Back when the #SaferAtHome thing was new (or novel, if you will. Get it?), I called up a couple of friends on Zoom whom I hadn’t seen in a month. They told me about some YouTube channel called the Bon Appétit Test Kitchen, where those lucky geniuses get my dream job, which is to make and taste and try and challenge themselves with food every day!
I watched 100 episodes with wide eyes and unclenched jaw, learning, absorbing, buying more kitchen gadgets because THAT SPATULA HAS TO WORK SO MUCH BETTER.
While all of the chefs are unique and have their own quirks, some of the chefs have a niche that they’ve turned into a sideshow. Carla Lalli Music (what a fun name!) does this back-to-back thing where she talks another person (celeb, singer, drag race winner) through making a dish in about 20 minutes without either of them being able to see what the other is doing. Claire Saffitz painstakingly recreates foods (think pop tarts, ramen packets, tater tots) in a gourmet way (it IS Bon Appétit, after all). And, Brad Leone has “It’s Alive!”, a show where he ferments, pickles, and otherwise ages foods (miso garlic paste, giardiniera, etc).
After seeing his giardiniera video, I bought the equipment and got cookin’ (or waiting, really). After I had the finished product, I wasn’t sure what to do with it. I don’t eat red meat, even if it’s been processed, smoked, or cured to the point of being shaped into a tube. But, I *do* have the occasional turkey deli-meat sandwich. So I made this for dinner and dubbed it the Hot Turkey Leone.
Grab your turkey slices and heat a skillet to medium. Pile the turkey loosely onto itself, making the piles roughly the size of the bread you’re using.
Since the turkey is cooked, and this step is really all about the cheese, you can put your cheese on top of the piles shortly after this assembly. Then, add 1/4 c water to the pan and cover. This helps everything stay moist and helps the cheese melt quickly.
While the cheese is melting, prepare your bread. Toast it if you want, but the mayo is not optional.
Don’t tell Brad, but I did scoop out some of the bread. It was too much even after I did that. Cover the lid with your giardiniera and shredded lettuce.
Carefully shimmy the turkeycheese onto a spatula and then over onto your bread bottoms.
It’s easiest to put the bottom on the top, upside down, and right-side-up it for serving. Eat alone or with your favorite potato-based side.
I can get a little, how you say, obsessed with things. Diving whole-hog into projects and buying supplies to supplement my already busting-at-the-seams kitchen implement storage space. So, when it came to getting the proper supplies for fermenting after watching Brad Leone make giardiniera, I hesitated.
For about one day.
I’ve already amassed several gallon jars from back when I made kombucha on the reg, but I didn’t think I wanted to make GALLONS of giardiniera at a time, especially since I don’t typically eat smoked or cured meat sandwiches. So, I decided to do two things: a) buy a half-gallon kit, complete with two lids and an airlock (also a weight) and 2) since I could open a general store with the number of jars in the house, I also bought a kit for mason jars.
The task is relatively simple. Measure, chop, mix, wait.
The video has all of the ingredients, but I’m going to list the seasonings and instructions here, mostly for my reference in case I lose the notes on my fridge door. These measurements are for a 1-gal container, so I’ve had to halve and halve again for my vessels.
enoughveggies to fill the vesselcauliflower, celery, carrots, white or yellow onion, red pepper, etc.
66gsaltnot the big flaky kind
Spices and Seasonings
Smash your garlic first. Apparently, this releases something called "allicin", and that's good for you.
Cut the veggies up into a size with which you might use in a stir fry.
Add water and salt into the vessel and give it a good shake to dissolve the salt.
Add all of the spices (but not the sugar and white vin.) into the vessel.
Add your veggies to fill mostly to the top. Twist on lid and give a good shake. Place ceramic weight into container to keep veggies submerged. Cover with air-lock lid. Put on top of fridge or somewhere out of the way and wait about five (5) days.
Mix in sugar and white vinegar and give a good stir or shake. Re-bottle into smaller jars to give to friends or put into fridge as-is.
This is my first foray into video. It didn’t take very long to record, but it took a long time to edit, and I think the sound is kinda awful and now I know why people have their ingredients premeasured (the clinking and clanking annoys even me if you can believe it!).
We’ve been trying Imperfect Foods for a couple of months now and I’ve found it to be convenient and I like seeing what the “imperfections” are and then getting mad that people don’t know that misshapen sweet potatoes taste exactly the same as regular ones. It can be a bit of a game, too, figuring out the savings over Woodman’s since there’s a shipping cost involved. Anyhoo, that link up there will get us both $10 off if you sign up.
