Thursday, December 31, 2015

Thin Crust Pizza Sauce

I'm not gonna lie, I'm ripping off the basis for the sauce from The Food Lab.  Let's face it, pretty much everything The Food Lab does is, at the least, an excellent starting point for any recipe.  That said, I have a few modifications that I feel make the sauce better.

1 28 oz can of whole, peeled, San Marzano tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1 t dried oregano
pinch of red pepper flake
1 T butter
1 T infused olive oil
2 sprigs basil
1 yellow onion, peeled and halved
1 bay leaf
Salt to taste

Heat up the butter and infused olive oil, and lightly saute the garlic, oregano, and red pepper until aromatic, but not until the garlic browns.  Add the tomatoes, crushing by hand, along with their liquid and a little water (I use just enough to rinse out the cans).  Place the sprigs of basil in the tomato, and place the halved onions, split side down, in the sauce, along with a bay leaf.  Simmer until the sauce has reduced to the desired consistency, remove the basil, the bay leaf, and the onion halves.  Process with an immersion blender or food processor until mostly smooth, and adjust seasoning to taste.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Infused Olive Oil

Garlicky olive oil with basil and crushed red pepper.  I use this stuff when making tomato sauce, but it's great for salad dressing and just dipping bread.  It will seem a little strong if just tasted plain (and you might want to dilute it out slightly with other olive oil for bread), but it's something to keep on hand.

1 C olive oil
6 sprigs basil, rinsed
15 (or as many as 20) cloves garlic, lightly crushed
2 t crushed red pepper, or to taste

Combine all the ingredients and heat over medium low; cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is golden brown and the basil has crisped.  Strain the oil.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Rich and Creamy Smoked Cheddar Sauce

This is a take on my typical cheese sauce, and one that I laid out in a comment on one of the posts, but it's so good it deserves it's own entry.  This is one of those things that's so easy and yet so good that you'll find yourself thinking "I'm a freaking wizard!".  Mac and cheese is an obvious usage, but it's good on baked potatoes, eggs, hash browns, or wherever else you want cheesy goodness.  Just remember that the final sauce is only as good as the cheese you start with.

2 1/2 C whole milk
22 g sodium citrate*
 2 small onions, chopped
 6 cloves garlic, chopped
 2 T butter or bacon grease
 2 T dijon mustard, or to taste
salt and pepper to taste
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
8 oz smoked cheddar cheese, grated
Cayenne to taste

Saute the onion and garlic in the butter/grease 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, cayenne, salt, and pepper.  Adjust seasoning as necessary.

*Note: a lot of the cheddar you'll find out there is actually labeled as "cheese product".  Check the label; if it contains sodium phosphate you probably don't need the sodium citrate (they both emulsify the sauce and keep the fats and liquids from separating).

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Roasted Branzino

Moist flaky fish with crispy skin, very simply prepared.

1 whole branzino, about a pound
2-3 slices of lemon, plus a wedge for juicing
2-3 sprigs of thyme (or lemon thyme if you're like me and have some growing where you're supposed to have flowers)
2-3 T olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat your oven to 425 F.  Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the fish, and sprinkle some salt on the skin of the fish.  Insert the lemon slices and the thyme into the cavity of the fish. 

Heat the oil in a large non-stick* skillet over medium high to high heat; add the fish and brown the skin on both sides, about 2 minutes a side.  Pour off the oil into an oven safe skillet or roasting dish large enough for the fish, then add the fish.  Bake the fish for 9 minutes, flipping after 5 minutes.  Move to a broiler under high heat, and broil each side for a few minutes until the skin is crispy.  Serve the fish whole with a couple of lemon wedges for squeezing on the fish.

*Note: I've since been doing this in a stainless steel skillet; if you get it  properly hot and pay attention you can transfer it directly to the oven without having the skin stick and turning everything to a mess.  If you don't feel you're up to it, go ahead and use non-stick to start.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Korean Sweet and Spicy Chicken

A thick, sweet, and fairly spicy fried chicken dish laden with gochujang.

