Archive | January, 2012

Sous Chef

29 Jan

Meet my sous chef, Ollie aka Ollie Wollie.



My Mama’s Bday Cake

29 Jan

“엄마” is ‘mom’ in Korean.

We celebrated my mom’s 57th birthday over the weekend. I promise you she does not look a day past 40! I asked her in advance what kind of cake she wanted. She responded with, “Banana cake!” So I did some research and found a recipe with rave reviews online. It’s called the “Best Ever Banana Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting.” You’ll need to clear your freezer beforehand (great cleaning project; kill two birds with one stone) to make room for your cake pans. The trick to keeping this cake extra moist requires you to place them directly in the freezer from the oven upon completion. I wouldn’t recommend using glass bakeware for this recipe due to the drastic temperature change.

Temporarily rooming with frozen edamame beans!

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (adapted from

Serves: 16

**I used two 9″ x 2″ round cake pans to make a layered cake**

For the Cake:

  • ripe bananas- 1 1/2 cups mashed
  • lemon juice- 2 teaspoons
  • unbleached flour- 3 cups
  • baking soda- 1 1/2 teaspoons
  • salt- 1/4 teaspoon
  • unsalted butter- 3/4 cup softened
  • sugar- 1 3/4 cups
  • eggs- 3 extra large
  • vanilla extract- 2 teaspoons
  • buttermilk- 1 1/2 cups
  1. Preheat oven to 275° (I have a separate oven thermometer hanging inside. No matter what kind of oven you have, the real temperature will always vary from what you set it to. Mine has about a 30 degree difference. I highly recommend having one for accuracy.)
  2. Grease your pans. I lined the bottom of mine with parchment paper & sprayed the sides with Baker’s Joy. Far better than Pam’s baking spray in my opinion.
  3. In a small bowl, mix lemon juice with mashed bananas. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  5. In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar-with a handheld mixer or stand alone w/ paddle attachment- until it get’s light and fluffy. Pour sugar in gradually and mix on low speed then increase it to high once all of it is in the bowl.
  6. Beat in eggs one at a time.
  7. Add vanilla extract.
  8. Alternate between pouring in the flour mixture & buttermilk until all of it is incorporated into the batter.
  9. Stir in the banana mixture.
  10. Pour batter into greased pans and put in the preheated oven for approximately 1 hr. Insert a toothpick in the center to test. If it comes out clean, you’re done! If not, leave in the often for 2 extra minutes at a time and check again until it comes out clean. **If you have a separate oven thermometer inside, keep an eye on it to make sure it’s consistently at 275°. If so, the cake will be done at exactly the 1 hr mark.**
  11. Place directly into freezer for 45 minutes.
For the Frosting:
  • unsalted butter- 1/2 cup softened
  • light cream cheese- 8oz. package
  • vanilla extract- 1 teaspoon
  • powdered sugar (confectioner’s sugar)- 2 3/4 cups
  1. Cream the butter & cream cheese until smooth.
  2. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
  3. Beat in powdered sugar on low speed and gradually increase to high until it get’s fluffy.
  4. Make sure your cake is completely cooled before spreading the icing on.
To assemble Cake:
  1. Using a serrated bread knife cut the dome part off of one of the cakes to create a nice flat surface. This will be the bottom half of your cake. Spread frosting on top evenly.
  2. Take the second cake and place it on top of the one you just frosted.
  3. Cover the entire cake with frosting and decorate to your heart’s content
**Garnish with your choice of toppings! Almonds, walnuts, chocolate chips, strawberries, sprinkles… the possibilities are endless. I bought a tube of pink gel frosting from the baking aisle to write on the cake.**
What I learned:
  • If you plan on transporting a cake, be prepared and have one of those tupperware cake carriers with a lid attachment. Don’t forget the bottom liner, too. You should’ve seen me sitting nervously in the car as the cake slipped half way out of my hands… twice!
  • Figure out exactly how you want to decorate the cake. Draw it out if you have to.
  • Make it a day in advance- especially if you plan on making other dishes on the day of. It will taste even better! Keep in the fridge until it’s ready to be served.