Why did I tell you about that? Because I had a head of broccoli from Imperfect that needed to be used up and a craving for antioxidants. Weird, I know.
The picture above contains only a few of the actors in this delicious musical. I added garlic powder, turmeric, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, a little almond butter, and another carrot (the one looked lonely).
To start, the diced aromatics go into some heated coconut oil until translucent. I then added all of the spices and seasonings, including some agave nectar, along with a tablespoon of that delicious bouillon (the vegetarian style is as good!) along with about a cup of water. This results in the magical concentrate of a germ-killing concoction.
It doesn’t look super pretty, but the best things are not.
To this, add a can of coconut milk. I’m not really sure the tastable difference between light and regular, but I had a can of not-light and used it happily. The solids that hang out at the top of the can will melt eventually. I find it looks like a barista trying to make a latte.
Once the seasonings, spices, flavor, and milk are melded together, add the vegetables and bring to a simmer.
After it’s got a good simmer goin’ on, turn the heat down a bit, cover, and set a 10-minute timer.
Serve, eat, enjoy, relish, share, comfort, be.
Coconut Curry Veggies
Packed full of germ-fighting spices and vegetables, you'll feel amazing (at least) while eating it!
Saying chèvre like an annoying American is funny to me. Probably because I know a few French words but not enough to be useful, like when looking for the bathroom or asking for a beer. However, I distinctly recall learning my first French swear-word: at the end of 9 to 5, the boss’ assistant was coming back from her trip to France and said, “merde.” In fact, I think I learned a great deal about life from that film.
This salad was born of an overabundance of beets and the desire to have Grampa’s PIzzeria‘s beet salad without leaving the house. Seriously, it’s the best beet salad ever.
Preheat the oven to 400º and grab your knife. After honing, cut the top and bottom off the beets. Depending on your zero-waste level, throw the beet greens in with the rest of the salad, save ’em to make a pesto, or compost ’em.
Put the beets into foil pockets and drizzle, spray, or otherwise apply some kind of oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 45-60 minutes. Check with a fork after 45, even tho I’m not sure it’s possible to “over roast” a beet.
Now that I look at that photo, I realize it’s not at all necessary to individually package the beets; a simple foil tube would be just fine. But, this makes them feel more special. Once you can poke a fork in ’em without much resistance, they can come out and cool down. It’s not proof of any super-powers if you can peel a beet that’s 400º ON THE OUTSIDE. Since they are plated relatively room temp, you could roast the day before or hours before you’re ready for dinner.
The rest of the salad is whatever you want. We’ve been digging these greens from Wisconsin (Woodman’s just started carrying this brand) because you can tell they didn’t sit on a truck for a week on their way up to the northern states. Slice up some red onion, cucumber, radish. Toss in a bowl with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. This time around, I added pine nuts and hemp hearts because I was feeling like we needed more crunch.
When the salad is well coated, plate and set aside.
Now comes the magic part: cheese. But, not just any cheese. Goat cheese. And, not just ANY goat cheese. AIR-FRIED GOAT CHEESE in BALL SHAPE!
I regret that I don’t have pictures of the process because it’s a two-handed one, and it’s messy, and my iPhone isn’t insured.
Preheat your air fryer and get your separate whisked-egg and panko bowls ready.
Take the log of chèvre and cut pieces to shape into balls slightly smaller than the size of a ping-pong. If we’re using food for reference, you’re looking for a bocconcini-sized ball, not ovaline.
Coat with egg, coat with panko. Repeat.
When the fryer is hot, pull out the basket and lightly spray with avocado oil. Place each cheese ball so they’re not touching and “fry” for about eight minutes. When done, carefully scoop each ball out with a spoon and place gently on the salad like a rescued bird’s egg into its nest.
Salad with Beets and Goat Cheese
A delicious salad with the added wonderfulness of beets and "fried" cheese.
When I started chickening (in the last four years now—after having been vegetarian for nearly 20), I found these Smart Chicken whole birds at Woodman’s. Their gimmick (if you will) is they air-chill and don’t add water. I have no real idea what this means but can only assume you’re not paying for the weight of water when you buy their chickens.
I can also assume that they’re a pretty alright company because Jeni St Market switched from Bell and Evans (a very alright company) to Smart Chicken (because of some distro and stocking problems for the small store).
