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Cooking up a Storm

Another chilly Sunday morning and the only thing on my mind was how nice it would be to sit in front of a fire with a nice cup of coffee, a bowl of warm stew and a good book. Since I live in the middle of a bustling city in an apartment, this idea of mine could only partially come into fruition, but led me to thinking how in about 7 weeks all of this vision could become a reality. So anyway, Let's get to the "now" of this story.

Sunday is the day I cook. I try to think about meals for the week and when I go shopping I like to buy items that can be used to make several meals. Stew was definitely on the list of things to make to satisfy my craving for winter comfort foods. Before I went to the store, I decided on my menu for the day. I would make Pork Stew, using a recipe courtesy of Jamie Oliver, Buttermilk Herb Biscuits, and Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Maple Buttercream Icing, from my favourite food blog at the moment, . So I put on my coat and headed to the market since it wouldn't be a cooking day without a trip to the market to get the freshest vegetables and meat.

Since beef is insanely expensive in Korea I purchased pork instead. Often meat can only be purchased in large quantities so I planned to roast the leftover meat and use later in the week for Barbeque Pork Sandwiches. I had some leftover pita bread in the freezer and a jar of homemade BBQ sauce in the fridge so they will go nicely together.

I figured I would make the dessert first so that the stew could simmer and be ready for dinner. While I boiled some sweet potatoes, I prepared my dry ingredients in a large bowl. I whisked together my sugars, oil, maple syrup, and soy milk with the mashed sweet potatoes and added it to the dry ingredients. After about 2 minutes in the oven, the aroma of sugar and spice filled the air. I felt like I was in my grandmother's kitchen on Thanksgiving Day when she had pies and sweet potato casserole baking. There is just something so magical about combining the seasonal flavours of winter.
In the meantime, while the cupcakes were baking, I began to prepare for the creation of the stew. I chose this recipe because it included squash which very much intriqued me. I have never had a proper stew that included squash and since I have become slightly obsessed with the idea of including squash in things I thought it would be worth a try. It took some effort to cut through the squash, peel it and dice it, but I had a feeling that it was going to be totally worth the effort. From past experiences, Jamie Oliver's recipes seem to be pretty fail proof. Chopping and peeling the veg for this recipe hardly took 10 minutes. I threw the onions, butter, and oil into the pot and let them get tender for a few minutes. Then I added all of the other ingredients, let it come to a boil, and stepped away from the pot for about 3 hours. I came back to my simmering pot a few times to give it a quick whirl with the spoon and take in the steamy aroma. It was a matter of minutes before the stew was nice and thick.

Ding .. Ding .. my cupcakes are done. I took them out of the oven and let them cool for awhile after only about 20 minutes of cooking. They were golden brown and all puffed up evenly! Now that the oven was free and since I didn't use all of the meat I bought for the stew, I rubbed the leftovers with a mixture of olive oil, garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper and tossed it in the oven for about an hour. Later in the week I could shred it by cutting it against the grain and mixing it with some homemade barbeque sauce and put it onto some sandwiches. While the meat was roasting and the cupcakes were cooling, I prepared my icing for the cupcakes. Whenever I follow an icing recipe, it often makes an exorbitant amount, so I cut the recipe into fourths since I only made half of the cupcake recipe anyway. I had a very good feeling that this frosting was going to be delicious since it included maple syrup and cinnamon, two flavours that were meant to marry. I spread it on the cupcakes and dusted them with cinnamon. Now could I stay away until dessert? Only time will tell.

Onto the next part of our meal, Buttermilk Herb Biscuits. I had to tweak this recipe a bit since buttermilk is not readily available in Korea. After a little research, I mixed one cup of milk and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and let it sour while I prepared the dry ingredients. Due to the time of year, fresh herbs are a little difficult to come by and since all of ours kicked the bucket one night when they were struck by a heavy frost, I had to rely on dried ones. I did have some chives so I chopped them up and added some dried rosemary and parsley to the batter. This batter was a little sticky at first so I needed to dust it with a little extra flour before kneading. The recipe also called for a biscuit cutter which I didn't have, so instead I pulled out our trusty pint glass that serves not only as a resting place for a pint of beer but also as a rolling pin and now a biscuit cutter. It did the job perfectly! I lined up my biscuits on a buttered baking sheet, sprinkled them with cheese and put them in the oven. After about 15 minutes, they had puffed up nicely and were golden brown.

