Pralines & Cream Icecream

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My ice-cream obsession now plagues my every waking hour, so I thought it was about high time I made my own. Pralines & Cream is my absolute favourite flavour of Haagen Dazs and it’s impossible to get in Korea. So it seemed as good as place as any to start. The ice-cream itself its stupidly easy to make, whipping and mixing  and that’s it. You can keep it as straight vanilla or add whatever flavours you like to jazz it up. I went for my lovely pralines mixed with a caramel sauce. It was divinity itself maybe even better than the Haagen Dazs version. I can see a Fat Girl ice-cream range in my near future!

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Ingredients

600ml of cream

200g of condensed milk

2 tablespoons of vanilla extract

 

Pralines

200g of pecans

200g of light brown sugar

100g of butter

4 tablespoons of milk

A pinch of salt

 

Toffee sauce

4 tablespoons of butter

10 tablespoons of light brown sugar

200ml of full fat milk or cream

 

Directions

1. To make the ice cream, put your cream, condensed milk, and vanilla extract in bowl and whisk until it becomes thick. It should be very thick, stop just before it starts to turn. It’s much easier to do this if you have an electric whisk. Once it’s nice and thick put it into a seal-able container and pop it in the freezer until it sets(usually 4-8 hours). It’s so easy, right? If you only want plain vanilla you can just eat it as it is.

2. To make the pralines, melt the butter in a saucepan on a low heat, then stir in the sugar. Once the sugar has melted a little stir in the milk. Let it cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens and starts to turn golden brown. Add the pecans to the sauce and stir to make sure they are coated and cook for a further minute. Turn off the heat and spoon out the pralines onto grease-proof paper, allow to cool. Then pop them in the refrigerator to set for a few hours. Once they have set, you can bash them into pieces using something heavy.

3. To make the toffee sauce put the sugar and butter in a saucepan and heat on low. Once the butter has melted and starts to combine with the sugar, add in the milk or cream. Continue to cook for about 5 minutes, until you have a thick golden brown  toffee sauce. Allow to cool before adding to the ice cream along with your pralines. Voilà easy homemade ice cream!

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Baby Greek

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Last week I visited my good friend Susan who lives in Gangnam. It’s not often that I like to leave the loving embrace that is Itaewon, but she had me over a barrel since she had come to me the last couple of times. She had been raving on about this new Little Greek place she had found for weeks now, so at her insistence we went for dinner.

Baby Greek is located in the food court on the basement floor of a large office style building near Seolleung station.There is a large cafeteria style seating area and then all the food court options. There is a lot down there, mainly Korean food, but there was a little salad place which caught my eye along with Baby Greek. Although the cafeteria style seating didn’t hold much ambience, the prices are insanely cheap, and you can also get the food to take away and enjoy in a more romantic setting. If you are out shopping it would be a great place to grab and go, especially with the sky-rocketing prices in Gangnam where even a sandwich from Paris Baguette will cost you 7,000 -8,000.

 

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After a little peruse of the menu I thought we needed to try the flat bread and dips (6,000). As we waited I had a chat with the owner and she told me that she used to get the pita breads from The Bakers Table, but now she has a local bakery make them up for her to her own recipe. She told me it’s the only thing she doesn’t make herself. As a hummus creator and aficionado myself I was very keen to check it out. A nice and nutty concoction I was rather impressed. However it’s the tzatziki on the dips platter that really shines. It was amazing, possibly the best tzatziki I have ever had (and I’ve been to Greece). Creamy and cool home-made Greek yoghurt, with just the right amount of lemony zing and fresh herbs to balance it. The olive oil she had used to drizzle on top was also rather good and had a lot of flavour. A great dish to keep us going while we waited for our gyros.

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My friend had been going on and on about the chicken gyros for forever, but I spotted the falafel one on the menu and couldn’t resist. We decided to get one of each and share. They are both (6,000).

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The chicken gyros was stuffed to the brim with succulent authentically grilled chicken. It was really tasty, plenty of salad and sauce, all wrapped up in the fluffy pita. The size of it was enormous, with the thick pita encasing it, you would definitely be full all day.  Beats a kebab any day of the week.

