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Pearl Barley with Korean Spring Greens + A Le Creuset Giveaway

My favorite food season has to be Spring, especially because it's the season of wild herbaceous Korean spring greens! They are called bom-namul (bom: spring, namul: wild plants) and are usually delightfully bitter and super nutritious. A lot of these are eaten raw and seasoned lightly with gochujang or soy based sauce, or they are added in a variety of soups and adds wonderful aromatic flavors to the dish like this stone pot rice!
Here's a little lesson to the greens I'm using in this dish. In the most left of the picture above of the bright leafy greens, is called minari (미나리) aka Korean watercress. It also looks and tastes similar to Chinese celery. It has a very crisp, fresh herby taste and is a popular side dish and ingredient in bibimbap. It's iron content is higher than spinach, calcium content more than milk and an excellent source of other minerals.
The middle of the picture you see greens that look like succulents is called dol-namul or dot-namul (돋나물). They grow on rocky soil and is really a leafy succulent that is very juicy and sweet. It has a very mild flavor so it is usually eaten raw and tossed into salads. In the small bowl at the right is a leafy vegetable called chwi-namul (취나물) that grows in the mountains and field. It has a heart-shaped serrated leaves that are sort of fuzzy and has a mild bitter and grassy flavor. If you've had perilla leaves, it's sort of like that, but more spinach mouth-feel. All these vegetables can be found in your local Korean supermarket. If not I've put some suggestions below for substitute vegetable you'll find anywhere.
I've been a long time fan of Le Creuset items and when I was given this Sakura Dutch Oven, I couldn't wait to do a spring time dish for it. I love doing rice dishes like this or pilaf in a dutch oven because the food inside the pot loses no moisture due to the heavy lid and everything gets surrounded and cooked in the steam that's created. This results in a locked in super flavorful dish and makes veggies very tender and rice extremely fluffy. This particular dutch oven I received is 4.5 qt and can make large portions enough for a family with lots of hungry children :)
I love cherry blossoms and was really sad that the weather was too cold for a really big bloom in the DC area. Although, nothing beats seeing them in Kyoto or Korea. It's absolutely beautiful there, but I'm glad I have this pot for some sakura admiring year-round!

If you'd like a Sakura Dutch Oven of your own, follow both @lecreuset and @misshangrypants on Instagram, tag two friends and comment what you'd make in this too.

Pearl Barley with Korean Spring Greens

makes 4-6 servings

1.5 cups pearl barley
1.5 cups short grain rice
3.5 cups konbu/dashima stock ** see steps for alternative

1.5 cups chwinamul (possible substitute - perilla leaves or swiss chard or spinach)
1 tsp sesame oil
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp garlic, minced

8 bella mushrooms, sliced (or morels)
1 bunch minari (aka Korean watercress or dropwort; possible substitute - Chinese celery)
2 cups dolnamul (possible substitute - wild chives, ramps or fiddleheads)

2 red chilis, sliced finely
2 stalks green onion, diced
1/2 tbsp garlic, minced
5 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tbsp sesame oil
1.5 tsp roasted sesame seeds

  1. Wash pearl barley and rice together in a large dutch oven (or pot) and then cover well with water and soak for 2 hours
  2. To prepare konbu/dashima stock, simmer two pieces of 4x4" of dashima in 4 cups of water for 10 mins. Alternatively you can use 1:1 dilution of vegetable broth and water. Drain soaked barley rice and pour 3.5 cups of made stock. Bring to boil and simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes with lid on, then turn down heat to low for an additional 10 mins
  3. Meanwhile prepare vegetables: for chwinamul, you may find this fresh in supermarkets or frozen. Don't get the dried version as that is usually made into a Korean banchan. Cut chwinamul into 1" length and blanch in hot water for 30-45s. Run under cold water to stop it cooking and squeeze all the water out. Then sauté and loosen with 1 tsp sesame oil, pinch of salt and 1/2 tsp of minced garlic for 3 minutes. Alternatively you could use swiss chard in the same manner! The rest of the vegetables just need to be washed and set aside. Cut minari into 1" length as well
  4.  Once cooking time has reached 20mins, open lid and add sliced mushrooms and chwinamul right on top of the rice. Cover pot with lid again and let cook on low for another 10 mins
  5. Switch off heat and let barley rice sit for 5 mins, then add cut minari and dolnamul and fluff rice while mixing vegetables gently
  6. Mix all sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Serve rice hot with sauce on the side to mix in to taste
This post was sponsored by Le Creuset. I'm teaming up with them via CoactionPR to create awesome recipes. I was compensated for this post, but all opinions are completely my own and not endorsed. Thank you for supporting products that keep this blog running!
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Soy Eggs in Miso Ramen Nest

