Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Celebrating the Silk Road on Etsy

Recent historical and archaeological research proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Silk Road could just as easily be called the Noodle Road, just as the KBS documentary by the same name suggested.

I tried to emphasize that link with this Etsy treasury creation. As I told the visitors,
"The same exotic road that brought Chinese silks to Europe, also helped spread culinary treasures such as black pepper, tea and the noodle all over the world."

Monday, June 28, 2010

How to sharpen a knife: Two options

Photo courtesy of sxc.hu
Your knives are the most important tools you have in your kitchen. Purchase the highest quality you can afford and maintain them well, and they'll give you years of culinary pleasure.

The most important part of knife maintenance is proper sharpening. A sharp knife is a much safer knife than a dull one. A dull knife is dangerous because you have to press harder to make the knife go through the food than if it is sharp.

The purists will tell you that a whetstone is the only real way to sharpen a knife properly but there are some good pull-though and electric knife sharpening gadgets on the market.

To hone your knife skills or find a fancy recipe to show them off, check out Foodbuzz.com.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Ginger reduces exercise-induced muscle strain

Ginger photo courtesy of sxc.hu
Step away from the aspirin, ibruprofen and naproxen sodium the next time you spend too much time at the gym and nosh on some ginger pear sauce or drink some ginger ale or candied ginger instead.

A study published in The Journal of Pain, found "that daily consumption of raw and heat-treated ginger resulted in moderate-to-large reductions in muscle pain following exercise-induced muscle injury. Our findings agree with those showing hypoalgesic effects of ginger in osteoarthritis patients and further demonstrate ginger's effectiveness as a pain reliever."

Ginger's efficacy in pain relief isn't damaged by heat so you can either eat it raw or warm and take advantage of its analgesic effects.

Ginger on FoodistaGinger

Friday, June 25, 2010

Cast iron skillet vs. non-stick frying pan

My all-time favorite skillet is my cast-iron skillet. Made by Lodge, it's an All-American skillet with over 100 years of history. A friend of mine told me emphatically that her daughters will fight over her cast iron skillet more than any of her other earthly possessions.

I use it all the time for any recipes that require frying or sauteeing including tteokbokki (all 13 versions), dakkalbi (shown here), and creamy linguine with Leeks, Corn and Sesame leaves.

However, my experiences has shown me one notatble exception to this rule: eggs. No matter how well seasoned my cast iron skillet is, eggs always stick to the skillet in a very unattractive way. That's the time you want to have a non-stick frying pan in your arsenal. There's a dilemma for me, though.  I threw out all my non-stick skillets and my non-stick wok after I made my Turkey Kimchi Fried Rice video on YouTube because of my reasonable concerns about the dangers of Teflon (PTFE) offgasing. I had to borrow my father in law's non-stick pan when I made the egg ribbons for my gungjung tteokbokki recipe.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported in 2005, "The Environmental Working Group has collected data from several industry, government and academic studies that have been done on off-gassing of PTFE- coated pans heated to various temperatures. The tests revealed that more than a dozen types of potentially toxic particulates -- including hexafluoropropene, hydrogen fluoride and difluoroacetic acid -- are released. But whether the fumes occur in enough quantity to harm humans has not been determined."

Most experts recommend using non-stick skillets for low heat cooking only. Heating them to 400 Fahrenheit can degrade the Teflon and off gas it into your kitchen. I erred on the side of caution and tossed all mine out the door and never looked back. 

I discovered a product that might change my mind about non-stick frying pans. Cuisinart, the kings of the food processor, have produced a line of non-stick cookware called Green Gourmet.

Exclusive Cuisinart Ceramica™ nonstick technology is ceramic based instead of petroleum based, helping to conserve existing oil supplies and the coating is applied at a temperature one half that of conventional nonsticks. And it’s completely free of PTFE and PFOA.

The cookware is "Oven and broiler safe", which means it can stand up to temperatures over 400 Fahrenheit. I need some "idiot proof" cookware badly so I put in an order for an 8" skillet. If the relationship works out, you may see it in a future blog post or cooking video.

