Saturday, December 13, 2014

Pad See Ew

Pad See Ew, literally soy sauce stir fry; this is a Thai dish with lots of Chinese influence (gai lan, soy sauce, and oyster sauce).  The Chinese lap chong isn't traditional, but I think it adds to the dish.  Additionally I never serve this without Thai vinegar with chiles.

1 lb Fresh wide rice noodles
3/4 lb Chinese broccoli (gai lan)
6 oz pork loin, trimmed of fat and cut in to thin strips
2 links of Chinese dried sausage (lap chong), thinly sliced - optional
2 T vegetable oil or lard
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
Thai chiles to taste, minced
1 T fermented soybean paste
3 T kecap manis, or other dark sweet soy sauce
2 T Chinese soy sauce
2 t white vinegar
1.5 T oyster sauce
3/4-1 t sugar

Cut the bottom inch or so off of the gai lan stalks, then separate the leaves from the stalks.  Chop the leaves into roughly 1 inch squares, and the stems into roughly quarter inch pieces on the bias.

Mix together the kecap manis, soy sauce, white vinegar, sugar, oyster sauce, and fermented soy bean sauce.

If the fresh wide rice noodles are stuck together in large clumps heat them briefly in the microwave, then separate them.

Heat the oil in a large wok over high heat, then add in the chiles, shallots, and garlic, and stir fry them until fragrant.  Add in the meat and the lap chong, and stir fry until almost cooked through.  Add in the noodles and stir fry for a minute or so before adding in the sauce ingredients.  Stir fry for 4 minutes or so, allowing the mixture to rest without interruption twice for a minute each to brown the noodles.  Add in the stalks of the gai lan and stir fry for about a minute, then add in the leaves, tossing briefly before removing from the heat.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Hard Boiled Eggs

Making hard boiled eggs is pretty ridiculously simple, but peeling them can be another matter.  This method will give you perfectly cooked eggs and make them quite a bit easier to peel.

Eggs as needed
Water to cover the eggs by an inch
Ice water bath

Place the eggs in a pan and cover with room temperature water.  Place over high heat and bring just to a boil.  Kill the heat and let sit for 10 minutes.  Remove from the water and crack the shell lightly all over (quickly), then submerge the eggs in the ice water bath.  This stops the cooking and separates the shell from the egg.

Roasted Garlic

One of the essential basic ingredients: roasted garlic.  Roasting takes away the harshness and provides a richness and depth of flavor.  Many recipes call for cooking it as whole bulbs with just the tops trimmed off, but I find it better to separate the cloves, remove the stem end, and peel them.  It makes it easier to use without having to squeeze it out of the peels; if you still want it crushed just use the side of a knife.

Garlic as needed, trimmed and peeled
Olive oil, ~2t per head of garlic

Preheat the oven to 400 F.  Place the garlic in a large enough piece of aluminum foil to completely wrap them up, coat them with olive oil and seal the package.  Place the foil package in a dish of some kind in case the oil leaks (I've used everything from pyrex to cup cake pans).  Bake for ~40 minutes, or until the garlic is soft and golden.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Vietnamese Caramelized Pork

Crispy, salty, subtly sweet, delicious pork.  I like to mix it with rice and serve it in a lettuce wrap with fish sauce as an appetizer, or just over rice also with a side of fish sauce as a decadent main.  This recipe is an adaptation of the one found in Andrea Nguyen's excellent cookbook Into the Vietnamese Kitchen.

1/4 C oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 small cloves garlic, minced
1 lb ground pork
3 T fish sauce
1 T Vietnamese Caramel Sauce
1 t sugar
3 green onions, thinly sliced

Add the oil to a skillet and saute the onion and garlic on medium for a few minutes until soft.  Add in the pork, and break up the pieces as much as possible until the meat has cooked through.  Add everything else except the green onions and cook on medium high for 10-12 minutes or until the meat develops brown caramelized spots.  Add in the green onions, toss for a minute or so, and remove from the heat.


Who doesn't love lasagna?  A nice big brick-like portion of noodles, cheese, and tomato meat sauce, plus the recipe makes enough for even a family to eat to get a couple of meals out of it.  It's also something that you can make largely ahead of time; you can make the sauce the day before (and it's better if you do), and you can assemble the whole thing and stick it in the fridge until 30-45 minutes before you want dinner.


