Saturday, April 11, 2015

Lebanese Red Lentil Project

A few weeks ago a buddy of mine and loyal reader sent me a recipe he made complete with pictures. I promised him I'd add it to this blog with the caveat that it might take me a while as I've been focusing on a number of cooking-related things, but seem to have less motivation than I should to write them down. I'm not sure what it is- work tires me out, I spend a lot of time walking my dog, I've been relatively active lately (bike rides, running, and now I'm learning to play golf through my employer's PE program--- it's awesome and I have actually hit the ball, which is a major step in the right direction), but it's not like I don't have any time at all, you know? 

Among my bigger culinary endeavors lately have been the brewing of a couple beers that I will submit to a local homebrew competition with the (very minuscule) hope of winning the grand prize which would be that my beer would be brewed by a local brewery and served at a local festival in November. I made an IPA and a Stout, both of which I think are quite good, but taking home any prize, much less the grand prize, is not easy. I'm also working on making Ice Cream with the thought that one day it might be fun to open an Ice Cream shop. It's probably fantasy more than anything, but the daily grind of working for others- even when they're very good employers- gets to me and I think I'd like to start something on my own one day. Either way, I've made a very good Chocolate Ice Cream, a decent Green Tea Ice Cream, and a Beer Ice Cream which I had to throw away due to excessive hoppiness but that I plan to try again this week along with a Blueberry Pie Ice Cream. 

All this is to say that I haven't stopped cooking even if I have stopped blogging about it. It'll come and go, but the following recipe (project?) is here for posterity. My friend writes:

It is the second week of Lent, and Lent sounds like Lentil, so Lentil Soup is the Soup that I hath made. This Soup gives me a bunch of Vegetable matter to consume over the next week. ​The recipe is from Serious Eats. I had a print-out of the recipe, but it is found at this ( link [recipe copied below, the pictures are all his]. This recipe is straightforward. ​The main difficulty that I faced was the transfer of 4L of liquid three times. Careful pouring is required. Tip: Be generous with the cilantro and sparing with the lemon. The soup came out well -- 8 out of 10 

Lebanese Red Lentil Project

1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 chopped large White or Yellow Onion
2 Carrots peeled and chopped
2 Celery Stalks chopped
4 Cloves Garlic chopped
2 tsp Ground Cumin
0.5 tsp Cayenne
1.5 tsp Smoked Paprika

4 c. Dry Red Lentils
2 Bay Leaves
12-16 c. Low-Sodium Vegetable Stock or Water
Kosher Salt

1 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar

1 Large Red Onion minced
0.333 c. Cilantro Leaves chopped
1 Lemon sliced into wedges

Heat Olive Oil in a large pan and add Onion, Carrots, and Celery for about 5 minutes. Add Garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in Cumin, Cayenne, and Paprika and cook for another couple minutes.

Rinse Lentils.

Transfer mixture to a slow cooker and add the Lentils, Bay Leaves, and Stock. Add Salt to taste and let cook on low for about 4 hours adding liquid as necessary to maintain your desired consistency. 

Once cooked, discard Bay Leaves and puree in a blender or food processor with Vinegar. Serve with Red Onion and Cilantro on top and a Lemon wedge on the side.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Cremini Mushroom Lasagna and Spinach and Ricotta Lasagna

My girlfriend and I flew up to NYC for a long weekend a couple weeks ago and had a great time- aside from the freezing rain that soaked my shoes and didn't completely dry until after we'd returned to Austin. But I digress. The weekend was a blast- I saw some old friends, we saw It's Only a Play starring Mathew Broderick and Martin Short, we checked out SingleCut Beersmiths (they make some very quality IPAs), and we saw the 9/11 Memorial, which was everything you'd expect it to be- especially on a solemn cold and rainy day. 

And of course, we ate very well. Halal Guys. Seriously, how can they give that much food at that quality and taste for $7?! We had bagels and lox at Russ & Daughters which was delicious, as you'd expect. We got arepas at Caracas (something I'll have to make), and I ate a falafel sandwich at Mamoun's. They still set the standard in my mind of what a falafel should be. On our last night we ate at Eataly. Eataly was a little overwhelming, a little pricy, and Birreria's brews didn't live up to my standard (full disclosure: I only tried one beer, but it was $10 and not even good enough for me to remember it's name. It was some kind of porter/stout thing...), but I did see one of the Master Chef judges at Birreria, so that was cool. Also, the Cremini Mushroom Lasagna that I had was incredible. Of course I had to make it myself. I succeeded.