For more ideas and recipes for your non-stick pans, check out Foodbuzz.

Cast Iron Skillet on FoodistaCast Iron Skillet

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Korean food made in the USA

The Korean government is working overtime to convince Americans (and all foreigners) of the superior benefits of Korean cuisine. Even before the current government's intervention, private Korean companies such as CJ Corp. and Ottogi already set up a corporate presence and a distribution network through Korean and Asian grocery stores in the United States. However, most of the food is made in Korea and then imported into the United States for distribution and sale.

If the Korean elite want to see explosive growth in the popularity of Korean food, particularly among non-Korean domestic cooks, Korean companies need to set up corporate offices and food production plants in the USA. They also need to heavily advertise in American magazines, TV commercials and influential food blogs.

Korean automobile manufacturers have already done this. Hyundai and Kia both have automobile plants in the United States. Setting up operations in the States helped Hyundai grow from a niche market into a strong, highly esteemed competitor in the automotive market.

Establishing a corporate presence in the United States will make it easier for Korean food manufacturers to learn what American people like and dislike about Korean food and be able to target their product lines accordingly. Which means Koreans may have to broaden their definition of Korean food.

Despite Ottogi and CJ Corp.'s American corporate presence, they are primarily importers of Korean foods made in Korea. There are no American production plants. I've never seen an Ottogi spice packet say "Made in the USA". However, that trend is starting to change as well.

I went to my local Korean grocery store recently and discovered a Korean beef and vegetable soup made by a Korean company called Chang Tuh Corp. Chang Tuh Corp. is based in Kimpo, Gyonggi-do, South Korea. Even though the product itself is 100% Korean based on the bilingual, mostly Korean packaging, it was made in the U.S. in Salem, Ore.

I was intrigued enough to bring some home and try it for myself. I served it with white rice and Korean sidedishes, and both hubby and I thought it tasted pretty good. It was not overly salty, like many processed food products. It had lots of veggies as well, including daikon, bean sprouts, and green onions.

As the Korean government continues its efforts to globalize Korean food, I hope it listen closely to food companies who have offices overseas and have been overseas long enough to have their fingers on America's culinary pulse.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Taco Bell coming to South Korea

ZenKimchi reports that Taco Bell is finally coming to South Korea. After a 10+ year hiatus, they're slated to have their Grand Opening on July 11, 2010 in Seoul.

I guess the powers that be at Taco Bell finally heard you loud and clear!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

International noodles incident with tteokbokki

I submitted a Korean noodle dish for the June International Incident Party featuring the sublimely versatile noodle known as garae tteok in Korean.


1 lb. sticky rice cake sticks (garae tteok)
5 fried fish cakes (odeng)
1/4 head chopped cabbage
2 green onions, cutting diagonally about one inch long and separating the white part from the green part


3 tbsp. red pepper paste (gochujang)
1 tbsp. red pepper powder (gochugaru) or hot paprika
2 tbsp. honey or agave syrup
2 cups water
1/4 cup soju
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. sesame seed oil
2 tbsp. minced garlic

  1. Presoak the garae tteok noodles for at least 10 minutes. 
  2. While the noodles are soaking, you can start making the sauce. Briefly saute the garlic and then add all the sauce ingredients and stir until they come together and start to come to a boil. 
  3. Add the noodles, fish cake, cabbage and the white part of the green onion and boil for about eight minutes. 
  4. Then add the green part of the green onions and continue to cook until the noodle are completely cooked through. 
  5. Serve hot with rice and Korean side dishes.

This post is carefully coordinated to post at 11 a.m. June 20, 2010, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, time. After all, how can you join a party if you show up late?

Edit: I wasn't the only guest at the party.Here are the other noodle recipes featured in the International Noodles Incident party. Here's the list of party attendees offering up 15 different noodle recipes featuring vermicelli, soba, handpulled noodles, egg noodles, etc.

