Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sinus-Searing Mustard

If you're like me and you're tired of store bought mustard that has no heat and next to no flavor, this is one you should make, especially because it takes almost no work.  I took the basic recipe from here, but he doesn't give specifics, and I wouldn't suggest using wine in place of the initial water (it's slightly acidic, which would keep it from developing as much heat).

6 T black mustard seeds, crushed or ground depending on the texture you want
1/2 C mustard powder (I use Colman's)
1/2 C ice water
3 T white wine vinegar
2 t salt

Combine the mustard powder, the mustard seeds, and the salt.  Add the ice water, mix thoroughly, and allow to sit for 12 minutes.  The timing here is important; the water activates the chemicals that give the mustard it's heat, so longer times develop more, but those chemicals are volatile, so if you wait too long it starts to mellow out.  12 minutes seems to give the most heat, and at the end of this time you add the vinegar and mix to set the reactions.  Give it a day before using to blend flavors and lose the initial bitterness.  As far as storage, don't worry about refrigerating it, pretty much nothing will grow in it.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Grandma's Chestnut Dressing

This is one of the family classics, and never ceases to get rave reviews.  Unfortunately it's so bad for you and chestnuts can be enough of a pain in the ass to find that I typically reserve making it for the holidays.

1 1/4 C chopped celery
1/4 C chopped onion
4 C cooked chopped chestnuts (roasting chestnuts then peeling them is a major pain in the ass, but you can find them pre-roasted and peeled in some Asian grocery stores)
1 1/3 C melted butter
1/4 C parsley
1/2 C cream
3 t salt
1/4 t pepper
4 C soft bread crumbs (you can also use dried stuffing mix, though it'll need more broth)
2 t fresh sage
broth from turkey or chicken, preferably homemade

Mix ingredients and bake at 375 for 30 minutes, covered for half.  The amount of broth takes some playing around, so you'll want low ball it and check occasionally to see if it's drying out.  You'll want the end product to be light and moist without being soggy.  You may also want to mix the dressing once or twice when you check it, but in the last stretch when it's uncovered you want to leave it without mixing so the top can crisp slightly.

Fennel, Cured Salmon, and Grapefruit Salad

A light salad with some more interesting flavors than your typical lettuce salad.  With curing the salmon and making the gastrique this one can take a little while though.

Fennel cured salmon, thinly sliced across the grain
Fennel, thinly sliced
Sweet onion, thinly sliced
Ruby red grapefruit, in supremes

Orange gastrique:
1 C orange juice
1 C sugar
1/2 C rice vinegar, plus some to taste

Make the gastrique by boiling the three ingredients together until it starts to become syrupy.  Taste and adjust the flavor and consistency by adding more vinegar and/or water if needed.

To assemble the salad, mix the fennel and arugula, along with two or three supemes per person and onion to taste.  Top with four or five slices of the salmon, and drizzle with the gastrique.

Fennel Cured Salmon

This is a wonderful quickly cured salmon with fennel, sweetness, and a little saltiness.  It's a slight modification of the recipe in Charcuterie by Ruhlman and Polcyn (which is pretty much THE place to start learning how to cure meat),

1/4 C sugar
1/2 C light brown sugar
6 T kosher salt
1 lb fillet of salmon, preferably wild caught
roughly 1/2 a fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1/2 C toasted fennel seeds
1 T white pepper, cracked

Mix the salt and sugar and put a layer down in a container just large enough to hold the fish.  Put down the fish, then add another layer of salt/sugar cure.  Lay out the fennel, fennel seeds, and white pepper.  Top with any cure you might have left.  Cover with plastic wrap and weight it down.  Keep this in the fridge for two days, making sure the fish is covered in the cure or the brine that will be produced as the cure draws moisture out of the fish.  At the end of two days make sure that the fish feels firm and dense uniformly (leave it longer if it doesn't), then remove, discard the cure and seasonings, and rinse the fish off.  Pat the fish dry, wrap in butcher or parchment paper and refrigerate for another day before thinly slicing; this could  be used in the Cured Salmon, Fennel, and Grapefruit Salad.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Chicken Stock

If you really want a soup that will impress you need to make your own stock.  By roasting chicken and vegetables then slow simmering for hours you develop a depth of flavor that the stuff from the store couldn't hope to touch, and by using those bits of chicken that are usually discarded (wing tips, backs, necks, and whatever else you typically wouldn't eat) you'll fill the stock with the gelatin that imparts that richness and silky texture without adding any fat.  If you want to take this a step further you can then reduce this stock from a gallon down to a pint of glace de volaille, one of the best sauce bases around, and worth every second of the day and a half it takes to make.

7 lbs of cheap chicken bits (I personally like to save wing tips from hosting wing nights for friends, but you can use necks, backs, feet, or whatever else you can get your hands on.  The thing you're looking for here is cartilage and/or bone to create gelatin)
1 lb carrots, in one inch pieces
1 lb celery, in one inch pieces
1 lb onions, in one inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed with the side of a knife
7-8 sprigs of Italian parsley
20 black peppercorns, whole
1/2 t dried thyme, or 2 t fresh
2 bay leaves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and roast the chicken bits in a large roasting pan for an hour, stirring a couple of times. 
Add the celery, carrots, and onions along with 2 C of water to the roasting pan, and cook for another hour, stirring every 20-30 minutes.

Transfer the chicken and vegetables to a large stock pot (be sure to get anything stuck to the bottom of the pan), and add in the rest of the ingredients with enough water to come within an inch or two of the top.  Cover and bring to a simmer for at least 4 hours.

Remove the chicken, vegetables, and everything else you can fish out and discard.  Allow the stock to cool then put it in the fridge until the fat solidifies (or overnight).
Remove the fat and strain the stock through either a fine strainer or a couple of layers of cheesecloth.
At this point you can either use it as stock, or you can reduce it down to a pint to make glace de volaille.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Fish Fragrant Sauce

This is more of an outline than a real recipe as I was improvising a sauce from the recipe for Fish Fragrant Pork, but it'll give you an outline for how to make the wing sauce.

1 T sugar
1 T Chinkiang vinegar
1-2 t soy sauce
2 1/2 t corn starch
1 T garlic, minced
1 T ginger, grated
2 green onions, finely sliced
splash of Shaoxing rice wine
4 T Sichuan pickled chiles, minced
6 T water
3/4 t Sichuan peppercorn, toasted and ground
2 T oil

Mix together the water, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, and corn starch.  Heat the oil until almost smoking, then add the garlic, ginger, and pickled chiles.  Stir fry until fragrant.  Add in the sauce and everything other than the green onions.  Adjust for seasoning and thickness, then add in the green onion and stir before removing from heat.

Buffalo Wing Sauce

The original Buffalo style wing sauce.  There's not a whole lot to it, and the only real secret is using some lecithin to emulsify it so the hot sauce and butter don't separate.

