Sunday, November 3, 2013

Cooking for Babies


So you thought that I'd forgotten about this site, and it had gone by the wayside like thousands of other well-intentioned blogs.

OK, that's true. BUT. I've been writing recipes and sending them to people, so I thought that it was awfully silly to let all that typing go to waste, and since I have a venue, I might as well post them.

As part of preparing for the impending visit from Thumper as well as cooking for other recently reproduced couples, I've been making a few freezer friendly recipes. Hence the vegetable stew below.

The pancakes are a favorite of K's so I have been making them frequently, and also took them over to make breakfast for another recent arrival a few weeks ago.


Vegan Vegetable Lentil Stew with Wheat Berries

1 stalk celery chopped fine (I usually put in more, but that's all I had)
2 Onions
6-10 cloves of garlic (about half a head)
2 qts vegetable stock (you can substitute chicken stock)
4-6 Red Potatoes (I like red potatoes, since the seem to hold texture longer/better than russets in this application)
1 1/2 C Green (French) Lentils
1 1/2 C Wheat Berries (Barley also works well)
3-4 Bay leaves
8-10 stalks fresh thyme
2-3 T Dried Tarragon
2 T Bouquet Garni (a mixture of Savory, Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, Basil, Dill, Marjoram, Sage, and Tarragon)*
4 large carrots chopped into rounds about 1/2" thick
1 Head of Cauliflower chopped into bite sized chunks
1 Bunch of Broccoli chopped into bite sized chunks
3-4 Cubes Veggie bouillon (This is an easy way to add umami in vegetarian soups. If you sub chicken stock, you may choose to leave these out.)
salt to taste
olive oil
I was making this for millions (well three families to have 2-3 meals each from it) so it makes about as many gallons as fit in my largest soup pot (about 2).

*Herb notes

I often use herbes de Provence, but couldn't find it this time. Of the ones in bouquet garni, the important ones are rosemary and thyme, I think, but any combination should work. You may have to try a few times. The tricky part is that the flavor develops over the boil, so it's a little hard to taste/adjust. I've found that it's hard to over-season, though, so be adventurous here.

Heat 4-6 T olive oil in a soup pot.

Dice onions and mince garlic and add to the oil along with the celery. Stir until the onions get clear and start to caramelize.

Add stock and use a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape the sides of the pot and get any browned stuck onion bits knocked back into solution.

Add the bay leaves, spices, potatoes, lentils, and wheat berries next (I added the wheat berries a little late in the process for this version, but I think sooner is better). Cook until the potatoes are just getting soft.

Add all the rest of the veggies (carrot, cauliflower, and broccoli), along with bouillon and you may need to add water to just cover. At this point (once the bouillon cubes have dissolved) taste and add salt. This soup will take a bunch of salt so you'll probably add 2-3 T. You can under salt it a little, though and add more at the table.

Cook until the veggies and potatoes are cooked to your liking. Broccoli and cauliflower are tasty when they still have a little texture, but are also good when they're cooked to death, so in this regard, you can kind of pick your own adventure. Once you reheat it a few times everything ends up more or less mush, hence my preference for red potatoes which resist that better than most.

Cottage Cheese Pancakes

170g Self Rising Flour (I use Gold Medal, but any brand should work)*
5 Large Eggs (~240g)
260g Milk
80g Cottage Cheese
20g Butter 
*A note on self-rising flour:
If you don't have self-rising flour, you can add your own baking powder, salt, and (optionally) baking soda to the batter. If you decide to go that route, I highly recommend that you mix the flour, salt (about a teaspoon/C of flour), and baking powder (2 teaspoons/C) to the flour in a separate dish, and then add it to the batter to reach the desired stiffness. This prevents having to guess how much more baking powder to add to a batter as you go.

If you use softened or melted butter that seems to be the easiest. Butter's not required, though I think it makes them slightly tastier.

Beat the eggs together and add the cottage cheese and butter to that. On the butter, again, you can use as much or as little as you like to get the flavor you want. I find that they are so buttery that I don't add butter at the table (though K does, so you can go either way).

Next add in the flour to form a thicker batter (close to or thicker than normal pancake consistency).

Finally, I add the milk to get back out to a batter thinness somewhere between traditional pancakes and crepes.

I always cook them in butter instead of oil. If you chose to use oil, I recommend corn over canola (canola has a slight flavor that I don't love in these.) If you use a non-stick or cast-iron skillet, you'll need very little extra cooking fat per batch. I tend to add a little more butter (about a pat) every three to four batches through the skillet.

You can also usually extend the batter with more milk and flour too, since these are so eggy, you can get more out of them with more milk and flour.

Today, for example, though I used 6 eggs, I probably doubled the recipe for everything else, so just play around until you find the texture and flavor that you love.

As a note, the cottage cheese can be sticky on the second side (after they have been flipped) so you may need to practice getting the first few out of the skillet.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Week of 4 Apr, 2010

A new week a new trend.

This week I've been thinking ginger. I'm not sure where the inspiration came from, but it's at least related to my secret (well not so secret) desire to make my own ginger beer. Some of this was also started when some friends and I decided to make our own drink mixers (including tonic water).

After a little trip to the grocery store last Tuesday, I was a little richer in ginger, and did not yet have a mechanism to turn it into ginger beer, so I took the middle road and started to put it into other things.

I started a little early on this weeks theme actually doing the first thing with it on Thursday. Currently I'm on a lowered carbohydrate diet which really means that trying to do something with ginger and chicken (the first thing I found in our freezer) becomes much more challenging when you can't whip up a simple teriyaki style ginger-soy marinade.


