Grog and Vittles

Food and Spirits by an Vegetarian in Atlanta

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Hot Hot Hashbrowns, Scrambled Eggs and Veggy Sausage

Today we're serving breakfast at dinner, serving hashbrowns, scrambled eggs with cheese, veggy sausage links, and french toast.

We cook all the french toast per Alton Brown's method. We don't immediately cook the toast in the oven, instead waiting until right before dinner.

We're going to serve the french toast with Boysenberry jam and powdered sugar.

The sausage links have been covered before on this blog and are popular with meat eating and non-meat eating folk alike.

We're going to make the eggs in the electric fryer. This doesn't mean we're frying them, we're just using it because it is a nice, temperature controlled device that just happens to be nonstick (a must-have for egg dishes). We will put 1.5 eggs per person in here (right before dinner, rounding up) and stir in a tablespoon of milk (or leftover half and half) per person. I make this sound much more exact then it is in actuality, where I just pour some in. :o). First off, you turn the fryer on to 200 or so. You put the eggs in and let them start to cook onto the pan. Then you use a spatula to stir them off. As the eggs cook, they will solidify in the pan. Continue to stir intermittently. When the eggs look just a little saucey, take them off (they will continue to solidify and dry out after coming off the heat).

For the hashbrowns, we'll cook them in another pan. We're going to put some peppers from the "Chiles with Adobo Sauce" cans you see in the store to give the potatoes a little heat. Chopping up the peppers into little strips, we'll stir them in with the hashbrowns before cooking, letting them brown with the potatoes.


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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Quickiefood: Park Picnic Pasta

  • Elbow Noodles
  • Bag of Defrosted Quorn
  • Sun Dried Tomatoes (In oil)
  • Queen Anne (aka Green) olives
  • EVOO (aka pretentious green olive oil)
  • Gouda (aka Cheese given to us at Xmas)
  • Dried Thyme
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  • Salt
  • Garlic Powder
  • Flaky Parm (aka Cheese leftover from who knows what)
We used an electic water boiler to quickly get some water to 212. We used our big pot to hold 4 pitchers full of water, then threw enough pasta for two in. We dabbled a little EVOO in to stop foam ups. After the pasta was al dente (doesn't feel soft, yet isn't hard or bad tasting), we strained it in our colander.

While the water was cooking the pasta, we sliced up some sun dried tomatoes into raisin sized bits, threw in some sliced green olives. We shredded the gouda with a box grater. We pulled a bag of quorn tenders out of the fridge and microwaved them (quorn is a chickenish fake meat made out of mushroom roots).

We throw these items in with the pasta and drizzled EVOO over the pasta. We stirred, then mixed in spices, then put it into two plastic containers and put some of the cheeses (also grated while the water was cooking the pasta).

After uncorking a bottle of wine (Barefoot Merlot), we then stuck the stopper back in. We threw that recorked bottle and two solo cups into a Ikea bag with 2 plastic forks and a blanket to sit on. We threw a couple boxes of golden raisins in for desert, then walked over to the park for some time to enjoy our dinner with the puppy in the park.

Total Quickiefood Couch to Sidewalk time: 21 minutes



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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Carefully Outfitting Your Kitchen (Part 1)

The Simple Dollar recently published a list of pots, pans and knives for a beginner to get to start cooking

That blog is usually spot on with money advice, however I think this time people are being told they need to buy a lot more than they do to get started cooking. He preached restraint then told you to buy 10 pots. They said sets are silly then suggested you buy a set of knives. They were right you are going to ruin things but they didn't think about all the other parts of a beginner's mindset. A beginner will:
  • Ruin Food
  • Ruin Pots/Pans/Dishes
  • Misuse Knives
  • Possibly Give Up
  • Hate Doing Dishes
  • Will always want to use the dishwasher
  • Sometimes find they don't like cooking that much
  • Have have no frame of reference to pick out a knife/pot they like
  • Have a hard time justifying expensive dishes, and if they don't feel awful when they don't use them if they quit

I'm starting a three part series on how to outfit your kitchen, slowly and cheaply at first, then costing more money if and only if the new cook feels this is worth continuing. By the end, they'll be able to cook any amount of any kind of food for whomever they want. Even after the beginning, you'll be able to turn out edible and delicious meals for 1-5 people.

