Friday, July 4, 2014

Spanish Tortilla (omelette)

I think I like leftover potatoes better than the first time they come around, and this is one reason why. This makes a hearty, easy meal that feeds a crowd, and even keeps vegetarians happy. It's great hot, but also good cold as a late-night snack (sort of the 17th century Taco Bell). You can get fancy and make it from raw potatoes (I recommend waxy ones like Yukon Gold), but slice them thin and allow plenty of time for them to cook through.

~2 c. cold leftover potatoes, sliced
1/2 white onion, sliced
3 Tbsp. olive oil
6-8 eggs
1 Tsp paprika (smoked paprika is extra tasty in this)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
Optional: other leftovers

Heat a large nonstick pan with the olive oil. Add the onions and cook 1-2 minutes. Add the potato slices in a single layer, and cook on medium-low until the edges start to crisp.

Crack the eggs into a large bowl and add the salt, pepper, and paprika. TIP: taste the eggs to see if the salt is right--don't fear the reaper. Dump the hot potatoes into the bowl and stir. I think this step allows the potatoes to get thoroughly mixed throughout the eggs and jump-starts their cooking. It also allows you to add more oil to the pan if you think it's necessary.

Dump the egg mixture back into the pan. Cook for ~10 minutes. Personally, I leave the lid on and allow it to cook thoroughly on one side. Other, more adventurous people, flip the tortilla part-way through. You could also put it under the broiler to cook the top if your pan is oven-safe. If you're desperate enough to be making a tortilla out of leftovers late at night, you probably don't want to try flipping it so keep it simple.

Once cooked to your satisfaction, dump onto a cutting board and slice into wedges.

Couscous Salad

This is a great dish to bring bright colors and fresh (non-mayonnaisey) flavors to a potluck. I used "maftoul" (giant couscous), but you could any grain that suits your fancy and stays toothsome when cooked: barley, wheat berries, bulghur, brown rice, wild rice, etc...

1.5 c. maftoul couscous
3 c. chicken broth
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
3 green onions, sliced
1/3 c. red onion, diced
1 can chickpeas, drained
1/4 c. olive oil
1 lemon
1 small bundle fresh mint, sliced thin
1 Tbsp paprika
2 tsp. black pepper
1 pinch allspice
1 Tbsp. salt or to taste
2 tsp. Aleppo pepper flakes (optional)

Bring the chicken broth to a boil and add the couscous (or other grain). Reduce to a simmer and cook until tender (it is OK if there is extra liquid). Drain the grain and rinse under cold water. Cut the vegetables into uniform pieces and add to a serving bowl with the chickpeas and drained grain. Add olive oil and lemon juice and mint. Toss and season, adjusting spices to taste. Chill and serve.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Suya African Grilled Meat

I wanted to try something different than my usual cooking adventures so I ventured into African cuisine. I already love to make sukuma wiki collard greens, and this recipe makes a great main course with the greens. I got the recipe from Kadirecipes.

2 lb grilling meat, such as tri-tip
1/4 c. raw peanuts
1 Tbsp. paprika
 2 tsp. grated ginger
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 bouillon cubes
1 Tbsp salt or to taste

Roast the peanuts and allow to cool. Chop in the food processor until fine sandy texture, but not peanut butter. Blend in the remaining seasonings.

Cut the meat into chunks or strips. Press the seasoning blend onto the meat and allow it to marinate for at least an hour. Place onto skewers, brush lightly with oil (if you are using lean meat) and grill.

I found that my meat needed a bit more flavor pop, so I have increased the seasoning amounts from the original recipe. This meat went perfectly with the sukuma wiki and pap (cornmeal mush) as a side dish. The peanuts added a warm flavor to the meat without overpowering it.

Chori-Pollo: Chicken with Chorizo

This dish is like the mullet of Mexican food: it tempers the healthful protein of chicken breast with the decadent fattiness of chorizo. Everyone wins! I grilled the chicken, but you could cook it any way that works for you. Most restaurants drown this dish in cheese, but it really only needs a little bit to tie the dish together. Would also be delicious with a fried egg on top.

From the left: yellow rice, pico de gallo, chori pollo, avocado, and black refried beans.
4 chicken breasts
2 links or ~1/2 pound loose chorizo
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 onion, sliced
3 Tbsp. oil
2 Tbsp. lard
1 Tbsp. Mexican oregano
1 Tbsp. black pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Adobo seasoning
1/2 tsp. cayenne
salt to taste
1/2 c. grated Queso de Oaxaca or Monterrey Jack, if desired

If the chicken pieces are irregularly sized, pound until they are flat and uniform in thickness. Salt the chicken breasts to taste. Combine the oregano, black pepper, garlic powder, adobo, and cayene, then rub the spice mixture onto the breasts. Drizzle with oil and place them in a ziploc to marinate for 1 hour or more.

