Friday, June 25, 2010

Frozen Treats: Korean Edition (Bing Soo!)

The shopping trip started out as a collection of smoothie ingredients, but as so often happens in Asian supermarkets before breakfast, I quickly ended up with items not really for smoothie making....You see, the fresh fruit got me thinking, what I really wanted wasn't a drink at all, but a frozen fruit salad of epic proportions; what I really wanted was Bing Soo.

Bing Soo (or bingsu, or patbingsu, or paht bing soo, any combination of those really) is a Korean dessert often compared to a snow cone (although I have yet to see any snow cone that comes
even near to the complexity of bing soo). The basic ingredients are shaved ice, milk, sweetened condensed milk, and rice
cake. Depending on personal taste then, one can add fruits, fresh or canned, red beans, syrups, nuts, marshmallows and small candies, and sometimes ice cream. Normally this concoctions are served in big bowls and tower above the table. Bing Soo is essentially my favorite dessert of all time.

To make this bing soo you will need:
  • 2-3 cups of ice
  • 1.5 cups milk
  • 2-3 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
  • rice cake
  • strawberries
  • bananas
  • canned mandarin oranges
  • red beans (yude azuki)
Cut up all of your fruit in bite size
pieces and strain your oranges. If you have dehydrated rice cake then put some balls/slices/pieces in a microwavable bowl and add water until there is about 1.5" above the cake. Microwave the bowl on high for 3-4 minutes until the cake is gummy; drain and let cool.

Now, be careful, if you have a really intense blender then you can add your ice and milks and blend everything until you have a slushy like mixture, add milk if it starts freezing though. If you don't have a strong enough blender, or if your mix starts freezing, then you run a high chance of burning out your blender's motor. Been there, done that, it sucks, avoid at all costs. Usually, bing soo is made with and ice shaving machine (ice is shaved and milks poured on top). However, if you have neither of this things nor a refrigerator with an chipped ice setting, then you can always use the mallet and bag method. Fill a ziploc bag with ice and smash it (preferably on a not important surface) with a rubber mallet. If you lack this item, then go for a heavy pan. Put the ice in a bowl and add milks.

Once your ice and milks are in a bowl, then add the fruits, rice cakes, and the red beans. Ready set? Om Nom! So good...and despite its dessert status, awesome breakfast.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Frozen Treats: Some Other Fruits Edition

Ah! have you ever been driving at a good clip above the speed limit and someone decides that what they want to do more than anything is to tail you??! Isn't it infuriating?!!? The answer is yes, yes it is. Well, past that rant, if that does happen to you ... you could probably really use some refreshing frozen treats (coming up with segues, just one of my many talents).

I know that frozen grapes are classic. Nearly everyone has made them, marveled at their gorgeous ice crystaled skin, and crunched through one before. However, most people eat them alone, when they could be enjoying them in a whole new way. You see that green that kind of looks like mint in the picture? Le
mon Balm. Just take a leaf of the lemon balm and eat it with a grape. Delicious. This discovery courtesy of my friend who got bored one summer in a kitchen near an herb garden.

If you have not made frozen grapes here are the directions:1) Wash red grapes
2) Pick off all the grapes
3) IMPORTANT: Dry the grapes
4) Put the grapes in the plastic bag and freeze till hard
It's complicated, I know.

In honor of those distant and delici
ous Pina Colada pops, I've started trying making new popsicles with fruit. My first attempt was Cantaloupe and Mint. You will need: a cantaloupe (or musk melon or tuscan of
those orange fragrant melons), several spring of mint, yogurt. Take 75% of your stock of melon and throw it in the blender with the mint and yogurt. You want a fairly thick consistency with a balanced melon and mint flavor, the yogurt should not be the prevailing taste.

Cut up the rest of the melon into cubes and stack them loosely in the popsicle containers. We didn't have popsicle molds, so we used juice glasses...which worked, but were HUGE. Also, if you don't have popsicle sticks, as seen in the frozen bananas, you can use plastic silverware. Pour the melon yogurt mixture in around the melon cubes and freeze. Om nom!!

Also, completely not made in the microwave, but it was the first time I'd ever made nachos and I am really excited.

I had very few of the required ingredients, so these were made with mozzarella, American, and Dubliner cheeses with pickled pepperoncini peppers. Somehow though these nachos fought through all of that and became delicious!

Frozen Treats: Banana Edition, dedicated to my Pina Colada friend

We made Pina Colada popsicles, I swear. They were beautiful, delicious, created with leftover coconut milk and a quick trip to the supermarket for pineapple juice. However, quite suddenly the summer raided Philadelphia and left us with little choice other than to eat the pops. So, needless to say, they did not make it on to Mini and Micro.