Here is the list of the party goers!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Royal Food Joust: Korean-style Beef Stroganoff

For this recipe, I had to stretch and limit myself at the same time. I stretched myself by having to come up with a recipe using three ingredients chosen by people who aren't into Korean food and make them Korean.

The Royal Food Joust is a friendly competition hosted by The Leftover Queen, which can be found on the Queen's forum. Each month, participants are given three ingredients to incorporate into a recipe. The recipe with the most votes wins the Queen's acclaim and the honor of choosing the three ingredients for the following month's competition. This month's ingredients are mushrooms, yoghurt and nuts.

Korean-style Beef Stroganoff

3/4 pound beef sirloin, cut thin and trimmed of fat
1 tablespoon cooking oil
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms (I used a mix of shiitake, maitake and oyster mushrooms)
1/2 cup rice wine, mirin or soju
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon dashida (Korean beef bouillon)
1 cup plain yoghurt
3 tbsp gochujang (Korean spicy red pepper paste)
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
dash ground pink peppercorns
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
2 cups hot cooked rice
  1. Partially freeze the steak.
  2. Thinly slice the meat across the grain into bite-sized strips.
  3. In skillet brown meat, half at a time, in hot oil for two to four minutes.
  4. Remove meat from skillet.
  5. Add sliced mushrooms to skillet; cook for two to three minutes or till tender.
  6. Remove mushrooms.
  7. Add rice wine, water, and bouillon granules to skillet; bring to a boil.
  8. Cook, uncovered, over high heat about three minutes or till liquid is reduced to 1/3 cup.
  9. Combine yoghurt, gochujang, sugar, salt, and pepper; mix well.
  10. Stir yogurt mixture into liquid in skillet; stir in meat and mushrooms.
  11. Cook and simmer over low heat till thickened and heated through; do not boil.
  12. Garnish with toasted pine nuts.
  13. Serve on top of rice.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Review: Namu at the San Francisco Ferry Building

Namu is a Korean and Japanese fusion restaurant owned and operated by three Korean American brothers — chef Dennis Lee and his brothers, Daniel and David — who have established a presence at the Thursday and Saturday farmer's markets at the San Francisco Ferry Building. They serve what they call "cutting-edge new California" cuisine.

The market menu (PDF) features kimchi fried rice, okonomiyaki and their own spin on Korean tacos (ssam in Korean), using toasted seaweed as the wrap.

While there a recent Thursday, I tasted the Korean tacos, which cost $5 for two. Each have two sheets of Korean or Japanese seaweed with some sushi rice topped with teriyaki-marinated beef and kimchi salsa on top. Each taco is two or three bites of Korean fusion genius and more healthful than those wrapped in soft or fried tortillas.

The gamja (Korean for potato) fries are made from "hand-cut potatoes" and topped with kimchi relish, gochujang (Korean spicy red pepper paste), sweetened mayonnaise (Namu uses the popular Asian brand Kewpie), teriyaki, chopped short ribs and green onions. Orders for the fries were flying off the grill, especially in tandem with the Korean tacos.

The okonomiyaki, or Japanese savory grilled pancake, was in demand as well. Namu makes its "crispy and gooey flour pancake" with kimchi and market vegetables, topped with bonito flakes, okonomiyaki sauce and sweet mayo. Most ordered it with a sunnyside-up fried egg. I saw one brave soul pass me with a plate of okonomiyaki with a raw egg on it though.

The dish's name comes from okonomi, which can be translated "as you like it," and yaki, for "grilled" or "cooked." A thinner version is similar to the Korean flatcake dish panjeon.

Namu, whose Korean name means "tree," is at the Ferry Building on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — get there before the 1 p.m. rush — and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The brick-and-mortar restaurant is located at 439 Balboa St. in the city, near Golden Gate Park. The menu there also includes Korean fried chicken, ramen, bibimbap and additional Japanese-influenced items. Also served there are more than 30 selections of wine, sake and soju.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Product review: Annie Chun's Korean Sweet Chili Noodle Bowl

The Korean blogosphere has been spinning recently over how to introduce Korean cuisine to American markets and, particularly, what should be role of the South Korean government in this popularization. However, Korean food companies on both sides of the Pacific aren't waiting for Seoul to tell them what to do.

