Peanut Butter Miso Cookies

Folks – it is a CRAZY world out there! I’ve been struggling to make sense of my own thoughts and emotions during this tumultuous time. COVID-19, such a short little name with a monumental impact. I saw it creep slowly throughout the world, talking with my family in Taiwan as they watched their country struggle to get the virus under control. It seemed as if we were safe for awhile, but now, even in my state of Minnesota, there are over a hundred cases (and that’s only the confirmed ones!).

I guess I say this not to add to the chaos, but as a gentle reminder that the best thing that we can be doing is to stay home. Trust me, as a twenty-five year old who loves to explore, that’s the last thing I want to be doing either, but staying home WILL save lives. It’ll help keep your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and even your pets (!!) safe. Why, you ask? Well, diseases can only be transmitted if there are people to transmit it to. When contagious people stay home and don’t have anyone to spread it to, then we help prevent the spread of the disease. The scary thing about this is that you can totally be contagious and not know it… so bottom line- STAY HOME PLEASE!

And while I’m on this little public health rant (sorry, I can’t help it, in my other life, I work at the Department of Health!), can I just throw in a small plug for baking? It is absolutely wonderful for getting your mind off things just for a small while, and I find it helps with my anxiety. My favorite thing to bake right now is peanut butter miso cookies.

If you did a double take, don’t worry, most people are totally caught off guard by the combination! But if you love salty-sweet desserts, this one is totally for you. And if you don’t, well, give them a try anyway, you might be surprised! My only suggestion for this recipe is to let them sit overnight. Something magical happens in the refrigerator and the flavors blend so seamlessly after sitting for awhile. That being said, I’ve also baked them right after making the dough and they were terrific as well.

Bake well, stay well, and take care ❤

Peanut Butter Miso Cookies | Makes about a dozen

difficulty level – easy

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted or at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar*
  • 1/3 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/8 cup (a.k.a. 2 tbsp) red miso paste (you can usually purchase at an Asian grocery store)
  • 1/4 cup chunky peanut butter (this is super important for texture! If you only have smooth pb, it wil work, but the texture will be off)
  • 1 extra large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

*If you want a chewier peanut butter cookie, add in 1 full cup of brown sugar.

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 (F).
  2. Combine coconut oil, light brown sugar, white sugar, miso paste, peanut butter, egg and vanilla in a bowl. Mix well with a whisk.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, and baking powder.
  4. Add dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix until just combined. It is important not to over mix, otherwise the cookie will be tough. I like to use a spatula for this part.
  5. Roll into walnut sized balls (think a little smaller than a golf ball)
  6. Bake at 350 (F) for 10-12 mins or until edges are just starting to brown.
  7. Cool on a cookie rack, or eat while hot!
  8. Cookie dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days, and will keep for a couple months in the freezer (I like to roll the dough into individual balls and then freeze. When you’re ready to bake, no need to defrost, just bake them a little bit longer.)

Enjoy!

Bibimbap or not?

A story of rice bowls

The time was late – far past my bedtime, yet I was huddled under the covers watching food video after food video. A caption caught my eye — bibimbap. I clicked. I found myself watching a video of a man making bibimbap. Maybe it was the potatoes that set me off, maybe it was the lack of respect for a culture’s food, but I found myself reeling as fried potatoes were substituted for rice, cheese was mixed in and the typical egg was traded for a handful of salad greens, producing what he deemed, “an authentically delicious bibimbap”. This wasn’t the bibimbap I was familiar with — in fact, did it even count? I wasn’t sure.

Over the next few days, the question of authenticity teased me. Having grown up in an American town where the only Chinese restaurant was run by a White couple, I struggled with this idea of authenticity and fusion. Mostly:

  • What makes a food authentic, and is authentic food necessary for an authentic experience?
  • Does authentic food need to be cooked by a person of that specific culture?
  • And if not, who qualifies to cook the food of a culture that isn’t American?
  • What is fusion food?

No, I don’t have the answers (I do have thoughts, which I’ll explore in later posts) — and I really don’t think anyone has the “right answer”. These questions are meant to create a conversation around an action that we all have to do to survive (eat) and what we’re choosing to put in our mouths.