However, the whole fryers are usually somewhere between 2.5 and 3.5 lbs and are $10-13. The organic version of the bird is similarly sized but twice as much.
Thankfully, Woodman’s also carries birds that aren’t Tyson or Gold ‘n’ Plump. Namely, Gerber’s Amish Farm chickens. These hefty fellas are 4ish lbs and $7ish. Plus, you usually get a neck and a pair o’ kidneys, the use of which we’ll get to in another post about the best chicken gravy you will ever smell, make, or taste.
During these last four years of roasting chickens, I’ve settled on a way that incorporates a little from GOOP, Ottolenghi, and a new favorite, Sam the Cooking Guy, and I’m here to tell you all about it.
You start out with a bird on your favorite raw-poultry-only cutting board and, instead of rinsing him off (which has been purported to simply spread the possibility of salmonella* around the kitchen), take a couple of paper towels and pat dry all over, getting in the pits and inside the cavity.
*It’s good to be safe because the effects of the bacteria mean you won’t be eating chicken any time in the near future.
Into the cavity, shove a couple of quartered lemons, and if there is room, cut the top off a head of garlic and put that in there, too.
Preheat the oven to 425° and get out your carbon-steel pan (or cooking sheet, or whatever you roast in).
Now, as the Joy of Cooking puts it so annoyingly, perform a simple truss! It’s never so simple, and I usually cut the string too short. But, I’ll attempt to explain it so maybe I can remember myself and can stop referencing the drawings in the book.
First, measure out at least two feet of string, but probably more, and start by wrapping the middle of the string around the Pope’s nose and give it a tie. Then, hold the two legs together (where there were once feet) and wrap the string around them so they’re very close, or even crossed. This is when I begin to lose patience; track the string under the thighs and up toward the wings. Some people (who cut their string long enough) wrap around the wings a couple of times, but in the reference photos, I appear to only have used the string to keep ’em close. Which is the point, really. You just don’t want them flapping about because they’ll burn.
Tie the string at the neck and go wash your hands.
Mix equal parts garlic powder, salt (there’s a difference), and ground pepper and hold about 12 inches above the bird and sprinkle all over until it’s healthfully covered. The bird up there is shiny because he was spritzed with avocado oil, a practice I have since halted. They render enough juicy fat that really, no extra oil is needed.
That’s it! Stick him in the oven at 425° for 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 385° and after a total of 40 minutes, get out your baster and start basting. Tip the pan with the cavity opening toward you so you get the lemon juices and baste for a minute. Put the bird back in for another 30 minutes and then check the temperature of the thickest part of the thigh (avoiding the bone, which will be significantly hotter). You’re looking for 165° or higher. Though, I’ve read some chef claim he “likes [his] chicken a little pink” and thinks it’s fine at 150°. I do not.
Lately, I’ve been sticking a chef’s knife into the cavity and tilting it into the pan so the juices run out there instead of on my cutting board. This also allows me to use the grease plus lemon juice as an amazing salad dressing. I did get myself a not-raw-chicken board with a deeper well and a slant, so the juices run toward the back and not all over the counter. I’ve used it once and it worked swimmingly. Get it?! Swimming in chicken juice.
The next really important part here is to let the chicken rest for at least 10 minutes, 15 if you can stand it. This is why it’s good to temp the chicken higher (180°) because it’s going to sit for a while and you don’t want to serve lukewarm chicken.
The next post about chickens will be the carving process, which is made so much easier after it rests. The fibers settle down, the juices get settled where they need to, and it’s not going to burn your fingers.
Mix spices together and sprinkle over the bird in an even coat.
Bake at 425° for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 385°. After a total of 40 minutes, baste the bird with its juices and return to the oven for another 30 minutes. When it registers 165° in the thigh, remove from heat and let rest for 15 minutes before carving.
I was first introduced to Gwenyth Paltrow as a cookbook author some many New Years’ Days ago (according to my records, it’s been only four years) at a friend’s house. One of the hosts’ sister was an editor at the publisher I think? Anyway, I poured over the simple layout, recipe ingredients, categorization, funny description of the “conscious uncoupling” between her and her kids’ daddy (something to do with Coldplay, I think?).
Since that NYD four years ago, I’ve obtained and filed away for reference three of her four* cookbooks and look to them at least once a week.
The Amazon-required links were terribly interruptive in my text, so here they are: one, two, three, four.
