The holidays are a time for me to be creative in the kitchen. We spend a lot of time at home together during holidays, watching movies and making special treats. I have loved to cook from the time my Aunt Lisa first showed me how to make a pot roast - especially since she explained that cooking isn't about getting everything right the first time & that it is okay if a meal doesn't come out (although her meals were delicious!). I really took to heart what she said...that if I messed up, I could throw out what didn't work and try again a different way. Cooking became a method of stress relief and creative outlet for me, since perfection isn't required or (in my house, anyway) expected. Okay- there have been a few Thanksgiving meals where I really stressed...the Great Potato Disaster of 2011 comes to mind (for which I am still grateful for my mom's "instant" solution)...but overall I love to be in the kitchen, and am trying to pass that love on to Eli.
Since Eli came home, we've really tried to learn how to prepare some Korean food. We love Kim Chi, Jap Chae, Bulgogi, Kim Bap, Pajeon (and a lot of other savory pancake variants...Eli's fav is Japanese...okonomiyaki!). Sesame seeds, sesame oil, and some new vegetables have made their way into our kitchen. We have begun to branch out a bit into some Korean-American fusion foods, too. At least, that's what I call our eclectic mix ups. Today we decided to combine two of our favorites, kimchijeon (Kim chi pancakes) and hamburgers. We cooked the hamburger patties as we normally would, and prepared our usual toppings (sliced tomatoes, grilled onions, ketchup, lettuce). Then, I made the kimchijeon to use as hamburger buns (recipe follows). OMG...this was one of the best creations we've had this vacation...everything melded together, and the kim chi added so much flavor! I do not use the pre packaged Korean pancake mixes, and I took the liberty of making the recipe healthier by adding flax seed meal. I cannot wait to have this again! Eli ate one and a half hamburgers, plus extra Kim Chi on the side with some seaweed strips.
Another particular success came in the form of gluten free pancakes (the normal, sweet, breakfast kind). I don't normally like making pancakes because it's a lot of sugar (that NO ONE in this house needs!) and it takes a lot of gluten free flour, which can get expensive (I don't use any gluten-containing products). However, I was reading a popular parenting blog that boasted of a Paleo type pancake that sounded interesting, and I thought I would modify it to meet our needs (the original pancake recipe called only for bananas and eggs). The result was super-fluffy deliciousness that didn't even need syrup. I could not believe how tender and satisfying these were, and I was surprised that they really didn't have a strong banana taste. I was also thrilled that they really don't require a lot of flour, which is a huge plus. I will be experimenting with adding flax seed meal or coconut flour in place of some of the gluten free flour later this week. I will be making these in larger batches to save and freeze for quick breakfasts (or, as Eli says, pre-breakfast, since he eats breakfast again at school). Eli really enjoys mashing the bananas and mixing the ingredients for these, too! We did try another variation of these with pumpkin purée in place of the bananas, but didn't like them quite as much (even though we love pumpkin).
That said, here are our recipes (all measurements are approximate).
1/2 cup of really good Kimchi (use more or less to taste; get the good stuff from an Asian market or make your own, but please don't get the cheapy stuff at the regular market)
1/4 cup of all purpose gluten free flour (I use Gluten Free Pantry, you can really use any all purpose flour)
1/4 cup of flaxseed meal
1 Tbspn oil ( I used walnut oil, but any veg oil is fine)
1/4 teaspoon of baking powder
Mix all ingredients except Kimchi together until you have a nice pancake batter (no lumps). Fold in the Kimchi. Put a 1/4 cup of the mixture in a pre heated non-stick skillet. Flip it over when the sides of the pancake look done and the middle has begun to set. Cook the second side until brown. Spread with a bit of mayo, then eat...or in our case, use as a hamburger bun.
1/4 cup all-purpose gluten free flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (to taste)
1/4 teaspoon cloves (to taste)
Dried blueberries (optional)
Mash the bananas thoroughly. Beat the eggs until fluffy, then combine with the bananas. Keep mixing and mashing until you do not see any banana pieces in the egg mixture ( I use a potato masher for this). Next, stir in the rest of the ingredients. Cook as you would any other pancake. You can top with honey, powdered sugar, or nothing at all....they are delicious!