Usually when I have something in mind that involves the kitchen, I stick to it and nothing else can keep me entertained. That was the case today, therefore my "dinner" was completely finished by about 2pm. But since my husband is pretty easy going, it was no problem for him to eat "lupper" today! Everything turned out a success and I would highly recommend trying out the recipes below because they are phenomenal! Now what to make for dinner?

Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Maple Spice Buttercream
Recipe from
Makes 12 cupcakes


1 cup sweet potato puree (fresh or canned)
1/4 cup soymilk
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 / 2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or maple syrup
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 / 4 cup almond meal or coconut powder
1 / 2 teaspoon baking powder
1 / 2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 / 4 teaspoon allspice
1 / 4 teaspoon salt

1 / 2 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
3-3 1 / 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 /4 cup maple syrup
1 /4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch ground allspice
1-2 tablespoons soy creamer or heavy cream

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together sweet potato puree, soymilk, oil, sugars, and vanilla. Sift in the flour, almond meal, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices. Add wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
3. Fill liners with 3 tablespoons batter (cups should be approximately 2 / 3 full). Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before frosting.
4. To make frosting, cream butter. Add 1 / 2 cup confectioners sugar and mix until smooth. Add maple syrup, creamer, and spices, and mix to incorporate. Continue adding sugar, 1 / 2 cup at a time, mixing well between additions. Beat until light and fluffy. Add more creamer or sugar as needed to achieve the right consistency. Spread or pipe onto cooled cupcakes. Dust with cinnamon and enjoy!
Beef Stew
Recipe from Jamie Oliver
Makes 6 servings


olive oil
a knob of butter
1 onion, peeled and chopped
a handful of fresh sage leaves
800g / 1 ¾ lb stewing steak or beef skirt, cut into 5cm / 2 inch pieces
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
flour, to dust
2 parsnips, peeled and quartered
4 carrots, peeled and halved
½ a butternut squash, halved, deseeded and roughly diced
optional: a handful of Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and halved
500g/1lb 2oz small potatoes
2 tablespoons tomato purée
½ a bottle of red wine
285ml / ½ pint beef or vegetable stock
zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
a handful of rosemary, leaves picked
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 160 º C/300 º F / gas
2. Put a little olive oil and your knob of butter into an appropriately sized pot or casserole pan. Add your onion and all the sage leaves and fry for 3 or 4 minutes.
3. Toss the meat in a little seasoned flour, then add it to the pan with all the vegetables, the tomato purée, wine and stock, and gently stir together. Season generously with freshly ground black pepper and just a little salt.
4. Bring to the boil, place a lid on top, then cook in the preheated oven until the meat is tender. Sometimes this takes 3 hours, sometimes 4 - it depends on what cut of meat you're using and how fresh it is. The only way to test is to mash up a piece of meat and if it falls apart easily it's ready. Once it's cooked, you can turn the oven down to about 110 ° C/225 ° F / gas ¼ and just hold it there until you're ready to eat.
Herb Biscuits

Recipe from
Makes 8 biscuits


2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 / 2 tsp salt
6 TBS cold butter, cut into pieces
2 TBS chopped Italian parsley
2 TBS thinly sliced fresh chives
1 TBS chopped fresh tarragon
3 / 4 c buttermilk

1. In a bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With two knives, a pastry blender, or your fingers, cut or rub in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal.
2. With a fork, mix in parsley, chives, and tarragon. Pour in buttermilk and stir gently until mixture comes together. Scrape onto a lightly floured surface and, with lightly floured hands, knead gently just until dough forms a ball.
3. Pat dough into a 1/2-inch-thick round. Using a 3-inch round cutter or wineglass, cut out biscuits. Gather scraps, pat out again, and cut out remaining biscuits; you should have 8 total. Space evenly on a buttered 10 - by 15-inch baking sheet and sprinkle evenly with remaining shredded cheese.
4. Bake in a 425 ° oven until biscuits are puffy and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Homemade Barbeque Sauce

Recipe from Food Blogga
Makes about 1 1 / 2 cups sauce
1 cup Heinz ketchup
¼ cup dark brown sugar
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 heaping Tbsp brown spicy mustard
3 Tbsp soy sauce
7-8 good shakes of Tabasco sauce
Mix all ingredients in sauce pan until heated through. Great on pizza instead of tomato sauce. Mix together with pork or chicken for barbequed sandwiches. (Barbequed Pork with Homemade Pita Bread pictured)

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