Category Archives: Food

Ross Cooks: Chorizo Stir-Fry

I hesitate to call my son a “picky eater”. It’s really more that he’s a dinnertime-reluctant, spontaneously declaring on a day-by-day basis things that he doesn’t like despite having always liked them before, often that same day. There are few enough things that he’ll outright refuse (Mostly legumes), but it’s hard to get him to eat an entire meal at dinnertime (But on schooldays, he usually eats breakfast twice so that makes up for it). But, kind of inexplicably, he liked this one, the result of me throwing together the leftover odds and ends from Leah spending a day preparing frozen slow-cooker meals. A better mix of vegetables probably wouldn’t go amiss here, but really the key thing to this is the chorizo-mushroom sauce, which is incredibly rich and tastes kind of like a slightly spicy demi-glace. In general, I don’t like frying things, especially stir-frying, because it makes a mess and because the smell permeates the house and gets into my CPAP machine filter, but this was absolutely worth it.

There’s a lot of back-and-forth in this recipe that you could streamline, particularly if you’ve got a second wok (I actually do have a second wok, but I try not to use more pans than I absolutely have to), but my method had the advantage of everything being the right amount of hot at the right time.

For The Stir-Fry

  • 1 lb pre-cooked Iberian-style chorizo, cut into rings.
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • ½ can beef broth
  • 2 tbsp white truffle butter
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ½ of a jalepeno, diced
  • Slices equivalent to 1 bell pepper, assorted colors
  • 1 lb white mushrooms, washed and salted
  • 4 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 sprigs of parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp capers, because why not

Additionally

  • 1 pt. white rice, steamed and chilled (ie. “leftovers from Chinese take-out the previous day”)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Soy sauce
  • 2 tsp corn starch

Melt the butter in a large wok. Add the onions, peppers and mushrooms. Dylan asked me to leave the mushrooms whole instead of slicing them. They’re hard to cook that way, and I have no idea why I would listen to him since he had absolutely no intention of eating mushrooms, but it came out okay. Drizzle with olive oil and sautee over medium-high heat until the onions just start to turn translucent. Add everything else except the beef broth, and stir-fry until the onions are fully translucent and the mushrooms are giving up liquid. Add the beef broth, reduce heat to medium and cover. Cook until the mushrooms look cooked, about 5-10 minutes, stirring infrequently.

Put a colander inside a large bowl and dump the wok into it. Return the wok to high heat and add the vegetable oil. When the oil gets hot, scramble the egg into it, then hack the egg to pieces with your stirring implement. Add the rice and a few spoonfuls of liquid from the stir-fry and soy sauce to taste. Fry the rice, stirring constantly, until lightly golden-brown. Remove the rice to a serving bowl. Put the rest of the liquid back in the wok and whisk in the cornstarch. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently until it thickens. Transfer it into a serving dish and return the stir-fry to the pan for a minute to warm it up.

Ross Cooks: Inexplicable Success – Irish-Italian Sausage Rolls

Irish-Italian Sausage RollsThis is adapted from a recipe I saw on Cooking Tip of the Day. I basically made a couple of changes out of necessity and had a couple of serendipitous mistakes, and the result was good enough that I wanted to write down what I did in case I want to do it again. I assume it’s a lot more flavorful than the standard Irish Sausage Roll, but it’s not too spicy. The texture and seasoning is very similar to meat loaf, but being made of pork instead of beef makes it a little more exciting. The kale is mostly just there for the nutritional benefits. And because we had a whole bunch of kale left over after a St. Patrick’s Day party. Kale is a tricky ingredient. You can use it like you would other leafy greens and it has a nice enough texture, but it isn’t as flavorful as mustard greens and it isn’t as inoffensive as spinach. The trick to using it, I think, is to pair it with things that play down its bitterness, and it works well here.

This is one of the few “exciting” dishes I’ve made that Dylan was willing to try, and he loved it, even asking to take one to school for lunch tomorrow (he’ll probably forget, but still). I paired this with a hybridized mashed potatoes I’ll document in the near future.

