Fish Fillets Braised in Red Wine, Bacon, and Mushrooms

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WHOA THERE, FANCY BOY!!  DON’T GO THROWING ALL THOSE FRENCH WORDS AT US!  WHAT’S THIS BRAISED THING??

It’s just a cooking techn…

IS THAT FRENCH FOR POOP??  YOU’RE COOKING POOP AGAIN!!!

Good lord, there is no poop involved!

Braising is just cooking meat in liquid that only partially covers it.

OH!  SO LIKE BUGS BUNNY IN THE HOT TUB??

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Ummm…sure, exactly.

You usually do this with big fatty hunks of beef – and we will do that at some point, because it is fucking amazing.  And while fish doesn’t have the same amount of fat in it, braising it is still…

This is not a long braise, like you would do with a brisket, so you do need to stay on top of it and not stray too far.  I cooked it with cod fillets, but you could do it with salmon, or any other firm fleshed fish.

Also, the recipe calls for you to strain the braising liquid.  The dish will not be ruined if you decide not to – I didn’t because I am lazy, and it tasted perfectly good, and the vegetables don’t get cooked enough to get seriously mushy.

 

Fish Fillets Braised in Red Wine, Bacon, and Mushrooms

Serves 4

 

From All About Braising

Ingredients

 

4 fish fillets, about 1-1 1/2 inches thick

1/4 pound mushrooms, any variety, stemmed and coarsely chopped

5 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 leek, washed and finely diced

1 carrot, peeled and finely diced

1 shallot, peeled and finely diced

2 cups red wine

3 sprigs thyme

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Directions

 

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Add half the bacon to a large cold sauté pan.  Turn the heat to medium, and cook until the bacon has rendered most of its fat and is just starting to brown, about 8-10 minutes.  Add the leek, carrot, and shallot to the pan.  Season with salt and pepper, and sauté, stirring regularly, until the vegetables begin to brown, about 8 minutes.  Add 1 cup of the wine and the thyme sprigs.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the wine has reduced by half, about 10 minutes.  Add the remaining wine and simmer for another 5 minutes.

While the mixture is simmering, cook the remaining bacon in a separate skillet over medium high heat, until crisp.  Remove the bacon and place on paper towels to drain fat.  Add 1 tablespoon of butter to the skillet , then add the mushrooms, and season with salt and pepper.  Cook the mushrooms until browned, then remove to a separate plate.

When the braising liquid is ready, slide the fish fillets into the pan.  Cover the pan and place it in the oven until the fish is cooked, about 15-18 minutes.  Remove the pan from the oven and remove the fish to a separate plate.

Strain the braising liquid into the skillet, pushing on the vegetables to get everything out of them.  Bring the liquid to a fast simmer over high heat, then bring it back down to a gentle simmer.  Add the remaining butter and parsley, and season with salt and pepper as needed.  Add the bacon and mushrooms to the mixture.

Plate the fish fillets, and serve with the braising liquid on top.

Baked Chicken and Kasha with Bowtie Noodles, because you have to eat, my little poopula

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POOPULA?!?!  ARE YOU COOKING POOP??  WHAT THE FUCK??

Relax, there’s no poop involved, these are just old family dishes.  My great-grandmother used to call all of the kids her little poopulas, so there you go.  No poop.

WOW, THAT MUST HAVE BEEN WEIRD TO BE CALLED POOP!!

It’s not poo…yeah it was funny, we all looked at each other and tried to keep from laughing out loud about grandma Bessie saying poop.

THAT EXPLAINS A LOT!

Shut up.

 

WHATEVER POOPFACE.  SO WHAT’RE WE COOKING TODAY?

Oh, so you noticed poop in the title, but you didn’t see what the dish is…Jesus…it’s baked chicken and kasha with bowtie noodles.

KASHA??  WHAT THE FUCK…IS THIS THAT ANCIENT GRAIN SHIT THEY TALK ABOUT ON THOSE DAMNED COOKING SHOWS?  ARE YOU GOING HIPPIE ON ME??

Ancient grains is just marketing bullshit for stuff that people already ate anyways.  But, yeah, kasha is a type of buckwheat, and buckwheat is considered an ancient grain, so…

KASHA IS BUCKWHEAT??  WHO HARVESTS IT, JOHN DAVID STUTTS??

That’s…damn, that’s good.

I KNOW.

So where were we.  Oh, yeah, family dishes.  The kasha is an old Jewish dish, it’s very comforting.  The kasha gets sautéed so it tastes nutty but still has some bite to it.  And the caramelized onions add a soft sweetness to the dish, and the bow tie noodles are just fun to eat.

BOWTIE NOODLES, HA!  DID YOU MAKE THOSE ON #BOWTIETUESDAY?

[sigh] Actually, I did.

NICE JOB, DORK!  SO CARAMELIZED ONIONS, HOW DOES THAT WORK?

It takes a ton of patience.  You have to cook them on low heat for a long time, mine took about an hour to cook down.

I DON’T KNOW IF I CAN DO THAT, I CAN’T FOCUS ON ANYTHING FOR MORE THAN 3 MINUTES.

Suck it up, it’s worth it.  And you really don’t have to do much else for this dish.  The chicken is super simple, you just throw sliced onions on top of chicken breasts, cut a stick of butter into the pan, and baste it as you bake.  The kasha, it cooks pretty easily as well, you just have to boil the noodles separately.