1 lb of boneless chicken, well trimmed and in large cubes (either breast or thigh)
hefty pinch of salt
several grinds of pepper
1/2 t garlic, minced
1/2 t ginger, grated
1 T rice wine

1/3 C cornstarch
Oil for frying

2 T soy sauce
3 T shaoxing rice wine
3 T mirin
2.5-3 T gochujang
4 t sesame oil
scant 1/4 C brown sugar
1 T minced garlic
1 T grated ginger
gochugaru to taste

Chopped peanuts and sesame seeds to garnish

Mix together the marinade ingredients and set aside.  While those are combining mix together the sauce ingredients and bring to a simmer for a few minutes until thickened.

Bring the oil for deep frying up to 375, and combine the cornstarch with the marinated chicken.  Fry in small batches until golden brown.  Combine with the sauce and top with sesame seeds and chopped peanuts.  Serve with rice.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


An Indian rice pudding with cardamom.  Serve warm or cold (though if you cook it down too much it might be quite firm when cold).

4 C whole milk
1/4 C rice (basmati or jasmine)
scant teaspoon cardamom powder
6 T sugar
pinch of saffron
raisins to garnish
pistachios, chopped to garnish

Soak the rice for an hour in water, then drain off the liquid.  Add the milk and sugar to the rice and bring to a simmer, but pull off a couple of tablespoons of milk while just warm to bloom the saffron. Stir frequently while the mixture simmers.

When the rice mixture is starting to thicken up add the saffron and cardamom and cook for another couple of minutes.  Serve up in individual bowls, garnishing with raisins and pistachios.

Sunday, July 19, 2015


The Indian version of battered and fried veggies.  This is only the recipe for the batter, but it can be used on any number of vegetables: thinly sliced sweet potato, cauliflower (YUCK!), onion rings, zucchini, spinach, or whatever else you want to try.

1.5 C gram (chickpea) flour
1/2 C rice flour
pinch asafoetida
1/4 t turmeric
Cayenne pepper to taste
salt to taste

Combine all the ingredients, adding enough water to make a moderately thin batter.  Keep in mind that you want the batter to be a little salty to season the veggies.  Dredge vegetables in the batter and deep fry at 350 F until golden brown.

Jackfruit Curry

An unusual curry using green jackfruit in place of meat.  Green jackfruit has  a great texture, but very little flavor, so it's cooked with plenty of onion, garlic, and spices.  Note: I was winging it when I made this, so it's more approximate than most for amounts.

2 cans of green jackfruit (it has to be green) roughly 10 oz each when drained
3 T mustard oil
1-1.5 T black mustard seeds
1 medium onion, chopped
1.5 T garlic, chopped
1.5 T ginger, grated
2 t cumin
3 T tomato paste
1/2 C stock (vegetable stock if going vegetarian, otherwise chicken stock)
1/2 t turmeric
ground chile to taste
salt to taste

Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet over medium high, and add the mustard seeds, onion, garlic, and ginger (if using whole cumin add it as well, otherwise add it with the jackfruit).  Cook until well the onion and garlic is well browned.

Add in the jackfruit, chile, and turmeric and stir fry for a a couple of minutes.  Add the tomato paste and the stock and stir fry for another couple of minutes to combine and cook down to desired consistency.  Add salt to taste.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Cambodian Grilled Pork (Bai Sach Chrouk)

This street food dish of grilled pork over rice (often broken rice, which is to say cheap broken grains of rice) served with pickled vegetables (included below) is, oddly enough, a breakfast dish in Cambodia.  Personally I eat it as a main dish.  I intentionally make this a little salty to eat with rice.  Start the pickled vegetables at least a day ahead of time.

1 lb pork loin, well trimmed, then sliced against the grain in to 1/4" slices
2/3 C coconut milk
2 T + 1 t palm or brown sugar
4 T soy sauce
1 T black soy sauce, or kecap manis
1 T fish sauce
4 cloves garlic
black pepper to taste
Thai chiles to taste (either chopped fresh, or ground dried)

Combine all the ingredients and marinate for at least an hour.  Remove the pork from the marinade (reserving marinade), and grill or broil until cooked and well caramelized.  Bring the marinade to a boil and reduce slightly to make a sauce. Serve the pork over rice and pour over some of the cooked marinade.

