Belated St Patrick’s Day Feast

How’s everyone doing in quarantine?? Hope you are all well and staying safe. In this house I’ve been cooking a lot more than usual, especially because I’m home from work. And, before the shutdown started, I had already planned on attempting a big project: homemade corned beef for St Patrick’s Day. I got it into the brine a few days late anyway, so it was a perfect way to spend the past Saturday. And I do mean the whole day; after picking up some fresh groceries in the morning, I spent most of my waking hours in the kitchen! But I did not mind.

Unfortunately, I do not feel comfortable sharing the actual recipes I used for this feast, as they all came from the NYT Cooking site, which is behind a paywall. I would guess everything can be found elsewhere, though. Pinterest is always a good place to start.

So, this is just a post to share with you my crazy effort and how proud I am of everything turning out. And my hope is that it inspires you, both for future holidays and perhaps while you’re sheltering in place during this pandemic.

St Patrick’s Day Feast Menu

  • Home-brined corned beef brisket
  • Red potatoes with cabbage and scallions
  • Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Guinness Cake

The brisket had to go in the brine 5-7 days before cooking, and I had one heck of a time finding the pink curing salt, hence why our feast was belated. But it worked out okay because my sister was here to share it with us, as well!

Photo story of my day; hover mouse over each pic for caption. 🙂

 

I greatly enjoyed this labor of love, and I’m glad my little quarantine family did too. We will always remember this time, and I’m thankful for good food, good wine, and good company.

As always, Happy Cooking!

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Tacos

Happy March, fellow foodies! Sorry for the long absense; things were a little rough for me for awhile. But it’s all looking up, and here’s to yummy food and fellowship as we continue on in Lent and head towards Easter and fresh spring vegetables and flowers and summer! And allergies, but that’s not so exciting hahaha.

Today I have a simple inexpensive meatless (depending on the cooking fat you use) recipe for you that is super easy to make for 1-2 people or a large crowd. Besides, who doesn’t love tacos?? If you don’t, just shhh, I don’t need that negativity in my life 😉

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Tacos

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp cooking fat such as coconut oil, lard, ghee, butter, or tallow
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 2 tbsp taco seasoning + 1/4 cup water
  • Fresh lime juice (optional)

Heat fat in large skillet. Add onion and sweet potatoes, frying on medium high till tender. Add black beans and mix well. Add taco seasoning and water. Mix well. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Just before serving, if desired, squeeze half a lime over the skillet.

 

As you can see from the photos, I cut up flour tortillas and fried them to make chips for this particular meal. Of course shells or wraps work just as well! And fresh cilantro on top is just a serving suggestion as well. Other addons include cheese, tomatoes, olives, greens, etc. Whatever you like to put on your tacos could apply here. Stack them high and enjoy!

A note on the cooking fat in the recipe, too, is that any oil would also work, but I’ve found through trial and error and quite a few painful splatter burns on my arms and neck that the solid fats work much better for root vegetables. This is my experience, not anything super scientific or a chef’s recommendation!

Also, posts will be moving to Monday from now on.

Happy Monday and happy cooking!

Basic Roast Chicken with bonus recipe!

Autumn is juuuuuust around the corner, and despite it still being plenty warm here in the upper Midwest, I’m craving oven-baked meals and soups. The other day I remembered that I had a 5lb whole chicken from a friend in the freezer, so I thought it was time to roast it. There are myriad recipes out there for roasting a whole chicken, and I love the fancy ones, like Samin Nosrat’s Buttermilk-Brined Chicken, which I’ll probably make sometime soon. But, I wanted simple for a weeknight. So I went for Jacques Pepin’s Basic Roast Chicken that I found on New York Times Cooking (subscription required, but totally worth it). This was probably the best roast chicken I’ve ever made. Hence, I’m sharing it with you. Now, the bird I had was 5 pounds. Most from the store will be smaller. The instructions I give will be for a 3 1/2 pound bird, so I actually baked mine twice as long as what will be written here. This guide from The Spruce Eats will help you too!

And, below the chicken recipe, there’s a bonus recipe for a quick chicken stock using the carcass!

 

        Basic Roast Chicken a la Jacques Pepin                                                   IMG_3123

Ingredients:

  • 1 3 1/2 pound whole chicken
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Season the bird with salt and pepper, both in the cavity and on the skin. Stand the chicken on its side in an oven-safe dish; a cast iron skillet is ideal for this.
  2. Put pan in the oven for 20 minutes, then take out and flip the bird onto the other side. Roast for another 20 minutes. After those 40 minutes, place the bird on its back, baste with the cooking juices, and roast for another 10 minutes.
  3. Use a thermometer to check that the meat has reached 165 degrees, and if so, cut and serve!

(Note from the original recipe: by cooking the chicken on its sides, the juices stay in the breast and, since only the back is exposed, the chicken does not need constant basting.)

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I served this with sauteed veggies and a glass of Claret. It felt very upscale and classy for a weeknight!

