L’espirit de la Mer and Subsequently, Some Olive Oil Cake

Crickets were making quite the ruckus on the blog frontier, but I’m back! May truly was one of those crazy months; it could very well be described as fantastically frenzied. I entered, somewhat clumsily, into my mid-early-twenties, threw a successful pickling party (more on both those things later), and traveled to NYC to visit my dearest friend Diane. It was a lot of nonstop everything, but hey, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Kinfolk’s L’espirit de la Mer dinner in Brooklyn happened to land right in the middle of my NYC trip, and when I saw that it was to be hosted by Karen from Sunday Suppers  my decision to attend was pretty much made. I’ve been an ardent fan of her vision for inspiring community through shared food for a long time, so I thoroughly enjoyed her beautiful space, carefully thought out menu, and our short but lovely conversation together!

Kinfolk - Sunday Suppers
We had a mediterranean-inspired dinner that was a refreshingly simple tribute to the sea. The beet and herbed yogurt purée stole my heart, the striped bass was gloriously fresh, and the olive oil cakes with rose cream demanded to make a reappearance in my own kitchen.

Kinfolk - Sunday Suppers   Sunday Suppers - Kinfolk dinner

Kinfolk Dinners - Sunday Suppers

Talk about gorgeous! I loved watching the warm light slowly trickle out throughout the night as the bellies got fuller and the words more lingering.

Sunday Suppers - Kinfolk dinner
The best part of everything was sharing it with my one and only frangipane, Diane. She’s such a beaut! How I miss her so already!

So remember how the olive oil cakes were demanding? Here they are, happily gracing my marble slab. Seriously so delicious – the salty pistachios complement the sweetness of the rose and cake super well.

Olive Oil Cake with Rose Frosting and Salted Pistachios    Olive Oil Cake with Rose Frosting and Salted Pistachios

Olive Oil Cake with Rose Icing and Salted Pistachios

Karen made these with freshly whipped cream scented with rose, but I only had powdered sugar on hand and thus this icing was born. Happy serendipity, cause I like the way they look! Kinda like they’re dressed for a party. 

For the cake –

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup mild-flavored olive oil

Preheat oven to 325F. Oil mini-bundt pan (make sure to get all the little cracks!). Whisk first 5 ingredients in large bowl and the rest in another. Gradually whisk the wet into the dry. Scoop batter until it barely comes up to the where the grooves of the bundt ends.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until tester comes out clean. Let completely cool.

For the icing –

1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tsbp warm water
1 tsp rose extract
crushed salted pistachios

Mix powdered sugar with water one tablespoon at a time. Add the extract at the end. Ice each cake and sprinkle with pistachios.


To a Tea

Of all the hot beverages out there, I think tea is the one I’m least fanatic about, but certainly not because it isn’t well-deserved. Tea, especially of the barley, millet, or corn husk variety, was so comfortably in the background whilst growing up in a Korean household, that I never gave it much thought. A huge pot of it was always ready for us to have either cold or hot, largely unnoticed unless it was empty.

Irenekly - tea2

I suppose that’s why I will rarely buy tea like I buy a cappuccino or a cocktail – I prefer sipping my tea in the calm of home, during breakfast, after dinner, or in the afternoon lull. I by no means meticulously brew my tea, but coming home with this lovely mélange of colors and smells from the apothecary (yes, apothecary – this one.) made me think a bit harder on the art of steeping tea.

There are grand metaphors of making tea that is related to life and living in a variety of ways, I’m sure, but one that feels particularly relevant is the beauty of letting new flavors unfurl in completely different temperatures. Meaning: seeing the beauty that comes from being thrust into new environments, and enjoying the changes. I hope to live with great intention in the midst of all this transition, and watching and waiting for my tea to properly steep is helping me slow down and make each step judiciously.

Irenekly - tea1
To not have the most remarkably ordinary blend in with mundanity, but to have eyes to see the possibility of intention in the everyday. I hope for this!

Utter sidenote: these photos were taken with my iPhone and that’s pretty crazy.

Baked Eggs with Miso Crème Fraîche

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A quick post on a simple, yet shnazzy breakfast recipe. The beauty of being home for the holidays means glorious ingredients so easily at hand, like these ikura, and ample time to test out new recipes.

