Monday, October 31, 2011

spider web apple muffins

i still have a plethora of cooking apples in our garden. recently i found a recipe for apple muffins on my friend's facebook page. however, rather than just topping it with brown sugar as instructed i decided to do something for halloween.

so i made spider web apple muffins. the recipe for the apple muffins is below. i tried making a cream cheese frosting, but it turned out very runny. i think the cream cheese here must be different because usually it has a nice frosting consistency. well, it made the spider web look nice. i also added orange food coloring. to make the spider web, first frost the muffins. then i used a black gel cake decoration to make 3 concentric circles. with a toothpick starting from the center, make a line going towards the edge. keep doing this until you get the spider web pattern. then you have a pretty spider web.

i made so many muffins that i decided to take them to church. well i found out that children in the UK are not used to cream cheese frosting (or philadelphia as they call it here). when they see a muffin/cupcake, they expect a sugary surprise. well, one taste and they rejected the muffins. oh well... at least the adults enjoyed it!

Cream together:
2 cups sugar (I use 1 1/2 cups)
2 eggs (I added another egg)
1 cup oil
1 Tablespoon vanilla

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon

3 cups peeled, cored, diced apples (around 3 apples)
Brown sugar for topping (around 1/2 cup)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (gas mark 4) and line muffin pan with paper liners.

Cream together sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla. Sift flour, baking soda, salt, and ground cinnamon (I never sift and they turn out fine). Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture and mix until combined. The batter will be very thick. Add the diced apples.

Fill paper liners almost to the top, about 3/4 of the way full. Sprinkle with brown sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-24 minutes. Makes 18 muffins.

Friday, October 28, 2011

pumpkin season

autumn has arrived which means that winter squash vegetables are now in season. generally i post about foods i've eaten or made, but this time this post is about something i've carved. my housemate and i decided to carve our own jack 'o lanterns, something we've actually never done before. so it was a first for the both of us.

this site, zombie pumpkins, has a pdf instructions on how to carve your pumpkin. i was amazed at some of the patterns people have carved. i was going to do something simple and easy, but then i had an epiphany! what if i carve the philadelphia eagles' logo? could i do it? it was tough to find a pattern, but i found a photo of a pumpkin that someone had done, and i decided to use that photo as a guideline.

i first drew the design onto my pumpkin. then i slowly started carving it out piece by piece starting from the middle and working my way out. overall, i think it turned out pretty neat! my housemate created a very happy jack 'o lantern. so now we have our two pumpkins sitting outside in the garden.

as i research pumpkin patterns, i also looked into what you can do with fresh pumpkin. unfortunately, pumpkins used for carving are not the right type of cooking pumpkins. however, i did find some recipes on roasting pumpkin seeds. so i first cleaned, rinsed and dried the pumpkin seeds. then i turned on the oven to 350 degrees (180 C/gas mark 4). i found a recipe on for spiced maple pumpkin seeds. i altered it by using olive oil instead of butter to make it healthier. with the pumpkin seeds from my housemate's pumkin, i made a savory batch of seeds tossed in olive oil and salt sprinkled with paprika. i roasted them for about 40 minutes.

next time i might add some brown sugar to the sweet batch and maybe a dash of salt to make it sweet and savory. i preferred the savory batch better.

but definitely a nice little snack to enjoy!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

kimbap at work

at work i organized a kimbap day. i wanted to give a lesson on how to make kimbap (korean rice wrapped in seaweed). i had about 10 people sign up to learn. i asked each person to bring seaweed, a bamboo mat, a cutting board, and a knife. you can easily find seaweed and a bamboo mat at most local stores around here. i also had each person prepare a component for the filling of the kimbap. i used videos and recipe from maangchi and aeri's kitchen so that they knew how to prepare the component. the only component unavailable locally was the danmunji (pickled radish) which i bought at the korean grocery store in new malden.

since each person pre-cooked and prepped their component beforehand, it was easy to heat up and set up one of our conference rooms for the lesson. first i demonstrated how to make one roll while everyone watched. then everyone started rolling their kimbap. it took some practice to get the kimbap to roll. some rolls were big. some rolls were small. overall, everyone loved it and enjoyed it.

for the recipe for kimbap, you can look at my earlier post for kimbap.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

primrose cupcakes

while perusing the bookstore, i found a cupcake cookbook and discovered that they had a bakery in london. so recently on a trip into london, i decided to stop by primrose bakery to try their cupcakes.

they had an assortment of flavors so it was pretty hard to choose. i asked the girl behind the counter which flavor was the most popular. she said chocolate and vanilla, but i felt those flavors were too common to try so i decided on carrot cake and banana chocolate.

unfortunately there was no room at the bakery to sit and enjoy the cupcakes so i had to walk through the streets of london to find another cafe which wasn't too hard to find. hopefully they won't see me eating a pastry from another establishment.

the carrot cake cupcake had raisins inside the cake, and the frosting was a cream cheese frosting with orange zest. it was pretty moist as well. i didn't want to feel like a glutton so i saved the other cupcake for later. the banana chocolate was sadly not very moist as the carrot cake cupcake. but i enjoyed the banana flavor in the cake. maybe i should have taken the girl's recommendation and gone with the chocolate or vanilla.

