This? This is amazing. Especially if you live near a high concentration of Asian groceries and can find a bunch of these ingredients for cheap, and salmon goes on sale for the right price. A nice Thai riff on the classic salmon chowder, and makes the apartment smell amazing. 

Thai Style Salmon Chowder

Ingredients

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 4 oz shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced thin
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 large tomato, roughly chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced large
  • 2 stalks lemon grass, outer layers removed and cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 10 kaffir lime leaves (you can get these for super cheap at Asian grocery stores, trust me)
  • 1 qt chicken stock
  • 1 13 oz can coconut milk
  • 1 lb salmon, skin removed and cut into .5 inch pieces (save the skin)
  • .25 c fish sauce
  • .25 c fresh lime juice

Heat a large pot over high heat. Add the olive oil, and once it starts to shimmer, add your sliced shiitake, and sautee until deeply bronzed (about 7 to 10 minutes). Then, stir in the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant (a minute or so), followed by the tomato, bell pepper, lime leaves, and lemongrass, cooking until the tomatoes release juice and the bell pepper just barely starts to wilt. 

Add in the chicken stock and coconut milk and stir together, bringing to a simmer. Once steadily simmering, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. 

While the soup simmers, heat a small pan with olive oil over medium high heat, add your salmon skin, and cook on each side for about three minutes, until crispy. (Mine didn’t quite work out that way due to the sheer amount, but I tried and got pretty close!  See pics 8 and 9). 

Once your salmon skin is ready, add the salmon chunks, fish sauce, and lime juice in, and cook another minute or two, until the salmon that you can see is cooked. (The residual heat will take care of cooking it the rest of the way.)

Taste and adjust to your tastes, add a bit of salmon skin for garnish to your bowl as you scoop it out, and enjoy your ridiculously good soup. 

I’m back, kids, and with a whole bunch of food porn for ya. Didja miss me?

I’m officially settled in my temporary place in Chicago, was able to pretty quickly secure a job, and have finally fully restocked my pantry and taken a trip to the farmer’s market down here (Green City Market hyyyyype).  

That market is where I got the tomatoes and basil for this recipe, and let me tell you, using the heirlooms I did for this recipe (I want to say these were tangerine varietal?) blew this recipe out of the water.  (It also helps that buratta is on sale at Whole Foods right now for $5 for I’m pretty sure the entire month?)

Use the last little gasp of summer here, go out to the farmer’s market, and do the thing. It’s so worth it. 

Burrata Roasted Caprese Salad
Lasts for however many lunches you can stretch out the buratta or the tomatoes, whichever you run out of first

Ingredients

  • 2 large tomatoes, sliced thin (I used tangerine heirlooms, so good)
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1 ball burrata
  • handful of basil leaves, torn
  • balsamic vinegar

Preheat your oven to 375. Take your tomatoes, slice them thin, and then layer them in a glass baking dish with some foil, drizzling olive oil, sea salt, and fresh cracked pepper over them. Roast your tomatoes for 20 minutes, until they just barely start to wrinkle at the edges (see picture 2). 

Take your tomatoes, and transfer them to whatever you will store them in (I just layered them in a take out soup container). When you’re ready to eat, take the roasted tomatoes, and layer them in with the torn basil and drizzle with balsamic vinegar, and reheat the tomatoes a little, so that they’re just barely warm. Then, take a bit of your ball of burrata, layer it into the tomatoes like in the final picture, and just enjoy the absolute deliciousness.

Butter chicken is one of my favorite things to make. Cheese is also another favorite thing of mine. So, when I originally found this recipe, I thought it would be neat to try a variation. However, when it finally came time to make it, I realized that I hadn’t gotten everything like I thought I had, and a few things were missing in my pantry, and I was kind of hilariously broke, so going and getting the proper ingredients wasn’t an option. My solution was to try and meld elements of the first recipe with the recipe I already use for butter chicken, and see what I got.