For the Filling:

  • 1 lb mild bulk pork sausage
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
    • We don’t keep breadcrumbs on-hand, so I made mine by sending 2 cups of croûtons through the food processor
  • 1 large onion, chopped fine
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp basil
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp tarragon
    • There was supposed to be two cloves of crushed garlic in here too, but when I realized I’d put in tarragon instead of thyme, I got flustered and forgot to add it.
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp marjoram
  • 1 big handful chopped kale

For the crust:

  • A sheet of puff pastry (This comes frozen, two to a pack. Thaw one in the fridge overnight
  • A beaten egg.
    • If your eggs come in quantities smaller than “one egg”, you really only need half of an egg.

Mix everything from the filling list together by hand in a big mixing bowl. I did this the night before, and I think that’s a good idea because the filling is easier to work with when it’s cold.

Heat the oven to 400°F. Unfold the puff pastry. Puff Pastry sheets come folded into thirds, and you’ll want to separate it at the creases. It will want you to do this to itself probably and will conveniently start to break there as you unfold it. I gather you’re supposed to use a thing called a pastry razor for cutting puff pastry. I don’t have one, but you can generally get away with using a paring knife if you dip it in warm water before each cut. Now you want to add about half-again to the width (the short dimension) of each third with a rolling pin. You’re shooting for something in the neighborhood of 5-5½ inches wide (the sheet is about 10 inches tall). The source I’m cribbing from said 4½ inches, but I couldn’t fit all the filling in without an extra inch or so. The pastry should be pre-floured, but because of the way it’s packaged, one of the pieces will probably not have enough flour on it. Even adding some more to my rolling pin, I had trouble with that piece sticking to the pin, and I ended up stretching that piece out to something ridiculous like a foot by six inches, but it ended up okay.

Separate the filling into thirds. Press each third into a long log along one of the long edges of each sheet. Brush egg onto the rest of the sheet. Now, roll each sheet into a log. Basically take the bit where the meat is and roll it over onto the exposed bit of the sheet where you just brushed egg. It’ll probably be a tight fit. Before you roll it all the way closed, I’d brush a bit more egg on the now-exposed underside of the pastry sheet where the edges are going to meet up. Press the seam closed as best you can — this is tricky because the filling is pretty squishy and will want to come out the end. You can roll the log back and forth a couple of times to get it nice and round if you want, but the next step is kinda gonna squish it again. You should have three 10-inch sausage rolls by now. Cut each one into four pieces (again, wet paring knife trick) and brush the outside of the whole thing with egg.

Place the rolls seal-side-up on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cook for 25 minutes, at which point the sausage should be cooked and the pastry nice, firm and puffy. These will render out a lot of fat, so get them off the parchment and onto a paper towel right away to rest for 15 minutes. If the seals have held (all but one of mine did), turn them upside down so the bottoms don’t get soggy. You’ll want to turn them again before serving because the seal side is the pretty one.

I used the sausage drippings from this to sauté some more kale to accompany dinner in a nice mornay sauce.

Ross Cooks! Delicious Failure (Not-Quite-Coxinha)

So Friday, one of my coworkers introduced me to Brazillian Coxinhas, something kinda akin to a chicken nugget, only awesome. The things were fantastic, and the answer to “What should we have for dinner tonight, Dylan?” is almost always “Chicken nuggets!” these days, so I thought I’d have a go at reproducing them.

It didn’t work out. Any resemblance between what I made and Brazillian Coxhina is pretty much coincidental. This is in part because of my lack of skill, in part because I wanted to use the new pressure cooker, and in part because the recipes I found on the internet diverged from what the aforementioned coworker had said. But when all was said and done, what came out was actually pretty delicious.

