Around the World #3: South Korea and Dolsot Bibimbap

This week’s dish is dedicated to two special family members:  my sister Lori, who was born in South Korea, and my cousin Jake, who will compete in Alpine Skiing at the 2013 World Winter Special Olympics in South Korea!

Dolsot Bibimbap is a Korean dish consisting of steamed rice, vegetables and meat (bibimbap) and served in a hot stone bowl or pot (dolsot).  We have eaten at a nice place called Seoul House, where the bowls are heated over a fire and the hot stone coated with oil gives the rice a sizzling, crispy bottom.   This is a vegetarian version, but I’ve also tried the dish with barbeque beef (bulgogi) and enjoyed it.  I don’t have a Korean “dolsot“, so I used a small cast iron skillet instead.

Dolsot Bibimbap takes some prep work, but if you can enlist a volunteer or two, it’s fun and well worth the effort!

Vegetarian Dolsot Bibimbap

serves 3-4

Dolsot Bibimbap ingredients

 3-4 cups cooked rice (jasmine is great)

1 baby cucumber, cut into matchsticks

Salt

8 oz. firm tofu

Soy sauce

Toasted sesame oil

1 carrot, or several baby carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks

1 cup bean sprouts

3-4 cups baby spinach (fresh)

Toasted sesame seeds

Small sheet Nori seaweed, cut into thin strips (I use kitchen shears)

1 egg

Korean barbeque sauce

Sprinkle cucumber with salt, leave to drain in a colander while you prepare the remaining ingredients.  Gently squeeze to remove excess water and set aside.

Rinse and drain tofu and cut into 1/2″ slices.  Place some paper towel on a plate, arrange tofu slices, top with more paper towel and another plate, and place a skillet on top to press the tofu.  After about 15 minutes, heat 1 tablespoon of sesame oil in a skillet.  Sprinkle tofu lightly with some soy sauce and then fry the tofu, turning once, until golden.  Remove from pan, let cool and cut into thick strips.

While cucumber and tofu are draining, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in skillet.  Add matchstick carrots and stir fry until tender-crisp.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Bring about 2 cups of water to boil in a pot.  Add salt and blanch sprouts briefly, just until slightly wilted.  Remove sprouts with a slotted spoon (reserving hot water) and plunge into ice water to stop cooking.  Squeeze out excess water and set aside.

Bring water to a boil again and slightly blanch fresh spinach until slightly wilted and still bright green.  Plunge into ice water, drain and squeeze gently. to remove excess water and set aside.

Now that everything is ready, it’s time to assemble the masterpiece.  Place a small cast iron skillet over medium high heat.  When hot, add 1 tablespoon sesame oil and swirl or use a paper towel to coat surface.  Add cooked rice and pack gently.  The rice will sizzle in the oil.  Arrange vegetables in sections on top of the rice.  Cook egg over easy in a separate skillet.  Place on top of vegetables and top with seaweed strips and a sprinkling of toasted sesame.  Cook for an additional 4-5 minutes until heated through.  Serve directly in skillet placed on a trivet on the table.  Each serving can be topped with a little Korean barbeque sauce (or a lot, if you like it hot!) and mixed into the rice and vegetables.

Enjoy this beautiful and healthy dish!

Return to Lilac Lane

http://kuhistory.com/articles/for-the-girls-who-must-travel-up-hill/

Watkins Scholarship Hall

My past and her future met at the door

Of a house that I left in ’84 and she had never seen.

Helpful hands and smiling faces welcomed us and made us feel

At home.

Familiar columns, desk and stairways, the sleeping porch and kitchens held

Memories of so much laughter, uncertainty, tears, friendship, experiences shared

And the promise of the same and more for her.

We visited each room and then I saw it among the images

Of women stretching back through years and generations.

Posing on the sun porch, familiar faces and some forgotten,

Spirits blessing those here and now

In this grand old house.

Written after dropping my daughter off at college; she lived in the same house I had lived in 30 years before.

Photo courtesy of http://www.kuhistory.com.  Read more about Elizabeth Watkins and Watkins Scholarship Hall here.