THAT’S A LOT OF MULTI-TASKING.  I ONCE BROKE A POT WHILE BOILING WATER.

I give up.

 

Baked Chicken with Onions, and Kasha with Bowtie Noodles

Serves 8

Chicken recipe courtesy of my mom

Kasha recipe courtesy of Epicurious

Ingredients

 

FOR THE CHICKEN:

4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts

Salt and pepper

2 large white onions, sliced medium (not too thin, or they will burn)

1 stick butter, cut into tablespoon sized pieces

FOR THE KASHA:

2 tablespoons butter

2 large white onions, sliced medium

1 beaten egg

1 cup kasha

2 cups chicken broth

1/2 pound bow tie shaped noodles

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Directions

 

FOR THE CHICKEN:

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts in a large roasting pan.  Season very well with salt and pepper.  Scatter the onion slices over the chicken, and place the butter pieces on top of the chicken.

Place the roasting pan in the oven and roast for 1 hour, basting the chicken with the melted butter and juices every 15 minutes.

Increase the heat to 400 degrees F, and continue basting every 15 minutes until the onions and chicken skin reach desired doneness, about another 30-45 minutes.

FOR THE KASHA:

In a large frying pan, heat the butter over medium-low heat.  Add the onions, reduce the heat to low, and cover.  Cook the onions, stirring regularly to make sure the onions don’t stick, until very soft and golden, about 40-50 minutes.  Keep the heat low, if they’re sizzling then it’s too high.  Your patience will be rewarded.

When done, remove the onions and place on a plate.

While this is happening, fill a stockpot with water, and bring to a boil

In a small bowl, combine the egg and kasha to completely coat the grains.  Increase the heat to medium-high, and add the kasha to the pan and sauté until the grains separate and brown, about 2-3 minutes.

Add the chicken broth and onions to the pan, and season with salt and pepper.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer the kasha, and cover the pan.  Cook until the grains are tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 10-12 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the bowtie noodles according to the package instructions.  Drain when finished cooking.

Once the kasha is cooked, add the noodles to the pan.  Combine, season with salt and pepper, and serve.

Christmas dinner, because tally ho my old chap let’s have a jolly good roast dinner

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This is my first Christmas season with my lady.  This is the 44th year that I have been Jewish, and have done nothing to celebrate Christmas other than watching A Christmas Story.

Even though neither one of us is religious, I thought it would be nice to make a Christmas dinner.  And since Kroger was practically creating cows on demand to slaughter for rib roasts, I figured that would be an excellent dinner for us.

At least I did until I got up to the cashier.  And then I realized that the roast I was about to purchase was $71, and not $17.  I don’t know where I got the idea that rib roasts went for $2/pound, even with my shopper card that lets me get six 12 packs of Coke in exchange for my entire purchase history so they know whether I buy prefer the generic or brand version of Preparation-H oh I just said too much.

So I went back to the lying priced rib roast bin, and found a ribeye roast that was an actual $17 piece of meat, which is a plenty reasonable substitute for prime rib that will say whatever you want to trick you into buying it.

I decided to make some mushrooms as a side, because that’s just what we do here.  And I tried to make Yorkshire pudding as the other side, which I have never made or eaten.

Why did I decide that Yorkshire pudding would be an appropriate Christmas side dish?  Fuck, I don’t know, it just sounds like something people would have at a Christmas dinner.

“My dear Poopsie, could you pass me the Yorkshire pudding, it looks divine!  Such a shame about cousin Blaine, getting disqualified from the crew finals at Brighton Town is going to destroy his chances of getting into Stratford-on-Stratfordshire University.  Why don’t we go down for a few chuckers at polo grounds after dinner and take his mind off of it?”

(I have no idea why my vision of the typical Christmas dinner is some douchy British or old-money New England family, just go with it.)

I was kind of disappointed to find out that Yorkshire pudding is just eggs, flour, and whole milk – or, as the rest of the world calls them, popovers.  You’re supposed to cook them with beef drippings, but I didn’t have any of that.  I did, however, have bacon fat, which I would say is far better.

The best part of making this dish was putting a teaspoon of bacon fat into each muffin tin, and having my lady look at them and say “what the fuck is that??”, and seeing the look on her face when she found out that all of that was going to be frying her side dish.

Anyways, no one gives a shit about the poser popovers when you have a 3 pound piece of beef cooking.  After 30 minutes I took it out to take its temperature, and got all sorts of crazy readings – like 140, 150 degrees.  I panicked – as I am wont to do – until I was able to find one around 110.  I put it back in, and went through the same thing 10 minutes later, and was worried that I just ruined a perfectly good ribeye and our Christmas and every Christmas after.

After having faith and letting it roast 10 more minutes, and then waiting an agonizing 10 more minutes to cut it, I ended up with this:

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Not to brag, but I have to brag, that looked pretty fucking awesome!  And it tastes fantastic, so humblebrag.  Is that how a humblebrag works?  Look at me, I’m so humble I don’t even know how to humblebrag.

The yorkshire pudding, it might be the most British food that Britain ever Britained.  I cobbled something together (ha, cobbled, British!) from a series of recipes I found, and most called for 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  You would need 1/2 cup to make these bland posers flavorful.  And they came out kind of dense, which was not what I had expected, but since I kind of made up my own, I can only blame myself.

(Incidentally, there is a recipe out there that allegedly was Alfred Hitchcock’s.  I’m sure he shows up every time someone uses it.  Actually, I’m going to blame my popover failure on M. Night Shyamalan.)

