Category Archives: Cooking

Killer Scrambled Eggs

Creating killer scrambled eggs is an awesome, flexible and impressive skill. This approach will deliver the best eggs you’ve ever eaten. It’s for 6 eggs – basically 2-3 portions. Adjust accordingly.

Ingredients:

  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 T butter
  • 3 T heavy whipping cream
  • 2 T chopped fresh chives
  • 3 finger pinch of salt

Process:

Crack your eggs into a bowl and beat with a fork. Don’t add anything to them like water or milk. Don’t over beat (you don’t want too many air bubbles), but get them good and mixed up. Heat up a good non-stick frying pan and when it’s ready (not too hot – low medium heat is fine), pour in your eggs. Scramble them with a silicon spatula or wooden spoon, stirring continuously.

When the eggs are very loose, drop in the butter, the cream, the chives and the salt. Stir to combine and cook a bit longer. You want them a little looser than you’d expect, but not runny. When ready, serve onto plates and enjoy!

Stir-Fry Sauces

Here is a collection of basic stir fry sauces that can allow you to create a nearly infinite variety of stir fry dishes.

Lemon Stir-Fry Sauce
(nice with chicken and seafood)

  • 2/3 cup chicken broth
  • 1 T cornstarch
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 T. soy sauce
  • 2 -3 T lemon juice (to taste)
  • Optional: red pepper flakes

Soy Sesame Stir-Fry Sauce
(good all-round Asian sauce, suitable for all proteins)

  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 4 t rice wine vinegar
  • 4 t toasted sesame oil
  • 2 t hot red pepper flakes
  • 2 t sugar

Basic Stir-Fry Sauce
(good all-round sauce)

  • 2/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup rice wine or rice vinegar
  • 3 1/2 T sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 1 T minced ginger
  • 2 T cornstarch

Sweet and Sour Stir-Fry Sauce
(great with chicken, pork, beef and shrimp)

  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 T rice vinegar or cider vinegar
  • 1 T cornstarch

Hot and Sour Stir-Fry Sauce
(good all-round sauce)

  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup red or white wine vinegar
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 4 t granulated sugar
  • 1 t chile paste (sambal oleek)

Thai Stir-Fry Sauce
(great with chicken or shrimp)

  • 2/3 cup coconut milk
  • 2 1/2 T fish sauce
  • 3 1/2 T fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 T soy sauce
  • 1/3 to 1/2 t dried crushed chili
  • 2 1/2 t brown sugar

Peanut Stir-Fry Sauce
(perfect for noodles or chicken)

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 4 t granulated sugar (less if not using natural peanut butter)
  • 4 t natural peanut butter
  • 2 T water
  • 2 t Asian chili garlic paste

Combine all ingredients and heat in microwave for 20-30 seconds.

Orange Stir-Fry Sauce
(nice with chicken and pork)

  • 3/4 orange juice
  • 1 T Cornstarch
  • 2 T Hoisin sauce
  • 1 T Oyster sauce
  • 1 T Rice vinegar
  • 2 t brown sugar
  • 1 t Finely grated orange zest

Spicy Szechuan Stir-Fry Sauce
(great all-round spicy stir fry sauce)

  • 3-4 T sodium-reduced soy sauce
  • 2 T rice wine or rice vinegar
  • 2 t cornstarch
  • 1 t sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 T green onion, minced
  • 1 T fresh minced ginger
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 1 t chili paste (sambal oleek or chili paste sauce with garlic)

Basics of Stir-Frying

Stir frying is a great and simple way to make an amazing meal. You can use a wok or any non-stick flying pan. You need your essential ingredients, a protein (unless you want to make it vegetarian), some vegetables, a sauce (see the stir fry sauce post) and some toppers.

Essential ingredients (for all stir fry)

  • Peanut oil
  • Garlic (chopped)
  • Green onions (chopped)
  • Rice
  • Soy sauce

Proteins that work well

  • Chicken breast (diced or thin sliced)
  • Chicken thighs (diced)
  • Pork (like pork chops, thinly sliced)
  • Lean beef (like sirloin – thinly sliced)
  • Shrimp (deveined and shelled)

Vegetables that work well

  • Onions (diced)
  • Carrots (grated)
  • Broccoli (cut into small pieces)
  • Peppers (green, red, etc. – thinly sliced)
  • Snow peas
  • Jalepeno (diced small)
  • Bok choy (thinly sliced)
  • Ginger (grated)
  • Mushrooms (thickly sliced)
  • Snap peas

Toppers

  • Cilantro (chopped)
  • Peanuts (chopped)

To make the stir fry, start first with the rice – make it according to the package instructions. While it’s cooking, you can chop the rest of your ingredients and start cooking the actually stir fry when you take the rice off the heat to rest.