I'm back in LA for a bit and it is hot hot hot! My face has become several shades darker just from driving around 😱. Alsoooo, I finally got me a studio in Manhattan! Luckily it's subsidized by the hospital, or I'd be living out of a cardboard box at the rate some of these apartments go! Can't believe I'm going to be a New Yorker and living in the city!
Anyway, keeping up with the Easter theme, I made some coconut macaroon nests before on the blog, but I saw this on TastyJapan's Instagram and thought it was a brilliant Easter nest idea too. The nest part is made of baked ramen so it's crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Then I topped it with delicious ramen toppings, like soy marinated eggs and corn. You can put whatever you like on top and make it vegetarian too!

Soy Eggs in Miso Ramen Nest

makes 5-6 "nests"

Soy Marinated Eggs
3 medium eggs
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced

Ramen Nest
1 pack fresh ramen
2 tsp sesame oil
3 tsp miso (loosened in 1 tbsp water)
3 tsp soy sauce
1 egg white

naruto (Japanese fish cake with the pink swirl)
green onions, diced

  1. To make soft boiled eggs, place 3 medium eggs in a small pot and put just enough water to cover the top. Bring to a boil on high heat and from the time it starts really boiling, time 3.5 minutes. Once time is up, pour out the hot water and immediately run eggs in cold water or place in ice bath
  2. To make soy eggs: place all marinade ingredients in a small sandwich ziplock bag and mix well. Place peeled eggs in marinade, let air out before sealing and refrigerate overnight. Turn the bag once or twice to coat eggs evenly
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F and grease 5-6 muffin cups. Cook ramen according to package. Season with sesame oil, miso, soy sauce and pepper. Stir egg whites to coat ramen noodles.
  4. Distribute ramen into cupcake pan or 5-6 muffin cups and make a well in the center for the ingredients to be placed afterwards. Bake for 15-20 mins. Let rest for a minute.
  5. Cut marinaded eggs in half and place in center of ramen nest. Place other ramen ingredients and serve warm!

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Hot Cross Bun Spiced Pretzels

It's almost Easter and I've been admiring all the pretty egg, coconut and bunny pictures on Instagram! I don't really do too much during Easter other than follow my mum to church, but what I can't miss is eating hot cross buns! I was given this Silpat pretzel mat and since I was going to make bread anyway, I thought why not put the same stuff in pretzels?! So I've added all the nice things, like sugar, cinnamon, ginger, orange zest and cranberries into these pretzels.

Also how awesome is this mat? It totally helps a pretzel shape challenged person like me to roll out pretty pretzels!
I love the spicy and fruity flavor of the dough, and it's all shiny and sticky with melted butter and honey. You can eat these plain or they actually go pretty well with this Maille Acacia honey and Orange blossom mustard. The taste is pretty floral and fruity with a very good amount of sharpness and tang. It pairs quite well and is a nice play of sweet and salty.
I'm currently on a one-week bootcamp at med school (last week ever!), which is pretty much learning how to adult. Like buying a house, paying off loans etc... I just can't adult yet! Ah! 

