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.”
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
Back when I was killing time with my friend Torey spectating a Spartan Race in Vermont (a state worth visiting, by the way), I mentioned to her I was trying to eat more lean protein and that I’m really into chickpeas as one source. She mentioned a particular recipe, and even more impressively, remembered to email it to me later the next week once we were both back on our respective coasts. It’s a happy coincidence that the kitchn is one of my favored sources for recipes too, yay! I roasted a sweet potato the first time, and grossly underestimated the amount of time for that to finish baking in my toaster oven, so if you do the sweet potato, try starting that a bit early, or cut it up to help it cook. Note: there is no recipe directly in here for sweet potato, only a link.*
Fresh back from a cross-country road trip through 4 national parks, three rolls of campfire-cooked Pillsbury products, and too many kinds of 80+-degree weather, I give you…
Cold Zucchini Basil Salad A variation from simply real health I googled after a random Instagram find.
1 large heirloom tomato, sliced into bite-sized pieces
3-4 zucchini total (prefer a mix of green and yellow summer squash)
1/4 c goat cheese
A handful of basil, rolled and chopped into ribbons
olive oil (the highest quality you have on hand)
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 fresh lemon
1/4 c slivered almonds
1. With a vegetable peeler, thinly scrape the zucchini and summer squash into long ribbon slices, tossing the seedy core, or saving it for a Sunday frittata mix.
2. Add the ribbons to a bowl, season with sea salt* and pepper*, basil, drizzle with olive oil* per preference. [*NOTE: if you want salad for later, pack the zucchini separate from the olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice to keep the crunch, and combine just before eating]. Toss to mix.
Thanks to Abby for loaning me a spiralizer so I could try it out!
Thanks to Fitnessista for this recipe combo, the proportions I made up from my trial.
For the pesto:
1/2 cup raw shelled sunflower seeds
1 tsp garlic
1 cup spinach
1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoon goat cheese
For the rest:
1 large yam, peeled
your protein add of choice (shown below are seared scallops, made the Alton Brown way).
Purée sunflower seeds, garlic, spinach, basil, oil, goat cheese and lemon zest and juice until smooth. Season with salt. Thin pesto with water if too thick.
Cut off ends of sweet potato and install flush against spiralizer, spiralize to your heart’s content.
Boil sweet potato spirals in water no more than 3 minutes.
Combine with pesto.
Serve with blindfold on.
Today’s Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating: 4 of 5 stars.
Extremely novel. Likelihood of Repeat: 50%
I couldn’t get my ‘roommate’ to eat much of it, but I’d like to try it again -next time with the julienne blade of my food processor. Lesson Learned: If you boil it too much the ‘pasta’ crumbles fast (similar risk with reheating). Yes, you could buy a single-purpose tool like a spiralizer if you think you’ll eat a lot of spiralized things every week, but a food processor might work just fine for a rare occasion. Also, I always forget how easy it is to make pesto, I need to do this more, especially since you can make cheaper versions without pine nuts! Yum! I have read that real sweet potatoes are more dense and jam up the machine, better stick with the soft orange ones –yams? Whatever they are called..
So first I must say I first had this from my sis Y_________. It was so good when she made it twice for me. So I had to ask her for the recipe because I needed a good main dish for a dinner/date I was making. Need something good to impress lol. The Parmesan Crusted Chicken was the main. Then Oven-Roasted Asparagus and just a normal salad on the side and Riesling for drinks.
Parmesan Crusted Chicken
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves –if from frozen, try and cut thinner so the chicken is not too thick to cook in 30 minutes (shouldn’t be more than two finger-widths thick).
4 tsp. Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs (or regular bread crumbs + dry herbs), or however much you need to cover one side of chicken
optional: a little salt & pepper
Combine mayo and cheese. Spread on chicken, then sprinkle with bread crumbs, salt & pepper. Bake at 425 degrees (F), 20-35 minutes or until thoroughly cooked, usually 30 minutes, at least. Safe temp for chicken to be cooked to is 160F.