Heat the lard in a frying pan and add the chorizo (remove it from casings if you have links). Cook thoroughly until starting to crisp. Add the onions and peppers and saute until the peppers are tender.

Grill or pan-fry the chicken breasts. On my propane grill I pre-heated up to 500 and placed them on the grill, then immediately turned the heat down to 50% and closed the lid. I cooked them for about 5 minutes, or until the edges appeared cooked but the center was still a bit raw. I flipped them and only cooked for about 2 minutes more.  They came out perfect and juicy.

Chop up the chicken breasts and place on the plate, topping it with the chorizo mixture and a sprinkle of cheese. Buen provecho!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Creme de Papaya Smoothie

This dish is from Brazil, where it is often served after a heavy, meat-laden churrasco meal (primarily to tourists), with the idea that the papain enzyme will help dissolve the pile of meat you just consumed. Don't know if it works, but it is definitely delicious. Typically it is made with vanilla ice cream to a pudding-like consistency, but I like this lighter, zingier, smoothie version.

1 c. ripe papaya chunks
1 c. plain yogurt
2-3 Tbsp. sugar
1-2 Tbsp. crème de cassis or Ribena
1 pinch salt
1/4 milk (optional)

Wait until your paypaya is super-duper ripe--I wait until it is on the verge of developing mold and attracting an armada of fruit flies. Peel it and take off some flesh with the peel to get rid of the bitter outer edge. Cut into chunks. I get the big red papayas from the Mexican grocery, but you can use the smaller pear-shaped ones too.

Blend together the papaya, yogurt, sugar, salt, and a dash of the  crème de cassis. Add the milk if you want it to be a smoothie rather than a pudding. Drizzle the remaining crème de cassis over the top. Serve cold.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Fried Rice: Step-by-Step with Pictures!

I received a request to share my fried rice recipe, written for a kitchen beginner. There are a lot of subtleties for making awesome fried rice, which would make it a lot easier to teach in-person; this step-by-step is the next best thing. I'm going to shout a bit in this post, but listen to me if you want your rice to fulfill your every hope and dream!


  1. LEFTOVER rice (at least one night in the fridge, ideally a few days old). If you try to make it with fresh rice it will be mushy. 
  2. A BIG-ASS non-stick pan. Don't try to be a cowboy with cast iron or some other shiz.
I am serious--if you are a beginner, DO NOT PASS GO without fulfilling those requirements or you will be disappointed and frustrated and never try cooking again.

For rice I recommend a long-grain Thai jasmine rice, but other types will work.

If you don't have a GOOD non-stick pan, I recommend Swiss Diamond. If you are concerned about carcinogens or whatever tin-foil hat bullshit you ascribe to, these high-quality pans do not contain PFOA and they are highly resistant to chipping or scratching. Seriously--I bought a whole bunch of fancy (useless) stainless/aluminum pans, but 80% of the time I use my 13" Swiss Diamond nonstick.


  • 6 c. leftover long-grain rice
  • 3 green onions, cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3-4 Tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 3-4 Tbsp. cooking oil
  • 1-2 tsp. chili-garlic sauce

If you want to get fancy, you can add more meat (I recommend pre-cooked/leftovers) and/or vegetables. Also, if you are not a pussy, add some fish sauce. I like to buy large packs of ground pork and cook them all up, then freeze in small containers so I can add them to ramen or fried rice to make heartier meals. The sweet Chinese sausage pictured is AMAZING in fried rice, especially shrimp. If you want to add cilantro, stir in at the very end before serving.

My favorite additions:
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Peas
  • Leftover chicken
  • Ground pork 


Whatever you add, cut it up into evenly sized pieces about 1/2". Do not add more than 1/3-1/2 c. of any one ingredient. You want to have significantly more rice than ingredients, so exercise self-control!

Heat your pan up good and hot so the oil is shimmering and about to start smoking. This will give your rice yummy crispy edges and keep it from getting mushy. Don't skimp on oil--assure yourself with the fact that your favorite Chinese restaurant is probably using 2x the oil.

Gently break the rice apart and stir every 1-2 minutes for 15 minutes or until some of the rice starts to get light brown and crispy. BE PATIENT.