  • 1.5 lb chicken breasts
  • 1 liter lemon-lime soda
  • 1/2 onion, cut into large pieces
  • A Few Sprigs of fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • A Handful of Baby Carrots
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 6 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 oz goat cheese, softened
  • Cumin, Ground Coriander, Chili Powder, Garlic Powder, Salt to taste
  • 4-5 potatoes
  • 2 tbsp evaporated milk
  • 2 tbsp butter or butter-like substance
  • 1 egg
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Oil for frying

In a slow cooker, cover the chicken breasts in soda and chicken broth, and add the carrots, onion and cilantro. Slow cook on low heat 3-4 hours or until the chicken is cooked. Shred the chicken with a pair of forks and mix with the cheese and spices. Coxinha doesn’t call for any extra seasoning on the chicken, but I thought that the filling reminded me so much of Buffalo Chicken Spread that I reckoned that spicing it up would be delicious. Roll the chicken mixture into little balls about the size of… Um… I dunno. Eyeballs?

Boil the potatoes in the braising liquid from the chicken. If your slow cooker was big enough, you probably could have cooked the potatoes and chicken together. Me, I flipped the knob on the slow cooker over to “Pressure Cooker” mode and pressure cooked them for 20 minutes.

Mash the potatoes. If you cooked them the way I did, they’ll basically crumble into mush if you look at them the wrong way. Add the milk and butter. I did it with the skin on, but your mileage may vary.

This next bit was problematic. You basically want to wrap the chicken balls in a thick coating of potatoes. If you know how to make some kind of quickbread-type dough out of mashed potatoes do that. I didn’t, so I just balled them up as best I could.

Fill a deep, heavy-bottomed pot with enough oil to cover the “Coxinha”. I used my dutch oven and it worked out pretty well for me. Heat it up to, I’m going to say 300 degrees, but that’s just me shooting in the dark since it’s not like I actually measured the temperature.

Whisk an egg in a shallow dish, and put the breadcrumbs in a second shallow dish. You should know where I’m going with this: dredge the potato-covered balls in the egg, then in the breadcrumbs, so that they’re coated.  I ran out of breadcrumbs halfway through and, in a bind for time, finished the batch by pulverizing some pretzels in the food processor. Surprisingly tasty.

Deep fry in batches. Just leave them in until they turn golden-brown. It only takes 2-3 minutes. Be ginger with them when you take them out, placing them on a couple of layers of paper towel to soak up the grease. Sprinkle with salt.

 

It’s what food eats… Ross Cooks! Chickpea Meatloaf

It’s Lent, which means that for Catholics, it’s a time of sober reflection and not eating meat on Fridays, and for everyone else, it’s the 40 days between the day when women will show you their breasts in exchange for cheap beads and the day when an egg-laying rabbit gives you candy.
Under orders from my wife to come up with something meatless for Friday, I consulted the internet, and consulted what looked good at the grocery store, and I consulted the fact that I’m a big fan of garbanzo beans, and I came up with a meatless meatloaf that was a lot of fun.
As it turns out, chickpeas can neutralize a lot of spiciness, so even though this looks on paper like it ought to be pretty spicy, it’s actually flavorful but not especially piquant.
For a little extra flair, I put these together as individually molded “roasts” by cooking them in small pyrex bowls. This recipe filled three and three quarters one-cup bowls and one two-cup. I figured cooking them in a water bath would minimize cracking and make them easier to get out without breaking, but I’ve no idea. Some Zucchinisautéed zucchini rounded out the meal.

  • 400-500g chickpeas (About 2 cans, or half of a 1 lb bag of dried chickpeas rehydrated
  • ¼ lb seasoned breadcrumbs (I pulsed some croutons in the food processor, having a big bag of croutons left over from Wednesday’s French Oignon Soupe Gratinée)
  • ~3 Tbsp Spaghetti Sauce or crushed tomato
  • Vegetables

  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 large onion, diced fine or coarsely food-processed
  • About 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 2 oz diced green chiles (half a can)
  • 1 Tbsp Chilli Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Cumin
  • 1 Tbsp Dried Oregano
  • 2 eggs
  • ~1-2 Tbsp grated swiss cheese (Again, because I had leftovers from Wednesday)



