Recently, I had a chance to visit my fellow Minnesotan friend Tanya, her spouse Justin, and their daughter Mabel in Portland. They graciously had me over for dinner, and I got to see a demo of the Instant Pot. Apparently she was so excited about it she bought a second one when it was on sale on Amazon. My friend Candace in San Francisco had previously bothered messaging me about this device as a sped up way to make radish cakes, so it seemed only right that I listen to the universe’s repeated prodding to investigate this gadget.
The name comes from the verb empanar, meaning to wrap or coat in bread … Empanadas have their origins in Galicia (Spain) and Portugal. They first appeared in Medieval Iberia during the time of the Moorish invasions. A cookbook published in Catalan in 1520 mentions empanadas filled with seafood among its recipes of Catalan, Italian, French, and Arabian food. It is believed that empanadas and the very similar calzones are both derived from the Arabic meat-filled pies, samosas. The dish was carried to Latin America and the Philippines by Spanish colonists, where they remain very popular to this day.
One overcast Monday morning, I ventured over to the Book Larder, a community cookbook store on Fremont Ave of Seattle. I’ve ridden past there many a time by bike and by bus, and always meant to go. Finally, I found time and managed to sign up for classes a few days ahead.
Note: if you are scrambling for last minute gifts for people who love to eat, cooking classes may be a good option that ships instantaneously! Be mindful to check if it’s a demo, or hands-on, as that may matter depending on how much your loved one likes to cook (i.e. more hands-on for those who are into working with their hands, more demo for those who are more into eating the final product). Go ahead, click away from this post, I won’t mind.. 🙂
Chef Kyle Wisner did a delicious demo for the group on some straightforward recipes for swift home cooking, perfect for a hectic holiday season. Below are some recipes he shared, editorial commentary is my own.
Center-cut pork roast
Enough za’atar spices to cover surface of the roast
kosher salt to preference
Tools: oven, , baking dish, meat thermometer
Salt the roast “aggressively”, like any steak or other big cut of meat, rest the roast out to room temperature before roasting. Preheat oven to 400 (or 425F if your oven is weak sauce).
Cover surface in za’atar spice.
Bake roast in oven until it reaches an internal temp of 120F, approximately 18-30 minutes. It will likely still be a little pink in the middle, but the juices will disperse back and finish as you let the roast rest a while before serving.
Optional: bonus points for drawing a depiction of “aggressively salting.”
Okay folks, I admit, I’ve been a little distracted by the glorious Pacific Northwest summer, traipsing about in the mountains. Between that, work, and other personal projects, feeding the Internet Blog Machine has gotten a little backlogged. So without further ado, here’s one more..
Quite some time ago, I went to school in the other Washington -the District of Columbia. While there, I was exposed to the experience of an even more humid climate than my native Midwest summer. Wandering the concrete jungle blocks from my job at a nonprofit and nerd-exciting statistics classes, I was exposed to my first taste of Korean food ever. It was ironically a vegan Korean shop, and my favorite dish was tofu japchae. In retrospect it was an easy gateway crossover from my beloved childhood Cantonese restaurant dish of beef chow fun (see fellow pun lovers’ recipe at Woks of Life, and really, anything noodle. That first taste opened me up to a whole other cuisine full of spicier, more vegetable-filled and bbq-beef-laden meals like dolsot bibimbap and tofu soup!
Fast forward to years later on a warm Seattle summer day, living with some one who eats low carb, and here is my experiment in turning Japchae paleo friendly.
I was lucky enough to score some wild-foraged morels from my friend Tesia, after she came back from a good weekend of collecting them. Apparently, her s.o. even maps out last year’s forest fires to track where good spots to find some morel treasure. It definitely peaked my interest, especially after a stint earlier in the year at a local community garden prepping for summer, when we found a morel poking out through the cardboard laid over a garden patch for winter. No- I didn’t eat it, my fellow volunteers warned me it was ‘a city mushroom,’ with unknown consequences. Even NPR did a segment on it.
From Northern California to Alaska, commercial and amateur mushroom hunters will be scouring hills that were ravaged by fires last summer and fall. Their prey? Morel mushrooms.
“Sometimes we call it ‘chasing the burns,’ ” mushroom enthusiast Kevin Sadlier says, in search of the black morel mushrooms that grow in the springtime after a forest fire.
–After Fires In West, Mushroom Hunters ‘Chase The Burn’
Apologies, much of the ingredients are amounts “to taste,” and I was trying to track too many things so don’t have any exact times on here. The Serious Eats article did not specify times either.