1 lb sweet Italian sausage out of casings and shredded.  (You could also use 80/20 ground beef, but if you're doing that add an extra 1/2 t toasted fennel seeds)
1 lb hot Italian sausage, out of casings and shredded
NOTE: If your sausage is particularly lean sweat a couple of slices of salt pork (diced) before adding the sausage
two small yellow onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28 ounce) can san marzano tomatoes, crushed
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
1 15oz can tomato sauce
1 C water
1 1/2 t dried basil leaves
1/2 t fennel seeds, toasted
1 t Italian seasoning (a mix of marjoram, rosemary, thyme, and oregano works well)
Salt to taste
3/4 t ground black pepper
4 T flat leaf parsley, de-stemmed and chopped
Dash crushed red pepper

The filling:
2 lbs ricotta cheese
1 C flat leaf parsley, de-stemmed and chopped.
1 1/2 C of grated romano
2 eggs
salt to taste
3-4 T heavy cream

The rest:
Roughly 1 lb dried lasagna noodles (though I try to have extra on hand)
Mozzarella or provolone for the top, preferably smoked

In a large pot, lightly brown the sausage, then add the onion and garlic and saute for a few minutes. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients, and simmer for a couple of hours, covered and stirring occasionally. Adjust taste towards the end if necessary.  If the sauce tastes a little flat add another couple of minces cloves of garlic at the end of cooking.  At the end of cooking fish out the bay leave and use an immersion blender to break up the larger chunks of sausage to get a smoother sauce.

Mix all of the filling ingredients together while the sauce is cooking; it's easier to work with when you go to assemble if the filling is warm.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and put in the noodles, working in batches if necessary; cook to al dente. Ladle out enough sauce to put a thin layer  on the bottom of an oven-proof pan (I use a 9"x13" pyrex), put down the first layer of noodles, then spread a layer of filling, then a layer of sauce. Put a layer of noodles down, and repeat filling and sauce. For most pans you'll be able to put down one more layer of noodles on top of that sauce, then put sauce on top of that and top with mozzarella. You may have enough sauce left to make another pan, depending on pan size. Bake at 375 until the cheese is golden brown, 35-45 minutes.


I keep the filling and noodles a little vague intentionally, because a lot depends on just how much you put down, and it's just easier to make the sauce the limiting ingredient as it's the most complicated part. A variation on this is to add in a thin layer of spinach with each layer of cheese, just be sure to use either baby spinach or thawed frozen spinach, stemmed, squeezed dry, and keep the layer thin.

You could also put down a layer of bechamel on the top before adding the layer of cheese to add moisture and richness.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Thai Vinegar with Chiles

Simple pickled chiles in vinegar; it can be searingly hot when you first make it, but it will mellow out some with age.  It's the perfect side to Pad See-ew (I won't make Pad See-ew anymore if I don't have some of this in the fridge).  Don't try to substitute other vinegars for the while vinegar; it just wouldn't taste right.

2/3 C Thai chiles, finely chopped (this is VERY hot, you can use just a couple of peppers if you want)
1 1/3 C white vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt or fish sauce to taste

Combine the ingredients in a jar and leave at room temperature for a day before moving to the fridge.  Keep in mind when you're adding the salt or fish sauce that you don't want the vinegar to be salty, you just don't want it to dilute out whatever you're adding it to.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Basic Rib Rub

This is my basic rub for pork when I'm making BBQ, and it's especially good on ribs - the recipe makes enough for a typical rack of baby back ribs.  You can easily change out ingredients or change amounts to get a different flavor, but this base is pretty well rounded; just make sure to put it on fairly heavily and at least half an hour before transferring the meat to the smoker so the rub has a chance to adhere.  I've also included a quadrupled recipe which makes enough for a serious smoking session.

1 T pepper
1.5 T garlic powder
1/2 T mustard powder
1 T onion powder
1/2 T cumin
1 T paprika
5-6 T brown sugar
1 T cayenne, or to taste (this makes it moderately spicy)
1.5 T salt

4x recipe (makes about a quart)
4 T pepper
6 T garlic powder
2 T mustard powder
4 T onion powder
2 T cumin
4 T paprika
20 T brown sugar
4 T cayenne, or to taste (this makes it moderately spicy)
6 T salt

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Arugula, Walnut, and Blue Cheese Salad with Duck Confit

A rich salad, but one that takes some work because you'll have to make the duck confit (recipe to follow) yourself if you want to get the full richness of the dressing.