1/2 C Frank's Red Hot
7 T butter, melted
1 t worchestershire sauce
1/4 t garlic powder
1 t liquid lecithin

Stir the lecithin into the melted butter, then add the rest and shake or blend together well.  You may have to re-warm this occasionally during service as it will tend to solidify.

If you want this hotter you can add ground habanero to it (I do this to my Red Hot anyway), or stir in a little pure capsaicin for real kick.

Sweet Chile Soy Sauce

This one is really, really easy:
Take some sweet chile sauce (I get it at the Asian market, but even Meijer carries it) and add some soy sauce.  If you want to be fancy and thicken it up a little, add some lecithin.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Parmesan Garlic Wing Sauce

I can't take full credit for this one as it's a slight adaptation of the one here, but it's quite good and shockingly similar to the sauce you'd get at bdubs.  This is one you could easily play with as well (more roasted garlic, more or less crushed red pepper, or maybe a little raw garlic).

4 cloves roasted garlic, crushed and minced into paste
1/2 C mayonnaise
5 t parmesan cheese, grated and finely minced
1 T white vinegar
1 t lemon juice
1/2 t salt
1/2 t crushed red pepper
1/4 t basil
1/4 t marjoram
1/4 t oregano
1/4 t thyme
ground black pepper
drizzle of the olive oil from roasting the garlic

Mix everything to combine and allow it to blend for at least two hours.

Toum, V2

Another take on the middle eastern garlic sauce; I wasn't happy with the meringue-like texture of the previous attempt at making toum, so this time I used straight lecithin instead of getting it from eggs.

4 T lemon juice
1 C oil, I used vegetable oil, but a mix of vegetable and olive might also work
7 cloves garlic
salt to taste
1 t lecithin
2 T cold water

Mix the lecithin into the oil.  Food processor the garlic with salt and 1 T lemon juice and 1 T water.  With the processor running, slowly drizzle some of the oil in, then alternate slowly adding oil and the combination of lemon juice and water.  If it still seems runny you can add more oil in, but the general rule is that you need 1 t of lecithin per cup of oil.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Tom Yam

This is a fairly simple Thai soup.  You could get fancier with it and add in mushrooms, tofu, pork, or chicken, but I honestly prefer it just as a clear flavorful broth.

4 ham hocks (I like two smoked, two plain), you could also use stock cuts of other animals like soup bones or chicken necks
12 C water
fish sauce
5-6 slices galangal, lightly crushed
Piece of lemon grass, halved lengthwise and bruised
5-6 kaffir lime leaves
3 T nam prik pao (Thai chile jam)
Thai chiles to taste, minced very finely
large handful of cilantro leaves
lime juice to taste

Place the ham hocks in the water with 8 T fish sauce and simmer for at least a couple of hours.  Remove the ham hocks and add the galangal, lemon grass, lime leaves, and chiles, and simmer for another 30 minutes.  Remove the galangal, lemon grass, and lime leaves.  Add the nam prik pao and cilantro, wait a minute, taste, and add fish sauce if necessary.  After taking the soup off the heat and right before serving add lime juice to taste.

Thai Spring Rolls

A simple meat filled spring roll in a Thai style.


1 lb ground pork
25-50 g bean threads, re-hydrated and chopped
large handful shredded carrot
large handful black fungus, re-hydrated and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
pinch of sugar
1 T soy sauce
2 T fish sauce
drizzle sesame oil
Thai chiles to taste, minced
1 shallot, minced

To assemble and serve:
spring roll wrappers
soy and sweet chile sauce

Combine the filling ingredients, then roll in the wrappers.  Fry in small batches at 375 F until golden brown.  Serve with the sweet chile soy (this is just commercial sweet chile sauce mixed with some soy to taste; if you have some lecithin on hand it will help to thicken the sauce up).

Thai Iced Tea

I've only done this in an iced tea maker, so it may not translate particularly well, but here it is:

enough tea to make three quarts (I use 12 standard sized bags)
3-4 whole star anise
half a cinnamon stick
1/4 C sugar (or 3/4 C if you like it very sweet)
1/2 a can sweetened condensed milk

Brew a strong quart and a half of tea with the tea, star anise, and cinnamon.  Remove the tea and spices, and while still very hot add the sugar and condensed milk and stir to combine.  Add ice to cool and bring up to correct volume.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Saurabh's Dal

A basic lentil dish as made by a guy I worked with.  It's simple, but quite tasty.

1 C urad dal, split and husked
2-3 green chiles, chopped
1/4 t asafoetida
1/2 t whole cumin seeds
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
5 t ghee or vegetable oil
pinch turmeric
salt to taste
3 dried red chiles (optional)

Soak the dal for two hours in 6 C lightly salted water, then add the dried chiles and boil uncovered until the lentils start to break down and take on a creamy consistency (if too much water evaporates put a lid on the pot and reduce the heat).
In a skillet heat the ghee then add the asafoetida; fry this until fragrant, then add cumin.
When the cumin becomes fragrant add the garlic and tumeric, then the green chiles.
Add this to the pot of dal (there will be some hissing and sputtering).
Stir together, heat the dal for a few minutes to combine the flavors, and eat.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Great Meal: Pork and Onion Confit on Polenta with Sides

This was a great meal, pork confit and onion confit on top of creamy polenta with glace de viande sauce, served with Spanish garlic soup and mushrooms in sherry and garlic sauce.

The downside?  This takes a lot (A LOT) of prep before hand, and you have to manage your time and space using all four burners.  In addition to the stuff made well ahead, make sure you have all the mise en place for the mushrooms ready.

So the first step is to make your glace de viande; it's a beast of a recipe and it'll take you a couple of days, but most of that time is just sitting around while things simmer.  It also makes a lot and it freezes well.

Next, you'll need to make the pork confit and onion confit; both of these can be made ahead, keep well, and will make more than you need.

The next longest thing, and one you can't make ahead is the creamy polenta, which I'm just swiping from Emeril, but I halve the recipe, use sour cream instead of creme fraiche, and add a splash of cream.  Once you get this started, start up your garlic soup; you'll want to get to the point where the broth is in and everything except the eggs and the toasted bread have been added to the broth.  Now just cover it and keep it warm.

Eight to ten minutes before the polenta is done, start up the mushrooms.

In the last five minutes of making the polenta, bring the soup to a gentle simmer and crack the eggs in to gently poach (you may have to flip them toward the end of poaching - you want the whites cooked and the yolks runny).  Immediately after that, melt just a little pork confit fat into a small skillet, add a small handful of the onion confit, followed shortly by a larger handful of the pork confit.  You just want to get this warm, any more and you'll dry out the pork.

Plate the polenta, add the pork and onion on top, then toss 2T of glace de viande and a little over 1 T of butter into the skillet from the pork and combine it.  Spoon the mushrooms out on to the plate, and drizzle the glace over the pork and onions.  Ladle up the soup, making sure to get an egg, whole, in the bowl, and top with a piece of toasted bread.

