Farewell Columbia

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We’re going to have to update our Meet Us! page here soon. Right now on there, we described ourselves as “newlyweds… currently living in South Carolina.” Well for one, I’m not sure we’re newlyweds anymore. When does that end exactly? And secondly, we’re leaving South Carolina. We moved down here to attend graduate school back at the end 2015. Well, we finally finished our program and graduated from the University of South Carolina! ūüĎ©‚ÄćūüéďūüĎ®‚Äćūüéď When we moved down here, I wasn’t all that excited about my new town – I had never lived anywhere except for Virginia and was a little very sad about leaving my home state. Selim was (is!) a little more open to the change – he’s from Cleveland and has lived in Maryland and Virginia as well. Fast forward almost three years and we both love Columbia. To be honest, I’ve already shed a few tears ūüėĘ at the thought of leaving our current home.

The food in Columbia was one of the main reasons, outside of all the wonderful friends we made here (see above ‚áĎ‚áĎ‚áĎ for wonderful friends), that we grew so attached to this city. Even though our time here has been brief, we’ve already realized that some other South Carolinians or Southerners in nearby states look down their noses at Columbia, thinking this city cannot compare to other nearby destinations. You hear about the Low Country charm of Charleston and Savannah, the hubbub of Charlotte and Atlanta, or how cool and up-and-coming Greenville is… We’re here to tell you not to skip Columbia. It may not have the reputation the other cities have, but your taste buds won’t be disappointed by a stop here. Selim always says he’d put Columbia’s best restaurants up head-to-head with the top spots in Charleston or Greenville. And we’d win!

So we thought for our last hurrah in Columbia we’d give a shout out to our favorite Columbia spots!

Baan Sawan Thai Bistro 2135 Devine Street

  • We’ve probably frequented this family-run upscale Thai restaurant more than any other place in town. This is not your average Thai take-out place, though who doesn’t love that? They offer an amazing combination of a small, intimate restaurant, the best Thai food I’ve ever experienced from the chef brother, and a stellar wine list with thoughtful recommendations from the sommelier brother! One of their soups, the Tom Kha Matz, is a fusion of tom kha & matzo ball soup and is Ally’s favorite dish in the whole city!
  • Ally’s Favorites – Tom Kha Matz, calamari, mussamun curry with sliced duck
  • Selim’s Favorites – three flavored duck, fried bananas, every wine Sam pairs for me, & whatever special protein is available that night (like the 36 hour sous vide pork shoulder)

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Motor Supply Company Bistro – 920 Gervais Street

  • This farm-to-table restaurant, in a gorgeous 1800s era historic brick building, never disappoints. The menu is different every night, but a few items reappear. Local ingredients are used to create Southern classics, as well as dishes with world-wide influence. Their wine list has been carefully curated and has won national awards from some of the top wine magazines in the country.
  • Ally’s Favorites – CAB culotte steak, braised short ribs, shrimp & grits
  • Selim’s Favorites – Duo of duck, the diver scallop appetizer

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The War Mouth – 1209 Franklin Street

  • The War Mouth is helping to pull the Main Street revitalization efforts into the North Main corridor. The food here is heritage Southern and South Carolina fare with a few surprises here and there. The menu does change some – seasonally I think. Of note, there’s a new brewery next door and a great coffee shop around the corner; North Main is definitely up-and-coming.
  • Ally’s Favorites – Chicken bog, the pickle plate, the bread/biscuit basket
  • Selim’s Favorites – “All of the little snacks,” the pickle plate

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Scoopy Doo Gelato Shop – 725 Saluda Avenue

  • The best reason go to Five Points! This gelato shop only offers are few flavors, but what they have is spectacular! The care and love this gelato-maker puts into each and every batch is evident in the deeply rich flavors. There’s always vanilla, chocolate, pistachio; usually two dairy-free sorbettos; and frequently a 21 & older alcoholic concoction. Trust us, you want your scoop in a homemade cone – there’s a surprise in the bottom!
  • Ally’s Favorites – Coca-Cola sorbetto (it’s like they know me…), peanut butter sorbetto
  • Selim’s Favorites – pistachio gelato, Captain Crunch gelato (this one goes quickly)