Oooh yeah...that's some good flavor and texture developing--I am so glad I was patient!

Move the rice to the edge of the pan while you cook the other things. This allows it to keep crisping, while keeping the vegetables from over-cooking. I recommend using pre-cooked meat to keep the process simpler.

Lower the heat to medium and stir the vegetables while they cook in the center of the pan. The time this takes will depend on how much veggies you are adding, but should take 3-7 min. If you are using fish sauce, add it at the same time as the veggies to flavor them and allow the pungency to cook off.

NOTE: I like to add half of the green onions at the beginning and half at the end, so they are not all super raw, but still give good flavor.

Once the veggies are cooked to your satisfaction, stir them into the rice. Sprinkle with the oyster sauce and chili garlic sauce and stir in.

Add the things that just need to heat through briefly, like pre-cooked meat and frozen peas. Check the seasoning--if it is not salty enough, add more oyster sauce. Push everything to the sides of the pan again.

Pouur the beaten egg into the center and scramble it as it cooks. It's OK if it combines with some of the rice. Keep scrambling it and chop it up into small pieces with the spatula and mix into the rice.

Give everything a good stir and ta-da!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Date Ball Cookies

These cookies are super simple, and quite healthy for cookies!

2 c. almond butter (or any nut butter)*
2 c. chopped dates (I like to buy whole dates and chop them myself so they become very sticky)
2 c. oats (I prefer quick oats because they are smaller)
optional: coconut, honey, maple syrup, vanilla extract, seeds

Mix well with a spoon and/or with hands. The mixture should stick together well. Use a tiny amount of water if too dry. Add more oats if too wet. If the mixture is too sticky to work with, but you don't want to change the consistency, you can leave it (preferably covered) in the refrigerator up to one hour before rolling the dough into balls. I store these in plastic airtight containers. If you are concerned about them sticking together, you could use wax paper to separate layers of cookies. These keep well in the refrigerator for at least one week.

A similar cookie that is also delicious: Form balls out of mushed dates and crushed walnuts. Roll in coconut.

*I have also heard of people experimenting with using pumpkin purée. I think one could use some sweet potato purée, or bean paste. I haven't tried using these yet, but the recipe is very easy to use for experimentation...

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Kufta in Yogurt Sauce كفتة باللبن

I made this not quite realizing that it was a real recipe - I was thinking of making shish barak (see Mimi's recipe for that), which is kind of like Middle Eastern ravioli. However, I had no patience for making all those little ravioli, but I really enjoyed that sauce. Only later did I realize that this is a legitimate, traditional recipe, called Kufta bil-laban, "Kufta in yogurt." (Not so helpful for everyone, but here's a recipe for it in Arabic.)


1.25 pounds lean ground beef
2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
Dash nutmeg

2 cups yogurt (or 1.75 c. yogurt, 1/4 cup water if yogurt is very thick, like greek yogurt. Middle eastern yogurt is normally a bit watery)
3 tsp. corn starch

4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. (or to taste) cilantro, minced (optional)
Olive oil for sauteing


Preheat oven to 450, or broiler if you'll be able to watch closely. Mix beef and spices, roll into small balls. Place the kufta balls on a cookie sheet and bake or broil until solid and cooked. 

Slowly heat, on very low heat, yogurt mixed with corn starch. In another pan, sautee garlic until it starts to become golden. Throw in cilantro briefly, then pour all of this into the yogurt. Add kufta balls, and cook briefly until combined and everything is warmed and cooked through. 

I recommend serving this on vermicelli rice.  You could also sprinkle some pine nuts on top to garnish.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Crockpot Pulled Pork

I finally figured out the key to good crockpot pulled pork--ignore 90% of the recipes out there and don't add the BBQ sauce until the end. In fact, doing it this way you could go full Southern style and not add BBQ sauce at all. If you add the sauce at the beginning it winds up watery and thin and doesn't let the meat or the sauce really shine.

If you wanted it to be smoky & spicy you could substitute canned chipotle peppers for the paprika and cayenne. I used Sweet Baby Ray's on this last batch and it was too sweet for me. Try to find a BBQ sauce that suits your taste.

I am a crockpot skeptic, but this recipe really works!

Picnics are way more fun as a grown-up...even when it's -11 outside!