The mushrooms were pretty great too, and probably would be in most meals, but again…beef…

CAN I MAKE A MESS WITH THIS RECIPE?

You’re going to have to make a batter for the uppity muffins, which gets a bit sloppy, and searing the meat is going to cause some grease splatters, so I would say yes.

SIGN ME UP, LET’S GO!!

 

Rib Eye Roast, Yorkshire Pudding, and Mushrooms in Garlic Sauce

Mushrooms adapted from NY Times Cooking

Ingredients

 

RIBEYE ROAST

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 3 pound bone-in ribeye roast

Salt and pepper

YORKSHIRE PUDDING

1/4 cup of beef drippings, bacon fat, melted butter, or your favorite fat

1 egg

1 cup flour

1 cup whole milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

MUSHROOMS IN GARLIC SAUCE

1 pound mushrooms, stemmed, cleaned, and sliced in half

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon canola oil

6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1/3 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (don’t use the stuff from the green bottle, this is way too good to ruin with jarred old juice)

Directions

 

RIBEYE ROAST

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Season the roast liberally with salt and pepper, and sear on each side until browned, about 4-5 minutes per side.  Make sure you get the edges too.

Line a sheet pan with foil, and place the roast on the pan.  Put the pan in the oven and cook the roast until an instant-read thermometer reads 130 degrees F in the center of the roast.

Remove the roast from the oven and place on a cutting board.  Let it rest for 10 minutes before carving.

YORKSHIRE PUDDING

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, flour, milk, and salt together.  Refrigerate the batter and let it rest for 30 minutes.

Add a teaspoon of fat to each tin in a 12 tin muffin pan.  Place the pan in the oven for 5 minutes, to melt the fat and let it heat up.  Remove the pan from the oven.

Fill each cup about halfway (about 2-3 tablespoons per cup).  Put the pan back in the oven for 10 minutes.

Remove pan from oven, and take puddings out of the tins and serve.

MUSHROOMS IN GARLIC SAUCE

Toss the mushrooms with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Add the canola oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat.  Add the mushrooms and let them sit until browned on one side (you may have to do this in two batches, depending on the size of the skillet).

Add the garlic and sauté for a minute or two, until they just start to brown.

Pour in the wine, and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook until the mushrooms are well glazed.  Remove from the heat, add the parsley and lemon juice, and serve.

Hot and Sour Soup: so good you’ll want to bathe in it, but will much prefer to eat it instead

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Hot and sour soup is one of my favorite things to eat in this world.  There’s something about the combination of vinegar and chili peppers, and the soft texture of the egg and tofu, and the crack/MSG they slip into it, that makes me extremely happy.

I also believe that it has magical healing powers.  Whenever I’m sick, it makes me feel at least 50% better.  Many years ago, I had a debilitating case of strep throat.  Like, I came home from the doctor (after picking up an order of hot and sour soup) and almost passed out.  It was actually pretty scary.

Then I had my hot and sour soup, and a half hour later I was as good as new!

(Also, I took a Zithromax right before I had the soup.  I don’t give that any credit for healing me.  As my ENT once said, any self-respecting bacteria can find a way around Zithromax.)

I like dishes that are straight-forward, and you don’t have to ask a lot of questions about what it’s like.  Who am I kidding, I waited tables for three years, of course people will ask what it’s like.

CUSTOMER: This hot and sour soup sounds interesting, but I don’t like spicy things.  Is it spicy?

SERVER: Yes, that’s the hot part of the hot and sour soup.

CUSTOMER: Ok, but you still haven’t dissuaded me from it, I like things a little sweet, does this have a sour taste to it?

SERVER: Yes, that’s the sour part of the hot and sour soup.

CUSTOMER: Alright, well I’m still going to get a bowl of it.  Can I send it back if I don’t like it?

SERVER: Yes, I’ll have a bowl of egg drop soup ready to go.

I’d been looking for a good recipe for hot and sour soup for a while, and finally settled on this one.

Why this one?  Because every other recipe I saw called for a half-pound of ground pork or sliced pork shoulder.

Have you ever seen a package of a half-pound of any meat?  No, which means you have to go to the butcher counter to get it, and that leads to a very awkward conversation, where I ask for a half-pound of ground pork, and he’s like “wow, really going wild there, you must be on your cheat day, what’re you getting with this, tofu”, and I would say “why yes, I’m making hot and sou…” “GET OUT OF MY STORE YOU VEGAN HIPPIE!!”

So yeah, this is much easier and tastier.

CAN I MAKE A MESS WITH THIS RECIPE?

Not really, there’s no sautéing or cutting messy stuff.

HMMPH!

Hot and Sour Soup

Makes 4-6 bowls

From Make It Mommy

Ingredients

 

5 cups chicken broth

1/3 cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon minced or grated ginger

1/2 tablespoon chili garlic sauce/paste

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 8 ounce can of bamboo shoots, drained and thinly sliced

4 ounces white button or crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced

1/3 cup rice vinegar

1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper flakes

1 package of firm tofu, sliced into 1/2 inch strips

2 tablespoons cornstarch, mixed with 1/3 cup water

1 egg, beaten

Directions

 

In a large stock pot, combine the broth, soy sauce, ginger, chili sauce, and sesame oil.  Bring it to a boil.  Then add the bamboo shoots, mushrooms, rice vinegar, and pepper flakes.  Reduce the heat and simmer the soup for 10 minutes.