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Lula Drake Wine Parlour – 1635 Main Street

  • Lula Drake is predominantly a wine bar, as its name suggests, and those wines are unique and carefully curated. It’s a delicious oenologic learning experience every time we go. But the food is sneakily perfect here too, even though it isn’t the focus. If you want fresh handmade pasta, you won’t anything better than what Pierce makes every night. Probably, the most authentic pasta we’ve had outside of Rome, Italy. We love the story behind the name Lula Drake too!
  • Ally’s Favorites – Can Xa sparkling ros√©, duck fat hushpuppies, the newest red on the menu, the pasta of the night
  • Selim’s Favorites – The opportunity to taste new and unique wine every time – where else would I try an inky Macedonian varietal?

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Menkoi Ramen House – 1004 Gervais Street

  • This is our favorite stop for quick, cheap, filling, and comforting food. The bowls of ramen are massive, with flavorful broth. Conveniently located in the Vista close to the State House, this is also a favorite among USC students, politicians, and business professionals.
  • Ally’s Favorites – tonkatsu ramen, shoyu ramen, gyoza
  • Selim’s Favorites – tonkatsu ramen, spicy ramen

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Spotted Salamander Cafe – 1531 Richland Street

  • This cafe occupies an old house on a historic street in downtown Columbia. They have the best lunch in town in our opinion. The whole menu is great, but we seem to always gravitate towards the daily specials. Fried chicken sandwich Tuesdays and burger Thursdays are always good. We only wish they were open for dinner instead of just brunch & lunch.
  • Ally’s Favorites – the daily deviled egg, fried chicken sandwich
  • Selim’s Favorites – cronut of the day!

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Sure Fire Tacos & Tortilla Grill – 916 Gervais Street

  • This Tex-Mex taco place has handmade tortillas, some unique tacos, and a salsa bar. It’s a great quick dinner with a group of friends. Plus, who doesn’t love queso? The owners are actually from Houston, TX. They had this restaurant there, but quickly realized that the market there is quite saturated. After a quick market analysis, they settled on Cola and have been making tacos here since 2016. We realize they might not be 100% authentic Tex-Mex tacos, but they make their tortillas in-house and the tacos are unique & made with really fresh ingredients.
  • Ally’s Favorites – Ball Park taco, Mr Piggy taco, The Big Hass taco
  • Selim’s Favorites – I go here for the variety. I like every taco. The three tacos I get each trip are my favorite that night.

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Immaculate Consumption – 933 Main Street

  • We came in here the first time for the coffee, but came back for the sandwiches. This is a lunch spot where you’ll find USC students studying and politicians getting a quick afternoon pick-me-up. They roast their beans in the basement in an really small roaster, and the first time we went here Selim got to help with the process (pulled a lever to spread the toasty beans).
  • Ally’s Favorites – Scott’s Chix Salad, Turkey Green Apple
  • Selim’s Favorites – the coffee!

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Soda City Market – Main Street, between Taylor Street & Lady Street

  • The market is our favorite Saturday morning activity. You can’t quite call it a farmer’s market because the prepared food options outnumber the farm-fresh veggies, though you can get those there too! Ally has to walk the length of market at least twice before making a decision. This market is expanding too; it was only 2 blocks when we first moved here and now it’s 3, with special events frequently taking up a 4th. This place gets packed, and we always run into people we know.
  • Ally’s Favorites – beef empanadas & fried yucca from Los Bellos Portales, bean & cheese papusas from Papusas Salvadore√Īas Sandrita, samosas from Indian Palace, dumplings from Fuperman’s Potstickers
  • Selim’s Favorites – BKeD donuts, the fact that there’s food from a variety of ethnicities every week

This, of course, is not the all-encompassing review of the Columbia restaurant scene. These are the places we found ourselves coming back again and again and that contributed to our love of the city. There are SO many other places in the city worth visiting!