The result is probably going to be my default recipe for butter anything now. It’s a perfect blend of spice and creaminess, and perfectly filling, too. And, if you have a well stocked pantry, all you should need to pick up is the cheese, the diced tomatoes and tomato paste, and maybe the whipping cream and greek yogurt, for a ridiculously cheap dish. I’m also kind of ridiculously proud of how this turned out, as this is my first real attempt at cobbling together a recipe to make my own.

Butter Paneer
Lasts four meals

Ingredients

  • 2 T olive oil (ghee if you can find it)
  • 1 14 oz block paneer cheese, cubed
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 t curry powder 
  • 2 t Thai red curry paste
  • 2 T garam masala
  • .5 t tumeric
  • pinch cayenne
  • pinch sea salt
  • 5 T butter
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 c heavy whipping cream
  • .25 c greek yogurt

Heat your olive oil in a pot over medium. Take your paneer cubes, and fry in the pot until they turn a nice golden brown on each side (see picture 2). Remove the paneer from heat once it’s done, and put it in a nice bowl to sit while the rest cooks.

Add a bit more olive oil and your garlic and ginger to the pot, cooking until fragrant (a few minutes tops), and then add your curry powder and paste, garam masala, tumeric, cayenne, and sea salt, and stir into the garlic and ginger, cooking a few minutes until it starts to smell really good. Then, add your butter, and melt it in the pot. As soon as the butter melts, add the tomato paste, diced tomatoes, and honey, and stir until combined. Simmer for twenty minutes, until the color becomes a nice, deep red (see picture 5), and stir occasionally. Then, add your heavy whipping cream and greek yogurt, and stir until combined, simmering another twenty minutes and stirring occasionally.  Then, add in your paneer, and stir for about five minutes, so that it warms through. 

Pick up some naan for dipping, and enjoy your ridiculously awesome dish. 

Shakshuka is something I never thought would go well in sandwich form. Yet, here we are, and Ive got enough for breakfast for at least a week or so.

Adding bell peppers heartens up the shakshuka even more, and it turns out that the pita is really good at holding the shakshuka and not making it too messy. I didn’t have za’atar on me, so I ended up mixing ground oregano, marjoram, sumac, and cumin (didn’t have any toasted sesame seeds, just raw); I should probably either buy or make it soon, because I definitely liked the flavor. 

Three Pepper Shakshuka Pitas With Feta and Za’atar

Ingredients

  • 3 T olive oil
  • half a small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed, then minced
  • 2 to 3 bell peppers, cored and sliced thin (use any colors you like)
  • jalapeño, cored and sliced thin
  • .5 t cumin
  • 1 t smoked paprika (I used Spanish)
  • .25 t salt
  • 1 14 oz can crushed tomatoes (recipe recommends fire roasted if you can find them, I went with plain as they’re pretty expensive around here)
  • 6 eggs
  • .5 c crumbled feta
  • za’atar to taste (if you don’t have it, mix oregano, marjoram, sumac, cumin, and toasted sesame seeds)
  • pitas

Heat your olive oil in a large pan over medium high. Once warmed, add your onion and cook until it softens, about five minutes, followed by the crushed, minced garlic, and cook for another minute. Add your bell peppers and jalapeño and saute until they soften, about another five minutes, followed by the cumin, paprika, and salt, cooking for an additional minute.  Then, pour in your can of crushed tomatoes, along with half a can or so of water, and bring to a simmer.  Once simmering, reduce the heat to medium low and let simmer for about fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally and tasting to adjust the seasonings.

After fifteen minutes, make six shallow indentations in the sauce and crack your eggs into them. Cover and simmer for between 3 to 6 minutes depending on how you want your eggs; 3 to 4 minutes gets set whites and loose yolks, 5 to 6 for firmer yolks. Remove the cover and sprinkle with feta and za’atar.

If you’re going to eat these right away, warm your pitas, open them up, and scoop an egg and the surrounding sauce into the pita. If you want more garnish, add more feta and za’atar. 