Add the tofu, and simmer the soup for a minute or so.  Add the cornstarch mixture to the soup (give the mixture a stir before you pour it in, the cornstarch will separate from the water if it sits too long), and let it come back to a simmer to thicken up.

Stir the soup in a clockwise direction – or counter-clockwise, your call.  Slowly add the egg to the soup, it’ll make those cool egg drops.

 

Restaurant review: Shake Shack, where a really good meal gets tainted by Ore-Ida fries

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Don’t you just hate when you get all dressed up and prep for an interview, show up on time, and then find out that the interview is on Thursday, and not Tuesday?

No?  Never happened to you?  Ummmm…me neither…

But let’s just say that I did.  And after that, I had more free time than I thought I would.  And I would realize, hey, I live in a city where they’re advanced enough to have a Shake Shack, which people absolutely lose their shit over.  And I would say, I’m in the mood for an overpriced burger, why don’t I check that out?

And this, this is how my visit started.  I mean, would have started, if, you know, everything above was true.

THE LINE

You always hear how long the lines are to get these burgers.  Like it’s some sort of mid-20th century communist Russia food line, and this might be the only food you get all week, except instead of plain stale bread it’s a burger made from prime beef.  It’s totally the same.

This is the line.  At noon.  In the biggest mall in Houston.  The Tuesday before Christmas.

So I’m not at all impressed.  This is not a good start.

THE MENU

I couldn’t get a good picture of the whole menu, but here’s the basic rundown of the burger options:

  • the basic burger
  • the Shack Burger with “Shack Sauce” (which is of course in no way described anywhere on the menu)
  • the ‘Shroom Burger for your vegetarian friend that whines “well I don’t understand why I can’t get something at the burger restaurant shouldn’t they put something on the menu at the burger restaurant without meat this is so unfair VEG LIVES MATTER!!!”
  • the Lockhart Link Burger, which is their obligatory nod to the local cuisine to show you that they’re toooootally part of your community
  • the Chick’n Shack, for your friend that’s fine with eating animals, but not cows because that is just a bridge too far, and why are you still friends with this person?

I decide I’m going to get a double cheeseburger, for one because I’m afraid a single might not be enough, and I also don’t want the taste of this burger to be obscured by the triple jalapeño cheddar reindeer/goat/wild boar sausage that they put on the Lockhart burger.

Also, being the good customer that I am, I see that there is no “add cheese” option on the menu, because apparently no one has ever wanted cheese on a burger, so I make a note to ask specifically for cheese and blow the cashier’s mind!

After seven minutes in line (or about 3 hours and 23 minutes shorter than the typical Franklin BBQ line), I get to the cashier, and prepare to rock his world with my whole cheese on a burger thing.

CASHIER: So you want a cheeseburger then?

(Holy shit!!  They had a name for this thing all along??  How was I not aware of this before?  My whole life has changed!!)

ME: Hell yeah, gimme one of those!

CASHIER: You want Shake Sauce on that?

(What am I, a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal??  Of course I want it on there!  Don’t even tell me what it is, just slap it on, make it a double order for all I care!!  Ten billion customers can’t be wrong!)

ME: Sure, that sounds good.

THE WAIT

I then sidle up to one of those community tables, where all the people with no friends sit so the couples can have their own private space.

While I’m waiting, a couple guys sit down next to me, both of them lawyers.  And they’re talking about the 18 cases they’ve got, and as I’m taking pictures, one of them gives me a look.  And I know he’s saying it in his head.

“OOOH, look at you!  Are you one of those snarky food blogger people I heard about?  I bet you think you’re so big, you’ve probably got 113 people following you on Facebook, and you’re going to write things like “I would have preferred this burger if it was an 82/18 blend instead of 80/20, and the bun should have been an artisan brioche from Mrs. Foo-Foo-Stein’s Bakery instead of the mass-produced potato one they serve it on”.  Why don’t you take a picture of me snarling at you, I bet that would make your day!”

13 minutes later…

THE ARRIVAL

I have to say, this looks pretty damned awesome.  I’m going to have to work hard to snark on this.

THE BURGER ($8.69, I think, because I have no idea how much cheese was for this mysterious cheeseburger thing)

Look at it, the thing can’t even stand upright!  I’m already thinking a double might have been too much.

Decent amount of toppings, nothing overwhelming.

I took my first bite (I would have taken a picture after it to prove that I did take a first bite, but I didn’t want to grease up the phone)

Holy shit this is a really good burger!  It was pretty good sized, I’m thinking 6-8 ounces.  The meat was a perfect blend of beef and fat – this cow died with a purpose.  The edges were super crispy.  The bun was just right, it held everything together without getting in the way of the burger.

The toppings were fine, the pickles didn’t do much for it.  The onion was a pretty sharp white onion, but not strong enough to mess it up.  The Shake Sauce…I noticed nothing other than a mayo-like texture.  I would probably leave it off next time and just put a little ketchup and mustard on it.

I am definitely a fan.  At $8.69, it’s a little pricey, but it’s well beyond twice as good as any other fast food burger.

Then we get to…

THE FRIES ($2.99)

I like Ore-Ida crinkle-cut fries.  They’re a good fry.  Nothing special, but they’re a good fry.

I would not pay $2.99 for Ore-Ida fries in a restaurant that is supposedly going to change my life.

If they are going to use Ore-Ida fries, the least they could have done was ask Ore-Ida to make them look less like they were from Ore-Ida.