Thanks for the food and the memories Columbia. We’ll miss you and your people! ‚̧ ‚̧ ‚̧

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Spinach & Feta B√∂rek

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Now that we’ve started using filo dough (see: Baklava – we’ve made it twice since posting it!), we’ve gained a little bit of confidence in working with the thin, finicky dough. So I knew Selim would want to tackle b√∂rek next. He loves b√∂rek – although it’s kind of hard to say it’s his favorite food, because there are about a million different types of b√∂rek. In Turkey,¬†b√∂rek is essentially any dish prepared with¬†yufka, which is (depending on when and where you read about it) the same as filo dough, the precursor of filo dough, or a slightly different texture from filo dough. I’m not educated enough to know which one it is. I do know that¬†b√∂rek is delicious in every form I’ve ever had it and that this spinach-stuffed version is a quite traditional one.

I was eating some of this b√∂rek for lunch the other day in a breakroom at the hospital, when someone said, “Oh wow that smells delicious… What is it, spanakopita?” I could feel my husband cringing from a floor away. We’ll pause to let him go on his rant about Turkish food – how he would’ve answered had the friendly, innocent question been posed to him.

Selim: Many Americans love Mediterranean food and seem to always associate this with Greek food. So somehow, this has turned into Greek food being the most beloved cuisine, representing an entire region. Even more so, I feel like Americans think that the Greeks were the originators and only true architects of so many of the best dishes of the Middle East and Mediterranean. In fact, many of your favorites, originated elsewhere: baklava came out of the Ottoman palace kitchens in modern day Istanbul, while hummus was first documented in 13th century Cairo. The vast reach of the Ottoman empire and centuries of trading routes surely contributes to the regional spread of cuisine – you can find dishes with very similar ingredients and preparations, but different names from the Balkans to the Levant, the Caucasus to Northern African. (This is not to say that there aren’t amazing Greek chefs or delicious dishes of Greek origin – the Greeks truly aren’t the subject of my rant.) I just hate that other cultures don’t get their due. Obviously, I’m biased as I’m ethnically half Turkish, but I wish Turkish cuisine was more recognized, available, and beloved in the US. So in short, while similar, this is b√∂rek, not¬†spanakopita.

Spinach & Feta Börek

(Adapted from Sultan’s Kitchen by √Ėzcan Ozan)
Ingredients: 
  • 2 lbs fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup clarified butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 3 eggs, divided
  • 16oz feta cheese
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • ~20 sheets filo dough
  • Salt & pepper
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Prepare the filling: cook the spinach briefly in boiling water over medium heat until wilted. Drain the water and squeeze the spinach to remove any additional water.
  3. Chop up the spinach.
  4. In a large pan oven medium heat, heat 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup clarified butter.
  5. Add the onions and spinach and cook for just 3-4 minutes until onions have softened.
  6. Allow the mixture to cool.
  7. Once cool, stir in the cheese, parsley, and 2 whisked eggs. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  8. Whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup clarified butter, 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1 egg, and milk.
  9. Brush this mixture on the bottom of a cookie sheet. Begin layering the filo dough, brushing each new layer with the butter mixture.
  10. Once halfway through the filo dough (~10 sheets), spread all of the spinach and cheese mixture out evenly.
  11. Resume layering the rest of the filo dough, brushing with the butter mixture as before, including a thorough coating over the last layer.
  12. Using a sharp knife, slice the börek into squares or triangles.
  13. Bake for 20 minutes, then lower the heat to 325 degrees and bake an additional 20 minutes.
  14. Allow the börek to stand for 10 minutes before eating.

 

Baklava

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Filo dough can be very intimidating to work with. ¬†It’s hard to find, not used in American cuisine, and requires patience to handle. ¬†We learned that filo dough originated in the kitchens of TopkapńĪ Palace, where the Sultans of the Ottoman Empire once lived. ¬†When people think of filo dough, most think of decadent sweets like baklava, but filo dough is also be used for savory snacks like borek (filo layered with spinach & feta). ¬†We haven’t made borek yet, but trust us, it’ll be on the blog soon enough.