If, however, you’re like me and you’re taking these to work, put the sauce into a container.  The morning that you’re going to eat them, put an egg and sauce in the pita, and reheat (either by warming up the sauce and pitas separately, or doing what I do and just tossing the thing in a microwave). 

Looking for a quick, simple, but delicious breakfast? This is it. This would be great for summer going into fall, and is a great use of any tomatoes you have from your garden.

Tomato-Rubbed Bread
Makes appx 8 slices

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf roasted garlic bread, sliced thick
  • 2 medium tomatoes, sliced in half
  • olive oil
  • sea salt

If your bread is still relatively fresh, take it and toast it lightly, either under a broiler, or if you’re lucky enough to have a gas stove, over a stove flame (appx 30 secs/side). 

Take your tomato half, and rub it against the bread, squeezing it slightly to let out the juices, until the bread is a nice light red color like picture 2. You can do both sides if you want; I did end up doing that, but it does make the bread soggy, with the juices. 

Sprinkle each slice with sea salt and olive oil, and enjoy!

This salad is the perfect dose of summer. I’ve always had a thing for roasted tomatoes, and being able to do it with heirlooms is even better. And fried halloumi? Oh man, it’s like feta but even better.  …And really, thinking about this more, this could also be a great grilled cheese. 

The best thing I can recommend for this herb wise is to use whatever you have either in your garden, or whatever’s cheapest at the farmer’s market that week. I used oregano, basil, and mint from my garden.

Roasted Tomato and Halloumi Salad
Lasts 3 lunches as a side

Ingredients

  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes, thickly sliced
  • olive oil, sea salt, and pepper
  • 1 block halloumi cheese
  • 1/3 c fresh herbs of choice (I used oregano, basil, and mint)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and line a baking sheet with foil. Place your tomato slices on the sheet, and drizzle with olive oil, sea salt, and pepper.  Roast for twenty minutes, until wrinkly (see pic 2). 

Place a small amount of olive oil in a pan, and heat over medium high heat. Slice your block of halloumi into about six even slices, and add to the pan, frying until golden brown on each side (about three to five minutes). 

Combine the roasted tomatoes and halloumi, toss with the herbs, and enjoy the mouthgasm.

There are two awesome things about this recipe.  One, that the summer veggies are incredibly cheap this time of year at the farmer’s market, if not available in your own garden, and smell amazing while roasting. Two, that the core recipe is incredibly versatile, and can be changed by adding whatever spice you want.  In my case, I had an ex coworker give me a jar of Penzey’s balti mix that I ended out trying with this, and all the spices (there are entirely too fucking many for me to list out individually) played incredibly well with the veggies.

This was also my first time testing out the immersion blender that the amazing paintboxsoapworks got me, and let me tell you, it is AMAZING not having to put all of this in the blender in batches. If you can get one, do it, it’ll make your life so much easier/saner. I probably could’ve gotten it a bit finer, but honestly, this was my first time trying it out, so now I know it for next time!

Roasted Summer Veggie Soup

Ingredients

  • 4 carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into two inch pieces
  • 4 large tomatoes, quartered and seeded
  • 2 medium zucchinis, halved lengthwise and cut into one inch pieces
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
  • half of one large onion (yellow or white), sliced
  • 1 T fresh thyme leaves (I didn’t have fresh so I went with 1 t ground)
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 C chicken stock (can substitute vegetable stock to make it vegan)
  • seasoning of choice (recipe recommends .5 t smoked paprika, I went with several shakes of balti seasoning)

Heat your oven to 400, and place your vegetables on the sheet, placing the garlic at intermittent distances. Sprinkle with sea salt, thyme, and pepper, lightly drizzle on the olive oil, and toss to coat everything.

Roast your vegetables for 45 to 50 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender and caramelized. Add your vegetables to the pot with the broth, your seasoning of choice, and more salt and pepper if you so choose. If using an immersion blender, use in the pot and blend until smooth.  If using a regular blender, pour your broth and veggies in in batches, blending until smooth and uniform.  Either way, heat it through over medium heat to finish.

