Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Simple chipotle chicken salad in a tortilla: good cooks borrow, great cooks steal, that's it that's the blog

You know that thing where you're craving something you've had recently but not... exactly? That's the story with this. My friend Jess makes a chipotle chicken salad that is very good and I was thinking about how chipotle mayo is objectively one of the best things to dip something fried in and long story short, I made this. It's cold chicken salad with Tex Mex flavors. It lacks the punch of the version Jess makes with the red onions and more chipotle, but it's good, just different. We ate it in tortillas with avocado and queso fresco but it would be good alone, or with lettuce on bread.

I didn't measure and it's probably better by taste, anyway. Mine was:

-leftover rotisserie chicken, chopped
-most of a head of Napa cabbage, finely chopped
-a small bunch of cilantro, chopped
-chives from the garden

Mix separately:
-A big spoonful of mayo
-a small spoonful of sour cream (adjust both of these based on how creamy you like it)
-a generous squeeze of lime
-a spoonful from a can of chipotle in adobo... Adjust for how spicy you want

Toss with chicken mixture, eat however you want. We put avocados and queso fresco on flour tortillas, you could mix those in instead. Add whatever else your heart desires from the worlds of chicken salad OR tacos. Use the chicken bones for stock and freeze for future use. You get the idea.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Pantry dinner: spiced chickpeas, turmeric rice, cucumbers in yogurt

A stone cold classic in the genre of healthy, filling, flavorful, inexpensive pantry meals. Keep a garam masala you like, some cardamom pods, and ground turmeric. Aside from the cucumber yogurt, this is all stuff you can keep around for weeks. Pro tip, frozen naan is super fast and super good and not necessary or anything but totally worth keeping around to toss in the oven with this. If you insist, the rice can be replaced with riced cauliflower for a low carb option. (Obviously we're talking normal low carb here, not keto, but if that's what you're looking for you probably knew that.)

Da Beans:

1 big or small can chickpeas
1big or small can tomatoes - chopped, diced, whole, pureed, whatever
Ghee or butter (or oil)
Garlic, a few cloves, minced (or smashed up in a morter & pestle if you have one)
Ginger, an inch or two, grated
An onion, diced
Tumeric, an inch or two of the fresh root grated or a teaspoon or two of dried
Basmati rice
Plain yogurt
A cucumber
Garam masala, OR some of as many of these as you've got. Whole spices last longer, and can be crushed in a morter & pestle, spice grinder, coffee grinder, etc. If you go to South Asian grocery store, they have a ton of spices (AND blends), whole or ground, in large quantities for very cheap.
-cardamom (whole black cardamom is so awesome, it's smoked, throw a few in the pot and fish them out at the end)
-black pepper
-small amounts of cinnamon and clove

For the beans:

Heat a decent amount of ghee (a few tablespoons I guess?) over medium-high heat and add onions and a pinch of salt. Stir and let the onions cook down for as long as you have - really caramelizing them takes time, like 30+ minutes, usually more, and makes a really delicious base, but if you're in a hurry just fry them up until they're limp and translucent. You can also add some water to the pan and let it cook off - that helps soften them faster. When they're as cooked as you're cooking them, take out a few tablespoons and set aside to add to the rice. Throw the garlic and ginger in the pan and saute until it's all getting a bit of color. Add spices and fry them for 30 seconds or so. Add tomatoes and chickpeas and stir to combine, scraping up the bottom of the pan. Add a splash of water, and let the whole thing simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for at least 5 minutes, but I feel like 20 is really where things start melding - add more water as needed. When the sauce is coating the chickpeas in an appetizing way, you're good to go.

For the rice, rice cooker method, because tbh I only ever use a rice cooker - no worries if you don't, Google can help! I bought a $12 one at Target as a college freshman, immediately after moving back to the States, and I've never been without one since. I make a lot of rice and a lot of kitchen staples would go before I'd give up having one. Being able to reliably make it with almost no effort is a cornerstone of my cooking, and I honestly think that properly cooked, properly selected rice is one of the best culinary pleasures, but bad rice can ruin a meal. It doesn't have to be a fancy special cultivar or sourced from specific producers or anything, but rinsing, a 1:1 ratio (important!!! for some reason a 1:2 ratio is on the internet a lot, do not do that with white rice!!!) of rice/water and pairing the right rice with the right food (jasmine with Thai, basmati with Indian, etc - whatever is eaten in that area) makes a HUGE difference.
Uh, anyway, no, I do not have an overdeveloped attachment to rice, why would you even ask that?