Inspired by our new found love of the freezer, though, we planned to make frozen
bananas. And then school ended! In honor of our ambitions, however, I dedicate this entry of frozen treats to my Pina Colada friend and our dreams; maybe next year, when I have a freezer which can actually hold things

The frozen banana basics: Take a banana cut it either in half or at least up to it's widest diameter. The insert a popsicle stick a couple inches into the flat base of the banana. Try not to follow the banana's segments, or it will split apart. If you don't have popsicle sticks (like me!) then cheap, thin, plastic knives work, too. Put the bananas on a plate and freeze.

Chocolate dipped frozen bananas have been done, so I thought I'd jazz them up a bit. The first requires chocolate and marzipan (aka almond past + sugar, which is a delicious snack all by itself). Melt the chocolate in the microwave for 1 minute on high, take it out stir, and then put it back in for 30 seconds (Do not just put it in for 90 seconds or it will fry). Cut up or crumble your marzipan. Now, I added it to the chocolate and then chocolatified my banana, but because of the marzipan chunks, the result had more chocolate than I wanted. If you like less chocolate, first spoon on and spread out the chocolate on 1 side (so the chocolate doesn't freeze to the plate) of the banana and sprinkle on the marzipan. Put the banana back in the freezer until the chocolate is frozen. Remove and repeat on the other side. However, if the banana is really just an edible spoon for your chocolate and marzipan, throw the almond paste into the chocolate and then spoon it onto the banana.

The next banana is the classic salted caramel and chocolate.
I had Werther's Original chewy caramels, which were harder than expected. I probably should have resolved this by microwaving them until they were just melted (i.e. still pretty viscous) and spooning the caramel on the
banana in the half-half style. But, I, Playdoh lover that I am, decided to roll the caramels out into long skinny snakes and wrap them around the banana. I think lightly sprinkled salt on the banana, before spooning on the chocolate (remember, half-half). I was informed by my tasting crew that the salt was a bit spotty and that the fluctuations in salinity messed with the flavor, so word to the wise, try to make it even.

Freeze and Om Nom! Stay cool everyone! More Frozen Treats to come.

Question: got a favorite summertime snack?

Oh!! And, to all of you who posted comments and never got replies, my apologies!! I have now added comment notification (who knew that existed?) and should be able to keep up with y'all from now on =)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Kinda Sushi, Kinda Kimbap, but Definitely Rice in Seaweed

Ok, finals are over, summer is here, and a large number of my friends have started getting on my case about updating (thank you friends!). How is everyone's summer so far?

Let's get started! I've had the grocery store variety of sushi and I found it delicious. Rice, cucumbers, carrots, and avocado all wrapped up in strips of seaweed. However, it wasn't until my wonderful hosts in San Francisco introduced me to real sushi that I understood just how complicated sushi and its culture are. While I'm learning more about all things sushi (for starters try The Nibble's Sushi Glossary), at heart I am still in love with those veggies.

Which is why this version is probably more aptly called kimbap. Kimbap is a Korean version of sushi which normally is filled with vegetables such as cucumber, carrot, spinach, and pickled radish. Often it will also have skirt steak called bulgogi and/or strips of egg.

For this recipe you will need:

~ Rice
~ Sushi nori or other seaweed (sometimes it's hard to figure out which seaweeds work, especially taste-wise, for sushi, my hint is to see if the back of the seaweed bag has a sushi recipe. Those which do, usually work pretty well.)
~ Vegetables of choice; for this I used carrots and cucumbers
~ Protein of choice; I used egg
~ Sesame oil and/or rice vinegar
~ Soy sauce and wasabi paste

To cook the rice The trick with sushi rice is that it needs to be sticky without being mushy. In the microwave this is a bit hard to get down pat. However, try starting out with about a cup of rice in a microwavable bowl, add enough water so that there is a about 3/4 inch on top. Microwave on high for 2 more minutes, stir and let the water and rice settle. Repeat this process until the rice is tender, and all of water is absorbed. Add a little LITTLE bit of your sesame oil and/or rice vinegar to the rice and mix it in. Put everything to the side and let it cool.

To cut the vegetables The key is long and thin. Japanese food especially is very delicate, so the thinner the vegetable slices the better.

To cook the egg Stir up an egg until the white is mostly broken. Then microwave it in the handy dandy microwave bowl for 1 minute on high. Take out the egg and slice it up into strips.

To assemble You can spread a thin, thin layer of wasabi on the seaweed sheet before adding the rice. Take enough to spread about 1/4 inch of rice on half of the sheet. Spread it out (I use my hands) on half the sheet. Lay out the vegetables and strips of protein along the rice and tightly roll it up until the circle is just complete. Tear off the remaining seaweed leaving about a centimeter of seaweed. Take a bowl of water, dip your finger in it and spread it along the centimeter, then lightly press it on to the roll. If your seaweed tears, don't panic, merely finish rolling it up and then add another seaweed sheet, pressing it lightly to the original roll.

Use a sharp knife to cut the sushi, cleaning the knife on the side of your cutting board after each cut.

Voila! Eat with wasabi and soy sauce or kimchi.