For the salad:
1 bunch arugula
1/2 head of frisee
1 1/2 C toasted walnuts, chopped
4 legs of duck confit
2 C dried cranberries or dried cherries
1 1/2 C crumbled blue cheese

2/3 C olive oil
2 T red wine vinegar
2 T sherry vinegar
1 1/2 T Dijon mustard
2 T shallot, chopped
2-3 T of confit fat*
3 T of confit jelly*
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 t liquid lecithin (optional, but it emulsifies the dressing well)

Preheat your oven to 425 F, then warm up the duck legs for ~12 minutes.  Cool slightly, then separate the skin before shredding the duck.  Crisp up the skin in a skillet as you would bacon.

Microwave the confit fat and jelly to liquify, then combine with the other dressing ingredients in a blender, and pulse to combine.  Check for seasoning; if you omit the confit fat and jelly you'll probably need to add a fair amount of salt.  Adding lecithin ensures that your dressing doesn't break as easily and makes it thicker and creamier; liquid lecithin can be found relatively cheaply in most health food stores.

Shred the arugula and frisee, then add the walnuts, blue cheese, and cranberries; top the salad with crumbles of crispy duck skin.

*Note: these are things that you can only get by making the confit yourself; after curing I confit my duck legs in a mixture of bacon grease and either lard or duck fat.  When you get done with the confit you can separate out the fat from the liquid that comes out of the meat while being cooked.  The liquid that comes out develops a LOT of flavor and gets a lot of gelatin from long slow cooking (it will set up like jello in the fridge making it easy to separate the fat and liquid).  Both the fat and the jelly bring a lot of flavor and salt, so if you don't have these your dressing will be flatter and need more seasoning; it also won't have the same body, even with the lecithin.

Friday, May 30, 2014


Simple cornbread, perfect to accompany BBQ.  This is cooked in one of the greatest pieces of cookware ever: a cast iron skillet, which gives it a wonderful crunchy exterior.

1/2 C butter, melted
1/2 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 (you can use two ears if you want extra fresh corn taste, but the cooking time increases slightly)
1-2 T rendered bacon grease, chilled (or oil/shortening if bacon grease isn't available)

Place a 10" cast iron skillet in the oven and preheat it to 375 F.  Continue to heat it for another 15 minutes after the oven comes to temperature to ensure that the skillet is hot.
Meanwhile mix together all the ingredients except for the bacon grease.
When everything has preheated grease the skillet with the bacon grease; if the grease is chilled you can generally use a fork to move it around the sides and bottom of the skillet to cover the whole surface.  Add the batter and bake for ~25 minutes, or until done.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Bacon Mac and Cheese

Yet another mac and cheese post, this one is more of a classic mac and cheese with a little bacon thrown in; you could leave out the bacon, but bacon rocks.

1 1/4 C whole milk
1/2 lb macaroni or shells
3-4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
11 g sodium citrate
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 T butter (or use the fat from the bacon)
1 T dijon mustard, or to taste
salt and pepper to taste
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Cook the pasta according to package directions until just shy of al dente.  While that is cooking saute the onion and garlic in the butter until translucent.  Add the milk and sodium and bring to a simmer.  Add the cheese, a handful at a time, allowing it to melt in while stirring frequently.  Blend the cheese sauce either in a blender or with an immersion blender.  Add the mustard, bacon, salt, and pepper.  Adjust seasoning and add the pasta to the sauce.  Cook while stirring just until the pasta has reached al dente.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Chipotle and Chorizo Mac and Cheese

Another take on mac and cheese using sodium citrate to make a perfectly smooth cheese sauce.  This one mixes a little spice and smokiness in with the rich and creamy cheese sauce.  This makes and excellent side dish, or you could just fill a bowl and eat it for a meal.  If you left out the chorizo and pasta this would also make an excellent sauce for burritos.

11 g sodium citrate
8 oz hot pepper cheddar (or white cheddar), shredded
3 chipotles in adobo sauce, minced
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 C half and half
2 T butter
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 t smoked paprika
1/4 t mustard powder
1/4 lb Mexican chorizo, browned
2 C dry macaroni, cooked according to package directions

Melt the butter and saute the onions and garlic until just starting to brown.  Add the half and half, sodium citrate, chipotles, paprika, and mustard.  Bring to a simmer and add the cheese a handful at a time; once all the cheese has been incorporated mix with an immersion blender.  Add the chorizo and adjust seasoning as needed.  Mix in the pasta and serve.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Vegetarian Bao Filling

This is a vegetarian filling for Bao made of tofu and mushrooms.  It's reminiscent of char siu (Chinese BBQ pork), though obviously without the goodness of roasted pork it's not quite as awesome.

