Non-Stop Comfort with No Regrets
My good friend Adella, a fellow foodie and recipe crafter, is exacting with her perfection of a dish. She believes in absolute measurements in the kitchen (“What’s a dash? What’s a pinch”) and as such, she turns out flawless dishes time in and time out. How could I not love her to pieces? When I first started Adesina’s Cook-a-long, I immediately knew that I had to hit her up for a recipe. Adella and I worked next to each other for 2 years, and in those fleeting moments of free time amidst our crazy schedules, she and I would hash about our successes (and occasional flops) in the kitchen. She, like I, had a collection of “tried and true” go-to recipes that we kept for friends and family – we don’t have cookbook aspirations so much as a need to document the goodness found behind a particular set of ingredients and methods. When the stars align in the kitchen, the recipe becomes a mini celebration of the success. Needless to say, Adella has had her fair share of successes, and her collection continues to grow and grow. Maybe it is time for her to launch a cookbook 🙂 Continue reading Irish Lamb Stew with Rosemary and Sage
Hanger? I Hardly Knew Her!
Face it, kids. Filet mignon is overrated. Yes, it’s tender. Yes, it costs more than most other steaks. But really, if you ask me for the cut that I turn to time and time again for an in-home, steakhouse experience, it’s all about the hanger steak. Centered between the other popular cuts of brisket and flank. It’s sometimes referred to as skirt, even though it’s actually a completely separate cut of meat (though close by). If you see “onglet” on a French bistro menu, they are referring to hanger steak. The steak itself is comprised of two long strips of meat, with an inedible white membrane running down the middle. I’m usually too lazy to cut this out when I cook the steak at home, but if you want to be a fancy pants, trim this out before you cut portions of steak.
Prized for it’s beefy flavor and chewy goodness (read: chewy but not at all tough), it’s referred to as “the butcher’s cut” because it was the steak that the butcher kept for his fam. I’m not so sure that this is the case these days, but because of its caché, it’s been marked up in price from time to time. Funny how the cheaper cuts (short ribs, skirt steak) have suddenly gone up in price once people collectively “discover” how good they are. Continue reading Simple Hanger Steak
A Roast You Can Boast About
I remember this stupid commercial – Perdue, I think – where this woman is freaking out about the prospect of roasting a chicken. Jim Perdue came to the rescue (“My lucky stars!”) with a pre-seasoned chicken in a bag. My real issue with the commercial was that it furthered the misconception that roasting a chicken is a daunting task. Making a savory and deliciously moist chicken takes a few key steps, but the process itself is forgiving, adaptable and completely reasonable. If you take the time to learn how to do it, roasting a whole chicken will quickly become a part of your recipe repertoire.
For me, all of the special techniques involve flavoring the meat and keeping it moist during cooking. One of the easiest ways to inject flavor into a chicken is to brine it before roasting. Think back to your days in Chemistry and lessons on osmosis – a porous object placed in a saltwater bath takes in the salt water and expells the unsalted water that is contained inside of it. Same with the chicken – if you let it hang out in your fridge in some salty water, the seasoning will literally go all the way into the chicken. Better than just salting the skin and ending up with tasteless chicken. If you want to make the chicken without planning ahead, skip the brining and just make sure to follow the other two tricks below. Continue reading Whole Roast Chicken with Mushrooms and Herbes de Provence
aka The Championship Chili
The zesty cousin of red-hot Texas chili, this Cincinnati style chili mac has a whole lot of soul in the form of a long line of herbs and spices. Originally perfected by Greek immigrants, this slow-cooked, saucy treat is known for its long list of seemingly unusual ingredients. In addition, the chili is traditionally served without beans and over spaghetti – you’ll see when you make this chili that it actually cooks up like a bolognese.
I first became familiar with it via the DC restaurant, Hard Times Cafe, where the chili is served in “ways”. Starting with your basic chili, each additional topping is considered a way – so two-way is spaghetti and chili, three-way is spaghetti, chili and cheese, four-way is spaghetti, chili, cheese and onions, and five-way is all of the above plus pink beans. Continue reading Cincinnati Style Chili Mac
Time is On Your Side. Yes, it is.
My grandmother (Vo, if you’ve not pieced that bit of info together yet) makes a lasagna that takes a good two days to cook. San Marzano tomatoes are gently simmered with tender cuts of pork, italian sausage and homemade meatballs. My family has been know to ration portions of the dish for fear that it’ll be months (nay, full years) before they’ll be in the right place at the right time and lucky enough to snag a bite. Men have been known to stab each other with forks for a helping. Continue reading Weekday Lasagna
Phoning It In Can Be Sexy
I seem to collect bolognese recipes like a bad habit – many are more complicated than this one and involve grinding your own meat and tomatoes, slow simmering for days, and babysitting the whole operation until it comes to a savory finish. “The Big Sauce” as my Vo calls it. And yet, this recipe manages to conjure up the same “cooked for days” taste with a whole lot less work.
The recipe calls for a few funny things – like baking the bolognese in the oven, simmering the sauce with parmesan rinds and then finishing the pasta off in the pan. All of these steps will help turn your sauce into something extraordinary. Continue reading Rigatoni Bolognese
“Pass the Southern Comfort, baby. It’s been a long day.”
And by that I mean spend some time getting a little déclassé and whip up some potatoes and veg for this super light and moist meatloaf. I know, I know. You want elegance and style. You want strings and harps, and saucers of champagne. But occasionally, you have to trailer-park-trash it up a bit and enjoy some straight up comfort food. I know what you are thinking – Angela, aren’t you the self-proclaimed ingredient snob? Truthfully, my deal is that everything be as tasty as possible, which is absolutely not elitist. There’s room for truffles and tater tots alike in my mind. Though maybe not in the same dish. Anyways, the whole point is to put aside your preconceived TV dinner notions and tuck into Mama Angelina’s Bomb Meatloaf…yes, that’s literally what it’s called. And it’s “bomb” for “it’s the bomb”. Continue reading Classic Meatloaf
Love is Bacon and Eggs for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
I come from a long line of women who cook with such confidence, it borders on defiance in following a recipe. I can’t say that I don’t follow recipes, as I most certainly do. But I have to admit that my favorite times in the kitchen are those when I am cooking the dishes that I know so intrinsically, using the recipe would only cause me to second guess myself. This dish, a comforting amalgamation of fatty bacon and oozy eggs and cheese, is one I always love the best when made without a recipe. I just know it’s going to be good by the feel of working with the ingredients that are in front of me.
Carbonara, for me, isn’t determined by the standard laundry list of ingredients (pasta, eggs, pancetta, parmasean, and a healthy dose of black pepper) so much as the proportions. I like mine as gloriously lux as possible – comfort food at its finest – which means that I’ll be a bit of an ingredient snob in order to get it just right. Ironically enough, this dish still manages to be one that I seem to be able to make at any time – I always have the ingredients lying around the fridge. Maybe that’s the appeal – so easy to make, but insanely full of panache and class. All cooking should have results such as these. Continue reading Pasta Carbonara