This may be an unpopular opinion, but I can’t help admitting that the sudden rise in popularity of Asian food leaves me disgruntled and with a sour taste in my mouth. Not because I don’t love not having to bring only a PB&J sandwich to lunch or that there are finally more Asian restaurants in my area than I have fingers and toes, but because it all feels like a fad. A fad of chasing “Instagrammable” bubble teas, or Snapchatting the making of hand-pulled noodles. And on the chef’s end, jumping on to the train of Gochujang this, or ube that, because those ingredients are the ones that are hip, even when the ingredients don’t necessarily belong. Am I afraid that one day America will wake up and we’ll be obsolete? Maybe a little bit, but I’m more afraid that this increased interest with Asian cuisine isn’t accompanied by the same increased interest in the people and culture of that cuisine.

It seems as if America has snatched up Asian food and left the people behind, left their stories, their hardships and their culture. And that breaks my heart. I really do believe that understanding the stories and history of a culture is key in accepting and understanding communities different than our own. So, let’s learn about the history of mooncakes and the legend and lore surrounding the Mid-Autumn Festival. Let’s understand why many Asian dishes are braised and stewed instead of fried (or why the fried dishes are so prized). Let’s take a moment to talk to our friends about the history or story behind a dish. I promise you what you learn, will only make your meal richer.

And speaking of meal, let’s get to the star of the show – bibimbap. We’re making it today because it was the meal that sparked this conversation. And while I may not be Korean, it has come to be one of my favorite foods. Bibimbap wasn’t always called bibimbap, but it’s been around for thousands of years. The Royal family would often dine on bibimbap for lunch or dinner, and it wasn’t until much later that it transitioned to more of a humble everyday dish. I find that bibimbap, literally meaning “to mix” + “rice” reminds me of home, in a way that only a bowl of rice can do.

*What you choose to mix into your bibimbap can vary. I’ve followed a more traditional list of vegetables and proteins to mix in, but if you’re more familiar with Korean cuisine or have allergies, by all means, substitute away!

BIBIMBAP | Makes 2 bowls

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups rice (white, brown or purple is all fine)
  • 1 cup julienne carrots
  • 1 cup julienne zucchini
  • 2 cups spinach or Asian leafy greens
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 cup julienne burdock root
  • 1 block of firm/medium firm tofu – cubed into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • White sesame seeds (for sprinkling)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Soy sauce (to taste)
  • Sesame oil (to taste)
  • Gochujang (to taste)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Over medium heat, saute carrots until soft to bite. Season with salt and sesame oil to taste.
  2. Over high heat, repeat process sauteing zucchini, spinach and mushrooms individually until tender. Season each vegetable with salt and sesame oil to taste.
  3. Heat frying pan until very hot. Once pan is hot, saute burdock root for 1-2 minutes, then pour in 1/4 cup of water and place lid of saucepan on to steam burdock roots. Once water has evaporated, test burdock root for tenderness. If it is not soft enough, repeat the steaming process. If it is tender enough for your liking, season with soy sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  4. In a frying pan, heat up 2 tbsp of oil until the pan is very hot. Add tofu and pan-fry until sides are golden. Season with salt and sesame oil to taste.
  5. In a fry pan, cook 2 eggs sunny-side up (I prefer my eggs fully cooked, in which case I was just cook eggs over-hard).
  6. Divide rice evenly into two bowls. Arrange vegetables and tofu on top of rice. Place one egg on each bibimbap bowl.
  7. At this point, you may add as much or as little gochujang as you prefer. I often top my bibimbap with an additional drizzle of sesame oil or soy sauce.

Enjoy!

Mango Almond Chiffon Cake

When I moved back to Minnesota, one of the things that I was dreading most was it long, long, long and COLD, COLD, COLD winters. I’m not sure how to articulate to you just how cold -30 Fahrenheit feels like, but maybe the best way to describe it would be to confess that I wore two pairs of pants, a long-sleeve, a sweatshirt and a vest, plus fuzzy socks — indoors (yep.).

But, you know, I am back, and for the most part, thrilled to be close to my family, literally down the street from some of my friends, and happily employed. Even though I’ve lived in Minnesota for the majority of my life, the transition back from New York hasn’t been easy. It’s sometimes a little lonely to look out the window and not see a single soul, and can we talk about how I’m pretty sure I forgot how to drive, period. Learning to get back on the road again when I’ve always been an anxious driver has definitely been a challenge. For now, I’m taking it slow and counting driving safely to my local Trader Joe’s a win.

