In the 1970s, the Upper West Side of Manhattan where I grew up was a true melting pot of cultures. I went to a bilingual grade school where classes were taught in both English and Spanish, and staying for dinner at a friend’s house often meant getting to have Arroz Con Gandules (Puerto Rican Rice with Pigeon Peas) or Mofongo (mashed green plantains with chicharrones).
I think my absolute favorite dish back then was Pernil (Roasted Pork Shoulder) which is flavored with lots of citrus, cumin and cilantro. Just thinking about it is making me hungry but until I find the time to make a whole pork shoulder, I thought I’d take some of those great flavors and turn it into a much more weekday-friendly chicken dinner.
The fact that Matt grew up in a rural English village and I grew up in New York City means that, every so often, we have absolutely no idea what the other person is talking about.
For example, here’s an exchange that may (or may not) have occurred recently (it did not, but work with me here).
Emily: Less hit the bodega for a ’40 and stoop it till we mad toasted. You know you down, don’t front.
Matt: What’cha talking abaht, yer daft bint? Put yer knickers on and make me a cup of tea.
Then there was the time I convinced Matt that in New York City, it’s very common for dogs to wear prescription glasses. “Really?” he said, and then I laughed until I got a cramp.
Then he tried to convince me that in Scotland, there are huge, orange cows with hipster haircuts that look exactly like the mayor of London, Boris Johnson. No way, buddy. Like I’m going to believe that.
So you can imagine the fun I had trying to describe what ‘buffalo sauce’ is. I’m not sure how we’re still married.
Anyway, on to our sangwich. Let me start by saying that I would be quite happy if buffalo sauce & blue cheese dip were on pretty much everything I ate for the rest of the summer. These are the kind of bright, zingy flavors I just go crazy for.
Add to that perfectly grilled shrimp, creamy avocado and crisp lettuce and you’ve got yourself a seriously delicious sammich.
Five-layer magic bars made with coconut, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and toasted pecans held together by condensed milk on a graham cracker crust.
I sometimes have a tricky time starting these posts, and true to form, for this recipe I got stuck on the very first word of the post title. FIVE-layer magic bars. Is it really five layers? Or is it three? Or four? Honesty in cooking is pretty important, right? There are certainly more than (but not MUCH more than) five ingredients, and you do assemble the bars in neat layers, so really, it can be as many layers as YOU think it is. Or you can just make them and not worry too much about it.
We made these to take to a local bake sale last weekend called For Goodness Bake. This is the third year that it has been organized, and each year the proceeds go to a different worthy local cause. This year it was the Green Teens, an offshoot of the Cornell Cooperative Extension which teaches farming, gardening and other food-related skills to local teenagers.
I was a pretty picky eater as a kid. If I could smother something in ketchup it was usually safe but I wasn’t what you would call adventurous (no fish of any kind, nothing mushy). Kids are so weird though. My favorite after-school snack was crackers smeared with cream cheese, sprinkled with garlic powder. I thought I was such a gourmet. Matt liked condensed milk sandwiches. And weirdest of all, my brother’s favorite snack was smoked oysters dipped in Thousand Island dressing. This was when he was ten, and no, we didn’t live on the set of Dynasty.
Anyway, the point is that I was a picky little brat except when it came to Korean food. I wouldn’t eat mashed potatoes for all the money in the world but give me seaweed and a bowl of kimchi and I was set. In fact to this day, my comfort food is toasted seaweed with rice, avocado and kimchi.
My favorite Korean dish is Bulgogi (in Korean, literally “fire-meat”) which is very thinly sliced beef that has been marinated in a delicious sweet soy mixture and then grilled or pan-seared. For some reason I always thought of this as a complicated restaurant-only dish. I was wrong. Turns out Bulgogi is not only delicious, it’s also super easy to make.
This is a very simple take on the classic combination of radishes and butter. In this case the butter has been replaced with toasted sesame oil which has a wonderful rich nuttiness that pairs beautifully with the crisp radishes. Maldon Salt is my favorite flaky sea salt but you could use fleur de sel or whatever kind you prefer. It’s so simple but it’s incredibly delicious.