For reheating: bake at 425 degrees for about 5-8 minutes until you know it’s heated through, then broil on high for 1 minute to obtain slightly crispy exterior.
Can also freeze raw and bake 20-27 minutes plus broil.
Trying to impress I decided to prep some of the ingredients before I headed over to her place to make the food. Also she is a bit of a health food person so I decided to use light hellman’s mayo and just let her know it was a white sauce. Also I was able to pick the chicken from Whole Foods, some free range chicken from the meats section.
Being the person I am I happen to forget the dry bread crumbs. So I decided to improvise and use her Italian seasoning and rosemary. Lots of rosemary, ’cause I just love that spice and just bit of sea salt and pepper.
She had a gas oven and it only took 15 mins to cook. It was not raw but cooked enough and just juicy and good.
Preheat an oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
Place the asparagus into a mixing bowl, and drizzle with the olive oil. Toss to coat the spears, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, and pepper. Arrange the asparagus onto a baking sheet in a single layer.
Bake in the preheated oven until just tender, 12 to 15 minutes depending on thickness. Sprinkle with lemon juice just before serving.
I did not do much making the asparagus. This was her side. We were able to just put it in when the chicken was still cooking because it was the same temp.
The salad -nothing really to it. I kind of just picked random ingredients and put them in the salad. Also I just put the walnuts on the stove top and put them on top of the salad. The balsamic was a good choice, surprisingly. I don’t really know much about salads but we both liked it.
Overall this meal was great. It did impress. So MISSION ACCOMPLISHED lol. Also forgot we had a Riesling for drinks. This is something that I would repeat for sure. Easy, fast and good. Would maybe pick another random side to mix it up though. Keep in mind the chicken says to use 4 breasts. It was too much for 2 people but leftovers for lunch, so, not that bad.
Wish I took more pictures but didn’t want to seem to be that person yet.
Another time for me to cook to impress. Instead of going out to brunch we decided to make food instead. I was able to find a there Whole Wheat, Oatmeal, and Banana Pancakes that just sounded great to make. For sides we decided to have some cut oranges, bacon and orange mango juice.
Whole Wheat, Oatmeal, and Banana Pancakes
1 cup uncooked rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar 2 tablespoons dry milk powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 banana, mashed
Place the rolled oats into the jar of a blender and blend until the texture resembles coarse flour. Whisk together the blended oats, whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, brown sugar, dry milk powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl; set aside.
Whisk together the egg, milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla. Stir in the mashed banana. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir just until moistened. Let the batter stand for 5 minutes.
Heat a lightly oiled griddle over medium-high heat. Drop batter by large spoonfuls onto the griddle, and cook until bubbles form and the edges are dry, about 2 minutes. Flip, and cook until browned on the other side. Repeat with remaining batter.
First off when we walked over to Wedge, my phone died and I had to go off memory what we needed. I had to alter the recipe a bit. I didn’t add the dry milk powder and switch the whole wheat flour with just all-purpose flour. Also we added 2 ripe bananas instead of just one. Made it so much better.
After getting the batter prepared I do wish I read the other comments because we could have just mixed everything in the blender instead of using so many bowls that needed to be cleaned. Also this makes a ton of pancakes. We only made 4 pancakes and half the batter was still left.
What I do love about the recipe is that you mash the bananas in the mix and you can taste gooey banana parts in some bites of the pancakes. Also used real maple syrup. Makes it just so much better
Bacon was just fried and dried to crisp and we just cut up oranges.
Again this meal did impress yet again. MISSON SUCCESS!!
I would like to do these pancakes again but in a blender. I bet it would be a lot faster and easier. Also maybe with eggs and bacon and fruit. Good stuff.
That’s it for now. Thanks, Alex! Stay tuned for another recipe from another J_____ brother, coming soon!