Around the World #2: Italy – Focaccia and Pizza

sliced focaccia

Freshly baked focaccia

Focaccia is a popular type of bread in Italy and can be found in bakeries everywhere.  Although the appearance and ingredients may vary, focaccia is usually dotted with wells across the top and seasoned with olive oil, herbs and salt.  The same dough can be used to make pizza base.

Although pizza is found throughout Italy, each region has its own specialties.  Pizza Napoletana traditionally has tomatoes and mozzarella and Viennese adds sausage, oregano and oil.  Pizza Capricciosa is usually topped with tomato, fresh mozzarella, artichoke hearts, ham and olives.  Pizza Bianca has no tomato sauce and could have pesto as a substitute.  Wherever they are made, the best are baked in a wood fired oven.

 Dough Recipe

 4 cups of flour (I usually mix 3 parts all-purpose or bread flour with 1 part whole wheat)

2 teaspoons dry instant yeast

1 cup hot water

1 cup cold milk

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons sugar

2 tablespoons olive oil

Sift flour into a large mixing bowl to incorporate air and add yeast to flour.  Mix with a spoon.

Blend water and milk in a measuring pitcher and test the temperature with your finger.  It should be warm to the touch but not too hot.  Add salt, sugar and oil.  Mix liquid into the flour and yeast and stir well.

I use a Kitchen Aid mixer to knead the dough – you can also knead by hand on a floured surface until elastic.  You can tell when the dough is ready by forming a ball and poking lightly with your finger.  The surface should be smooth and spring back lightly when touched.  After kneading, place in a lightly oiled mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until doubled in size.

This is enough dough for a large pizza and a loaf of focaccia.

Tuscan herbs

Drogheria Alimentari Tuscan Herbs

Focaccia

Bread dough

Tuscan herbs (a blend of rosemary, sage, thyme, basil, bay and marjoram)

Olive oil

Kosher salt

After the dough has risen, take one half and form a ball with a smooth top.  Oil baking sheet and place dough on the sheet.  Poke deep holes around the dough with your finger or the end of a wooden spoon and grind Tuscan herb blend over the top.  Pour olive oil into the holes and top the loaf with a sprinkling of kosher salt.

Bake at 450° for 12 minutes, until golden brown.

focaccia baking

Focaccia baking in the oven

Pizza

Form a ball with the other half of dough and roll out dough thinly for crust and place on an oiled pizza pan.  Spread pizza sauce and top with cheese and your choice toppings (suggestions below).

Bake at 450° for 8-12 minutes (depending upon size).

Top with any combination of the following:

Tomato/pizza sauce

Basil pesto

Shredded Mozzarella or Italian Blend cheese

Fresh mozzarella, sliced

Chopped or thinly sliced onion

Chopped bell pepper

Sliced mushrooms

Zucchini, thinly sliced

Sliced tomatoes

Fresh oregano

Fresh basil

Pepperoni, ham, sausage (if desired)

Red pepper flakes

Parmesan

veggie pizza

Veggie Pizza

Līgo Circle of Appreciation

When I was invited to join the Līgo Circle of Appreciation by Lucky Dip Life, I was curious about the invitation.

The yearly Līgo celebration happens every summer solstice in Latvia. At this time we adorn our heads with Līgos of flowers, oak leaves, grasses and plants. We join circles around bonfires and celebrate life, and our appreciation of each other.

Here’s our Līgo Circle of Appreciation among fellow bloggers.

For duration of 22 days, starting on 1st October 2012, we will be inviting 2 bloggers per day to join the Līgo Circle of Appreciation.

PLEASE NOTE: This is an Appreciation, NOT an Award.

To fully participate in the Līgo Circle of Appreciation:

* Complete this sentence about blogging: ”A great blog is…
* Refer back to the blogger who invited you
* Invite 2 bloggers to join the Līgo Circle of Appreciation on a post

Here’s my bit:

  • A great blog is from the heart and allows your true self to shine through.
  • I’d like to invite:

Vina’s Delicious Recipes

The Why About This

I’m not into anything like chain letters, but this seems pretty harmless…   Have a great Sunday!

