And then there were fishcakes.

So, the other day, out of nowhere, I had this intense desire to make fishcakes. And, when one wants to make fishcakes there is really no other choice but to make said fishcakes.

This is what I had in mind: use mashed up sweet potato and cooked, flaked mackerel along with some minced onion, garlic, chili peppers and fresh ginger to make the cakes. Form them into little patties and fry them in olive oil, and voila! Delicious fishcakes, yes? No.

The first set of problems.

Though I had the right idea, when it came time to fry the cakes up, they turned into a disgusting, oily mush. They didn’t hold together at all. My mistake? I needed something more than just the mashed up sweet potato to bind everything together. Also, the mixture was too warm. Though I had mashed the sweet potato earlier in the day, the mackerel had basically just come out of the oven. So, I put the mixture in the fridge to cool for about an hour. Then, I added 1 egg yolk and two tablespoons of flour to the mixture to help with the binding.

The results.

Hubs eating the cakes. Yum!

A real fishcake! So, after letting the mixture cool and adding the egg yolk and flour, I tried again with the frying method. But, I wasn’t pleased with the results. The outsides were overcooked and the inside was mushy. I think the fishcakes just soaked up too much of the oil, among other problems. Next stop: the oven. I lined a cookie sheet with some tin foil which I also brushed with olive oil. Then, I used a heaping TBSP of the mixture for each cake. I baked them in the oven at 220C for about 20-25 minutes after which I finally had my fishcakes. Huzzah! I think next time I will either lower the heat to 200 or only cook the cakes for 20 minutes because, as you can see from the picture, a few of the edges got overcooked.

Anyhow, I served them with a salad and a chili-lime mayo dipping sauce and received the yum of approval from The Hubs (that’s his lap). Success!

It was a bit of trial and error, but I got there in the end. Enjoy the recipe and I’d love to hear your comments!!

Ingredients

3 medium size sweet potato, baked & mashed

2 mackerel fillets, baked & flaked

1-2 cloves minced garlic (depending on how much you like garlic)

1/2 medium onion, minced

1-2 green chili peppers, minced (again, depending on how spicy you like things)

1 tsp minced ginger

1 egg yolk

2 tbsp flour

salt & pepper to taste

Dipping Sauce

mayo, lime juice and hot sauce

1. Bake your sweet potatoes in the oven until they’re soft. I usually wash the sweet potatoes, then pierce them with a fork a few times, then lay them directly on the oven rack and cook them at 240-250C for about 50 minutes or so. Be sure that you have a cookie sheet underneath them lined with foil to catch the sweet stuff that oozes out! When the potatoes are cooked, remove and let cool completely. Once they are cool, mash them in a big bowl!

2. Bake your mackerel fillets. Mine were frozen fillets, so I defrosted them, then baked on a lined tray for about 20 minutes at 220. Make sure fillets are cooked through and flakey. Set aside and let cool. Once cool, remove meat from skin and flake.

3. Mince your garlic, onions, chilis and ginger. Add some olive oil to a pan and cook until onions are translucent. Remove from heat and set aside until cool.

4. Add flaked fish, garlic, onions, chilis and ginger to sweet potato mash until all ingredients are well incorporated. If the mixture is still a bit warm at this point, cover and let cool in the fridge for about an hour. Then, add your egg yolk and your flour. Combine thoroughly.

5. Line a cookie sheet with foil brushed with oil or wax paper. Then drop a heaping TBSP or so of the mixture onto the sheet. You can form them into cakes if you like or keep them “rugged” looking as I did. ūüôā Put in the oven at 200-220C for about 20 minutes. (*Aside: all ovens were not created equal. My oven is a gas oven and its idea of 200C and my idea of 200C are two very different things. So, take these temps and times as suggestions and adjust according to your oven.)

6. While the cakes are in the oven mix some lime juice, mayo and Tabasco sauce together (to your desired taste) for the dipping sauce.

Enjoy with a salad!!!

Because I am a Grown Up

Because I am a grown up, I have to clean my own kitchen for hours at a time.

Sad.

Because I am a grown up, I can have macaroni & cheese for dinner with a glass of whiskey.

Yay!

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Last night I treated the hubster and myself to some yummy, made from scratch macaroni & cheese after a hard day of scrubbing. My best friend in all the world is coming to visit this Friday for which I am beyond excited. However, having guests come to stay over is sort of like when, in crime shows, they spray luminol all over the floor and it lights up like a firework. You just look at your space with a much more critical eye and realize THAT ALL THE THINGS need cleaning. ALL. THE. THINGS.