Now, a rare medium on this blog thus far: a video.*
Morels from your friend, the mushroom-gatherer (or from your friend at the farmer’s market)
1/2 onion, minced (alternatives: garlic, shallots, minced)
High heat oil for pan
Butter, about 1 pat
soy sauce, 1 Tbs (or less, to taste)
lemon juice, 1 tsp (to taste)
chicken stock, 1 Tbs (or less, to taste)
optional: chives, minced
salt & pepper, to taste
Optional but very useful supply:
pastry brush (or in my case, an extra toothbrush from my travels, because my pastry brush is silicone and the bristles would have been too big) Continue Reading
You guys, I have a confession: I hate cilantro.* I used to think I hate parsley, but in the last five years its resemblance to the flavor of cilantro has faded. Then, I had the privilege to vacation in Chile last year, and there was this sauce that kept appearing at restaurants with the steak. It tasted of garlic, and was full of green stuff. I liked it so much I had to stop a waiter to find out what it was. His reply was: chimichurri. Obvi, K and I had to grab some pre-mixed (as training wheels) packets on our habitual grocery-store-for-travel-keepsakes** run before we left Santiago. I think it was a Carrefour..
Fast forward months later when I finally got around to mixing it up as K seared some steak on the Big Green Egg, some balsamic vinegar, and olive oil, and a bunch of the dry packet. Eh, it was okay, but it also kind of tasted like dried leaves and dust. Long-time readers may notice this packet also made an appearance in one crispy-bottomed oyster mushroom steak post. The sauce was much improved once eaten on top of something, but I feel like anything you pour atop something else, even if a little strong, should be able to stand on its own too.
Now get back in the time machine, and move forward a little more:
I went out and got some actual red wine vinegar to add to my pantry for this, just to get closer to the intended flavor. I was doing another recipe that called for some parsley, and needed to make use of the rest before it sits in a jar in the back of my fridge getting forgotten. Then, I mixed up a big batch of this into 3 mason jars, to last a whole month in the fridge! Continue Reading
Sorry I’ve been a little M.I.A. with no weekly post for a while. I started a new job assignment and was pretty busy with that, …and a quick vacation in Kauai to get some quality relaxation in before my work & life falls back into hectic-ness. Also just generally always busy trying to seize life by the throat and shake it all around..
Without further ado, here’s a new installment:
Factor 1: Ah, how memories blur with time. A few years ago I got the privilege of exploring a little bit of Turkey, mostly Istanbul. As an ancient history fan, it was super exciting to explore this city with so much East-Meets-West history, with layers and layers of stories all piled on top of itself, not to mention multiple legacies of countless Roman leaders! That, and trying the food was such an adventure. I still dream of the egg and tomato dish I ate on an Airbnb host’s recommendation near Galata Tower in Istanbul. Fast forward to now, when I finally get around to trying my hand at the recipe below: tomato, egg, peppers, sounds delicious, right? Sounds the same!
Factor 2: When I was a kid and my mama went out of town I’d look forward to my Baba making his signature dish, egg and tomato fry. Yum! Apparently, it is a popular combination with me..
Voila: Sunday brunch dish trial, thinking I was making this:
I love soup. Did I mention I love soup? Predictably, my household caught the sniffles after all that holiday activity and travel, and my mind was filled with thoughts of healing soup. It’s a great way to take a lot of fluids and help you get better. There was this one day where I made two vats of soup for the week, went out to eat for another soup, and made a quick mug of noodle soup before bed. Just soup-er.
This one is creamy despite not having dairy, “thank goodness,” said the lactard. I also did away with the shrimp to eliminate my risk of anaphylactic shock, and took a shot frying tofu on the side. *I had to go to two different stores to get a red curry paste without shrimp paste in it (thank you vegan options), so if you’re going vegetarian check the ingredients listing before buying that. Entertainingly, the original recipe I riffed off is from Whole Foods Market via an Instacart link, see Butternut Squash and Coconut Soup with Shrimp. If you choose tofu as your side protein, read up in step 1 beforehand and adjust your task times accordingly.
I was hunting for chickpea recipes a while ago to help me eat more lean protein, and I tried this one. I did not like the result. Then I ate some the following day, and it was delicious! The flavors just needed to marinate more. I took the recipe and cut it in half, because I was making an other giant vat of soup in parallel. This is a nice hearty one for winter, I made a pot on Sunday for the rest of the week.
Chickpea and Chorizo Soup
(originally from The Kitchn)
makes about 1 quart
6 ounces chorizo sausage, sliced
1/2 large white onion, chopped and thinly sliced
2 stalks of celery, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced
1/2 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup white wine
2 teaspoons olive oil
Salt and pepper