So we need some more thread, I think, but I’m still mired in my various missed deadlines, so how about another cooking/eating moment.
A few days ago (Sunday, maybe?) I made a third iteration of a recipe I’m trying to make automatic:
This time I deviated from Chef Pepin’s instructions in a couple of ways. I didn’t have any mushrooms, so I used some miniature sweet peppers, sliced very thin, and fried in the butter-oil-beef fat mixture until just this side of charred. I used anchovy paste instead of fillets, and may have overdone it just a little–be careful. And then I went on to make something more resembling a beurre blanc than the pan sauce Pepin produces. I wanted more liquid, and just a hint more boom!, as it were. (Nod to Adam and BSG…). So wine (and next time I might even throw in a little stock); some lemon juice, add back the peppers, and throw in a wodge of butter. Finished it with a little heavy cream because I want to make sure the cardiologists of Boston are fully employed.
The last, or rather the first, and easily the most important divergence from Pepin’s version was in the choice of cut. I had made it before with the kinds of flap steaks he recommends, and it comes out great. But this time, when I was looking over the meat case at our local bespoke and insanely expensive butchershop, Savenors, I noticed the Denver steaks. The butcher who came to help me basically forced me to buy them–they were the best marbled steaks in the store, and though the ones I got were cut a little thicker than ideal to get medium rare out of a pan sear, a little pounding solved that problem.
I confess: I’d never used a Denver steak before, and I was a little dubious of taking a bit of shoulder and cooking it this way. But it was fabulous. The key is that Savenors only sells prime beef, and the premium cuts–ribeye, striploin and the like–are priced high enough to require consulting your bank manager before purchase. The less glam cuts are still expensive, but not inconceivable as an occasional treat. A recent discovery there has been what they call a chuck club steak, which they describe as the first piece of the shoulder forward of the ribs and hence the ribeyes–it looks like a rib steak, cooks like one, tastes grand, and costs almost exactly half what they get for the steak just behind it.
So these pieces of Denver steak were delightfully rich, tender enough (I’d guess the pounding didn’t hurt) and intensely beefy flavored — better, IMHO, in this setting than the skirt or hanger steaks I’d previously cooked this way turned out. (They weren’t bad, not at all. this was just better.)
Didn’t hurt that I cooked them perfectly. ;-) My wife, the former pro chef, has taught me what Pepin does in the video above, how to guage doneness with one’s thumb. Sometimes I lose the courage of my convictions, and what I want at medium rare reaches my plate as medium. Not this time.
So: this thread could not be more open, but if y’all were to share your favorite pan-pantry-clean-out-the-fridge recipes (or non-recipes) that might be fun.
Image: Aelbert Cuyp (my go-to guy for cow pix), Peasants and Cattle by the River Merwede, c.1658-1670
Well, I don’t eat meat and I don’t cook, so I have nothing of value to add, but I just wanted to say that the Jacques Pépin video brought back such nice memories of watching his cooking shows with my mom when I was little. He and Martin Yan were our favorites :)
Played refrigerator roulette and/or pantry pinochle many times over the years.
Some hits, some misses. Thing is, have never written down the preparation steps, just wing it.
@Alison Rose: Jacques Pepin is both a wonderful presence and someone whose work has evolved in such interesting ways over the years. I remember his forbidding “this way or the high way” books La Methode and La Technique from way back when. They were actually quite welcoming, when you got stuck into them. But this video and much else has this lovely loose improv quality that you didn’t see earlier.
And his stuff with Julia Child was always totes fun
Re not eating meat–I wondered about putting this post up, and then thought those that didn’t want to think about cooking beef are warned in the post title. I did think hard about the choice of painting, though, and rejected an amazing but ultimately a little too blunt 19th c. still life.
That looks delicious. I am inspired to try it this weekend
@Tom Levenson: He got chill as he aged, I guess :) And yeah, him and Julia together were wonderful.
Was more a The Galloping Gourmet guy.
Oh, also a local program based in Minneapolis-St. Paul featuring a grandma in the classic Italian mode, Mama D, whose eternal go-to was adding SPOG (salt, pepper, oregano, garlic).