Or maybe Ore-Ida has only one machine that cuts their fries.

They were fine, they were Ore-Ida, they weren’t worth $2.99, let’s just leave it at that.

THE SHAKE ($5.79)

one

I’m not coming to a place called Shake Shack and not get a shake.  It’s like going to IHOP and not getting…P…

I’m not going to lie.  This is easily the best fast food shake I’ve ever had.  I got the holiday-themed chocolate peppermint shake.  If the holidays were as good as this shake, the world would be a far better place.

Thick, but not so thick that you can’t use a straw to drink/eat it.  Minty, but not overwhelming.  And at least a half cup of whipped cream on top.

For $5.79, it’s well worth the price.  It’s every bit as good as  you would get from a craft ice cream shop that’s at least $8-9.

THE VERDICT

My total bill was $18.37 after tax.  That’s a pretty hefty bill, but when you deduct the $3 or so for the Ore-Ida fries, it’s not quite as bad.  It’s also not the lightest food either – I think the burger and shake have about 1,600-1,800 calories between them.

For an every now and again meal, I’d totally do it.

But fuck their fries.  Seriously.

Chunky Red Chili, because we just moved to Ice Planet Hoth

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Dateline, December 17th, 2016 – Houston, TX – woke up to a lovely morning.  The sun was shining, 73 degrees.  My dog and I took an extra long stroll, and looked forward to a beautiful day.

Dateline, December 18th, 2016 – Ice Planet Hoth, 6th Planet, Hoth System – I opened the front door of my house for our daily dog walk, and my dog and I were confronted with the fact that we had been transported to the remote solar system of Hoth.  Your breath froze almost instantly after leaving your mouth.  There was ice as far as the ice could see, with not a speck of green in sight.  Realizing that we could not navigate the terrain on foot and paw, I summoned the nearest tauntaun to find the closest space where my dog could quickly relieve herself.  We were intercepted by Imperial AT-AT’s, and had to scurry to the closest cave for safety.  Worrying that we might die from hypothermia, we were relieved to find a wounded Wampa.  Using the light saber that mysteriously appeared in my pocket, we slashed open the belly of the beast, and huddled inside it to absorb its heat until the winter storm passed.

Ok, so the windchill was only 25 degrees, but COME ON!!!

I spent an entire summer living through an average heat index of 110 (this is not an exaggeration).  I don’t really care that the northern half of America is blanketed with 13 feet of snow, my blood has thinned out so much that a 25 degree windchill feels like there’s a constant Arctic blast hovering above my head.

So, when it’s -68 outside, there really is only one meal to make: chili!!

HOLD UP, YOU JUST MADE CHILI A COUPLE WEEKS AGO, YOU’RE ALREADY RECYCLING???

Ok, as you remember, that was fancy-pants upscale chili that was as much pot roast as chili.  This is straight forward, ground beef and chuck steak red chili.

FINE, I’LL LET IT SLIDE.

Wonderful, thanks.

You’ll be amazed at how hard it is to find a straight forward chili recipe online.  Wild boar chili?  Lots of them.  Vegetarian chili?  Sure.  Peanut butter chili?  Oh fuck’s sake I just made that up off the top of my head and sure enough…(although to be fair, the most prominent recipe comes from Robert Irvine, who has his own issues with fabrication, so this might all be an elaborate hoax to piss me off).

(It could happen.)

I really like this one.  It has both ground beef and chuck steak, which gives it a pretty cool texture.  It’s not really spicy, and kind of a little sweet, if you want it spicier you could add some cayenne pepper to heat it up.  Really you can tweak this however you want, this is an excellent base to start from.

CAN I MAKE A MESS WITH THIS RECIPE?

Not really, other than cooking the beef there’s not too much to get messy with.

THAT’S OK, YOU’VE DONE PRETTY WELL WITH SLOPPINESS RECENTLY, I’LL GIVE YOU A PASS!

You’re full of generosity today.

THANKS, MY THERAPIST SAID IT WOULD DO ME GOOD TO CHILL OUT!

Good to know, keep up the meds.

FUCK OFF!!

 

Chunky Red Chili

Makes 6-8 really good sized bowls

From Epicurious.com

Ingredients

 

6 tablespoons olive oil

2 pounds ground beef (I like 80/20 for this)

2 pounds beef chuck, trimmed and cut into 1/2-3/4 inch chunks

2 large onions, coarsely chopped

2 green bell peppers, ribs and seeds removed, coarsely chopped

2 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes, drained

1 14-1/2 ounce can tomato sauce

2 15-1/2 ounce cans red kidney beans, drained

1 15-1/2 ounce can black beans, drained

6 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons chili powder

4 teaspoons dried basil

4 teaspoons ground cumin

4 teaspoons kosher salt

4 bay leaves

Directions

 

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium-high heat.  Add ground beef and cook – breaking it up as you go along – until browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes.  Remove the ground beef, drain, and set aside on a plate.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the pot, and brown the beef chuck on all sides (you will need to do this in batches, you want a good crust on the chunks), about 8 minutes.  Remove the chuck and add to the plate with the rest of the ground beef.  Drain the pot.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pot.  Add the onion and pepper and cook until just soft, about 4 minutes.  Add all of the meat back to the pot, and add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, chili powder, basil, cumin, salt, and bay leaves.  Stir to mix well and bring the pot to a boil.  Reduce the heat to simmer the chili, and cook, covered, for 2 hours, or until the meat is tender.  Stir regularly during the 2 hours with a wooden spoon, and break up the tomatoes as you go along with the back of the spoon.

