Jen wasn’t feeling well, so I made dinner tonight in between work things. It worked, but it got me thinking about how much easier life is when you have a pantry of staples you can throw together to make something yummy.
Tonight’s recipe was a Mexican-inspired pork stew. Measurements are going to be difficult, but here’s what I rummaged from the kitchen:
2/3 of a frozen pork loin
2 big russet potatoes
2 medium yellow onions
2 glugs of dark soy sauce
2 large dried ancho chilis
2 cans of Rotel tomatoes and chilis
4 cubes of chicken bouillon
2 big glugs of white whine
4 cloves of minced garlic
A bunch of random spices like cumin, dried cilantro, onion powder, etc
Aaaaaaand, here’s what I ended up putting together with all of that:
Chopped up the onions and potatoes
Soaked the ancho chilis and chicken boullion cubes in 6 cups boiling water for 10 minutes
Sauteed the onions in some olive oil until they started to brown
Added the garlic
Deglazed the Instant Pot with the white wine and let it simmer a bit.
Added the potatoes, tomatoes and chilis and the pork.
Poured the liquid and chilis over everything in the Instant Pot, put the lid on, sealed it and turned it on to the Soup setting.
Since the pork loin was frozen when I put it in, I quick released it when it was done, then pulled the pork out and cut it up into cubes. I put the pork back in the Instant Pot for 10 minutes to make sure it was cooked, and then served in a bowl topped with some sour cream.
It was delightful.
All of that to say that making dinner tonight I was struck by how easy it was to throw dinner together because I had the pantry staples to make dinner happen. Having things like dark soy, ancho chilis, canned tomatoes, etc made it possible to make dinner without it being an ordeal. It’s so much fun to have all these “toys” to play with!
So, get yourself some dark soy sauce and dried chilis, then play around!
I have accidentally created the greatest food ever: the Sriracha Chicken Quesadilla:
You need to:
Preheat the oven to 350
Slice two onions into quarter inch slices
Slice two bell peppers (or mini bells) into quarter inch slices
Four boneless chicken breasts
lay the onions out on a roasting pan or cookie sheet so there’s no overlap
put the peppers on top of the onions, again, no overlap.
drizzle olive oil over the onions and peppers, then salt and pepper.
put the chicken breasts on top of the peppers and onions.
salt and pepper the chicken then drizzle with olive oil.
squirt sriracha over the whole thing.
bake for an hour at 350.
Once it’s done, cut up the chicken, throw some into a tortilla with some of the onions and peppers and sharp cheddar cheese and then griddle that thing until the tortilla is crispy and the cheese is melted.\
And now eat it all up.
I should have taken a picture, but I didn’t because I couldn’t wait.
A simple title, but this is a really simple recipe. I decided after a tough week and after seeing someone mention it on Instagram, that I really needed 15 bean soup. Instead of just using water, I decided to try making homemade vegetable stock. I had some veggies and I have a crock pot. How hard could it be?
Not hard at all. I have a mammoth 6 quart crock pot, so you might need to reduce the amounts of things if you have a smaller one.
This is a mishmash of a bunch of different recipes I found online with most of the ingredients doubled and a couple added. This stuff comes out really savory and a lot richer (not subtle at all) than other vegetable stocks I’ve tried before – and way better than anything I’ve ever had out of can.
2 small tomatoes, quartered
2 smallish sweet onions, quartered
1 bunch of celery, cleaned and w/ the butt chopped off. Leave the leaves!
A bunch of carrots, chopped up.
1 tablespoon-ish of salt
1 tablespoon-ish of minced garlic
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
1 squirt of Sriracha
2-4 peppercorns (I put in 3x that many and it’s really peppery – it’s good, but a little goes a long way).
Put everything in the crock pot
Fill your crock pot up with water, almost to the top but not quite.
Cook on low for 6-7 hours
Strain out all the bits – mine came out a little cloudy, probably because of the tomato. If you care about that, then you might want to strain it through a coffee filter or cheesecloth.
