The Bakers Table

The last week or so we have been looking for apartments in Kyungidan and HBC. Yes I’m moving to a fatgirl food heaven.!!! Whilst trawling around the neighborhood searching for suitable places to live, we stumbled across The Bakers Table. I had read a review of The Bakers Table some time ago now and put it in my mental box of places to eat, but kind of just forgot about it. So when we happened to come across it I was very happy indeed.

As soon as I walked inside I knew I had found foreign food paradise. This place is filled to the brim with foody treasures. I was feeling rather peckish (when am I not?) so we stopped in to buy a sandwich. There were so many good options I didn’t know what to choose. We actually  had two different dinners to go to that night ( I  am in popular demand and didn’t want to deprive any of  my friends of  my scintillating company) so thought we would just share a sandwich from their delectable menu. I opted for the cilantro  chicken (I am powerless when it comes to cilantro, its my kryptonite).  We had it to go and while we were waiting I set about exploring the store.

The bread selection here is immense. I’ve never seen such a great selection in the whole of Asia. Homemade focaccia is an absolute favorite of mine and in two flavors! What more could you want? They have free samples of various breads for you to try, plus a fridge bursting with other deli style treats. I picked up a pot of their hummus (5,000) which was very good, possibly better than mine (although do try my recipe here)  and a cilantro pesto (1,500). They also have a homemade muesli which I have been meaning to make myself for the past week, to go with my homemade yogurt (recipe here) but haven’t got around to yet. At 6,000 it’s not cheap but its chock full of nuts and seeds. You could easily get between 10-20 portions from it depending on how large your portions are. As it’s quite light on the oats, you could add  some more to make it go further.

I didn’t really have time to do a full itinerary of what this places has to offer,  but there were ingredients galore. So stop by for a loaf of bread, a sandwich, and spot of shopping.  I’m sure you wont be sorry.

The bakers table is located in Kyungnidan. 244-1 Napsapyeong , Yongsan -gu, Seoul. To get there come out of Noksapyeong station (line 6) exit 2 and walk straight down past the entrance leading to Hae ban chon and go over the pedestrian bridge  above the road. You will see the bakers table as you exit the stairs on the other side.   You can also call on  070-7717-3501 or check out their blog http://blog.naver.com/mirabakery.

Burger B

I love a burger more than most. A thick slab of beef in between two slices of bread, slathered with cheese and sauce is definitely the way to my heart. Serve it with french fries and you pretty much have my favorite meal. Gourmet burger joints are two a penny at home but here in Korea a good burger is hard to find. Burgers appear on most restaurant menus but  they are rarely char grilled pieces of heaven.

The menus have changed since the last time I went. They are now in the style of a newspaper called Burger B Times, its tres cute. They have a reasonable selection of burgers, although only the shrimp burger is suitable for vegetarians. My vegan friend Derek opted for the mushroom burger thinking it would be a veggie delight, but it was as meaty as all the others. He ate it anyway though so it must have been pretty good. Apart from the burgers they have a variety of  other dishes like salads, sandwiches and Tex mex fare.

My dinning companions and I all opted for a burgers (prices vary between 6,500 – 8,500). I went for the ultimate BB burger 12,000 which is topped with caramelized onion and gruyère truffle aioli. Served with french fries and a shot of vanilla milkshake. I have to say the first time I had this burger is was absolutely amazing , I would have handed over my first born child to get another one of those babies. However the next 2 times I have been, the burger has been good but somehow missing that je ne sais quio (maybe its the truffle). I don’t know what they did to change it but I urge them to return it to its former glory, immediately if not sooner. It also used to be served on a nice wooden board, it just didn’t look as appealing on a white plate. The french fries are fine although nothing special (unless you like them skinny bordering on anorexic). The milkshake is a sweet shot of goodness, a nice way to finish the meal.