Have a slice of bread on the side to dip/mop up extra soup, and enjoy a good taste of summer!

Life’s been a touch on the crazy side in the last few weeks.  I’ve started seriously looking at buying a condo, doing the associated wrangling with banks, my baby sister graduated from high school and moved into college, and been just generally busy enough that this blog has kind of fallen to the side.  Sorry guys, I kind of suck.  This first post tonight is the start of a major catchup effort, though. 

This is a fantastic, summery little side dish.  And it’s also technically two separate dishes, but screw it. Most of the stuff for this came from my garden, if not from the farmer’s market.  If you’re in a position to do something similar around this time of year, go for it. 

This recipe comes from A Girl and Her Pig, a cookbook I’ve used before (for those white wine stewed tomatoes, which I definitely need to make again), and I look forward to using again.

Roasted Tomatoes and Marinated Roasted Peppers

Ingredients

Marinated Roasted Peppers

  • 2 large red bell peppers
  • 1 small clove garlic, grated
  • 3 T sherry vinegar
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 t sea salt
  • 5 large basil leaves

Take a cast iron pan and slowly heat over high heat.  Once fully heated, add your peppers, laying them on the long side.  How do you know if your pan is ready? When you add the peppers, the peppers should hiss a bit. Cook the peppers for about five minutes on each side, until there are large charred areas with wrinkly skin in between (see the difference between pics one, two, and three for a good idea of how this progression should look), for a total of twenty to twenty five minutes.

Remove the peppers to a medium sized bowl and cover it with wrap of some sort (April recommends plastic wrap, I used aluminum foil, it all worked good). Let the peppers steam and cool until they’re cool enough that you can handle them; this takes about twenty minutes. 

Remove the deflated peppers, peel the skin off (starting from the charred areas is a good idea), and then split the pepper along a seam, tearing a circle around the top to remove the stem and seeds, but catching the pepper juice in a glass bowl.  Tear the pepper into thin strips and put in a glass bowl, layering with the garlic, sea salt, and basil as you go.  Then, add the vinegar, and toss and massage the peppers a bit.  Top with olive oil, and put in the fridge.

Roasted Tomatoes

  • 3 medium garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • a small handful of basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • .25 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 t sea salt
  • 1 pound tomatoes (about 5 medium tomatoes), peeled, blanched, and cored (see technique for this in paragraph 3 of this recipe)

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Mix together everything except the tomatoes in a large bowl until the mixture is a bit viscous. Add your tomatoes, toss gently to coat, and let them sit for about five minutes to absorb the marinade. 

Transfer the tomatoes to a medium baking dish so that the tomatoes are spread in one layer, and then pour the marinade over them. Roast the tomatoes for 1.5 to 2 hours, until they look noticeably smaller, and softer.  (I’m pretty sure I went for the full two hours on these. This was a while ago so I don’t remember the exact length of time.)  About halfway through, start basting the tomatoes and pressing down on them with the back of a spoon every fifteen minutes or so – not enough to deflate them fully, but to just get them leaking a bit. Once the two hours are up, remove them from the oven and let them cool. 

To serve, combine the roasted tomatoes and marinated roasted peppers, toss, and nom!

As my tomatoes are finally ripening on the vine and getting ready for harvest, I’m starting to find a lot of uses for the tomatoes I’ve been able to bring to full maturity (I lost at least half my plant due to the storms we encountered back in June). In addition, the less I have to heat stuff up when eating it, the better. So, this recipe from the Japanese Soul Cooking cookbook for cold udon noodles with tomatoes was pretty much exactly what I needed.

To bring out the tomato flavors even more, I ended up deciding to roast my tomatoes for about two hours; this, combined with the soy sauce in the recipe, made it even more delicious. Again, you can make your own udon noodles if you have at least a day or so to devote to it, or you can get the Shirayuki Jumbo Udon Noodles like I did, and only have to boil them for three minutes to get them ready.