Measure out the rice (follow your heart, less is not more, idk what to tell you here) and rinse until the water is not very cloudy anymore, drain well in a strainer, and dump it in the rice cooker. Heat a few more spoonfuls of ghee in a sauce pan and toss in some spices. I like a few whole black cardamom pods, several green cardamom pods, some coriander (I grind it, you don't have to), and black pepper. Fry 'em up for a few seconds and then add the reserved onions. Add your grated turmeric or a few spoonfuls of powder, some salt, and fry the whole thing up a bit. Measure out an equal volume of water (or broth!!) to the rice and add it to the pan.  A few slices of fresh ginger and a couple of bay leaves could go in at this point, too. Taste and make sure it's pleasantly salty - having enough salt makes or breaks this dish, and if it's not, add more. Pour all of this in the rice cooker, stir it up, and start it. (To use cauliflower instead, stop before you add the liquid and just add the riced cauliflower to the ghee and aromatics, and saute until it's as soft as you like it.)

For the cucumber yogurt:

Peel a cucumber, but do a bad job so there's still some bits of green. Grate it on a box grater and put it in a mesh strainer to drain, pressing out the liquid until it's fairly dry. Mix with a bunch - I guess a cup? Maybe less? idk - of plain, preferably full fat yogurt or sour cream, salt, pepper,a little grated ginger, a bit of cumin, and a pinch of whatever spicy chili flakes you've got. Some people like garlic, I like sliced scallions and cilantro.

Dish up some rice, scoop on some beans, spoon on some yogurt, eat up. There's a generous amount of mostly plant based protein, fiber, and plenty of nutrients in there along with a delightful contrast of textures and flavors!

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Teriyaki-ish Chicken Sandwiches

Yeah these were so good. It was loosely based on the memory of one I had at Ginger Hop a few weeks ago. Um, taste as you go - I made the marinade and slaw by taste so these are approximate quantities. Roast up some broccoli with soy sauce and sesame seeds for a side.

Per 2 sandwiches:

Teriyaki-ish, Japanese-flavor-influenced chicken sandwiches

1 boneless skinless chicken breast, pounded to 1/4" thick
Teriyaki sauce (recipe at bottom)
2 slices provolone cheese (I feel like pepper jack would be really good)
Some smoked deli ham
Mandarin slaw (recipe at bottom)
Pretzel buns

Marinate pounded chicken in teriyaki sauce for however much time you have, and make the slaw. Cut it into portions and cook it over medium-high heat on the stove, or grill it - just get some color on the outside. When it's done, pile a slice of ham on top of each piece of chicken and top with a slice of cheese. Turn off the heat and put a lid on the pan, and let the residual heat melt the cheese while you toast the buns. Put the meat/cheese on the buns and top with a generous heap of slaw.

Teriyaki marinade

Soy sauce
Brown sugar or honey
A knob of ginger, grated
1 clove of garlic, smashed
Toasted sesame oil
Gochugaru or a dash of hot sauce or whatever else you want

Idk folks, mix 'em. Google has a lot of recipes or you can just wing it.

Mandarin slaw
This is meant to be a condiment rather than standing alone, so it's very salty and pretty sweet. It could totally be tweaked to be a side dish.

Shredded cabbage
1/4 c soy sauce
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp vinegar (rice or white)
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp grated ginger
The green part of a scallion, sliced
A few segments of canned mandarin orange, chopped or crumbled into small bits. (Pineapple or mango would probably be good too)
Whatever amount of mayo your heart desires

Mix everything but the fruit & mayo and let it sit for at least 10 minutes. Drain it well, pressing into a strainer with the back of a spoon to get as much liquid out as you can. Mix with the mayo and fruit. I'm not thrilled that I've paired the words "mayo" and "fruit" this many times in this recipe, honestly, but I promise this was good.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

How To Hassle A Pork Shoulder

Pork shoulder/boston butt is hands down my favorite cut of meat. It's nearly foolproof, it's incredibly versatile, and it's one of the most inexpensive items per pound in the butcher section. Here are some of my favorites - notice just how different they are. They're more like frameworks than recipes - feel free to ask, or google away for more ideas or specific instructions.

One thing, before we start: Do not, under any circumstances, shred up the meat until it's super fine. Not with forks, especially not with a mixer. Gently pull it apart, but mostly, let it slump apart. Well-cooked meat should separate in moist chunks, not dry shreds or paste.