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Gate to Topkapi Palace

Naturally, when we started to make baklava, we had to call my father, Baba (Turkish for father), since he’s our resident Turkish food expert. ¬†He loves the blog and hopefully¬†will love the shout out as well. ¬†He gave us some tips for how to make the best baklava possible and include how finely to grind the walnuts, how thick the walnut layer should be, and also that the best baklava sets for a couple days to really absorb all the sweet syrup. ¬†Baba also shared a great story from when he was a child and my Babaanne (father’s mother = grandmother) would make baklava, she would have to lock the finished baklava in another room so my father and his siblings wouldn’t eat it all before it was perfectly set. ¬†Of course, we had to try it as soon as we poured the syrup over it… but when we tried it¬†again for breakfast the next day, we both agree that it only gets better as it sets for a day or two.

We hope you enjoy this decadently sweet treat, your sweet tooth will thank us.

Baklava

(Adapted from the cookbook¬†Sultan’s Table, by Oz√ßan Ozan with tips from Selim’s father)
Ingredients: 
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 3 cups + 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 cups (~300g) walnuts
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted, clarified butter
  • 40 sheets of filo dough (usually 2 packages)
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. (If you have clarified butter, melt the appropriate amount. If you only have regular butter, melt it in a saucepan and then skim off the foam and slowly pour the liquid into a bowl making sure to not transfer solid milk fats which are at the bottom.)
  3. Prepare the syrup: combine cold water and 3 cups of sugar in a medium saucepan. Boil for 5 minutes, then lower heat to a simmer. Continue cooking for another 15 minutes.
  4. Stir in the lemon juice and allow to cool.
  5. Meanwhile, combine walnuts and 2 tbsp sugar in food processor. Process until “medium” ground – don’t let it get too fine.
  6. Now brush the inside of a large cookie sheet with clarified butter.
  7. Place a sheet of filo dough in the pan. Brush with another little bit of clarified butter. Continue in this pattern until you’ve placed half of the sheets (~20) of filo dough in the pan.
  8. Now spread the walnut mixture onto the top layer of filo dough. Drizzle with more clarified butter.
  9. Return to the pattern of layering dough and clarified butter until you use all of the rest of the filo dough sheets. Brush the top layer and the edges with clarified butter.
  10. Take a very sharp knife and dip it into hot water. Slice down halfway through the height of the dough into the size and shape of baklava pieces you want at the end.
  11. Bake for 25 minutes in the center of the oven.
  12. Lower heat to 325 degrees and bake for another 20 minutes.
  13. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.
  14. Slice all the way through, along the lines you previously made.
  15. Pour the syrup over top, along the cut lines.
  16. Top with additional ground nuts if desired.

Challah

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So the other evening, I tried to flip the ceiling fan on (after Selim told me not to because he thought it was broken, but I forgot ok?!), and instead blew a fuse. I tried to flip the breaker back and it sent blue sparks at me. So I quit doing that. I may not be the most savvy girl in the world when it comes to things like that, but I know that blue sparks + no electricity = call an electrician.

What does this have to do with challah? Everything and nothing. Unfortunately for my TV and internet addicted self, the fuse I blew covered our whole living room – where our TV and internet router are. Sure we could’ve moved them I guess, but it just seems sad if you can’t live without the Netflix and Hulu for a whole day. So instead of wasting my life on mindless TV, I baked instead!

I’d been thinking about challah because Passover was last week (and because it’s the best bread ever). I honestly never thought about making it before because its gorgeous appearance made it seem out of my league in terms of baking ability. Plus I figured the Jewish grandmas had some secret that they weren’t sharing with the rest of us. Turns out I was wrong – even I can make gorgeous challah! It’s actually way less complicated than I thought and you probably have all the ingredients on hand. (I did, hence spur of the moment baking afternoon.)