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The falafel gyros was also huge. The falafels were a nice size and had a great texture. Some of the best I have had in Seoul. I liked both gyros a lot. I would be hard pushed to choose my favourite and will probably just order two next time, in true Fat Girl style.

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I was pretty stuffed by this point but still had a tiny bit of room for a bowl of Greek yoghurt. Oh god how I love Greek yoghurt, I could eat at least a bowl a day, if it was cheaper here in Korea. This yoghurt is made on the premises and is fabulous. Thick and creamy, it’s pure unadulterated luxury dairy goodness. It’s served with maple syrup for that touch of sweetness. Although I think honey might be nicer and more in keeping with the Greek theme. It was so good I practically licked the bowl clean. For those who’s bellies are not as big as their eyes, you can also get yoghurt to go.

 

Baby Greek is located at Underground food court 136, Hanshin intervalley 24, 707-34 Yeoksam-Dong, Gangnam-gu To get there take a train to Seolleung station (line 2) and come out of exit 4. Keep walking straight until you see McDonalds. Baby Greek is in the 24 building next door. Walk through the double doors and take the escalator down to the basement. Turn left off the escalator and walk straight, Baby Greek will be right in front of you. Baby Greek is open from 9am- 9pm. For more information call 070-4414-7161 or check out their facebook page.

Garlic Mushrooms

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I am all about garlic, and mushrooms for that matter, and this is one of those random dishes that I really miss from home. A lovely mushroom, coated in garlic butter, breaded and deep fried. Oh my they are perfection, dipped in some garlic mayo or sweet chili sauce what could be finer? I had pretty much forgotten all about my love of deep fried mushrooms until I decided to try them out myself. They were actually super easy to make, and the taste was undeniably amazing. I think mine were far superior to any I have had before, did I get lucky or am I just brilliant? Who could say for sure, either way I nailed it. The best part was that The Fat Boyfriend doesn’t even like mushrooms, so he had one and very generously let me eat the rest. It was the best day ever!

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Ingredients

10 – 12 Mushrooms (but feel free to double up, you wont be sorry)

1 stick of butter

5 cloves of garlic

1 teaspoon of fresh parsley

A pinch of salt and pepper

1 egg beaten

3 tablespoons of flour

8 tablespoons of panko crumbs (or bread crumbs)

1 teaspoon of paprika

500ml of soy bean oil (enough to cover your pan, at least an inch deep)

 

Directions 

1. To make the garlic butter, melt the butter in a saucepan and crush or grate the garlic into it. Add the parsley, salt, and pepper, and let it cook for a minute before removing from the heat. Add the mushrooms to the melted butter and give it a good stir to make sure they are coated. Let the mushrooms sit in and soak up the butter while you do the next step. Take a plate or tray and put a piece of grease proof paper on it. Then put the mushrooms on the paper and put them in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes. The butter will freeze and keep them coated.

2. When the mushrooms have set, sprinkle on the flour and toss them in it a little and then pop them back in the freezer while you prepare the egg and bread crumbs. Put the beaten egg in one bowl and the breadcrumbs and paprika in another. I usually make a nice breadcrumb mix using panko crumbs, nutritional yeast, some oats, and some quinoa. I feel it gives a nice range of textures but just plain panko crumbs is fine too.

3. Put the soy bean oil in a wok or large pan and heat it to about 180 degrees (if you don’t have a thermometer this is about medium on a gas range). Dip the mushrooms into the egg, making sure they are completely coated. Then gently toss them in the bread crumbs. I usually find it’s easier to coat them all first and set them on a tray before frying so you aren’t trying to do three things at once. Fry them in small batches for a couple of minutes on each side until golden brown. Then remove and drain on a piece of kitchen roll before serving with your favourite dip. Voilà breaded mushrooms.