One of the things that I have forgotten about Minnesota (and leaves me breathless every time), are the beautiful fall colors. The swirling leaves of red, pink, orange, gold and yellow surrounded by pockets of green are for me, one of the best parts of fall and best parts of living in Minnesota. The golden-y hue of fall color is what inspired this Almond Mango Chiffon Cake. What is chiffon cake you ask? Well, it’s probably the lightest, fluffiest cake you’ll ever taste and it’s got nothing but eggs helping it rise. In my recipe, there’s a slight hint of almond, and a fruity aftertaste. Basically, fall and summer all in one.

I like to make them in 6 oversized muffin tins, but there’s nothing stopping you from turning this into an 8″ or 9″ cake either. In fact, there’s definitely nothing stopping you from making this cake and a cream cheese frosting or whipped cream topping to finish it off. The best part of this cake is that it’s dairy-free and good for breakfast, dessert or a snack.

Mango Almond Chiffon Cake (adapted from Epicurious) | Makes 6-8 slices (depending on how you cut)

Ingredients

  • 5 egg yolks
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped dried mango slices
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cold water mixed with 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp granulated white sugar (plus more for sprinkling)
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 cup cake flour*

*If you don’t have cake flour, you can always make your own using all-purpose flour and cornstarch, potato starch or tapioca starch. Just measure out a cup of all-purpose flour, remove 2 tablespoons of flour and add in 2 tablespoons of your starch.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350(F) and line either cake tin or muffin tin with parchment paper.
  2. Combine honey water and chopped mango slices – let soak to re-hydrate the dried mango.
  3. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine egg whites and salt. Using a electric mixer, start on the lowest speed, beating for a minute on each speed until you have reached medium speed. Then, gradually add in 1/4 cup sugar and continue mixing. Once sugar has been fully added, beat on high speed until you get peaks that just barely hold their shape (not stiff, but not soft either).
  4. In a separate large bowl, combine your egg yolks and remaining sugar (1/4 cup + 2 tbsp). Using an electric mixer, beat until mixture turns fluffy and pale yellow.
  5. With the electric mixer on medium speed, gradually pour olive oil into the egg yolk mixture and mix until incorporated thoroughly.
  6. Then mix in honey water+mangoes and almond extract.
  7. Sift cake flour into egg yolk mixture (the sifting is crucial! this will make sure your cake isn’t dense), and combine using a wooden spoon (not electric mixer).
  8. Fold whipped egg whites into egg yolk mixture in three batches, make sure to using a folding motion so you don’t deflate the egg whites.
  9. Pour mixture into prepped muffin tins or cake tin. Sprinkle top with sugar.
  10. Place into oven and bake for 25 (if using muffin tins) or 45 minutes (if using cake tins), until golden and toothpick comes out clean.
  11. Enjoy!

Fluffy and Moist Dairy-Free Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Scones

Not going to lie, I’ve been on a Great British Baking binge – not the new show without Mary Berry, but like the old reruns with the original gang.  There is just something so absolutely stress-relieving and home-y about watching home bakers bake their hearts out.  I guess I should mention that I’ve been on a little bit of a baking kick lately as well, oops. I’m typing this as I have a banana bread going in the oven (I’m going to blame my overripe bananas) and a frozen loaf of zucchini bread in my fridge (I couldn’t let those go bad either, right?). 


Anyways, maybe you can guess, but I’m stressed.  It’s job hunting season and I swear there isn’t anything worse than pouring your heart into a cover letter and resume only to hear a big fat no.  Seriously, if anyone has any job hunting tips, please let me know!  I think that the transition from school to being a working full-time adult is always a little bit different.  Not only do you have loans, but the added stress of having to look for a job that pays a living wage and also the prospect of having to relocate and start making new friends kind of makes the whole deal a little bit of a downer.  Don’t get me wrong, I am suuupppperrr excited to be done with school (goodbye homework!), but transitions are hard, and I’m just acknowledging that.  


