Archive for September, 2011
I put out an offer on reddit last week to create a blog post based on any requests that redditors had to offer. The first response was from user nicksterluv:
What about a (cheap) peanut sauce? My favorite thing to order at the local Thai restaurant is a vegetable curry with peanut sauce, but I don’t get to eat it as often as I’d like since it’s expensive
Well, nicksterluv, your wish is my command.
Unfortunately, I had never before cooked anything even remotely Thai, so my next few days were spent in frantic searches for online recipes to get a general idea of what the hell goes into peanut sauce. Since the first order of business for this sauce was inexpensive, I was forced to immediately discard almost all of the websites I glanced at. (So much coconut milk!) In the end, I pretty much had to completely invent a recipe from scratch based on the two or three times in my life I have ever had peanut sauce. On the plus side, it gave me an excuse to go to a delightful little Thai hole-in-the-wall in the Village.
Ultimately, I tried to use only things that I had in my pantry. The full ingredient list ended up reading as follows:
- peanut butter
- ginger powder
- garlic powder
- olive oil
- white wine vinegar
As it turned out, I had to buy the first three ingredients on that list, but, thanks to Shop Rite, I only spent about $8 on the whole lot and now have enough ginger and cumin to last me a good while.
To make the sauce, I created a double boiler set-up with two pots. (For those to whom that meant nothing: If you nest your ingredients pot inside a pot of just simmering water, you can heat the ingredients more evenly and keep the peanut butter from burning. This is also useful whenever a recipe calls for melted chocolate, which burns like a California wildlife preserve.)
Melt two hefty scoops of peanut butter in the upper pot and add just enough oil so that it could be considered whisk-able and then about two to three shots of vinegar (it was the only measure I had handy…). Then, tasting after each addition, drop in some cumin, garlic, ginger, pepper, salt and the slightest bit of cinnamon. How much of each you add will depend strongly on your personal preference and, honestly, I tweaked the amounts so much during the adding of them, that I have no idea how much of each I ended up putting in.
When it is seasoned to your satisfaction, pour immediately into a bowl and serve hot. I sauteed some chicken breasts and shrimp and set out some pita and humus.
So…if you are reading this from reddit, or even not from reddit, shoot me an email, pm, text, comment, reply or smoke signal about what you want me to cook next!
|Not visible: the pile of sand at the bottom of that pot.|
Next (or while your boyfriend is cleaning the mussels), begin preparing an arrabiata sauce.
Combine in a pot one small can of tomato paste, two small cans of chunked tomatoes, one small (tomato paste sized) can of water, a small. diced onion, salt, pepper, garlic, red pepper and a couple splashes of tobasco sauce (I would have used sriracha, but I couldn’t find any at my supermarket), and bring it to a boil for twenty minutes, then lower it to a simmer.
|Warning, this is spicy|
|Savory and spicy|
|How could you not love this?|
|Sausages even look good raw.|
While your sausages are cooking, cut a green pepper into centimeter wide strips and chop up an onion into chunks. Once the sausages are singed on the outside, remove them from the pan and cut them into quarters. Throw them back into the pan along with the vegetables, some olive oil, salt, pepper and a huge amount of garlic powder (or, if you are a vampire, no garlic). Cover it and let it cook on medium high, stirring occationally, until the onions are translucent, the peppers are soft and the sausage is cooked through.
|As a non-vampire, I can never have too much garlic.|
Take a small sub roll (or a hoagie roll if you are a heathen) and cut it open and in half and rip out the delicious doughy insides. If you can resist eating that now, you can dry it for some great bread crumbs. Place the mixture into the roll and eat it now or wrap in tinfoil and take it to go, Italian style.
|I’m salivating with the memory|
Hey all! Long time no see! Before the complaints begin rolling in, I am aware that I have completely failed in my daily posting. Sadly the summer is over, which means I no longer have vast swaths of free time to shop, cook, take pictures and blog every single day. So, I will do my best to post something new and exciting once a week for your culinary pleasure.
Anyway, updates! Since my last post, I finished my thirty meals in thirty days. If you want the recipes for my stab a chili, toppings-in burgers, hearty veggie sandwiches, pizza rolls, chicken cacciatorre or cold orzo salad, please let me know and I would be happy to oblige.
In other news, I finally made the hajj to Mario Batali’s Eatily. Let me just say, I am very lucky that I went with my boyfriend because I would have spent all of my money on gourmet cheese and pasta. As it was, I managed to pick up the most beautiful cremini mushrooms and the best looking onion I have been able to find in weeks. (One of the most heart wrenching trade-offs about the end of summer is that I lose my tomatoes but gain squashes and zucchini.)
With these gorgeous vegetables, I planned out a beef sauce.
|Warning: This may be the best thing I have ever made|
I supplemented my findings with two pounds of chuck meat, a small jar of tomato puree and some fettuccine from Shop Rite.
I decided that I was going to make this sauce while actually using the proper cooking methods for each individual step. Which, in this particular case, means lots and lots of butter.
|Like, seriously, a lot.|
I hate the idea of using butter in cooking, but you can’t argue with the results. While a touch more finicky than oil, (it has a tendency to burn) the lower boiling point of butter means that foods cook more evenly.
I caramelized the onions and browned the mushrooms at the same time in two different pans.
To caramelize onions: This is a time consuming process but simple enough to do. In a pot, melt about three tablespoons of butter (on medium heat, it will burn!). Mix in salt, pepper, a crushed clove of garlic and a touch of basil. Pour into the pot a largish onion sliced in quarters and then across the grain so that you have strips of onion about 10 cm in length by 1 cm width. Keep it on medium or low heat, stirring occasionally. You want them to turn clear, and then wilt, and then turn a light brown.
To brown mushrooms: Slice the onions into 1 mm pieces and place in one sparse layer in a dry pan. Turn on the pan to medium low heat and let the mushrooms “sweat” out their moisture. Stir occasionally but try to keep them in one layer. A common mistake when preparing mushrooms in this style is to “crowd” the mushrooms in the pan. The trick is to give them plenty of room between each mushroom, due to the minuscule size of my pan, I ended up doing them in three batches. After the final batch was completed, I put all of them back in the pan with a small pat of butter on high heat to sear in the flavor. When they are finished, throw them in the pan with the onions.
When you are finished, your onion pot should look something like this:
|I’ll give you a second to roll your tongue back into your mouth|