Sunday, December 14, 2014

Too Damned Easy Sausage Gravy

     I wasn't always a fan of biscuits and gravy. In fact, I didn't even know it existed until I went to college and they served it at the cafeteria. Biscuit and gravy day was one of the few weekdays I would get up early. Now I make it at home and don't have to get up early to do it. I don't even have to wear pants. This particular recipe has some heat, as I use plenty of seasoning. It's good on biscuits, crescent rolls, eggs, hash browns, or just about anything breakfasty. It's super fast and easy to make and really dresses up a tube of store-bought biscuit dough.

Too Damned Easy Sausage Gravy
Ingredients

  • 1 pound country sausage
  • 3 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1-3/4 cups milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne 
Directions
  1. In a medium saucepan, brown sausage. Do not drain the grease.
  2. Lower the heat to low and add all the other ingredients. Stir until dry ingredients are totally incorporated into the milk. Adjust the milk/flour ratios if the consistency needs work. Just remember you may have to adjust the seasonings to account for increased flour and/or milk. 
  3. Once it's the consistency you like, take it off the heat and get it on some biscuits!
Good times!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Sour Cream Cranberry Coffee Cake

     Coffee cake holds a bit of nostalgia for me. When my mom would have company over, she'd eventually ask if anybody wanted "coffeeanne." At least that's what I heard as a child. What she was talking about was a spot of dessert. She was serving coffee and a light dessert. That dessert was usually a coffee cake. The coffee cakes were almost always the packaged Entenmann's ones. I can't have coffee cake without thinking of a group of adults at the kitchen table, smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee while eating coffee cake. Nostalgia aside, this is a moist and tasty coffee cake. The cranberries give it a hell of a zing. I would be happy to serve this with my next coffeeanne. As always, notes and changes are in blue.

Sour Cream Cranberry Coffee Cake
via Taste of Home Everyday Light Meals
Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) reduced fat sour cream
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce (we used sweetened, since it's all we had in the house)
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil (I figure vegetable oil is close enough. That's what I used, anyways)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (The Wife suggested we use the frozen cranberries lurking in the back of the freezer before they achieved sentience and attempted to take over the house)
  • Topping
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup quick-cooking oats 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter
Directions
  1. In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients. In another bowl, combine the egg, sour cream, applesauce, oil and vanilla (why did they specify these ingredients and not just say "the next five ingredients? Do they think we're stupid? Probably. Screw these people.) Stir into dry ingredients until just moistened. Fold in berries. Pour into a 9-inch square baking pan (we used a 9"x13" Pyrex dish) coated with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. For topping, in a bowl, combine the brown sugar, oats and cinnamon. Cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over batter. 
  3. Bake at 350F (180C Gasmark 4) for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean (ours took the full 45 minutes).
Good times!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Stuffed Cabbage Soup

     I love my close, personal friend, Rachael Ray to death. However, her cutesy language has got to stop. Like this particular recipe. She calls it a stoup. Stoup? What sort of shit is that? Is it soup or stew? It's really thick soup? Then it's a damned stew. Get over it. Just stop this sort of nonsense. Look, it's a bowl full of cabbage and beef. When you're sitting on the toilet howling in despair, you're not going to be coming up with cutesy names for what's going on in that bowl. No stoups there, my friend. With that out of the way, I'm calling this soup. It's a good, hearty soup. You will enjoy it. That is an order. As always, notes and changes are in blue. 

Stuffed Cabbage Soup
via Rachael Ray 2,4,6,8 Great Meals for Couples or Crowds
A 30-Minute Cook-Book
Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 1-1/2 pounds ground meat loaf mix (a combination of beef, pork and veal) (veal? Sorry, I was getting the mahogany trim in my Lear jet varnished and didn't have the opportunity to pick any up. I guess we'll just have to go with all 73/27 ground beef. Just remember to drain it!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground coriander (screwed up and only used 1/2 teaspoon. No harm done)
  • 2 teaspoons smoked sweet paprika (I loves me some smoked paprika. I used about a tablespoon)
  • salt and pepper (why do people insist on adding salt to dishes that use canned goods? There's plenty salt going on right there. I did use a few grinds of fresh black pepper)
  •  1 bay leaf (by now you should know my stance on bay leaves)
  • 1 onion, chopped (We went with a sweet onion)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced with a vegetable peeler into strips, then finely chopped (I think they meant "grated." That's what it sounded like to me, so that's what I did. I'm not a real chef. I can't be bothered with frippery like that)
  • 1 pound Savoy cabbage, thinly sliced (I just used regular old green cabbage from my garden, because that's the sort of shit we rustic types do. Just pluck a bastard from the garden and chuck it on a plate)
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (I used two 14.5 ounce cans. Didn't drain the liquid either)
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 cup white rice
  • handful fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped (omitted)
Directions
  1. Heat a deep pot over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and meat. Brown the meat (draining grease if necessary. It was for me because I used cheap-ass meat. Ask for it by name)
    You can never go wrong with quality "miscellaneous service meat"
  2. Season the meat with the allspice, coriander, smoked paprika, salt (if you're a fan of high blood pressure) and pepper. Then add the onion, carrots, garlic and bay leaf. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften, then add the cabbage to wilt slightly. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce and stock and bring to a boil. 
  3. Add rice and reduce to heat to a simmer. Cook for 16-18 minutes until the rice is just tender. Stir in the parsley and dill (if using). Discard the bay leaf (see? Even Rachael Ray knows bay leaves=DEATH)
Good times!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Cinnamon Raisin Sweet Rolls

     Let me come out and warn you right off the bat that this recipe is a P.I.T.A. There's a bunch of steps, and rolling and brushing and separating and dividing. It also takes like 3 hours start to finish including rising time. I will also tell you these things are the bomb-diggety, yo. They are just wonderful. They are soft and chewy and gooey and frosted and wonderful. I mean holy shit, wow, are they good. They just are a colossal pain in the ass to make. Totally worth it, though. As always, notes and changes are in blue.

