Thursday, August 3, 2017

Freezer Adventures: Roasted Duck Red Curry

Confession: It's possible that I'm a bit of a food-hoarder.  I could tell you a sad story about the time in my life that I blame for this tendency, but it's really not that interesting or important.  The important thing is that I am the kind of person who winds up with a duck, 3 Magret duck breasts, and 4 duck leg quarters in my freezer for longer than is remotely necessary.  Half of that duck is going to turn into something Trinidadian soon. (Actually soon.  I promise.) The rest turned into one of my favorite foods: Roast Duck Red Curry...

How (Not) To Cook For One - Prosciutto, Cremini, and Pea Tortellini

I've been making an effort lately to make small batches of amazing food when I have a craving...  Not filling up the freezer and/or forcing myself to eat the same meal (no matter how delicious) 8 times in a row... I think of it as "cooking for one," but I'm really bad at it...  Here's how it happens.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Slow Roasted Tomatoes (And a Pasta to Use Them In)

For assorted not-particularly-interesting reasons, I've been finding myself with an excess of tomatoes these days.  Roasting (followed by freezing) has always been my go-to method for using up extra tomatoes, but recently I've discovered the beauty of super-duper-slow roasting them.  Behold:

Friday, January 8, 2016

Favorite Kitchen Tools: Batter Dispenser

My house smells like chicken stock right now.  Scratch that...  My house smells like ridiculously awesome chicken stock right now.  Perhaps my very favorite miracle of cooking is homemade stock.  I am a woman who buys more than her fair share of bulk-store rotisserie chicken. (It's juicy, perfectly cooked, and $5/bird every time.  I can't justify the time or money to buy a chicken and then do what it takes to make it that delicious when having it done for me is $5...)  This means that, at least a couple times each month, I have some lovely chicken carcasses with which to make stock.  I pull the meat off a couple carcasses, vacuum-seal breasts in one bag and dark meat in another (either to freeze or to re-therm later via sous vide).  Everything else goes in the pot.  A bundle of carrots. A bundle of celery. A red and a white onion. Bay leaves and parsley. Large handful of black peppercorns.  Fill a 20-quart stockpot with all of that and then cold water to reach 1" below the rim, simmer for 24-36 hours, and everything you make that calls for chicken stock suddenly has depth of flavor.  (It's kind of like the difference between sautéing in schmaltz vs. in oil.  If you know what I'm talking about, then... yeah.)

It was Michael Ruhlman who first made me realize how important this is (and I've mentioned it here before).  To quote, "I cannot say this strongly or loudly enough: DO NOT use canned stock/broth.  Use WATER instead.  I repeat.  You DO NOT NEED to buy that crappy can of Swanson’s low sodium chicken broth!  It will HURT your food.  Use water instead.  When that recipe says 1 cup of fresh chicken stock (or good quality canned broth), please know that your food, 90 percent of the time, will taste better if you use tap water instead of that "good quality" canned broth.  Water is a miracle."   

I suppose the secret hero of this post is actually the Pressure Canner (and, by non-trivial extension, my mother, who operates the pressure canner for me 99 times out of 100), which allows me to store my crazy-awesome homemade stock without a sacrifice of freezer space... But the hero I would like to acknowledge is the lowly Batter Dispenser. I originally owned one so that my boyfriend could make me pancakes, but it turns out it's actually the world's greatest fat separator...  The clean stock pours out the bottom, and you release the handle before the fat flows through.  Add more stock, the fat moves back to the top...  

What I've come to really love about homemade stock is all the ways it enriches things.  Buying the chickens gives me time off in the kitchen (since delicious protein ready to be flavored as you wish and used in any number of dishes makes for lots of easy meals).  It gives me 5-10 quarts (depending on how concentrated I make it) of kick-ass chicken stock to cook with.  It also, amazingly, makes dog food.  (It turns out the meat left on the carcasses (once picked) combines with the overcooked veggies from the stock, fresh rice, and some homemade chicken stock to give my toothless dog the greatest mealtime experience ever...)

This is the type of thing I like to think about these days.  I try (successfully or not) to minimize talk of my physical limitations when I write things here, but those limitations are typically the most screamingly relevant factor in every moment of my life.  It's been great to think about things I can do for (essentially) free and in less than 10 minutes of hands-on time that can also make every meal I cook taste just a little more nuanced and give my food that je ne sais quoi feeling that the person who cooked it for you loves you.