I began to learn about her brand, GOOP, and the contingent of folks who are staunchly against it. Jade eggs, luxurious and expensive week-long spa-like conferences where the color of your bracelet indicates the level of your monetary investment in the event, the $6,500 t-shirts, the brain dust and cordyceps required for the quintessential GOOP morning smoothie.
I’m not really sure how I feel about those things (except the smoothie—I had one this morning and it was pretty alright), but what I am sure of is that no one cares how I feel about those things.
All that is to say that I keep my interests on the food side of Gwyneth Paltrow, including the annual detox her team has published for the past few years.
I just completed my third and I think this one was the most effective, enjoyable, interesting, and easy of the three.
Effective: Because I mentally prepared, I wasn’t so stressed out about removing certain things from my routine, and I kept telling myself it was only five days and I wasn’t going to die without my single cup of coffee in the morning. That hot lemon water was no substitute, though.
Enjoyable: I was able to not only share the dinners with my partner, I found that the menu was tasty and got us to try a couple of new things.
Interesting: The red curry almond butter dressing/dip/sauce was very versatile and I actually liked the kelp noodles.
Easy: While each day required one or more of my myriad of kitchen implements, and used several bowls, plates, and containers, I have a partner who keeps up with dishes and, while his stamina was tested, this really helped make it easy.
If you follow the menu and shopping list (note that the list is missing both pitted dates and nori sheets), and think about how to substitute, and aren’t too hard on yourself for using agave nectar plus Bragg’s amino acids because you don’t want to spend $12 on 8 oz. of coconut aminos, then you can get through this.
If nothing else was learned, I liked her roasted chicken instructions and will use it frequently.
Get a 3-pound chicken, rub it all over with 1 tablespoon of salt (no oil necessary—the natural fat in the skin will render and keep the meat moist). Roast it in a 425°F oven for 1 to 1½ hours, until the internal temperature reaches 165°F and the juices run clear.
I had to make the lunches easy on transportation and assembly, so the lettuce cups became a salad.
The sweet potato for breakfast happened twice in the five days and the first time (day two), I found it to be the most delicious thing I’d ever eaten. I must have been mildly delirious, because, by the second time (day four), it was not so amazing. But it was good.
This salad took me over an hour to finish. I was determined to do so because I didn’t want to throw any of it out, and since I eat at my desk, it’s easy to dilly-dally the lunch meal.
We did The Big Shop before breakfast the Saturday before I started this adventure, so I was kind of hungry. This means that a recipe for 2 to 3, which calls for a 1.75 lb. salmon filet ended up being 2.25 lbs of salmon. I could not finish mine, but it. was. delicious.
The butternut squash soup came on the fourth night and was to be lunch on the fifth. It was really good and filling, with boiled cashews as the “cream”. If you’ve ever read Isa Chandra Moskowitz, then you know that vegans should Always Be Soaking [raw cashews] in the event of a creamy soup emergency. These did the trick, but I think I would have blended it for about 2 minutes longer. I was hungry, though.
So, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! It was a good challenge, and I learned a couple of new tricks. I could probably piece together a summer version of a detox from the recipes in her cookbooks. She kindly labels them as Elimination Diet, Vegan, Protein-Packed, etc.
If you have the gumption, time, and support system, I recommend this as a personal challenge*.
*I am not a doctor, nutritionist, or expert in anything related to food or eating or diets. If you feel like you want to discuss this with a trained professional, then you probably should.
What seems like another lifetime ago, I spent A LOT of time at Mickey’s Tavern. So much time, in fact, that I married one of the bartenders and after that didn’t work out, dated another. That’s an entirely different blog altogether, though.
The latter was (and still is) in charge of the very popular bloody mary mix, having to make at least 20 gallons each weekend (more often in the summer). Over the years, I helped out enough to know how it’s done and keep the recipe close because it’s his pride and joy.
Anymore, I find the bloodys there to be a little too chunky for my taste, so I’ll share with you the recipe that I enjoy now (made for me by my current boyfriend—who is neither an employee of Mickey’s nor a bartender).
A wide-mouth pint jar is my favorite bloody vessel. Into it goes ice and vodka, a few turns of salt and ground pepper. Then about 2 teaspoons of ground horsey, a shake of Annie’s Worsh sauce (it’s vegan!) and a couple of blops of Valentina (I find other hot sauces to be too vinegary).
Fill up the jar with a little can of V8, stick a pickle, and trim a celery stalk.
If you’re feeling extra, you could add some jalapeño salt, which we just discovered and find to be amazing.