I guess for me, when things get hard, I always tend to gravitate towards ideas and things that remind me of home or warmth/hugs.  This was definitely the inspiration behind these cinnamon chocolate scones.  I happen to love the combination of cinnamon and chocolate.  Cinnamon provides warmth, while the melt-y pools of chocolate add lots of richness.  I definitely don’t recommend skipping out on the chocolate, especially since the chocolate I’m using here is dark chocolate and dairy-free (practically healthy!).  While I’m lecturing on what else not to leave out, I’ll take the time to mention, don’t leave out the cinnamon butter spread on top either! OMG it’s legitimately the most delicious thing ever.  Once its baked, it turns into this crackly, cinnamon-y, crunchy topping.  SO GOOD.  Growing up, my sisters and I always tried to make scones every weekend, so these goodies definitely hold a lot of nostalgia for me. 


Hey, if you’re having a hard week or day (and I’m sending hugs to you if you are) take some time for yourself tonight, or maybe this weekend and make these scones.  Or if cinnamon/chocolate isn’t your thing, check out these blueberry and cream ones, or raspberry white chocolate scones.  Hopefully the warmth and home-y-ness will remind you of good memories and the fact that good times are coming. And hey, I know for a fact that good times are coming, because who doesn’t love summer?

DAIRY-FREE CINNAMON CHOCOLATE SCONES | Makes 8 scones

INGREDIENTS

for the scones

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt (omit if your dairy-free butter is salted)
  • 6 tbsp dairy-free butter – chilled in the fridge before using
  • 3/4 cup chopped dark chocolate
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup coconut cream
  • 1 egg

for the cinnamon spread

  • 2 tbsp dairy-free butter at room temperature
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp sugar 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375 (F).
  2. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, ground cinnamon and salt together in a large bowl.
  3. Add in dairy-free butter and using hands a knife/pastry cutter incorporate butter into dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse sand (butter should be pea-sized).
  4. Add in chocolate pieces making sure to coat each chocolate piece in flour (this will make sure they don’t sink to the bottom of the scone batter during baking)
  5. In a separate bowl or liquid measuring cup, combine coconut cream, vanilla extract and egg, mixing thoroughly.
  6. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour three-fourths of wet ingredients into the well.
  7. Using spatula, fold wet and dry ingredients together.  Continue adding in remaining wet ingredients until a shaggy dough forms.  uDO NOT overwork dough.
  8. Place dough on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and pat into an 8″ circle.
  9. In a small bowl, mix room temperature butter, sugar and cinnamon until a paste forms.
  10. Spread the cinnamon butter paste on top of the scone, making sure to cover the whole circle (see picture above)
  11. Cut circle into 8 pieces to help scones rise more easily in oven.
  12. Bake for 25 minutes or until edges are just starting to turn golden brown and the tips of the scones feel firm to the touch.

Enjoy!!

Salted Caramel Apple Cake with Streusel

NERD ALERT: Did you know that pie has roots all the way back to ancient Egyptian times, and the first recipe for pie was published by the Romans?  Also, apparently there’s an American Pie Counsel that might just be the coolest thing ever (thank you, Google).  With July 4th coming up, I really don’t think that there’s really anything more American than pie…except maybe pie in cake form?


My boyfriend’s older brother and girlfriend are headed up from St. Louis for the weekend to meet the fam (gasp!) and also celebrate Fourth of July.  As with any Korean get together, there will be lots of grilled meats, watermelon and if I have any say, cake (specifically, this cake).


I kid you not, this cake is SO good. It’s a soft and fluffy cake base loaded with apple, topped with buttery streusel and then drizzled with homemade caramel sauce.  What part of that sounds bad? And the best part? If you just make the cake portion, it’s dairy-free!! Also it can be made with or without a mixer (hooray!).  So, when you’re scratching your head at what you make for that Fourth of July party you’re going to, I hope you make this one! I promise you there won’t be a single crumb left.

IMPORTANT: When making the caramel, if you add in the heavy cream too quickly, the cold heavy cream will cause the caramel mixture to seize up and harden.

SALTED CARAMEL APPLE CAKE WITH STREUSEL | Makes one 10″ cake

SALTED CARAMEL SAUCE

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  1. In a medium sauce pan, heat sugar until it beings to melt.  Constantly mix sugar with spatula to evenly distribute heat. The chunks of sugar should slowly dissolve into liquid and the sugar should begin to turn an amber color. If it looks like mixture is turning dark too quickly, remove from heat  fro 10-15 seconds while stirring to prevent burning.
  2. Once sugar is melted, immediately add in butter and swirl it in. Once butter is melted, turn heat to low and slowly (thin drizzle) add in heavy cream while constantly stirring.
  3. Toss in salt and mix thoroughly.
  4. Extra caramel will keep in airtight container in the refrigerator for 1 month.