Cinnamon Sweet Rolls
via Taste of Home Everyday Light Meals
Ingredients

  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 package (.25 oz) active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon plus 1/4 cup sugar, divided (I realized that I have no recollection of including the 1/4 cup sugar. I did not realize it until I re-read the recipe. That tells me it probably wasn't necessary. Or maybe it was and I just forgot. Who knows.)
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil (omitted)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon butter flavoring (omitted)
  • 4 tablespoons butter/margarine only if you're following my changes
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten, divided
  • 1-1/4 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • For Glaze
  • 1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions
  1. In a saucepan, cook potatoes in 1-1/2 cups water until very tender. Drain, reserving 3/4 cup of cooking liquid. Mash potatoes; set aside 1 cup (if you have extra, find some use for it. My suggestion is loading it on a spoon and unceremoniously launching it at your spouse)
  2. In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm reserved liquid. Add 1/2 teaspoon sugar; let stand for 5 minutes
  3. Add the milk, honey, oil (if using), salt, butter flavoring (or butter), sugar, 2 cups flour (screwed up again here. I totally didn't add any flour in this step. I added it all at once later. No harm done as far as I can tell), and potatoes. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 6-8 minutes (or just throw the dough hook on the KitchenAid and let it do the work). Place in a bowl coated with non-stick cooking spray, turning once to coat. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 90 minutes.
  4. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into an 18"x13" rectangle (my rectangle was 20"x14" because I'm a total badass). Brush with some of the egg whites.
  5. Combine brown sugar, raisins and cinnamon; sprinkle over dough to within one inch of the edges. Roll up jelly-style, starting with the long side. Pinch seam to seal. Cut into 18 slices (we ended up with 16 slices because I didn't feel like measuring. I just started cutting shit in half). Place cut side down (technically if you're slicing dough, everything except the ends is cut on both sides) in two 9" square baking pans (I willfully ignored this and used to regular baking sheet which resulted in these wonderful round rolls). Brush with remaining egg white, Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
  6. Bake at 350F (180C, Gasmark 4) for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown (we went 23 minutes and were very pleased). Cool on a wire rack.
  7. Combine glaze ingredients and drizzle over cooled rolls. 
Good times!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Clam Chowder

     I loves me some clam chowder. I fondly remember ordering at family restaurants and getting that sickly white, ultra-thick concoction that smelled faintly of a fire on a fishing boat. I couldn't get enough of that stuff. Then I grew up and realized that it wasn't really supposed to look or taste like that and I'm very lucky I didn't get food poisoning and die from dysentery.

Or snakebite. Always the damned snakebite.
     I was glad to find a recipe for clam chowder that I feel is a bit closer to the intended look and taste. I can't say for sure as I've never had clam chowder in New England. I imagine it would taste just like this, but everyone would be talking with funny accents about how they're going "to wahk theah dahg in Havahd Pahk aftah dahk." This soup was fantastic and will enter the regular rotation. As always, notes and changes are in blue.

Clam Chowder
via Best-Ever Soups
Ingredients

  • 3-3/4 oz salt pork or thinly sliced unsmoked bacon (let's just derail right away and use a half pound of bacon. BACON FTW!)
  • 1 large onion, chopped (we used a Vidalia, figuring the sweetness would work well here)
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1 bay leaf (remember to remove bay leaves before serving! Leave that bay leaf in there and you'll choke like the St. Louis Blues in a Stanley Cup Playoff)
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig (none on hand. I used about 1/8 tsp. dried thyme)
  • 1-1/4 cups milk
  • 14 oz cooked clams, cooking liquid reserved (we used 3 cans at 6.5 oz each. Go big or go home. Unless you're already at home. Then maybe go outside)
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • salt (I used pink Himalayan. Not even kidding), ground white pepper (a scant 1/8 tsp) and cayenne pepper (1/4 tsp)
  • Finely chopped parsley, to garnish
Directions
  1. Put the bacon (who are you fooling with the salt pork? We know you're using bacon) in a pan (we used the trusty enameled Dutch oven) and heat gently, stirring frequently, until the fat runs and the meat is starting to brown.
  2. Add the chopped onion and fry over a low heat until softened but not brown.
  3. Add the potato, bay leaf and thyme. Stir well to coat with fat, then pour in the milk and clam liquid; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender but still firm. Lift out the bay leaf (OR CHOKE AND DIE) and the thyme sprig (if you used it) and discard them.
  4. Remove the shells from most of the clams (AHAHAHA, no. My butler was too busy synchronizing all of my Rolex watches. As previously stated, I used canned clams). Add all the clams to the pot and season to taste with salt, pepper and cayenne.
  5. Simmer gently for 5 minutes more, then stir in the cream. Heat until the soup is very hot, but do not allow it to boil. Pour into a tureen (the butler knows where the tureen is kept, but as mentioned, he was busy with my Rolexes. I used regular bowls). Garnish with chopped parsley and serve. 
Good Times!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Focaccia

     I don't think I'd be able to live with a gluten intolerance. I like bread way too much. I don't have the willpower to resist it. I'd eat a loaf of garlic bread and then sit in the bathroom for an hour screaming and cursing my existence. Then I'd go eat a stack of waffles. Circle of life and all that. Anyway, I've been meaning to try my hand at focaccia for some time and finally found a nice recipe hiding in one of my Frugal Gourmet cookbooks. This particular recipe takes about three hours from start to finish, so make sure you've set aside enough time for this. It's not particularly labor intensive, it just has a lot of rising time. It's totally worth it, as it makes a bread with a lightly crisp crust and a soft middle. It's very flavorful and seems like you could do all sorts of wonderful things with toppings. I'm calling it a winner. As always, notes and changes are in blue.