So, I have been working overtime to do a deep clean on the whole house. Hence, macaroni & cheese.

It’s a simple enough recipe that could easily be made lighter with a few substitutions. Also, it’s basic enough that it begs for add-ins and experimentation!

Because it’s mac’n’cheese, and I have the mutant ability to eat ALL THE MACARONI, I served it up in individual ramekins to help with portion control, which I believe came out to about one-cup of cooked mac’n’cheese per ramekin, i.e. a serving size of 2 oz according to the Inter-webs.

Anyhow, enjoy the recipe! (Whiskey is optional but highly recommended.)

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups dry elbow macaroni (made four cups cooked)

2 TBSP flour

1 cup milk

1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup parmesan cheese (optional)

dash of nutmeg

salt & pepper to tast

 

1. Preheat oven to 220C.

2. Cook macaroni according to the package. Drain. Set aside and have ready. Try and make sure its still a bit warm for when you mix it with the sauce in step 4. Just makes things a bit easier.

3. In a large non-stick saucepan, whisk milk and flour together over medium heat. Whisk continuously to avoid getting any lumps. (Tip: have your cheese nearby and handy.) After a few minutes of whisking, you will notice the mixture will start to thicken. Like magic. Like sauce magic. Once this happens,¬†add in your cheeses, dash of nutmeg, salt, pepper and keep whisking. You may need to add more milk if the sauce is too thick. It’s really about you and your preferences. You can add more cheese if you like it cheesier. You can add more milk if you’d like it a bit saucier. This is also when you could add in some fried up bits of bacon or perhaps some greek yogurt (which means you could probably cut down on the cheese or milk), etc. The world is yours! Stir until cheeses are well incorporated. Turn off heat.

4. Mix cooked macaroni into the sauce and make sure macaroni is completely covered.

5. Distribute macaroni & cheese between four buttered ramekins.

6. Put in the oven for about 20 minutes or so. The idea is to get some color on the top.

7. Take out and let cool for about five minutes. Be careful as they will be very, very hot.

8. Serve with something green!

9. Drink your whiskey! (optional)

 

This is a great recipe for a cold night or when you feel like wearing nothing but yoga pants because you are A BOSS. And, happy to report it got a thumbs up from The Hub who ate TWO ramekins of joy. TWO. How I envy his metabolism.

xoxoxo

G

The Best Brownies Ever

So, I know I’ve been offline for a while but¬†to make it up to you I’m going to post the BEST BROWNIE RECIPE EVER to win your forgiveness.

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Now, before I get to the brownies a few updates:

1) I’m still training for my half marathon goal. I’ll have to do a separate post soon with my stats, but trust me when I say things are going well. I’m improving on times and stamina. I do think I need to up my strength training, but otherwise, I’m a happy runner.

2) I bought new running shoes:

Adidas Running Shoes in Pink

Adidas Boost Supernova Sequence 7–I love them.

3) I’ve been cooking up a storm in my new dutch oven! Here’s a chicken I roasted just the other Sunday:

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So, now onto the brownies, but first a little backstory. Here in Korea sweet potatoes are to fall like pumpkin spice is to lattes. It’s not uncommon to see students snacking on baked sweet potatoes or to have a baked sweet potato for breakfast. I have come to love sweet potatoes in a profound and deep way and wanted to figure out other ways to use them. Enter Interwebs. After some research and a few cups of coffee, I found a recipe that required minimal ingredients which included sweet potatoes and chocolate. Zing!

Without further adieu, I give you the best brownie recipe ever based off of this one here but with a few tiny changes.

Things you will need:

Wet Stuff

Sweet potatoes, between 2-2 1/2 cups (baked, peeled and mashed)

2 eggs

2 tsp of Jim Beam (BOOM!)

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup of virgin olive oil

Dry Stuff

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tbsp baking soda

1 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tbsp coconut flour

What I Did

1. Preheat the oven to 365F.

2. In a bowl, mix dry ingredients together.

3. In another, larger bowl mix together the wet ingredients making sure that they are well incorporated and as lump free as possible.

4. Slowly add in dry ingredients into the wet ingredients bowl until you have a smooth batter. Now, here’s something to keep in mind when working with coconut flour. This is the sponges of flour. It absorbs liquid more quickly than I absorb hot toddies¬†at Christmas. Keep your olive oil or your Jim Bean close at hand. You might need to add a bit more of either (or both–whatever tickles your fancy) so that the batter doesn’t get too dry.