This is SO good with fresh  noodles, but egg noodles or regular pasta is also delicious. 

2 big cans whole tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, diced
Olive oil
Herbs you like
Grated parmesan
Cooked pasta

In an oven-safe pot or pan big enough for the meat, if you have one, or in a  sweat the garlic and onion in the oil until translucent over medium heat. Add the tomato paste and if you want 'em, dried herbs. Cook, stirring constantly, for a minute. Add the tomatoes and stir. Season to taste with salt & pepper. If you used an oven-safe dish, put in the pork; if not, pour sauce into a baking dish and add the pork. Cook for 6 hrs @300, or until meat is falling apart tender. Break up any big chunks of pork, gently letting it fall apart into chunks. Sprinkle with fresh herbs (basil & parsley here) and grated cheese.

Bo Ssam

Here is the recipe, from David Change of Momofuku. Idk about the oysters, I've never done that part, but everything else about this is inexpensive and easy and SO delicious. A great way to dip your toe into Korean flavors.

Sweet Green Curry
Listen, this and the following are very basic. For more in-depth recipes, visit SheSimmers and search or browse for curries. 

2 cans full fat coconut milk, Aroy-D, Chao Koh, or another brand with no stabilizers (they make the curry slimy)
3+tbsp green curry paste (very spicy, let your heat tolerance be a guide, if you don't do spicy food, just...make something else. Not joking.)
1/3c sugar
Several dashes of fish sauce. If you don't have it, DO NOT use soy sauce, just put in some salt.
Veggies you like, chopped into bite-sized pieces, such as:
-Summer squash
Cooked jasmine rice

Dump it all in the crock pot or dutch oven with lid in a 300 oven and cook for 6ish hours. Near the end, add veggies and cook until soft. Stir to gently shred the pork, breaking up any big pieces. Serve over rice.

Panaeng Curry
Less spicy, rich, peanutty, delicious. 

2 cans full fat coconut milk
1 can red curry paste (less for less spicy - this one's not nearly so incendiary as the green)
1/3c natural peanut butter - the kind you have to stir. Jif-style will make the texture weird.
1c roasted peanuts
Fish sauce or salt, to season
Any of the veggies previously - sweet potatoes, squash, etc are also good here.
Cooked rice

See previous recipe.


Tacos! Burritos! Nachos! Salad! This is so delicious. When in doubt, Kenji Alt-Lopez's Food Lab recipes at Serious Eats is the way to go.

Cuban-Style Roast Pork
Okay full disclosure here: I don't remember where I got this recipe. I serve it with very basic black beans (saute up some minced garlic, onions, and cumin, toss in drained cans of black beans) and rice (after cooking, toss with lime, oil, salt, and chopped cilantro) and salad, and it seems to be a meal for a crowd that covers most dietary restrictions - people can usually eat at least two or three components, and it contains no gluten, eggs, dairy, or soy. I straight up stole the idea from one of my best friends' Cuban husband's family - they served a similar meal (it was in 2012 and I was very tired and a little hungover, don't ask) and it stuck in my mind. Here's a link to a quick write-up of the pork.

BBQ Sandwiches, Indoors
Yeah yeah, not real barbecue. Feel free to use any rub you want - I usually just throw stuff together on the basic formula of salt, sugar, mustard, spices. 

1/4c brown sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp mustard powder or sharp mustard - dijon, grainy, whatever
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp paprika (smoked if you've got it!)
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp cumin
Liquid smoke, if you want

Your favorite BBQ sauce

Mix rub ingredients together and pat on the meat. Roast, uncovered, in a 300 oven for, yes, around 6  hours. You know what to do next.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Roast pork shoulder

I've found that with pork shoulder, all you really need is enough time. I was planning on splitting this up between my oven and turkey roaster, and the amounts of the other stuff are very flexible. Ideally, it's very tender, but not shredded up like pulled pork sandwiches - it COULD be shredded up, but it's served just broken into pieces. There are roasty brown parts and tender inner parts, and it's super tasty and easy. Here's someone else's picture I straight up stole to show kinda how it looks at the end.