3/4 lb shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, halved, and thinly sliced
oil to stir fry
3 shallots, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 T chile bean paste
3-4 T hoisin
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 lb extra firm tofu, pressed to drain and diced
2 T soy sauce
salt to taste

Heat the oil in a wok over high heat until lightly smoking.  Add the mushrooms and stir fry until the mushrooms have lost much of their moisture and browned (browning the mushrooms will take a fair amount of time); you may need to add a little oil if you didn't have enough to start with.  When the mushrooms are browned add the shallots and garlic, still over high heat, and stir fry for 30 seconds to a minute.  Add the chile bean paste and stir fry until fragrant; add the soy sauce and remove from the heat.

Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix to combine.  Adjust seasoning, then fill the dough and cook according to the bao recipe.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Korean Spicy Pork

A spicy (well, by Korean standards) stir fried dish of pork with vegetables, similar to dak galbi.

1 1/4 lb pork loin, trimmed and thinly sliced
a medium onion either quartered and thinly sliced or cut in to thick slices (see note)
2 small zucchinis, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4" slices
3 cabbage leaves, trimmed and chopped into roughly 1 inch squares
3 green onions, chopped
1 C chicken stock

6 T koch'ujang (Korean red pepper paste)
4 T koch'u karu (Korean red pepper powder)
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 T corn syrup
2 T sesame oil
2 t grated ginger
1 T mirin
2 T chicken stock
ground pepper to taste
2 T sugar
2 T soy sauce

Mix together the marinade ingredients, then add the pork; allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes.  Heat a little oil in a wok or large non-stick skillet and stir fry the onion until it starts to wilt (or see note about not adding it until after the pork goes in).  Add the pork and marinade mixture and stir continuously until the pork is close to done.  Add the rest of the ingredients and cook, stirring frequently, until the zucchini is just done.  Adjust the seasoning as necessary.

Note: I thinly slice the onion and cook it before adding the pork because I don't like big crunchy pieces of onion.  For a more traditional version cut the onion into bigger pieces and add to the pan shortly after the pork.

Orange Chicken

One of the Americanized dishes that seems to be served in every Chinese restaurant around.  Definitely not something you would see in real Chinese food (it's far too sweet), but having grown up eating it it has a special place in my heart.

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed
dried peel of one orange in 3-4 large pieces
handful of dried chiles
4 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 C orange juice
1/2 C chicken stock
2 T chinkiang vinegar
3 T soy sauce
2 t sesame oil
1/2 t toasted and ground Sichuan peppercorn
1/4 C brown sugar
2 t corn starch mixed into 2 T water
pepper flakes/cayenne/chopped fresh Thai chiles to taste
1 t fresh grated orange zest (optional)
salt to taste
corn starch for dredging
Vegetable oil for deep frying and wok frying

2 egg whites
1 T soy sauce
1 T shaoxing rice wine

Beat together the marinade ingredients and add the chicken.  Set aside while you make the sauce.  In a bowl combine the orange juice, chicken stock, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, Sichuan peppercorn, brown sugar, orange zest, and pepper flakes.  Heat 1 or 2 T of oil in the wok over high heat, and blacken the chiles and dried orange peel; add in the garlic and briefly stir fry it until fragrant.  Before the garlic can burn, add in the bowl of sauce ingredients; bring to a simmer and allow it to reduce by about half.  Finally add in the cornstarch mixture and simmer until it thickens up.  Adjust seasoning if necessary.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and dredge with corn starch.  Deep fry small batches in 350 F oil until golden brown and the chicken is just done.  Toss the chicken with the sauce and serve with rice.

Thit Bo Xao Dau (Vietnamese Beef and Green Bean Stirfry)

A simple and quick stir fry of beef and green beans that ends up being quite tasty.