Focaccia
via The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines
Ingredients
Dough

  • 2 packets quick-rising dry yeast
  • 2 cups tepid water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil (use as many virgins as you like)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or salad oil (salad oil? Is that what you get when you wring out lettuce?)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5-1/2 cups unbleached white flour (I don't believe I've ever had that in the house. I went with regular old bleached white flour)
Topping
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed (I used 4 cloves, and grated them. Take that, Frugal Gourmet!)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, whole
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt (I used a Tuscany salt and pepper mixture in a grinder. Very tasty stuff)
  • Sun-dried tomatoes. The recipe didn't call for them, but The Wife suggested them. They look great, but don't stay on the dough for shit. You pick up the bread and the tomatoes unceremoniously fall off. Not sure what to do to hold them in place. Maybe toothpicks or rubber cement. 
Directions
  1. Dissolve the yeast in tepid water. Add the sugar, olive oil, vegetable oil, and salt. Mix in 3 cups of the flour and whip until the dough begins to leave the sides of the mixing bowl, about 10 minutes (Whip? Whipping dough? Is that a thing? I don't have a whipping attachment for the KitchenAid, so I used the dough hook for the entire procedure)
  2. Mix in remaining flour by hand or with a dough hook and knead the dough until it is smooth. Allow the dough to rise twice, in the bowl, and punch down after each rising (I went with about an hour for each rise. The dough will at least double in size)
  3. Oil 2 baking sheets, each 18x13"(totally didn't bother measuring. I only own two baking sheets so measuring is kind of moot). Using your fingers, press the dough out to the edges of the pan. Allow to rise for about 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 375F (190C, Gasmark 5)
  5. Brush with the garlic mixed with the oil for topping. Sprinkle with rosemary and kosher salt on top (or whatever else you decided to chuck on there). Bake for about 20 minutes (We did 20 minutes exactly and the bread came out golden with a nice bottom crust. Kind of like a diaper)
Good Times!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Satan Sauce

     The garden is finally done for the season and I find myself with an alarming amount of habanero peppers. For added fun, someone at work gave me about thirty more habaneros. I also have a couple of bags of habaneros from the last season in the freezer. Basically I have a shit-ton of habaneros. I turned to my trust copy of Hot Sauce! for a recipe to use. I found this one, but it called for Scotch bonnets. I figure they're pretty close in heat to habanero, so I just used habanero. The end result? This stuff is pretty damned hot with a good, persistent burn. Fortunately, there's a lot of flavor. It's totally worth the burn. What can you do with it? It's good on nachos, but you'd better have your big boy pants on if you're going to eat it like this. I'd be adding it to foods for a little extra oomph. That's just a suggestion. If you're a badass like me, you'll just spoon it into your face right out of the jar. As always, notes and changes are in blue.

Satan Sauce
via Hot Sauce!
Ingredients

  • 1/2 ancho chile
  • 1 fresh Dutch Red, Thai, or jalapeno chile (we used a scary red jalapeno that was lurking in the garden)
  • 16 fresh Scotch bonnets (preferably orange or yellow), stemmed
Didn't have time to run to a haberdashery,
we used orange and yellow habaneros instead.
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped yellow onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (we squeezed it fresh from the bottle)
  • 1 tablespoon gold rum (I hope spiced rum is the same thing. We went with Bacardi Oakheart)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Directions
  1. Submerge the ancho in hot water and soak until soft, about 20 minutes. Drain, then finely chop.
  2. Roast and peel the Dutch Red. Stem, seed and finely chop (since I didn't use a Dutch Red, I didn't feel obligated to roast or peel. I did, however, stem, seed and chop the red jalapeno)
  3. Combine the Scotch bonnets (habaneros)  with the onion and garlic in a food processor and process until finely chopped.
  4. Pour the vinegar, lemon juice and rum into a nonreactive pan and bring to a boil. Pour the liquid into the food processor, add the oregano and the chopped red pepper; process lightly.
  5. Add the chopped ancho teaspoon by teaspoon, processing briefly in between, pulsing only enough to get a smooth yellow-orange sauce with red flecks. Over-processing results in a red sauce (which is what I ended up with)
  6. If you're planning on eating it right away, you're done. If you want to process it for canning, sterilize two half-pint jars and fill with the sauce. Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. As always, refer to the National Center for Home Food Preservation to make sure you don't poison anybody. 
Good times!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Chicken in Spicy Red Sauce Lal Shorve Vala Murgh

     The weather is starting to get cold, so it's time to cook more Indian food! Nothing warms you up like a belly full of fine spices. This couldn't be a more satisfying dish. Chicken and potatoes in tomatoes packed with flavor. I served it over rice because starch. I'm definitely going to make this again, but when I do, I'm adding more heat and cutting back the water to get a thicker sauce. As I made it, it was pretty mild. I wound up adding some sauce made from Carolina Reapers. That helped! Despite the wide array of spices, this dish was really a snap to cook. Give it a try. Or don't. Ignore this and go to McDonald's. You won't hurt my feelings. No, seriously, you'll hurt my feelings. Try it. As always, notes and changes are in blue.