I know it's been a while since I last posted, but in that time I bought a pasta maker (basically a fancy rolling pin) and I haven't bought boxed pasta since. Seriously, once you see how easy and delicious fresh homemade pasta is, you'll never want to buy it again. I had a training for work at Maggiano's Little Italy today and as I ate my lunch all I could think was that I should've brought my leftover Lasagna, because it would've been so much better!

(I apologize for a rather uninspired picture. I assure you that it tastes better than it looks!)

Pasta Noodles

2 c. Flour (I do half All Purpose Flour and half Tipo 00 which is ground even finer than normal Flour, but I'm pretty sure I'm just wasting my money on Tipo 00)
2 Eggs
1 tsp. Salt
4-5 tbsp. Cold Water

Mix the Flour with the Salt. Fold in the beaten Eggs. Add Water one tablespoon at a time until the dough completely sticks together without being wet and sticky on your hands. If it's too wet, add more Flour; too dry, add some Water. I've used these ratios for every kind of Pasta I've made so far and it's always great. For the Lasagna, I just flattened it into sheets (an 8 on my machine- so pretty thin). Since it's already soft and slightly wet unlike store-bought dry Pasta, I only cook it in boiling water for about 3 minutes.

Cremini Mushroom Lasagna

0.75 lb. Cremini Mushrooms
0.75 lb. Taleggio Cheese
~0.5 c. Olive Oil
3 Shallots
Parmesan Cheese
Salt and Pepper

Chop the Shallots in a food processor and sauté in some Olive Oil with Salt and Pepper. Chop the Cremini Mushrooms in the food processor and add to the Shallots once the Shallots are soft. Add Olive Oil as needed to keep it from getting too dry. I don't think I used more than a 0.5 cups, but I didn't measure it. That's pretty much it. Cook the Lasagna Noodles and do thin layers of Pasta followed by thin layers of the Cremini Mushrooms. Top the final Noodle layer with shredded Parmesan Cheese and bake at 400 for about 20 minutes. I wanted an 8 layer Lasagna (remember: thin layers), but my baking sheet lent itself to 4 layers, so I doubled them up after I cut the Lasagna. 

I had enough Noodles to make a second Lasagna, so I made a really simple one with Spinach and Ricotta Cheese.

Spinach and Ricotta Lasagna

1 lb. Frozen Chopped Spinach
20 oz. Ricotta Cheese
2 Shallots
Olive Oil
1 jar Pasta Sauce

I was feeling lazy, so I just used jarred Newman's Own Pasta Sauce. That being said, I sautéed the Shallots, added the Spinach, and cooked the Spinach until it was soft and wilted. I mixed this with the Ricotta Cheese and Salted and Peppered to taste. I did four layers of Noodles, filling, Noodles, and topped the final Noodle layer with the Pasta Sauce. It was also delicious, but I think I preferred the Cremini Mushroom Lasagna. Either way, they were both better than what you get at most Italian restaurants!


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Spent Grain Dog Treats

After several months of inactivity, I finally started brewing again. I have a keg of Oud Bruin fermenting right now, and last week I kegged up some Brown Ale for my friend's movie release party. Tomorrow I will brew a Hefeweizen for that same party. It's a lot of fun, but it also leaves me with a lot of Spent Grain. So, now that I have a dog, I decided to put some of it to good use by making Dog Treats. In all fairness, it doesn't use that much Grain, but I compost the rest in my back yard.

The recipe came from this website: Clearly his look better, but my dog loves the ones I made and that's all that matters to me. I am copying the recipe below for the sake of easy reference for myself. My recipe makes 50% more than the recipe in the link. I did this, because I could only find Peanut Butter in 12 oz. bottles or larger and I wanted to use the whole jar.

Spent Grain Dog Treats

6 c. Spent Grain
12 oz. Smooth Peanut Butter
3 c. Flour
3 Eggs

Mix all the ingredients together and smooth onto a Silpat. Score into rectangles about 1" x 2". Bake at 350 for 30 minutes and then at 225 for 2 hours, or until they are completely dry. Snap the treats apart and store in the freezer. I don't thaw them before feeding them to my dog. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Black-Eyed Pea Medley

Another missed month. Oops.