1 lb lean beef, sliced thinly across the grain (flank steak works well)
1/2 lb green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 medium onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1 t grated ginger
1/2 C chicken stock
1/2 T soy sauce
2 T fermented black beans
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 T fish sauce (or to taste)
salt and pepper to taste
1 T vegetable oil
dried chiles to taste (optional)

1 T Shaoxing rice wine
1/2 T soy sauce
2 t cornstarch

Combine the marinade ingredients, then add the beef.  I usually just let this marinate while I'm prepping the onion, garlic, and green beans.  When everything is ready heat the oil in a wok and sear off the chiles (if you're using them; they aren't authentic), then add the beef and stir fry quickly until just done.  Remove from the wok and set aside.  Add extra oil if necessary, then stir fry the onions and garlic until the onions wilt.  Add the green beans and ginger and stir fry for maybe a minute.  Add the stock, black beans, and soy sauce; bring to a simmer and cover, cooking until the green beans are done, roughly 4 minutes.  Add the fish sauce, check the seasoning, and serve with rice.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

French Toast Stuffed with Orange Spiked Cream Cheese

The first time I had stuffed french toast was as a kid at a little place called Muriel's in Newport RI on a family road trip, and it was much like this with orange spiked cream cheese.  It turned out the Muriel's, a completely chance stop off at a tiny restaurant, was amazing.  We drove a hundred miles out of our way to eat there again, and found out that she'd won the chowder cook off so many years in a row that they asked her to stop competing.  It's been long enough that I don't have an accurate memory of her french toast, but even so I'd put my version up against hers any day.  I like to serve mine with kumquat syrup.

Cream cheese mixture:
8 oz softened cream cheese
2 T sugar
zest of half an orange, grated and finely chopped
2 T triple sec
1/4 t vanilla extract

Mix all of the ingredients together, and allow to blend.  I like to make mine the night before, stick it in the fridge, then soften it again in the morning for use.

French Toast:
2 C half and half
4 eggs
1/2 t vanilla extract
pinch of cinnamon
1 T sugar
1 T honey
zest of half an orange, grated and finely chopped
salt to taste

1 large brioche, cut in 3/4" to 1" thick slices

Combine the ingredients except for the brioche and butter and whisk thoroughly.  Set aside for 15-20 minutes to blend flavors.  With a paring knife cut a slice in the edge of each piece of brioche to allow room to stuff it without going through.  Stuff or pipe each slice with the cream cheese mixture (you don't need a ton of it, just get a fair amount in without tearing the bread).

Soak the stuffed slices of brioche in the custard mixture for 5 minutes, turning once; while this is soaking melt butter in a skillet.  Cook the french toast a couple of pieces as a time until golden brown on both sides.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Kumquat Syrup

A citrus syrup with notes of ginger and star anise, perfect to go with stuffed french toast (recipe to follow).

50 kumquats, thinly sliced (roughly two pints), I find it easiest to halve the kumquats lengthwise to remove the seeds, then thinly slice
4 C ginger ale
2 C water
1.5 C sugar
1-2 star anise

Combine the sugar, ginger ale, water, and star anise, and bring to a simmer to dissolve the sugar.  Add the kumquats, and simmer until it reaches the consistency of warm maple syrup, about 45 minutes.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Panna Cotta with Strawberries and Balsamic Reduction

Sweetened cream set with gelatin and served with strawberries and balsamic reduction.  This is a lighter super easy to make dessert that I usually make when it's warmer and fruit is in season.

Panna Cotta:
2 C cream
2 C whole milk
1/2 C + 2 T sugar
2 t vanilla
2 packets gelatin (~ 4 1/2t)
6 T cold water

Balsamic Reduction:
1 C balsamic vinegar
2 T sugar

Strawberries, cleaned and quartered or halved (other fruit could also work, but strawberries are the best match for cream and balsamic) 

Panna Cotta:
Combine the cream, milk, and sugar in a sauce pan.  Heat the mixture over medium low, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has fully dissolved.  While the mixture is heating, combine the gelatin and water and allow the gelatin to bloom.  When the sugar has dissolved remove the pan from the heat, and add in the vanilla and gelatin; stir to combine until the gelatin has melted.  Pour in to ramekins or other small containers and cool in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or over night.

Balsamic Reduction:
Combine the vinegar and sugar and cook over medium high until syrupy.