It’s freakin’ snowing…again. So I made Spicy Potato Soup (recipe here)
@NotMax: I LOVED the Galloping Gourmet as a kid. He just seemed so…fun (or drunk, LOL)
dang, that sounds good.
I’m in leftovers mode tonight, because I did country-style pork “ribs” in the crockpot last night, and they ended up tender as you could wish for.
Love Pepin and love the shows he did with his daughter and then granddaughter.
Jacques Pepin is the chef I would most like to invite to my house to make me dinner because he just seems to infuse whatever he makes with love and good cheer.
I recently made steamed wontons, followed a Jamie Oliver recipe. Quite good and pretty easy, and for those of us who are following Weight Watchers, two wrappers are a point and it’s not hard to come up with a zero point filling. (For those of you who have Hulu, there’s a nice show, Keep Cooking And Carry On, which features Oliver in his kitchen cooking during the pandemic. Closeups courtesy of his wife on her cellphone.)
@Tom Levenson: You must’ve been channeling this when describing the cost of the fancy cuts:
(I can’t believe I found that on my first google attempt, and it was the first result!)
Wednesday, or at least today, must be National Leftovers Day. Of a couple choices I think I’m going to go with the yaki soba/shrimp. This will get warmed in a bit of oil in which a bit of sweet red pepper (from a jar) has been sauteed. Add just a little broth and a beaten egg, and stir through.
That steak sounds scrumptious, and might get made here the next time I have a suitable cut of meat.
That was the draw.
If he can make it while soused, I can while more sober.
Va in SC
Cleaned out (close to expired canned beans in pantry,for Vegetarian nachos; Sautéed in olive oil sliced onions,garlic and jalopeno &bell peppers,chopped tomatillos,corn & chopped cilantro. Make a big pot to freeze for another meal….serve w/cheese, chips or tortillas,guacamole and Pico de gallo….if there are meat eaters,add ground beef, as you simmer.
Oh and here’s a leftover for you: ordered a piece of chocolate cake with som’other yesterday and didn’t eat it. The layers must have been baked in 12-in pans, and there are three of them. The arc end of the wedge is around 4 inches. Going to have with a big scoop of plain Greek yogurt, and maybe a little strawberry preserves (the yaki soba is a modest serving). Pray for me.
We’re going to friends for dinner. It’s pasta with veggies and seafood plus a salad. On Saturday we had dinner at my brother’s. Menu: Pasta with veggies and seafood plus a salad!
There was also pie and ice cream.
Sounds like the diet dessert plate at the late Carnegie Deli.
Just the thing to top off a meal after a sammich.
With this new “The Last of Us” tv series, since it’s part of the characters’ survival, it seems like there have been a number of articles on the topic of ‘just how far past the ‘best by’ date can you use canned goods?’. IIRC, most were like, “as long as it doesn’t taste TOO metallic or make your tongue go numb(!) then you can basically eat them decades from now”.
And so, I just want to thank my lucky stars that the Fro family isn’t in a post-apocalyptic hellhole where this could be a real thing, because we toss stuff the moment it hits that ‘best by’ date. Canned, refrigerated, frozen, doesn’t matter.
(We also have rules about leftovers from restaurants and from home-cooking, but I don’t want to get too far OT). ;)
@NotMax: That’s one hell of a sammich.
@JML: omg that’s wild, we did crockpot ribs yesterday too and they turned out great!
My wife was like, “thank you for doing this for Valentines’ Day…why don’t you do this more often?” (She loves ribs…I do not, that’s why)
Honestly the result was not that different than when I do pulled pork in the crockpot (which we do several times a year). I think that it’s just because it was RIBS made a difference. To her, anyway. :)
The mister and I are 95% vegetarian these days, so I’ve been branching out into new cookery realms with mixed results. Filing this away for a cheat day though!
I’ve been thinking of getting into serious cookery (or at least more serious than my really minimal efforts), and one of the things that made me want to do so was finally using a cast iron pan.