Mushrooms in Sherry and Garlic Sauce

Rich, earthy, and just a little spicy; this is an easy to make tasty side dish.

1 lb mushrooms, in 1/4" slices
3 T olive oil
2 t flour
2 shallots, minced
6-7 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 T chopped flat leaf parsley
1/4 C dry sherry
1/4 C beef broth
heavy pinch crushed red pepper, or to taste
lemon juice
1 t smoked paprika

Preheat the oil over high heat, and saute the mushrooms, shallots, and garlic for 2 minutes.
Remove the mushrooms and garlic and reserve; add the flour and cook for a couple of minutes to make a roux.  Add the broth, sherry, red pepper, paprika, and a squeeze of lemon juice, and whisk to include the roux. 
Add the reserved mushroom mixture back into the pan and simmer for a couple of minutes. 
Taste and adjust salt, pepper, and lemon juice.  Sprinkle with the parsley, toss, and serve.

As written this could be a little hard to cook properly (you'd need a big skillet and a lot of heat), so it might be a good idea to halve the recipe.  This would probably also allow you to make the roux without removing the mushrooms from the pan.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Belgian Waffles

Crispy exterior, soft and fluffy interior, these are just about the perfect classic waffle.  You'll have to get up a little earlier and put some effort in to it, but it's well worth it as long as your friends and family leave you some.  Of course if you tell them how much butter is in this you'll be more likely to get some...

1 pkg. dry yeast
2 C lukewarm milk (preferably whole)
4 eggs, separated
1 t vanilla
2 ½ C sifted flour
½ t salt
1 T sugar
½ C melted butter

Sprinkle yeast over milk and stir to dissolve.
 Beat egg yolks and add to yeast mixture with vanilla.
Sift together flour, salt and sugar; add to liquids. 
Stir in melted butter and combine thoroughly.
Let mixture stand in a warm place about 45 minutes or until mixture doubles. 
Beat egg whites until stiff; carefully fold into batter.
The amount you'll need for your waffle iron will vary, but should be around a cup, and this should make 5.

French Apple Cobbler

A classic apple cobbler with a golden slightly crispy topping.  This one is also a hit made in a dutch oven in a camp fire.

Apple Filling:
5 C tart apples, peeled, sliced thinly (I use granny smith)
3/4 C sugar
2 T flour
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t salt
1 t vanilla extract
1/4 C water
1 T butter, softened
Lemon juice

1/2 C flour, sifted
1/2 C sugar
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
2 T butter, softened
1 egg, slightly beaten

Peel and slice the apples; I find this takes long enough that I end up tossing them with a little lemon juice to prevent browning.
In a medium bowl, combine filling ingredients. Dot apples with 1 tablespoon butter.
Combine topping ingredients, beating until the batter is smooth
Dot batter in small spoonfuls over the apples, spacing evenly.  It will spread and brown during baking.
baking. Bake 35 to 40 minutes at 375° F or until apples are tender and crust is golden brown. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Herbed Cheese Spread

There was a restaurant called The Heritage in Cincinnati that used to sell an herb mix for making cheese spread.  Well, the restaurant went out of business, but my mom loved the stuff enough that I sat down with my memory of the flavor and a bottle of the stuff that was more than a decade old and figured out how to make it.

1 2/3 t dried marjoram
2 1/2 t dried chives
5/16 t garlic powder
1 t thyme
1/4 t caraway
pinch of salt

Mix the ingredients together, and use 1.5 T of mix per 8 oz of cream cheese.  Or even better, use half again as much and mix 4 oz of soft goat cheese into the cream cheese.  Let the cheese and herb mix blend for at least a couple of hours.
The herb mix can also be made in large batches and kept in your spice cabinet.

Lamb Chops with Balsamic Reduction

Lamb chops aren't exactly cheap, so this is the kind of thing that I save for a special occasion.  I hate to admit that the first time I made this the special occasion backfired a bit; I'd made it for a girlfriend's birthday, but one who I was planning on breaking up with, just not on her day.  I got called out that evening and ended up killing the relationship, but I hope the meal at least blunted the blow.  I'd suggest serving it with rosemary and garlic roasted potatoes and some simple sauteed vegetables instead of a breakup.

a rack of lamb, about 2 lbs
4 T chopped garlic
4 T fresh rosemary, chopped
1 t salt
1 t pepper
1/4 c olive oil
1 c balsamic vinegar
2 T sugar
salt to taste


Separate the racks of lamb into double chops, french them if desired.
Combine garlic, rosemary, 1 t salt, pepper, olive oil and vinegar; pour over the lamb chops and marinate 2+ hours in the refrigerator.
Remove the chops from the marinade, reserving the marinade.
Grill or broil the chops for a few minutes on each side until medium rare; meanwhile, add the sugar to the marinade and boil until reduced by half (or more if you want it thicker and stronger). This sauce should be served with the lamb chops.

Lentil and Rice Soup

A simple middle eastern soup.  I typically don't add the lemon juice to the soup, instead just serving it with a lemon wedge.

1 T olive oil
2 onions, chopped
1 small hot pepper, finely chopped (or whole dried chile, removed before serving)
8 c chicken stock (veggie stock for vegetarians)
2 c toor dal, rinsed (or other split lentils)
1 t ground cumin
2 t ground coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Pinch of saffron (optional)
2 T basmati rice, uncooked
Splash of lemon juice (optional)
salt to taste

Heat oil in a saucepan and sauté onions and hot pepper over medium heat for 10 minutes.
Add remaining ingredients and bring to boil.
Cover and simmer for an hour or until the lentils are soft. Puree, then return to saucepan and reheat.

Mussels in White Wine

A simple preparation of mussels that lets them really shine.

20-30 mussels, appropriately cleaned and de-bearded
salt and pepper
1 T parsley, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 C dry white wine
2 T olive oil
4 shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 t flour

Heat the oil in a large pan, saute shallots and garlic; stir in the flour and cook another minute or so.
Add everything except the mussels and simmer for several minutes, covered.
Add the mussels and cook until opened.

Curried Pork with Pickled Garlic

A rich Thai curry that gets an interesting kick from the pickled garlic.  I usually scale this one up to use a whole can of coconut cream.

1/4 lb lean pork, sliced in to thin strips
vegetable oil for sauteing
Chopped Thai chiles to taste (optional)
1-2 T red curry paste (start with one, you can add more if needed)
~1/2 C coconut cream
2 T fish sauce
1 t sugar
2 t lemon juice
4 cloves pickled garlic, minced (more if they are very small cloves)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T ginger, grated
heavy pinch turmeric

Saute garlic (not the pickled garlic), then add in red curry paste and chiles; saute for a minute.
Add in coconut cream and pork, cook until pork is done and coconut cream has reduced slightly.
Add in the rest, adjusting seasoning, and simmer for a minute or two to combine flavors.
Serve with rice.