Baked Eggs with Miso Crème Fraîche

Oven to 350, mix in salt, pepper, ginger, and teaspoon of miso into the crème fraîche, and plop a tablespoon in the ramekin. Crack an egg on top, add another tablespoon of the crème, top with dill, and pop it into the oven for 10-15 minutes, depending on how you like your eggs. Eat gustily with some crusty bread. Happy breakfasting!

Leeks (& Lykke Li)

The glorious bounty that comes with Fall makes me want to do a jig of joy. Yes, squashes and apples are wonderful, but the two that make my heart sing are leeks and persimmons. I haven’t done a cooking post in a while so thought I’d feature a most delightful dinner I had a couple nights ago. And, because I was thinking about the word “leek” a lot, some Lykke Li seemed fitting as the chosen culinary musical accompaniment. (This song, specifically.)

I’ve been touting this word, “bricoleur,” around to the bemusement of friends, but it truly defines the way I prefer to do my cooking. And many other creative endeavors, for that matter. I make things with whatever happens to be available around me and judiciously throw things together. And that is how this leek-y dish was born!


Apologies for the terribly wrinkled linen. Hopefully that nice wooden spoon is successfully distracting!

In the fridge: leftover anchovy + dashi stock, already chopped leeks + shallots, and some springy dino kale. In the cupboard: somen noodles. Leeks are so sweet and good on their own that I just let them do their own thing in a pan with some shallots, then spruced up regular kale chips by adding an ever so thin drizzle of sesame oil. I added some memmi soup base to the stock, soft-boiled an egg, chopped up some kimchi and shazam, a new Fall-favorite dish was born! So easy and so good.

Quick and Hearty Barley Salad



I love having the time to come home and actually make lunch in between classes, but it’s a rare luxury! Last week I had a fridge full of fresh veggies and the weather was warm, so I just threw together what I had to create this yummy salad. Trader Joe’s always delivers on its convenient and delicious products, and I was pleased to find a cooks in 10-minutes packet of barley. I often ate barley at home because it’s a common grain in Korean dishes, but I knew it would hold up well in this salad too.

Ingredients for the salad (though honestly, just use whatever veggies you have!):

– yellow squash
– radish sprouts
– kale/chard/spinach
– cherry tomatoes
– barley, or any hearty chewy grain you like (farro, orzo)

the dressing:

– 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
– juice from half a lemon
– small clove of garlic, chopped
– fresh parsley
– salt n pepper to taste

I also ended up having leftovers to eat for dinner, which I couldn’t resist taking another photo of because the colors were just so darn pretty. (I added a soft-boiled egg to have some extra protein, too)

7E23DB6C-5DF2-4587-B340-2F65739303BDSimple, delicious, and so healthy. All wonderful things!

A Trip to the Lighthouse

A few weekends ago, Garrett and I celebrated a year of dating by doing a day trip up the coast to Marin County. We had been wanting to go see Pt Reyes Lighthouse for a while now, so we were both very excited and especially happy about the gorgeous weather that day, the sun a welcome companion as we drove through windy roads along the coast.


Got some awesome new Weck jars that I’ve been using as alternative tupperware. Packed some greek yogurt and blueberry mueli for brekafast on the go and it was marvelous eating it over the view of Muir beach.


Case in point! Spoons as victory utensils!


Wearing my newly thrifted Eddie Bauer parka complete with wool plaid lining. Perfect for a day exploring the windy coasts of NorCal, and yes I realize this is not the best picture at all to display it. But that water! Couldn’t turn away from it.


The lighthouse!!! Climbed quite a few steps to get down there, and I was clutching my phone in a death grip as I took these pictures for fear of the fierce wind. No whales to be seen, but just seeing endless mighty blue was a sight in itself. It was also crazy to learn about the stories of when the lighthouse was actually working, wowza!


All those stairs = gleeful pie eating from Bovine Bakery. This little beauty was an apple and raspberry number. My neon coral nails look quite lurid  compared to the rustic pie.


Apparently this is a popular place for people to come get their Instagram on, and Instagram I did, but I couldn’t help think that I had landed in the pages of Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro when Kathy, Robbie, and Ruth go trek out to see the abandoned boat. Sigh. So lovely and sad.


