What We’ve Been Cooking During the Quarantine

We’re cooking a lot more during the quarantine since we can’t go out, and we’ve been cooking with a limited set of ingredients since popping out to the store for a missing ingredient is not something you want to do. It has made us more creative, and I think some of the list below will makes its way into our regular repertoire once this is all over.

We pretty much never followed any of these linked recipes 100%. I followed the spirit of the recipes, making substitutions where needed.

We also made a lot of these multiple times.

A few general tips:

  1. Sauces are important and make bland things better. I currently have a yogurt sauce, a chipotle sauce, a stir fry sauce, and aioli in the fridge. We pull them out and put them on everything.
  2. Marinades make old meat from the back of the freezer taste better.
  3. Save lots of vegetable and meat scraps and make stock with them for other meals.
  4. Kefir substitutes pretty well for buttermilk in baking recipes.
  5. Juice that is about to expire can be frozen into ice cube trays for use in cooking or blender cocktails later.
  6. Commercial yeast can be kept going just like you do a sourdough. Don’t fret if you are on your last packet!
  7. Check with local food distribution companies, whose main clients (restaurants) aren’t ordering as much. Many in the NY area have started delivering to homes, which is awesome. My parents found one in Ohio that is doing pick ups.
  8. You can regrow scallions in a glass of water.

Entrees

Baked Goods

A few things that missed the mark

  • Some hand-made pasta that was okay, but we are searching for better recipes.
  • Gnocchi with bacon, broccoli and a quasai cream sauce based on sourcream. Not bad, but wouldn’t make it again
  • My early breads didn’t rise. Turns out I forgot to flatten them down and get the air out before the second rise
  • We tried to use mini cast iron skillets and make individual serve mac and cheese from some boxed stuff we had that we put more cheese and bread crumbs over then baked. Make it special, you know? It was terrible, though. Dry, overcooked, and crunchy. Not having milk didn’t help the situation…

Upcoming

Here is a random mishmash gallery of photos from my photo roll. No real order, and not everything listed above is represented here.

What are your go-tos right now? Any recommendations? Drop them in the comments!

Quarantine Cocktails, Chartreuse Edition

In these times of quarantine, we are passing the time with cocktails, board games, books, and baking. But we don’t want to drink up all of the whiskey right away, so we are turning to less-used bottles and getting creative.

This week? Chartreuse!

Yellow or Green? Whichever you have. Yellow is a little sweeter, lower proof, and less bitter than Green, but both are delicious.

The most well known Chartreuse cocktail is the Last Word. The bad thing is that I don’t have any citrus, and I bet few of you do, either. So I got to work digging through books and asking bartenders I respect on Twitter what their favorite Chartreuse drinks are. Here are three that don’t need citrus, plus notes on variations.

 

Widow’s Kiss

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I know, not a great name for the current time. But that is what it is called.

This is a classic cocktail from the 1895 Modern American Drinks by George J. Kappeler. It is considered a digestif, so drink it after dinner.

Substitutions

  • No Benedictine? Double the Yellow Chatreuse.
  • No Calvados? Apple Jack will work, too.

Here is one I made last night:

 

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Bijou

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The Bijou is another classic!

Substitutions

 

Oh My Word

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This is essentially a Last Word without lime juice. Introduced to me by Sother Teague.

Substitutions

  • I don’t have lime bitters, so I’m using rhubarb bitters
  • No Amaro Montenegro? Try Amaro Nonino
  • No Old Tom gin? Or any gin will work. (But if you want to make your own Old Tom, add some simple syrup to regular dry gin and age it in a barrel for a week.)

 


 

Have a bottle of liquor that you don’t know how to use? Email me at chuck@grimmett.co with what you have on-hand and I’ll brainstorm some ideas with you!

Simple breads to make at home

Want to get into bread baking during this quarantine but don’t know where to start? Here are two ideas:

  1. Navajo Flatbread: Simple and fast, minimum ingredients, no yeast needed. Most cultures have something like this. Think naan, pita, frybread, etc. H/t to Ilya Radchenko for sharing this link!
  2. No-knead bread – Simplest regular loaf-style bread I know about. From Jim Lahey at Sullivan Street Bakery. Needs yeast and a dutch oven to bake. I use this same recipe but sub in sourdough starter for the yeast and give it a long fermentation in the fridge before baking. H/t to Tyler Machovina for sharing this recipe with me 4 years ago, and for sharing the sourdough starter with me!

