Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Easy No-Cook Oatmeal

This is as simple as dishes get; just mix rolled oats, dried fruit, the seasonings of your choice, and milk and let sit over night before eating.

3/4 rolled oats
1/4 dried fruits
honey, sugar, maple syrup, and spices to taste (cinnamon and cardamom are both good options in the spice category)
2% to whole milk to cover.

Mix everything and let sit in the fridge for at least 6 hours to blend.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Seasoned Ghee

This is a ghee enriched with herbs and spices suitable for seasoning most  Ethiopian dishes (or wherever you feel like getting creative).  You can save yourself some money by rendering butter down in to ghee, but I'll save that for another time.  Note, however, that since some of the things we're infusing in to the ghee have quite a bit of moisture they have to be cooked off for long enough to not have any moisture left to prevent the end product from going bad (I've actually seen a moisture rich layer on the bottom mold under the ghee).  You also don't want to brown the mixture, so it's low heat with a lot of attention.

12 oz ghee
1 small red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t kalonji, ground
thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
1 t cardamom
1 t oregano
handfull of fresh basil
dash of turmeric

Heat everything together over low heat until all the moisture has cooked off, but without letting it brown.  Strain it and refrigerate in an air tight container where it should keep for months if you got all the moisture out.


An Ethiopian blend of spices that combines influences from all over.  You'll need a pretty serious collection of spices to make this, so you might want to shell out the extra money for commercially prepared if you don't do a lot of global cooking, though accept that it won't be as fresh.  This version is fairly spicy, so you can substitute out some of the hotter ground chiles for paprika as needed, and recipes for this spice mix can vary wildly.

3/4 C ground dried hot red chiles
1/4 C paprika
2 T salt
2 t onion powder
2 t ground ginger
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t ground cloves
1/4 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t ground allspice
1 1/4 t ground cardamom
1 t grated nutmeg
1 t ground fenugreek seeds
1/2 t ground kalonji

Mix it all together, with a spice grinder being the easiest way of dealing with the whole spices.  Store them in an airtight container.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Tomatillo Red Chile Sauce

A simple sauce of roasted tomatillos and chile de arbol that is excellent on burritos and similar things.  This doesn't have to be spicy, but it's at its best when quite spicy.

10 large ripe tomatillos, outer skin removed and quartered
Chile de arbol to taste, ground (4-5 makes for moderate heat)
1 1/2 t cumin
2-3 cloves dry roasted garlic *see note
salt to taste
ground black pepper
50/50 mix of lime juice and cider or white vinegar to taste

Broil the tomatillos until they start to develop black spots, then transfer to a blender along with any juices they gave off.  Add in the chile de arbol, the cumin, and the garlic.  Blend together (you may have to add a little stock or water to get the right consistency).  Add the salt, pepper, and vinegar mix; taste and adjust as necessary.

Note: dry roasting garlic involves heating it, skin on, in a cast iron skillet over medium until dark spots have formed on the skin on all sides.  Remove from the skillet, remove the skin, and use as normal.

Cilantro Lime Rice

This is a seasoned rice similar to that served at a certain fast food burrito place.  It's also similar to Mexican   If you want to take it more in the Mexican side dish direction add in some chopped parsley, roasted poblano, and peas, and cook with chicken broth instead of water.

1 C basmati rice
water to cook the rice
large handful cilantro leaves, chopped
drizzle of olive oil
salt to taste
lime juice to taste

Combine basmati rice, water, cilantro, and olive oil, and cook until the rice is done (I just use a rice cooker, it'll take more attention if you use a pot).  Toss the rice to fluff it up, then sprinkle with salt and lime juice, then mix to combine.  Taste and adjust as necessary.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Spicy Garlic Pickles

Awhile back I made some pickles that were absolutely amazing.  The problem?  I just threw things in there without measuring.  I had a general idea of what was in there a week later when I finally tasted them, and a general idea of how much, but that was it.  So I've tried to recreate them.  This isn't spot on, as I've made a version I thought was close, then tried to approximate the fixes, but it's still a damned good pickle.  I didn't bother using pickling cucumbers, just good old cheap regular ones, so adjust the cuts if you want to get fancy.