1 large 3+ lb. pork shoulder or Boston butt
2 medium onions, sliced
1-2 c. water
1 chicken boullion cube
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. allspice
1 pinch cayenne
salt and pepper
1 jug BBQ sauce

Rub the spices onto the pork. You don't actually have to rub them on, but I find it's easier to gauge the quantity when I do it this way. Place the meat, bay leaves, boullion cube, and onion slices into your slow cooker. Add just enough water to cover the bottom of the crock with 1/2" water.

Cover and set to LOW for 8 hrs or so. Pork should be pull-apart tender when you get home.

Drain and reserve the precious liquid, save the onions. Take the pork out and let it cool enough to handle. Pull it apart into shreds and add it back into the crockpot. (This cult will usually be bone-in...remove bones and discard). Put the onions back into meat and a little of the meat juice. Add the BBQ sauce and crank the heat back up to HIGH. Go watch a Netflix episode as it heats through.

If you don't want a saucy style, add more salt and meat juice to the meat until it is delectable. Serve as-is or with mustard sauce.

I highly recommend the hedonistic option of toasting your bun and then brushing it with a little of the pork fat that rendered off.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sukuma Wiki - African Collard Greens

Eating your greens has never been easier! (Though no one in this family has ever thought it was hard). This makes a hearty side dish with any kind of winter greens--collards, kale, turnip greens. In fact, I don't think this truly needs a main course. It would be great with baked sweet potatoes or polenta. I got the recipe from The Noshery.

Dan's requested birthday dinner--hard to say no to a request for collard greens, especially when they're only $0.69 a (huge) bundle at Cub!
2 bundles collard greens
1/2 lb ground beef
1 large onion, sliced
3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 beef bullion cube in 3/4 c. boiling water
1 Tsp. Maggi seasoning (or soy sauce)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. ginger, minced
2 tsp. cumin seed
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. vinegar
salt to taste
oil for cooking

Wash the collard greens thoroughly. Grasp the stem in one hand and pinch the leaves together in the other and pull out the stems. Lay the leaves flat (start with the biggest leaf) and when you have 6-8 in a pile, roll  up tightly into a tube. Cut crosswise into thin chiffonade. I call this green spaghetti!

Cook the beef and break up the chunks as you cook so that is fine and thoroughly cooked. Drain off the excess liquid and turn up the heat so it starts to crisp. Stir in the cumin seeds, garlic, and ginger and continue to sizzle. Then add the onions and sizzle longer. Stir in the coriander, allspice, and Maggi. Start adding the greens--if your pan is small, add a batch, put the lid on until it cooks down, and then stir in more greens. Once they are all in, mix in tomatoes and add the beef boullion and simmer the whole mess for 15 minutes with the lid on.

Adjust the spices with salt, vinegar, and sugar and simmer for 5 more minutes.

Indian Fried Rice

What to do when you have some leftover long grain rice and you want some spice? Fried rice, Indian style. You can make it vegetarian, or add some meat or shrimp (leftovers work great). You could also mix in some peas or cooked lentils at the end.

3-4 c. leftover long-grain rice
1 jalapeno, sliced
2 tsp. whole cumin seeds
2 tsp. black mustard seeds
 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. ginger, minced
3 green onions, sliced
1 Tbsp. turmeric
1 tsp. black pepper

1 chicken boullion cube
1/2 c. boiling water
1 Tbsp. tamarind sauce

1 c. cooked meat chunks (optional)
1 tomato, diced
2 eggs 
handful of cilantro, chopped
salt to taste
oil for cooking

Heat a large nonstick pan, adding a generous amount of oil. Add the cumin and mustard seeds and heat until they begin to sizzle and pop. Add the ginger, garlic, jalapenos and the white part of the green onions and fry until lightly brown. Add the turmeric and black pepper and toss to combine.

Break up the rice so it is loose, and add it to the pan. Cook, turning infrequently, so that the rice starts to crisp on the edges. Combine the water, boullion cube, and tamarind. Pour over the rice and toss gently so that the liquid is absorbed. Gently mix in the cooked meat, tomato, and green parts of the green onions.

Clear a space in the middle of the pan and add the eggs. Scramble them and chop up, stirring into the rice. Adjust the salt and add fresh cilantro.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Squash, Lentil and Chickpea Curry

I was looking at all of the beautiful winter squash at the farmer's market but at the same time I had a craving for Indian food. Looking around online, this recipe was the most appealing, since it has both a lot of veggies and some protein sources. I personally like it a bit spicy to clear out the sinuses in winter.

I have altered the recipe for this from the one here a little bit. That website calls this a North Indian recipe -I honestly have no idea.

If you're feeling ambitious, you could make breads to go along with it, but I personally liked it quite a bit served on basmati rice cooked with a single star anise pod.