My lovely friend Tonya ordered the Gorgonzola burger which she kindly let me try, but since I don’t really like gorgonzola it was a bit hohum for me. She remarked they were to stingy with the pesto. My boyfriend Niall inhaled his bacon cheese burger so I was unable to try it, I can only assume that it was tasty and that’s why it was gone so quickly.  Apart from the ultimate BB , burgers don’t come with fries. So be sure to order them on the side, the large portion is quite substantial and only 5,000.

The other reason I returned to Burger B is the drinks. I think all my friends would say I’m pretty fussy when it comes to cocktails.  The mojito here is fairly good and they have a fair range of other drinks too, including homemade alcopops. They used to offer jugs of Pimms but sadly they are no longer on the menu.

Overall I’m sure I will return to Burger B again, however if they want to reclaim my  best burger in Korea title they need to get the Ultimate BB back up to par and bring back the Pimms.

Burger B has three location in Seoul,  Hongdae (070-8870-9220), Apgujeong (070-7536-4639) and Sangam (02-375-7001). The Hongdae branch is located at 362 -7  Seogyo-dong Mapo-gu  Seoul. (Just around the corner from American Apparel on the same road as Aloha Table).

Smarties Cookies

I bought a truckload of Smarties in duty free and after consuming many many boxes I still have a lot left. What was I to do with these  little treats? I decided I would knock up a batch of cookies. I was never very good at making these cookies so now I have a good recipe I stick with it through thick and thin.

Ingredients

200g of butter or margarine (I just use the cheap vegetable spread you can get everywhere)

200g of white sugar

100g of brown sugar

1 egg

300g flour (I used the one for noodles and dumplings)

1/2 a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

1/2 a teaspoon of salt

Directions

Cream together the sugar and butter until its light and fluffy. Add the egg and stir in the Smarties. Stir in the flour, baking soda and salt. Roll the mixture in to small balls and flatten the mixture with your hand. . If you not in the mood to eat 25 cookies at once (I’ve managed it before) you  can roll the dough into balls then put them on a greased baking tray in the freezer. Then take them out and bake them anytime you fancy one . Bake the cookies at 200 Cfor about 5 – 10 minutes, my oven is very quick so I have to keep an eye on them as they can burn.

Asian Stir-fry salad

Here is a healthy and delicious treat I first started making last summer. Its the perfect dish for this heat crazed season as it doesn’t require any cooking. Its also full of lots of healthy vegetables (just can use whatever you have lying around), plus it tastes pretty damn good too. Need I say more……

Ingredients

Salad

1 red pepper

1 yellow pepper

1 green pepper (I had a lot of peppers in my fridge but you can just use one or two)

1/2 cucumber

1/4 red cabbage

1-2 large handfuls of bean sprouts

300g of rice noodles (you can use any kind of noodles or long pasta if you don’t have the rice ones)

200g-300g of leftover cooked chicken (you can use any meat or fish you have though)

10 spring onions

Dressing

4 tables spoons of sweet chili sauce

2 tablespoons of sesame seed oil

1 tablespoon of soy sauce

2-3 tables spoons of lemon juice (1 lemon plus the zest)

A pinch of Chinese five spice (optional)

Directions

Slice your cucumber, cabbage and peppers into thin long slices. Throw them into a bowl with the bean sprouts, rice noodles and  cooked chicken. Mix together then add the dressing and mix again. Top with the sliced spring onions. Voila a delicious and nutritious dinner in minutes.

Monster Cupcakes

You probably already know how much I love cupcakes, so I was thrilled to find another place to buy these yummy baked treats. Monster Cupcakes is a cute little place in Kyungidan. Monster cupcakes vary a little from the usual cupcake design as they are decorated with all things gory and grotesque.

Severed finger anyone?

I opted for a chocolate, red velvet and a coffee (yes I had three, I’m not ashamed to admit it! I was doing a thorough job). They all had a very generous amount of delicious creamy topping on them, with is always good in my book (in fact the more topping the better). The cake was good too, light and moist. My favorite overall was probably the chocolate.