In your pan, put in 2T of peanut oil and get very hot. When the oil shimmers, add your chopped garlic and stir for about 10-15 seconds. Then add your protein and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly.

When the meat is done, scoop it into a bowl and wipe out the pan with a paper towel. Add another T of oil and add your veggies, stirring continuously. When they have turned bright and are still crispy (3-4 minutes), add your meat back in, plus any sauce you want to use. Stir for 30 seconds and then toss in your green onions. Toss for a few seconds.

Scoop some rice into your bowl or plate and then add the stir fry on top. Top with your chosen toppers and enjoy!

Basic Gravy

This basic gravy is wonderful with a roast chicken or a beef roast. It’s assumed that you have some pan juices from what you just cooked. You can make the gravy when the meat is resting.

In a small sauce pan, add 2 T of butter over medium heat. When butter starts to melt, add 2 T of flour and whisk together for at least 3-5 minutes until smooth and cream (it’s not good if it turns dark brown!). This is your roux and it will thicken the gravy.

Now add about a quarter cup of the pan juices and whisk together for 2-3 minutes. Add some stock or broth and some cream (ratio: 2 parts broth and 1 part cream – add as much as you need to make the quantity you want) and bring to a boil and let bubble for a few minutes.

Reduce heat, taste and season with salt and pepper to taste.

You can also kick things up by adding bourbon, white wine or green peppercorns and such.

Basic Vegetable Soup Recipe

This basic recipe will make a delicious vegetable soup. You can also add a protein or replace the potatoes with another starch, such as noodles or barley.

Ingredients:

  • 4 t olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, medium dice
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 2  carrots, medium dice
  • 2  garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, medium dice
  • 2 cups additional vegetables of your choice (such as red pepper, cabbage, asparagus, mushrooms, fennel, or peas), medium dice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pinch dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup white wine or dry vermouth (optional)
  • 1 quart chicken, beef or vegetable broth or stock
  • 1 pound potatoes, medium dice

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add the carrots and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Add the celery and, if using, any hearty vegetables (such as cabbage and fennel) and the bay leaf and thyme. Season again with salt and pepper and cook an additional 5 minutes. If using, add the wine or vermouth (for some acidity) and cook, stirring occasionally, until the alcohol has reduced by about half, about 2 minutes.

Add the broth, potatoes, and any quicker-cooking vegetables (such as asparagus and peas). Let the soup come to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and gently simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork, about 15 to 25 minutes. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed.

Basic Chicken Stock

Chicken stock is an ingredient in many meals and soups and it’s easy to make with the caracas of a left-over roast chicken. Here’s how:

Ingredients:

  • Leftover bones and skin from a cooked or raw chicken carcass
  • Celery
  • Onions
  • Carrot
  • Parsley
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Put the leftover bones and skin from a chicken carcass into a large stock pot and cover with cold water. Add veggies like celery, onion, carrots, parsley. Add salt and pepper, about a teaspoon of salt, 1/4 tsp of pepper.

Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to bring the stock to barely a simmer. Simmer uncovered at least 4 hours, occasionally skimming off the foam that comes to the surface.

Remove the bones and strain the stock. You can strain the stock by using several paper towels in your colander. Place in either gallon freezer bags or tupperware. It will last a week in the fridge or several months if frozen.

Basic Salad Dressing

This is a simple vinaigrette dressing that can be used for salad or dressing cooked vegetables. It can be altered and enhanced with almost infinite variety. Simply mix all the ingredients together and enjoy.

  • 3 parts EVOO
  • 1 part vinegar (red wine or balsamic)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Dollop of dijon mustard

How to Roast a Chicken

Roasting a chicken is a simple and basic skill that can be the heart of a truly great meal. Here’s a simple way to knock out a killer bird.

Ingredients:

  • Whole chicken
  • 1/2 lemon, cut in quarters
  • 1/2 small onion, cut in quarters
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme (can use dried)
  • 3 T melted butter
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Take your chicken and rinse it under cold water and remove anything inside it. Pat dry with a few paper towels.

Salt and pepper the inside of the bird and stick the lemon, onion and thyme inside.

Fold the wings under the back of the bird and prepare a pan. Use either a roasting pan or some other oven save pan – if it doesn’t have a grate to keep the chicken off the bottom of the pan, crumple up some foil to make two large “C” shapes and set them on the bottom of the pan. Set the chicken in the pan.

Baste the breast of the chicken with melted butter and season with salt and pepper. Put in the oven.

After 15 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350. Baste the chicken every 15-20 minutes with some melted butter. Roast until internal temperature hits 165 degrees.

Basic Rub

This basic rub is great for grilled steaks, slow-cooked ribs or roast chicken.