Chipotle Chicken

Another guilty pleasure, but not quite as bad for you as the Creamy Chicken Curry.  This one can be pretty hot though; I had one girlfriend who loved it but turned bright red and had to have a big drink every time she ate it.

1 lb skinless boneless chicken breast, cubed
10 ½ oz. can cream of mushroom soup
6 oz. chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped, or a big can if you want to bring the pain
8 oz. sour cream
4 oz. milk
1 small onion, quartered and julienned
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced thin
1 Tbsp. olive oil
12 oz spaghetti, cooked according to package instructions
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced

Cook the pasta, drain, set aside.
Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil, then add in the mushrooms and cook for another couple of minutes.  Add in the chicken and remove from the heat.
Combine mushroom soup, chipotle peppers, milk, sour cream, garlic powder, and black pepper in mixing bowl.
Combine all ingredients in 9 x 13 pan, and bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until bubbly, removing the cover during the last ten minutes of cooking.

Creamy Chicken Curry

Okay, this recipe is really a guilty pleasure from when I was a kid.  It's utterly horrible for you, and I would never think to call it Indian food, but it is kinda tasty.

1/2 cup butter
1 lg. onion, quartered and thinly sliced
2 celery stalks, diced
3 T curry powder
1/2 t coriander
3 C cubed cooked chicken
1 10 and 3/4 ounce can cream of chicken soup
1/2 C sour cream
1/2 C heavy cream
Cayenne if you want to up the heat level some

Melt the butter - saute the onion and celery until the onion is translucent.
Stir in 1 Tbsp curry powder and the coriander.
Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the chicken and 1 Tbsp curry powder; cover and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the soup, sour cream, whipping cream, and 1 Tbsp curry powder, and cook until bubbling.
Serve over rice.

Mexican Red Sauce

A smokey, fiery red sauce that is excellent on burritos and tacos, and is great spooned on to tortilla chips with lots of cheese and baked to make nachos.  If you make it with the larger can of chipotles this can get quite hot.

Large can crushed tomatoes
2 medium or 1 large onion, finely chopped
4-6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Can of chipotles (7 oz for mild, 14 oz for hotter), chopped, with sauce reserved
bay leaf
2 capfuls liquid smoke
1-2 T cumin
2 T dried ground new mexico chiles
pinch of oregano
small handful sugar
splash of olive oil
cayenne if greater heat is desired

Saute the onion and garlic, then add everything else, with sufficient water to cover. 
Simmer for 1-2 hours, adding water when it starts to dry out. 
Cook to desired consistency, adjusting to taste.

Salsa Verde

A green tomatillo salsa that goes well on burritos and tacos, especially lighter flavored ones.  All amounts in this recipe are approximate, just taste it as you go and adjust to your heat tolerance.

1.5-2 lbs of tomatillos, peeled, cleaned, and chopped
1-2 medium onions, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
jalapenos to desired heat, finely chopped
2-3 t oregano
1/3 C white vinegar
1/2 C lime juice
half bunch of cilantro, cleaned, stems removed, and chopped finely
Splash of olive oil
small handful of sugar
1 bayleaf (optional)

Saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil until translucent; add the jalapenos and cook for another few minutes.
Add all ingredients except cilantro, with enough water to cover.  Simmer slowly for an hour or so, adding water if it starts to dry out.
Remove the bayleaf and puree (either with a stick blender or a food processor).
Cook to desired consistency, and during the last 5-10 minutes of cooking add the cilantro and adjust the seasoning to taste.

Sausage and Egg Casserole

A hearty breakfast casserole, good for feeding a group when you'd rather do the work the night before and just throw it in the oven.  I also know someone who made this with vegetarian chorizo and said it turned out well.

1 lb. raw breakfast sausage
6 eggs
6 slices of white or wheat bread torn into pieces
2 cups milk, preferably whole
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder

Mix everything together with hands.  Butter a 9x12" baking dish and put mixture into dish.  Refrigerate overnight a minimum of 12 hours.
Bake at 350 degrees for one hour, checking occasionally to make sure it isn't drying out.

Scramble (Chex mix that's actually good)

For as long as I can remember the arrival of grandma's scramble was the herald of the holiday season.  It's really nothing more than a seasoned mix of nuts and cereal, but the end result is dangerously addictive.

2 lbs. Nuts, mixed
12 oz Wheat Chex
6 ½ oz Rice Chex
10 ½ oz Cheerios
6 ½ oz pretzel bits
5 ½ oz pretzel sticks

Mix the following together:
2 c. salad oil
3 T Worcestershire sauce
2 T onion salt, or a mixture of onion powder and salt
2 T garlic salt, or a mixture of garlic powder and salt

Pour the oil mixture over dry ingredients above in large roasting pan.  Bake at 250 degrees for two hours.  Stir with wooden spoon every 15 minutes.  You can also do this in a large stock pot which would allow you to just hold the lid on and shake it.

You kind of have to play the salt amount by ear depending on whether the nuts are salted, but that's also why I generally prefer to use onion and garlic powder instead of salt.
I also tend to use less in the way of pretzels than this calls for and substitute corn Chex for wheat, but that's just personal taste.  The recipe above is how I grew up with it, where I would get annoyed getting to the end of it and find nothing left but wheat Chex, pretzel bits, and nuts I didn't like.

Chinese Shredded Beef, Country Style

This is a unique dish compared to what you usually see in a Chinese restaurant, but very good. It is fairly dry, however, so serve the rice on the side. 


1 lb beef, cut into strings
2 C chopped celery
2/3 C carrot, julienned
3 Fresh hot red peppers, seeded and julienned
8 T oil
1/2 t pepper, ground
1/4-1/2 t Sichuan peppercorns, ground
Drizzle of sesame oil

4 T soy sauce
1 T Chinese rice wine
1 t sugar
1 t ginger juice

Marinate the beef for 30 minutes to 2 hours. Heat 5 T oil in a wok, and fry the beef (with marinade) for 5 minutes over high heat, then 7 more over medium to medium low, stirring continuously. Remove to a bowl.  By this point the beef should be quite dry.
Heat 3 T oil in the wok, fry the red pepper; then add carrots, celery, and salt. Cook to desired doneness, then add beef back, stir to mix, then sprinkle sesame oil, Sichuan peppercorns, and pepper on top.

Spinach Salad

My dad's recipe for a simple spinach salad with a tangy dressing; I often serve this as a first course with Greek food.  This recipe does make FAR more dressing than you need though, so you might want to halve it and find something to do with the other half of the beaten egg.