Since I don’t have a Jewish grandma handy, I got this recipe from one of my favorite corners of the internet –¬†The Kitchn. Check them out if you want to learn how to do anything culinary related. Their step by step guide to making challah worked perfectly for me and is nearly verbatim what I’ll be sharing in this recipe. Thanks guys!! ūüĎčūüŹľ

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Challah

Ingredients: 
  • 2 teaspoons active dry ¬†yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 4 cups flour + extra for sprinkling
  • 1/4 cup sugar + a pinch
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • A third egg, divided into yolk & white
  • 1/4 cup neutral oil
Instructions: 
  1. Dissolve the yeast into the water. Stir and then allow to sit until yeast causes frothing on the top.
  2. Meanwhile, sift together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt) in the bowl of your stand mixer.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the remaining wet ingredients except for the egg white (eggs, egg yolk, oil).
  4. Pour the bowl of wet ingredients into the dry ones. Begin to mix together with a large spoon. Follow with the water/yeast.
  5. Attach a dough hook to the stand mixer. Turn on low-medium and knead for 6+ minutes. [If the dough is to sticky, slowly add flour by the teaspoon. If too dry, do the same with water.]
  6. Oil a large bowl. Place the ball of dough in the bowl. Cover with a damp towel and let rise for two hours.
  7. Now that the dough has doubled in size, divide it into six equal chunks.
  8. Roll each piece of dough out into long ropes.
  9. Lay the six dough ropes next to each other. Pinch the ends of all six pieces together at the top. Then braid together, taking the right-most strand and pulling it over the nearest two strands, under the next, over the remaining two, and then laying it down at the far left. OVER two – UNDER one – OVER two. (Check out The Kitchn’s lovely pictorial¬†in their post for a visual!) Once you can go no further, pinch the ends together.
  10. Sprinkle dough with a smidge of flour. Place on a cooking sheet lined with parchment paper (or a Silpat if you have one). Re-cover with your damp towel and let sit for another hour.
  11. Brush the dough generously with the leftover egg white.
  12. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  13. Bake for 30 minutes. When done, the challah will have a gorgeous deep brown crust and be warm and fluffy on the inside.
Makes a large loaf.

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Spinach & Feta G√∂zleme

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What’s the first thing people think of when they think of Turkish food? Kofte is the first thing for most people, but there’s so much more! Don’t worry, we’re going to keep cooking our way through them and sharing with you here.¬†G√∂zleme¬†is one of the many great Turkish street foods. (Lahmacun¬†is another that if you haven’t tried from our blog, you should soon!)¬†So good in fact that it has spread from Turkey to the rest of the world. In Australia, there’s a fast food place, called G√∂zleme¬†King, devoted to making different types of g√∂zleme.¬†This spinach and cheese preparation is a fairly traditional one, but g√∂zleme can contain pretty much anything! In the future we’re definitely going to throw in some sucuk (Turkish sausage). But as is, this dish is amazing. The dough is soft, light, and just a bit crispy on the edges. And it essentially goes without saying that the warm feta brings it all of the flavors together perfectly.

*So speaking of feta… Let’s talk about feta. I know so many people who¬†loooove¬†feta. I’m one of them, obviously. We could form a fan club if y’all want? But here’s the thing, a lot of people I know have only ever had the pre-crumbled, standard grocery store feta. I used to be one of them. As with many other things, when I started dating Selim, my narrowly bounded world of feta expanded. If you think feta only exists in its pre-crumbled form and you love it anyway, please go out and find some block feta in brine. Your world will be changed forever, I promise. (Mine was!) The flavor and texture are so much better – you’ll never go back. Sadly, not all of your standard grocery stores will have feta like this. Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods usually do, but if yours doesn’t, try an international grocery store, a halal market, or a Middle Eastern specialty shop. While you’re there, try all the different types of feta and Middle Eastern cheeses, your cheese-world will be forever changed.