Remove and discard the bay leaves.  Serve.  You could also allow the chili to sit in the refrigerator for a few days, it gets better with time.

Chicken Cutlets with Mushroom Dressing, and what is an emergency breast run

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My lady doesn’t really like chicken thighs.  Which, I get, they’re a bit fatty and have a different texture than breasts, and if it’s not your thing, well then your mouth is broken, but to each their own.

She told me this as I was starting to make this dish.  Which is a bad time to be finding it out, since the nearest grocery is ten minutes away, kind of far for an emergency breast run.

Also, emergency breast run is an excellent euphemism.

“So how did the party go last night?”

“Oh it was the best!  I had a few Bud Light Limes, then I started talking to this totally hot chick, and we were feeling it, and next thing you know we’re in the spare bedroom making an emergency breast run.”

“Dude, what the fuck??  You were drinking Bud Light Lime??  What is wrong with you?  Nice job scoring though.”

Anyways, this takes a little work, but it’s definitely worth it.  Definitely follow the recipe and make the mushrooms before you start breading the chicken, you don’t want to be doing both at the same time.  Also, pounding out the thighs is helpful and will probably give you a more consistent product, but I forgot to do that and they turned out just fine.

CAN I MAKE A MESS WITH THIS RECIPE?

Absolutely!

SWEET, HOW?

Pounding out the chicken is a pain, if you put them in a plastic bag it’s far less messy and is probably better for the chicken anyways.

WUSS!  STILL WAITING…

Ok, have you ever pan-fried anything?

NO!  YOU HAVE MY ATTENTION!!

So you have to set up a whole breading station…

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HOLY SHIT!!!  YOU COULD COMPLETELY BURY YOUR COUNTER IN BREAD CRUMBS!

Pretty much.  And you’re going to get club hand.

WHAT’S THAT?

So you hand gets a little flour on it, and then a little egg, and then the bread crumbs stick to it.

FUCKING AWESOME!!

You just have to make sure you use the same hand, otherwise you risk getting yourself sick through cross-contamination.

DUDE, THAT’S NOT COOL, MESSY IS COOL, SICK ISN’T.  55 STAY ALIVE, ONLY YOU CAN PREVENT FOREST FIRES.

Whatever, let’s get to cooking.

 

Chicken Cutlets with Mushroom Dressing

Serves 6

From New York Times Cooking

Ingredients

 

4 minced garlic cloves

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons lemon juice

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat, pounded flat

6 fresh thyme sprigs, plus 1 tablespoon thyme leaves

1/2 cup chopped shallots

12 ounces small button mushrooms, quartered

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (the good stuff, nothing low-budget)

1/3 cup flour

2 beaten eggs

3/4 cup dry bread crumbs

4 tablespoons canola oil

Directions

 

Combine the lemon juice, half the olive oil, and half the garlic in a shallow dish that can hold all the chicken in a single layer.  Add the chicken, and turn it over to coat it.  Season with salt and pepper, put the thyme sprigs on top, and cover the dish with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for about 6 hours.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet on medium.  Add the shallots and the rest of the garlic, and sauté until soft, a couple minutes.  Add the mushrooms and sauté until they start to color and release their juices.  Dissolve the mustard in the wine, and add the balsamic vinegar.  Add the mixture to the skillet, and cook until the mixture has thickened.  Season with salt and pepper, and remove from heat.

Place flour in a shallow bowl, eggs in another shallow bowl, and the bread crumbs in a third shallow bowl.  Season each with a little salt and pepper.  Take the chicken out of the refrigerator, and discard the thyme sprigs.

One at a time, dredge the chicken in the flour, then the eggs, then the bread crumbs, and set aside on a plate.  Heat the canola oil in another skillet to medium.  Add half the chicken to the pan, and cook until browned, about 3 minutes per side.  Remove to a serving plate, and repeat with the rest of the chicken.

Reheat the mushrooms, and add the thyme leaves.  Top the chicken with the mushrooms and serve.

Product Review: Heinz Sriracha Ketchup, For When You Want To Add the Flavor of Wood Chip Excrement to Your Meal

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Most food bloggers will do promoted posts, where a company will pay them to create a recipe using their product, and then post about it while gushing about how amazing it made their recipe, and they couldn’t imagine using anything else unless they were paid triple the fee in which case fuck this thing.

I have a feeling I won’t be getting that opportunity after this post.

I went to Kroger (not affiliated with this post) last week to get some goodies to make crockpot ribs.  I can’t remember where I got the idea, I probably saw that baby back ribs on sale in the weekly circular, at the same time as I stumbled across a Buzzfeed post of the “377 crockpot rib recipes that you should me making right now!!!!”

Anyways, I figured I would make them Asian style, and make my own BBQ sauce.  I wanted to use honey, soy sauce, garlic, and ketchup.  That’s a good sauce!

And then I saw the bottle of ketchup above, just sitting on a grocery shelf, saying “come get me, you’ve always wanted to have me, buy me and I will make sweet BBQ love to your ribs”.

So of course I had to get it, not just because you always have to buy talking food, but because these two things are awesome.  Ketchup is awesome (shut up you little hipster fuck ketchup is delicious and anyone that tells you otherwise is lying or someone you should not hang around with especially if they call it catsup what is wrong with those people).  Sriracha is awesome.  So this has to be a perfect match.

