Also wanted to throw in a great Indian home cooking blog I learned of recently, called IndianSimmer. Made palak paneer with homemade paneer and roti bread. I’m usually intimidated by Indian recipes once I see the long ingredients list of exotic spices and other hard-to-find items. What makes the recipes on this site so wonderful is that the spice list is relatively short, and almost all the ingredients I can easily find at a supermarket such as Whole Foods.
The palak paneer requires four spices: cloves, fennel seeds, coriander, and curry powder. The site has a simple recipe for making your own curry powder (from bay leaves, cumin, cloves, peppercorns, a cinnamon stick, and cardamom) but I used a ready made one. If you have access to lots of bulk spices, this may be a good one to make. The paneer itself was easy to make, using milk and lemon (similar to homemade ricotta) and a heavy pan to press the cheese. The roti bread was a mix of all-purpose and whole wheat flours plus water, and the instructions showed how to roll out the dough with a rolling pin. The results must have been good because at the end of the meal, I didn’t have any left over to bring for lunch the next day:)
Wrennerd, your recommendation of Ratio by Michael Ruhlman was spot on. I finally got a chance to read it and try out some of the recipes. I compared my favorite pie crust and pizza dough recipes and they perfectly match the ratios outlined in the book. One thing I really like about the technique is how easy it makes substituting ingredients. Opens up a lot of creative possibilities. Thanks again for the great cookbook recommendation!
I also recently revisited the fresh pasta area at my local Whole Foods and saw that they had lowered the prices on a number of items. Ziti is now $3.99/lb, as are the gnocchi and whole wheat farfalle. Cheese ravioli, though, is still $7.99/lb :( On the weekends, they also have someone preparing fresh mozzarella at the counter, so I try to have them fill up a jar or two when it's available.
Well, this may be premature, but I found a really interesting cookbook at the library: "Can it, Bottle it, Smoke it..." by Karen Solomon. Includes recipes from "corn flakes" to "pickled grapes". I'm going to try her Worcestershire Sauce as soon as I can find Tamarind paste, and will report when done. If someone else checks this out, I'd be interested in hearing results. Most of the recipes take time, so will be slow going testing them. Very cool, though.
Tamarind paste/pulp is also frequently used in Thai cuisine. The Thai home cooking blog She Simmers, has a post on how to prep the wet brick of tamarind into a paste. Lots of great recipes on the site, too (e.g. homemade Sriracha, Tom Yam, Khao Na Gai, Pad Thai, etc.). Maybe something to try with all the leftover tamarind paste you'll have?
The two simplest recipes for breads I've ever used, now available for flatbread too, from the book series on Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Hertzberg & Francois. The simplicity is that the dough is always available in the fridge, so I can always bake fresh as needed.
Just tried the flatbread recipe tonight, but I've been using the first recipe almost continuously for over a year to make all shapes and sizes of breads in all sorts of ovens, and never having to buy bread products has saved me tons of stale bread, not to mention the waste packaging.
Thanks for sharing this recipe, Wrennerd! I'm excited to try the new flatbread/pizza dough recipe, pizza addict that I am;) I have to agree, this method of breadmaking has worked out better than freezing and defrosting store-bought bread. And, not as time-consuming as I thought it would be.
Roast a chicken: we prep by rubbing over and under the skin with olive oil, garlic and some fresh/dry herbs. Under the chicken rack put the neck, any soup type veggies on their last leg (e.g., onions, skin included, celery, carrot). Roast as usual. We don't baste, but whatever works for you.
When the chicken is done, while it is resting, deglaze and pour all the drippings and veggies into a pressure cooker. When dinner is done, also put chicken bones/carcass into the pc. Depending on how much is left, you might want to add some broth or boullion, we don't because we don't usually eat the skin and there's only three of us. Add maybe 4-6 cups water, and cook about 30 minutes. Strain, cool and put in your fridge. The next night use the broth to make chicken noodle soup, chicken with rice soup, chicken soup with matzo balls*, so forth, adding any leftover chicken meat. Correct seasoning as needed..
May only work with small families unless you roast two chickens at a time.
*Can use the skimmed chicken fat in making the matzo balls
I cheat and use Manischewitz's Matzo Ball Mix (stockpiled from a while ago) and the recipe off the package:
Stir together with a fork 1/2 C matzo ball mix + 2 eggs + 2T chicken fat. I let this sit in the fridge, either before or after I have formed into balls about the size of giant marbles*, while I heat up the broth. When the broth is boiling I drop them one at a time into the liquid. The recipe calls for cooking about 20 minutes, but I just eyeball them. I add chicken pieces at some point so everything's nice and hot.
*The matzo balls just about double in size, and of course you can form into almost any size.
I recently found an easy recipe for matzo crackers and am contemplating making my own cracker meal, adding seasonings, to make "from scratch".
So simple, yet incredibly filling. Using the chicken fat makes them much lighter than using, say, oil. Clearly not a low fat choice!
Thanks, Jay! Your link for the homemade matzo crackers is an especially great find. I was wondering what I would be able to use to substitute in for the packaged crackers (completely non-kosher, but I did once try using oyster crackers that were available in bulk).
By the way, did you ever get a chance to try out that Worcestershire sauce "from scratch" recipe? At this point, I still haven't found oyster sauce, mirin, or fish sauce in bulk and have been buying brands that use glass packaging (e.g. Kikkoman, Golden Boy). I was wondering if making things from scratch was the way to go.