There isn’t much that’s more satisfying than a crunchy corn tortilla slathered (you heard me) with beans, topped with diced onions, cheese, tomato, and lettuce.
First, though, I need to hop on my high horse, so gimme a boost here. OOMPH, thank you!
WHAT in the ACTUAL F*&K are food dyes doing in CORN TORTILLAS? Woodman’s carries five or six brands of tostada shells and all but two have artificial food dyes. I have a long-standing personal grudge against and will go out of my way to avoid buying foods with added yellow, red, and/or blue in them. Especially considering that a corn tortilla is, and only needs to be: corn, salt, and water. I mean, it doesn’t need to be YELLOWER.
HOT TIP: Full Circle uses turmeric instead of yellow #5 in their pickle products.
Whoah, Nellie! *hops off horse*
Aaaanyhoo, the El Milagro brand is without weird substances: stone-ground corn, corn oil, salt, and Cal (about which I just learned). They also have the best soft corn and flour tortillas in the world (or at least in my world).
Choose your tortilla pairs carefully because they have to sort of stack together. The curvy bendy of them makes this a little like a puzzle, but you’ll get it. Find (or make!) your favorite refried beans and schmear enough to cover the top of each of the bottom half of the pair (that was confusing… let’s look at a photo):
Top the bottoms with diced white onion and cheese and grab the tops and schmear the bottoms of those with more beans! This is getting nuts. Or beany.
Finally, more beans go on top of the top, along with more onions and cheese. We like beans, onions, and cheese in this house.
In the oven that I remembered to preheat (this time!), these go for 10 minutes and then get another three or four, depending on hunger and cheese meltage.
While they’re getting toasty, chop the tomatoes and lettuce, and gather your assortment of topping notions.
Preheat oven to 350º and line a cookie sheet with parchment (this is not entirely necessary, but I don't like washing cookie sheets).
Spoon a layer of beans onto half of the shells, cover with onions and cheese. Spoon a layer of beans onto the other half and make a bean sandwich and spoon beans onto the top of those shells. Cover with onions and more cheese.
Bake for 10 minutes and then check cheese for the desired doneness. If you like it meltier, leave 'em in for three to five more minutes.
Remove from oven and plate; top with tomatoes, lettuce, salsa, sour cream, and any other thing you'd like!
At some point in my twenties—earlier than it should have—fried food began to disagree with me. Fried cheese curds, fish, mozzarella sticks, mushrooms… and onions. Although, I never really like onion rings because they were usually embarrassing to eat; the breading slid off in my hand while the soggy, greasy onion hung out of my mouth like a cow’s tongue. I paint a pretty picture, don’t I?
To be honest, it’s okay. We all know fried food isn’t very healthy.
Enter the air fryer! We’ve got the breaded fish pretty well down, so putting an onion ring atop a turkey burger seemed like the logical next step.
Our first attempt was without using a recipe and it didn’t turn out so well. I documented it to show that not everything turns out as expected, and that’s okay!
They weren’t *awful*, they were just a little overdone and stuck together and not breaded correctly. You get the idea.
Take two involved following a recipe of sorts. The air fryer came with a cookbook that has a bloomin’ onion, so we co-opted it for only a few rings. One of the tricks is to soak the onions in ice water until you’re ready to use them. I’m pretty sure this is to prevent them from getting “soggy”.
The second trick is to coat with the egg, then cover in the seasoned flour mixture, then dredge in the egg, and cover again with the flour mixture. The third trick is to only put as many onions into the fryer that will fit in one layer without touching.
In order to test the efficacy of this bag of tricks, we did a test batch before starting on the second version for the burgers. The results were positive.
The double-dredge and some avocado spray helped the breading stick and make it the color we expected (I wanted them to look nice on turquoise plates):
Atop the turkey burgers again they went. – Yoda.
The addition of the onions made for a beautiful burger, but its presence was a bit lost among the rest of the amazing tastes and textures. I think if we try it again, we should try them on a couple of Beyond Burgers.
Air-fried Onion Rings
A top, side, front, bottom, or rear for any of your main dishes!
I use the n+1 theory with garlic cloves. I eyeball chopped onions and grated cheese, but I weigh pasta.
I have many kitchen gadgets, but the Pampered Chef Deluxe Air Fryer is my favorite. Shoot me a message if you want to know how to get one!
If you like funny-looking carrots or perfectly-edible but slightly-dented sweet potatoes, check out Imperfect Produce and save $10 on your first box!
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