I pulled the ingredients together and started cooking, and about 10 minutes later I tasted everything and realized something was very off.

Now here’s where I have to confess my cardinal sin: I didn’t know what the ketchup tasted like before I started making the sauce.  I know, it’s terrible, I should never have done it.  Gordon Ramsay would cast me on Hell’s Kitchen just so he could make an example out of me and berate me in front of millions of people.

So I said to myself, the honey tasted good, the soy sauce is fine, the garlic is great oh fuck no it can’t be the magical talking ketchup can it?

And that’s where I found out that Heinz needs to fire their entire product development staff.

Sriracha has a very bright, spicy, garlicky flavor, with just a hint of sweetness.

Apparently the product development people at Heinz tasted Sriracha sauce and their taste buds were so broken that they said, “hey this tastes like a bunch of wood chips took a shit in my mouth, let’s see if we can work that into a ketchup.”

I’m not kidding, this was awful.  Like, it’s ketchup, and it’s got some ketchup flavor, but it’s all elbowed out by this rotten smokiness that ruins everything.

And that’s when I discovered something that – again – I should have noticed earlier.

THERE IS NO ACTUAL SRIRACHA IN THEIR SRIRACHA KETCHUP!!!

Nope, none.  It’s right there on the label, I know.  “Sriracha flavor”.  Couldn’t put actual Sriracha in it.  Maybe Big Sriracha doesn’t want to have anything to do with Big Ketchup.  Maybe Heinz did call them and it got sent straight to voicemail, and Big Sriracha lost its password and never got the message.

Now, this “Sriracha flavor”.  I looked through the ingredients of this abominable chip turd catsup, and compared them with those of delicious tomato-y sweet real ketchup.  The additional ingredient to the wood poop one: paprika.

Paprika adds a smoky flavor to things (hence the wood chip turd taste).  There is no smoky flavor in Sriracha.  None.

Here are some items or flavors that I would more closely associate with Sriracha than paprika:

  • Chocolate sauce
  • Peas
  • Yorkshire pudding
  • Actual pudding
  • Kimchi
  • Non-smoky poop

If you want to have Sriracha-flavored ketchup, buy some ketchup, buy some Sriracha, and mix the two together in whatever proportion you want.  You will have a tasty condiment that you can use on just about anything.

Do not buy this product if you ever want to use it on food.  This product is good on absolutely nothing.  If, by some chance, someone gives this to you, or it gets bequeathed to you in the will of your racist uncle that gave you noogies and never really cared for you, here is what you should do:

  1. Take the bottle from them, smile politely, and thank them (i.e. lie).
  2. Remove the cap from the bottle.
  3. Pull off the protective seal from the top.
  4. Screw the top back on about 2/3 of the way, so it’s not totally locked on.
  5. Throw the bottle at them.
  6. Watch the bottle contents explode all over them.
  7. Scream “HOW’S IT FEEL TO BE A BIG SMOKY TURDFACE HAHA LOOK AT THE SMOKE TURD!!!”

Maple Muffins


My lady: hey honey, whatcha doing?

(ok, sometimes “whatcha doing” is a totally innocuous and enjoyable phrase, and sometimes it’s a precursor to don’t get mad at me but I signed us up for an interpretive dance class with Carl and Suzanne you just need to get to know them just because he’s a racist doesn’t mean he’s all bad can you please learn to get along with him I really need this promotion why don’t you love me?!?!)

Adam (suspiciously): ummm, nothing, what’s going on?

My lady (batting her eyes adorably): so you know how everyone at work looooves your cooking?

(oh shit, the volume and intensity of the eye bats is directly proportional to the favor that is about to be asked.  And my lady is the queen of eye bats.  Like Jedi master level.)

Adam: yes, you’ve told me that.

My lady: well, every day until the end of the year someone is bringing in food for the entire department, and our day is Wednesday.

(ok, so first off, we don’t work together, so technically it’s not our day, but we’re a team, so ok yeah it is get off my back.

Second, my lady has told me that the only thing she makes in the kitchen is mashed potatoes – she makes very good ones, btw.  So, unless we are making three tons of mashed potatoes, I’m going to be doing a fair amount of work in the kitchen pretty soon.)

My lady: and did I mention how handsome you are?

(at this point, unless she said, so would you mind going downtown to meet Tuco Salamanca to buy the weapons-grade anthrax he promised he would get me, I’m pretty much going to do whatever she wants.  I’m a boy, I’m putty in her hands when she says things like that.)

So now, what to make.  Before we moved to Houston, I saved a bunch of breakfast recipes onto my Paprika app, since I figured I could have actual breakfasts working from home.  I also forgot to account for the fact that I am really lazy and would rather pour a bowl of cereal than spend more than four seconds beating an egg or warming up a pan at 6:30 a.m.

I did, however, try out a few recipes during evening hours.  These maple muffins were the clear winner of the few I gave a shot.  I like them because they’re actual muffins, and not the overgrown dough monstrosities that Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts bake and try to pass off as muffins.  “Oh, you did not want to consume 75% of your RDA of calories in this gigantomuffin?  Mixing all the chocolate and three pounds of blueberries into your breakfast pastry does not sound appealing to you?  What do you have against America?  Commie!!”

But these are great, they almost taste like little pancakes with the syrup baked into them, and they’re pretty easy to make.  Plus, the recipe comes from a Canadian site, and they know their maple syrup.