Chicken in a Spicy Red Sauce
Lal Shorve Vala Murgh
via Madhur Jaffrey's Quick and Easy Indian Cooking
Ingredients

  • 2-1/4 pounds chicken pieces (we went with thighs. You can use whatever you want)
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 7 good-sized cloves of garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped (we grated our ginger, but more importantly, why is fresh ginger always measured in inches? What if you have a piece 2 inches long but sixty feet wide? Seems kind of inconsistent)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • Generous pinch ground asfetida. optional (no it's not. Find an Indian grocer or get it online. Trust me.)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2-inch stick cinnamon
  • 6 cardamom pods (didn't have any on hand, but I did have cardamom seeds. We used about a teaspoon worth)
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 3 dried, hot red chiles (we went with dried cayenne)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (in retrospect, I should have gone with 1/2 teaspoon. It could have used a bit more heat)
  • 1-1/2 cup canned, chopped tomatoes (I used a 14.5 ounce can. I didn't drain it, which I will do next time, or cut some of the water that gets added later)
  • 12 ounces potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-1/2 inch chunks (my chunks were about 1/2-3/4 inches. I do what I want)
Ingredients
  1. Sprinkle chicken with salt and black pepper and set aside.
  2. Put the garlic and ginger into a blender with 3 tablespoons water; blend into paste.
  3. Put the oil in a wide, nonstick pan and set over medium-high heat (we went with the trusty cast-iron enameled Dutch oven). When the oil is hot, put in the cumin seeds. Wait for 10 seconds and put in the cinnamon stick, cardamom, cloves and red chiles. Stir for a few seconds until the larger spices begin to turn darker. Put in the garlic and ginger paste. Stir and fry for about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the chicken, turmeric, and cayenne. Stir and fry for another minute (I gave it a few minutes to get a nice brown on the skin of the chicken). Add the tomatoes, potatoes, 1-1/4 cup of water and 1 teaspoon salt (I omitted the salt and will likely cut the water a bit, since I kept the liquid from the canned tomatoes)
  5. Bring to a boil. Cover, turn the heat to low and simmer gently for 25-30 minutes or until the chicken and the potatoes are tender (I live in constant fear of poisoning myself with undercooked chicken, so I gave it an extra 5 minutes or so). 
  6. Make sure to remove the cloves, pods and dried chiles, or at least warn your diners. Remember, much like bay leaves, large spices=DEATH.
Good times!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Pasta with Zucchini and Shrimp

     Our garden has been zucchini fabulous this season. Even in late October, it's still producing. We have been desperately searching for ways to use it up. There's only so many zucchini breads or zucchini boats you can eat. The recipe we settled on turned out to be extremely easy and tasty. While we made some adjustments for what was actually on hand, I think we're actually pretty close to the intended recipe here. We're calling it a winner. As always, notes and changes are in blue.

Pasta with Zucchini and Shrimp
Originally Maccheroni alla Chitarra con Gamberi e Zucchini
via The Geometry of Pasta
Ingredients

  • About 1/2 pound maccheroni all chitarra (that's the same thing as medium shells, right? Because that's what I used)
  • 2-3 zucchini (about 2/3 pound) (they must have some weak-ass garden where they are, because our zucchini are about 2/3 pound EACH. That's just how badass we are. We used one zucchini and one small yellow squash)
  • 4-1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2-2/3 pound raw shell-on prawns, shelled (prawns! La-de-da! Unfortunately, my chauffeur had the flu so I couldn't get to my man on the coast. I had to make due with a bag of frozen shrimp from Wal-mart. Scandalous.)
  • 3-1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 10 basil leaves, torn or shredded
Directions
  1. Top and tail the zucchini, then cut across into half to make them a manageable length. Slice each section lengthwise in thin, 1-2 millimeter slices, then stack the slices and cut into julienne strips the same width as the pasta will be when cooked. You could lightly season these with salt a few minutes, but it isn't really necessary.
    Yeah, it's totally not going to happen like that.
    (Now the previous instructions as we did it: Cut the ends off the zucchini. Run the bastard through a mandoline with the julienne blades in. Don't worry about how long you cut them. Carry on.)
  2. Put the pasta on. (I would, but it doesn't go with my outfit at all)
  3. A few minutes before the pasta is cooked, heat a wide saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil and garlic, which should fry a little, but not color. 
  4. Add the zucchini, prawns (shrimp), and salt and pepper to taste. Fry until prawns are half cooked, then add the butter. Sautee until the sauce is luscious (Whoo! Somebody had their thesaurus out when they wrote this!) and the zucchini is wilted, but with some bite.
  5. Drain the pasta and toss into the sauce, increasing the heat to high for the last 30 seconds. Stir in the basil and serve.
Good times!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mapo Tofu

     It's always nice to find simple recipes in cooking magazines. Half the time they require ridiculous ingredients with insane direction. "Lightly lambaste a pre-pubescent hedgehog for 16 hours before braising another 12 hours in a reduction of leprechaun tears and the sweat of an owlbear." I hate that sort of shit. Give me a nice simple recipe involving simple ingredients. If I can bang it out in under 30 minutes, that's even better. This is one of those recipes. This came together in about 20 minutes and was plenty tasty. I like that options for the harder to find ingredients were provided. Naturally, I took liberties with the recipe. The end result was plenty tasty and very filling. We'll call it a winner and add it to the rotation. As always, notes and changes are in blue.

Mapo Tofu
via Food and Wine Magazine
Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon canola oil (omitted)
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef chuck (85% lean) (That didn't happen. I went with about a pound and a quarter of 73/27 ground beef)
  • 1/2 pound ground pork (omitted. I figure I'd go straight beef for this)
  • Kosher salt (I try to limit salt intake, so I omitted it)
  • 2 Tbsp. chile bean sauce, preferably tobojan dijan (Nope. I did have black bean garlic sauce, which I used instead)
  • 2 Tbsp. homemade sriracha. Use store bought if you prefer.
  • 2 Tbsp. hoisin sauce or tenmenjan (soybean paste) (We had the hoisin on hand so that's what we used.)
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • One 14-ounce package soft tofu, drained and finely diced
  • 1-1/2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 scallions, finely chopped
  • white rice for serving
Directions
  1. Heat a large pan until hot (if you can heat it until it's cold, you've done something wrong). Add the oil, followed by the beef and pork (since the beef was a touch fatty, I just omitted the oil). Season with salt and cook over high heat, stirring and breaking up the meat until crumbly and lightly browned, about 3 minutes (if you used higher fat meat like we did, remember to drain the grease)
  2. Stir in the chile-bean sauce, hoisin and soy sauce (and the sriracha, if you're using it) and cook, stirring for 3 minutes; gently fold in the tofu.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch into the water. Add to the pan and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in the scallions and serve.
Good times!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Yogurt Corn Bread with Peanut Butter Filling

     There is absolutely no reason to buy corn bread mix in a box. It's really not hard to make. It's even easier when you have a good recipe to work with. This is one of those recipes. I can say that because I stole it from someone who knew what they were doing. I especially like the idea of filling the corn bread with peanut butter. With a smear of jelly, you've got an instant breakfast. I may try filling these with savory stuff like ham, eggs and cheese for self contained breakfasts! As always, notes and changes are in blue.