We have two go-tos when it comes to making Turkish recipes. The first is Ozcan Ozan’s cookbook that I’ve referenced on here before. But the second is a blog called Ozlem’s Turkish Table. Tonight’s recipe is adapted from there. It is a wonderful resource for all things Turkish food!

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Spinach & Feta Gözleme

(Adapted from Ozlem’s Turkish Table)
Ingredients: 
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp active dry¬†yeast
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp + 2 tsp olive oil + more for brushing
  • 1 tbsp plain greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup¬†water + more
  • 1/2 small onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups (loosely packed) spinach, roughly chopped
  • 6oz feta*
Instructions: 
  1. Begin by making the dough. Take 1/2 cup of warm water and stir in the pinch of salt and yeast. Allow to sit for a few minutes until it begins to bubble.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, yeast mixture, yogurt, and 1 tbsp of olive oil. Add additional water by the tablespoon. (I used an additional 2-3 tbsp).  Using your hands, form into a big ball of dough.
  3. Once you have a ball of dough, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for several minutes.
  4. Divide into 4 similarly sized smaller balls. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rest for ~30 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Pour 2 tsp of olive oil into a pan over medium heat.
  6. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and onions. Sprinkle with the spices and stir.
  7. Cook just for 4-5 minutes until soft and fragrant, but not starting to brown.
  8. Add the spinach and a couple drops of water to the pan and cover. Leave covered for just a minute or two, until the spinach has wilted just a bit.
  9. Remove the lid and stir together well. Allow to cook for another minute or two with the lid off to get rid of any excess moisture.
  10. Remove to a bowl on the side. Mix in the feta.
  11. Now roll out the dough balls into large, thin, rectangular segments.
  12. Divide the mixture from the pan among the dough segments, placing in the middle of each piece of dough. Make sure to leave plenty of room around the edges for folding.
  13. Fold the dough around the mixture as pictured. (You want to end up with a little rectangular envelope.) Brush the edges with olive oil to help them stay together.
  14. Now, bring a large pan, preferably a griddle one, up to medium heat. [Don’t start until the pan is hot!]
  15. Brush both sides of each g√∂zleme with more olive oil. Once pan is hot, place them on the pan. (You can do one at a time or if you’re more confidant in your skills than I am, as many as will comfortably fit in your pan.) Cover the pan and do not touch for three full minutes. At this time, flip to the other side, re-cover, and again, do not touch for three minutes!
  16. After this point, you may flip back and forth a few times, cooking another 4-5 minutes until dough is cooking and the outside crisped to your liking.

Spicy Korean BBQ Tacos with Tangy Slaw

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Before we moved to South Carolina for school, we were lucky enough to work on a unit (we were ICU nurses) with some amazing people who became great friends. Luckily for us, several of them share our love for food and cooking. Along the way, one recipe sort of became known as “the recipe,” and got passed around and around via email. We got it from Mike, who got it from Christy, who got it from… someone? As best I can tell, the recipe actually originates with the blog, My Kitchen Addiction.

This is “the recipe” because¬†everyone¬†loves it. We’ll use my family as Exhibit A. We go to the Outer Banks with my extended family on my dad’s side every summer. Traditionally, each night one pair of adults would cook dinner for the entire family – we’re talking 30+ people. After my grandparents died, there ended up being a free night. As one of the oldest grandchildren, I decided that my generation should probably step up and take over cooking one night… especially when you consider that we’re still getting a free vacation out of our parents for a week each summer! Two summers ago, Selim and I announced that we would take charge of that extra night, and that we’d be making this dish. There was immediate skepticism… my family prefers staples like hamburgers, spaghetti, steak, and tacos. They also think that Selim and I like “fancy, weird food.”

Well guess what? They all loved it! People came back for seconds and thirds. One of my cousins ate so much that he actually vomited. Not kidding. Moral of the story? This dish is delicious and everyone loves it. We’re sure you’ll love it too!