1 bunch baby spinach, cleaned and de-stemmed
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
chopped onion
1/2 c sugar
1 T flour
1 egg, beaten
1/4 c vinegar
1/2 c water
1 c mayo
cooked, crumbled bacon (or pancetta)

Blend sugar, flour, egg, vinegar, and water together over medium low heat; if you think you managed to scramble the egg a little you'd want to run this through a wire strainer.
Add the mayo and beat to combine; this is the dressing for the salad. It should be rich, creamy, and a little tangy.
Present the rest of the ingredients separately and allow people to combine as they like.
This is a very basic recipe, and I usually add a few options; a little grated kefalotyri or even feta can be nice, as well as some olives. Play with it and see what you like.

Split Pea Soup

My dad's recipe for split pea soup; a perfect thing on a cold winter day.

1 lb bag of split green peas, rinsed and checked for rocks

2/3 cup coarsely chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 parsley sprigs
1 clove garlic
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cans (14 oz ) chicken broth
1 smoked ham hock
Salt to taste

In a 3 1/2 quart kettle combine peas and 1 qt of water; bring to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer covered for 45 minutes. Add water if necessary.
Add all the rest of the ingredients, and simmer covered for 1 1/2 hours. (I just cook it until everything breaks up.)
Remove the ham hock, and if you want trim the meat off of it and add it back to the pot.
Serve it up; I like to shake a little tobasco on it.

Steak au Poivre (Pepper Steak)

This is my favorite way to make steak: pepper encrusted steak cooked in the French style and served with a creamy pan sauce.  This works equally well with venison loin, and I typically serve it with some simple potatoes and sauteed asparagus; mushrooms also tend to pair well with the cream sauce.

1 good steak, I like strip steak, but you could use filet or other tender steak, but if you use a big one like t-bone you'll probably want to double the sauce
1 T coarsely cracked pepper
Vegetable oil, or other high smoke point oil
a splash cognac or dry sherry
2 T heavy cream
1 T dijon mustard
1 shallot, halved and sliced into half rings


Press the pepper into both sides of the steak and let it sit for a couple of hours.
Put some oil in a steel or cast iron skillet over medium high to high heat, and while the oil heats sprinkle salt on the steak to taste.  It's important to use a heavy skillet that isn't non-stick; this is going to be hot enough to destroy teflon.
When the oil is just short of smoking and the steak and sear the steak on both sides to desired doneness (which is medium rare).  Fight the temptation to poke, prod, and move the meat; you're going to flip this steak exactly once.  When it's on the second side and getting close to where you want it add the shallot into the pan around the steak.  Remove the steak to rest, leaving the shallot.
Deglaze the pan with the cognac or sherry, then tip the pan to ignite (or use a long lighter).  Be careful, the fireball can be impressive, and you probably like your eyebrows, but it does make this a good dish if you feel like showing off.  Whisk the bottom of the skillet to release the fond.
Add the cream and mustard; whisk to combine, cook for a couple of minutes, check the seasoning, then pour over steak and serve.

You can make more than one of these at a time, just make sure you don't crowd the pan and multiply the sauce as necessary.

Zucchini and Lardon

A rich but simple side dish which can be served with a variety of  cuisines.

3 smallish zucchini, quartered and chopped
6-7 T salt pork, finely chopped (1/4" cubes)
2 shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
salt and pepper to taste.

Throw the salt pork in a skillet (not non-stick), and saute until brown and crispy. Add the shallots and garlic, saute for a minute or so, add the zucchini, salt, and pepper. Cook until the zucchini is the desired texture.

Onion Confit

Onions slowly cooked down with wine and vinegar to the consistency of jam.  This makes a great condiment to put on pastrami sandwiches, or anywhere else you want to add a sweet onion flavor, and because you cook all the water out this stuff will keep just about forever in the fridge.

1.5 lbs sweet onion, quartered and thinly sliced
0.5 lbs yellow onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1/4 C white wine vinegar
1/4 C honey
1/2 C dry white wine
6 T unsalted butter
salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter and cook the crap out of the onions, covered over medium heat, for ~40 minutes (you want them soft), stirring it occasionally.  Add the rest of the ingredients and cook until the mixture almost dries out.

Spanish Garlic Soup

This is about as simple as a soup gets, but still tasty and a wonderful thing for a cold day.

4 C beef broth
1 T paprika (I like to use a mix of plain and smoked paprika)
6 cloves garlic, peeled and flattened with the side of a knife
4 slices French bread, about 1 cm thick
4 eggs
1/4 t cumin, ground
2 T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil and toast the garlic cloves until golden brown.  Remove the garlic and reserve, crushing it.  Use the oil to brown the bread on both sides, then remove and reserve the bread.

At this point if the bread has absorbed all of the oil you may need to add a little more; briefly cook the paprika and cumin in the oil, then add the broth and reserved garlic.  Simmer for a few minutes, then add the eggs and poach until set.  Add the toasted bread into the soup and serve.

Pork Confit

Pork cured in herbs then slowly poached in fat.  It may not be terribly good for you, but sometimes you have to indulge.  You can make this with either loin or shoulder, with loin being better for things like slicing to put on sandwiches, but if you want to make rillettes you're really going to need to make it with the shoulder.  This recipe is a slight modification of the one from Charcuterie by Ruhlman and Polcyn -- THE guide to curing meats, and as the weather gets colder and more suitable to hanging meat to dry, one you should definitely go buy.

2.5 lbs of pork loin, or 4 lbs if using shoulder cut in to four slices for loin, or cubed for shoulder
2 T kosher salt
3 bay leaves
6 T flat leaf parsley
4 T fresh sage
1.5 T black pepper, ground or crushed
4 T shallots
5 cloves garlic
1/2 t pink salt (insta cure #1, a mix of salt and 6.25% sodium nitrite)
enough fat to fully submerge the meat, preferably rendered duck fat, but lard will also work (at some point I also want to try using fat rendered from beef marrow bones when making stock/glace)

Food processor together the herbs, shallots, and garlic, then add in the salt, pink salt, and pepper and processor briefly.  Rub the meat with this mixture and refrigerate for three to four days.

Remove the meat and rinse off all the seasoning, then dry.  Melt the fat in a pot or dutch oven, add the meat, and bring just to a simmer; the meat must be fully submerged.  Remove from the heat and place in an oven preheated to 180-200 F.  Cook until fork tender, approximately 4 hours for loin, and 4-6 for shoulder.