In this first portion, I'll get you started with what you could buy someone for "Their First Apartment" and yet not have a bunch of clutter that just confuses them and takes up space. The following list is skill-independent. It is enough to cook most things while not spending much money.

At this point you're just starting out and are possibly going to give up on this. This is a small investment that has a real chance of paying off for you, but at the same time, you won't feel like an idiot if you end up never using it like many Americans. (If I thought making you feel like an idiot would help make you keep cooking, I'd suggest more expensive stuff. I think you'll just not cook and feel like an idiot).

For a newbie, I suggest wooden spoons because:
  • Dishwasher Safe
  • They're cheap
  • Doesn't Hurt Teflon Coated Pans
  • No one ever got burnt grabbing a wooden spoon (that wasn't on fire)

You need only 1 knife and 1 cutting board. You're just starting. You really don't need more. For the "Big Pot" a huge aluminum one from a cooking supply store will be good enough. You can also buy them at places like Amazon and Bed, Bath and Beyond. For the other two pots, buy something cheap and coated with Teflon. These will probably be thrown away, although they may last a surprisingly long time (I finally threw out a pot I purchased in 2002 that was of this quality).

Here is a list of a reasonable amount of "gear" to get your kitchen able to cook enough variety you don't need to go out:
  • 1 Microwave (I'm assuming this is already available)
  • 1 Oven (I'm assuming this is already available)
  • 1 Stove (I'm assuming this is already available)
  • 1 Box (Cheese) Grater
  • 3 Wooden Spoons
  • 1 Big Pot (at least 4qts, preferably 6) and lid
  • 1 Saucepan (Teflon coated 2 or 3 quart) and lid
  • 1 Fry Pan (Teflon coated, at least 8 inches)
  • 1 9x9 Glass Baking Dish
  • 1 Cookie Sheet
  • 1 set Dry Measuring Cups/Spoons
  • 1 2-cup glass measuring Cup
  • 1 slotted plastic scoop (like to scoop a casserole)
  • 1 Silicone spatula
  • 1 Plastic Colander
  • 2 Metal Bowls
  • 1 Plastic Cutting Board
  • 1 Stamped Steel Chef's Knife (i.e. Crappy knife that doesn't stay sharp long but is cheap and will work for now)

Will allow cooking of:
  1. Any boiled/poached food (e.g. Broccoli, Potatoes, Shrimp)
  2. Any pan-fried food (e.g Panir, Sausage, Quesadillas)
  3. Many roasted foods (e.g. Roasted Bell Peppers, Roasted Rosemary Potatoes)
  4. Many seared foods ("Fried" Tofu/Steak falls in this category)
  5. Salads (Mix them up in the bowl)
  6. Nuts/Snack Mix
  7. Biscuits
  8. Pancakes
  9. Gravy
  10. Pastas
  11. Rice Dishes
  12. Most Sauces
  13. Brownies
  14. Cookies
  15. Casseroles
  16. Lasagnas
  17. Sausage
  18. Fried Hashbrown
  19. Gellates (a pie wrapped up like a Crunchwrap(TM) then cooked on a cookie sheet)
  20. Chili
  21. Stew/Soup
  22. Fried Eggs
  23. Omelets
  24. Poached Eggs
  25. Scrambled Eggs
  26. Stovetop Mac and Cheese (Homemade is easy, delicious and better for you)
  27. Melted Chocolate Foods (the metal bowl on top of the big pot == double boiler)

On Amazon, I put all these into one place, and came out with a price of $194 before shipping. I'm going to be switching out comparable items over the next week or so (and as suggestions come in) to try to get the shipping cost down. Right now it's in the 40's, I hope to get that down into the 20's.

Amazon is not the best price for some of these items, but you'll *easily* save the $200 (or even $240) within 2 months of cooking for yourself rather than eating out for every meal. You have 27 kinds of things to make, that is more than enough dishes to hold you at home eating for two whole months. You'll get away with an even cheaper start bill of you go by a cooking supply warehouse. A word of warning: don't get fooled by kitchen specialty stores that try to look like supply warehouses. If you don't see restaurant gear there, it's not where you want to be (at least right now).