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Spicy Slow Cooker Korean BBQ with Tangy Slaw

Ingredients: 
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  • 1 large onion, finely dice half and roughly chop the other half
  • 10 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp of grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp chipotle powder (or other smoky pepper)
  • 2 1/2 – 3lb beef bottom round or shoulder
  • 3 tbsp flour
Slaw
  • 5 cups shredded vegetables (cabbage, carrots, peppers, whatever you want)
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • Zest & juice of 1 large lime
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
Also
  • Tortillas
  • Extra limes, for garnish
  • Extra basil, for garnish
Instructions: 
  1. Combine the first 10 ingredients in a large bowl. [This can be done ahead of time and refrigerated to save time.]
  2. Place liquid and beef in a large slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 10 hours.
  3. At some point while your beef is cooking, prepare the slaw. Whisk together all ingredients and pour over the vegetables. Refrigerate until ready to serve. [This can also be done ahead of time.]
  4. After 10 hours, pour the liquid out of the slow cooker into a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Let the meat remain in the slow cooker, with the heat turned off.
  5. Stir the 3 tablespoons of flour into 1/4 cup of water. Whisk together so it is well-combined and forms a what resembles a paste.
  6. Stir the flour/water paste into the saucepan. Stir while adding so it combines thoroughly into the liquid.
  7. Continue simmering until the liquid has thickened to your liking. We reduced ours by maybe a 1/3.
  8. Return thickened liquid to the slow cooker. Use two forks to shred the meat and mix with the liquid.
  9. Make tacos with the meat and slaw on top of warmed tortillas! Garnish with additional basil or a squeeze of lime.
Serves 6.

Post-dinner notes: This also goes great over rice, if for some crazy reason you’re sick of tacos! And, as per usual, I am not making any claims that this is an authentic, traditional dish the way your Korean grandma would make it.

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Garlic & Truffle Pimento Cheese

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South Carolina is known for many dishes¬†in the world of all things culinary. Favorites include¬†low country boils, boiled peanuts, shrimp & grits, sweet tea, cornbread, and of course… pimento cheese! ¬†South Carolinians seem use a fair amount of mayonnaise in their pimento cheese, but instead of Duke’s or Kraft’s mayo we made garlic truffle aioli. ¬†Cheddar is the standard cheese for a classic SC pimento cheese, but we swapped it out for some flavorful Italian classics, Asiago & Pecorino. ¬†The aioli sounds fancy, but in reality, it’s just homemade mayo, and probably one of the easier things we’ve made along the way.

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Ally loves pimento cheese, and its abundance down here has made her quite happy. Every time we buy it though, we wonder why we don’t just make some ourselves. “It can’t be that hard… right?” Turns out, it’s not! There isn’t a standard recipe for traditional pimento cheese, because everyone’s grandmother has¬†the original recipe that no one else’s grandmother can beat. But the basics boil down to cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, and chopped pimentos. What could be easier? Or easier to modify and fancify, like we did here!

[Note: this makes a large batch. Good for a big picnic, large party, or handing out in jars to several friends!]

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Garlic & Truffle Pimento Cheese

Ingredients: 
  • 2 lb Asiago cheese
  • 1 1/3 lb Pecorino cheese
  • 7oz jar chopped pimentos, strained
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 17oz truffle oil
  • 2 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
Instructions: 
  1. Shred all of the cheese and set aside.
  2. Prepare the aioli. (You can do this by hand or with a stand mixer like we did since we were making a large batch. The process is essentially the same.)
    • By hand: Separate out the egg yolks from the whites. Whisk together. Add minced garlic and then slowly¬†drizzle in the oil. Whisk vigorously and continuously. Once the mixture has combined well, add the lemon juice and whisk until that has been absorbed.
    • With the mixer:¬†Separate out the egg yolks from the whites. Place in stand mixer and turn on medium. Add minced garlic and then slowly¬†drizzle in the oil, while the mixer remains on. Again, once the mixture is well-combined, then add the lemon juice.
  3. Combine cheese, aioli, and pimentos.
Makes 64oz.