Cold Udon with Roasted Tomatoes
Lasts six lunches as a main

Ingredients

  • 4 medium to large tomatoes (I used 5 medium)
  • sea salt
  • black pepper
  • olive oil
  • soy sauce
  • 3 servings udon noodles (one pack of the Shirayuki noodles I mentioned above)

Take your tomatoes and quarter them, and then half those quarters. Put them in a baking dish, and drizzle with olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper. Heat your oven to 300 (275 if it runs hot), and roast your tomatoes for two hours.

About a half hour from the tomatoes being done, put on about four cups of water into a pot, and bring it to a boil. (The instructions only recommended one cup per noodle serving, but I skewed slightly higher to ensure that there was enough water). Once boiling, add your noodles, and stir with a chopstick as they break apart, keeping all the noodles separate. Boil for three minutes, then remove to your colander.  Once ready, strain them in a colander, and then put the colander in a large bowl, and run cold water over them, filling the bowl (and the colander), and stir your noodles, as seen in picture 5. This helps them cool down and not get overcooked or mushy. Cool for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  

Once your tomatoes are done, remove them from the oven and let them cool at least ten minutes. Once cooled, add in soy sauce to taste. The original recipe also recommends shiso, but I didn’t have any on hand (might grow it in the garden next year). 

Then, combine your tomatoes and noodles, ensuring that the noodles are fully coated, and either eat immediately, or chill further in the fridge. Either way, enjoy your minimal fuss meal!

Hey, folks!  It’s been a while, I know, but I haven’t really been cooking that much in the last month or so, and when I have been, it’s been repeats of things I’ve made on here in the past. But, if there would be any interest in a weekly post with recipes of Stuff I’ve Made this Week, I’d be happy to do a weekly roundup. I’ll put a question mark at the end so that folks can chime in.

I actually got to make this twice in the past week, and with slight variations each time.  This is a great summer recipe, especially with minimum and low temperature oven usage.

Pearl Couscous with Olives and Roasted Tomatoes
Makes enough to feed several people multiple days, or one person at minimum a week

Ingredients

  • 1 qt (1.5 lbs) cherry or grape tomatoes (if you have the ability, go for various hues, mine were from a combination of the farmer’s market and my own garden)
  • 5 large garlic cloves, unpeeled (can be increased if smaller, of if you like garlic)
  • .25 c olive oil
  • .25 c warm water
  • 1 t fresh lemon juice
  • 1 t salt
  • .5 t pepper
  • 2.75 c chicken stock (substitute Parmesan broth if you’re vegetarian)
  • 2.25 c Israeli/pearl couscous (you can also use Lebanese, which is bigger, but then add at least .5 c more of stock/broth to compensate)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • .5 c pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
  • .33 c fresh parsley, chopped (this can be left out)
  • .25 c fresh mint, torn
  • 1 t fresh thyme, chopped
  • (I also added a few chopped sprigs of oregano in one version)

Preheat your oven to 250, and while it does so, slice your cherry tomatoes in half, laying them out cut sides up on a baking sheet.  Add the unpeeled garlic, and roast in the oven for an hour, until they start to wrinkle at the edges.  Remove from the oven, and set to cool.

Peel the roasted garlic, and puree with oil, water, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and .5 c of roasted tomatoes until smooth.

Bring your stock to a boil in a large pot, stir in the couscous, and reduce to a simmer, cooking uncovered for the length of time specified in the couscous’ instructions (usually 6 minutes, go a bit longer if you do the larger Lebanese couscous).  Remove from heat, cover the pot, and let sit ten minutes. Then, take the baking sheet you used before and spread the couscous out in a single layer, and let it cool. 

(Both the dressing, tomatoes, and couscous can be made ahead of times.)

Take your remaining tomatoes, and your chopped olives, parsley, mint, and thyme, and add to the bowl, stirring in the couscous so that everything mixes together.  Then, add the dressing and give it a few more stirs, until you have something similar to the final picture. 

All of these amounts can be increased or decreased based on personal tastes/diet preferences. I prefer this either chilled, or just at room temperature.