I have to say that the cupcakes at Monster were good but not as good as the ones at Life is just a cup of cake (read my review here) . Their buttercream is just not as sweet and delicious. However its nice to have some variety and who doesn’t like a cupcake topped with a  severed finger. They definitely win the prize for the best decoration hands down.

Monster Cupcakes is located in Kyungidan just up from Noxa. You can call on 02-790-1108 if you can’t find them.  They also have a loyalty card for all the greedy gluttons out there, buy ten cupcakes and get one for free (아싸)!

3 Cheese Tortellini

I was so thrilled that I managed to make my own cheese. The question was what to do with it? When I think of ricotta, spinach usually comes to mind. However I didn’t have any on hand and my fridge was bulging at the seams with other ingredients. So I though my best laid plan would be to make a three cheese tortellini. I could have used some of the gouda I procured in Vietnam to make it four cheese tortellini but I have other plans for the gouda, so I settled for a trio of cheeses.

The pasta dough was actually very simple to make, I’m surprised I’ve never had a go at it before. It has definitely been a week full of firsts. Sadly I do not possess a pasta machine so I was stuck with rolling it out by hand, although I was actually quite pleased with the results. The trick is getting it wafer thin so you can see the surface below through it. My second batch were definitely far superior to my first, so I guess there is a learning curve involved. When I tried to reroll the scraps I could not get them as thin as the first time. so I may well invest in a pasta maker very soon, though it is certainly not necessary.

Ingredients

Pasta

250g of flour

1 teaspoon of salt

3 eggs

3 Cheese filling

300g of ricotta cheese (make it yourself using my recipe)

100g cheddar

A generous amount of grated parmesan

1 egg

Tomato Sauce

20 -30 cherry tomatoes (I didn’t count I’m afraid)

1/2 an onion

2-3 cloves of garlic

1 red pepper

A glug of olive oil

A teaspoon of sugar

A pinch of salt and pepper

A teaspoon of mixed herbs

A few fresh basil leaves if you have them.

Directions

The first step is to make the pasta dough. Mix the salt with the flour then make a heap on a clean flat surface. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in your beaten eggs. I havent taken any pictures of these steps, I’m sure you have seen it countless times before. Stir the egg gradually incorporating the flour from the sides of the circle a bit at a time so the well keeps its shape until the last moment. When all the flour has been mixed in you should have a lump of dough. Knead this dough for 5- 10 minutes until it is elastic and has some stretch to it. Wrap in clingfilm and store in the fridge for 30 minutes. While you are waiting you can make the filling and sauce.

After the dough has been chilled properly you can begin to roll it out. It’s a good idea to separate your lump of dough into 2 or 3 pieces and work with one piece at a time. Put the unused lumps back in the fridge so they don’t dry out. If you have a pasta maker rolling the dough should be quick and easy. If not roll those sleeves up and get out your rolling-pin. The pasta really does need to be wafer thin, so when you think its thin enough, keep rolling. I read online that it should be thin enough so that you can see a playing card underneath the dough. The thinner your pasta the better it will taste. Even if the pasta is a little thick it’s not the end of the world but the skinny ones were definitely far tastier than the fatties.  You can use anything round to cut the tortellini shapes, I just used a regular paper cup, with a diameter of 7 centimeters. I found that this was a good size. I tried a smaller cup too but I found they were quite fiddly to make, plus you would have to make more of them too.  When your circles are all cut, put a bit of filling in the middle of the circle. About half a teaspoon.

Fold the circle over so it makes a half moon shape. Squeeze the edges of the pasta together all around the filling, so the lump is secured.  Bring the two edges together so it makes the shape below.

Put the tortellini on a floured plate to dry out.

On to the filling. Put your ricotta in a bowl and add the other cheeses and a beaten egg and mix it all together.