It's been a hectic few weeks- I just took a job with the City, and last weekend I went to New Orleans with my girlfriend. Rather than try to recreate the past few weeks, suffice it to say that New Orleans was the highlight. It's got to be one of the best food cities in the nation. Our first night we ate at Irene's Cuisine, which I cannot recommend enough. It was pricy, but had a perfect atmosphere and great food. For our breakfasts we ate Beignets at Cafe du Monde, phenomenal Donuts from District Donuts, and delicious Omelets from some diner which I'll never remember. Our other lunches and dinners included Acme Oyster House, Dat Dog (a Hot Dog place where I had a Crawfish Sausage that was excessive in every possible way), Pizza at Domenica (with Roast Carrot Puree instead of Tomato Sauce--- delicious), an early happy hour dinner at SoBou (Gumbo with Mashed Potatoes instead of Rice AND Alligator Corn Dogs... both excellent), and at least one or two meals that I'm forgetting. Everything was fantastic and I came home inspired to cook even more. Unfortunately, everything was so heavy and rich that I've eaten almost only Fruits and Vegetables since I returned. But, in an attempt to make something inspired by this trip while being healthy, I present this Black-Eyed Pea Medley:

Black-Eyed Pea Medley

16 oz. package Dried Black-Eyed Peas
Large bunch Mustard Greens sliced into smaller pieces
6 Roma Tomatos chopped
2 Hatch Peppers
0.5 Onion chopped
2 Cloves Garlic chopped

~0.25 c. Olive Oil
Large pinch dried and ground Chile Pequin
Large pinch Smoked Paprika
Large pinch Jerk Seasoning
Relatively large amount of ground Pepper
Salt to taste

Soak the Black-Eyed Peas overnight and then bring to a boil and let simmer until soft. Drain the Peas into a colander and then pour the Oil into the now-empty pot. Fry the Chile Pequin, Paprika, Jerk Seasoning, Pepper, Onion, Garlic, and Hatch Peppers. Once the Onion starts looking soft, add the Tomato. Boil off some of the liquid and then add the Peas. When everything's looking good, add the Mustard Greens and cook until the Greens are nicely wilted. Serve immediately or enjoy chilled the next day.

Not only is this a healthy, filling, and delicious meal, but it is super cheap. I think the whole thing cost roughly $5 and I will probably get five meals out of it. Not bad, eh?

Oh, I completely forgot to mention that we also saw Joy the Baker in New Orleans. Apparently she lives in the French Quarter. We didn't talk to her or anything, but you know, whatever.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Coffee Rubbed Pork Loin

It's been over five months and I'm not sure what I've been waiting for. I had the excuse of grad school for a while, and in March I started an internship with the city auditor's office where I've been following the local political scene to help shape our yearly strategic audit plan. It's a fun job and not too stressful, but it was a lot of work when I was trying to balance that with grad school. But I graduated in May. Overall I had a very good experience. I enjoyed the program, the school, felt like I had some terrific professors, and met some people that I hope to be friends with for decades to come. The only regret I have is that I didn't quite figure out what to do with my life. I would love to work at the state capital again for a legislator, but that's fun for five months every other year and then I'm afraid that I'll be bored for the better part of two years. The city is great, but it's not fast-paced enough for me. I'd like to do my own thing, but that's scary- and more importantly, I don't know what I would do.

Either way, it's nice to have a summer with nothing other than work. My girlfriend and I moved in together to a small house in a great location. We lived together last summer, so the transition hasn't been that hard on me and I really like living with her so far. We adopted a pit bull about a month ago and she's completely awesome. She's two and has never had an accident in our house, doesn't chew on our stuff (with the exception of one shirt of mine...), and she's really friendly to other dogs and people. She doesn't like cats (even though I do), but otherwise she's pretty great.

I digress. Of all the perks of moving into a house, probably the best is that I have a yard and am finally able to own a grill. I bought a nice Charbroil and try to use it as often as possible. Grilled Chicken? Obviously. Grilled Peaches? Hell yeah. Grilled Watermelon Salad from the New York Times? Delicious. Grilled Pork Loin? Oh, yeah.

This is a bit of a cop-out, but since I haven't blogged in so long, I want to keep it simple. I threw together a Pork Loin the other day and it turned out perfectly. I can't wait to make this again!

Grilled Pork Loin

1 lb. Grilled Pork Loin (I bought mine at Central Market for around $7. It's a little pricey, but good quality meat tastes so much better than the cheap stuff. It's worth every penny.)

Ground Coffee Beans
Smoked Paprika
Flaked Salt
Ground Pepper

All I did was create a quick rub with some Ground Coffee, Smoked Paprika, Flaked Salt, and Ground Pepper. I did this in the wax paper that the Pork Loin came in. I just rubbed it into the the meat and then threw it on the bottom rack of my grill, which was supposedly 650 degrees or so degrees. I let it sit for about five minutes and then rolled it so that the top side became the bottom side and let it cook for another five minutes or so. I should have kept track of the time, but I didn't. In the end, the meat was perfect; deliciously seasoned, perfectly pink on the inside, and cooked nicely on the outside. I cooked some Veggies and other things with it, but the meat stole the show. Also, I used some in Scrambled Eggs the next morning for Breakfast Tacos and they were world class!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Lemon Bars

Hey, happy birthday Wong Vivant!