5. Once your batter is at your desired consistency, pour it into a baking pan that’s either greased or lined with parchment paper. ¬†A word of advice: make sure that¬†you use a pan that isn’t too big. You want the brownie batter to be at least an inch thick in the pan to have thick, moist delicious brownies. Trust me.

6. Bake in the oven for at least 30 minutes. Check to see if the brownies are done via the tried and true toothpick test. Leave in for a little more time as needed until the toothpick comes out clean. I ended up baking mine for probably about 40 minutes but my oven is like that.

7. Let the brownies cool for as long as you can resist eating them.

8. Enjoy!

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These brownies were a huge success in our house. Between my husband and I, I don’t see them lasting more than 48 hours, if that. ¬†They were moist, rich and chocolatey and honestly some of the best brownies I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. ¬†I think next time I make them I’ll add some walnuts and maybe try and make some frosting, though they are so moist that they really don’t need it.

Anyhow, I hope you enjoy the recipe!

Happy baking and running!

xoxoxo

Week 2 Completed! And Cake!!

Hello there runners, readers, lovers of life! I’m a bit behind on my posting, but my silence is no indication of my running! I’ve kept up with the training and even threw in a game of tennis in there on Sunday and STILL ran 3 miles!

Quickly, here are my stats from last week (thank you Runkeeper, or as I like to call her “Ms. Lady”):

Monday: Rest Day

Tuesday: 3.35 miles. 36:31 time. 10:55 average pace. 298 calories burned.

Wednesday: 9km on stationary bike. 30:00 time.

Thursday: 3.01 miles. 34:43 time. 11:32 average pace (slow!). 263 calories burned.

Friday:  Rest Day

Saturday: 4.01 miles. 44.48 time. 11:10 average pace (slow and steady). 357 calories burned.

Sunday: 3.01 miles. 33:58 time. 11:17 average pace (I am a turtle). 265 calories burned.

Though a little bit slow, I’m happy with the miles I’m getting in. In particular, I’m especially chuffed with¬†that spectacular Saturday¬†where I ran FOUR MILES! That is a first for me ever. So, naturally, I had to celebrate by making this cake! I followed the recipe pretty closely though I didn’t sift the flour because I don’t have a sifter nor did I use cream of tartar because I’m in South Korea and probably not going to be finding that in the grocery store anytime soon!

Anyhow, the cake was moist and delicious, though I recommend doubling the recipe to make two round cakes so you can stack them, otherwise, it’s a little slim. Also, I did a Google search on some frosting options using yogurt and cream cheese and ended up using 1/4 cup softened butter, 1/4 cup softened cream cheese and I’d say about ¬†1/2 cup of plain yogurt (Greek is even better if you have some). I also added some honey to taste and a teaspoon or so of almond extract though vanilla would be just as nice. I beat it all together until it was a creamy, smooth consistency. I would also keep it chilled in the fridge until you’re ready to frost your cake, otherwise you might have a runny mess on your hands like I did (see picture of plate below!).

Anyhow, I made the cake, let it cool and when it was ready, first spread a light coating of strawberry jam on the top of the first cake and then added a thin layer of the frosting on top of that. Then, I stacked the other cake on top and frosted the heck out of it, top and sides. Finally, I used some defrosted frozen blueberries and used them as a decorative and delicious topping. Voila!

Cake!

Haha! You can see some frosting smears and the juice of the blueberries staining the cake, but you get the general idea. The important thing is that it was truly delicious and hubby approved.

Today I start on my Week 3 of training. Also, I signed up for a 10K charity race which will be on November 15th in Seoul running along the Han River, my favorite place! I’ve never done anything like this before in my life. I am equal parts excited and terrified. But, a large part of the reason I’ve chosen to start running was to face my fears and show myself that I am capable of accomplishing my goals if I put my mind, my efforts and my heart into it. ¬†Here goes nothing!

Anyhow, enjoy the cake recipe! Let me know if you have questions about it or anything else.

Happy running & baking!

xoxo

Chicken Pie, Or What Happiness Tastes Like

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Hello and yes, it has been donkey’s years since I last posted. Without getting too much into it, a lot has been going on, not all of it pleasant. But, such is life and such is the reason do bury one’s sorrows in a steaming, heaping plate of chicken pot pie full of butter, gluten, carbs and happiness. When life throws you lemons, slice those up and put them in your cocktail, which you can sip on while you make your chicken pot pie.