Erin Carlson’s Simple Seed Starting Tips for Beginners

My friend Erin Carlson put together a great seed starting guide for beginners. Now is a great time to get your hands dirty and grow some stuff, whether in pots or in a garden!

Erin has been very helpful with advice for getting our garden going at our new house and we’ve shared seeds for the past couple years. And she makes very cool fiber art! If you don’t follow her, you should.

Check out Erin’s guide here in her Instagram stories.

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What can I substitute in marinades?

A friend asked me this on Friday:

The marinade I want to make calls for soy sauce, which I’m out of. What can I use instead?

Marinades are essentially mixes of three components:

  1. Acid
  2. Umami/flavoring
  3. Salt

Soy sauce fills both the Umami and Salt components. In its place, you can try:

  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Balsamic vinegar with a less of the other acid component you are using

 

Making your own Marinades

Want to experiment with making your own marinades? Try one from each category, then add olive oil and your favorite spices, and give it a shot:

Acid

  • Lemon juice
  • Lime juice
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Rice wine vinegar
  • Red wine vinegar
  • White vinegar
  • Italian salad dressing

Umami/Flavoring

  • Soy sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Fish sauce
  • Coconut aminos
  • BBQ sauce
  • Hot sauce
  • Liquid smoke
  • Balsamic vinegar

Salt

  • Well…salt. There are different kinds, so you get the idea. Smoked salt is pretty great!

Note: None of these combinations will taste the same. You’ll like some more than others. Some components are stronger than others. I like to taste each component and be mindful of how the flavors will come out in the finished dish. Keep in mind other ingredients and the cooking method.

How to Flavor Rice

Did you panic buy a bunch of rice and have no idea what to do with it?

My favorite rice condiment

If you happen to have a bunch of fresh ginger and scallions, make Momofuku’s ginger scallion sauce. It is wonderful. A bowl of rice, chicken thighs, and a soft-boiled egg, all slathered in this sauce, is one of my top 5 favorite meals.

Sadly, I don’t have any scallions right now and I’m not particularly keen on going to the grocery store here in NY. Thankfully, I have some items in my pantry to get me through and I want to share them with you, Dear Reader.

 

Things to order on Amazon while you can still get deliveries

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Vermont Curry – This is a Japanese curry that is delicious and versatile. You can use chicken, beef, pork, or tofu for the protein and whatever veggies you have on-hand. Frozen veggies work, too! My favorite is chicken, potatoes, and broccoli.

 

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Green Thai Curry Paste is excellent with whatever random veggies you have on-hand + rice. I prefer it with coconut milk. If you don’t have any, you can get coconut milk powder on Amazon for eazy storage.

Both Green and Red Thai Curry make great soups, too. Here is my favorite quick recipe. Sub in the rice you already have in place of the vermicilli noodles.

 

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Like Spanish-style yellow rice? Sazón con Azafran is what you need to make it. I like to cook mine with chicken stock instead of water, too. Don’t have chicken stock? Boullion cubes will work, too.

 

Three more tips

  1. Salt your rice before you eat it. It needs salt.
  2. Butter makes most things better, plain rice included.
  3. I’ve been known to eat leftover rice with butter, salt, and Sriracha.

 


 

Have any cooking questions you want answered while you are social distancing? Have a bunch of ingredients but don’t know how to cook them? Email me and I’ll do my best to help: chuck@grimmett.co

2019 Gift Guide – Books!

No one needs more gadgets, but everyone needs more books. This year’s gift guide consists only of books. Specifically, cookbooks and cocktail books that people will actually read, use, and enjoy. 

If you prefer gadgets and other things, check out the 2016 and 2018 gift guides.

Yeah, these are all Amazon links. It isn’t that I don’t support indie businesses, but indie businesses don’t give me money to pay for hosting when you buy from their links.

Merry Christmas!