Yogurt Corn Bread
with Peanut Butter Filling

adapted from The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American
Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1-1/2 cups cornmeal
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1-1/4 cups milk (Amazingly, we were totally out of milk. We went with 1-1/2 cups plain yogurt instead)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • Peanut butter, crunchy or smooth depending on what you like. (if you just want plain cornbread, just leave this out)
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400F (200C, Gasmark 6)
  2. Place all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix with an electric mixer. Add the liquids and mix until smooth.
  3. At this point, if you want plain old corn bread/muffins, just pour what you have into a greased 8x12" pan or put about 3 tablespoons of batter in individual muffin tins and cook for 30 minutes. 
  4. If you wanted the peanut butter filling, grease a muffin pan and put 1 tablespoon of batter in the bottom of each tin (this may not fill every pan. We only were able to fill 10 of the 12 slots on our muffin pan). Place 1 tablespoon of peanut butter in the tin on the batter. Cover with another 2 tablespoons of batter. 
  5. Cook for 30 minutes (baking times may vary)
Good times!


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Middle Class Daube De Boeuf

     When I received a copy of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, I will admit I rolled my eyes a bit. While I have dabbled in French cooking, it never struck me as particularly middle class. Most of what I saw from watching The French Chef on PBS was always insanely complicated and used ingredients I couldn't even pronounce, much less afford. After a bit of reading, I found that there are some rustic recipes hiding in there. I did a baked daube provencal some time ago that was absolutely fabulous. I figured I couldn't go wrong doing a daube from this book. That is, unless I didn't have the ingredients it called for. I had no stewing beef and no suitable wine. I wasn't going to waste my therapeutic bottles of Moscato for cooking. Given the amount of work required to make beef stew here, I'm classifying this recipe as a P.I.T.A.. Changes were made. I imagine if Julia Child were alive and saw me abusing her recipe, she'd likely die on the spot.  I'd like to think she'd salute my ingenuity and creativity, but more than likely I'm looking to get my ass beat in the afterlife if she ever finds me. As always, notes and changes are in blue.


Middle Class Daube De Boeuf
via Mastering the Art of French Cooking
Ingredients
  • 3 lbs lean stewing beef cut into 2-1/2 inch squares, 1 inch thick (we used 3 lbs of ground beef. 73/27, no less. I'm not made of money)
  • A large, glazed earthenware bowl (no)
  • 1-1/2 cup dry white wine, dry white vermouth, or red wine (we opted for a bottle of O'Fallon Cherry Chocolate Beer, because I'll tell you, that shit ain't fit for drinking. We figured it might work for cooking)
  • Optional: 1/4 cup brandy, eau de vie, or gin (while I don't normally skip the opportunity for extra booze, we figured to err on the side of caution and just stick with the beer)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme or sage (we opted for the sage)
  • 1 crumbled bay leaf (no matter how much you crunch it, it will never be enough. Heed the warnings of my mother: unattended bay leaves mean certain death)
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • 2 cups thinly sliced onions
  • 2 cups thinly sliced carrots
  • 1/2 lb lean bacon cut into 1-inch slices 1/4-inch thick and 2 inches long, approximately (Definitely use lean bacon or you're going to be fishing out nasty bacon fat from the final product. As for slice size, we just cut a pack of bacon in half and used them as is)
  • 1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1-1/2 lbs ripe, red tomatoes, peeled, seeded, juiced and chopped (we just peeled them, smashed the shit out of them, and willfully ignored the other steps)
  • A 5-6 quart fireproof casserole 3-1/2 inches deep  (we went with the trusty cast iron enameled Dutch oven)
  • 1 cup sifted flour on a plate (we used the flour, but about 3 tablespoons, and not on a plate. I'll explain later)
  • 1-2 cups beef stock or canned beef bouillon (we used 2 cups of water and a beef bouillon cube)
Directions
  1. Place the beef in the bowl and mix with the wine, optional spirits, olive oil, seasonings, herbs and vegetables. Cover and marinate at least 3 hours (6 if refrigerated), stirring up frequently (we took only the vegetables and herbs and threw them in a bowl with the marinade. Since we were not adding meat at this point, we totally ignored the 3 hour requirement and soldiered on)
  2. Simmer the bacon for 10 minutes in 2 quarts of water (If you've ever seen the movie "Better Off Dead," you'll understand my reluctance to boil bacon. We just gave it a 3 minute zap in the microwave)
  3. Prepare the mushrooms and tomatoes (already did. They're floating in the marinade)
  4. Remove the meat from the marinade and drain in a sieve (we browned the ground beef and drained the excess oil. We then mixed about 3 tablespoons of flour in with the meat)
  5. Preheat oven to 325F (170C Gasmark 3)
  6. Line the bottom of the casserole (or Dutch oven) with 3-4 strips of bacon. Strew a handful of the marinade vegetables, mushrooms and tomatoes over them. Piece by piece, roll the beef in the flour and shake off excess. Place closely together in a layer over the vegetables (we took the ground beef and flour mixture and spread a layer over the veggies). Cover with a few strips of bacon, and continue with layers of vegetables, beef and bacon. End with a layer of vegetables and 2-3 strips of bacon.
  7. Pour the wine from the marinade and enough stock or bouillon almost to cover the contents of the casserole (it took us all the marinade liquid and 2 cups of stock to get the required level of liquid)
  8. Bring to simmer on top of the stove, cover closely, and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers slowly for 2-1/2 to 3 hours (we used the full 3). The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily (obviously don't use this method if you went with the ground beef)
Good times!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Slow Cooker Loaded Baked Potato Casserole

Once again we turn to the trusty slow cooker to burn through surplus ingredients. We had plenty of potatoes and green onions on hand. We also had some sour cream getting ready to go off. We didn't have any bacon, but we did have bacon bits. They worked, but game the dish a queasy pink hue. In the end, it worked. It had all the flavors you'd expect from a loaded baked potato. Would it have been easier to just pop a couple spuds in the oven and then put on the toppings? Yes. Yes it would. There's a lesson to be learned here, but I'll be damned if I know what it is. As always, notes are in blue.