At this point you can remove the meat and separate out the meat and the juices from cooking, making sure to reserve both.  The meat can be re-submerged in the fat and kept in the fridge for weeks or months (the original purpose of confit was to preserve meat), while the juices can be used as a seasoning for the meat, either mixed into rillettes or sprinkled onto the meat while pan searing.  If you do this with shoulder the juices will also have a considerable amount of gelatin, which helps to produce a rich velvety sauce.  Keep in mind that the juices and the meat will be fairly salty from the curing, so taste to make sure you don't over salt.  The fat can be reused, but again, it will pick up salt.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Cast Iron

Since it came up recently, it seems it's time to discuss cookware, or at least cast iron.  It's not what I reach for the most often, but it does have the advantage that it performs as well or better than many other materials in most applications, it's non-stick when properly seasoned (and you don't have to worry about scratching up the surface), it's nigh indestructible, and it's CHEAP.
The first thing that you have to keep in mind with cast iron though is that you won't be using it right out of the box, you'll have to season it first unless you're lucky enough to get some of the family heirloom stuff (see the indestructible comment, treat it right and it'll be around a lot longer than you are).  The process of seasoning is essentially creating a polymerized layer that's bonded to the iron of the skillet, much like teflon is a layer of polymer applied to a surface.  Before doing that though the skillet needs to be clean, so scrub it thoroughly with soap and water as well as steel wool; if you're doing everything right this will be the only time your cast iron ever comes in contact with soap.  Dry the pan thoroughly (wipe it out completely then let it sit for an hour), then coat the entire thing with a THIN layer of either shortening or vegetable oil; you really don't need much, just barely coat the whole surface.  Shove the thing upside down into a preheated 350 F oven for an hour.  Coat and bake a couple more times to get a good surface built up.  From here, if you really want to get a great surface, use it to deep fry; just leave it on the stove top with the oil in it and slap a lid on top when you're not using it.
As far as care goes, you can use metal utensils on it, get it screaming hot to temperatures that would destroy teflon, and in a pinch use it as a bludgeon without harming it, just DON'T EVER USE SOAP ON IT.  Soap will destroy the seasoning; when it comes time to clean it just stick it over high heat and get it really hot, then shove it under running water and scrub it down with steel wool that doesn't have soap in it.  That should get it plenty clean, then wipe it dry and rub just a little bit of oil into it for storage, and once you've spent a few months deep frying with it, the seasoning should be good enough that you don't need to worry about the oil.  I also generally try to avoid prolonged simmering of anything acidic in it the same way I would for aluminum or anodized aluminum, but that's more of a feeling that it could cause oxidation rather than any experience.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Stuffed Grape Leaves

The small rich stuffed grape leaves made in the Egyptian style with a yogurt sauce.  This is another fairly approximate recipe, and rolling the leaves can be somewhat difficult if you don't first see how to do it, but the main secret is to make sure that the filling is completely wrapped.  This is also quite a bit easier if you have a large pot with a colander insert as you need something to put pressure on the top of the leaves while they cook.

Potatoes, sliced approximately 1/4", enough to cover the bottom of the pot
6-7 large cloves of garlic, sliced lengthwise into several large slices each

Grape leaves:
1 large jar grape leaves, drained and rinsed (I typically make sure I have two on hand, you may need some of the second depending on the size of the leaves and how tightly you roll them)
3 lbs of ground beef (it's important that you don't use anything leaner than 80/20, it just won't taste right with lean beef)
~ 4 C of uncooked basmati rice
salt as needed

4 C plain yogurt
one good sized cucumber, peeled, seeded, and minced
6-7 cloves garlic (or to taste), minced
handful dried mint, or to taste

Mix the sauce ingredients, as these need time to blend in flavor.  Mix together the beef, rice, and salt.  Layer the potatoes on the bottom of the pot (these actually aren't typically eaten, they're just there to keep the grape leaves from burning and sticking to the bottom of the pot). 
Cut off the small piece of stem from the grape leaves, then trim them to an appropriate size. Most of the grape leaves will be big enough to cut in to 2 pieces (3 for large leaves, but the smaller the piece you cut the harder it is to roll). A small amount of the beef and rice mixture should be put in to the center of the piece of leaf and rolled so that it forms a stuffed cylinder approximately 5-6 cm in length and 2 cm or less in diameter. The filling should be completely wrapped in leaf so it doesn't leak out while cooking.  If you find leaves or pieces of leaves that have holes or are otherwise unsuitable for stuffing, set them aside as we'll need a layer or two of leaves to cover the top.
Do this for all the grape leaves and filling, placing them in the pot in circles so that they form solid layers of grape leaves (make sure to pack them tightly together). When a layer is complete put 6-8 slices of garlic between the grape leaves in the layer, then top with a layer of unstuffed grape leaves.
When you've used all of the filling top with another layer of unstuffed leaves, then pour in enough hot water to more than cover the top of the leaves and weight down the leaves (I usually use the colander insert with something like a pot of water on top of it for weight).  Simmer until the rice is done, approximately 30 minutes (pull a leaf out and test to make sure it's done).
Carefully pour off the excess water, and serve with the sauce.

Baklava with 3 nuts

My recipe for baklava made with a mixture of walnuts, almonds, and pistachios.  This makes an 11"x7" pan, and this is rich enough that it'll feed a small army, or 8 hungry foodies.  This recipe more than most is approximate, just taste it as you go.

phyllo dough
melted butter

Nut mixture:
Between 1 and 1 1/4 lb of nuts, evenly mixed between walnuts, almonds, and pistachios (I get unsalted unroasted nuts for the walnuts and almonds then roast them, and salted in shell pistachios)
1/4 C sugar
1 heavy t cinnamon
1/4 t ground clove
1/4 t ground cardamom
salt to taste, if using all unsalted nuts

Honey mixture:
1 1/4 C honey
1 1/4 C sugar
5/8 C water
2 cinnamon sticks
6-8 cloves
scant 1/2 t ground cardamom

Preheat the oven to 350.  Simmer the ingredients for the honey mixture together until syrupy, then kill the heat and allow to cool (remember, it will thicken as it cools).  When it's cool remove the cinnamon sticks and the cloves.

Food processor the nut mixture together, and you may have to work in batches as there's quite a bit of it.  You want small chunks but not powder.

Heavily butter each of eight layers of phyllo and put those in the bottom of the pan.  Add half the nut mixture, then add eight more buttered phyllo layers, then the rest of the nut mixture.  Add another eight layers of buttered phyllo on top.  Cut the top layer into diamonds a little over an inch on a side, and if you want to be fancy push a clove into the center of each diamond (this is removed before eating).  Bake until golden brown (approximately 20 minutes).  Remove and cool for 15 minutes before adding the honey mixture; cool another 3 hours before serving.

Toum, V1

This is an initial pass, modified from a recipe online, but I wasn't completely happy with the meringue-like texture that I got from this one (I could be biased, I despise meringue).  The next time I think I'm going to skip the egg white and add some lecithin as an emulsifier, though the acidity of the lemon juice may keep that from working well.  If the lecithin works it would also make this generally fridge stable unlike something with raw egg in it.

6 cloves garlic
3-4 T lemon juice (to taste)
salt to taste
1/4 C neutral flavored oil
2T cold water
1 egg white

Food processor the garlic, a pinch of salt, and 1 T of lemon juice together.  Add the egg white and processor some more.  Drizzle in half the oil while blending, then alternate slowly adding the lemon juice and the rest of the oil.  At the end add water while checking the consistency, and adjust the salt of necessary.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Sushi Rice

The start to all good sushi and chirashi.