ChickpeasPreheat oven to 350°F. Sautee the onion, garlic, pepper, chiles and cilantro in some butter and/or olive oil over medium heat. Add the dry spices and cook until the onions turn translucent. Pulverize the chickpeas in a food processor, aiming for a sort of lumpy oatmeal sort of thing. If you use dried chickpeas as I did, it might help to add a little light vegetable oil to get something pasty. Canned might not need it.
Mix together the chickpeas, breadcrumbs and tomato sauce in a bowl and fold in the vegetables. Any experience you have with making a meatloaf will come in handy here: just knead/stir/mash it until it comes together like a meatloaf. Fold in the eggs — you might not need both eggs if it seems like it’s holding together on its own.

Loaf moldsSpray some oven-safe bowls with baking spray. If you’re using cheese, sprinkle down a layer of cheese on the bottom of each bowl, then press the bowl just shy of full with the chickpea mixture.
Place the individual bowls in a water bath. If you’ve never done this before, it works like this: put the bowls in a largeish pan, like a lasagne pan, and put the pan in the oven. Then pour water into the pan around the bowls enough to fill it up to about the middle of the bowls. This is the technique that minimizes you splashing water all over the place and soaking your little chickpea roasts. Now, if anyone has a good technique for getting them out of the water bath at the end, let me know. I pretty much just ended up taking one for the team and grabbing something hot.

Completed loavesCook at 350° for about 45 minutes or until firm. Remove the bowls from the water bath and run a thin knife around the edge of each bowl. Invert over a plate and give it a few gentle taps until the loaves fall out.

Bon Apetit

Ross Cooks! I wonder if they call them lentils because you can eat them during pre-Easter fasting… (Lentil Curry)

A few nights ago, I made lentils for Dylan to take to daycare for lunch. He refused them for blandness, so they got recycled into a side dish for last night’s dinner. With just a bit of seasoning, I transformed the leftover lentils into something that met with approval from Mommy, Daddy and Baby alike.

  • 12 oz cooked lentils (I’m pretty sure I overcooked ours, which was good for Dylan, though I thought it made them taste a little starchy)
  • 2 Tbsp butter (As always, a bit of black truffle butter will kick it up a notch)
  • ~1Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ of a medium onion, diced
  • 1-2 Tbsp curry powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground corriander
  • 1 tsp Mohini Indian Fusion Vegetable Blend
  • ¼ tsp Puerto Rican-style adobo powder
  • ~¼ cup broth (I used beef; chicken or vegetable would work fine)
  • 1tsp-1Tbsp heavy cream

Melt the butter in the oil over low heat. Increase heat to medium and cook onions to translucency. Stir in 1 Tbsp curry powder, the cumin, and the corriander, then add the lentils. Add broth to thin the lentils out to the desired thickness. Don’t go all the way to soup (Well, I guess if you wanted lentil soup, I have no objection), just enough that the lentils will conform to the pot instead of sitting there in a lump. Bring to a simmer, then add the Vegetable blend (If you don’t have any on hand, any sort of vegetable curry seasonings will work) and adobo. Cover and simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes. Add a bit of cream, shooting for a smooth texture. Taste, and add more cream, curry or adobo until you’re happy with it. Simmer 5 more minutes, then remove from heat and let stand, covered, a few minutes.
I served this beside sausages in a homemade red sauce, but that’s just because it’s what I had ready to hand.

Ross Cooks! Torte Reform (Pulled Pork Torta)

This was adapted from a recipe for a Pulled Pork Torta provided to Delish.com by Eatingwell.com. I made a few modifications and took a few liberties based on local availability of Stuff In My Fridge and my desire to try out a pair of Tortilla Bowl Makers I’d just bought. If you follow the original recipe and use a pie pan and larger tortillas, you’ll probably only need one. This made two mini-tortas for me. A slightly larger tortilla probably would have worked better, but it was my first time at the new Weigman’s and I couldn’t find low-carb tortillas, and had to go with what was in the fridge. Mine is also less spicy, in keeping with Leah’s preferences. Still too spicy for Dylan, who requested a little taste, and then freaked out when he got it.