STREUSEL

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp butter
  1. Combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. Mix well.
  2. Cut butter into 1/2 inch pieces and combine with dry ingredients.  With hands, work butter into dry mixture until large, moist clumps form.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

CAKE

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup neutral tasting vegetable oil
  • 1 egg & 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 apple (ambrosia, fuji, or any other crisp apple)
  • Either one 10 inch cake pan, or one 10 inch oven-safe skillet
  1. Preheat oven to 350 (F). Oil and line cake pan with parchment paper  If using skillet, simply oil pan.
  2. Beat oil and sugar together in a large bowl until well-mixed. Add in eggs and vanilla and beat until mixture is thick and creamy.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together. Then add dry ingredients into wet ingredients and stir until well-incorporated. The batter should be very thick.
  4. Add in apple cubes and mix until pieces are distributed thoroughly. Then pour batter into cake pan, drizzle with 1/4 cup caramel sauce and top with streusel.
  5. Bake cake for 50-60 minutes until top is brown and cake tester comes out clean.

Enjoy!

the best chewy chocolate chip cookies

 I’m pretty sure I have a chocolate chip cookie obsession. Not just the “I love to eat chocolate chip cookies” obsession, but the full-blown, “make ten batches of chocolate chip cookies and then proceed to frantically give them away otherwise I’ll eat them all” obsession. Chocolate chip cookies were the first cookies I’ve ever baked, and I still think they’re the best cookie. You can’t go wrong with them, yes, there are a lot of different types of chocolate chip cookies out there (crunchy and thin, thick and chewy, lots of chocolate, no chocolate at all), but I’m positive that there is a type out there for everyone.


To avoid doing homework during college (oops…), I’d always try out new chocolate chip recipes and test them out on my roommates. They were THE best taste testers since some of them really liked a lot of chocolate chunks, one of them didn’t like any chocolate, and they were always willing to gobble up cookies coming straight out of the oven. This recipe is my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, thin and chewy, but with still soft centers studded in large pools of molten chocolate…a hint of vanilla and just a sprinkle of sea salt on top. Ugh, I am guilty of eating way too many of these in one sitting.


These are super simple to make, and the addition of molasses is a game-changer, I promise you! If you just DYING to have chocolate chip cookies as soon as possible, you can go ahead and bake them after a 30 minute chill in the fridge, but I would definitely recommend not going less than 2 hours of chilling.  The chilling allows the gluten in the dough to relax and the flavors to emulsify, which leads to a softer cookie and has some serious caramel flavor.


MY FAVORITE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES | Makes approximately 1.5 dozen


INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cup + 3 tbsp All-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda (make sure it’s fresh or your cookies will end up flat and sad)
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp unsulfured blackstrap molasses
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter – softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chunks or chopped pieces from a chocolate bar
  • Kosher or sea salt for sprinkling

DIRECTIONS

  1. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium-sized bowl
  2. In separate bowl, combine dark brown sugar, granulated sugar and molasses. Use hands to rub sugars and molasses together until well mixed (mixture should look uniformly like light brown sugar)
  3. In large bowl, cream butter either in stand mixer (medium-high speed) or by hand until it is the consistency of mayonnaise
  4. Then add in sugar mixture and beat together until butter is light and fluffy (3-4 min with mixer, 8-10 by hand)
  5. Add in egg and vanilla and then mix until just combined – do NOT over mix!
  6. Add in dry ingredients in 3 batches, mixing well after every addition (put mixer on low speed for this)
  7. Add in chocolate and mix in pieces by hand, over-mixing the dough will cause the cookies to be tough
  8. Refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days
  9. Pull out dough 30 minutes prior to baking to bring it to room temperature and preheat oven to 350 (F)
  10. Roll dough into a little bigger than golf-ball sized balls and place on lined cookie sheets, giving them at least 3 inches apart to spread out in oven
  11. Gently flatten each ball with the palm of your hand and sprinkle with sea salt
  12. Bake 10-12 minutes or until edges are golden and the center still looks a little soft. Cool the cookies (if you can!) on a wire rack.

Enjoy!