I’d heard how revelatory the results could be, and didn’t much believe it. I was wrong. If you want to sear something, it will by God sear properly in cast iron, whether beef or seafood. If you want your onions to taste like Grandma made (semi-burnt, crunchy, and umami-ish), gotta go cast iron. And so on.
It’s like rediscovering food.
@CaseyL: Yeah, I have to do that some time. My mother wielded a mean cast-iron skillet. (cooking-wise, I mean) I just have never gotten up the nerve to get one. But I know you’re right.
I made a batch of sesame chicken for supper tonight. Tomorrow will be leftovers.
Had it been there, grandma would have wholeheartedly embraced the Instant Pot and probably dragged out the cast iron pans only for show on holidays.
Thanks for the cow painting, Tom! I was an art major in Western PA, and had cows for my neighbors for a bit. I did some drawings; they were good models.
@TaMara: I’d love to watch his shows again! As a kid, I didn’t appreciate his cooking as much as his entertainment. He was on right after I got home from school, and with 3 channels it was him or Dark Shadows – which I didn’t care for. No clue what the 3rd choice was lol
salt, pepper, oregano, garlic
My Italian great aunt, great in so many ways, taught me that those are the four necessary ingredients in all main meal cooking. I can still taste the zucchini flower she cooked up for me over 60 yrs ago. And the everything else she took into her kitchen. Between her and my sister, who could make things I didn’t think I liked at all taste amazing, I actually learned to cook not too shabby.
I made an orzo salad for dinner. To al dente orzo I added diced tomato, cucumber, red onion and Kalamata olives. Then I chopped some fresh parsley and crumbled feta cheese. I made a vinaigrette with fresh lemon juice and tossed the salad together.
Avocado toast for dinner — one of my go-tos. On the plate 15 mins after I pull into the garage…
Liked that the aforementioned Mama D actually referred to it by the initials, as in “Needs more SPOG.”
Dear lord, I’m hungry after watching Jacques’ video. Must try. Also, recently read on the benefits of adding a pinch of baking soda to beef marinades. Another thing to try.
Cooked my first tomahawk steak the other night (grilled, avec mesquite smoke). Foodgasm.
Nice to have a houseguest who likes meat, since the spouse has decided boneless, skinless chicken breasts are the catch of the day now.
@trollhattan: Oh. Boneless skinless chicken breasts are awful. You may as well lick a wall. I guess there could be some seasoning
Day two of stirfried carrots, bok choy and baked tofu in a light peanut sauce, over steamed rice. Not exciting, but I was overdue for some healthier food after eating several high sodium, processed convenience dinners.
The BF returns tomorrow from starting his new temp gig in Milwaukee, so I’ll have almost a week of cooking from scratch (I can do that alone, too, like my stir dinner last night. But it’s harder to get motivated.)
@eclare: I so agree! Give me chicken thighs anytime! Boneless with skin is okay, but I prefer bone in for maximum yumminess.
@eclare: I generally cook my chicken breasts in the air fryer until they reach 165, usually coated in olive oil and blackened seasoning. Then, I chop them up for use in salads.
O/T: Mark Meadows subpoenaed by Smith re Jan 6 per CNN. Getting interesting fast!
@trollhattan: I was watching Lidia’s Kitchen on PBS the other day, and wow a revelation: She made chicken parmigiana with pounded boneless chicken thigh. Brilliant!
What I’m gently suggesting is, to beg and plead with your wife to try boneless chicken things for some of her current recipes. They’re cheaper to buy, and soooo much better tasting
@Jackie: Yep. My crispy skin, roasted bone-in things are a frequent request by the BF. Boneless cornflake chicken things, too. Mmmm.
@Jackie: Chicken thighs are so much better than chicken breasts. But I have always been the weird one at Thanksgiving who preferred dark meat.
@RaflW: Yup. I “know” skinless white meat is “healthier,” but one thigh is much smaller than a breast, and with the right side dishes can be healthier.
I will admit rotisseried chicken breast is delicious for sandwiches.
Costco’s rotisserie chicken is great bang for the dollar. Days that I’m lucky, Costco will have an eight-pack of thighs and drumsticks packaged up.