 

 

 

 

 

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Bonus Quick Chicken Stock!

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 chicken carcasses
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
  • 1/4 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 8 parsley sprigs including long stems
  • 4 quarts filtered water
  1. Over high heat, bring all ingredients to a boil in a large stockpot. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 2-3 hours.
  2. Strain stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. If you want to, skim off the excess fat (I don’t typically). Otherwise, pour into jars and chill. This will keep in the fridge for a few days, but if you don’t plan to use it within that time, it can be frozen for a few months!

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So, I hadn’t intended to make stock last night, but I’m really glad I did. As you can see in the picture, I got 3 quarts plus a mug for me to sip on before bed. It.was.awesome.

I’m really excited to use this stock. It tasted better than any I’ve made in the past. Might have had something to do with the ridiculously simple chicken recipe I used. Who knows. But, I know it was worth it. I’ll be doing this at least once a month over the winter!

 

Happy cooking!!

Dreaming of autumn & pumpkin chili

Summer has come to an end, or at least mostly. The season itself doesn’t end for another couple of weeks, but school is back in session and today the weather was gloomy and kinda chilly. If I’m being honest, we are now entering my favorite part of the year. I love summer food, all the fresh produce and the endless grilling and chilled rose (or White Claw). But, as the weather chills and the sunlight lessens, I long for a good roasted chicken, or a great big bowl of pumpkin chili.

stock pumpkin photo

I’m also craving a big bowl of my roasted tomato soup, topped with lots of parmesan and eaten with a slice of crusty sourdough bread. Even though I’m generally avoiding bread for now, that might have to happen. Especially if I make a sourdough starter and make my own bread, which I’ve enjoyed doing in the past. (My starter was named Fred. He was wonderful. Someday soon I shall begin again with Fred Junior.)

It’s probably also a great time to mention that I’m going to be judging an apple pie contest next month; that gives me plenty of time to share my favorite recipe with you. I just need to visit the local orchards first. (A favorite pastime of mine, especially to indulge in hot apple cider and probably a cider doughnut; this is one of the perks of my parents living in Michigan, because those cider doughnuts are always incredible!)

Is your mouth watering yet?

soup thermos photo

I’ll be honest; my last weeks of August didn’t involve a lot of cooking. Stress and life happen and it’s entirely too easy to turn to a frozen pizza or just brown some ground beef with onions and peppers and eat that. This hasn’t been the healthiest approach, but hey. So, as I gaze into autumn and dream of pumpkin chili and falling leaves and hoodies, take note of the foods I listed above in bold type. Those are just a few of the recipes I hope to be sharing with you over the course of this next season.

This blog has long been a dream of mine, and personally I have let so much get in the way of it becoming a reality. But I’m excited. Now that I finally have a new laptop that actually runs well, it will be even easier to keep up, too.

So, this post doesn’t include a recipe, but I’m sitting here at my table with a sleeping cat draped over my arm and surrounded by far too many cookbooks (most from the library currently) and very happy to be sharing with you my love of cooking. Thank you for following along with me, and happy cooking!!

Salmon Cakes!

Happy Wednesday everyone! Sorry I’m getting this week’s post to you a little late, but it’s been sort of a crazy week already. I’ve worked extra at my regular job, and I have been working a novel that is consuming my thoughts. Pretty sure I’ve never wanted to tell a story so badly. So, you might randomly hear about my other writing sometimes, especially when November rolls around and NaNoWriMo begins.

Anyway. Something I’m really excited about in the food entertainment world this week is that Alton Brown is back with more GOOD EATS! I watched the first two episodes of Good Eats: The Return on Sunday night and they were everything I could have asked for. Also, he’s just gotten more handsome as the years pass, so there’s that, haha. But seriously, I love the whole food science thing, and it’s so cool when chefs cook yummy food AND can tell us why something cooks the way it does.

So that’s the cool stuff this week. How’s everyone else? Oh yeah, I promised you a recipe. Right. Always gotta have one of those unless I specify this isn’t a recipe post. Well, tonight I’m sharing with you a recipe for fish cakes. Salmon cakes, to be exact. I’ve made fish cakes multiple times over the years, utilizing different canned salmon and tuna, but they always felt a little…not perfect. I didn’t know why, until I came across this recipe from Natasha’s Kitchen, another cooking blog with waaaaay more cred than me. <—-That’s supposed to be funny, you can laugh. She’s been around for awhile. It’s all good.

The secret? To use freshly baked fish! I do not know why this never occurred to me, but I did it the other night when I wanted salmon but just thought regular ol’ baked and served over veggies was gonna be too boring for a Monday night. I adapted the recipe I found and served these with a spinach soup, which was also awesome and I will likely share in a future post.