And last! We ended our day by celebrating with wonderfully fresh oysters from Tomales Bay. It was Garrett’s first time having oysters, but knowing that this was the man who claimed mirugai (giant clam in sashimi form) as his favorite dish one night, I knew his seafood love wouldn’t stop with these ocean critters.

If any of you are thinking of heading up the coast, I highly recommend all of our pit stops! We also made it out to Elephant Seal Beach, where apparently it was mating season, but unfortunately/fortunately all we saw were them napping. Kept it PG for this trip. We were graced with awesome weather with the skies clear and the sun bright all day, but I hear the weather can get pretty nastily cold. Either way, I think it is worth it. I am happy to have been your girlfriend for a year, Garrett! Whoop whoop!

On the Table

Something lovely and intimate about snapshots of meals, either shared or eaten alone, no? I think these kind of shots are one of my favorite to take. Looking at these photos brings back memories about not just the food, but the conversation, the prep, and the lingering after dinner’s been eaten.


For a quick and easy lunch: a ribboned zucchini salad with pickled red onions and dried currants. & of course you can’t forget that generous sprinkling of parm! For me it’s like generous fistfuls.


To celebrate Chinese New Years, I made DIY spring roll wrap dinner (inspired by this post). I can elaborate more on the recipe if anyone would like, but I basically made sauteed enoki mushrooms, broccoli with sesame seeds, fried up some kimchi, marinated tofu in bulgogi sauce, and whipped up a fish sauce, sriracha, soy sauce, and agave dipping sauce. Okay that doesn’t sound too basic. But it is just a lot of random easy steps thrown together for a fun dinner time!


And Garrett’s turn in the kitchen: a Valentine’s breakfast featuring blueberry pancakes, mimosas, and Babel on the Crosley.


I was home in SoCal last weekend and I loved the way the remnants of breakfast looked, especially the melange of egg yolk with homemade strawberry jam. We also had a huge bag of Cara Cara oranges that we juiced into pulpy goodness–so, so sweet!

IMG_7082And lastly, dinner at home. My mom’s a culinary genius and made a huge spread of Japanese food. Not pictured: yamaimo salad w/ tobiko and nori & miso glazed black cod.

Crazy Bread

I saw this on my google reader the other day, was mildly interested, but then dismissed it as having too many obscure sounding ingredients…until I found myself at the Berkeley Bowl, the great treasure trove of bulk bin goods. With psyillium husk at the reach of my fingertips, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try and make this bread, something claimed to be  life-changing.

“Life-Changing Bread” can be a little wordy, although “LCB” sounds like a decent option. I’ve decided that this bread is to be called, now and forever from mine lips, “Crazy Bread.” Because it really is crazy. I felt like a crazy person stirring nuts and oats and many types of seeds in a cake pan (I don’t have a silicon loaf pan as the recipe calls for). How was it to turn into bread?? It looked like bird food + horse food AKA not human food. I didn’t even have coconut oil or ghee on hand so I used grapeseed oil–which is probably blasphemous. Crazy! So much crazy! Okay more crazy happened when I actually baked it, watched it come easily out of the pan as a big huge granola bar-y thing, ate it spread with grapefruit marmalade and almond butter, AND LIKED IT. Let’s not even talk about the crazy that happens because of all the high intensity fiber.

If you’re looking for some crazy in your life, especially around the bread spheres, I would say to try this! If also, you suffer from occasional to daily constipation, try this bread. Oops, TMI?

Scenes from the weekend

1. some birthday present wrapping 2. kirstie (birthday girl #1) pondering in our lovely apt 3. i am loving this new lipstick 4. ally and i attempted some asian birthday cake for kirstie. turned out a little dense, but still pretty tasty! we used this recipe 5. now onto birthday girl #2, we had waffles for birthday breakfast! topped with pears & blue cheese, apricot preserves, and some choco chips. 6. and then we had waffles in our birthday blanket fort!

It was a really great weekend. Celebrating other people’s birthdays is the best! Also, sorry the pictures are so small. They won’t come out any larger and I suspect it has to do with this layout. Poop!