Friday, May 22, 2015

One-Pot Roasted Chicken with Potatoes and Sun-dried Tomato Cream

I saw this recipe at Damn Delicious and recognized right away that it sounded like "our flavors." After a few tweaks based on ingredients lying around my kitchen (and on my unwillingness to measure ingredients), this simple dish wowed us and entered the ranks of household staples... 

Extra-Meaty Ragú Napoletano

Every now and then, we get a craving for some old-school, rustic, meaty tomato sauce with pasta.  I've tried my hand at a couple different versions of bolognese, but there was always something missing. This meat sauce, on the other hand, is basically perfection, and I'm psyched to have 3 quarts more of it waiting for me in the freezer to satisfy our next craving...

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Everyday Yumminess: "Holy Crap" Shrimp & Grits

Mothers' Day was this past weekend, and we thought making my mom brunch at home made a lot more sense than waiting in super-long lines at any of our favorite brunch spots in town.  Shrimp & Grits came to mind right away, which led us on a recipe search when we realized we had no idea how we'd made this dish last time.  I found a recipe at (of all places) that (with a couple minor changes) turned out to be pretty darned spectacular, and when all was said and done we found ourselves sitting down to one of the most awesomely delicious meals we've cooked in recent memory, leading me to exclaim several times during brunch "Holy crap!  This is AMAZING!"

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Everyday Yumminess: Double-Cut Pork Chops with Rustic Polenta and Chanterelle Cream

One of my deep-seated (and largely irrational) kitchen fears is cooking bone-in meat for guests.  I trust myself when I'm cooking for just me, and I'm starting to get there cooking for me and Devin, but I hate over-cooked meat as much as I dread seeing a guest cut into their pork or chicken only to find it under-cooked at the bone.  I realized the other day that this is pretty much the entire reason I got in the habit of cooking pork tenderloin rather and boneless chops rather than bone-in pork chops (and it is an irrelevant fear now because sous vide allows me to cheat on final internal temperature).  After cooking this meal, I see that it's a crying shame I left this ingredient out of my repertoire for so many years.  The inspiration was a couple gorgeous double-cut Carlton Farms pork chops that found their way home with us from Laurelhurst Market.  The result was one of the best simple meals we've sat down to in a long time...

Random Pet Post: A New Member of the Household

Ever since deciding to try my hand at posting here again, I've been struggling to actually sit down and do it.  I could blame any number of things, but the most adorable excuse I have is that it's hard to type with this little sweetheart lounging on my lap...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Everyday Yumminess: Perfect Sous Vide Mayo

Hello, there.  It's been a while since I've posted here.  I've still been having fun in the kitchen, but things have changed such that I now have a partner-in-crime who distracts me from taking pictures and noting changes I make to recipes...  I've been more about enjoying the cooking than documenting the cooking, which anyone who loves cooking knows isn't a bad thing... Anyway, this is something I came across a few months back in Modernist Cuisine at Home that totally rocked my world: Modernist Mayo.  It's rich, decadent, bullet-proof (emulsion-wise), and actually easy...  Things start with 75g of egg yolks (5 or so...).
Those are vacuum-sealed and cooked sous vide for 35 minutes at 67°C.  (Reading the recipe now, I was apparently supposed to blend them first, but in 5 times making this I've never done that and it's always turned out perfectly, so...) The yolks get all smushified, anyway, when you vacuum seal them, and come out pretty well mixed anyway...
Meanwhile, you'll stir together some (45g) water and Dijon (25g) in a mixing container.  When the yolks are ready, you immersion-blend them to smoothness, then start drizzling in about 300g of neutral oil in (while running your immersion blender.
I made this little immersion-blending-lid after one too many experiences making traditional mayo, when it ended up sprayed halfway across my kitchen...  It turns out this lid is completely superfluous with Modernist Mayo, given the thick texture... When the oil has been emulsified, you can season to taste (I like a little lemon juice and salt), and you have on your hands a batch of perfect mayo...
(This also happens to be the perfect base for Fry Sauce and Sriracha Mayo... but we'll talk abou that later...)  Back soon with more yumminess...