Sushi Rice:
2 2/3 C Japanese short grain rice, rinsed to remove starch
Water appropriate for your rice cooker plus a little (roughly 3 C on the stove top)
note card sized piece of kombu, wiped down with a damp cloth

Vinegar mixture:
1/2 C Japanese rice vinegar
1/4 C sugar
1 t salt

Heat the vinegar mixture until everything is dissolved, but without boiling. Allow to come to room temperature.
Cook the rice the kombu, then remove to a large bowl (preferably non-metallic), discarding the kombu, and allow to sit for several minutes to cool.
Add a small amount of the vinegar to the rice, pouring it on the back of the spatula to spread it, then cut it into the rice. Continue this until you've used all the vinegar; this mixes the vinegar in and separates the rice grains.

Miso Soup

Basic miso soup, but made so much better by using homemade dashi.

Miso soup:
2 Q water
1 - 1 1/2 oz bonito flakes
half a block firm tofu, in large dice
small handful wakame, rehydrated
5 note card sized pieces of kombu
~10 T miso paste (depending on taste and type used, I like a blend of white and red called awase)
small handful thinly sliced green onion

Place the kombu in the water and bring just to a light boil over medium. Remove the kombu and add the bonito, continue to cook until it just returns to a boil, or 10 seconds, whichever comes first, then kill the heat. Allow the bonito to soak for 15 minutes, or until the bonito sinks to the bottom, then strain out the bonito flakes. From this point you can hold the stock (dashi) until ready to make the soup. When you are ready bring the dashi to a gentle simmer, whisk in the miso, then add in the tofu, green onion, and wakame and give it another 30 seconds.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Stuffed Morels

Okay, so it took me months to get around to posting it and morel season is over, but save it for next year.

6 White morels, cleaned and halved lengthwise

1/4 lb spicy breakfast sausage
pinch nutmeg
2 t chopped parsley
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
1 T butter

Splash dry sherry
1/4-1/3 C heavy cream
1 t dijon mustard, or to taste
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450.  Saute the shallot and garlic in the butter, then add to the rest of the filling ingredients and mix.  Fill the mushrooms with the sausage mixture, mounding slightly, and top with a sprinkle of panko.  The amount of filling that you need will depend on the size of the mushrooms, the ones I had were fairly small.  Place in a steel skillet and bake for 10-12 minutes.  Remove from the oven and remove the morels from the skillet.  Place the skillet over medium heat and brown the juices from the mushrooms if they haven't already browned, then deglaze with the sherry.  Add in the cream and mustard and bring to a simmer, season with salt and pepper.  Top the mushrooms with the sauce and enjoy.

Pad Thai

Okay, I finally got around to writing up my Pad Thai recipe:

Pad Thai

Pad Thai that Thai food staple of restaurants everywhere in the US...  This isn't that, the original author says it's the Pad Thai you'd actually get in Thailand, and it's something you'll probably decide is superior as long as you don't mind seafood.  This recipe isn't mine originally, and you should definitely go hit up because I'm not going to go into anything like the detail she does, but I have a few changes including those for the lazy, or ingredient challenged - her's calls for banana blossom, which I think I've seen once around here.

So to start, you're going to need a few implements:
a couple of spoons, spatulas, or the like, preferably at least one set up for moving and straining pasta.
A nice big flat bottomed skillet with some walls (I've never even tried this in a wok, it requires too much hot real estate for my round bottomed wok).  Cast iron is great, as is anodized aluminum; non-stick would probably work as you're never getting up to temperatures hot enough to damage the teflon.

Noodles: you need rice noodles, about 3mm wide, but there's some play in that.  Take half a pound of those noodles and dump them in slightly hot water (and a lot of it) for about half an hour.  Make sure you can take any of those noodles and easily wrap it around your finger, but that it's still unpleasantly chewy.  Then give it another 5-10 minutes in the water.  You'll also have a much easier time down the road if you break them up some so you don't end up with a tangled noodle ball while cooking.

The Sauce:
The blog calls for:
150g tamarind pulp
180g fish sauce
226g palm sugar
60g brown sugar
 This is a lot more than you're going to need for one batch according to this recipe, but the sauce keeps well.

Other stuff:
roughly 1.5 T of shrimp paste in soy oil (this isn't the block stuff you'd use in other Thai dishes)
roughly a cup of slightly crushed roasted nuts (peanut or cashew)
1/4 cup of sliced garlic chive greens (can be left out, but I like them)
slightly less than 1/3 C of small dried shrimp (the little tiny whole ones complete with eyes)
3/4 C extra firm tofu (preferably the extra firm unseasoned yellow stuff)
2 eggs, scrambled until just done in another skillet and chopped up (optional)
1-2 C bean sprouts
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
Thai chiles to taste, minced
1/3 C preserved daikon (sweet), chopped
1/2 lb of chicken or shrimp (if using chicken slice it fairly finely to make it cook more quickly)
Very finely julienned carrot as a garnish (optional, if you can cut it that finely)

Add vegetable oil to the pan over medium high; when a noodle sizzles in the oil you're ready to go.  Add the noodles and 2/3 C of the sauce, as well as the shrimp paste.

Keep everything moving around the pan, and once the pan gets back up to temperature another 30 seconds to a minute and everything should loosen up.

Add in the garlic, chiles, shallot, dried shrimp, tofu, preserved daikon, and shrimp or chicken; you may need to add some more oil.  Now is the important time, KEEP EVERYTHING MOVING.  You need to get the protein cooked, and make sure the noodles soften and loose that unpleasant chew; you may find that you need to add a little extra sauce or a little water.

When the noodles and protein are just about right add the bean sprouts and chives to wilt slightly.

Kill the heat, add the eggs, peanuts, and carrot and toss to combine.

Serve it up, you might want to include some dried red pepper, lime juice, fish sauce, or, if you're a bad person (and in this case I admit I am), some soy sauce on the side.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


Made this one again and it was good enough that I felt it was time to post it.  If you wanted to play with it you might add some sauteed jalapeno or some cheese, but I love it the way it is.  If you wanted to add cheese you might want to decrease the sugar.

1/2 C butter, melted
2/3 C white sugar
2 eggs
1 C buttermilk
1/2 t baking soda
1 C cornmeal
1 C all-purpose flour
1/2 t salt
Kernels from an ear of sweet corn (if available)
oil or bacon grease to grease the cast iron pan

Preheat an oven and cast iron skillet to 375.
Mix the dry ingredients together, then add the wet ingredients and mix the batter together.
Remove the pan from the oven and grease the pan before adding the batter.  Bake for ~25 minutes.