As with all baking recipes, don’t mess around with the ingredients and volumes unless you really know what you’re doing.  You’re reading my blog.  You don’t know what you’re doing.

ENOUGH ALREADY, CAN I MAKE A MESS WITH THIS RECIPE??

Anything related to baking has the potential for a mess.

OOH, HOW SO?

Well, if you pick too small of a bowl to mix everything together in, then the flour is going to fly everywhere.  Also, when you sprinkle the topping on, there’s about a 0% chance that it will all land on the muffins themselves – personally, I would cut back on the amount of flour and sugar in it.

WAIT, YOU JUST TOLD ME NOT TO MESS WITH THE RECIPE?

Yeah, I know, it’s just for the topping, it’s not going to mess up the muffin itself.  Forget I mentioned it.

 

Maple Muffins

Makes about 12 muffins

From Seasons and Suppers

Ingredients

 

For the muffins:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup maple syrup (spring for the good stuff, this isn’t going to taste good if you cheap out or use Mrs. Butterworth’s)

1/4 cup sour cream

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the topping:

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small cubes

Directions

 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Grease the cups of a muffin pan, or place paper linings in each cup.

In a large bowl (at least 2 quarts, preferably 3), combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt.

In another bowl, combine the milk, butter, syrup, sour cream, egg, and vanilla.

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, until the dry ingredients are incorporated with the wet.

Pour the batter into the cups until they are 3/4 full.

For the topping, combine the dry ingredients, then cut the butter in until the mixture is crumbly.  Sprinkle it over the batter.

Bake the muffins for 16-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean.  Remove the pan and place it on a cooling rack.  Let it cool for 5 minutes before removing the muffins from the pan.

One Skillet Greek Chicken

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So I had totally planned on having multiple nights worth of the chili I had made last night…and then I woke up and realized that we had never taken the chili out of the slow cooker from the night before…so between getting norovirus or whatever bacterial infection you get from eating food that’s sat out for too long and making dinner from scratch, the latter was the only real option.

Going through the fridge, I see feta cheese, I see olives, I see baby spinach, I see Roger, I see Susan, I see Jason…

So I’ve easily got enough ingredients for a quick Greek chicken recipe…except, you know, the chicken.  Not to worry, chicken thighs are cheap, and so much better than chicken breasts.

(Do not even try to argue this with me.  2016 chicken breasts are just flavorless sacks of rubber injected with 20 gallons of broth to ensure that you can’t fuck them up too badly when you put them in the oven and NO FLUFFY DO NOT DO YOUR BUSINESS ON THE CARPET JUNIOR DO YOUR HOMEWORK I AM NOT HAVING ANOTHER PARENT-TEACHER CONFERENCE HONEY WILL YOU PLEASE STOP OGGLING MEGYN KELLY AND SET THE TABLE OH MY GOD THE CHICKEN BREASTS HAVE BEEN IN THE OVEN FOR 180 MINUTES!!!)

And it’s a one pot recipe, which is great, because my lady hates it when I dirty up tons of pans and skillets and pots to make a simple dinner.  I mean, who doesn’t use seven bowls and six plates and a skillet and a stockpot to make dinner?

Nobody?

Never mind.

CAN I MAKE A MESS WITH THIS RECIPE?

Oh sure.

FINALLY!!

Any time you cook with chicken, you have to clean the board over and over again so you don’t get TB of the trichinosis of the eyeball.  And you have to trim the fat and throw that out, which is icky, but it will taste more appealing and saves on grease spatters.

WAIT, YOU’RE TELLING ME TO MAKE IT LESS MESSY?

Settle down Chachi.  It’s going to spatter regardless, and the extra far is going to have this really weird texture to it.  You’re better off trimming them up.

BUT THAT’S IT?  NOTHING MORE THAN THAT?  YOU’RE REALLY LETTING ME DOWN!

I’m sure they have plenty of room for hecklers over at the pioneer woman’s site.

WHATEVER…JUST GET TO COOKING.

One Skillet Greek Chicken

Serves 6

From I Wash You Dry

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

6-8 boneless chicken thighs (skin on or off, either will work)

1 teaspoon oregano

Salt and pepper

3 cloves minced garlic

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup uncooked orzo pasta

1 cup pitted olives, halved (or whole, it’s your family, do whatever you want to them)

2 handfuls baby spinach leaves

1 teaspoon dill weed

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1/2 cup diced feta cheese

1/4 cup roasted red bell pepper strips, chopped

1/4 cup finely diced red onion

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425F.

Get a large oven-safe sauté pan, and heat it over medium-high heat.  Season the chicken with the oregano, salt, and pepper.  Sear for three minutes on each side (if you’re using skin on, do that side first).  Move the pan to the oven and cook for 10-15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.  Take the pan out of the oven – carefully, use oven mitts – and move the chicken to a plate.  Drain out the excess fat, leaving a tablespoon or so behind.

Reheat the pan over medium heat (give it a minute or two to cool off when it comes out of the oven).  Saute the garlic for about 30 seconds then add the broth, orzo, and olives.  Pour in a little of the olive brine if you like, but don’t overdo it.

Bring the mixture to a boil, cover the pan, reduce the heat, and let it simmer for 15 minutes, just until the orzo is cooked.

Stir the spinach, dill weed, and lemon zest into the mixture, just until the spinach starts to wilt.  Put the chicken back in the pan and let it warm up.  Take the pan off the stove, and top with the feta, peppers, and onion.

Serve immediately.