So, for this dish I’ll be giving you two recipes: one for the dough and one for the insides. I don’t claim to be the original author/creator of either of these, but I’ve been using them for so long now I don’t even remember where they came from. And, as is usually the case with all us bakers, concocters, culinary adventurists, over time we add this and that and the recipe becomes a little bit our own which is a lovely thought indeed.

All right, enough exposition. Let’s get to the good stuff. First up, the dough.

This recipe is for your average Cream Cheese Crust dough which is great for pies, both savory and sweet, and I’m sure for many other things as well that I’ve not yet discovered or tried. These measurements yield two full crusts, and by full I mean you’ll have a top and bottom to the pie crust. For this crust you will need:

‚Ė™¬†¬† 226 grams of softened butter

‚Ė™¬†¬† 226 grams of softened cream cheese

‚Ė™¬†¬† 2 cups flour

I use grams since I’m here in Korea and nothing is in ounces. But, basically I think converts to 8 ounces of cream cheese and two sticks of butter. The name of the game here is equal parts. Follow that rule and you should be fine.

So, I let my dairies set out for a good long while until both are nice and soft and easy to work with. I then cream them together in a bowl until they are fully integrated. Then, I slowly add my flour until I have dough, like so:

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Then, I divide the dough into two balls, wrap them in wax paper, put them into two Ziplock bags and freeze or refrigerate depending on when I need/want to use the dough.

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I would recommend refrigerating for about an hour at least before you plan on using it otherwise it will be a gooey, unruly mess and you will end up covered in flour and tears.

Now, on to the Chicken Filling for the Chicken Pot Pie. You will need:

‚Ė™¬†¬† 1/3 cup butter

‚Ė™¬†¬† a small-med onion, chopped (depending on how jazzed you are about onions. In fact, this applies to all the ingredients below)

‚Ė™¬†¬† a small carrot, chopped

‚Ė™¬†¬† a medium potato, cut into small cubes

‚Ė™¬†¬† 1/3 cup chopped mushrooms

‚Ė™ ¬† 1/3 cup peas

‚Ė™¬†¬† 2 chicken breasts, cubed

‚Ė™¬†¬† 1/2 cup milk

‚Ė™¬†¬† 1 cup chicken broth

‚Ė™¬†¬† 1 tbsp thyme

‚Ė™¬†¬† salt and pepper to your liking

Take out one ball of dough from the fridge and set aside. It will need this time to warm up so it will be easier to work with. Then, heat your oven to 200-205C so that it is nice and hot for zee bakingks. In a saucepan, melt the butter making sure not to brown or burn. Add in the onions and cook for 2-3 minutes or so or until they begin to soften and become translucent. Add chicken and cook until meat turns white. Add in the rest of your vegetables and spices and cook for about 5 minutes.  The veggies should start to release some fluid, particularly those mushrooms! Then, stir in your flour making sure all of mixture is covered in flour and well blended. Then, gradually stir in your liquids. Start with the milk and then add enough broth until your sauce is nice and thick but not too runny. Stir continuously. I would let cook for another 2-3 minutes or until the sauce is thick and bubbly. Turn off the heat.

Dust your workspace with some flour. Take your dough and cut it in half. You should have two fairly equal half-balls of dough. Using a rolling pin, roll out one half of the dough being sure to continually dust it so that it doesn’t stick to your counter or rolling pin! When you have it to the necessary size, carefully lift it up and place it into your buttered pie pan. Now, pour your mixture into the pie pan with the crust. Roll out the remaining half of dough for the top of your pie crust. Place on top of the mixture and seal the edges and cut in some decorative vents, like so:

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(Aside: remember, it doesn’t have to be pretty. Mine certainly isn’t, but Martha Stewart isn’t coming over to eat this. Chances are it will be eaten in front of the TV while watching Despicable Me 2. And, it makes my tummy joyful which is good enough for me!)

Then, place in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Take the pie out of the oven when ready and let stand for five minutes before serving.

A few notes here: I find that its best to place the pie on a baking sheet or pan lined with some tin foil to avoid a smoky, horrible mess in your oven. The gravy gets bubbly and sneaks out of the pie and drips onto your oven and well, you get the idea. Also, as with all my recipes, these measurements are all ball parks. I’m an eye-baller and to-taste kind of kitchen person. So, if these measurements don’t work for you, adjust and change what you like for your best and happiest result.

Pair this with a salad and a bottle of wine and despair-be-gone!

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I hope this recipe helps you keep the blues at bay.

Though I may be silent, I’m always cooking. More posts, as always, to come.