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Fish Cakes using freshly baked salmon

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb fresh salmon filet
  • Garlic powder
  • pink salt
  • black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 3 tbsp butter, divided
  • 1 cup almond flour or coconut flour or a mix of the two*
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 tbsp mayo
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place salmon skin-side down. Brush with olive oil and season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Bake uncovered for 10-15 minutes. Take out, cover with aluminum foil, and let rest for 10 minutes. (In this time, if you have not already, prepare the onion and pepper.) Once filet has rested for 10 minutes, flake with forks, make sure there aren’t any bones, and let cool to room temperature.

In a medium skillet over medium heat, add 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter. Melt together, then add onion and bell pepper. Saute until onion is golden, which is about 7-9 minutes, then take from heat.

Using a large mixing bowl, combine salmon, sauteed veggies, 1 cup almond or coconut flour, eggs, mayo, Worchestershire sauce, and parsley. Add a few dashes of garlic powder, salt, and pepper, if you want. Mix up till fairly homogeneous. Once mixed well, form into patties. I got about 14 patties, 1 1/2 inch wide and 1/2 inch thick. (Think smallish cookies, I guess? I’m bad at this sizing thing.)

Heat 1 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp butter in skillet over medium heat. Once butter finishes sizzling, add salmon cakes and saute. (Depending on the size of your skillet, you might get them all in one pan, you might need to do half. I did all of them in my large cast iron skillet at once. If you only do half the cakes at a time, you’ll need to add more oil and butter for the second batch.) Saute 3 1/2-4 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Place fried cakes on a paper towel lined plate.

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These really were amazing. I’m surprised it only took one try to get them super delicious, because more often than not, when I work with flaked fish, I have problems. But I bet the difference here really was the freshly cooked salmon. This recipe could be made with canned salmon or leftover baked salmon, but I’m not sure if I want to ruin the magic I made here, haha.

*The original recipe calls for panko breadcrumbs, which I did not have on hand at the time. And because I know almond and coconut flour are both keto-friendly, that is what I chose.

 

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Happy cooking!!

Chickpea Flour Tortillas

I love tacos. Who doesn’t love tacos? Weird people, that’s who. I also love trying different tortillas for my tacos. My favorite always will be the hard corn shells, but I’m open to anything. I’ve made flour tortillas multiple times over the years, but because I’m staying away from regular flour for the time being, I looked for an alternative. Enter chickpea flour. This stuff is awesome. I prefer almond or coconut flour for most super low carb recipes, but they don’t bind as well. Chickpea flour is so easy to use because it doesn’t require an extra binding agent.

So, these tortillas. Not traditional in the least, but they are delicious and worked very well.

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Chickpea Flour Tortillas

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chickpea flour (I like Anthony’s brand)
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 tbsp milled flaxseed (optional)

Combine chickpea flour and water and mix well. If using, add flaxseed. Let sit for a couple minutes while you heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, pour 3-4 tbsp worth of batter into pan. Fry until tiny bubbles form and the edges begin to look solid. Flip and fry for another minute. Transfer to a plate.

So this takes a bit of guesswork because the pan does get quite hot. I definitely almost burned a couple of the later tortillas. Just pay close attention and you’ll be fine!

Serve with a protein and fillings of your choice!

Spinach & Onions, my favorite side

Happy Wednesday! How’s everyone’s August going? Feels like summer is disappearing fast. I am itching a little for autumn, because it’s the beginning of my favorite quarter of the year. But I’m also savoring what we have left of summer.

Today I don’t have a main dish for you, although this side dish of spinach and onions could easily be turned into one with the addition of a protein. Last night I served it with shredded chicken breast, which made a good complete meal.

Anyone who knows me knows that two of my favorite foods are spinach and onions. It’s rare that I go a day without eating one or both in a meal! They’re so good for you, as well, the spinach more than the onions hahaha. I’m very happy that this is an acceptable dish for a low carb way of eating, because I would be very very sad otherwise.

It’s super simple and works for any meal of the day. Yes, even breakfast. It’s amazing with some fried or scrambled eggs!

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Spinach & Onions

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups spinach
  • 1-2 medium yellow onions, sliced in rings
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
  • pinch pink salt (optional)

Melt butter in high sided skillet over medium-high heat. Adjust heat as needed, just make sure it doesn’t begin to burn. Once mostly melted, toss in garlic and and red pepper flakes if using; stir to coat in butter. Add sliced onions, stir to coat in butter as well. Let onions cook till translucent, allowing them to get some sear/browning on them. Once that’s done, add the spinach. This may have to be done in batches. Add a handful, mix to coat, etc. Cook for another couple of minutes, stirring as needed. At this point, add the pink salt if using. When spinach is wilted but still a brighter green, the dish is done! Serve with whatever protein you want. Some grated or shredded parmesan cheese is awesome on top of this too. This can be made vegan by substituting olive or coconut oil, but I have found that the butter definitely cooks better and doesn’t splash as much.

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It’s simple, but so delicious, and easily adaptable. I probably would have shared this sooner except that I change it up a lot! So I made sure to make it the same way for a few weeks in order to have a good recipe to share. Hope you enjoy it, and please do share how you jazz it up if you do!

Happy cooking!!