  • 1¼ c Unsauced Pulled Pork
  • 2-3 oz Turkey Pepperoni, Sliced and quartered (Or cubed if your turkey pepperoni comes unsliced)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • ¼ c apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp crushed garlic
  • About 4 oz. chili sauce
  • About 1 tsp minced chipotle chile in adobo sauce
  • pinch salt
  • Pinch black pepper
  • pinch white pepper
  • 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes with green pepper and onion, liquid drained
  • ¼ tsp oregano
  • About a tablespoon italian parsley, chopped (Now, I actually meant to use cilantro here, but the parsley worked out fine. And I hear parsley reduces the risk of ovarian cancer, so stick that in your uterus and smoke it.)
  • ¼-½ cup shredded mexican cheese blend
  • 6 medium low-carb tortillas (or a smaller number of larger tortillas)

Heat the oven to 375°. Put the pork and onions in a small pot over medium-high heat. Add the vinegar and chili sauce. Add the oregano, salt, pepper and chipotle. Cook for about two minutes, stirring regularly. Add tomatoes and pepperoni. Stir and reduce heat to medium. When the oven comes to temperature, spray the tortilla pans with baking spray and press a tortilla into the bottom of each. Put the pans in the oven. After three minutes or so, put in another two tortillas on a baking sheet. Cook everything for about 6 more minutes, then take the tortillas out of the oven and turn off the pot. Gently spoon about a quarter of the pork mixture into the bottom of the tortilla bowls, spreading it flatish. Sprinkle each with cheese and parsley. If you’re using small tortillas, you should be just shy of filling the tortilla bowl. Place the other tortillas from the oven atop the filling and press them into shape as best you can. Split the rest of the pork mixture between the two bowls, then top with the uncooked tortilla. Sprinkle cheese and parsley on top. Now, the original recipe called for drizzling some of the liquid from the tomatoes on top, presumably to keep it from drying out. I forgot, but everything turned out okay. Back into the oven for about 20-30 minutes, until the cheese is whatever shade of golden-brown you like. Unless something’s gone horribly wrong, the tortas should slip out of the pans with a minimum of fuss (It’s a bit tricky since you can’t really get any sort of utensil in under it to lift it. I just flipped the pan upside down and then very quickly flipped the torta back over. It should have enough structural integrity to survive that.

Ross Cooks! Baby’s First Casserole

Technically, this casserole isn’t appropriate for babies under a year, but I’m calling it “Baby’s First Casserole” because I think it’s a good food choice for a parent who’s interested in trying to share a meal with their infant. The process of making it produces baby food as a, um, by-product. Also, though I’ve kicked it up a lot, there’s a lot of elements in here that bear a strong similarity to baby food.
This was basically a “Clean out the half-empty jars and bags of frozen vegetables” exercise, so amounts on some items (The vegetables) are approximate, and you can improvise as you see fit. Other than the cauliflower, all the vegetables were chosen purely on the basis of “I’ve got a bag of these taking up space in the freezer,” so use whatever you’ve got ready-to-hand. It’s got some elements of a Sheppard’s Pie, and some elements of a lasagne (This whole thought experiment started with “What if I made a casserole that was layered like a lasagne, but I used an Alfredo sauce instead of a tomato sauce…”) One of my goals was try to do something with color, because most of my meals end up being so mixed that there’s not really distinct colors in them.

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb bulk sausage (hot)
  • 1 16oz jar alfredo sauce
  • ~½ cup heavy cream
  • ~3 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup onions, diced
  • 16 oz cauliflower, steamed
  • ~8 oz butternut squash, cut up and steamed
  • ~12 oz peas, steamed
  • ~6 oz roasted red peppers
  • 2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 lb cream cheese (You might prefer to substitute ricotta here. Like I said, I was using what I had)
    • You may need some other sauce-type things right at the end. Here’s what I had on hand:

    • ~2 tbsp Cacciatore sauce
    • ~1 tbsp Skillet Chipotle Pumpkin Sauce
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Oregano
  • Garlic
  • Basil
  • Cajun Seasoning
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Saute the onions in a couple of teaspoons of melted butter and vegetable oil in a medium-large pot. Mix the beef and sausage together and add them to the pot, then add the Worcestershire sauce and about a half a cup of water and cook over medium low until the meat has lost most of its redness. Drain the meat and onions. If everything worked out properly, the water should have kept the meat from clumping together, but since we live in the real world, it probably didn’t. Break it up as best you can. I pulsed it a few times in the food processor. Return everything to the pot and add the whole jar of alfredo sauce and a tablespoon or so of cream. Fire it up to a low simmer and leave it there. I like some cajun seasoning pretty much in everything alfredo, so I added a pinch, but there’s going to be so much flavor going on here that you won’t want to go overboard.
In a medium bowl, mix the cream cheese, half the mozzarella and three quarters of the parmesan. Add a pinch of garlic, oregano and basil, and add enough cream to work it into a thick paste.
Food-process the cauliflower into a mash. Take a few spoonfuls out for baby to enjoy with you, then add a pinch of salt and pepper, and a few pats of butter, and a splash of cream, pulsing in the food processor until you get about the texture of mashed potatoes. Take it out and set it aside.
Same deal with the squash. Whip it into pulp, set some aside for baby, then add butter and cream as needed to get a pudding sort of thing going on. Now, I found that on its own, the squash didn’t have a lot of body and was a little too sweet, so I mixed in a few spoonfuls of the cauliflower.
Put the squash off to one side and do the same thing with the peas. The peas are texturally more complex than the cauliflower and squash, and will come out sort of like redskin mashed potatoes. After taking out Dylan’s portion, I added cream but decided not to add any butter this time. Your call.
Finally, pulse the red peppers. They become more of a chunky salsa than a mashed potato. I didn’t add anything to these at all, but I also didn’t think Dylan would be interested.
Take a deep casserole dish or lasagne pan (I used a 13-inch lasagne pan, but it only ended up about halfway full. I think you’d get more interesting textural contrast with a smaller pan and thicker layers) and spread a thin layer of the meat sauce on the bottom (If I’d had some prosciutto left, I think I’d have lined the pan with it). Then spread a layer of the cheese mixture onto that. If you can’t get the cheese to spread properly, work in a little more cream. Next, choose one of your vegetable mashes — I used the cauliflower first, and spread that in a thin layer atop the meat. Make sure you don’t use all of it — you’ll want to hold back between ¼ and ½ at this stage. Next is another layer of meat, another layer of cheese, and another layer of vegetable (Don’t use the red peppers here. Well, okay, do whatever you like I guess). and repeat until you run out of something. Try to work it so that you end on a meat layer.
Now that we’re nearing the top, it’s time to bring things together. Sprinkle the top with the rest of your mozzarella and parmesan. Now, take all the vegetables you’ve held back, and the red pepper puree, and any other thick sauces you’re itching to get rid of, and use them to top the casserole. If the quantities work out, just spread them out in stripes over the top. Or get creative: with peas, red pepper and cauliflower, you could top your casserole with an Italian flag. If your food artistry is up to it, do a festive pattern or something. Thanks to lack of planning, I ended up with a sort of Mondrian thing. The cacciatore sauce ended up going on mine because I reached the end of everything I had prepared and was still a quarter casserole short.
Cover with tin foil and then into the oven for an hour at 350°F. Let it stand for a bit to firm up before serving.

Casserole
Leah had the foresight to snap a photo of my creation before we slaughtered it with a serving spoon


Dylan enjoyed the peas while Mom and Dad enjoyed the casserole with some leftover pasta salad as a side dish.