1 Tbsp oil, 1 Tbsp butter

1 large onion, in thin slices
1/2 large butternut squash, skinned
3/4 c. red lentils
3-4 c. water

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3/4 c. greens (spinach/arugala/etc.)

Juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
2 Tsbp. chopped mint

Spice mixture (best if you use whole and grind them)
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. tumeric
1 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. ground fresh ginger
1/4-1 tsp. chili flakes, to taste OR a hot green chili (japalpeno or serrano) chopped roughly.


Sautee the onion in the oil/butter mixture until they start to get brown around the edges.

Add the spice mixture and cook for about a minute until it starts to get fragrant, but don't let it burn.

Add the lentils, squash, and water. You'll have to eyeball whether it's quite enough, and might have to add a bit more. Bring to a boil, but then simmer covered, stirring to keep it from sticking to the bottom, until lentils are mushy and squash is cooked.

Add lemon juice and herbs, stir briefly and cover for 2 minutes, then serve and enjoy!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Beef Barley Stew with Greens

I snuck this hearty stew in on a cool and cloudy September day before predicted 100 degree highs--must be Indian summer. Lots of wonderful fresh fall veggies from the local farmer's market (everything one dollar!) and herb garden. I made the beef broth from scratch (to celebrate my new chest freezer), but the strong, earthy flavors would shine through just fine with bouillon.The textures will be best if you make the stew in this order, but this could be adapted for crock pot.

2.5-3 lbs. stew beef, 1" cubes
3 small onions, in chunks
4-5 Roma tomatoes (or 2 Tbsp. tomato paste)
2 c. carrots, cut bite-sized
1.5 c. pearled barley
2-3 quarts beef broth
1 bundle turnip greens
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. dry sherry
2 Tbsp. butter + 1 Tbsp. oil
2 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. black pepper
2-3 Tbsp. salt
1 tsp. paprika

Sprinkle the beef cubes with some of the salt and pepper and toss with the flour and paprika. Heat the butter and oil in a dutch oven until very hot. Brown the meat in batches (to avoid crowding the pan) so that has golden brown edges.

Cut open the tomatoes and remove the seeds, then chop coarsely. Add the tomatoes (or paste) into the pot, and scrape with a wooden spoon, using the tomato to loosen the browned flour. Add back in the cooked meat and onion chunks, and stir to combine. Add the beef broth,rosemary, and barley and bring to a simmer.

Simmer the stew for 45 minutes or until the meat and barley are tender. Add in the carrot chunks, garlic, and sherry, and simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the carrots are tender. Add in the greens and cover, simmer 2-3 more minutes. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper (try adding a dash of vinegar or pinch of sugar if the flavor needs more pop).

Monday, August 26, 2013

Lemongrass Pork Chop

Can also be made with chicken. 50% of the household thinks this would be better made with bone-in, fattier chops, and 50% of the household likes it lean. Either way it's got tons of flavor!

3-4 pork chops, whatever cut you enjoy
2 stalks lemongrass
5 cloves garlic
3 shallots
2-3 red chili peppers
3 Tbsp. fish sauce
3 Tbps. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. black soy sauce

1 Tbsp. oil
2-3 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper

Pat the pork chops dry, set them on a plate, and salt lightly. I find it's easiest to control the salt in the marinade if you salt the meat directly.

Pound the base of the lemongrass stalks with something heavy to break them up a bit. Slice into 1/2" pieces and then chop in the food processor. Add the garlic, shallots, and chili peppers and chop until fine textured (will be a little fibrous from the lemongrass).

Add in the remaining ingredients and process until well combined. Test the flavor and adjust if needed. The marinade should be the texture of wet sand.

Place in a ziploc bag and add the pork chops. Squish around until well coated. Marinate for at least an hour, ideally overnight.

The meat will be coated in a lemongrass-ey crust. Grill until crisp on the edges and pork is just cooked. Slice and serve on rice with veggies or salad.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Sausage Potato Bake

So this isn't really a recipe of our own so much as a link, since Melanie and I don't change the recipe at all, let alone enough to justify reposting it. We did use some herbs de provence last time, which was nice too.

This is one of those really simple one-dish meals that turns out amazingly every time, it's got a nice mix of veggies, starch and protein, and it's gluten free. Obviously, you don't need to use the brand name sausage from the recipe, especially if you live down the street from Kramarczuk's, but it is pretty tasty.

Here's the Sausage Potato Bake from Recipe Girl.