Let cool for 30 minutes
Put it in the fridge
Make something awesome with it later, or just drink it and get superpowers.
It ended up producing a little over a liter of stock – I think using fewer vegetables would have been just as effective and produced more stock.
I’m making 15 Bean Soup with mine, but you could use it for pretty much anything, or just drink it right up. We had more than would fit in the container for the fridge, so Jen and I both had a mug and it was great!
We were invited to a big family Christmas Eve dinner and were supposed to bring an appetizer. We had an antipasto tray ready to go, but that wasn’t experimental enough, so we decided to make a “flight” of fancy butters to go along with the bread we knew would be there. They were a big hit, and really easy to make (it took longer to clean the mixing bowl and the whisk attachment than to make the butter). Here’s what we made:
Sweet Orange Butter – This is amazing. Sweet, very orange-rich, and would be amazing on biscuits, waffles or pancakes.
I think because we had lasagna, this one went the fastest.
1/2 pound of softened butter
3-4 sprigs of thyme
2 sprigs of rosemary
10-12 chive stalks
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Remove the rosemary and thyme leaves from their stalks
Pulse all the herbs in the food process until they’re finely diced but before they turn into pesto.
Throw everything in the mixer
Whisk on low for a minute
Whisk on high for a minute or two until everything is mixed in
Refrigerate to firm it back up.
Sriracha Honey Butter
This one was an experiment, mostly because I love adding Sriracha to things. It turned out really well. I’m not sure what the food science is behind mixing fat and Sriracha together that turns things into deliciousness, but I love it. This ended up with just a tiny bit of heat (kids were eating it and not crying, that’s how little heat there is), but with a great smokey pepper flavor that worked really well with the honey.
1/2 pound of softened butter
2 tablespoons of Sriracha
3 tablespoons of honey
You don’t really need to measure things. I’m guessing as to how much I put in there, but it was basically those proportions – slightly more honey than Sriracha
Throw it all the mixer
Whisk on low for a minute
Whisk on high until everything’s combined.
Refrigerate to firm it back up.
We put them in creme brulee ramekins to serve (1/2 pound of butter ended up filling two ramekins, so you might want to halve the recipes for a smaller party).
I didn’t think making crazy butter would be so easy, or be so well-received. I’m going to have to try some more!
What do you do with your turkey carcass after Thanksgiving? My mom suggested making stock, so that’s what we did! And then I realized that we could turn that stock into ramen broth with just a few more ingredients and with the crock pot, we could do it with a lot less effort than it took to make Momofuku ramen broth (which my son and I took 12 hours to do one day – it was delicious, but a lot of work).
So, here’s my turkey ramen recipe, which turned out way better than I expected and was slurped up in minutes by my family.
We took the turkey carcass, with some leftover meat on it, legs and wings (which no one in my family likes), tore it up and stuffed it disrespectfully into my 6 quart crock pot, then covered it with water. We’d smoked the turkey, so you may get different results if your turkey was roasted, but it’ll still be good.
Crock pot it on low for 18 hours (really).
Strain out the broth. I used a metal colander because I don’t have one of those fancy soup colander things. I just wanted to make sure I caught any bones and big chunks. The great thing about ramen broth is that you don’t have to be as diligent about skimming off fat as you would with a classical stock.
After straining it out, I put the broth back in the crock pot with two packages of mushrooms (one shiitake, one baby bella), a chunk of jowl bacon and two ham hocks and let it go for another 18 hours. You could use bacon ends, a ham bone, just something porky to give it some extra punch. I also added some more water to get it back up to almost the top (I left about an inch between the broth and the top).
With about four hours to go, I added 2-3 tablespoons of soy sauce. It probably doesn’t matter too much when you add this.
I didn’t have any ramen noodles, so I made pad thai noodles, which worked fine.
Plating is pretty easy. In each bowl, I put:
1 poached egg (I poached them in a sauce pan full of water and put the eggs in biscuit cutters to keep them together)
Chopped green onions
Some chopped up leftover turkey
Finely chopped roasted unsalted peanuts.