Slow Cooker Loaded Baked Potato Casserole
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds potatoes, washed and cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons bacon bits (if you're not down with bacon bits, feel free to use real bacon. You'll likely need about 1/2 pound, cooked until crisp and then crumbled into the mixture.)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 pound sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
Directions
  1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and dump unceremoniously into a slow cooker that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Cook on LOW for about 5 hours (cooking time may vary. At five hours, give it a taste. You'll know right away if the potatoes aren't done)
Good times!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Atomic Cabbage Joe

     Ah, the venerable Sloppy Joe. What kid hasn't had his parents crack open a can of Sloppy Joe mix and stir it in with some greasy ground beef? My parents, now that I think of it. Sloppy Joe was always something served in junior high cafeterias or grimly eaten in my first apartment. The time has come to update that meal. Enter the Atomic Cabbage Joe. This is a recipe I slightly modified from one of my many slow-cooker cook books. It called for barbecue sauce. I happened to have a particularly volatile batch of home made sauce with jalapeno peppers. The result was a taste sensation. It also caused some phenomenal gastrointestinal distress due to the powerhouse combo of cabbage and hot peppers. Give it a try and see what you think. As always, notes and changes are in blue.

Atomic Cabbage Joe
modified via Fix It and Forget It Lightly
Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 3 cups shredded cabbage
  • 2 cups barbecue sauce (if you're not a huge pansy, use the recipe for BBQ Jalapeno and Onions)
Directions
  1. Brown turkey in a pan; drain.
  2. Load cabbage, turkey and sauce in a slow cooker.
  3. Cover and cook on LOW for 4-5 hours
Good Times!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Slow Cooker Apples in Bourbon Custard

    Holy Shit. I'm not one to normally go nuts about something that came out of a slow cooker, but I can say without fear of contradiction that this is the best thing outside of my chili to ever come out of a slow cooker. I just threw this together completely on a goof and magic happened. Seriously, once you have this, you'll forsake all other slow cooker desserts. We're talking eyes in the back of the head, open mouth groaning kind of good. Unless you don't like apples. Then you're shit out of luck. As always, notes are in blue.

Slow Cooker Apples in Bourbon Custard
Ingredients

  • 6 small-medium apples, spiral cut and cored (you'll need one of those apple corer/peeler/slicer things or you're in for more work than you want)
    This thing. You can find them on Amazon for under $20, or at Pampered Chef for $1,200.
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (we used pecans, but I imagine walnuts or cashews would be delightful)
  • 1/2 cup sultanas (that's fancy-talk for gold raisins)
  • 1 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup Benchmark Brown Sugar Liquor (if you don't want the booze, just use an equal amount of brown sugar. If you can't find Benchmark, you can mix about 2 tablespoons brown sugar with 1/4 cup bourbon for roughly the same effect)
  • 1/8 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Directions
  1. If you haven't already done so, run your apples through that apple corer/peeler/slicer thing. Do your best to get the apple off the spindle whole. You will be scored on artistic merit.
  2. Spray a slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Place the apples in a single layer on the bottom (we were able to barely fit 6 apples in a 2.5 quart cooker)
  3. Mix the chopped nuts and raisins. Fill the middle of each apple where you removed the core. 
  4. In a medium bowl (you can use a large bowl if you'd like. I wouldn't recommend using a small bowl unless you like making a mess), mix sweetened condensed milk, honey, bourbon and cinnamon. Pour mixture evenly over the apples. 
  5. Cook on LOW for 3 hours or until apples start to get tender and liquid takes on a custard-like consistency. 
Good times!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Kosher Dill Pickles

     First off, let me make it clear that these pickles are not truly Kosher. Our house would never pass a Kosher certification. The six pound pork shoulder in the freezer pretty much locks that one up. We don't even grow the veggies right. According to Leviticus 19:19 and Deuteronomy 22:19, we screwed up since we grew our cucumbers in a field with a bunch of other seeds. So, semantics (or Semetics "I'll be here all week! Try the veal and tip your servers! Don't forget the 9:30 show is nothing like the 6:30 show; you can't bring your kids to the 9:30 show!") aside, these are just some tasty pickles to nosh on as you see fit. Eat them from the jar, use them in a potato salad, or slap them on a hot dog (WITHOUT KETCHUP. Please, I'm begging you, don't put ketchup on a hot dog). As always, notes and changes are in blue. 