For ever 6-8lbs of pork shoulder:

-10+ whole peeled garlic cloves (actually important - jarred garlic will make it acrid and overwhelming, whole cloves roast into mushy sweetness, because of science reasons that aren't important).
Lime juice - 1/3 cup
Mojo marinade - 1 cup
2 tbsp dried oregano (I also have this)
1 tbsp table salt or 2 tbsp kosher salt

Preheat oven to 300. Put pork in a baking dish with high sides, packing it in as much as possible. Pour and sprinkle the rest of the ingredients over (no need to premix). Cover loosely with foil, and bake for 3 hours. Uncover, baste with juices, and turn up the oven to 325. Bake for another 2-4 hours, basting occasionally, until a knife inserted into the meat meets almost no resistance and the surface is crackly and brown. When it's cool enough to handle, drain juices into a bowl and reserve. Pick over meat, taking out bones and big chunks of fat. Pour some of the juices back - not enough so it's swimming, just to moisten - and toss. It should have fallen apart already, but if there are any huge chunks left, break them up. Bits of fat will render in when it's reheated.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Non-dairy, non-soy cheesecake with sauteed apples and vegan caramel in a maple-oat crust

So needed to make a dessert that was dairy, gluten, almond, and egg free. I really could have sliced up some apples and tossed together some cinnamon sugar to dip, but I thought: can I make a dessert people with no restrictions will still like? Also, I'd need to go to the grocery store, but I didn't want to be hunting specialty ingredients.
 I spent some time thinking about techniques and googling vegan and Paleo desserts and this is what I came up with. This recipe is neither of those, but could be made that way with some alterations - it's especially close to vegan, if something else is used as a stabilizer. It could be paleo pretty easily, too, with something else to sweeten.

Okay. So. I won't lie, this is a process. It's for a special occasion, when you really want to go all out.
The cashews need to soak overnight. The gelatin gets bloomed, heated to liquefy, and tempered in. It needs taste-testing along the way - I've only made this once and I was tinkering as I went, so the amounts of some things, like sugar, lemon juice, and spices, are approximate. Also, you'll need to factor in time for making the crust, the caramel, and the apple topping, and letting it chill to set.  This should in no way be seen as a tested, prescriptive recipe. These are just my notes, and you can use them as a guide if you want to.

Things I'd consider changing, if I do this again:
1. Less cashew. Just, like, less. This made a ridiculous amount - we're talking a 10" spring form pan, full almost to the top.
2. Chocolate version! Melt some dark chocolate with the coconut oil and milk. Reduce lemon juice, leave out cinnamon. No apples in the topping, maybe toast up some coconut shards for a decoration on top of the caramel. I'm probably making this version for Christmas. UPDATE: I did, and it wasn't that good, proceed at your own risk.

Autumn Cheesecake (without gluten, dairy, egg, soy, almonds, pecans), or Creamy Firm
Cashew-Coconut Pudding With Maple Oat Crust, Coconut Caramel, And Sauteed Cinnamon Apples.

The crust, caramel, and topping can be made in advance.

The crust:

This is based off of the oat steusel in the new Smitten Kitchen cookbook. If you don't need to be gluten free, use whatever crust you like.

-1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
-3 tbsp maple syrup
-Oats: I used a mix of oat flour and baby oatmeal because I had them, but normally I would have just whizzed some rolled oats. I think I'd like this better with oats the texture of quick-cook, no more grinding.

Mix oil and syrup. Add oats a little at a time until you have a rubble. Let it cool until the it firms up a bit - a few minutes in the fridge. Line the bottom of a springform with parchment or foil and grease lightly. Press crumbs into the bottom of the pan and chill again until cool. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or maybe longer, checking it frequently. When it's toasted, take it out and cool it completely.

2 cups raw cashews (make sure they're raw, or they won't get as creamy, and it'll taste very cashew-y)
2 cans coconut milk
3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
Juice of 1 big, heavy lemon, or two small ones
3/4 c sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon

The day before you bake, dump cashews in a microwave-safe bowl and cover with water by a few inches. Put it in the fridge, and forget it. The next day, when you're ready to make the filling, put the bowl in the microwave and nuke it until it's boiling...or dump it all in a pot and do it on the stove. Get out your food processor or high powered blender and plug it in. Drain cashews in a colander and immediately dump hot nuts in the machine, and whirl it up. You will need to stop it to scrape down the sides. If it's too thick for the machine to handle, open one of your cans of coconut milk and add some until it loosens up. Process it until it's very creamy and smooth - it'll get there!