Serve the panna cotta with the berries and a drizzle of balsamic reduction.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Vietnamese Caramel Sauce

This is one of the more important base sauces for Vietnamese cooking, but making it ranked right up there with the apprehension of pulling a sheet pan completely full of 400 degree oil out of the oven.  I mean what kind of recipe calls for you to heat a cup of sugar with a 1/4 cup of water until it starts to smoke, then pour water on top of it?  If you get it right though, and manage to not start a fire or coat yourself in culinary napalm, you create a rich, slightly viscous caramel sauce with rich, earthy notes of coffee and a hint of charred bitter flavor.  You'll need a stainless steel pot, and I'd suggest stopping up some cold water in your sink.

1 C sugar
1/4 C + 1/2 C water

Mix together the sugar and 1/4 C of water in the pot, and put over medium low.  Stir some until the sugar has dissolved, then leave it alone.  Cook it for a good long time ( ~20 minutes depending on heat) as the color goes from clear to pale golden to amber.  From this point watch it continuously, and when it starts to smoke slightly swirl it around in the pan.  Be careful! It's called culinary napalm for a reason!  Continue cooking and swirling until it turns the color of molasses.

Immediately remove it from the heat, plunge the bottom of the pot into the water in the sink, and pour the 1/2 C of water into the sugar.  It's going to be pretty spectacular, it's going to splatter, and you might get hit with some of that splatter.  Keep your face away, and when it dies down return the pot to the heat just long enough to ensure that all of the sugar melts in to the water.  The sauce will keep indefinitely without refrigeration.

Bacon Jam Two Ways

Massive amounts of bacon, onions, and garlic all cooked down with sugar and vinegar and pureed into a spread?  Yeah, it's crack in a jar.  I took the base recipe from here, but I've modified it some, then I went and made an Asian version that might even be better than the original.


For either version you're going to need:
3 lbs of sliced bacon, in 1 inch by 1/4 inch strips
6 medium yellow onions, quartered and thinly sliced
10 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 1/2 C of strongly brewed black coffee
1 C brown sugar
1 t ground black pepper

Now if you want to make original bacon jam you'll also need:
1 C cider vinegar
1/2 C maple syrup

To make Asian bacon jam instead you'll need:
1 C chinkiang black vinegar (or sherry vinegar)
1/4 C molasses 
1/4 C Vietnamese caramel sauce (or another 1/4 C molasses; the caramel sauce is less sweet than the molasses, with a more pronounced depth and bitter/charred flavor)
6 T soy sauce
4 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
1 t fennel seeds, ground
1 t Sichuan peppercorn, ground
5 black cardamoms
6 dried chiles
1/2 C water

Brown the bacon well over medium low, then remove the bacon to a plate with a paper towel, saving 3-4 T of the rendered fat in the pan (pour the rest off and refrigerate for some other use).  Add the onion and garlic and increase the heat to medium; saute until the onions are translucent and cooked through.

Add the rest of the ingredients except for the reserved bacon, and bring to a boil for a few minutes.  Add the bacon back in, and cook over a low simmer, uncovered, until the onions start to break up, adding a little water as necessary.

If making the Asian version, remove the cinnamon sticks, star anise, chiles, and cardamoms.  Using an immersion blender, blender, or food processor, puree the mixture in to a smooth paste.

Spread it on toast with some eggs, spread it on crackers, slather it on a sandwich (especially a banh mi for the Asian version), or just hide in a corner with your shame and eat it with a spoon.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Butter Chicken

Rich, decadent chicken in a butter and cream sauce with a touch of tomato.  The initial part is a riff on tandoori chicken made without a tandoor and without the food coloring.  There are three methods for the initial cooking; of these grilling is the best, then broiling, then baking if you want to make a large amount without working in batches.  I also use some liquid lecithin here, but if you don't have it you could use a little Wondra flour or add some flour to the butter to smooth out and emulsify the sauce.

Tandoori Chicken:

2.5 lbs of skinless boneless chicken, either breasts or thighs
Juice of one lemon
Half an onion, chopped
1 green chile (jalapenos and serranos are two grassy; ideally use a finger hot/jwala or a green cayenne), thinly sliced
1 1/2 C plain yogurt
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 t garam masala
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 t salt

Mix together everything except the chicken and food processor until smooth.  Cut the chicken into strips and score to allow the marinade to penetrate.  Marinate over night, then remove from the marinade and choose a cooking method:  Grill it over a very high heat until just done; broil it on high; bake it on the highest setting your oven has.  If you have to bake it I'd suggest taking a cooking torch to it if possible.  Remove from the heat and set aside; this part can be done a day ahead.

