Thursday, December 25, 2008

Banana ice cream topping

This one was completely off the cuff. Some bananas browned in butter, tossed with sugar, rum and vanilla extract. Turned out pretty decent, but I think next time I'll use higher heat to begin with, because the bananas got kind of mushy. And honestly, who likes a mushy banana?

Cream puffs

My mom's favorite dessert, prepared with some help from my top-pastry-chef friends.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Yes, I made this.

Be very, very jealous.

Potato, SMASH!

Smashed potatoes are a beautifully easy thing. Cream cheese, milk, red potatoes, scallions. Amazing.

Sausage and pepper pasta

Grab bag of peppers from Reading Terminal Market: $1
1lb sausage (from a bigger 5lb package): $0.89
Whole wheat pasta: $1.50
Onion: $0.25
Garlic: $0.05
Meals for the next 3 days: Priceless


Fried noodles! These packages of Yakisoba are sold with 3 bundles of noodles and sauce packets for about $4. Get the fresh refrigerated ones, not the ramen-style instant ones.

Saute meat - remove.

Saute veg.

Add noodles.

Stir in the sauce packet. Yum!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


This was for a healthy eating project for the free pediatric clinic at Cooper. The empire apples were generously donated by a friend, Tom, whose family owns a fruit and veggie farm in South Jersey.

Applesauce is ridiculously easy to make. The hardest part is peeling and chopping the apples (30 apples later and my left hand started to cramp).

The rest of the work is done by mother nature, as the apples don't need much dressing up other than some lemon juice, salt, and cinnamon. Let it simmer with a couple splashes of water for 30 minutes. Add a couple spoonfuls of brown sugar if the apples are too sour.

I made two versions, one with sugar and one without. Both were great, but the one with sugar was more like pie-filling (not complaining).

Shanghai bok choy (or any stir fried veggie)

Shanghai bok choy probably isn't really bok choy at all, but it's small leafy vegetable that is best served with a light sauce. My sauce consists of only 4 ingredients:

-Chicken stock
-Corn Starch

Mix the last three together in a bowl. Bless the oil (i.e. throw the garlic into the hot oil for 10 seconds), sautee veggies in a wok for about 2 minutes until mildly wilted. Throw the sauce in, cover for 2 minutes. Uncover for 1 minute to let the sauce thicken. The veggies let off a surprising amount of water, so go easy on the volume of the sauce to avoid a watery puddle of veggies.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The ultimate italian hoagie: Primo Hoagies

I am fortunate enough to live a few doors down from Primo Hoagies, objectively the top sandwich place in Philly (though I haven't tried Sarcones). However, the place is only open for lunch, and I'm almost never around during the day. Luckily, I got a chance this saturday to test it out.

My first experience with an Italian sandwich was from Marzullo Brothers in Montclair, NJ, who sold a ridiculous amount of homemade foods, including my alltime favorite: fresh mozz.

Primos is a weird place. It's really bare looking, all white with just a big menu up front. Like the cheesesteak places, there is no real line, just two registers and a dude in an apron who looks like he's wasted away his youth taking sandwich orders.

I got the Old Italian, which, unlike a regular Italian hoagie, has dry-cured capacola and sharp provolone. $7 bucks, about a foot long, with oil, vinegar, peppers and lettuce.

The sandwich was actually much larger than I expected. It honestly had a substantial heft when the guy handed it to me, like when someone hands you a bowl of something and it turns out the bowl is full of pennies or something (good analogy, brad).

Anyway, long story short, I have never enjoyed a sandwich as much as this one. The ingredients were fresh sliced to a perfect thickness (the capacola was thin, but the provolone and proscuitto were thick, which somehow makes sense). The bun was a little warm, perfectly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, unlike the sweet doughy mess that Subway serves. It was a beautiful thing. I might make this a Saturday tradition.

Breaking Bread

So bread is my new challenge. This is something you can't just throw together, like most of my meals. I've tried the super basic no knead recipe made famous by the NYT and Sullivan Street Bakery, and it turned out well, just not perfect. This most recent recipe is a new and improved version with some added beer and vinegar, as well as less water so the dough is more manageable.

Let's start with the ingredients: flour, water, beer, salt, rice vinegar, and yeast.

Mix it up, let it rise overnight with plastic wrap on top. Then knead it 15 times and proof for a few hours.

I tried to double the recipe, and that's where it went horribly wrong.

The rectangular loaf actually puffed up much nicer and had a more regular crumb, but the round one was too damn flat. I think my dutch oven is too big.

So lesson learned: either use a smaller vessel (forget preheating it, you're just wasting energy) or use more dough. At least it tasted good.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Catch up: Risotto, Salmon, Peanut noodles, Eggy salad

Alright, life has gotten in the way of this blog. I will give you a quick highlight reel of my last month of eats:

Mushroom risotto:With a little help from chef Kim I whipped up a hearty favorite, shiitake and cremini veggie risotto. Steps include sauteeing mushrooms, simmering sliced leeks in half and half, heating veggie broth, sweating onions, and toasting short grain rice. The key to risotto is to add liquid to the rice slowly, only after the previous batch of liquid is absorbed. The pan should be hot enough so the broth you add sizzles and bubbles, and quickly gets absorbed into the rice. Then add in all of the prepped ingredients, including good parm and sliced scallions.

Slow cooked salmon:
This is a really easy way to do salmon, in a 250 degree oven with olive oil, salt, pepper. 20 minutes in the oven (target temp 115 degrees). Top it as you like. I like lemon, cilantro, capers, and more olive oil.