Chuck

 

Cookbooks

Every Grain of Rice by Fuchsia Dunlop

If the person you are buying a gift for wants to cook Chinese food at home, you need to get them this book.

 

The Noma Guide to Fermentation

Is the person you are buying for into fermenting things? This book will push them in new directions. Guaranteed hit. Get some

 

The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden

I got this book last year and have made multiple dishes out of it. The thing I love most is that there are selections from classic middle eastern literature related to food throughout the book, making it a joy to flip through. I love the Arabian Nights and I recognized a few of the passages from there.

 

Charcuterie by Ruhlman and Polcyn

If I had to cut my cookbook library down to 10 books, this is one that would make the cut. I’m moving into a house this week and I’m very excited to have space to make charcuterie again. If the person you are buying for loves charcuterie and likes to cook, get this book.

 

BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts by Stella Parks

Everything we’ve baked from Stella is amazing.

 

Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson

If the person you are buying for is interested in baking bread, this is the book to get. Bonus points if you are in the Bay Area and can get a fresh loaf of bread in the afternoon to go with it.

 

The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters

I’ve gifted this more than any other cookbook. This is the safe choice on the list. If I know nothing more than the person you are buying for likes to cook, I’d probably recommend this.

 

Cocktail Books

Smuggler’s Cove by Martin and Rebecca Cate

When we were in SF for a week this summer, we set aside an evening to drink at Smuggler’s Cove. It is worth the hype. This is one of the tiki books you must own. If the person you are buying for is even mildly into tiki, get this book.

 

Wine Simple by Aldo Sohm

If the person you are buying for likes wine and wants to learn more, this new book is a great place to start. And it is really well designed! Get a bottle of wine from the book to go with it.

 

Drinking Distilled by Jeff Morgenthaler

Is the person you are buying for just getting into alcohol? (College student, perhaps?) This book is for them. It covers the basics of making and drinking cocktails for beginners.

 

Bitters by Brad Thomas Parsons

I’ve made multiple batches of bitters from this book this year and they’ve all turned out great.

 

Batch Cocktails by Maggie Hoffman

If the person you are buying for likes to entertain (or gets invited to lots of gatherings!) get them this book. The cocktails are excellent and are portioned for groups. I’ve also written about Maggie’s other book, The One Bottle Cocktail. I highly recommend it if the person you are buying for has a small bar but likes interesting cocktails.

 

Culinary Non-Fiction

Founding Fish by John McPhee

I read this book this summer after spotting a school of shad in the Hudson while I was out kayaking. While not a cookbook, this does contain a lot of interesting history, culinary and otherwise. Plus an addendum of shad recipes.

 

Oranges by John McPhee

A whole book just about oranges? Yes.

 

The Raw and the Cooked by Jim Garrison

This book is a treasure. Technically it is a set of essays, not a cookbook, but there are recipes in it. If the person you are buying for likes food and good writing, get this.

 

Edible and Medicinal Plants by Steve Brill and Evelyn Dean

If the person you are buying for is interested in foraging but doesn’t know where to start, this is a great introduction.

 

National Audubon’s Field Guide to Mushrooms

If the person you are buying for is anything like me, this book will fascinate them for hours and they’ll want to go look for mushrooms the next day.

Lentil, Sausage, Potato, and Greens Soup

This is one of my favorite soups. As soon as the cold weather sets in, I make this at least twice a month.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb sausage, casing removed
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 leeks, chopped. You can use a regular onion if you don’t have leeks.
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 4 medium potatoes (or 5/6 small, 2 large), diced
  • 2 quarts chicken broth
  • 1 cup red lentils, picked over for rocks
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 2 cups chopped greens. I used tatsoi here, but often use kale or spinach.
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

Instructions

  1. Brown the sausage in a large pot. I prefer my enamel Dutch oven, but a stock pot works, too. Break it up as you brown it.
  2. Add in the onions and carrots. Let them sweat/get soft without burning. If you are adding other aromatics like parsnips or celery, now is the time to add those, too.
  3. Add in the potatoes and let them get a little soft, too.
  4. Add in the chicken broth. If you make strong homemade broth like I do, adding one quart of broth and one quart of water is okay, too.
  5. Add in the lentils and thyme and bring everything to a boil.
  6. Cover and turn the heat down to low.
  7. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Add in the chopped greens.
  9. Simmer for 15 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
  10. Taste and add salt/pepper as needed. I usually add a healthy amount of both.