Butter Chicken:
1/2 of a 6 oz can of tomato paste
1 1/4 C heavy cream
1/2 C unsalted butter
2 T ghee
2 T methi (fenugreek) leaves
2 t liquid lecithin
1 1/4 t garam masala
2-4 green chiles (jalapenos and serranos are two grassy; ideally use a finger hot/jwala or a green cayenne), thinly sliced
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
pinch of sugar
salt to taste
cayenne to desired heat
1 1/4 t toasted and ground cumin
3-4 cloves garlic, minced

Mix together the tomato paste with enough water or chicken broth to make 1 C.  Add in everything else except the butter, ghee, and lecithin.  Melt the butter and ghee in a skillet, then add in the lecithin and stir to combine.  Add in the tomato mixture and stir to combine.  Bring to a simmer for a minute or so, then add in the chicken and let it warm up and blend in flavor, another minute or so.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Italian Dressing Mix

An herb blend for making your own Italian dressing.

1 T garlic powder
1 T onion powder
1 T sugar
2 T oregano
~1 t ground black pepper
1/4 t thyme
1 t basil
2 T salt

Mix these ingredients together, then to make the vinaigrette combine 2 T of the herb mix with 2/3 C of oil, 1/4 C of vinegar and 2 T of water.  As a base I use olive oil and white vinegar, but you can mix it up; as a suggestion I'd try walnut oil and sherry vinegar.  If you use a lower acidity vinegar substitute out some or all of the 2 T of water for additional vinegar.  If you want to stabilize the dressing add ~1/2 t of xanthan gum (1/2 t isn't quite enough, 3/4 t is too much).

Garlic Beef Stew

A simple rustic beef stew; serve it with some slices of crusty bread.  This is a variation on the a recipe from The Foods & Wines of Spain by Penelope Casas; an amazing cookbook that I highly recommend.  It's full recipes that work wonders with only a handful of ingredients.

2 lbs beef (top round, chuck, something tough and cheap)
1 large onion, chopped
1 bulb of garlic, separated, peeled
1 C dry white wine
1/4 t thyme
1 bay leaf
1 T chopped Italian parsley
2 cloves
Salt and pepper to taste
Chicken stock to cover beef (~ a cup, depending on pan size)
wondra flour
2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)

Heat the oil and sear the beef on all sides; remove the beef and allow to rest. Add onion and garlic and saute till translucent. Cube the beef, then add it and everything except the wondra flour and the minced garlic to the pot.  Cover and simmer until the beef is tender, ~2 hours.

For an extra hit of garlic add in the minced garlic, then start stirring in the wondra flour until you hit the consistency you want.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Vegan Mayonnaise

No, I haven't radically altered my dietary preferences, I still love roast beast, but I got to thinking that by playing around with lecithin I could pull the eggs out of mayonnaise.  That not only makes it vegan, but keeps it from going bad, unlike most homemade mayonnaise; this stuff should keep indefinitely in the fridge, and it may not need refrigeration since none of the ingredients has to be refrigerated (that's an experiment in progress...).  At the least you won't have to worry about keeping it on ice for a picnic.

4 T vinegar (some of this may be replaced with water if you don't like it as tangy)
1 T dijon mustard
1 t liquid lecithin
1 C oil
salt to taste

Mix together the vinegar, mustard, and lecithin in a food processor (or in a bowl with a whisk, but you're gonna get a workout if you got the whisk method), then slowly drizzle in the oil while the food processor runs (or while you whisk until you think your arm is going to fall off).

Note: I don't call out what type of vinegar or oil to use, but this is just a place to get creative.  My first batch was 50/50 red wine vinegar and sherry vinegar, with 1/4 C of walnut oil and 3/4 C vegetable oil.  Play around with it, and you could also use citrus juice in place of vinegar; I may try blood orange and lemon juice mixed with avocado oil for my next effort.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Deep Dish Pizza

I've posted bits and pieces about deep dish pizza before, but never the whole recipe, and many of those older posts are things that I've refined, so here's the complete version with my typical sausage pizza sauce.  If you'd prefer to have yours without sausage check my meatless sauce here.  This recipe is scaled for making one 14" diameter pizza.