The sauce is incredibly easy to make just bung everything in the blender and mix until all the ingredients have been pulverized. Heat the sauce up in a saucepan until its bubbling.

Noxa

Noxa had come highly recommended so I was really looking forward to eating here.The interior is very cool and dark with lots of sparkling lights. The  menu was modern Italian and full of delectable sounding treats. After we ordered out came the bread which was very good. It tasted homemade and was wholemeal (always great in Korea). It was served with oil and balsamic. Sadly this was the highest point of the meal.

I ordered a Rosemary spatchcock chicken with potatoes and apple(20,000KRW). It looked good when it arrived and smelled even better, however it sadly did not live up to expectations in the taste department. The chicken was dry and rather tasteless apart from the rosemary. The potatoes were very plain and the apple was uncooked and even blander. The food was just very basic and it just didn’t have that mmmm factor

My boyfriend opted for the fettuccine with meat balls(17,000KRW) which sadly was as uninspiring as my dish. The sauce was rather tasteless, which is surprising when tomatoes are in season here and so cheap and plentiful. It wa just a very ordinary tomato sauce. the meatball again just tasted of cheap mince, there seemed to be no seasoning or herbs within it. The pasta was very well cooked though.  We both agreed that there was something good about the pasta that we couldn’t put our fingers on. My boyfriend later remarked that it had been the amount of parmesan he had added to the dish.

After the disappointing main courses we decided not to bother with dessert. Our total was 49,500 . Not an expensive meal but also not cheap. I think I could have made a lot of nice things for that much though so we  left feeling rather let down. On a positive note they did have a very nice loo, a restaurant with a fancy toilet always gets a few extra points from me. I think the problem was my high expectations, maybe we just ordered badly. My coworker Tonya enjoyed a good breakfast there and the selection of sandwiches on the menu seemed very enticing. I would perhaps go again to try a sandwich but with so many other restaurants in the area, I’m not sure if I could be tempted to give Noxa a second chance.

Noxa is located on the corner of Kyungnidan opposite the entrance to Hae ban chon. Come out of Napseoung station (line 6 ) exit 2 and walk straight down until you reach the under pass then go underneath. Noxa is just opposite the exit of the underpass.Or if you have GPS the address is 671 Itaewon 2-dong, Yongsan-gu. Seoul. 140-861. Phone number  02-790-0776

 

 

Vodoffee

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There’s nothing better on Saturday or Sunday morning than a delicious Vodoffee. This is probably my favourite breakfast cocktail, it even pips a Bloody Mary to the post. Probably because a good Bloody Mary is hard to find here in Korea. However with a coffee shop on ever corner your never short of a frappuccino.

This baby is the easiest cocktail ever to make. Personally I like a mocha, vanilla or hazelnut one but the choice is yours, let your imagination run wild. You can buy the frappuccino from anywhere, personally I favour Coffee Bean above all others though I usually end up at Twosome Place as its the closest.

Ingredients

1 frappuccino

50ml (double shot) Vodka (I particularly like absolute vanilla.)

Directions 

Go to your nearest coffee shop and purchase one frappuccino (or send your kind and loving boyfriend if you have one). Add the vodka and stir. Voilà a delicious and tasty breakfast drink

Homemade Greek Yoghurt

After my success of making ricotta I decided to give making yogurt a go too. Never one to wait, I decided I would attempt to make it without buying a thermometer first. I was supposed to get one for the ricotta too but I’m very impatient and I couldn’t be bothered to go to Homeplus in rushhour traffic. It always a hell of a journey home and I always come back in financial ruin. I don’t know if I just got lucky or I’m culinarily blessed but my yogurt worked out perfectly the first time I made it, the second and third times too (I’ve eaten a lot of yogurt this week). This is a super easy recipe which you could make just from a trip to your local GS mart. So if you like natural yogurt I urge you to give it a go.

