Dallas Spring Break Fest

Over spring break, everything kept bringing me back to my cooking around the world class.  On Friday, we went to Dallas to catch a free concert at the Nasher.  We didn't realize it until we got there, but they were also having an open house at the Crow, where they were giving away free samples of bubble tea and sake, both popular drinks in Japan (which was the country covered last week for the class).  I love the texture of the tapioca pearl "bubbles," and for once, the tea wasn't super-sweet. 

They also had a lineup of gourmet food trucks.  We got Korean tacos from Ssahm BBQ, and they were delicious, covered with everything from fresh cilantro to caramelized kimchee.  Beautiful fusion food.

It was perfect that we chose Ssahm, becuase Korean tacos are an invention of the food truck age.  The story goes that Mark Manguera of Kogi Korean BBQ in California invented the idea when he couldn't find carne asada tacos close to home.  He used twitter to popularize his food truck's schedule, and thus the Korean Taco also gained popularity.  Other food truck companies ran with the idea.  The next time I find the Ssahm truck, I plan to try the kimchee fries, which stay true to the Korean-Mex fusion with a thick layer of cheddar and monterey jack cheeses.

I found their schedule (and thier twitter feed) on their web site:


Mufongo and Shrimp

This weekend we will be covering the Dominican Republic in the Cooking Around the World class I am teaching at UTA.

The food in the DR shares a lot on common with food in both Puerto Rico and Cuba.  We visited Puerto Rico last year (the same trip were we went to the DR), and everybody told us to try the mofongo.  All the restaurant web sites said try the mofongo.  So we walked into a restaurant and declared we wanted mofongo.  What we got was dry and disappointing, and my husband declared he was never trying it again.  Mofongo is more of a base, like plain white rice, and isn't meant to be eaten alone.  So, since mofongo is also enjoyed in the Dominican Republic, I sent the hubby a grocery list, said it was for my class, and didn't tell him until we started cooking that we were making mofongo to go under the tomatoey shrimp.  This makes enough for two people. 

4 cloves garlic
3 tbsp. olive oil
4 slices bacon, cooked extra crispy
Vegetable oil, for frying
2 green plantains, peeled and sliced 1 inch thick
1 tsp. salt

Pulverise the garlic in the olive oil, using a mortor and pestle.  Place the bacon in a large bowl.  Add the garlic and oil. 
Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy skillet over medium high heat.  Add the plantains and fry until golden and softened.  Remove the plantains from the oil and place on a plate lined with paper towels to drain.  After two or three minutes, toss the plantains in with the bacon mixture and mash the plantains into the oil until you get the text ure of chunky mashed potatoes.  Use the mortor as a mold, filling it with mofongo and inverting on the plate to serve.  Cover it with sauce.   Heat canola oil in a deep-fryer or large saucepan to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Mash the garlic with the olive oil in a mortar and pestle. Combine garlic mixture with the pork rinds in a large bowl; set aside.

Camarones Guisados (Stewed Shrimp)

2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. butter
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 onion, sliced
8 cloves garlic, pressed
1 lb.fresh large shrimp, deheaded, shelled and deveined
1/2 c. tomato sauce
1 tbsp. dried parsley
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. salt
good grinding of black pepper

In a heavy pot ofer medium high heat, heat the butter and olive oil.  Add the bell pepper, onion and garlic and cook until the bell pepper is soft, the garlic is fragrant and the onion is translucent.  Add the shrimp and cook through.  Add the remaining ingredients and continue cooking for another five minutes.  Serve over mofongo or white rice.   


Pickled Ginger

When I did the Japan class for Cooking Around the World over the weekend, I brought some of my home-made pickled ginger.  I had a request for the recipe.  Pickled ginger (also called Gari) is sometimes colored pink using beet juice or synthetic chemicals.  I prefer the more natural looking product you get using the instructions below.

Pickled Ginger

9 oz. fresh ginger
1 tbsp. salt
3/4 c. rice vinegar
1 tbsp. water
1/2 c. sugar

Peel the ginger.  Use a mandolin to cut each "finger" of ginger into thin slices,.  Salt the slices and let them sit for an hour to release moisture.  Rinse off the ginger and pat it dry.

Combine the  vinegar, water and sugar in a medium pot over medium high heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar melts. 

Arrange dry ginger slices into a sterile jar and pour the hot vinegar over them.  Store in the referigerator for at least a week before consuming.  (If you wish to can your pickles, multiply this recipe by the number of jars you want to make.  Make sure you use new canning lids, and process your pickles for 10 minutes in boiling water bath.)