Annie Chun is a Korean-born developer of one of the most popular lines of prepared Asian foods in the United States. After the merger with CJ Foods in 2005, Annie Chun's started going back to her Korean roots with food items such as the Korean Sweet Chili Noodle Bowl. I found it in a local San Francisco Bay–area supermarket, which was not selling her newly released bottled gochujang (spicy red pepper paste) yet.

I tested the dish by preparing it according to label instructions and without modifications. What's required is just scalding-hot water — heated in a kettle, bottle dispenser or microwave — to warm the noodles and reconstitute the dehydrated vegetables and spices.

The sauce is very sweet. A number of hanshik lovers may cringe at sweet and spicy Korean noodle dish, but the name of the dish does include the word sweet.

The label also says the spiciness level is "medium," and that's an accurate comparison with other spicy Korean foods. But it might be a bit mild for Koreaphiles.

The combination of spiciness and sweetness reminded my husband of the American Chinese food favorite orange chicken, with a Korean flair of sesame oil.

  • 100 percent natural. For example, the sweetener is cane sugar juice instead of high-fructose corn syrup.
  • Vegan. That's rare for prepared Korean foods.
  • Fresh noodles, not deep fried or dried.
  • No MSG or preservatives.
  • Quick to make. It takes about two minutes from heat to eat.
  • High in calories. A bowl supposedly has two servings, totaling 640 calories for one bowl.
  • Too sweet. Traditional Korean food items such as dakkalbi (spicy grilled chicken) and dwejikalbi (spicy grilled pork) have a balance of salty, sweet, spicy and bitter. 
One of the reviewers for this product on Amazon.com posted her recipe for what you might call stir-fried Korean sweet chili noodles with shrimp.
So first you saute some veggies, say, in some peanut oil in a skillet or small wok, and then you add some scallops, say, or maybe shrimp, and then you turn off the heat and follow the directions on the box (using the microwave). Then you add the noodles, flavor pack and the UNBELIEVABLY fantastic Sweet Korean Chili sauce to the skillet and toss to heat through. Maybe you add some almonds or peanuts, say, after you add it all either to a bowl or a plate, and then you consume with some moderately sweet wine, like White Zinfandel, say. An absolutely fantastic meal.
That's certainly a good option to stretch this 600-plus-calorie bowl between two to four people.

On its own, Annie Chun's Korean Sweet Chili Noodle Bowl is a slightly healthier alternative for a quick lunch at work than greasy fast food or a bowl of deep-fried ramen. But if your sweet tooth is reserved for dessert only, you might want to leave this noodle bowl on the shelf.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Electric Salt and Pepper Grinders

Salt and Pepper mill photo courtesy of Chef's Catalog
Am I the only one who thinks that electric salt and pepper grinders are a bit extreme and possibly a sign of laziness for the able-bodied?

However, if you are addicted to power tools of all shapes and sizes (or you have a wrist or elbow injury that makes using a typical salt and pepper mills difficult to use), you can add these to your collection courtesy of Chef's Catalog, if you have 6AAA batteries laying around to keep them juiced up. 

If you're curious about how others are using their salt and pepper mills, check out Foodbuzz.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sushi Pancakes

Watch Jim make designer pancakes for his three-year-old daughter. This video features a way to make pancake batter into a Japanese sushi roll. The best part of the video is Allie's off-camera commentary/comedy track while Dad is trying to make a serious cooking tutorial video.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Kimchi Salad - Gutjuri - 겆저리

If you want a printed copy of the recipe, go here.

Set aside the cabbage hearts after the cabbages have been salted to make gutjuri, kimchi salad. They are the sweetest part of the cabbage and perfect as a salad. While kimchi needs time to ferment, gutjuri can be eaten right away.

Some believe that patience is a virtue but who says you have to save the best for last when you can have a fresh spicy salad now?

