Traveling in Seoul and Japan
No new recipes until May 7th, after I return from S. Korea and Japan, but you can follow along with my trip on instagram! ( @spontaneoustomato )
Am I the only weirdo who can try a new dish once and fall so in love with it that I spend years thinking about it afterwards and/or trying to re-create it? I assume not, but I do think it takes a certain type of personality – a memory that’s often more sharply tuned to food than to certain books or conversations or other experiences (which I wish I could remember better) – to be nostalgic even for one-time edible experiences.
Actually, maybe that’s the underlying issue here: too much (food) nostalgia.
At any rate, it’s happened to me with more than one dish, and more than one ingredient, so that all of these experiences added up together have vastly expanded my food knowledge and cooking repertoire, or at least the cooking repertoire I hope to someday have.
And these random encounters with ingredients or dishes that take me by surprise and spark my devotion have really been what has driven me to get into the kitchen and try making something new – probably more than flipping through all of the cookbooks in my cookbook collection could ever do.
This exposure to newness is just one reason I appreciate the importance of traveling, of visiting new restaurants, of trying different items from the menu.
So it turns out I couldn’t go more than four blog posts before before putting garlic and kale together again. Apparently I have very strong feelings about this (excellent) flavor combination.
(Same thing goes for kale + citrus!)
A few years ago, this dish started out as a barely-changed riff on a smitten kitchen recipe: pasta with garlicky broccoli rabe. All I used to do was swap de-stemmed, torn curly kale leaves for the broccoli rabe and toss them into the boiling pasta water to be drained alongside the pasta. (Then it all gets transferred to a bowl and tossed with garlicky olive oil.) And I used to do this a LOT.
While that remains one of my all-time favorite weeknight dinners, this version is simpler (one fewer bowl to wash!) and — dare I say it — more delicious, thanks to two secret ingredients: artichokes and anchovies.
Cilantro and cheese always had a close rivalry, each vying for the position of my Most Missed Ingredient when I was living in Japan.
Now that I’m in California, the number one ingredient I miss from Japan is not really something I ever used in my cooking, but it’s a flavor that I love, and that I took for granted: yuzu (citron).
Yuzu, or perhaps artificial yuzu flavoring, is everywhere in Japan: yuzu chuhai (shōchū cocktails), yuzu juice, yuzu candy, yuzu gum, yuzu ponzu sauce, yuzukoshō (chili paste), and yuzu sorbet. The best of all possible yuzu incarnations, though, is yuzu-cha (yuzu tea), which is probably even more commonplace in Korea — where it’s called yuja-cha — than it is in Japan.
Remember back when I dedicated an entire blog post to my (unofficial) dissertation acknowledgments? That list summed up a lot of what my life was like during the 7 years I spent in graduate school. Laptopping, caffeinating, internetting, and procrasti-cooking.
Now that I finally have my PhD, it’s been odd adjusting to life as a non-student. My first few months of unstructured
(un-)(self-)employment as a freelance editor felt remarkably similar to the years when I was working on my dissertation, except suddenly I wasn’t stressed about both school and money anymore! (Just money!)
Since the beginning of this month, though, I’ve needed to start adjusting to my non-studentness even faster: I got a new job!
Two posts ago, Paula wrote about how she is the undisputed and default Breakfast Maker around here. Until it comes to scrambled eggs, that is…
That’s been the one breakfast dish where I refuse to surrender my spatula.
I typically don’t get as excited about scrambled eggs as I do about fried eggs (or anything with a runny yolk), but these are the exception.
The cream cheese — especially when added at just the right moment — blends beautifully into the eggs, making them creamy and rich, with a few little pockets of pure melty creaminess hidden throughout. The scallions add the perfect combination of green pops of color, herby freshness, and oniony flavor (without the oniony texture — key to Paula’s willingness to eat this!).
Happy new year!
Hope everyone had a nice new year’s eve and a wonderful 2014. And whether or not those things are true for you, I hope you all have a wonderful 2015!
I know I’m the only one keeping count, but I wanted to share with you that this is my 200th blog post! It’s taken me 3½ years to write 200 posts containing over 200 recipes.
I don’t always feel struck with original-recipe inspiration, and I don’t always feel like sitting down at my computer to write another blog post as the next Thursday approaches, but I think my regular posting schedule (originally twice a week, then once a week, then every other week…) has helped me keep it going. And when I look back through my blog to see all of my favorite recipes collected in one place (and accompanied by your comments!) then that makes it all worthwhile.