 

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The Beastro

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The Beastro is the hottest new restaurant to hit Hongdae and is serving up contemporary American cuisine. The large restaurant is set over three floors, and boasts an open plan kitchen and a roof top patio where you can enjoy drink or two whilst gazing out over the city sky line. Which is the perfect place to beat the heat and enjoy the cool breeze.

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Owner and head chef Matthew J Chung has created a simple yet elegant menu chock full of comfort foods and American classics like steak, fried chicken, and mac & cheese. But he has cleverly revamped and modernized the dishes in a way you have never eaten them before. Everything has been made from scratch in house where possible and it really comes through on the plate.

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I attended The Beastro at Matthews invitation with The Fat Boyfriend and my good friend Susan, and together we ambled our way through the well sized menu. Despite the heat we decided to sit up on the terrace and were delighted to find that there was a refreshingly cool breeze up there making it the perfect spot for alfresco dining.

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After we had ordered we were presented with home baked potato bread rolls served with garlic jam, always a great start to a meal.

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To start we tried the Kale and Ricotta Salad (13,000). With freshly shredded kale and home-made ricotta this is the perfect summer salad. Plenty of chicken breast was found on the plate and there was a tasty citrus dressing on top, it was very good indeed.

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We also ordered the Salmon Rillettes (12,000). I am not a salmon eater myself but The Fat Boyfriend can’t get enough of it, so was incredibly eager to try this dish. When asked to describe the dish he declared it to be “amazeballs,” and that he would “smother himself in a bowl of it.” At his insistence that it wasn’t too fishy I gave it a try and it was very good indeed. Kind of like a prawn cocktail, zingy, and well balanced.

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Our last starter was the Fried Brie Wheel (15,000). A whole round of brie in a cornmeal batter, served with orange tomato jam and croutons. The tangy yet sweet jam worked really well with  the richness of the cheese. A must for cheesaholics.

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On to the main courses, we decided to get a couple and share them between us. First up was the Fried chicken platter (17,000) Oh the fried chicken platter, mere words cannot describe the wonderfulness that is The Beastro’s fried chicken but I shall try anyway. For a start this is the best fried chicken I have ever had in my life! KFC has forever been ruined for me and I love KFC more than my own mother. The breast is so moist and juicy, probably because of the 6 hour long brine soak that they do. The skin is like a crispy blanket of pure crunchy fried goodness. It’s amazing, I could eat about a bucket-full. The mash is creamy and the perfect accompaniment to the chicken. The biscuit was also the best I’ve ever had, it was so light and fluffy that it was almost like a pastry. The two accompanying sauces also worked perfectly. The sour honey sauce and the bagna cauda(garlic and anchovy) both really added an interesting flavour to the dish. It was the perfect meal, even the mustard seeds on the top were great, a 10 out of 10 in every way. I will certainly be back for more.

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We also tried the 24 hour hangar steak (20,000). Slow cooked for a whole day, the steak was exceptionally tender. Personally I still prefer a grilled steak over one cooked sous vide, but this one was very good. The beef dripping roast potatoes and onion gravy were also excellent. I don’t think you will find a better steak anywhere in Seoul for 20,000. I’m sure I would have loved this dish more if I hadn’t had it at the same time as the chicken but I would certainly order this dish again if I was in the mood for beef.

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We needed a couple of sides to go with our mains and opted for the Buffalo Mac and Cheese(13,000). Topped with a parmesan crust and buffalo chicken. This was a match made in heaven. Again, one of the best Mac & cheeses I’ve ever had it, it was just so creamy. Pairing it with the buffalo sauce was genius. I’m going to have to try this at home. The portion is pretty big, so you could order it by itself if you wanted.

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Chimichurri Fries (8,000). I couldn’t resist these. I’ve loved chimichurri sauce since I went to Argentina and who doesn’t love fries? The chimchurri, and parmesan are a nice addition on top of the fries and they would be perfect to pick at while enjoying a drink on the roof.

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You wouldn’t have thought we would have room at this point but were recommended the Whisky on the Rocks (12,000). A Whiskey custard, panna cotta and savoury crumble. Not normally a huge fan of boozy desserts, this one was delightful. Rich yet light, with the flavour of coffee and whiskey which was not at all over powering. A sweet end to the meal.