Ingredients

1 litre of full fat milk

2 Activia yoghurt’s (I used the plain ones, you could also try the Denmark brand as I heard it works too)

A rice cooker

Directions

Heat the milk in a saucepan on a low to medium heat until it starts to form bubbles around the outside but not simmering. If you have a thermometer it should be between 165 F-185 F but I managed well without one. Take it off the heat and allow it to cool until its warm but not hot to the touch or until it reaches 120 F, again I had to judge this but it turned out well. Put your two yoghurts into a bowl and add in a few spoonfuls of the cooled milk (remove the milk skin first) then add the yoghurt back into the milk and stir.

Fill you rice cooker with the hottest water you can get from you tap, two thirds full. Put a ceramic dish at the bottom. Poor your yoghurt milk mixture into a water tight jar or container. I used one of the large sour cream containers (which I seem to have about a million of) but anything you have should be fine. Put your milk mix into the water so it is standing on the dish (my container is plastic so if I put it directly on the heat it would melt). Switch your rice cooker onto the keep warm setting but leave the lid ajar. After 2 hours you can unplug the rice cooker and just throw a tea towel over the top and the heat should stay in. Leave the yoghurt in the rice cooker for a further 4-6 hours. When the time has pasted your milk should have thickened into yoghurt, if it’s a bit thin you can leave for a few more hours. Once you’re at a good consistency, put it in the fridge to chill for another 4-6 hours to firm it up. Voilà a delicious and cheap easy way to make yoghurt!

Cornish Pasties

Yes I know I’m supposed to be on a diet but I have been watching the Olympics, which has made me come over all patriotic and crave all things british. I spent a summer working in a pasty shop in Cornwall, so I like to consider myself quite the connoisseur. I love a nice bit of pastry but rarely make my own, so my boyfriend was delighted when he came home to find these in the oven.  Traditionally the filling of pasties is uncooked, but I prefer to cook mine as they don’t take long to cook in my toaster oven and  no one wants to eat raw potato!

Ingredients 

Pastry

330g of plain flour (I used the one for dumplings and noodles)

160g of butter

2 teaspoon on salt

2 eggs

Filling

150g of chopped steak

1/2 a carrot

1 potato

1/2 an onion

1 – 2 cloves of garlic

250ml beef stock

1 teaspoon of mixed herbs

A pinch of coarse ground pepper

Directions

Fry the onion and garlic in a little oil for a few minutes until softened, then add the steak and fry until its been browned on all sides.  Add your potato and carrot to the pan (these should be chopped into 5mm cubes or smaller). Fry this mix for a minute or so then add the stock and stir until it is bubbling. Then turn down the heat and cook for 20-30 minutes until all the stock has been absorbed. Set to the side and allow it to cool whilst you make the pastry.

Put the flour and salt into a bowl then rub in the butter. Butter is pricey here in Korea so you could use margarine instead but the flavor will not be as good. When the butter is rubbed in and the  mixture resembles bread crumbs you can mix in the beaten egg. Form your mixture back into one big ball of pastry, cover in cling film and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes.  Take a rest and watch an episode of your favorite show.

When the pastry has been chilled you can start to roll it out on a floured surface. Roll it out so it’s about 1/4 of an inch thick. It’s up to you how big you want to make your pasties. Personally I like them smaller rather than bigger. I made 7 with this amount of pastry.  You can use any round implement you have to cut the circles, I used a bowl which has a diameter of about 13cm. Spoon in your filling (I used about 2 teaspoons for each one), then fold the pastry over and crimp the edges. Traditional Cornish pasties have the lovely twisted edge with 20 crimps but I was too eager to eat them and didn’t want to faff around with doing that. I just did a thumb print the whole way around. Brush them with an egg wash and bake them in a preheated oven for about 10-20 minutes at 200C or until the pastry is cooked and golden brown. Oven times can vary so just use your own judgement, my toaster oven seems to  cook things far faster than my oven back home. You can eat them hot or cold although personally I think you can’t beat a warm one.