Books

I’ll never forget my eldest daughter’s first word other than “mama”.  My mother worked in bookshop at the time and when we entered the door she looked about in wonder.  “Book!  Book!  Book!”  At 9 months old she knew them well.  I read to her morning, noon and night and when she nursed I read my own books.  Today she is still a reader and her most prized possessions line her bookshelves.

My mom is also a book lover and like me, she enjoys the escape and possibilities.  There is always a wish list on Amazon, gift certificates for holidays and books tucked into care packages.

So many possibilities…

Years ago when we moved to Holland, few possessions went with us.  With a meager weight allowance for relocation we left all but the essentials behind.  Discovering the English section at the library, consisting of one bookcase, felt like locating treasure and I must have read at least half of the volumes on offer.  We were excited when we stumbled upon books we could read at flea market stalls and scarcity made them precious.

I feel dismay when I notice the half-empty shelves at the library and see the collection diminishing.  Patrons are more likely to be surfing the internet than borrowing books and the library may be building up the collection of e-books due to popular demand.  I understand scarce resources and hard decisions, but miss exploring the aisles and coming home with a stack of books.  For 6 weeks I can learn about anything, and return the book so that someone else can do the same.  I like the ideas contained in books, and love the idea of circulation to keep the knowledge flowing.

“A Walk Across America” inspired me to walk from LA to DC.  When I was expecting babies and made the unusual choice to give birth at home, authors like Sheila Kitzinger and Janet Balaskas shared their wisdom and became trusted guides.  When I moved to Europe, the Internet was not what it is today and reading books was my way of preparing for the unknown.  Reading with my children awakened imagination and made new friends come to life.  Students loved it when I rewarded good behavior with stories and even “did the voices.”

Someone once said I was an open book.  Somehow “you’re a charged e-reader” doesn’t have the same ring.  Long live writers, readers, learners and books.

Around the World #1: Germany and Swabian Apple Bread Pudding

The journey begins where it ended this summer:  in the beautiful Black Forest and Swabian Jura of Southwestern Germany.

While in Stuttgart, we stayed at Campingplatz Cannstatter Wasen, a convenient site wedged between the Neckar river and a vast fairground to the east.  All was quiet when we visited in June, but now it’s festival time and in September and October the Cannstatter Volksfest is in full swing.  The event started in the 1800’s as a one-day harvest festival, but has evolved into a three-week celebration considered to be the second largest beer festival in the world after Munich’s Oktoberfest.

Cannstatter Volksfest near Stuttgart

Cannstatter Volksfest near Stuttgart

It was in Stuttgart that I met Silvi and family for the first time, and when we said goodbye she presented me with a small gift – a cookbook that featured traditional Swabian recipes so that I could remember our visit.  In honor of new family and fond memories, my first recipe is a perfect way to celebrate autumn’s apple crop.

Swabian Apple Bread Pudding (Ofenschlupfer)

4 apples

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon rum

1 teaspoon cinnamon

6 bread rolls or 4-5 slices white bread

1½ cups milk (approximately)

4 tablespoons butter

5 eggs, separated

3 tablespoons sugar

pinch of cinnamon

1/4 cup raisins (optional)

1/4 cup breadcrumbs

3-4 tablespoons ground almonds

butter to garnish, or 2 egg whites and 3 tablespoons of sugar

Ingredients

Preheat oven to 375°.

Peel, quarter and slice apples.  Mix with 3 T. sugar and rum and leave to allow flavors to blend.

Remove crusts from sliced bread or slice rolls into thin slices and moisten with milk.  Beat butter until fluffy and then blend in egg yolks, remaining sugar, cinnamon and ground almonds (I use a mini food processor).  Whisk egg whites separately until stiff.  Fold apple slices and raisins and egg white into the butter/egg yolk mixture.  Grease an 8″ square oven proof pan with butter or cooking spray and sprinkle with bread crumbs.  Layer the bread slices and apple mixture and dot with butter on the top.  Bake the apple pudding for 30-40 minutes at 375° until golden brown.  Serve with ice cream or whipped cream if desired.

Apple Bread Pudding