Kimchi on FoodistaKimchi

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Paris Croissant brings Jamba Juice to South Korea

Paris Croissant (owned by SPC Group, a South Korean food specialty company) signed an agreement with Northern California based Jamba Juice to open 200 Jamba Juice stores in South Korea over the next 10 years. Jamba Juice plans to open their first South Korean store in 2010. 

Jamba Juice's specialty is "better-for-you food and beverages", including fruit smoothies, juices, and teas. They also sell breakfast foods such as oatmeal. Jamba Juice currently have over 700 locations in over 30 states in the United States. This pales in comparison to SPC Group's ownership of over 4,500 stores and franchises in South Korea, China and the USA with affiliates such as Paris Croissant, BR Korea (Baskin Robbins, Dunkin' Donuts), Shany and Samlip General Foods.

Jamba Juice's partnership with SPC Group's Paris Croissant is Jamba Juice's first foray into the international market.

Jamba Juice is on Facebook. For more information about this agreement, check out Business Wire.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A novel way to poach eggs

Photo courtesy of Chef's Catalog.com
I know the traditional method of making poached eggs. But if you're risk adverse, consider getting your hands on these Egg Poach Pods at Chef's Catalog.

Alton Brown has a saying that the only "unitasker" in his kitchen is his fire extinguisher. Every other tool must have more than one use, otherwise it's wasting space.

These egg poaching pods are versatile. Use them to bake flan, mini cakes or muffins. Since they're heat-resistant up to 675 degrees F, they can handle anything heat your kitchen oven can crank out.

Photo courtesy of abex at flickr via creative commons license
I think they would be perfect for bibimbap. It's certainly healthier to poach the egg rather than frying it sunny side up.

If you're looking for poached egg recipes such as eggs benedict, check out Foodbuzz

Poached Eggs on FoodistaPoached Eggs

Monday, June 7, 2010

Smoked olive oil coming to Korea

Walk down any grocery store aisle in the United States and you will find a bounty of olive oils flavored with garlic, orange, lemon, chili pepper and rosemary. You may have one or two spending shelf time your pantry shelf right now. But you probably don't have smoked olive oil hanging out there — yet.

Smoked olive oil is the newest flavored oil to hit the market. It's produced by a Santa Rosa, Calif.-based company called The Smoked Olive. The oil was featured on an episode of chef Emeril Lagasse's Discovery Channel show Emeril Green. The oil has also received rave reviews from local chef John Ash as well as Food Network chef and San Francisco Bay area resident Tyler Florence, who called it, "the sexiest new flavor I've tasted in years."

It's easy to understand why no one has tried to make it before. Olive oils are very sensitive to heat, light and oxidation. Al Hartman, the chef behind The Smoked Olive, developed a patent-pending technology to smoke the olive oil without damaging it. The last thing a chef wants to do is ruin a batch of top-shelf California extra virgin olive oil.

The Smoked Olive currently sells three different varieties of smoked olive oils, described this way on the company website:
  1. Sonoma Olive Oil, which starts off bold and smoky and finishes with a subtle olive finish
  2. Napa Olive Oil, which has a light smoke flavor that makes the olive oil flavor even more pronounced
  3. Santa Fe Olive Oil, which includes a dose of chili with the smoke. The chili sneaks upon you gradually but the chili does not overwhelm or overtake the olive and smoke flavor.
If you are interested in trying some Smoked Olive Oil for yourself, they do ship in North America and internationally (including South Korea) as well.

We discovered the company at the St. Helena's Farmers Market in St. Helena, Calif. while we were preparing some B-roll — background images — for our follow-up video interview with chef Hector Marroquin of Pupusa Griddle Catering as he served up his kimchi pupusa plates.

Production-wise, this was our first outdoor video session. The first on-location episode was "Innovations With Kimchi," recorded in The Green Grocer, which is now closed.

Recording outdoors presents all sorts of problems not faced indoors. Wind can rumble in microphones and tousle hair. Differences in lighting between a person in the shade and a sunny background can mess up camera light settings, leaving the person too dark on camera. Sunlight can also make potentially unsightly lens flares without a substantial lens hood. Ambient noise can be loud and distracting, sometimes imperceptibly so until the recording is reviewed in a quiet location.