 

I think we all know that I couldn’t enjoy a nice meal without a few cocktails to help wash it down, and with head mixologist Ray S. Oh at the helm The Beastro have created a fabulous and provocative cocktail list.

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Excellently priced, the drinks range from 8,500 – 13,000. Which considering the amount of thought and time which has gone into creating them is is amazing. I think you can guess that I took full advantage of the menu and these are my favourites. The Pretty in Pink (12,000) was probably my number 1. Vodka with pink lemonade and carbonated lychee jelly which practically danced and popped upon the taste buds. It was heaven in a glass.

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We also tried The Malt Shoppe (13,000), a tequila laced strawberry shake, topped with homemade vanilla whipped cream. Ours came with a fabulous chocolate chip cookie, as the chefs had been having a bake off. Neither too sweet or boozy, you could enjoy this before or after your meal.

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Other notable mentions are The Good Thymes (9,000) and 11pm (8,500). Both great short and refreshing concoctions perfect for a hot summer’s night.

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The Beastro is located at 358-32 Seogyo Dong 2F, Mapo Gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Sangsu station (line 6). Come out of exit 1 and turn back on yourself. Keep walking straight for about 5 minutes until you reach the Hongdae Park. Walk up the stairs till you reach the road that runs parallel and you should see The Beastro on the 2nd floor above M.A.C (Make-up and great food!!!). For more information call 02-334-2500 or check out their facebook page.

Berentzen Blackcurrant Cocktails

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I generally like to save my cocktail shares for the weekend, but today has just been one of those days and I plan to hit the the bottle the moment I get home from work. I’d be more than happy to get on it before work if only human decency would allow me to indulge in teaching while drunk. So for the moment I choose coffee, but later I shall choose Berentzen.

Berentzen recently celebrated their 1st Birthday in Korea, and to celebrate ran a competition to give away a bottle of each of their fab flavours of liqueur. And would you believe it, I only went and won the blackcurrant one. I have never won a thing in my life (except the pub quiz), so to win some free blackcurrant flavoured booze was tremendous. I’ve been a lover of all things blackcurrant since I had my first sip of Ribena as a child. So using my lovely free booze I made these two cocktails, because lets face it one is never enough.

 

 

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My first libation is called the Naughty Ribena, an alcoholic and adult friendly version of British kids favourite blackcurrant squash. I was inspired to make this after having a chat with Charlie, the owner and resident mixologist of Battered Sole, who told me he plans to put a Dirty Ribena on the menu of their new British Gastropub restaurant. It hasn’t quite made its way onto the menu yet, so I figured I would have a go at making my own and it turned out perfectly.

Ingredients

4 shots of Berentzen blackcurrant

2 shots of vodka

4- 6 shots of sparkling water

A wedge of lemon

 

Directions

Pour the vodka and Berentzen blackcurrant into your glass and top with the sparkling water. Squeeze in the juice of a wedge of lemon then stir and serve over ice.

 

 

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The second cocktail I made was a good old rum punch. Now the sun is shining I just can’t get enough of this fruity rum delight. This one makes a whole jug-full, so you can share with your friends, or if you’re a lush like me just drink it alone. This one is kind of boozy so feel free to add more juice if you need to. Ah punch, the answer to all of life’s problems.

 

Ingredients

4 shots of Berentzen blackcurrant

4 shots of dark rum (I used Captain Morgan)

2 shots of Malibu

12 shots Pineapple juice

Fruit & ice to garnish (strawberries, orange, and lemon)

 

Directions 

Pour all the alcohol and juice  into a large jar or  glass. Give it a good mix then top with ice and sliced fruit. Voila two amazing cocktails to see you through the summer season. Happy Birthday Berentzen!