On an unrelated note, I got to school early this morning and am sitting in class waiting for my econometrics midterm. I could be studying right now, but I studied last night and I'm feeling ok. I probably won't post this until after the midterm- in fact I know I won't, because I haven't photoed my Lemon Bars yet. Anyway, maybe I'll feel differently about the midterm after I see it. Whatever. In any case, I studied last night before my 6pm class, but then the class was canceled, so why not go home and make my Lamb and Feta Burgers and Lemon Bars from scratch. My mom loves to make Lemon Bars, but hers come from a box. They're good, but mine taste fresher and so delicious. I got the recipe from: and I highly recommend it. It's reproduced below.

Lemon Bars

1.75 c. Flour
0.67 c. Powdered Sugar
0.25 c. Cornstarch
0.5 tsp. Salt
1.5 sticks (12 tbsp.) Butter

4 Eggs
1.33 c. Sugar
3 tbsp. Flour
Zest of 2 Lemons
0.67 c. Lemon Juice (I used 5 Lemons)
0.33 c. Whole Milk
Teeny Tiny Bit of Salt

Mix Flour, Powdered Sugar (I once bought some Powdered Sugar at Wal-Mart, Great Value brand, and it's a mixture of Cane Sugar and Cornstarch, so I used a little more Powdered Sugar and a little less Cornstarch--- I don't think it makes much of a difference, but keep an eye out when you buy Powdered Sugar and make sure it says 100% Pure Cane Sugar), Cornstarch, and Salt. Cut the Butter into small slivers and pinch/mash it into the Flour mixture. It'll be pretty dusty, so don't worry if you don't have a firm dough ball or anything like that. Press the mixture into a pan lined with Buttered aluminum foil until it's about 1 cm thick. Then bake for about 15 minutes at 350.

While baking, beat the Eggs with a fork and add in the Sugar, Flour, Zest, Lemon Juice, Milk, and Salt. I actually didn't add Flour since I had a little crust mixture left over. I think it still turned out really well. Pour onto the Crust and bake for 25 minutes or so at 325. The recipe I got this from called for 18-20 minutes, but mine was still too wet. After about 10 minutes, I dusted the tops of the Bars with Crust mixture to use up the last of it. The recipe calls for Powdered Sugar- and it may have looked a little better than Crust mixture- but I liked my outcome very much. So did my girlfriend.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Black Drum (Fish) with Purple Rice and Carrots

Long weekend including KUTX's first birthday party featuring Thao and the Get Down Stay Down, Iron and Wine, and Neko Case. Iron and Wine was fantastic, Thao was awesome, and Neko was... not my favorite of the three, but what a voice! Normally I could care less what people wear, but Neko Case wore a normal shirt with the pants from a skeleton Halloween costume. For some reason I found this disconcerting. Went out afterward and then read all day today. Had a terrible run yesterday that was amplified by allergies and Whiskey from the night before. Needed to eat healthy food today. Made some Black Drum with Purple Rice and Carrots. It was good.

Black Drum with Purple Rice and Carrots

5 pieces (about 1.25 lb.) Black Drum (Fish)
~1/3 Lemon
Salt and Pepper
Variety of Spices

Purple Rice

Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

I leave the Spices up to you. I've never made Black Drum before, but it was one of the cheaper Fish at Central Market ($10.99/lb.--- admittedly, Central Market is a relatively high quality and expensive grocery store) and I wanted to try it out. I had five pieces. Each one had some Lemon Juice squeezed over it along with Salt and Pepper. One piece had nothing else added- it was probably my favorite. Another had "Lemon Pepper" (don't ask, it was at my girlfriend's place and wanted to try it). This was fine. Another had Parsley Flakes added on and this was probably my second favorite. Another had Smoked Paprika. I put a little too much on, but I think it was an excellent addition and would've been fantastic if I'd used slightly less. I recommend experimenting. The last had a small amount of Ancho Chili Powder. This is overpowering and does not belong on this Fish. Regardless, cook for about 15-18 minutes at 350 until the Fish is flakey and white. It's a tremendously good.

Make the Rice as you would any other Rice- twice as much Water as Rice. It took a little longer to cook than normal White Rice, but was worth the wait (35-40 min). It benefitted from Salt and Pepper.

Slice the Carrots into small strips and mix with a small amount of Honey, Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper. Bake at 350 for ~30 min and it's delicious. Take them out while they're still slightly crunchy for a real treat.