Kosher Dill Pickles
via Better Homes and Gardens Home Canning Cook Book
Ingredients

  • 2-1/4 pounds 4-inch cucumbers (we just used whatever cucumbers we had on hand. No clue as to type. If they weren't 4 inches, we just cut them down to make sure they'd fit in a pint jar)
  • Fresh dill heads (LOL WUT? No clue as to what they're asking for. I, for one, refuse to decapitate an innocent dill. We used a teaspoon of dill weed in each pint jar)
  • Garlic cloves
  • Hot red peppers (we used whole dehydrated cayenne)
  • Pickling salt
  • 4 cups cider vinegar
Directions
  1. Wash cucumbers. Pack them in hot quart jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace (we derail almost immediately. One, we used pint jars. Two, we used full sized cucumbers, so we cut ours into spears, then shortened them as needed to get them in pint jars. We did, however, wash them. I think.)
  2. To each quart, add 2 heads fresh dill, 1 clove garlic, 1 hot pepper and 1 tablespoon pickling salt
    (if you're doing it our way, you'll be adding to each pint, 1 teaspoon dill weed, 1 clove garlic, 1 dried cayenne and 1-1/2 teaspoons pickling salt)
  3. In a medium saucepan, combine vinegar and 3 quarts of water. Bring to a boil.
  4. Pour boiling liquid over cucumbers, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Adjust lids.
  5. Process in boiling water bath (20 minutes for quarts, 15 for pints)
  6. Yields will depend on how committed you are to violently jamming cucumbers into the jars.
  7. As always, if you're not familiar with canning, go to the National Center for Home Food Preservation to avoid poisoning anyone.
Good times!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Peach Bourbon Applesauce

     There's really not a whole lot to making applesauce. It's pretty much just apples and sugar. It's not really missing anything. Except booze. Everything is better with booze. I took a basic recipe from The Better Homes and Gardens Home Canning Cook Book and added a fantastic peach liquor. The booze cooks out but leaves behind a subtle peach flavor in the applesauce that is just wonderful. If you want the original recipe, just leave out the booze. Canned, this will hold for around a year on the shelf. We like to make a gallon at a time and just put it aside in quart jars. It's nice to get a taste of summer in the middle of winter. As always, notes are in blue.

Peach Bourbon Applesauce
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Home Canning Cook Book 
Ingredients

  • 6-7 pounds apples (use whatever type you like. We just stole ours from our neighbor's apple trees)
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup Benchmark Peach Whiskey
Directions
  1. Wash, quarter and core apples. Combine apples, 4 cups of water and color keeper. Bring to a boil; reduce to simmer for about 15 minutes or until apples are tender.
  2. Press apples through food mill (if you have a KitchenAid with a food mill attachment, this part is wonderfully easy. If you're using a manual food mill, this recipe qualifies as a Pain In The Ass)
  3. Put milled apples in a large pot with the sugar and booze. Cook over low heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil, stirring to prevent scorching or sticking. Taste and add sugar or more booze as needed. 
  4. If you plan on eating a gallon of applesauce on the spot, you can skip this and the next step. Pack into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. 
  5. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath (as always, defer to the National Center for Home Food Preservation to make sure you are canning correctly)
Good times!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Pasta with Cherry Tomato and Red Pepper

     We truly enjoy pasta in our house. There's nothing finer than a finely crafted pasta dish. If that's what you're looking for, you're probably on the wrong website. I can, however, provide you with a tasty and simple pasta recipe. Our garden has been producing tomatoes and peppers like crazy, so we were looking for ways to use them up. A basic, olive oil-based pasta dish seemed just the thing. It totally was. This is a fresh, light recipe that has a bit of a kick from the red pepper flakes. Give it a try and see what you think. Maybe less oil? Maybe add some shrimp? Get creative. As always, notes are in blue.

Pasta with Cherry Tomato and Red Pepper
Ingredients

  • 1 pound pasta of your choice (don't pick something goofy like giant shells or lasagna noodles)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (insert obvious virgin joke here)
  • 2 medium red bell peppers, cored and sliced
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • shredded Parmesan for topping
Directions
  1. Cook pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and sautee for a couple of minutes, until garlic starts to brown.
  3. Add the bell pepper. Sautee for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and red pepper flakes. Sautee another 3-5 minutes. 
  4. Add the pasta and toss over medium-low heat for 2-3 more minutes to incorporate ingredients. Garnish with Parmesan.
Good times!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Pickled Dilled Beans

     First, let me say that I'm not responsible for naming this recipe. Talk to the author of the cookbook. "Pickled Dilled Beans" sounds cumbersome and kind of dumb. Why not just go with "Dill Pickle Beans?" The other way just sounds tortured. If you want a goofy sounding name, how about "Beans, Dilled and Pickled?" Ok, I'm just babbling now. I'd love to tell you how these taste. I have no idea; we just canned them and put them up on the rack. They look very nice. We did a half batch, which is what you see in the directions. You want more, you need to brush up on your multiplication table. Since this is a canning recipe, I once again beg of you to defer to the fine folks at the National Center for Home Food Preservation for tips on how not to give everyone the squirts. As always, notes and changes are in blue.

Pickled Dilled Beans
via Southern Living Little Jars, Big Flavors
Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 pounds fresh green or yellow beans
  • 3 cups white vinegar (5% acidity)
  • 1/3 cup canning/pickling salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 12 fresh dill sprigs (didn't have these in the house. We went with 3 teaspoons dried dill weed)
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
Directions
  1. Sterilize 3 pint jars 
  2. Wash beans, trim stem ends and cut into 4-inch lengths (if your beans were less than 4 inches to start, I guess you'll have to tape them together or something)
  3. Combine vinegar, salt, red pepper and 1 cup water in a stainless steel saucepan (don't put in the dill yet! You're doing that next). Bring to a boil. 
  4. Place 1 clove of garlic and 2 dill sprigs (or 1 teaspoon dill weed) in each of the hot, sterilized pint jars. Pack whole beans tightly in jars (this is where The Wife's freaky little hands come in "handy." She can really get in there and load in those beans). Cover with hot pickling liquid, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. 
  5. Seal and process jars in a boiling water canner for 5 minutes.
  6. Remove jars from the water and let stand, undisturbed, at room temperature for 24 hours (We totally disturbed our jars. We stood right there and told them at length about the state of the economy). Eventually, you should hear a telltale "thunk" noise when the lid locks down. If it doesn't, you can either reprocess them or just put them in the fridge after they've cooled and eat them. Sealed and stored properly, they should last up to a year. Refrigerate after opening.
Good times!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Cabbage Borsch

     As you may already know, we do a lot of canning in our house. We have a fairly abundant garden and are always looking for ways to preserve all those great foods until we really want to eat them. The freezer will only hold so much and there's only so many things that take well to dehydration. That leaves canning. We have exclusively done water bath canning largely due to the fact that I am a big baby and live in fear of leveling the kitchen in a pressure canning incident.