In addition to baking a cake, I also made a traditional Korean birthday soup called Mi-yeok guk, and lastly, chocolate covered strawberries! <— Recipes soon to follow. It was a busy day for me but I enjoyed every bit of it. My family was shocked that I made all those, and impressed that it actually tasted good! If you were family you’d understand. It wasn’t too long ago that I didn’t know how to make scrambled eggs.

MIL’s Lime Vinaigrette

23 Jan

I grew up in a house where salad dressings only came in a bottle from the store. It wasn’t until I met Ben’s mom (aka my MIL) that I learned how much tastier and healthier it was made from scratch at home. She has a signature lime vinaigrette that we all LOVE. It’s sweet, tangy, and plain ‘ol delicious. It goes well with any green salad and is easily adaptable for varying taste buds. I can safely say that there is always a jar of this in our fridge.

MIL’s version of this vinaigrette is sweeter. She never uses measuring cups or spoons so I had to guesstimate amounts of each ingredient as she whisked them in. I’ll admit that I saw 2 heaping (plastic Asian soup) spoonfuls of sugar going in + a glob of honey…

Here is my version. All original ingredients remain intact. Measurements are slightly altered.

MIL’s Lime Vinaigrette:

Makes approximately 4.5 oz. Enough for 3-4 side salads.

  • fresh lime juice- 1/4 cup (about 1 lime)
  • granulated sugar- 1 generous teaspoon
  • honey- 1 generous teaspoon
  • dijon mustard- 1/2 tablespoon
  • Maagi seasoning sauce- 1 teaspoon (found at your local Asian super market in the same aisle as soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, etc.)
  • extra virgin olive oil- 1/3 cup
  • fresh ground black pepper
  1. Juice lime into a bowl or jar that you’ll be using for the dressing.
  2.  Add sugar, honey, dijon mustard, Maagi seasoning sauce.
  3.  Whisk together.
  4.  Slowly add extra virgin olive oil while continuing to whisk.
  5.  Add fresh ground pepper (as much as you’d like).
  6.  Let it sit and emulsify for at least 15 minutes. I promise it’ll taste better.

If you want a lighter vinaigrette, use less lime juice and/or add more extra virgin olive oil.

Other variations to try:

  • add chopped garlic
  • substitute lime juice with lemon or white vinegar
  • use all honey and NO sugar
  • substitute honey & sugar with agave nectar (1 spoonful agave = 3 spoonfuls sugar)
  • substitute Maagi seasoning sauce with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Chip says, “My gammie’s Lime Vinaigrette is delightful!” as he wags his tail excitedly.

Salad à la Fridge

22 Jan

It’s Saturday and we’ve had a pretty busy week. I was only able to cook a few times and noticed a growing collection of various food items in the fridge. Sometimes I can get creative and whip up a savory meal together by using them but when I’m alone it stays simple. So for lunch today, I made what I like to call “salad à la fridge.”  It’s basically taking what you already have in the fridge and creating a one-of-a-kind salad. You’ll be surprised at all the possibilities and how satisfying they can turn out. Today’s was especially delicious!

Measurements aren’t crucial here so add or take away as much as your heart desires.

my Salad à la Fridge:

  • red leaf lettuce- torn
  • baby arugula
  • hard-boiled egg- sliced
  • garbanzo beans- from a can rinsed & drained
  • baby heirloom tomatoes- sliced in half
  • dry salami- cut into smaller pieces
  • mozarella- sliced w/ a knife & torn by hand into bite size pieces
  • white button mushroom- sliced
  • baby carrots- sliced thin
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • avocado- cubed. I initially put it on the side thinking it would be too much. It’s never too much. Soooo much better in the salad accompanied by all of its friends.
  • vinaigrette- I used an adapted version of my MIL’s lime vinaigrette. *drool* ::Recipe soon to follow!::

For the “extra dressing” lovers: Add a small drizzle of balsamic vinegar + some extra virgin olive oil in addition to your choice of vinaigrette.

You can also add scallions & grated parmesan cheese. Toss everything together & serve with a chunk of warm baguette. Voila! A Salad à la Fridge is born.


… my favorite part of a salad; the bottom where everything has been soaked in the dressing. Mmmm mmmm!