We controlled the wind noise with a basic foam windscreen for the handheld microphone, and the windscreen also lessens — but doesn't prevent — popping in the microphones from spoken T's and P's. For really windy conditions, we have a special "hairy" foam windscreen for the lapel microphone.

For lighting, it's best to use a very bright camera light or a reflector to counteract harsh facial shadows from direct sunlight. The best solution is to diffuse the sunlight falling on the on-camera subject then reflect light back on the subject to fill in shadows. However, that requires several people.

We have just me on camera and Jeff behind the camera. To hold the reflector, he had to set frame the shot on the camera, start recording and then hold the reflector. The shot composition couldn't be adjusted until the end of the segment. The head-to-waist composition of this video did work for most of the shots, because the booth could be seen as actively attracting customers.

The reflector we use is a Lastolite collapsible one, with silver on one side and alternating stripes of silver and gold on the other. The manufacturer said that pure gold would make the image too yellow, and the wisdom of that design was evident on this video. Probably, we should have used the silver side to provide whiter light to blend with the rest of the image.

The background music came from Jamendo again. This time we used a song called Coming Home by Kendra Springer.  At the time I discovered this song, Springer's album, Hope, was number one listened to album that week with over 18,000 downloads since it was posted on November 19, 2009.

Olive Oil on FoodistaOlive Oil

Sunday, June 6, 2010

June 6: Memorial Day in South Korea

This photo was taken in October 1996 on Bong-gui san Mountain in Chuncheon, South Korea. From this vantage, you have a view of the North.
Today is Memorial Day (현충일-Hyeonchung-il) in the Republic of Korea and was established as a day for people in South Korea to commemorate men and women who died while in service to their country. It's the only official holiday in South Korea when the flags are flown at half-staff.
But Koreans also do many of the activities we do on Memorial Day: hold commemorations at national cemeteries,  visit family and friends, etc.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Eco-friendly compostable plates

Memorial Day is the semi-official kickoff of U.S. summer camping and barbecue season. Americans enjoy eating outdoors and are willing to travel long distances to state and local parks — basically anywhere with some trees and foliage — to eat meals outdoors, cooked on an open flame.

However, this inevitably produces lots of waste since Americans love cooking outdoors and prefer disposable plates.

A new line of disposable plateware is designed to carry food then be discarded into compost piles or green-waste bins rather than landfills. This is distrubutor Marx Foods' description:
"In addition to this environmentally conscious production method, these durable palm leaf plates are also completely biodegradable and compostable (after all, they are literally a leaf), making them quite possibly the greenest disposable plates available."
This compostware is made from naturally shed leaf sheaths of the areca nut palm tree. (Marx Foods calls it an "adaka tree," but I haven't found a reference to it.)

The areca tree is native to India and other parts of South and Southeast Asia. Leaf sheaths are collected from the ground — not picked — washed, air-dried, cut and pressed into round, rectangle, square and even hexagonal plate shapes. No glues, dyes or chemicals are used in the production of the plates.

Marx Foods sent me a sampler pack of the different sizes and shapes available for Internet purchase. What surprised me most was the strength of the plates. They are stronger than any premium paper plates I've ever used, holding the most ample barbecue rib and withstanding metal steak knives with ease.

Other palm leaf plate perks:
  • Odorless.
  • Don't alter the taste of the foods on the plate.
  • Microwavable.
  • Leakproof.
  • Little heat transfer, so you can hold hot food without burning your hand.

Durable compostware comes at a premium, costing between $30.25 and $42.25 for 25 plates, depending on the size.

But palm leaf plates might be the "greenest" and most convenient dining option for a backpacking trip or a quick breakfast before work.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Saeng cream cake (생크림 케이크)

Saeng cream cake (생크림 케이크) means fresh cream cake in Korean. It's layers of sponge cake wrapped in layers of whipped cream frosting and fruit and topped with more frosting and fruit. This style of cake is ubiquitous throughout Korea, Japan and China. If you google the term Chinese Bakery Cake, you'll see what I mean.
I used approximately 3 oz. of Vanilla extract in this recipe. If you don't like vanilla, you can replace it with almond, orange, lemon, or rose water.

