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.

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

There is nothing more satisfying than making one of the basic elements of food at home, bread for example. Today I became a dairy queen and made my own cheese.  Ricotta is a little hard to track down here in Korea so I decided to give it a go. I couldn’t believe how easy this recipe actually is. Just add acid to milk  and heat it up!

Ingredients

1 litre of full fat milk

4 tablespoons of lemon juice (about 2 lemons)

1/2 teaspoon of salt

Cheese cloth or paper for steaming mandu ( When shopping just try saying 만두’ – 만두 찔 때 필요하는 천 ) I got mine at Daiso but its also available at most supermarkets.

Directions

Prepare by putting your cheese cloth over a sieve. Put the milk in a saucepan, add the salt and lemon juice, and stir. Heat the milk on a low to medium heat until bubbles are beginning to appear around the sides. If you have a thermometer the temperature should be between 165  -185F (74-85 C). Do not let it simmer. Once the milk has reached the right tempreture take it off the heat and stir it slowly for a few seconds and the milk should seperate into the thick white curds and the translucent liquid whey.

Use a a spoon to  put the curds into the cloth lined sieve and let the liquid drain away until its reaches your desired texture.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Voilà homemade cheese within 30 minutes.  Watch this space for lots of ricotta themed recipes.

Vietnamese Spring rolls

If you weren’t already aware (how many times have I gone on about it now?) I have just been on a jaunt to Vietnam. Whilst there I partook in a cookery class. It was great fun and I even learned a few things too. The first dish they taught us to make was these little beauties. Although I have made them at home before they did not turn out quite how I expected. I have honed my skills and so now I can make far superior ones.

The key to making this dish is not soaking the rice papers for too long which was what  I was doing wrong before. You can put anything you like into to these so let your imagination run wild, I just used what I found at my local supermarket.

Ingredients

Rice papers (They have these everywhere, Homeplus and small supermarkets)

1/4 Shedded carrot

1/4 shredded cucumbers

1/2 a sliced red pepper

100g of cooked rice noodles (I bought mine in the foreign food mart, but you could use any kind of noodles instead)

A handful of bean sprouts

10 king prawns or some cooked chicken or pork

Fresh herbs if you have them (Cilantro, mint or Thai basil work well)

Sweet chilli sauce for dipping (I’m not going to make my own, its a bloody monday but feel free to if you wish).

Directions

It’s up to you how many you want/ have the patience to make, but the ingredients listed will make about 20. Start by shredding the carrot on a mandolin if you have one (I got mine at Daiso), you could just as easily grate the carrot though. Chop the cucumber and pepper into long thin slices. The length of the slices should be about half the width of your rice paper. Then slice your king prawns in half lengthways (you can use any meat in these if you prefer). With all your ingredients close at hand you should be ready to go. Dip your rice paper into the water and rotate it so all the sides have been dipped into the water then take it out. If the middle is still dry rub some water on it with your fingers so that it’s also a little wet. Put your roll on to a plate with the edge hanging over the side of the plate closest to you. Start putting your vegetables on the roll in the middle on the side closest to you, two or three pieces of each max.  Don’t be too generous with your stuffing, less is more in this case. They will be far easier to roll. After you have put the veggies on add the rice noodles and begin to roll. The picture below should give you a rough idea of the amounts.

Fold in the sides and add the king prawns with the color side facing down so it can be seen through the paper when you have finished rolling it. The trick of these is getting the paper soft enough to work with as when they are too hard they rip. In our cooking class we used the larger rice papers which I found much easier to work with, so in this case bigger is better.  If my ramblings have confused you then here’s a video from youtube which should answer any questions you have.