Love and flour,

Gabi

Baking Win: Parts Two and Three

Hello baking friends and how time flies. Seems like it was just yesterday that I was posting about almond flour and now its two weeks later, the temperature has dropped and the skies are the color of cement. But, not to worry. Fall is the season for baking, after all, and though all may be a bleaker shade of grey outside, indoors it’s warm and smelling of cinnamon and nostalgia.

Anyhow, I’m back today to finish posting about my first experiment with almond flour in what turned out to be a fairly significant win for me as a baking hobbyist.

So, once my almond flour was made I set out to bake carrot cake cupcakes using a recipe from the always wonderful Elana’s Pantry. But, of course, I’m never one to follow a recipe without adding a few things of my own. So, here’s what I used:

  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 cups grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raisins

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1. In a large bowl, combine almond flour, salt, baking soda and spices.

2. In a separate bowl, mix together eggs, honey and oil.

3. Stir wet ingredients into dry.

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4. Mix in carrots, walnuts and raisins.

5. Scoop a heaping 1/4 cup batter into a buttered muffin tin.

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6. Bake at 325F/ 170C for 22-25 minutes.

7. Pierce cupcakes with a toothpick to check if they are done. If the toothpick comes out clean then they are done!

8. Cool to room temp.

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While cupcakes are cooling it’s time to make the frosting! Carrot cake isn’t complete without some cream cheese frosting. Here’s a recipe I experimented with that was a total success:

  • 8 tbsp cream cheese at room temp (nice and soft!)
  • 3 tbsp plain yogurt
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp (ish) vanilla extract

Mix the ingredients together until you have creamy, smooth frosting. When cupcakes are cool, frost and serve!

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All in all, this made for about 10 cupcakes which did not last the night! My fianc√©, who is a fan of Starbuck’s carrot cake, told me that these cupcakes were better ¬†(he sure knows how to say the right thing!) and our dinner guest told me she would buy these at a shop!

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Anyhow, I felt like a baking hero after whipping up these treats and I will certainly be making them again. They’re a great dessert alternative that doesn’t sacrifice taste for healthiness. Give them a try and let me know what you think!

Love and cupcakes,

G

 

Baking Win: A Story in Three Parts

Today was a baking win on so many levels, I don’t even know where to start. So, I suppose I’ll just start at the beginning.

My morning agenda included accomplishing three tasks:

  1. Make almond flour
  2. Use said almond flour to bake carrot cake cupcakes (as per fianc√©’s request)
  3. Make cream cheese frosting for cupcakes

 

Let’s start with the almond flour. As confessed in my previous post, I’m a carb counting baker which usually means I bake a bunch of stuff that I don’t really get to eat or enjoy. Enter Interwebs. In doing research for my previous post’s No Flour Banana-Apple Muffins, I came across “Almond Flour”. Now, before I go on I should divulge a little bit about my recent situation so that you don’t think I live under a rock and send smoke signals instead of text messages and that laundry day consists of me going down to the stream to beat our clothes against rocks.

Up until September 20th, I was working on getting my second MA in Applied Linguistics. Translation: for the past two and half years there has been little baking, joy or spare time in my life. Up until my dance with the No Flour Banana-Apple Muffin recipe, it had been over a year since I had last made an oven goodie and my recipes were pretty much all-purpose flour based. Fast forward to this past week where in I first encountered “Almond Flour”. I was intrigued to say the very least. Now, something else about me, I currently live in South Korea where my fianc√© and I teach at a University. Translation: there’s no way I’ll be able to buy almond flour at the local grocery store.

So, that brings us to this morning, when I decided I would try my hand at making my own almond flour, using pointers by the Detoxinista.

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For my almond flour I used sliced almonds that I found at E-Mart Traders and our blender. As per the Detoxinista’s suggestion, I used the pulse function to make sure that I wouldn’t end up with too many clumps or almond butter! I also blended one cup at a time to have better control over the consistency of the flour. ¬†I pulsed for about 20-30 seconds at a time and only had to do it a few times for each cupful of sliced almonds. The four cups of almonds yielded about 3 3/4 cups of almond flour which wasn’t as fine as regular flour but certainly bake-able. I also sifted through the flour with a fork before storing to get rid of any clumps.

Overall, I have to say I was 100% pleased with the results and am now scouring the Internet for almond flour recipes of which, fortunately for me, there are many.

Stay tuned for the next post for my Almond Flour Carrot Cake Cupcakes, based off of the recipe from Elana’s Pantry. Spoiler: They were awesome.

Love & Baking,

G