That’s pretty much it! The broth came out full of strong flavors, which matched well with the light flavors in the bowl.
I don’t think I’ll ever go back to the 12 hour process. This worked really well and should be super flexible.
The only thing I might do differently is to actually make the tare instead of just dumping in soy sauce, since it’s easy to make and super versatile. If I were starting from scratch and had it handy, I might also start with the konbu broth and then pour that over whatever poultry I started with in the crock pot.
If you come up with interesting twists on it, let me know what you do!
I love cold brewed coffee. It’s smoother than regular coffee, and depending on the beans you use, chocolatey too. It’s a great change of pace from a regular cup, and great in the summer. I’ve been playing with my recipe for a while and I figured I’d pop it up here so other people can try it out. First, equipment:
Takeya Tea Maker – It’s a small pitcher with a built-in basket for tea. I just use coffee instead. It makes cleanup and filtering a lot easier.
Good Coffee – This is a must. If you don’t have a local roaster, I’d check out Tonx. But, you probably have a local roaster. Find them. Become friends with them. Get good coffee beans from them.
A grinder that can do a coarse grind. I have a cheap one that works fine. Or, if you’re feeling spendy, you could jump up a couple brackets and get a nice burr grinder. I have a small manual Hario thing I use when I’m serious about the grind, but the blade grinder works for me for now.
If you have the 1 quart pitcher, you should grind enough beans for a 12-cup pot of coffee and put your grinder on the coarsest setting.
Once you have the coffee, put it in the basket, fill the pitcher with filtered water and then close it up and stick it in the fridge. I like mine super rich, so I usually let it steep for a couple days before I take it out. The professionals leave it in for up to a week, but two days is usually enough for me.
I also shake it up a couple times a day to stir things up and mix the grounds up a little. It’s probably just a placebo thing, but I think it makes better coffee to agitate it a bit.
After you’ve let it steep in the fridge, it’s time to filter it. The basket’s going to catch most of the grounds, but you’ll have some sludge in there that’s good to filter out. I pour mine through my drip coffee machine filter and that takes out 95% of the sludge. I have friends who use a french press for their cold brew, which works really well because you get to skip the filtering step, but I don’t yet have a large enough french press to make that work.
There you have it, my recipe for cold brew. What’s your recipe?
I used to have access to a lovely espresso machine, which which we made many iced lattes. Now that I work from home, reproducing the silky luxury of those iced lattes has been a little difficult. Until now. I use an Aeropress for almost all of my coffee needs and have finally figured out how to make a solid iced latte:
Put the Aeropress plunger on the 3 line of the aeropress. You don’t want too much coffee or you’ll never get it cold. Plus, you want it to be strong.
1 scoop of finely ground coffee (if you can’t do fine ground, that’s OK) in the aeropress
Pour almost boiling water over the grounds, stir, then set your timer for 4 minutes.
Fill your cocktail shaker with four ice cubes, sugar and milk or half and half to taste (I’d guess no more than 1/3 cup of liquid).
When the timer goes off, press the coffee into the cocktail shaker, shake the hell out of it and pour.
It’s simple and makes a really good iced latte. And remember, the better your beans, the better your cup (I get all my coffee from Cup to Cup).
There was a crazy sale on whole pork tenderloins at the grocery store, so Jen stocked up. We’ve cooked two so far, and I think we have at least four more in the freezer. Tonight’s pork-speriment was to make kabobs out of them… and they were so good, I have to share. Since Brian likes squirting the lemon juice bottle, there had to be citrus involved, and I like things a little spicy, so there was a bit of Cajun seasoning. Here’s what I did.\
* 1 sweet onion (I should have used 2 – I ran out about half-way through assembling everything)
* 2 green bell peppers
* 1 bag tiny “dutch butter” potatoes
* 1 pork tenderloin
* 5 lemons
* 5 limes
* 1 small package of baby portobello mushrooms
* 1 small package of white mushrooms
* 1 pork tenderloin cut up into a billion approximately half-inch cubes (no smaller than that, some of them were much larger – it’s a lot of work, so do what you can – larger than a sugar cube, smaller than a Rubik’s cube).