maybe i'll have to stop by there again on another trip into london.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

chips or crisps

here in the UK, potato chips are known as crisps. occasionally i still stay chips which here in the UK means fries. as i was shopping the other day, i saw these crisps on sale for a pound. i was intrigued by the flavor, tandoori chicken with indian spices. hm.. could this be any good?

the crisps actually do taste for indian. very nice blend of spices overall. in the states i don't think we have anything like this. i guess living in a country that has a lot of indians/pakistanis allows companies to be a bit creative with their flavors.

my question is how do you pronounce this name in the UK? is it fil-LAY- us? or FIL- aye-us?

my favorite crisps are walkers smoky bacon because it really does taste like bacon! and who doesn't love bacon?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Maangchi in Canterbury

i've been mentioned in maangchi's gapshida journey! go to her blog to see a photo. i really enjoyed meeting maangchi. she's absolutely adorable. i'm sure others will enjoy meeting her as well.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

mmm... apple pie

i've written before that i do miss my citrus fruit trees from california, but here in the UK i have an apple tree. there was some apples sitting on the counter so i decided to make an apple pie, the american way. i can't remember the last time i made apple pie.

i did cheat by buying an already made frozen pastry crust. i was looking into making my own when my housemate told me that the shops sell frozen ones called Just so. yeah, it's not homemade crust, but it save some time.

the recipe i followed is actually my cousin's recipe. she gave it to me years ago. and you can't have apple pie without vanilla ice cream. apple pie a la mode. the only way to have apple pie.

Apple Pie


5-6 granny smith apples
2 tbsp butter (melted)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 pastry crusts

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Use 5-6 granny smith apples, sliced thin.
3. mix apples, about 3/4 cup of brown sugar, a teaspoon of cinnamon, and about 2 tablespoons of butter (melted) all together for the filling.
4. Bake with edges covered for about 10 minutes at 450 degrees, then reduce to 350 degrees and back for about 35 - 45 minutes longer...depending on how mushy you want your apple filling to be. Also bake on lowest oven rack.

Enjoy with a nice scoop of apple pie.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

soup for a cold day

another great soup for a cold autumn day is yook gae jang (spicy beef soup). i've never had to make it before, but i was really craving it. i followed a recipe from maangchi which was very easy to follow.

i did have to figure out what they call beef brisket in the UK. i looked at every kind of beef in the meat section, and then i found something called braising steak which looked like brisket. i had already bought gosahree (fern branch) but i forgot to soak it overnight.

overall, it was an easy recipe to follow thanks to maangchi. the only thing is that it takes some time to make the broth from the brisket, but once that's done, everything else was easy.

i can't wait to make it again, but this time i'll soak the gosahree overnight.

dosa failure

a few years ago, i was visiting my cousin in san jose. as i was driving around, i came across an indian restaurant. so i walked in and asked them for an order of chicken tikka masala.

the woman behind the counter responded, "oh, we don't serve that."
i was confused. what indian restaurant doesn't serve chicken tikka masala?
so i asked her, "what do you serve?"
she said, "we make dosas. see what others are eating over there."

so i asked for one dosa to go, and it was fantastic! it's a crepe pancake made of lentils and rice flour. it's light and crispy and filled with seasoned potatoes. now that i'm living in england, i have better access to indian cuisine. i thought i would try to make it myself. the shops even sell dosa mix and you need to do is add water.

well, i tried yesterday, and it was a failure. :(
i think i had the wrong pan, the wrong consistency of the batter, and i was working with an electric stove. so i will attempt again to make a better dosa. i've done some research on youtube to see how others make dosas.

however, i am happy to say that the potato subji (potato filling) turned out really nice.

Monday, October 3, 2011

meeting maangchi

tonight, my friend, and i drove 3 hours to Canterbury to meet maangchi! i discovered her back in LA. she started posting youtube videos of how to make korean food. back then i really didn't have a need for her recipes b/c in LA you can get almost anything.

however, now living in the UK, i'm very limited in the korean food realm. so i started watching her videos to learn how to make different korean dishes.

about a month ago, i noticed on her website that she was going to take a tour and her first stop was the UK! Canterbury is far, but it was worth it. i brought my friend along who never had korean food but loves to cook.

as soon as we walked in, we were greeted with a big hug from maangchi. the gathering was hosted by a woman who's half thai half german. maangchi videotaped her as she made a variation of papaya salad and larb. instead of papaya which is very hard to find here, she used swede, also known as rutabaga. maangchi prepared squid soup which was delicious! my friend who's never had korean food loved it all, even the squid soup.

unfortunately we didn't get to watch maangchi prepare the food, but we just listened to her talk and share about how she got started. she started her videos about 2007 when her friend wanted to know how to make certain korean dishes. she's absolutely adorable! she has so much energy for a 54 year old mother of two. i was amazed. i hope that i have as much as energy as her when i'm her age.

why is she called maangchi (which means hammer in korean)? she was into this online game, and her identity was maangchi because she liked to destroy things. she decided to use this name as her website.

she'll be touring all over the world, so if you want to meet her, check her out her website to see if she's coming to your area.