Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Thanks for the Grapes, Lunch Ladies!

The super-cool lunch ladies at my school loaded me up with two bunches of leftover ginormous concord grapes as I was walking out of the cafeteria today.  Thanks, ladies!  I love Korean grapes!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

No Egg, No Milk, No Mixer? No Problem.

We've got about a week left in this apartment, and I'm trying to use up some of the food we've got in our cupboards and fridge.  Last night I made uber ramen (same as last week's recipe, but I had bok choi rather than napa cabbage on hand, and I added in a glug of Vietnamese fish sauce).  I also have baking things lying around, like flour, sugar,  cocoa, and baking powder, as well as some apples that are past their peak.  But we've already packed up our hand mixer, so I can only make something I can mix with a fork or big wooden spoon.  Plus, the only baking dish I have is the small glass one I bought this year at Home Plus.  I'm not sure of its exact dimensions, but it's a bit smaller than half a sheet of regular A4 paper, I'd guess 8" x 5".

I coudn't find anything online that used only those ingredients I have on hand, didn't require a mixer, and was scaled for a very small baking dish, so I tinkered with a few and gave it a shot.
Sometimes when you mess with or combine good recipes, the chemistry goes wacky and you end up with cake that's flat, dry, or just plain tasteless.
This wasn't one of those times.

It came out awesome.  Moist but light on the outside, with a dense and gooey lava cake center, chocolatey, rich, and delicious. It's the happy, well-adjusted love child of chocolate cake and a brownie.  JJ, who is in no way a hippie and/or vegan, would have had three slices if we'd bothered to slice it rather than just go at it with forks.  Bonus:  thanks to the applesauce, it's low-fat and vegan, for those of you who are into that sort of thing.

Easy No-Mixer Low-Fat Vegan Chocolate Apple Cake
Yields one small cake + 3 cupcakes
  • 2 c. flour 
  • 1-1/3 c sugar (white or light brown)
    • Optional - replace 1/3 cup sugar with honey (I used chestnut honey, which is aggressively honey-y)
  • generous pinch of salt
  • 1 heaping tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup applesauce* (if using store-bought applesauce, add 1tsp cinnamon + 1/2 tsp nutmeg)
  • 2 tbsp vinegar (I used apple cider, but any white/light is probably OK)
  • 2 tsp vanilla 
  • 1-1/3 cups cold water
  1. Preheat the oven to 175C / 350F.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  3. Make two wells.  Add oil to one and vinegar to the other.  Then pour water over the whole thing, add the applesauce, and mix together with a big wooden spoon or fork.
  4. Bake 40 minutes.  Serve with Chocolate Icing (below) or frosting of choice.
No Mixer (Non-Vegan) Chocolate Icing
  • 3 wedges Laughing Cow cheese (or other low-fat creamy cheese, I guess)
  • splash of milk
  • 50g powdered sugar (1/3 cup?)
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  1. Nuke the milk and chocolate chips on medium for 30 seconds, stir, and nuke another 30 seconds.  
  2. Stir in Laughing Cow, then add powdered sugar.  Pour over cake.

You can use store-bought applesauce in the recipe above, but homemade applesauce is insanely easy.  
  1. Core and cut up 3 apples (you can peel them if you wish, I didn't), add 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg, 1-2 tbsp brown sugar, and 1/2 cup water.  
  2. Cover and cook for at least 20 minutes, then mash with a fork (or handmixer or immersion blender or whatever you've got).

                Friday, July 1, 2011

                How To Make Ramen Into A Tasty and Nutritionally Reasonable Meal

                Korean ramen -- or Korean lamyeon, which is how it gets romanized here, is an interesting phenomenon.  It's not just for impoverished college students (though it is for them, too) - you can get it in restaurants, and I see kids eating it outside of convenience stores after school.  It can cost anywhere from $.50 to $2.00, depending on the brand, serving size, and packaging, but it's tough to go through a whole day here without seeing someone eating ramen.

                Shin lamyeon is far and away the korean ramen of choice.  It's flavor is intriguingly if ambiguously described not as chicken, vegetable, or soy, but "spicy," and the photo on the front shows a bowl brimming with shitakes and vegetables.
                Of course, when you open the package, you'll find a distinct lack of actual vegetables within (though there's a tablespoon or so of the freeze-dried variety).
                Which brings us to lunch today: improved ramen.  Super cheap, and surprisingly yum.  I threw together all the veggies I happened to have on hand (except spinach and bell pepper...that seems more suited to omelette than ramen), and I recommend them because it turned out great -- but if you've got bok choi or zucchini, go to town.

                You will Need:

                • 1 serving Shin Ramyeon (or favorite non-Korean ramen, but I warn you - this stuff is delicious and has 285 calories,  some other brands have more than double)
                • ~1/3 of the included flavor packet
                • 1 1/4 cup water
                • A few glugs of soy sauce
                • 1 tbsp gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)
                • 1/2 tbsp minced (not powdered!) ginger
                • 1/8 cabbage, thinly sliced
                • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
                • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
                • 1 spring onion/leek/scallion, thinly sliced
                • 1 raw egg, or 2oz tofu, or cooked protein of choice
                1.  Add everything but the egg, noodles, and water to a non-stick.  Cook on medium until the cabbage reduces a bit, while you get out your bowl and chopsticks and drinks.
                2. Add the water and the noodles, and stir and cook for another couple of minutes. When the veggies are soft --
                3.  Add your egg or protein, stir until cooked.  Serve.

                Serves 1 hungry young adult.