3 1/2 C AP flour
1 1/2 C warm water
 2 t yeast
heavy pinch sugar
1/2 C olive oil
1/4 C corn meal (optional, makes it easier to remove and adds texture)
1 t kosher salt
Seasonings (oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, garlic, parmesan, etc. - optional)
oil or non-stick spray

one 28 oz can crushed san marzano tomatoes
1 medium onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb spicy Italian sausage
2 T olive oil
1/2 t fennel, toasted and ground
1/2 t basil
1/2 t oregano
1/2 t thyme
splash balsamic vinegar
1/2 t crushed red pepper
1 bay leaf
salt to taste
1/2 t ground black pepper

1 1/2 pounds mozzarella or provolone
1/4 C freshly grated parmesan
Whatever else you want, just remember that it should be a lot.  Deep dish should be about an inch deep.  If I'm doing pepperoni and another topping I'll put about 5 oz of pepperoni on it, corresponding to a complete layer with slight overlap.

Mix the yeast with warm water and sugar and allow it to sit for 15 minutes.  Mix in the rest of the ingredients for the crust except for the corn meal, knead lightly, and allow to rise, covered, until doubled in volume.  Punch it down and allow it to rise again.  Make the sauce while the dough is rising.

Cook the onions and garlic in the olive oil until lightly browned, then add in the rest of the ingredients except the sausage and simmer on low for at least half an hour.  While the onion and garlic is sauteing cook the sausage to get a hard sear on it, remove to a cutting board and allow to rest for a couple of minutes, then chop.  Add to the simmering sauce.  At the end of cooking check the seasoning.

Preheat your oven to 425 F.  Oil a deep dish pan (or spray with non-stick spray), and dust with corn meal.  Spread the dough out and push it up the sides; try to get a thin layer on both the bottom and the sides.  You may have more dough than you need, if so just tear off the excess as you push it to the lip of the pan.

Place the cheese on the dough; if using shredded cheese you may need to press it down some.  Add your other toppings on top of the cheese, then spread the sauce out on top; this is important, as your toppings would burn without the moisture of the sauce on top.  Bake for ~30 minutes until the dough is golden brown and the sauce is lightly bubbling.  Pull the pizza out and allow to sit for 15 minutes before trying to de-pan the pizza.

Note: I use an anodized dark colored pan, if using a reflective pan you'll probably have to increase the temperature to 450F, but I haven't tried it.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Quiche Lorraine

The classic quiche of bacon, eggs, and cream.

2 eggs
1 C creme fraiche
Cream to thin out the creme fraiche (typically about 3 T)
Pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 lb bacon, in lardons
pie crust, either store bought or homemade

Preheat oven to 375 F and blind bake the crust until lightly golden.  While this is baking brown the bacon over medium low heat, then drain.  Beat together the creme fraiche, cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper, and eggs.  Scatter the bacon on the crust, and pour over the cream mixture.  Bake at 375 until the filling is just set, about 25 minutes.

While it would stop being a traditional quiche lorraine you could vary the recipe some by adding sauteed mushroom and/or grated gruyere.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

French-Style Garlic Sausage

There aren't any amounts to this, as I wasn't measuring when I made it, and you usually have to adjust it by cooking some and tasting it.  The dominant flavors should be garlic and thyme with an under tone of red wine.

Pork shoulder
Salt pork
Rich red wine like a burgundy 
A slice or two of slightly stale bread

Grind together the garlic, pork shoulder, salt pork, and bread; I used a coarser grind and only ground it once.  Mix in the spices and check the seasoning by frying up some.  Casing the sausage is optional.

Tomato Bisque

A nice simple creamy tomato soup.  There isn't a whole lot to it, so you need to use the best ingredients - homemade chicken stock and san marzano tomatoes.

1 onion, minced
1 stalk celery, minced
1 carrot, peeled and minced
4+1 cloves garlic, minced
1 28 oz can whole peeled san marzano tomatoes
2-3 C chicken stock
5 T butter
4 T flour
3/4 C cream, or to taste
salt and pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
3/4 t smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 t thyme

Melt the butter and saute the onion, four cloves garlic, carrot, and celery until lightly browned.  Add the thyme and stir for a few seconds.  Add in the flour and stir to make a roux, cooking it for a few minutes.  Add the chicken stock and hand crush the tomatoes into the pot, then add in any juice that was in the can.  Add bay leaf, paprika, salt, and pepper.  Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes or so to blend the flavors, then puree in a blender or with an immersion blender.  Add in the cream and the last clove of garlic and bring back to a simmer, then check the seasoning.  I like to serve it with toasted bread and cheese, whether baked brie or just a grilled cheese.