@eclare: I have to hunt for turkey thighs for thanksgiving day – there’s never enough dark meat for half of the family (my half.) I roast one turkey and try to get four extra thighs to roast (and snag two to hide for leftovers 😂)
I’m an east coast girl – New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts – and love seafood. It makes my exile to Arizona all the more painful that I am so far from the ocean. I don’t want to hear about how I could just drive six hours to California.
After 12 years of no littlenecks (I’m sorry, I’m not buying grocery store clams in this shithole state), I broke down and tried canned clams. My first outing with them was to make pasta with clams in a white sauce. It wasn’t as great as fresh littlenecks but not bad.
Last night I made a NE clam chowder. It was a bit hit or miss because I was reducing the quantity mostly from one recipe but with others I’d looked at in mind – it’s hard to cook for one! – but it came out pretty well. Kind of like if you dragged a fresh clam briefly through the makings for chowder. Next time I’ll use bottled clam juice instead of chicken broth to up the clam ante.
And, yes, I did have oyster crackers. I’m not a heathen
PS: Fresh corn is the absolute bomb. They had some in the grocery store, so I added most of a small ear cut off the cob to the chowder. The poor sad dog had to have some raw corn or she was at risk of dying from despair.
Big storms rolling through Memphis. Love the sound.
@Jackie: White meat has less fat but dark meat has more vitamins and minerals, so it’s iffy to say either is healthier.
@RaflW: Thanks. Hell yes, I’ll dive into the deep end of that pool. I’m of the opinion boneless, skinless chicken is a food crime. (“Okay, let’s take out everything that lends flavor and moisture, and charge three times as much per pound. Winning!”) The money angle shall be my hole card).
@zhena gogolia: I was intimidated by cast iron too, but then I finally said fuck it and got one. I now have three. They’re not at all as fussy as people led me (and apparently you) to believe.
You can in fact wash them with soap. You don’t really want to because then you have to do a big seasoning (oil it, put it in the oven on the middle shelf upside down, turn the oven on to – I forget what temperature, you can look it up – and after the oven reaches temperature, turn it off and let the pan cool off before removing).
I don’t do any tomato-based stuff to avoid losing the seasoning to tomato acid, I use it to cook steaks, Dutch babies, fried potatoes, and such like. I got a small one – I think it’s six inches – to make tortas (egg, potato, onion, cheese, whatevs). The 10-inch (or is it 9?) I got for making Dutch babies, but it’s the one I use the most. The 12-inch is the first one I got. At this point I use it mostly to cook tortillas if I’m making them from scratch or to reheat them if I buy them pre-made.
Oh, yeah, and cornbread – bake that baby in cast iron and you’ll be in heaven.
They really do wonders for food. Excellent browning. I’ve used them to make pizza as well.
To clean them, I mostly just wipe the pan out with a lightly veg-oiled paper towel to clean it of whatever was just cooked in it. Sometimes I’ll stick it under running water and use a plastic scrubber thingy (with no soap) to loosen anything that won’t come off using the oiled paper towel. I then dry it with a dish towel, wipe it down with another lightly oiled paper towel, and it’s done.
Don’t waste your money buying any of the cleaning tools for cast iron that people try to sell you. I got suckered. They’re a waste of time and money.
@Tom Levenson: Cooking with Claudine is among my favorite of his series. Also that BOOM clip is from Babylon 5, not BSG.
@JPL: yes! Beyond charming 😍
I learned to make gingerbread truffles. They were great to finish off some almond flour and old peanut butter. And now that I’ve got a base recipe to reference, I’ve used it to make chocolate peanut butter truffles and cannoli filling (marscopone cheese) and have plans for coconut and raspberry filled ones.
@TaMara: I was pretty obsessed with the Galloping Gourmet as a child. I loved the two ovens — he’d put raw food in one oven and pull it out instantly, cooked, from the oven below (or so I believed at age four). And I loved the way he invited someone from the audience to eat with him at the end of every show with a big glass of wine.