2-3 cucumbers, cut in thirds lengthwise then radially into 6ths
6 sprigs fresh dill
2 C water
2 C white vinegar +/- 2 T depending on how strong you like your pickles
1/2 C sugar
heavy 1 1/2 T + 1 t kosher salt
6-8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
6-8 Thai chiles (or to taste), sliced once diagonally
2 bay leaves
4 allspice berries
1 T whole coriander seeds
2 T black mustard seeds

Mix together the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt, and let sit at room temperature, stirring occasionally, until everything is dissolved.

Divide the seasoning ingredients between two 1 quart mason jars, and pack in the cucumber.  Pour the brine over the ingredients, making sure to cover (you may end up packing in more cucumber or making a little extra brine).  Refrigerate for about a week before eating.  I suggest having these as a refreshing element on a charcuterie plate, but honestly I eat most of them straight up as fridge grazing.  Open the fridge to get a drink?  Well, they're right there; I might as well grab a piece or two while the door's open...

Monday, February 8, 2016

Stir Fried Chicken with Basil and Chiles

This is a quick and easy stir fry loaded with garlic, shallot, and chiles, with bright notes from lots of Thai basil.


1 lb boneless chicken breast, trimmed and chopped
1.5 t black soy sauce (or dark soy sauce or regular)
2 t sugar
2 t fish sauce

Stir fry
3 cloves garlic thinly sliced
2-3 Thai chiles, or to taste, finely chopped
4 kaffir lime leaves, de-stemmed and thinly sliced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 handfuls Thai basil leaves (or holy basil, Italian varieties probably wouldn't work)
2T oil

2-3 Thai chiles, or to taste, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 T palm or brown sugar
pinch kosher salt
1 T fish sauce
2 t soy sauce

Mix together the marinade ingredients and let sit for at least 15 minutes up to overnight in the fridge.

Combine the first four sauce ingredients and grind in to a paste in a mortar and pestle, or use a food processor.  Add in the rest of the sauce ingredients and mix to combine.

Divide the chicken in to two batches; heat 1 T oil until smoking in a wok and add the first half of the chicken.  Let it sit without moving for a minute or two to develop color, then stir fry it briefly before removing to a bowl.  Reheat the wok with another 1 T of oil, and repeat with the rest of the chicken.  Return the chicken to the wok along with the chiles, garlic, lime leaves, and shallots.  Toss this mixture until aromatic and the shallots have cooked.

Add the sauce and cook until somewhat reduced, then add in the basil, toss briefly to wilt, and serve with rice.  You could also add another handful of deep fried basil leaves for added aroma and texture, but I generally don't bother unless I already have some oil hot.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Fried Mackerel

Simple fried fish with crispy skin, served simply with pickled ginger.

1.5 lb skin on mackerel fillets, halved
6 T soy sauce
2 T mirin
2 T sake
2 T grated ginger
50/50 mix of cornstarch and rice flour for dredging
Pickled ginger to serve
Oil to deep fry

Combine the fish with the soy, mirin, sake, and grated ginger and marinate for 30 minutes or more.  Remove the fish from the marinade and dredge; you're looking for a light coating here that just helps crisp up the fish, you should be able to see the fish through it.

Fry the fish at 350 F, starting with the skin side down and flipping once until the fish is just golden brown and the skin is crispy.  Serve immediately with a side of pickled ginger.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Ma Po Tofu

A wonderful, aromatic dish of tofu in a bean paste and meat sauce, and one that's taken far too long to write up since it's one of my favorites.  Because the meat is used as a seasoning you can easily make this vegetarian by omitting the meat, in which case either up the tofu or add in some mushrooms.


12 oz extra firm tofu, cut in to half inch cubes
6 oz ground pork (or beef, or omit)
1 T fermented black beans
3-4 T chile bean paste
1 T soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 large green onions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced (more if small)
1 t roasted ground Sichuan pepper
1 C stock (meat of your choice, or veggie)
corn starch and water in a slurry to thicken
dried chiles to taste
3 T oil

Cook the tofu in simmering lightly salted water for several minutes, then drain.