Hot Cross Bun Spiced Pretzels

makes 14-16 pretzels

4 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp white sugar
1 1/4 cup warm water
4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger

1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup dried cranberries or currants

1/4 cup baking soda
2 cups hot water
2 tbsp butter, melted
1.5 tbsp honey

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tsp of white sugar in the warm water until bubbly, about 10 minutes
  2. In a stand mixer with the dough attachment, mix flour, brown sugar, salt and spices. Add oil, yeast and vanilla extract and mix to form a dough. Adjust flour and water if mixture is too sticky or dry. Add orange zest and currants and knead until smooth. Lightly oil a large bowl, place dough in it and cover with a damp cloth. Let rise in a warm place for 1.5 hours.
  3. Punch dough down, cover bowl with plastic wrap and another damp cloth and let rise overnight in the fridge. This makes the dough more elastic!
  4. Allow the chilled dough to come to room temperature, about an hour in a warm place. Prepare baking sheets with silpat mat or wax paper
  5. In a medium bowl, dissolve baking soda in 2 cups of hot water and set aside
  6. Divide dough into 15 equal pieces. Dip your fingers in the baking soda solution and rub in your hands. Roll each piece between your hands into a rope. Start in the middle and roll using medium pressure with both hands as you work out to the ends. You're done when the dough thickness is about the size of your finger (it will puff!). Grab each end and slap on your surface like a jump rope a few times. Be careful not to use too much force or the dough will tear. Twist into a pretzel shape and place on prepared sheets. Cover with plastic wrap while working on the rest of the dough
  7. Once all shaped, brush baking soda water solution over the pretzels. Let rest for another 10-15 mins. You can sprinkle with raw sugar (optional). Preheat oven to 425 F, place rack above middle 
  8. Bake in preheated oven in top rack until browned, about 10-12 mins
  9. Brush mix of melted butter and honey together and brush over pretzel when they come out of the oven

This post was sponsored by Silpat and Maille. I'm teaming up with them via CoactionPR to create awesome recipes. I was compensated for this post, but all opinions are completely my own and not endorsed. Thank you for supporting products that keep this blog running!
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Hotteok Waffles [Korean cinnamon pancake waffles]

I'm currently on a college tour with my brother and mum and it has been EVENTFUL. By that I mean extremely terrible, because being stuck in the car with a surly teen and a high-pitched tiger mum for several hours is almost as bad as being duct taped to a chair listening to nails scratching on a chalk board. I feel a little crazy since we've hit 5 different states in 5 days with me as the sole driver. The only thing that's keeping me going is eating at all the bomb places I've been wanting to go in each state! I just left Boston with a box of Flour Bakery cookies and I'm in heaven! It's also crazy snowing in Boston.
This year's spring is cold and weird, so it's time to snuggle up to something toasty and cinnamon-y, like these Korean pancakes in waffle form. I eat Hotteok, a street food found everywhere in Korea, in any weather actually. They are like cinnamon buns, but chewy and flat like a pancake with an oozing middle full of melted brown sugar and peanuts. So good and so perfect for chilly weather (or all four seasons ha!)

Hotteok Waffles

makes 10-12 square waffles

2.5 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp sugar
2 tsps instant yeast
2 tbsp canola oil
3/4 cup warm milk

heaping 3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsps cinnamon
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup peanuts, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp flaked almonds, coarsely chopped
2 tbsps each white and black sesame seeds
pinch of salt

  1. For the dough, place all the ingredients into your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Work on a low speed until everything comes together and then turn it up a the next level for about a minute or so. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and a damp cloth and leave in a warm spot until doubled in size (about 1 hour)
  2. Meanwhile, make the filling by mixing all the ingredients together in a small bowl
  3. When the dough is ready, punch it down and place on floured surface. Divide dough into about 10 balls. While working with 1 ball, cover the rest with plastic wrap so they don't dry out
  4. Flatten ball gently with your palm to get a circle the size of your palm (about 4 inches). Place 1 tbsp of filling in the middle and bring edges of dough to cover and pinch to seal. Continue doing that to all the hotteok dough.
  5. Preheat your waffle iron and oil surfaces generously each time. Cook according to your waffle iron's directions and they should be nice and brown on the outside
  6. Serve hot!