Saturday, June 30, 2012


I finally figured out how to make the right dough for my pot stickers, so that recipe has been updated.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Fish-Fragrant Pork

This dish doesn't actually have any fish in it, it's just that the salty, sweet, and sour flavors in it are common in traditional Sichuan fish dishes. This is a fast dish for when you want something interesting but don't want to spend much time in the kitchen. Just make sure you keep it moving as you're cooking on high heat, and you might pepper gas yourself if you don't have the vent exhaust on.

1/2-3/4 lb lean pork, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 can baby corn
handful dried cloud ear mushrooms or black fungus, rehydrated and sliced
2 t grated ginger
2 shallots, sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
6-7 chinese garlic chives, chopped into 1/2" pieces
2 T pickled chiles, chopped
hot chiles to taste, chopped
oil to fry the meat
2 T hot bean paste

1 T soy sauce
1 T water
1 T corn starch

2 T soy sauce
2 T Chinkiang black vinegar
1 T Shaoxing rice wine
2 t sugar
1 t salt, or to taste
2 t corn starch
2 t sesame oil
1/2 t black pepper, ground
3/4 t Sichuan pepper, toasted and ground

Marinate the meat for 15-20 minutes, then fry it in very hot oil for 30 seconds.  Remove the meat and set it aside, and drain off all but 3 T of the oil.
Combine the sauce ingredients.
Heat the oil on high until almost smoking, then add the hot chiles, garlic, ginger, and shallots, and stir fry for 20-30 seconds.
Add the bean paste and stir fry for another 20-30 seconds.
Add the rest of the veggies and stir fry for another minute.
Add the meat back in an continue cooking for another 30 seconds to a minute.
Add the sauce and cook just until it thickens.

Serve with rice.

Nam Prik Pao

So if you're in the Lansing area, please ignore this as Nam Prik Pao is horribly disgusting and you should avoid it at all costs. For those not frequenting the same stores I am, the stuff is like crack. It's a delicious combination of caramelized shallots, garlic, and chiles. I'm pretty sure you could spread the stuff on cardboard and it would be award winning. For my tastes, a spread on just about any sandwich involving cheese, or a dose in most curries is dynamite. Look for the Pantai brand "chile paste with soya bean oil". A spread on an English muffin with cream cheese and a fried egg may ruin you forever. I haven't tried making it myself from scratch as it's rather intensive, but I'll take a chance at it and post the results before long.

Monday, February 20, 2012


So I decided that I needed to try Limburger cheese, since I'd never had it before. It was something of an adventure, but honestly one I think you should try for yourself.

First impression from smell: no where near as bad as I expected, though it does kind of smell like the treats I feed my cat.

Eating a thick slice on a cracker: OH MY GOD the ammonia. It's rich and creamy, but it's also bitter, a little sour, and has that ammonia punch that hits you right in the nose hairs.

Eating a very thin slice on a cracker: Rich and creamy seems to predominate, though there is a little bitter/sour on the aftertaste. The nostril burning ammonia seems to be completely missing, and it's generally a rich and complex flavor that you could easily grow to love.

Overall, a good cheese for snacking, just make sure to eat it in small amounts.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

A slow cooked Italian-American meat and tomato sauce for pasta. It takes some time with all the browning, simmering, and lots of ingredients, but it's the kind of thing that you can do while reading a book or watching the game and not putting a lot of work in to it. This also makes more than enough for you to freeze some for easy future meals. You could make it without the smoked tomatoes, but they really add a richness and depth to the sauce.

1 lb hot Italian sausage
1/4 lb ground beef
2 oz salt pork, in small cubes
1 carrot, minced
1 celery stalk, minced
1 onion, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
heavy pinch dried basil
pinch dried oregano
2 bay leaves
scant pinch nutmeg
2 28 oz cans crushed san marzano tomatoes
1/3 C cream
1/4 t ground pepper
~1 t dried rosemary
2 T butter
2 T olive oil
1/4 C chopped Italian parsley
handful dried maitake or porcini mushrooms
handful dried smoked tomatoes, or somewhat more oil packed smoked tomatoes
3/4 C beef stock
1 C water
crushed red pepper to taste
salt to taste

Soak the mushrooms in hot water, when soft mince, and save the soaking water.
Render salt pork over medium low in olive oil and butter until crispy. Remove, leaving the fat in the pan.
Thoroughly brown the sausage and beef on medium high, remove, leaving the fat in the pan.
Add the onion and brown thoroughly over medium heat.
Add the carrot, celery, garlic, and mushrooms, and saute thoroughly over medium for 8-10 minutes.
Add everything (including the reserved mushroom liquid) except the cream and the salt and simmer for at least two hours, covering or uncovering as necessary to get the right thickness (it may thicken when you blend in the next step, so it's okay to leave it a little thin, but you don't want to cook much after the blending).
Blend with an immersion blender to get the right consistency, add salt, and allow to cool somewhat.
Add cream, mix in, and adjust salt.
Serve on spaghetti.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Heaping tablespoon of lard or shortening
1 C flour
healthy pinch of salt
water to correct consistency

Mix the salt in to the flour, then cut in the shortening. Mix in the water slowly while working the dough until you get a good ball. Refrigerate for 15 minutes wrapped in plastic wrap. Pinch off small balls and roll out THIN. Cook in a dry cast iron skillet until golden on both sides.
Alternatively, add in 1/4 t of baking powder when adding the salt for a fluffier leavened tortilla.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Roasted Garlic Breakfast Sausage

3 lbs pork shoulder, cubed
2 oz salt pork
2 large cloves garlic
4 T fresh sage, chopped
1-2 heads roasted garlic (2 for the true garlic lovers, 1 if you don't want to smell like garlic all day)
1/2 C cold water
1/5 t ground black pepper
1 t crushed red pepper, or to taste
2-3 T peeled and freshly grated ginger
2 T kosher salt, or to taste

Mix all ingredients except cold water and chill for an hour. Run the mixture through a meat grinder. Then add the water and mix together in a mixer with a paddle attachment, or by hand with a large spoon.

Japanese Ginger Dressing

1/2 cup minced onion
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup + 1/2 T rice vinegar
2 T water
3 T minced fresh ginger
2 T minced celery
1 1/2 T ketchup
4 t soy sauce
2 t sugar
2 t lemon juice
1/2 t minced garlic
1/2 t salt
1/4 t fresh ground black pepper

Processor together; the onion flavor will be strong on the first day, but will mellow if left overnight in the fridge. Don't be afraid to adjust flavors if you like more or less vinegar, ginger, etc. in your dressing.

Cranberry Jam

I had some cranberries that I didn't use for Thanksgiving and ended up throwing in the freezer. I later turned them in to cranberry jam, which is quite good on toasted muffins with cream cheese. I'm guessing it's also going to go quite well on baked brie.

12 oz fresh or frozen cranberries
1 short cup sugar
1 C water
juice and zest of one orange
pinch salt

Bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes. The jam will thicken as it cools. You may need to use a spoon to crush some of the cranberries.