Heat the oil and chiles in a wok over high heat until the chiles start to blacken.  Add in the meat if using and stir fry, stirring constantly until the meat starts to brown.  Add in the fermented black beans, chile bean paste, garlic, and Sichuan pepper (I prefer to combine these ingredients in a bowl before starting to cook).  Stir fry until fragrant and the oil is bright red.

Add the stock and the soy sauce, and bring to a simmer, then add the tofu.  Simmer for five minutes to blend the flavors, then gradually add in the corn starch slurry to thicken (do this slowly, in several installments, so you don't end up with gloop).  Add the green onions and stir for a few seconds, adjust seasoning to taste, and serve with rice.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Perfect Burger

I'm not gonna lie, this is pretty much a rip off of AB's burger recipe, and he did it first, but I have a few changes that I feel make a pretty big difference.  Among other things, I omit the pickles because I'd rather enjoy them on the side than in the burger, and the pickle/mustard layer tends to be a place for things to slide apart.

For a burger you'll need:

1/4 lb of 80/20 ground beef
1-2 t worchestershire
garlic powder to taste, or minced garlic to taste
a dash of cayenne or to taste
liberal doses of both salt and pepper

1 hamburger bun
smear of mayonnaise
2 slices American cheese
a little bacon grease or butter
a thin spread of hot sauce, preferably this if you can take the heat, see variation

Oil to fry

Mix together the meat ingredients and let sit for at least 30 minutes for the flavors to meld at room temperature, then crush them out in to a 5-6 inch round on a cutting board or the like where they can be scraped, in that general shape, in to the oil for frying.

While the flavors are melding heat oil for frying to 325 F.  While the oil is heating melt the grease/butter in a skillet and toast both halves of the bun.  When toasted apply a thin coating of mayo to the bottom bun, then apply the cheese to both buns.

Carefully slide the patty off of the cutting board straight in to the oil and fry for 70-75 seconds to get a nice crispy outer layer while staying moist.  Immediately remove to some paper towels to remove grease, then place on the bottom bun.  Apply a thin smear of hot sauce, and top with the upper bun so the heat of the patty will ensure the cheese finishes melting.

Variation: replace the top slice of American cheese with blue cheese, and exchange the hot sauce with the milder wing sauce

Note: I don't believe in lettuce and tomato on burgers, or pickles.  Those belong in a salad on the side, if they're in season (which they probably aren't).  Perfect your meat, perfect your salad, and serve the two side by side.  I'd suggest some braised fennel in the winter when greens are crappy. A tomato should never been included except in the best of local tomato season in the late summer.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Smokey Insanely Hot Hot Sauce

This is a very vague recipe, because I was pretty much just throwing things in the pot and tasting as I went.  Ultimately, depending on how thick and how hot you like it you should have about a quart to a quart and a half of something that ranges from "pretty damned hot" to "hell fire in a bowl".  The ingredient amounts are totally up to you, but I strongly recommend you don't leave out any of the types of chiles because each one brings a unique flavor to the party.  For the smoked serranos I make my own, but you could instead use more chipotles and up the ghost peppers for added kick.

1/4 C ground dried red serranos
1/4 C ground smoked and dried red serranos
1 large ancho, seeded and ground
1 large guajillo, seeded and ground
2 dried chipotles, ground
2-3 T ground chile de arbol
3-4 dried and ground ghost peppers (or to taste, these are brutal peppers)
1 red onion, finely chopped
3+4 cloves garlic, chopped and divided
6 cloves roasted garlic, chopped
White vinegar to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
A little oil to saute

Saute the onion and 3 cloves of garlic.  Add all of the chiles with enough water to barely cover (you may need to add more as the chiles hydrate and the water simmers off).  Simmer for several hours; you may want to do this with a window open as the results can get kind of burny.  Add the roasted garlic in the last 30 minutes of cooking.  Add in the remaining 4 cloves of garlic along with vinegar to taste, simmering briefly, then adjust seasoning as needed.  The result should be hot, salty, and tart from the vinegar, but the ancho and guajillo should add some sweet and fruity notes much like good BBQ sauce.