Peanut sesame noodles:
A summer favorite, stolen from . I use less noodles than they say, but the same amount of sauce (their version is too dry and bland). Forego the chicken if you'd like, as these noodles are great for lunch. Use crunchy peanut butter or add crushed peanuts.

Eggy salad:

Basic rocket salad with olive oil and lemon dressing. Added some nice tomatoes, red peppers and sweet red onion, plus an over-medium egg on top.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Eggplant x 2

Apparently eggplant is in season, and thus cheap and delicious. I like the long chinese eggplants, which generally have lighter skin and a more sweet flavor. Here are two things I did with eggplants in one night.

The first thing to keep in mind with eggplant is to cook it slowly. You can't grill/fry/saute it normally, because it's just too dense and watery. Imagine grilling a cucumber. Soggy mess, right?

I like roasting. Easy, no mess, and you can do lots with it. 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes and you're done. Roast longer for a softer, mellower flavor.

The first dish is stir fried eggplant with tofu. Follow the basic stir fry mantra: garlic/ginger, meat, veggies, sauce. The sauce is pretty basic stir fry (oyster, soy, wine, vinegar, corn starch, stock), but this should be sweeter and spicier than normal, so add sugar and chili.

As a side dish I made some sookjoo namul (korean bean sprout salad).

The second dish was baba ganoush, which used the other two eggplants. All it takes is tahini, olive oil, garlic, parsley and lemon juice. Mince the peeled eggplant into all the other stuff and season. Makes a good dipping sauce for snacking. (Sorry, I forgot to take pictures of this)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Sausage pasta

This is my first post from my new apartment in Philadelphia. New kitchen, same toys, and this is one of my go-to recipes.

So this is your basic tomato sauce. Brown meat, sweat onions, add garlic, deglaze, add tomatoes, mushrooms and simmer. Bam. Dinner and lunch for a few days with no hassle.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

DIY Recipe: Chili

If you look for a Chili recipe online, you're going to come up with about 1 million variations on what people claim to be the "Best Chili EVER". Nobody provides you with a structure that you can modify to your own liking. Here is a new segment known as DIY Recipe, kind of like choose your own adventure:
  1. Meat. In batches in a large pot, season and brown 2-4 lbs of:
    1. Ground beef
    2. Veal
    3. Stew beef (Top round, bottom round, chuck)
    4. Pork
    5. Sausage (try not to use too much. no need to season)
  2. Remove meat when just browned.
  3. Aromatic Veggies. Add some oil and add some garlic along with 2 cups of:
    1. Onions/Shallots
    2. Celery
    3. Carrots
    4. Bell pepper
  4. Deglaze with:
    1. 1 bottle of beer
    2. 1/2 cup of wine
    3. 1/4 cup of vodka
  5. Extra veggies. Add in 2-4 cups of:
    1. Red beans
    2. Corn
    3. Bacon (seriously, it's a veggie to some people)
    4. Chopped tomatoes (or canned, or tomato sauce)
  6. Thicken. 2 tablespoons of:
    1. Corn meal
    2. Corn flour
    3. All purpose flour
    4. 2 cups crushed tortilla chips
  7. Add back the meat
  8. Season with any combination of:
    1. Chili powder
    2. Garlic powder
    3. Onion powder
    4. Cumin
    5. Oregano
    6. Black pepper
    7. Canned chilies
    8. Chocolate or cacao (unsweetened)
  9. Thin to your desired consistency:
    1. Water
    2. Chicken broth
    3. Veggie broth
  10. Simmer for:
    1. 1 hour
    2. 4 hours
    3. 12 hours
    4. 4 hours the day before, store in fridge, then resimmer for 1 hour prior to serving
  11. Serve with:
    1. Tortilla Chips
    2. Shredded cheddar
    3. Sour cream
    4. Sliced scallions
    5. Cilantro
    6. Cornbread
I used top round, onions, celery, wine, red beans, tomato sauce, corn meal, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, cumin, black pepper, a touch of water, simmered for 4 hours and served with shredded cheddar and jack with some multigrain tortilla chips.

Fish with black beans

Black bean sauce is a pretty easy way to dress up Chinese food. Fish is tough to stir fry. Add these together and you have a dish that is of moderate difficulty.
  1. Coat the fish in cornstarch, rice wine, and oil (I left this out and it stuck horribly)
  2. Stir fry some garlic and broccoli. Remove.
  3. Get a good crust on the fish (use a bit more oil and just drain it to make it less greasy)
  4. Add back veggies. Throw in the black beans and a good amount of thickening fluid (i.e. corn starch and broth)
  5. Garnish with scallions or cilantro

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Home fries

I freaking love home fries. Hash browns are good too, but home fries are typically seasoned much better. I hate it at diners when they only give you the toast option. No, maam, I don't want toast, I want home fries. And both home fries and toast? Just give me double home fries.
  1. The key is to precook the diced potatoes, because they won't cook through correctly while frying (you're not deep frying these suckers). Give em 5 minutes covered in the microwave with a pad of butter
  2. Spread them out in a single layer on a hot cast iron skillet.
  3. Walk away for 5 minutes. Read the paper. Empty the dishwasher. Contemplate your being. Just don't futz with these for a good 5 minutes.
  4. Turn the potatoes and try your hardest to get an unexposed side onto the pan. At this point you can add finely minced onion. Season well with S&P and any herbs you like.
  5. Walk away for another 5 minutes.
  6. Test out the potatoes. They should be a bit dried out on the outside and crispy, but still puffy and nice on the inside. If not, season, turn one more time, walk away for a few minutes.
  7. These go well with any egg/meat combo. I like to fry my eggs in the skillet with all those flavors remaining.