If at any point it looks like it is getting thicker than you like, add more water. If it is too soupy for you, cook it longer.

I regularly improvise on the ingredient list here. The only constants are sausage and lentils. Sometimes I leave out the potatoes. Sometimes I add parsley or parsnips or both. Sometimes celery or celeriac. Sometimes I use leeks instead of onions. Red lentils are my go-to, but I use whatever I have on-hand. Red, green, brown, yellow, black all work, but some types cook faster than others. Greens other than kale work, too. I use whatever I have on-hand: Spinach, bok choy, tatsoi, etc. In fact, in these photos I used tatsoi.

To spice it up, I love adding a teaspoon of harissa powder to my bowl. The coriander and red chili powder give it a great flavor.

Instant Pot Apple Butter

Amanda and I started a tradition the first Autumn after we got married: Go apple picking, make apple pies, and make apple butter. We look forward to it every year.

We started out making apple butter in a crock pot, but last year I switched to making it in an Instant Pot.

Why?

  • The crockpot took about 12 hours to cook down the apples, which limited us to starting it early in the morning or late at night and locked us into canning it 12 hours later. Since prep takes about an hour and canning (sanitizing, filling, and boiling) takes about an hour, this cramped our style.
  • The Instant Pot cooks down the apples in about an hour, which means we can make two batches from start to finish in one day. Or we can do a single batch in an afternoon without much stress.
  • The Instant Pot breaks down the apple skins and large chunks much better than the crock pot did, so we don’t have to peel them. We just wash, core, and roughly chop. The extra pectin from the skins also means we don’t need to add gelatin.

My recipe is still pretty close to the original crock pot recipe. Last year I used half brown sugar and half molasses. This year I used honey and molasses, which I’ll probably stick with.

Ingredients

  • 5.5 lbs apples
  • 2 cups honey
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg (I prefer to grate my own with a micrograter)
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 cup apple cider

Instructions

  1. Wash the apple and dry them with a towel. You want those peels shiny, not dull.
  2. Remove the cores and roughly chop the apples. Large chunks are fine, the pressure will break them down easily.
  3. Mix all of the ingredients together in the Instant Pot.
  4. Seal and cook on high pressure for 45 minutes. Turn off the “Keep Warm” setting.
  5. Let the steam release naturally. If you are short on time, quick releasing it is fine.
  6. Remove the lid and purée the cooked apples with a hand blender. If you don’t have a hand blender, a regular blender is fine, but remember that the apples are hot, so work in small batches and make sure the steam can escape the blender. You don’t want a Jackson Pollack on your ceiling.
  7. If your apples have too much liquid, put the apples back in the Instant Pot and turn on the Sauté setting (medium) to cook them down a little more until they reach your desired consistency. We prefer it pretty thick. I put a lid from one of my other pans over the pot to make sure it doesn’t splatter while it is cooking down.

If you are going to give it out to family and friends, I highly recommend you can and process it.

One batch makes approximately 5 pint jars/10 half-pint jars.

Tipple Tuesday: Dirty Negroni

It is Negroni week!

I’m not obsessing over it here because I’ve covered them before (aged negronis, boulevardiers, French negronis and other variations), but I’m certainly drinking a few this week.

Here is an uncommon one that I really enjoy: A Dirty Negroni. It doesn’t contain any dry gin, vermouth, or Campari. But it tastes like it does.

Instead, we use 2oz of Cynar, that delightful artichoke-based amaro, with 1oz of Old Tom-style gin. It sounds funky, but it works. The traditional sweetness from the red vermouth now comes from both the Old Tom gin and the Cynar. The bitterness comes from the Cynar, and the botanical bite of the gin now comes from both the Old Tom and the Cynar.

Bonus: It is even easier to mix than a regular negroni. Build it in a rocks glass with ice and stir it briefly with your finger. Everything about this drink is dirty.