I don’t eat much red meat these days, but Denver steaks are really good, though with that kind of recipe, even cube steak would taste marvelous. And Savenor’s is the best when you want to be serious about cooking. I go to the one on Charles St once or twice a year for that special something.
“The courage of your convictions” will always remind me of Julia Child saying that phrase while trying to flip a potato pancake in a skillet without a spatula, in the old days of the French Chef in black and white. It has been a go-to phrase of mine for a long time when you need to be fearless.
Oh cast iron. Delicious cast iron.
They sear the skin-side of chicken leg quarters so well, then flip and into the preheated oven for roasting. Seasoned up before searing and roasting of course.
And dark meat is so forgiving with oven roasting unlike chicken breast that you can dry out if you blink.
I always liked making crabcakes, but the price of refrigerated crab meat is off the scale nowadays, big sad.
Then one day, I was wondering what to do with one of those huge trays of Costco unfrozen EZ-Peel shrimp (probably 2 lb worth, at least) and a beam of light broke through the clouds, in the society of an angelic choir: Shrimp Cakes! Peel them, dump them in the food processor, make a paste, add to some seasonings and binder, make into patties, and sauté!
Of course, it turned out that The Internet had gotten there first, and there are a ton of hits for “shrimp cakes recipe”. I reviewed a few, and decided that I liked the Spruce Eats version best.
A couple of deviations: I processed the shrimp in the food processor rather than chopping them, which saves a lot of time, although you should not be put off by the resulting shrimp glue. Also, I used Panko, as called for by the recipe, but I’m pretty sure regular breadcrumbs would be fine—I just know a place that sells largish cans of Panko for not much, so I keep quite a few in the pantry. The amount should be about the same by weight, and you can always add some if the patty dough is too sticky.
I also add some Cayenne red pepper, because this sort of thing needs some Zowie on it—alternatively you can add some hot sauce and maybe cut back a bit on the mayo to balance the the dough maneuverability. With these sorts of patty/xxxball recipes, the key is winding up with something you can easily shape into patties, without getting covered in goo up to your elbows, but with some good moisture nonetheless. You can always adjust either way by adding breadcrumbs, or a moist ingedient such as mayo. It’s not hard.
I weigh the whole batch together, then decide on a good individual cake weight by figuring how many I need, and weigh out that many portions of dough (calling Dr. Freud…). Then shape each patty using your hands initially to get a round shape of the rough height that you want (1/2″–3/4″ is good), and use a flat spatula to mold the edges and flatten the top. Then flip it over (the cutting board has made a nice flat surface on the bottom) and repeat.
If you have time, you can refrigerate them for 45 minutes at this point, to make them easier to handle at sauté time. Not critical, really.
The Spruce Eats recipe calls for dusting each side with flour. That works great. However, should you happen to have a little uncooked coarse cornmeal (AKA polenta) in your pantry, then you could put some on a paper towel, and pass each patty through it, tossing and shaking the paper towel to get cornmeal all over the patty, then gently(!) shaking off the excess. The result after sauté is a great golden crust.
They are way better than crabcakes, I promise. And despite the apparent elaborateness of the recipe, it comes together quickly. You really can do a Costco of that shrimp in 30-45 minutes, easily a midweek meal. SE’s Sriracha mayonnaise is a good accompaniment, and takes about 30sec to put together. But any seafood condiment would do, including “none”.
A last variant that I haven’t tried yet, but is in my future: make shrimpballs, rather than shrimpcakes. Shaping is easier, and probably better for finger food.
Very late to this, but here is the recipe for the simplest, most incredible steak I have ever had: Japanese-Style Steak With Garlic–Soy Sauce Marinade
Just baked the King Arthur Flour flourless chocolate cake with ganache for my sister’s birthday (I told her she was only 50, base 12). Easy and good!
@karen marie: I have cooked with cast iron pans all my life and I don’t bother with seasoning or treating them as fragile in any way. After cooking I scrub them out with a steel pot scrubber and hot water and then cook them dry on the stovetop and hang them up again. Doing this steadily polishes the cooking surface until they’re basically non-stick on their own, no fuss. A new one is usually good after a couple of weeks.