Ginger-soy chicken
3 cloves garlic minced
1 tbsp chopped ginger
1/4 C soy
1/4 C olive oil
1/4 C Port wine
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast meat
I marinaded the chicken briefly (about 10 minutes) and then lightly fried this (in a few tablespoons of olive oil, so not too hot).

The upshot was that it was very tender and had okay flavor, but was just a little too salty without the sugar to mediate. I wanted to add some sesame oil and seed which I think might have added more flavor with less salt, but didn't have it on hand ... so yeah, no great shakes.


What is more traditional than Adobo on Easter Sunday? Um .. okay, probably lots of things, but it's what I had, and so it's what I made.

I had read a little bit about braising recently in this month's Cook's Illustrated, and so I wanted to go in that direction, but I also had a bunch of leftover chopped ginger and garlic that needed to be used, and that didn't jive with the light sage butter sauce that they were trying to do so I went off in a slightly different direction.

Impromptu Adobo
4 Chicken thighs, skin-on, bone-in, trimmed (but not aggressively so) to remove excess skin
2 tbsp minced ginger
2-3 cloves garlic
2 tsp (or more) crushed red pepper
1 C low-sodium soy sauce
1 C vermouth
2 C vegetable stock
1/2 C rice vinegar (augmented with balsamic, since I ran out)'
1/4 C canola oil for frying
Preheat the oven to 325

I fried the chicken thighs skin down in very hot canola oil until they were nicely browned (about 5 minutesish). I then turned them over to start the cooking on the bottom as best as possible, and cooked them there for about 4-5 minutes as well.

I removed the chicken from the skillet, and drained off all but enough oil to cover the bottom, and then cooked the ginger, garlic, and crushed red pepper in that until the garlic started to brown. I then added the vermouth to deglaze the pan, stirring to get all the browned bits unstuck from the bottom.

I added the chicken back to the pan, skin side up, and then added the rest of the liquids essentially until most of the thigh was under liquid, but the skin was still above the surface.

I then put the whole thing in the over for a little less than an hour.

It came out quite nice, although I was impatient, so I didn't reduce the liquid as much as I might have once I took it out of the oven. I did add a little cornstarch to thicken the pan liquid and then served that over the thighs, but I think that I could have reduced it by half or more so that it took less sauce to give the final dish the punch I was looking for.

Anyway, that's it for now, perhaps I'll augment this post in a bit.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Week of Mar 21st 2010

Okay, since I'm doing this as a bit of a retrospective, I'll see what I can do to get it all right.

This weeks theme:

Overwhelmingly, this weeks theme was Tik N Chik.

What is that? Tik N Chik is a style of cooking a whole fish in an Achiote marinade created (I think) on Isla Mujeres in the Yucatan in Mexico.

What is Achiote?

Achiote is commonly called Annatto, and used primarily for color in American and European cuisine. It's made from the crushed seeds of the Bixa Orellana bush.

The taste I can best describe as kind of smokey/earthy/savory. It's really fantastic in this recipe.

Quick Achiote marinade/rub for fish and chicken in the style of Tik n Chik:
1 Tbsp Achiote paste
Juice of 1 orange and/or 1 lime
2-3 cloves garlic minced
1/4 C olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste


I used this marinade/rub once with orange and once with lime juice. I tried the orange version on Arctic Char. I rubbed it first with salt and pepper and then basted with the marinade.

I was able to try out the new cedar planks that were given to me for my birthday for the first time. The goal of these is to simulate a more smokey, charcoal grill flavor on the gas grill.

I grilled the Char skin down on the grill on the boards basting the Char one time about halfway through the cooking. I think that it probably cooked all the way through in about 15 minutes.


I ended up dropping by Costco and picking up a nice pair of thick Ahi filets which I tried an impromptu pistachio crust on.

I didn't do anything particularly interesting or smart to make the crust or to get the pistachios to stick. I just crushed them in a mortar and pestle and stuck them on with some salt and pepper. I then seared the whole thing in a medium-hot skillet with a small amount of olive oil.

The filet was thick enough that I had to slice them in half to about 3/4 of an inch so that they could cook almost through, creating a nice medium-rare steak without burning the nuts.

The result was quite tasty, the pistachios caramelized nicely, and created some extra interest. I'm sure that if I try this again, I'll actually look for a recipe first. I might try to use something sticky (like egg?) to adhere the crust since there's a lot of collateral loss during the frying process.


I revisited the Tik n Chik, this time with lime and on Tilapia. I pan fried the result rather than grilling, and it was nice. Tilapia has a muddy catfish-like flavor which is not as complementary with the savory smokey Achiote, as Snapper (which is what we had in Mexico,) but it's not an awful way to go.


I tried to go ahead and marinate the Tilapia overnight from Tuesday, and then grilled it in the same fashion as the Char.

It was okay, but not great. I much preferred (to my surprise) the pan-fried version.


I honestly I can't recall the rest of the week. So that's all I got for now.

So yeah, that's the first week. Last week was pretty boring, but I'll see if I can get this next week off to a good start.

Why Am I Doing This

So it turns out that I like to cook. I was raised in a family where it was just second nature to throw together another creative meal and to involve the kids. Now my family wants something back. I've been constantly asked by siblings and siblings-by-marriage for recipes.

I grew up mostly without recipes, so it's always a little hard for me to get in the habit of writing anything down, but, since I've been cooking more than usual recently, I figgered I'd attempt to log what I've eaten in the last week and how I made it. You know, for posterity or somepin'

Hope it is useful to the few that I'm writing it for, and perhaps the wider world in general.