I don’t think of us as “fancy” people. To be sure, our pantry is chock-full of ingredients from various parts of the world, but that’s more about variety than any attempt to impress. That being said, I do have a culinary philosophy: if I’m going to take the time to make something, I’m going to try to make it well. With childhood favorites, that’s even more important because they can so easily not live up to our memories of them. Meatloaf, that all-American classic, is no exception — and making a really good one requires a little thinking outside of the box.
Even though I grew up in New York, I’d never had a patty melt until just a few years ago. The classic version (a thin ground beef patty topped with either Swiss or cheddar cheese and grilled onions on rye bread, pan fried in butter) was said to have originated in Southern California in the restaurant chain of William “Tiny” Naylor in the 1940s or 1950s. It’s become a staple of diners, bars and dives all over the U.S.
Basically a happy, messy mashup of a grilled onion-topped burger and a grilled cheese sandwich, as soon as we made our first batch of Kimchi Pimento Cheese, we knew what we wanted to do with it.
If you’ve ever been to our house for a party, then you’ve probably eaten our standard Pigs in a Blanket recipe. We’ve never blogged them because they’re super dooper easy – though so much tastier and a boat-load more affordable than the frozen packaged kind. ($10 for a dozen, Costco? Really? Are we doing this now?). We simply cut good quality puff pastry into strips, wrap them around mini hot dogs, egg wash them, sprinkle them with whatever, and bake. Delicious, if somewhat pedestrian.
But this year, we wanted to up our party game, so we came up with these: Homemade Pretzel-wrapped Pigs in a Blanket with Warm Cheddar & Stout Beer Dip. Now if that’s not a home run straight through the net, then clearly I don’t know football.
When we want the flavors of bulgogi and the convenient outdoor grilling method of a burger, there’s an easy solution: combine them. By sticking with the tried-and-tested burger, glazing it with a spicy soy-ginger-garlic-gochujung sauce, and stacking it with kimchi mayo and pickled daikon radish, you can keep the best of both worlds without offending culinary purists.
We’ve all experienced what I like to call “fusion fails”. Two culinary concepts which, taken individually, are perfectly respectable, but in combination create a whole that is … let’s just say less than the sum of its parts. For example, I love fruit, I love cheese, but bits of fruit IN cheese? No thank you. I love bacon, and I’m a fan of vodka, but bacon-flavored vodka (yes, this exists)? I’ll pass. The most successful fusions take two examples which aren’t so far separated on the food spectrum that you have to take a leap of faith that the result is even edible, let alone worth the trouble of combining them. Croissants and doughnuts can at least both be found on the bakery shelf, and thus we have the cronut. And bulgogi, the Korean staple, uses thin strips of beef that are marinated and seared, so why not apply those flavors to a perfectly grilled burger? To be honest, making up names like “cronut” and “flagel” isn’t our forte, so we’re simply calling this the “bulgogi burger”. If you’re as nerdy as we are, you might like to call this a “crossover episode” – where stars from two different shows team up to make a delicious dinner! (This is why we don’t write TV shows.)
Korean bulgogi burritos – tender soy and sugar marinated beef, charred crisp and wrapped in a burrito with a rainbow of vegetables. A delight for the palate … and the palette.
We always strive to make sure a recipe tastes good. That’s the brass ring of home cooking. If it also looks appetizing, that’s a pretty nice goal to achieve. We’ll admit, though, that cooked meat tends towards the … there’s no better way to say this … brown part of the spectrum. It’s just a fact of life. A dish that pops all over the color wheel isn’t something you tend to encounter much past childhood jello desserts. That’s one reason we’re particularly proud of these Korean bulgogi burritos. Besides the fact that they’re insanely, addictively delicious, they’re also delightful to look at. There’s yellow, purple, red, green – and all without resorting to artificial coloring. Let’s dive in.
Real, hømemåde Swedish meatballs in a rich, cream gravy is as comforting as dinner gets. Serve it with boiled potatoes, lingonberry preserves and cucumber salad.
Have you ever dragged your a$$ all the way to Ikea supposedly because you desperately need a new Lillnaggen for your bathroom (but really it’s because you can’t live another day without a Swedish meatball). Do you crave meatballs the way a theater kid craves a spotlight? Do you power-walk straight past all those cozy-looking beds and then say, “Oh look, the cafe. Totes forgot they had one. Hmmm, it does happen to be meatballtime, er I mean lunchtime.”
(Five orders of meatballs later…) “What?”
Yeah, I’d have no idea about that (wipes nutmeg-scented gravy off lips with a Guldlök napkin).