Pickled Vegetables:
1/2 C rice vinegar
1/2 C white vinegar
2 T salt
8 T sugar
1 carrot, peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced in to thin half rounds
1 small daikon, peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced in to thin half rounds
1/2 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced in to thin half rounds
4 cloves garlic,thinly sliced
6 sprigs cilantro
6 Thai chiles

Combine the vinegars, salt, and sugar and bring to a simmer just long enough to dissolve the sugar; cool slightly.  Mix together the other ingredients, then pour the vinegar mixture over the top, making sure all the vegetables are covered.  Refrigerate for at least a day before eating.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Burmese Chile-Garlic Sauce

A sweet and tart sauce with lots of heat and a punch of garlic and vinegar.  This sauce would be good on an old shoe, but it's excellent on eggs or used to kick up a curry.  This recipe is wonderfully spicy, but you could probably substitute a milder red chile

A hefty cup of tightly packed dried red Thai chiles, ends removed (de-seeded for a smoother milder sauce)
3/4 C water
5-6 T garlic cloves, peeled but whole
1/4 C fish sauce
1/4 C sugar
3/4 C rice vinegar

Bring the water to a simmer and add the chiles.  Simmer for several minutes, adding the garlic right at the end.  Combine all the rest of the ingredients in a blender or food processor until well combined.  Allow to combine for a day or so before using.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Porchetta with Roasted Fennel

This was a revelation for me.  I know I LOVE roasted pork, and things like my Cuban Roasted Pork are favorites, but with this one I found that I could love the veggies roasted with the pork even more than the meat.  Slow roasted fennel might be enough to make me a vegetarian again (if it hadn't been cooked in pork drippings).

3-3.5 lb pork shoulder, excess fat trimmed and reserved
juice from one orange

Herb Rub:
2 large sprigs rosemary, stripped from stems and chopped
zest of one lemon and 1.5 oranges
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 t kosher salt
2 t toasted and ground fennel seeds
2 t ground black pepper

3-4 bulbs fennel, trimmed of tops, halved, cored, and thinly sliced (trust me, more is better, but take in to account the size of your baking dish; I can just barely fit 4 in my 5.75 qt Le Creuset)
Olive oil and ample salt to taste for the fennel

If using a bone in pork shoulder, cut three or four deep cuts in to the meat and evenly distribute the rub in them.  Use butcher's twine to hold the meat together.  If boneless, butterfly the entire roast out and spread the rub on the entire inner surface before rolling and trussing with twine.

Place the roast in a covered ceramic baking dish and bake at 350 F for two hours, turning every 30 minutes or so, and basting with the orange juice.  If things seem to be drying out too much, use juice from the other orange or from the lemon.

After two hours, add in the fennel with olive oil and salt, and toss to combine with the drippings in the pan.  Continue to roast for another hour and a half, stirring the fennel every 30 minutes and turning the meat to promote even browning.  The fennel should be almost melting and the meat should be falling apart. 

Serve with the pork with polenta and plenty of the roasted fennel.

Friday, May 8, 2015


For being little more than corn meal, water, and a little seasoning this is a truly wonderful accompaniment to any Italian meal.  I take the basic method from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (which I highly recommend), but tweak the ingredients some to make it richer.

7 C water
1 T salt
1 2/3 C coarse cornmeal
6 T butter
1/2 C grated Parmesan

Bring the water and salt to a boil, then very slowly whisk in the cornmeal to avoid lumps.  Stir continuously for several minutes before reducing the heat to a bare simmer and covering the pot.  Cook, covered, for 10 minutes before removing the lid and stirring thoroughly.  Repeat this 10 minute covered cooking and stirring cycle until the polenta has cooked for 40 minutes.  Stir in the butter and Parmesan then serve.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015


A middle eastern breakfast dish of eggs poached in a spiced tomato sauce.  While nominally a breakfast dish, it's savory enough to eat for other meals as well as being fast and easy.  This dish can be made vegan by leaving out the eggs, though it ends up lacking protein.  Serve with pita.