Terrifying.
     This summer, we finally gave in. We admitted that not everything should be pickled.


     We set up for pressure canning. Our first attempt was a cabbage soup out of a 41 year old cookbook. I figure if we made it safely through the initial danger of running the pressure canner, the worst that would happen is botulism when we ate the soup. It turned out that my fears were unfounded. At least the pressure canning fears. We still might get botulism when we eat the soup down the line. If you follow the instructions for your canner and in the link provided below, you might be able to keep insurance claims to a minimum. If you don't want to pressure can, simply stop after step 2, though you might want to cook the soup a bit longer. As always, notes and changes are in blue.

Cabbage Borsch
via Better Homes and Gardens Home Canning Cookbook
Ingredients
  • 5 pounds tomatoes
  • 8 cups coarsely shredded cabbage
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 cups chopped onion (The Wife just informed me we apparently forgot to add the onion. Whoops.)
  • 2 medium apples, peeled and cut into pieces (no specification was made as to type of apple. We used Red Delicious.)
  • 2 tablespoons beef bouillon granules (we used the cubes with a ratio of 2 for every 3 cups of water. Feel free to toy with the measures to get the salt fix you crave.)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • dried cayenne peppers (1 per pint jar)
Directions
  1. Wash, peel, remove stem end and cores and quarter tomatoes. Use a small spoon to scrape out excess seeds, if f desired (no, it was not desired. You already had us do everything other than declare allegiance to these damned tomatoes.)
  2. In a 4-6 quart kettle or Dutch oven, combine all ingredients (that includes the onions. Don't forget the onions like we did and live with the regret). Bring mixture to a boil. Boil, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
  3. Ladle soup into hot jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Adjust lids. Process in pressure canner at 10 pounds. Process pints for 45 minutes, process quarts for 55 minutes. If you're a wuss like me, who is even afraid to open a tube of biscuit dough, you'll wisely spend this time outside behind the safety of a brick wall. IF YOU'RE GOING TO PRESSURE CAN, PLEASE VISIT THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR HOME FOOD PRESERVATION AND READ UP ON THE PROCESS. We don't want you inadvertently remodeling your kitchen or making a needless trip to the emergency room.
Soup's done!
Good times!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Hot and Sour Soup

     Once again I turn to my trusty copy of The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook. This time it's for soup. You can never go wrong with soup. Unless you undercook something and give everybody dysentery. Then I suppose you've gone wrong. You could also spill a scalding hot bowl on your crotch. I suppose that would be wrong, too. OK, you can go wrong with soup. This particular soup is worth the risk. One of my favorite treats at a Chinese restaurant is the hot and sour soup. I am always on the lookout for a recipe that replicates that experience. This does not even come close. Don't let that scare you away. This soup is really tasty and pretty easy to make. We really screwed around with the recipe and were very pleased with the results. If you can manage to keep the sodium down, you've got a really healthy meal. As always, notes and changes are in blue.


Hot and Sour Soup
via The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook
Ingredients
  • 3 or 4 dried black mushrooms (as I do not normally engage in witchcraft, I do not normally stock these. We went with a 15-ounce can of straw mushrooms. Keep the liquid if you use the canned!)
  • 1/4 pound lean pork (none on hand. We went with an equal amount of ground turkey)
  • 2 bean curd cakes (that's kind of a nebulous measurement, so we went with a 1 pound block of firm tofu, cut into about 1/2 inch squares)
  • 1 scallion (we used 2 since the garden is overrun with them)
  • 1 15-ounce can stir fry vegetables, drained. We're talking water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, baby corn, sprouts, etc.)
  • 5 cups stock (we used a home made shrimp stock. Feel free to use the stock of your choice)
  • 1 cup mushroom soaking liquid (obviously you're only going to have these if you used the dried mushrooms. If you used the can like we did, just pour in the liquid along with the mushrooms)
  • 1 tablespoon sherry (none on hand, we used an equal amount of dry vermouth)
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar (since this was hot and sour soup, we used an equal amount of pique sauce. It was still vinegar based, but had an extra hot pepper kick)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 to 1 teaspoon salt (omitted. There's already enough sodium in here)
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper (doesn't say what kind. I used a bit of black and about 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes)
  • A few dashes of Tabasco if you want more heat
  • Sesame oil
Directions
  1. Soak dried mushrooms. Reserve soaking liquid (or just open can and don't drain it)
  2. Sliver mushrooms, pork and bean curd. Mince scallion. Beat egg lightly. Blend cornstarch and cold water to a paste (we didn't cut the mushrooms at all. We used ground turkey so no slicing there. I decided to simply chop the scallions just to be a bastard).
  3. (The original recipe does not specify what to cook the soup in. I went with a 5-quart pot.) Bring stock and mushroom soaking liquid to a boil. Add pork (or turkey. Or both if you're feeling daring) and mushrooms (if you went with the canned mushrooms, just unceremoniously dump the entire contents of the can into the pot. If you're also using the optional can of stir fry vegetables, it goes in at this point, too) and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. 
  4. Add bean curd and simmer, covered, for 3 more minutes.
  5. Stir in sherry (or vermouth), vinegar (or pique), salt (if using. It's your heart; do what you want), soy sauce and pepper. Pour in cornstarch paste to thicken. Stir gently. 
  6. Slowly add beaten egg, stirring gently once or twice (no more than twice! It would be bad. Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light) Remove from heat. Sprinkle with sesame oil and scallions.
    Total protonic reversal.

    Good times!