Ross Cooks! Three Point One Four

Something or other a few months back prompted me to become interested in dishes that integrate an outer pastry layer. I tried wrapping a corned beef in a roll of those flakey layer biscuits (Biscuit layer tasted great but cooking a corned beef that far from water does not yeild optimal results). I tried approximating a Georgian Kachapuri (It was not a very close approximation). And I made various attempts at pot pies and pouring a cup of bisquick batter on top of hearty stews. Finally, I decided to think this problem through and come up with an actual plan. Also, something shifted in the freezer one morning and made it pop open again after Leah got an ice pack out one morning, so three pie crusts I had in there thawed out.
Here’s what I came up with…
Makes 2 13-inch pies…

    The Vegetables

  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter (Yes of course I used White Truffle Butter, do you really need to ask?)
  • 1 Tbsp crushed garlic
  • 2 medium onions, diced fine
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 10 oz Cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • 6 oz shredded red cabbage
  • Salt
  • The Meat

  • 1 lb very lean (90/10) ground beef
  • 1 lb reduced fat bulk pork sausage
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 Tbsp Skillet Chipotle Pumpkin Sauce
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ cumin
  • Salt
  • The Sauce

  • 2 Tbsp butter (A little black truffle butter in the mix here is called for)
  • 3 Tbsp unbleached whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup red wine
  • ¼ cup V-8 or comparable vegetable juice
  • ¼ cup chicken broth
  • 1 more Tbsp Skillet Chipotle Pumpkin Sauce, for good measure
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • Also

  • 4 pie crusts, or 3 pie crusts and a cup of bisquick batter.
  • 1 cup frozen peas and carrots

Heat up a large skillet over high heat (If you are doing this all at once, use a 4 quart pot instead. I did the first half the night before and let everything chill overnight first). Toast the pine nuts for a minute or so, stirring constantly. Add the oil, then remove from heat and add the butter and garlic. Once the butter’s melted and the garlic is aromatic, reduce the heat to medium and add the onions. Cook them for 3-4 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and add everthing else. Cover and simmer until everything’s tender, about 10 minutes or so. Drain the vegetables well, scrape out anything burned to the pan, and set aside.
Turn the heat back up to medium-high. Spray the pan with cooking spray and add the meat. Count to thirty, then add the water, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir the meat until thoroughly broken up (Adding the water is the trick here to
minimize clumping. Add everything else from that section. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let cook until the meat is completely cooked, about 20 minutes. Taste it and see if it needs more seasoning — this is going to be the dominant flavor of your dish. Drain the meat thoroughly. At this point, I stuck everything in the fridge and went to bed. If you’d prefer to soldier on, be my guest.
Preheat the oven to 400°. Put everything in a 4-quart pot on low heat and stir together. Add the peas and carrots. Take two 13″ pieplates and press crusts into them. Blind-bake the lower crusts for about 20 minutes to ½ an hour. Then freak out because despite your having done everything Emeril and Alton Brown said about blind-baking, your crusts still shrank, bubbled, and collapsed. S’okay, we’ll work around it. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, melt the butter then whisk in the flour and cook it for three minutes over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and add the wine, working in the roux, then return it to the heat and add the other liquids. Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat to low and reduce by half. Taste it, and add brown sugar until it isn’t too tart (This will depend on how tart your red wine was).
Once your pie shells are ready, remove whatever you weighted down the inside with, and fill it with the meat and vegetable mixture. Fill both shells about as full as you think they ought to be, then pour the sauce over that (Do not add so much
sauce that the filling becomes soupy. You’re shooting here for something texturally more in the taco family than the chilli family), then add any filling you have left over on top. Press the top pie crust onto the top, crimping the edge as best you can — I assume you have at least a passing knowledge of what a pie is supposed to look like (or if, like me, you had an odd number of pie crusts due to a failed experiment in trying to invent the Irish Calzone, pour the batter over the top). Use a small, sharp knife to cut a few slits in the top crust, then into the oven with it (Put something under the pieplates. I didn’t have any trouble with them leaking, but I’m not taking the blame for you making a mess of the oven) for about half an hour (You can just follow the instructions on the pie crust package if you’re using prefabricated crusts. All you’re cooking at this point is the shell.). Let stand at least 10 minutes before cutting into it.
This is a pretty hearty and delicious pie. Leah and I ate one for dinner that night, and the other sustained me over the following weekend.

