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Appetizers

Memorial Day sausage sandwich extravaganza: a different kind of pigs in a blanket!

There’s no time like the time you spend with your loved ones πŸ™‚ This weekend my husband is off work, which means we will truly be celebrating Memorial Day together as a family. We went out to eat today, while tomorrow we’ll stay home and dear husband will do some grilling – and when we grill, we don’t hold back! We will for sure make the decadent sandwich below using fresh sausages we got on sale from the local grocery store. I will use a batch of Italian sausages for this purpose, but you can use brats as well (as we did in the past) with similarly spectacular results.

In creating this dish I was inspired by pigs in a blanket, the popular appetizer which involves hot dogs or small sausages wrapped in dough and baked until piping hot. Eating them straight out of the oven, sizzling with luscious juices and covered in buttery pastry, is definitely one of my greatest joys. This dish does resemble pigs in a blanket, but with a twist: the dough is replaced by lots and lots of bacon and pepper jack cheese. The more proteins, the merrier!

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Gochujang tuna salad: the story of our love for Korean chili paste!

There’s something brewing in this house: a gochujang obsession! I’ve been a fan of this staple of Korean cuisine ever since I attended The Good Taste Series culinary competition last year, where I tasted gochujang BBQ bison tenderloin – and I’ve been nice enough to pass my obsession over to the other members of my household!

I’m not a big fan of spicy foods. However, when it comes to gochujang, it was simply love at first bite. I find its spiciness so sophisticated and rich, and its color so vibrant. Like a cave of hidden treasures, once you try gochujang-steeped dishes, flavors come to you in quick succession. The first impression is mild, but then you’re taken by surprise by an avalanche of perpetual spiciness, and your mouth tastes old foods reinvented pretty much single-handedly by this miraculous ingredient. I found so much inspiration in gochujang – and I think I have so much to learn. πŸ™‚

The recipe below is the end result of a series of “gochujang experiments” I have conducted lately. I was looking for a way to “rejuvenate” our seafood dishes, and marinating the fish in gochujang was a big hit with my family. Keep Reading

Gourmia spiralizer review: Ring in the New Year with kid-friendly and stylish appetizers!

Can eating veggies be a challenge? Well, sometimes it can be, especially when you have children who need extra convincing to get their “5 a day.” We’ve had our fair share of struggles with our daughter. She seems to go through phases: Some days she can’t get enough of carrots and potatoes, while other days she doesn’t want to eat veggies in any shape or form.

If you’re looking for solutions to make veggies more fun for kids and your food more stylish overall, then a spiralizer is the way to go. Spiralizers are among the hottest kitchen gadgets of the moment, and I was lucky enough to try out several models at the latest edition of the International Housewares Show, back in the spring. Knowing how fashionable they were and how competitive the market had been lately, I was very excited when Gourmia contacted me and asked me to test and review their electric spiralizer. Enter the Gourmia Curly Q spiralizer! πŸ™‚

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Our Memorial Day appetizer: small pockets of goodness… and summer!

I think of my father every Memorial Day. Although he was never sent into combat, he did work in the military and had a dream to advance in the military ranks. This dream crashed when he was asked to join the Communist Party and he refused. He was expelled for this reason and spent his life longing for a return to the army (which never happened) and hoping his daughter would live a better life in freedom.

Back then, whenever there was a special occasion to celebrate, my mom and aunt would make the same appetizers: deviled eggs, chicken liver patΓ©, eggplant salad, and cheese filled tomatoes. I posted about the first three already, so now it’s time to write about the fourth – a cheerful, summery and vibrant dish. After all, what else says “summer” better than ripe, ruby red, sweet and thirst-quenching tomatoes? πŸ™‚ Keep Reading

Super Bowl, vegetarian style: my quinoa, sweetcorn and spinach patties

Up until these past few months, I never actually thought much about the versatility and healthfulness of grains. As a child, my exposure to them in their unprocessed state was minimal. We used to eat a lot of carbs – mostly white, refined bread – but never wheat, oats or other grains per se. Since then, my diet has changed tremendously, and for the better. Still, it was only lately that I have decided to give the much-lauded grains a try, and I couldn’t be happier with my find. We have become “grains aficionados” – and we love it! πŸ™‚

I made these quinoa patties earlier in the week, and I will make them again today, on Super Bowl Sunday. My husband likes to eat them for lunch at work. He says they are light yet satisfying, and they make them feel good about himself and his eating habits. As for me, I really enjoy the crunchy texture of the quinoa, and I think the pairing of the sweetcorn with the mighty red pepper flakes makes these patties stand out and deliver a truly rewarding flavor experience. I like sweetcorn – and I love sweetcorn and red pepper flakes!

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Just in time for Cinco de Mayo: I made guacamole!

I made many “culinary discoveries” since coming to Chicago, and guacamole is one of them. Some friends of ours introduced us to this deliciously creamy dish, and we just fell in love with it! I wanted to learn to make it myself, so I did some research and watched various cooking shows. Learning to make guacamole has been an ongoing process – and my husband, a true “guacamole aficionado,” can testify to my many failures along the way πŸ™‚

At first I stuck to the basics, but then my confidence grew and I started to experiment with flavors and textures. This is how I arrived at jicama, an underrated vegetable with a mellow taste and a crunchy bite, which I had never heard of while living in Europe. Keep Reading

It’s time to make zucchini cakes!

This is my mom’s recipe and it’s a big hit in our house. My husband loves these savory cakes and eats them “bathed” in plenty of sour cream. Meanwhile, I eat them on their own and quite a few at a time, sometimes late at night, when the pregnancy cravings kick in. I think this is a great comfort food: served hot, straight from the pan, the cakes are fresh, light and moist and exhibit simplicity and earthiness. I have found that simple is in many case better, and this is why I like to let the flavors shine through and to talk for themselves in this dish. No strange names or artificial additions – just a few well-known ingredients, true to themselves and carefully selected πŸ™‚ Keep Reading

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