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Prez Trump Dumps

Congrats to everyone who matched for residency today! I matched into general surgery and now I only have to wait until Friday to know where I'll be going. The end of schooling is so near I can almost taste it haha. For shits and giggles (literally), I made some chocolate covered marshmallows with dried pineapple for his voluptuous hair. Doesn't it look like the real thing (if not much improved)??
I also added some food coloring to make them orange inside for Trump's fake bake. Although, eating them and discovering they're more flesh colored makes it a little morbid :/

President Trump Dumps 

makes 25-35 dumps

- recipe with corn syrup adapted from Alton Brown
- recipe withOUT corn syrup here (just don't add matcha powder)
* I added 1:3 ratio of red:yellow food coloring to achieve orange insides (optional)

Dried Pineapple Toupee - 1 can of whole ring pineapple in juice (only need 4 slices)

Eyes - white and semi-sweet chocolate chips

  1. First make the pineapple toupee because this takes the longest. Drain can of pineapple rings and cut into quarters and half the thickness. Lay on silicone baking mat to dry at room temp overnight uncovered. This eliminates using your oven and wasting so much electricity. Next day, stick it in a 170F (or your oven's lowest settings) heated oven and dry for about 2 hours. Using a chopstick, roll and lay the dried pineapple pieces to hang so they curl and dry for another hour
  2. Prepare 2 silicone baking mats or wax paper and lightly grease patches/circles where you will pipe out the marshmallows on. Make 1 recipe of marshmallows and add food coloring if you like. Dump whipped marshmallow into a piping bag with a 1/2" tip. I also used a gallon ziploc bag and sniped a sizable whole for easy cleaning!
  3. Pipe out marshmallow poops onto the mat and dry uncovered overnight or at least 4-5 hours
  4. Melt 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips or baking chips in a bain-marie or double boiler and dip marshmallows. Use a fork to pick it up by the base and tap fork to let excess chocolate drip so you can have a more defined poop shape
  5. Make your next one as you allow the chocolate covering to dry a little bit. Then place white chocolate chips for eyes and use a chopstick to draw pupils with the melted chocolate. Dress with curled pineapple toupee!
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Bacon Okonomiyaki - Savory Japanese Pancakes

I had a sudden craving for okonomiyaki, a savory Japanese pancake filled with cabbage, which I haven't eaten in.... 20+ years!! I used to have Japanese neighbours when I lived in Korea and would always play with the kids. I was maybe only a few years older than them, but sometimes their mum would make me (an 8 year old then) babysit 5 and 6 year old kids. And we all know how well that can turn out... 😈
Babysitting had its perks and I was lucky to have so many home-cooked Japanese meals! The most memorable dish was Okonomiyaki, because of the dancing bonito flakes that are sprinkled on top and the peculiar tangy sauce mixed with kewpie mayonnaise. It was something I had never tried before and the flavor is something I still crave today. I hope you go grocery shopping at an Asian market and try to make this at home!

Bacon Okonomiyaki

makes 2 x 6" pancakes

1/4 cabbage
3 inch leek (white part, or use white part of the green onions)
1/2 onion
6 pieces of bacon, cut into thirds (optional if you vegetarian)

1 heaping cup of Korean jeon flour (or okonomiyaki flour; if using plain AP flour, add 1 tsp each of salt, pepper and baking powder)
2/3 cup water
2 eggs
2 tsp black pepper

tonkatsu/okonomiyaki sauce
kewpie mayo
bonito flakes
dried nori/seaweed sheets (the same nori you use for sushi)

  1. Thinly slice cabbage so it almost looks like it's shaved by a mandolin (finely like really fine coleslaw). Do the same for onions, so you get thin half-moons and for leeks. If you don't have leeks, I would finely chop the white part of green onions. Set aside
  2. In a mixing bowl, add 1 heaping cup (about 1.25 cups) of jeon flour or seasoned flour with addition of salt, pepper and baking powder. Whisk water and 2 eggs. Season with black pepper. Add the veggies into the flour mixture and stir to coat evenly
  3. In a non-stick pan, heat on medium fire 1 tbsp of veggie oil. Place half of batter to pan and flatten to make a pancake. Place cut bacon strips on top and cover frying pan to allow top to steam
  4. Fry for about 3-4 mins or until golden brown. Flip and cover again for 2-3 mins. Repeat for the rest of the batter
  5. Serve immediately onto plate and dress with okonomiyaki sauce and a healthy dose of mayo. Sprinkle bonito flakes and cut nori
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