In a medium bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2c cold water and whisk out lumps. Let it sit until it's gelled up, a few minutes or less. Microwave as little as possible (10 second intervals), stirring in between, until it's liquified. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a big bowl you'll use with a hand mixer), put the sugar and half of one of the cans of coconut milk. Turn it on, and pour in the liquified gelatin mixture, making sure there are no lumps. If there are, strain it - you don't want those gummy bits in your cheesecake. Once the mixture is homogenized, add a few tablespoons of the lemon juice, the vanilla, salt, and cinnamon, and the rest of the coconut milk and melted coconut oil, and mix. Start up the food processor again, and slowly add this to the cashew puree. Taste, and adjust seasoning as you like - probably more lemon juice. When you like how it tastes, pour mixture on to the crust in the springform and chill until set, a few hours. If you have too much filling, chill it in other containers - it's tasty to eat as pudding.

These are easy. The apples are just like cooking up mushrooms in a pan. The caramel is just like making regular caramel stuff, just instead of butter and cream, you use coconuts that have been processed and refined into various forms.

Sauteed apples

3 apples
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp coconut oil

Dice apples into rough 1" dice; peel if you want, I didn't. In batches, saute in coconut oil until browned. Don't overcrowd the pan and don't stir too much; you want some color on them. Toss with cinnamon.

Coconut caramel:

1 3/4 c white sugar
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 can coconut milk
Pinch of salt

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the sugar. If you prefer to use a wet method, do that, or do it dry. When the melted sugar is a nice caramelly color, turn off the heat and add the oil, salt & milk. It'll sputter and froth! Whisk until smooth and then turn the heat on and cook until it reaches soft ball. Let cool a bit, so it's still very liquidy but not scalding hot, and pour it over the chilled cake, tilting so it conver evenly. Chill until firm, top with apple mixture, and serve!

Ugly but good (bonus: low carb!)

Like most white people, I'm very certain that most of my ancestors ate a lot of cabbage, beige carbs, and pork. They can be combined in many ways, and this one's very easy, inexpensive, filling, and so, so ugly.

I'm too lazy for cabbage rolls, and the phrase "unstuffed cabbage rolls" makes me roll my eyes hard enough to be heard the next state over, so I layered this in protest. It all mixed together in the bowl anyway so it might as well have just dumped the rest of it on top of the shredded cabbage.

Add whatever you want. Use more rice, or leave it out and put it over a carb of your choice (but your choice should be egg noodles.) Use canned tomatoes in any form and feel free to use sour cream, labneh, etc instead. Add some sweet peppers, carrots, or whatever before. Replace all of the rice with cauliflower crumbles for really low carb.

Shannon's Fictionalized Ancestors' Hotdish
We ate this for dinner four nights in a row. I made some quick pickles one night, rough tziziki another, and mashed beets another. The pickles were the best. A dollup of lebneh, sour cream, or Greek yogurt at the end would not be terrible, and showering it with chopped scallions or parsley will help with visual appeal.

1 large head cabbage, shredded or roughly chopped
1lb ground beef
1lb ground pork
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp dried thyme or some? fresh
1 cup instant brown rice. Any leftover grain while be fine, as well
2 cups cauliflower crumbles - fresh or frozen. If frozen, thaw florets and chop finely, if fresh, whiz in food processor or chop.
3 15oz cans crushed tomatoes
1 cup heavy cream
2/3c (FINE, it was just some big dollops) Greek yogurt
3tbsp Apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp white miso*
A few shakes of fish sauce*
Salt to taste
Generous amount of black pepper

 *No, my Irish, Slovenian, French, and English forebearers did not have these, and they're optional, because if you don't have them, going out to get stuff especially for this is against the spirit of this dish. If you have some bullion, a bit of tomato paste, some MSG, or any other umami booster, put some in, or just salt it more.

Cook the meat in a large pan, crumbling as you go. When there's more grey than pink, add the onions, thyme, and some grinds of black pepper. Continue cooking until the onions are very soft and browning and the meat is sizzling and browning. Add garlic and stir, and then add cauliflower and thyme. Splash in some water and scrape up the frond, and add vinegar. If using instant brown rice, add it now with a bit more than the amount of water recommended on the package. If using cooked leftover grain, just add a splash of water to loosen it up. Separately, mix the tomato, cream, and yogurt, and season.

In at least one big casserole, or maybe two (eyeball it based on your pile of cabbage and pan of meat/rice), line the bottom with all of the shredded cabbage, and sprinkle with salt. Top with the meat mixture and then pour the tomato micture on top of that. Bake until the cabbage is soft and the whole thing is bubbly and browning... maybe half an hour at 350.