Let's Go Bento!

I'm going to be covering Japan this weekend in the Cooking Around the World Class I'm doing out at UTA.

To get in the mood, I made bentos (Japanese-style boxed lunches) for me and the hubby for lunch tomorrow.  They're nothing spectacular.  Jake's has a heart theme going on, with a heart shaped egg and carrot hearts (inspired by the way the carrot was starting to split on its own) . 

I'm not much for plain boiled eggs, so I put deviled ones in mine (yes, I know, they were invented by the Romans, but they're colorful and fit with the art side of the bento tradition).

When you stack a bento lunch box, the rice always goes on the bottom, meat and cooked or pickled veggies in the middle and (if the box has a third layer), you can use it to add fruit, greens or extras.  Bentos served at restaurants often come in single-level square boxes. and may come with tempura or soup.  In Japan, you can even get them pre-packed at convienance stores.


Poor Man's Osso Bucco

Osso Bucco originated in Milan, probably as a farmhouse favorite (though some sources theorise it was invented at one of Milan's restaurants in the late 19th century).  The whole point of the dish was to use the long cooking time to use an inexpensive cut of meat to make something delectable.  But have you priced veal shank lately?    The standard grocery stores usually don't have it, so the price goes up for it being hard to find.  I called a butcher's shop in Fort Worth, and found out even they don't carry it.  The only place I could find it wanted $14.99 a pound.   Beef shank is going for a fraction of the cost, and I feel it is within the traditional spirit of the dish to use this slightly tougher cut to make what was meant to be a family dish rather than an over-the-top preparation.

This is the more modern version (marked by the addition of tomatoe paste -- if it is tomato-free, this dish is sometimes referred to as "blanc" osso bucco. ) I've included a recipe for gremolata,which can be spooned over the meat to give it a more finished feel, and a healthy splash of green.
Osso Bucco

1/4 c. olive oil
1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
4 beef shanks (10-12 oz.)
4 c. chicken stock 
2 c. dry white wine
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, pressed
2 tbsp. tomato paste
3 bay leaves

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Season the flour with the salt and pepper.  Rinse the veal and pat it dry.  Tie each veal shank to the bone with kitchen twine.  Dredge each shank in the seasoned flour.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in the bottom of a stovetop-safe Dutch oven.  Place the shanks in the hot oil, and brown for four minutes on each side.  Remove the shanks and keep warm on a platter.

Add the onions, celery, carrot and garlic to the Dutch oven.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion turns translucent and the celery gets soft.

Turn the heat up, pour in the white wine, and bring the liquid to a simmer.  Cook, still stirring frequently, until the volume of the liquid has reduced by half.  Add the chicken stock, tomato paste and bay leaves.  Stir well, and return to a simmer.  Put the beef shanks back in the pot, with the open end of the bones facing up.  If the liquid doesn't nearly cover the shanks, add a bit more chicken stock.

Put the lid on the Dutch oven, and carefully place it in the oven.  Let cooked, covered, for two hours or until the meat is practically falling off the bone. Remove the shanks to a serving platter, and put the dutch oven back on the burner over medium high heat.  Simmer the sauce until it becomes thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Serve topped with gremolata, with risotto on the side.


Zest of one lemon
4 cloves garlic, mince
1/4 c. flat-leaf parsley, mince

Combine lemon zest, garlic and parsley in a small bowl.  Refrigerate for at least two hours to allow the flavors to mingle.


Chocolate Gelato

This week for the Cooking Around the World class at UTA the country is Italy. We tried a gelato recipe that was a little different than a lot of those out there and came up with a pretty good product.  Although this is not going to be done in class it was at least a good bonus recipe.
For starters we combined 12 egg yolks, 3 cups of milk and one and a half cups of sugar and cooked it on low heat until it thickened a little.  It could have thickened even more and we probably should have but it still came out ok. This took about forty minutes. We then added 5 ounces of semisweet chocolate and a couple tablespoons of cocoa powder and stirred until the chocolate melted.  After it melted we added 3 more cups of milk and put it in an ice bath.  When it was nice and cold we used the ice cream maker per manufacturer's instructions.

When we first tried to eat it it was too cold and getting it out of the carton wasn't happening.  After looking it up we realized our deep freezer was too cold.  After transferring it to the inside freezer it warmed up to a good temperature and is just fine.