P.S. This parmesan-crusted chicken recipe was originally from my friend good Jennifer from grad school, who got it off a *gasp* Hellman’s Mayo jar. Thanks, Jennifer!
P.P.S. Bonus points to Alex for cooking the other dish at the same time due to same temp requirements.
This is a decent weekday recipe, based on the time spent, although you don’t get to just set it in the oven and forget it until it’s done. I cut the original amount of butter with olive oil so you can pretend it’s healthier. The initial recipe is based on one from the November 2006 issue of Bon Appétit available here. You could also just use olive oil, for a lactose-free version. Stay tuned for the next post! I’ve been working on cooking up some interesting posts for y’all.
That’s right, for the few of you who may have puzzled at the last post, I was in Milan last week a few weeks ago visiting my good friends, J & G. A confluence of events created a last minute opportunity I just couldn’t pass up, despite the usual work pressures. Sleeping in on Monday was all the sweeter for having worked so much extra before.
The last post was of delicious butternut squash risotto, compliments of J & G. There are few things sweeter than the hospitality of friends, in my opinion, and it’s even better when those friends are good cooks, as these two are! They even demonstrated in that last post that it is perfectly possible to cook a good meal with a kitchen the smaller than an American storage unit. Bam.
How did I repay their generous hospitality in sharing a one-bedroom loft apartment with me and my spouse for a week? More, food, of course!
A request for something somewhat light (and fast) was made, so I scaled down the portions of pasta (er, to what was in the pantry), and did one of my favorites -but only if you do it right: seared scallops. G did a great job slapping a salad together to go with, and we hunted up a delicious strawberry tart from pasticceria marchesi, a super old school classic pastry place.
Scallops in Milan
Got the scallops from the local fishmonger, and I was stoked to find they delivered each precious scallop still attached to the shell. I’ve seen it on tv, but never found sea scallops sold this was in the states. They did appear to already have some guttiness removed, though, which was a minor relief.
Pasta Timing Notes
First, I prepped the lemon garlic pasta, since if you cook them ‘the right way’ (er, the Wong way), it takes very little time and you want to be paying enough attention to get them off the pan before they are overcooked. This classic in my arsenal has remained largely unchanged since my (other) friend J and I started making it about 15 years ago, from a Byerly’s cookbook, of all things. The main thing different is just a little less oil, and more garlic (always):
Lemon Garlic Pasta
1/2 pound dry angel hair pasta
1/4 cup olive oil (or a smidge less, for a less oily product)
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon minced garlic (or TWO teaspons. go wild.)
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried marjoram, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1. cook angel hair pasta according to package directions in boiling water with 1 teaspoon salt; drain.
2. In small saucepan, heat oil and butter, stir in garlic, lemon peel, lemon juice, marjoram, salt and pepper, simmer 2 minutes.
3. transfer pasta to heated serving bowl. toss with oil mixture and parsley. serve immediately.
Similarly, 8+ years ago I decided I only liked sea scallops when they were seared in butter and olive oil, and just barely raw in the middle. I found Alton Brown’s recommendations the most useful: click here for Alton Brown’s Seared Scallops recipe. In this instance, I had one extra (exciting) step, to cut the scallops off the shell, which wasn’t really challenging but still entertainingly novel. My only other advice to myself in my notes on this recipe is just not to get distracted, but resist the urge to move the scallop until just the right time for the 90 second flip, and then removal after the second 90 seconds. Any more time and you’ve overcooked them, any less and you may not get that delicious sweet brown crust.
Voila! Dinner in ~under 30 minutes.
Today’s Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating: 4 of 5 stars.
Very novel to get scallops still in their shells, and even better to serve it to friends living as expats. Likelihood of Repeat: 90%
Some part of this will be repeated, the lemon garlic pasta has been good for meals for co-workers with new babies and it keeps well enough to serve cold at picnics. Lesson Learned: Umm…everything is better with friends?