1 28oz can of whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes
6 cloves garlic, crushed
6 T olive oil
1 t cumin
1/2 t carraway
1/2 t cayenne (or to taste)
1 t paprika
6 eggs
salt and pepper to taste
A squeeze of lemon juice (optional)

Heat the oil and saute the garlic lightly in a large skillet.  Crush the tomatoes by hand in to the skillet and add the seasonings.  Cook for 15 minutes or so partially covered, then taste and adjust seasoning.  Crack the eggs in to the skillet and cook, partially covered, until the whites have just set.


This is the Egyptian version of the well known fried bean dish.  Unlike other versions of the dish the Egyptian version uses fava beans instead of chickpeas, and flattens out the balls to pan fry rather than deep frying.  As a note: it is absolutely necessary that you start with dried beans; canned beans will produce mushy results.  Serve with tahini sauce; you can also serve this with pita, cucumber, tomatoes, and/or pickled turnip if you want to make sandwiches out of it.

1 lb dried fava beans, split and husked, soaked in plenty of water for two days in the fridge
2/3 C flat leaf parsley, de-stemmed
2/3 C cilantro, de-stemmed
1 T cumin, ground
1.5-2 t coriander, ground
8 cloves of garlic
1 t baking powder
2 medium onions, chopped
1/2 t cayenne, or to taste
2T flour
Salt and pepper to taste
vegetable oil for shallow frying

Add everything except the vegetable oil in a food processor and pulse to combine.  You may have to work in batches, and you're ultimately looking for it to be well combined but still have a little texture.  Form patties roughly 1 cm thick and 4-5 cm across; the patties should just hold together (add a little extra flour if they don't).  Form a small patty and cook it to test seasoning; adjust as necessary.  Fry patties until browned and crispy, with an interior that is soft (and green!).

Tahini Sauce

A wonderful garlicky tangy accompaniment for many middle eastern dishes, especially falafel. Before the water is added this will be a very thick paste, but will thin out to a rich and creamy sauce.

2/3 C tahini
2/3 C freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
Cold water to thin out the sauce (about a 1/4 C)
Salt to taste

Blend together the first three ingredients, then pulse in the water until you reach a creamy consistency.  Add in salt to taste.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sichuan Cucumber Relish

A mildly spicy cucumber relish, perfect for snacking on or eating along side a richer Chinese dish.

2 large cucumbers, ends removed, halved and cut in to chunks
2-3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 t Sichuan pepper, ground
1 t chile bean paste
2 T hot pepper oil
1 T salt
2 t sugar
1 T chinkiang vinegar
2 T sesame oil

Place cucumber pieces in a colander and sprinkle with the salt.  Let sit for a couple of hours before rinsing.  Mix the cucumber with the rest of the ingredients, stirring to coat.  Allow the flavors to blend for three hours or overnight before serving.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Cuban Roasted Pork

This is a slight variation on a typical Cuban roasted pork, using a dutch oven, Le Creuset, or other large covered baking dish along with lots of marinade and onions to give you a bunch of caramelized onions to mix in with the deeply browned and meltingly tender pork.

5-6 pounds pork shoulder in 2-3 large pieces, trimmed of any large pieces of fat
10-12 cloves garlic (or a few more if you want to add in some finishing garlic)
2-3 t oregano
1-2 t cumin
1/2 C orange juice
1/4 C lemon juice
1/4 C lime juice
1 C sherry (or more)
4 large yellow onions, quartered and thinly sliced.
Salt and pepper to taste (you'll likely need 1.5-2 T salt, this is a lot of meat)

Mash together the garlic, oregano, cumin, and salt (reserve some of the salt for final seasoning so you don't over salt the dish); rub all over the meat then put the meat in a large seal able plastic bag.  Add the rest of the ingredients and refrigerate for a day, turning occasionally.

Heat the oven to 350 F, and put the pork (reserving the marinade separately) in your roasting dish of choice.  Roast, un-covered, for an hour, turning occasionally to brown all the sides.   Add the marinade with onions to the dish and cover; cook until the pork is falling apart (maybe 3 hours or so), turning the pork and stirring occasionally; add sherry if anything starts to look too dry.  Remove the pork, let rest, and then shred.  If the onions haven't pretty much fallen apart by this time, continue to cook, covered, until they have (if using the finishing garlic add them, minced, in the last few minutes).  Mix the shredded pork with the the onions.