Lobster Bar

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Last week, despite being immensely poor, I decided to treat myself and my man to some lobster. Not a whole lobster of course, I’m not that flush, but some lovely lobster sandwiches which are the new star attraction at Lobster bar in Itaewon. The place is located at the top of the stone stairs just next to Rocky Mountain Tavern. A small cafe with seating for about 12 inside and another 12 outside. It was rather muggy on the day we went, otherwise I would have loved to sit outside and soak up some rays.

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The menu is small and efficient with only 4 items. It host three varieties of lobster sandwich and a whole lobster steamed or grilled. I was thrilled to find that despite the small size of the menu they offered 3 different cocktails and I think we all know how much I love the cock-tails. I inquired about the punch and it came highly recommended. I left my cocktail enjoyment in their hands and set about choosing my sandwich.

 

There are three kinds of sandwich, The Maine, which is lobster with mayo, The Connecticut which is lobster with butter and The Grilled Cheese, which is lobster in a grilled cheese sandwich. We decided to opt for the grilled cheese and the Connecticut, although I’m still itching to try out the Maine one, if anyone fancies taking me?

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The punch arrived and I was glad to see it was held in a lovely large jar which justified its 12,000 price tag. The waiter held his breath as I tried my first sip. It was delightful, a fruity dance upon the taste buds with a lovely hit of blackcurrant. He walked away triumphantly as I enjoyed my drink.

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The sandwiches were shortly presented in all their glory. The Grilled Cheese (17,000) is really very tasty and filling. Toasted bread, smeared with delicious melted cheese, spinach and plenty of pieces of plump lobster. You get a nice hit of flavour when you bite into it, followed by a spicy finish. It’s very moreish indeed, a bit like crack as Super Hans would say. It comes with salad and fries and they’re also working on getting some fresh corn to accompany it too.

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The Connecticut (17,000)  is also exceptionally nice, generous chunks of lobster covered in juicy melted butter and housed in a soft roll. I was very impressed with the amount of lobster that was in it, one is enough to keep you happy. All in all a very good price, some may balk at paying 17,000 for a sandwich but it is lobster after all and they really don’t skimp on the portions.

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There is also a tank outside full of live lobsters just waiting to be chosen and win the prize of becoming your dinner. For a mere 49,000, your lobster will be grilled or steamed and served up on a platter. Sadly too rich for my blood, but if anyone needs a date? I’m always available for lobster.

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Lobster bar is located at 736-49 Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Itaewon Station (Line 6) Exit 3. Walk straight until you get to the stairs next to Rocky Mountain Tavern. Walk to the top of the stairs, Lobster Bar is on your left. For more information you can call them on 070-8225-3963 or check out their website.

Sweet Chili Sauce

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I do love sweet chili sauce, we always have a bottle or two in the cupboard and it’s my secret ingredient to all things savory. There isn’t much that I make that can’t be jazzed up with a little sweet chili sauce, from coleslaw, potato salad, or dips, to bolognese. It’s a wondrous ingredient that’s forever in my heart. However last Costco run I sadly neglected to pick up any and was not relishing living without it. I knew that it’s pretty much sugar, vinegar, and chilies so it really couldn’t be all that hard to make. I had a load of chilies in the fridge which were in desperate need of use. So I thought I would whip up a batch. It was a resounding success and it was cheaper to make than buying  it at Costco.

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Ingredients 

2 cups of white sugar

1 cup of water

1 cup of apple vinegar (You can buy this in any Korean Mart)

2-6 red chilies (keep the seeds if you like it hot, take them out if you want it mild)

4 cloves of garlic

1/2 an inch of ginger (or less)

4 tablespoons of cornflour

4 tablespoons of cold water

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions 

1. Put all the ingredients in a blender, except the cornflour and cold water, and blend until smooth.

2. Pour everything into a saucepan and put on a low heat. Meanwhile mix together the cornflour and cold water in a cup to make a paste, then add it to saucepan and stir together.

3. As the sweet chili sauce heats up it will thicken. When it begins to boil you can turn it off. Taste and add more salt, sugar, or vinegar to suit your own tastes. When it cools you can store it in the fridge in an airtight container. It should keep for a few weeks at least.

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