Subscribe to make sure you catch part 2 of the series. If you want recipes for "beginner" versions of any of the above, comment and I'll post all of them together.


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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Cheese and Pepper Enchiladas, Fried Jalapeños, and Sauteed ZucchiniCorn

Today we're making food from Mexico.

Main Dish: Cheese and Pepper Enchiladas

This is out of Sundays at the Moosewood Diner. We wanted something simple that dealt with the fact many fresh veggies are not yet available in stores. We use the fresh corn tortillas that are sold throughout the US. They come in a stack and cost about 2 cents each.

Inside they will be filled with chilies, bell peppers, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, cottage cheese and onions. They will be doused in a homemade enchilada sauce made from onions, coriander, cumin bell pepper and chilies.

We will serve them on a bed of rice (as suggested).

Fried Jalapeños

This is an amazingly simple dish stolen from Willy's Mexican Grill. They have something on their menu they called jalapeño poppers. This is a misnomer. A jalapeño popper is a stuffed jalapeño that is fried. What they serve at Willy's isn't stuffed (or even breaded).

They slice longitudinally through the jalapeño in two different directions, leaving parts all connected at the stem, dangling in 4 parts. You then take this and throw it in a fryer (stem and all). You then let it fry till soft, then remove, dry some residual oil off of it then salt and squirt lime juice over it. They're delicious and the frying lessens the heat of the jalapeño quite a bit. They are priced at 50 cents at Willy's, which is quite a bit of markup from my calculation.

Sauteed Zucchini Corn

After not finding something simple enough to complement this rather simple meal, we decided to take to the internets and look for something tasty or tasty enough once adapted. We found this misnamed dish. There is nothing slightly casserolish about this dish, but I think it can be turned into something tasty.

First off, while butter would be tasty and work well with the corn (evoking the "buttered corn on the cob" idea), I think the dish would be just as tasty if lighted up a bit. So we're going to substitute olive oil here for the butter.

As "fresh" tomatoes aren't ripe, we elect to used canned diced tomatoes (which are). As we're going to lighten up and simplify the dish, a little bit of acidity in the dish (from the tomatoes) isn't a bad thing, so we're going to half the sugar. In addition, we're going to serve it with ribbons of chopped cilantro on top.


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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Feed Change

My RSS/Atom feeds are now going to be through feedburner.
Simply subscribe to my feed at this url now:

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The old feed will no longer function. Sorry for the inconvenience


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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Eggplant Parm, Sauteed Lemon and Herb Musrooms, and Chopped Broccoli with Lemon

Today, we're going to make a friend of ours cry. She's not coming tonight because she has family in town

We've got few enough people here to make eggplant parmesan. The reason this is a person limited dish is that you have to fry all the little bits of individually breaded eggplant, and that's after you've already individually breaded them. Breading and bit frying takes time.

We again steal Alton Brown's recipe for this dish. That's because its delicious, and has such a phenomenal texture, I've served this to about a dozen people who "hate eggplant" and all had a second helping. It comes out of his I'm Just Here for the Food: Food + Heat = Cooking.

To make this dish, you chunk up as much eggplant as you'd like to eat. I suggest more than you think. This is very tasty, and I always lament when we finish off the last microwave dish of it. Then you bread it in the following admixture:

Flour Coat: Flour + Fresh Ground Pepper
Egg Coat: Eggs + Water
Crumb Coat: Grated Parm+Panko Bread Crumbs

To Properly Bread Anything:

Take a Crayola washable marker. Write W on the back of one hand, and D on the back of the other. Pretend the wet hand (the one with a W), will be burnt by anything powdery (i.e. Any Flour or Breadcrumbs, or things coated with such). Pretend the dry hand will be melted off as if dipped in acid if it touches anything wet (i.e. eggs, things just coming out of the eggs batter, or the unfloured eggplant). You don't really need to write on your hands, or be so melodramatic, but you do need to be this careful, otherwise you're hands will become a pile of breaded glop that doesn't really work very well. I usually use my right hand as my W hand and my left as my D.

