzarella, scattered roasted garlic (roasted in whole cloves), dusting of grated parmesan cheese on top.  I drizzled the pizza dough with some olive oil before putting on the toppings.  And the brussel sprout leaves crisped up so nicely.  This was heavenly!
  • mushrooms (three types – portobello, shiitake, and chanterelles– all sauteed with some garlic and a squeeze of lemon), bacon, caramelized onions, mozzarella, and a heaping of arugula (kept fresh, tossed with some olive oil and salt, spread on the pizza right after coming out of the oven).  Oh so good.
  • prosciutto, roasted garlic, mozzarella (dry form, grated), caramelized onion, ripped fresh basil.
  • heirloom tomatoes (thinly sliced), basil, mozzarella.

I didn’t take any photos, but trust me that each pizza was delicious!  I’ll be making this again for sure!

Butternut Squash Soup

I don’t really use a recipe for this, I just throw things together and it usually turns out great.

  1. Roast butternut (or any kind of squash) squash along with some garlic cloves and other root vegetables like potatoes and carrots.  Use your favorite method– with herbs or not, with olive oil, cut up in cubes or not…
  2. Make chicken stock.  (Or use pre-made stock that you have in your freezer.  Or use store-bought stock.)
  3. In a big pot, saute some leeks until nice and fragrant.   You can saute them in butter or olive oil or both!
  4. Throw the roasted vegetables into the pot.  Toss that around with the oil and leeks a bit.
  5. Pour in stock.  Whatever amount you would like to make a soup.  I’d say err on less at first in case you want a thicker soup.
  6. Add a bay leaf or two or three.
  7. Cook it up.  Since the vegetables are roasted, this shouldn’t take long.
  8. You can add some nice warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, curry, turmeric, ginger, paprika, black pepper…  Any or all of these!
  9. Using an immersion blender, a potato masher, or a fork, mash up the vegetables when they’re soft enough.  (Take out the bay leaf(ves) first.)
  10. Puree, mash until the soup is the texture you want.  You can add some cream if you want at the end to cream-ify it.  Or just leave as is.
  11. Add salt and pepper to season.  This can be done earlier on.
  12. Serve with some nice crusty bread.

butternut squash

OK, that’s enough for this post.  I don’t want to overwhelm you!  And now I’m back to being a working girl.  And I’ll just be eating stuff like this (haha, no really, this was the simplest thing ever to make):pork belly

Pork belly (pre-sliced, bought from the Korean market), marinated in red pepper paste + sesame oil + sugar + mirin, with a sesame leaf wrap, homemade kimchee (see above), and Chinese broccoli (see previous post).