Ross Cooks! I vill pound ze chicken flat und tell zem it is veal (Steak Marsala)

This would probably be good on rice or pasta, but I felt the need to lay off the carbs that day, so I served it with spinach. If I’d had the time, I’d have sauteed the spinach, maybe with some diced onion and crushed red pepper, but Leah was already looking pretty appaled by the mess I’d made with the frying, so I just microwaved the spinach with a bit of white truffle butter. Whatever you do, the important thing about spinach is to press all the water out of it before you serve it. If I’d had any on hand, turnip greens or swiss chard might have been nice instead.

  • 1 lb beef cube steaks, cut into 4 small steaks.
  • ¼ cup unbleached whole wheat flour
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp salt (Here, I used Applewood Bacon Salt)
  • ~3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 Tbsp butter — I used 1 Tbsp white truffle butter and 3 Tbsp black truffle butter
  • ~2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp crushed garlic
  • 1 cup marsala wine
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 12 oz cremini (baby portabella) mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • ½ tsp dried rosemary, crushed

In a large skillet, heat up enough vegetable oil to completely cover the bottom of the pan. In a flat dish, mix together the flour, pepper and salt. Dredge the steaks in the flour mixture, covering completely. Set the remaining flour aside (Yes, really. Bet you didn’t think I’d say that, did you?). When the oil comes to temperature, take it off the heat and add a tablespoon of butter (Use the black if you’ve got it), melt the butter, then put it back on medium-high heat. Cook the steaks for somewhere between a minute and ninety seconds, turning over about 2/3 of the way through. Transfer the cooked steaks to a plate covered with a couple of paper towels. You can put another paper towel on top if you like. Add just enough of the marsala wine to deglaze the pan and sort of push the resulting sludge to one side. Turn the heat back up and add enough olive oil to sautee in. When it comes up to temperature, again take it off, and add another tablespoon of butter (white this time) and the garlic. Sautee the garlic quickly while the pan is still hot, then put it back on medium heat and add the onions. Sautee the onions for about 3 minutes, then add the mushrooms and keep on sauteeing for another minute. Add the rest of the marsala and the chicken broth. Turn the heat up and bring it to a boil. Once it’s boiling, add in the rosemary and the rest of the butter, then slowly whisk up to 2½ tablespoons of the leftover flour mixture. The stirring will have stopped it boiling, so let it boil again, then reduce to a low simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until it’s reduced in volume by half (I stuck a toothpick in it and marked the level, then used that to check for how much reducing it had done), which took me about 20 minutes. Turn the heat up to medium-high and put the steaks back into the pan as they’ll be ice cold by now. Cover and cook another 3 minutes or so, then remove from heat and serve.

Ross Cooks! I swear I’m gonna get back to reviews at some point (Middle Eastern-Inspired Chicken and Asparagus)

Leah really liked this, though we both agreed that there was something missing. Not sure what.

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup balsamic-flavored vinegar
  • ½ tsp whole coriander seeds
  • ¼ tsp white pepper
  • ½ tsp fajiat seasoning (Note: Whatever google tells you, this is not a misspelling of “fajita”)
  • 1 medium onion, sliced thin
  • 1 cup pine seeds
  • 1 bunch asparagus (about 2 cups), bias-cut
  • ¼ tsp ground coriander
  • 1 cup finely chopped parsley
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp tandoori spice
  • ¼ tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 can garbanzo beans (ie chickpeas), drained
  • 1 3/4 cup yogurt
  • Salt
  • 1 tbsp heavy cream

Mix balsamic and olive oil with coriander, pepper and fajiat and marinade for 2 hours.

Put the pine seeds in a large skillet over high heat. Once they start to get toasty, add the chicken complete with the marinade, then add the onions. Sautee for 3-5 minutes, then reduce heat to medium. Add asparagus, spices and parsley, then chickpeas. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, then stir in 1 cup of the yogurt. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Add remaining yogurt and salt to taste. Remove from heat and stir in cream.