Vegetable Jap Chae

Whoever doesn't know about this dish is a poor fellow indeed. Jap Chae is what you order at a Korean place if you can't stand chili oil or don't eat meat. It full of veggies, its slithery and crunchy and multiflavored.

 In my house, we eat a whole lot of pasta. Sometimes its nice to switch things up. And you know what's fun? Glass noodles. They're most often made from sweet potato starch, and can be purchased at any asian market. When you cook them, they turn translucent and slippery. Perfect for chasing after with your chopsticks.

Vegetable Jap Chae
adapted from nytimes-The Temporary Vegetarian
serves 4-6. time about 1 hour

note: this can easily be increased or reduced. Just follow a rough proportionality of ingredients. Similarly, you can add or substitute whatever vegetables you like. Wanna add those odd baby corn things? Go ahead. Onions? Sure. Snow peas? Yum.

8 oz Korean dried sweet potato noodles
2 tbps sesame oil
4 tbsps soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
4 tbsps peanut oil
4 Napa or other cabbage leaves, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, julienned
1 clove garlic, minced
6 scallions, white and light green parts only, trimmed and cut into 2-inch coins
8 fresh shiitake (or dried shiitake mushrooms that have been soaked 1-2 hours), stemmed and thinly sliced
1/2 cup spinach leaves and stems, washed well, drained, and squeezed dry
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Break noodles in half if you can, add, and cook until chewy, about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Transfer to a bowl, add 1 tablespoon sesame oil, mix well, and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine soy sauce and sugar. Mix well, and set aside.
Place a wok or large sauté pan over high heat, add peanut oil, and swirl to coat the entire wok or pan. When the oil is shimmering, add the cabbage and carrot and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, 1 to 3 minutes. Add garlic, scallions, and mushrooms. Fry until scallions begin to soften, about 1 minute. Add spinach, soy sauce-sugar mixture, noodles, and black pepper.
Cook until noodles are heated through, stirring vigorously, about 3 minutes. Turn off heat, and add sesame seeds and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of sesame oil. Mix well.


Super Cookie Dough Cupcakes

What makes them so super, you will surely ask? Well. You have a dozen brown butter cupcakes, see? Like pumped up vanilla cupcakes: nuttier, buttery, comforting. Then, you cut a hole in the top of each one.
 Put a dollop of cookie dough on top (egg-free!).
 And then slather some cookie dough frosting all over that thang.
Don't forget the chocolate chip on top. I'd take that over a maraschino cherry any day.

Super Cookie Dough Cupcakes
1 dozen
adapted from the cupcake project

Brown Butter Cupcakes

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsps baking powder
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsps milk

Preheat oven to 400 F.
First, make the browned butter. Place butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until it turns a dark golden color, 3-5 minutes.
Take the pan off the heat and strain into a bowl (to separate from the burned bits).
Let the butter sit until it solidifies, but is still a little soft. (This can take 30 mins room temp; if in a hurry, put it in the fridge for 10 mins).
When ready, beat with sugar. In a separate bowl (I do this directly in the measuring cup), mix flour and baking powder. Add eggs and vanilla extract to the butter-sugar mixture, then mix in the flour. Finally, add milk. If too dry, add a tablespoon or so more of milk.
Fill twelve cupcake liners and bake for 15-20 minutes, until a knife or toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Cookie Dough (for frosting and filling)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted (or substitute canola oil for part or all)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsps milk

Mix everything together.

To Assemble:
Cut a small cone out of the top of each cupcake, but inserting a knife and carving a circle out without moving the tip. These little pieces I suggest you eat to keep up your stamina in the coming back-breaking task (not!).

In each cavity, put a small ball of cookie dough, so that 1/4 of the dome rises above the surface of the cupcake.

For the frosting, thin one cup of the remaining cookie dough with 1/2 cup of cream (milk will do as well). Spread around cupcakes, leaving cookie ball uncovered in the middle.

Top with a chocolate chip and serve.