There are three parts to this recipe: simple syrup, cake batter and frosting.

First, make the simple syrup, which is simple to make yet has complex flavor.
Simple sugar syrup
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 of a lemon
1 oz. (standard shot glass) of Madagascar vanilla extract (added separately)
  1. Combine the water, sugar, cinnamon stick, and lemon (remove the seeds) in a saucepan. 
  2. Heat to boiling.
  3. Remove from heat and let cool.
  4. Stir in Madagascar vanilla extract and set aside.
Second, bake your sponge cake. (Or buy one at the store. After all, most Koreans buy their sponge cakes at the store too. But if you want to bake your own, here's a recipe for butter sponge cake to try. I ended up baking two so I'd have a two layer cake.
Butter sponge cake
1 cup sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup milk, scalded
6 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
  1. Sift together flour and baking powder.
  2. Add butter and vanilla to scalded milk and keep hot.
  3. Beat egg yolks till thick and lemon colored; gradually beat in sugar.
  4. Quickly add flour mixture; stir just till mixed.
  5. Gently stir in the hot milk mixture.
  6. Bake in a greased 9-inch-square, 2-inch-high pan in a moderate-heat oven (350 degrees F) for 30 to 35 minutes or till done.
  7. Cool thoroughly. (Do not invert the pan.)
Third, make the frosting.
Whipped cream frosting
3 cups (750 cc) heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup (250 cc) granulated sugar (optional)
Madagascar vanilla extract to taste (approximately 2 ounces)
  1. In a chilled metal bowl, whip the heavy cream on high speed with an electric mixer using a whisk attachment.
  2. When cream begins to thicken, add vanilla extract and the optional 1⁄4 cup granulated sugar if desired.
  3. Continue to beat on high speed until fully whipped.
An easy way to hide your lackluster cake decorating skills is to cover the entire cake in fruit. My husband called this the Wall of Fruit.
Fourth, assemble the cake.
  1. Trim off any brown bits from the sponge cake.
  2. Slice the cake into three layers with a serrated knife. 
  3. Remove the two top layers and set them aside
  4. Brush the surface of the bottom layer with the sugar syrup. This is for flavor and a little moisture. Do not make it sopping wet.
  5. Frost the layer with some whipped topping and add a layer of your favorite fruit. (I used strawberries because they're in season.)
  6. Put the second layer on, and brush it with the syrup, frosting and fruit.
  7. Set the last layer at the top, brush it with the syrup then coat it with the frosting.
  8. Frost around the edges of the cake to cover up those layers and any imperfections in baking or layer-cutting.
  9. Top the cake with the remaining fruit.
  10. Put the remaining frosting into a pastry bag (or a zip-seal bag with the corner snipped off) and decorate the cake with a flourish. Or you can do what I did and simply smear the frosting on the sides and cover it all the way around with diced fruit.

A video of the recipe is available here. Don't mind the Korean; you will pick up the gist of it by watching closely. The saeng cream cake is the second half of the video; the first half shows how to make pecan pie. Think of it as "two for the price of one."

For other recipes using vanilla extract, check out Foodbuzz.

Simple Sponge Cake on FoodistaSimple Sponge Cake

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Chocolate vodka-soaked strawberries

Do you need an adult version of chocolate dipped strawberries for your next dinner party. Consider making this non-cook, very simply recipe.

Trim the leaves off of eight strawberries, and poke a few small holes in them with a toothpick.

Fill a bowl with approximately 8 oz. chocolate-flavored vodka.

Place the strawberries in the bowl.

Refrigerate the bowl of strawberries and vodka for three to four hours. Stir them around periodically, so they get completely soaked.

Remove the bowl from the refrigerator, and serve the strawberries on toothpicks.

Strawberry on FoodistaStrawberry

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