Setup your counter, left to right, in the following order:

Bowl of stuff to be breaded
Bowl of seasoned flour
Bowl of watery eggs
Bowl of "breading" (panko and parm for us)
Cookie drying rack as a catch tray

Take your wet hand. Pick up a piece of eggplant. Drop (from a short distance) into the flour.

Take your dry hand. Pick up a small amount of flour from the bowl. Drop it all over the piece like a TV chef or a character in a movie about the desert who's playing with sand to make a point about the endlessness of time. Using your dry hand, take the now (overly) coated piece and shake off and tap off on the side of the bowl as much flour as you can. Now drop (from a short distance) said piece of flour coated goodness into the egg mixture, being careful not to melt off your dry hand by touching it to the liquid.

Take your wet hand and fully coat the piece by moving the eggs over the piece (remember the still powdery parts will burn you). With your wet hand, now pick up the piece that is fully coated and drop it from a short distance into the bread crumbs.

Take your dry hand, and fully coat the piece with the breading mixture using the movie character dropping sand method. Once fully coated, move to the side of the breading bowl. Leave this here for a couple minutes. I usually move them out of this bowl (with my dry hand) right after I've just finished breading the piece after it. You're moving the freshly breaded piece from the breading bowl bowl to the cookie cooling rack.

To make the eggplant parm, we do the above with half moons of peeled eggplants that are all about the same size. We then deep fry all the little bits until golden brown. We then put a layer of them down into a casserole dish, along with some marinara sauce, then a layer of provolone slices, then another layer of tasty bits, then more marinara, then more provolone, then you get the picture, until the dish is full. We top it off with marinara and a little more grated (or shredded) parm on top.

Chopped Broc (From Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone)

Broccoli (or Broccoli Florets)
Salt and Pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (should be green).

Turn broccoli into florets if it isn't already. Stick in one of those steamer things that cost $5 at the grocery store and look like UFOs. Put the steamer thing in a shallow pot of boiling water (as per steamer directions). Steam until it is what you'd call al dente if it was pasta. Without cooling it down, toss with olive oil and salt and pepper and fresh squeezed lemon juice.

Mushroom Magic (From Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone)

Mushrooms (Assorted types, mostly a common type)
Flat Leaf Parsley

Put butter in pan. Melt. Put mushrooms in pan. Cook until liquid comes out then goes back in them, folding and stirring. Do the butter/mushroom thing in two batches if you have a lot of mushrooms. Put garlic in the pan, stir briefly, until garlic just starts to brown. Squeeze lemon into pan, mix with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Cover in bits of freshly chopped fresh parsley.


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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Empanadas, Pinto Beans, and Tomato Lime Soup

Today we're making something a little Mexican/Caribbean.

We're making empanada filled with what we call, "El Pollo Chicken". Yes, I know, El Pollo means "The Chicken". However, that what it ended up being called over time in the house I grew up in. My mother makes this out of real chicken. We, out of Quorn. It is inspired by the chicken they serve at El Pollo Loco, however, not exactly the same, being more Caribbeanesque with the pineapple juice.

Marinade For "Meat":
1/3 cup Lemon juice
1/3 cup Pineapple Juice
1/3 cup Lime juice
1/2 cup Oil
1 teaspoon Ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon Garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon Pepper

With it we're serving spicy beans in cumin, stock and love:

Canned Pinto Beans (Rinsed Extremely Well)
Cumin (1.5 tbsp per can of beans)
Jalapeno Peppers (1 per can of beans, sliced into rings)
Can of Veggie Stock (1 per 3 cans of beans)

And a soup from the Sundays At Moosewood Resturant Cookbook called Sopa de Lima. It is a tomato based soup with limes, garlic and chiles, we well as some monterey jack and cilantro.

In addition we are serving a delicious rum punch from that same cookbook. I must share the mix with you:
1 oz Pomegrante Syrup (Aka Grenedine)
1 oz Lime Juice
8 oz Orange Juice
8 oz Pineapple Juice
6 oz Rum (The Darker The Better)

It reminds me quite a bit of the drink served on the way back from our snorkeling expedition on St Thomas during our honeymoon. At the time of writing this post, I've tasted several glasses full of our Pitcher, and will need to make more.

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