  • 1 T cumin
  • 1 T paprika
  • 1 T granulated garlic
  • 1 T granulated onion
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 2 T kosher salt
  • 1 t cayenne pepper
  • 1 t black pepper
  • 1 t white pepper

Store in a small tupperware container in your pantry.

Pantry Essentials

Pantry

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Canola oil
  • White wine vinegar
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Basic sugar
  • All-purpose flour
  • Cornstarch
  • Canned beans
  • Canned tuna
  • White rice
  • Honey
  • Chicken broth
  • Tabasco sauce
  • Dried pasta
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Tomato paste
  • Jarred pasta sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Plain crackers—unsalted saltines
  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Garlic

Spices

  • Ground cinnamon
  • Chile powder
  • Dried oregano
  • Ground cumin
  • Smoked paprika
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • Hot pepper flakes
  • Bay leaves
  • Dried Thyme

Fridge

  • Dijon mustard
  • Ketchup
  • Mayonaise
  • Bacon
  • Milk
  • Butter
  • Eggs
  • Cream
  • Plain Yogurt
  • Lemons
  • Carrots
  • Parmesan cheese

Freezer

  • Peas
  • Spinach
  • Ground Beef
  • Boneless chicken breasts
  • Raw shrimp

Generic Quickbread

The quickbread ratio: 2 parts flour and liquid, 1 part egg and butter.

That will give you a perfect muffin or, baked in a loaf pan, a quickbread. Now, you also need to have a little technique and common sense. A teaspoon of baking powder for every 5 ounces (cup) of flour is needed for leavening, a pinch of salt for flavor, but that’s it.

If you want a lemon-lime cake, add lemon and lime juice and zest; vanilla is always good, or add lemon and poppyseeds, add cranberry and orange, blueberries, bananas. Make a savory quick bread with cumin coriander and ginger to accompany a dal. (Secret: If you season the batter with a little sugar and vanilla and pour it on a griddle, you have perfect pancakes. That savory quickbread suggestion? Pour it over corn or peas, just enough to bind them, spoon the mixture into hot oil for amazing fritters).

(source: Mark Ruhlman)

Generic Casserole Recipe

Here is a simple generic recipe to create a tasty baked casserole from the ingredients you probably have on hand.

  • 1 cup main ingredient (protein)
  • 1 cup second ingredient (vegetable)
  • 1-2 cups starchy ingredient
  • 1 1/2 cups binder
  • 1/4 cup “goodie” (optional)
  • seasoning
  • topping

What do those categories mean, exactly? The main ingredient is the protein, meat or otherwise. The second ingredient is a vegetable or secondary protein, like hard-boiled eggs. The starch, seasoning, and topping should be pretty self-evident, and the “goodie” can be whatever you’d like, while the “binder” is something thick and saucy, like sour cream, pureed foods, or, yes, even canned soup.

Some examples:

  • Main ingredient: tuna, cubed chicken, turkey, ham, seafood, etc.
  • Second ingredient: thinly sliced celery, mushrooms, peas, chopped hard-boiled eggs, etc.
  • Starchy ingredient: thinly sliced potatoes, cooked noodles, cooked rice, etc.
  • Binder: cream sauce, sour cream, can of soup, etc.
  • “Goodie”: pimiento, olives, almonds, water chestnuts, etc.
  • Topping: cheese, bread crumbs, etc.

Once you get your ingredients together, it’s just a few simple steps:

  • Prepare the main ingredient (brown or cook it if needed – season with salt and pepper)
  • Mix together the protein, the vegetable and the binder (and the goodie, if using) in a bowl and season (if you use condensed soup, don’t add water)
  • Prep the starch, if need be (cook the potatoes or pasta, for example)
  • Put together in casserole pan (if you chose pasta, put in first and protein mix on top… if any other starch, do the reverse – protein on bottom)
  • Sprinkle on topping
  • Put, uncovered, into 350 degree oven for at least an hour (until center is bubbling)

Kitchen Needs

  • Sponges
  • Dish soap
  • Dish towels and wash rags (use wash rags rather than sponges to do dishes – you can wash them)
  • Basic pot/pan set (non-stick frying pan, 4 qt saucepan, dutch oven)
  • Basic knives (paring knife, 8″ chef’s knife, serrated knife)
  • Basic kitchen tools (large spoon, spatula, whisk, measuring cups, measuring spoons, basting brush)
  • Several mixing bowls
  • Ceramic casserole pan
  • Basic cutlery
  • Basic china (plates & bowls)
  • Box or microplane grater
  • Can opener
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Colander
  • Wood cutting board
  • Set of disposable tupperware containers
  • Meat thermometer
  • Foil, small baggies, gallon freezer bags, cling wrap