* salt, pepper, and cajun spices
* 1 quarter cup of olive oil
* 1 quarter cup lemon juice
* 1 quarter cup lime juice
* 1 big ass ziploc bag\
Quarter the lemon and lime and put it into the ziploc bag
Combine the lemon and lime juice, salt, pepper, cajun spices, pork cubes and olive oil in the ziploc bag with the lemon and lime wedges and mush them around until they’re all well mixed and looking evenly covered. Seal the bag well and put it in the fridge for a couple hours (I left mine in for 2 hour – just enough time to watch Mythbusters with Brian and then chop up the veggies). I know it sounds like a lot of citrus, but a whole pork tenderloin is a lot of meat.
Chop up the onions and green peppers into kabob-appropriate sizes (if the green peppers and onions pieces are too small they’ll split when you try to put them on the skewers).
Clean both packages of mushrooms and cut off the end of the stems (leave the bit in the middle – I cut the protruding stem bit to make more room on the skewer).
Before you’re ready to start assembling everything, boil the little potatoes for fifteen minutes.
Now, assemble your skewers. I usually start with some order to things, but get bored or run out of an ingredient halfway through and start assembling franken-skewers. I ended up with one at the end that was just pork and lemon and lime slices (but, damn was it good), and a couple that were just pork and potatoes.
Grill ’em. Mine took about 20 minutes total.
I’d never used potatoes on kabobs before, but they were great. They got a little charred on the outside, but were perfectly done on the inside. The best part was that they really picked up the flavor of whatever was next to them on the skewer. The second best part was not having to make rice or anything else because you had almost all the food groups (except bacon and peanut butter) on a single kabob. The only problem with all the veggies is that sometimes you didn’t get quite enough meat on a kabob… but that was a good excuse to eat more, and I guess we ate more veggies that way.\
I think we ended up with a good 20 kabobs, including the weird ones at the end. We have plenty of leftovers for tomorrow night… but you can’t have them. They’re too good. That’s why I’m giving you the recipe so you can go make your own.
Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant – I don’t know how many stars L’Hermitage du Riou has, but I’ve eaten there at least 8 times so I’m counting that.
Kobe beef – At the Microsoft cafeteria in Mountain View during a CSS Working Group meeting as a hamburger. One of the best burgers I’ve ever had.
Hare – At L’Hermitage du Riou – baby hare wrapped in bacon – the best meal I’ve ever had.
Flowers – My brother and I ate dandelions once, and I know I’ve had edible flowers before.
Soft shell crab – But not anymore… sigh
Catfish – All over the South, fried in filets, on a sandwich, as nuggets. You name it, I’ve had it.
Bagel and lox
Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
Of the hundred, there are a few I won’t do because they involve smoking or drinking, but I’ve tried 59 of the hundred, which isn’t too bad.\
Things I’d add to the list:
Ankimo – Monkfish liver, introduced by Alex Mogilevsky at a CSS Working Group dinner at my favorite sushi restaurant, Satsuma, in Mountain View. When it’s good, it tastes a lot like foie gras. Ask for it at your favorite sushi place. It’s rarely on the menu, even if they have it!
In case you didn’t know, chocolate chip cookies are yummy. Max and I made a double batch while Brian was pretending to take a nap (he serenaded us over the baby monitor with babble-singing, then whining, then crying). They turned out really well. The keys?
Use the Toll House recipe
Mix the sugar and brown sugar before adding the butter and then break up any clumps before adding the butter.
The butter should be about half softened / half melted
Use about a half a teaspoon more vanilla than it calls for
Use about half a cup more chocolate chips than you should
Use half semi-sweet toll house chips, half Ghiradelli bittersweet.
Cook them about a minute less than you think they need. There’s nothing better than a gooey chocolate chip cookie.