Category Archives: food and cooking

Pasta Fazool

2c mixed beans and lentils (My grocery carries a nice mix for cheap.)
12 oz Italian sausage links (Make sure you like them; the flavor is going to dominate.)
1 red onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 big carrots, chopped
14 oz can tomato sauce
two quarts water or stock
2 bunches kale, sliced the short way into fine ribbons
1c strozzapreti, penne, ziti, etc.

Soak beans overnight (or boil briefly and soak for an hour).
Drain and rinse beans.

Remove skins from sausage links.
Cut links into bite-sized rounds.
Brown sausage in oil, in soup pot.
Remove sausage from pot and set aside.

Saute onions, celery and carrots in sausage fat until softened and slightly caramelized.
Add tomato sauce.
Add water.
Add beans.

Bring to boil.
Reduce to simmer.
Simmer for two hours, stirring occasionally. Add water if necessary.

Return browned sausage to pot.
Add kale.
Simmer for thirty minutes.

Add pasta.

Simmer for fifteen minutes, or until everything is done to your liking.

Season with salt (I use “Better than Bouillon” brand chicken base instead of plain salt, for richness) and pepper.

Pot Roast

3-4 pound chuck roast
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
handful ginger, finely chopped
handful garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground star anise
1/4 tsp ground chili pepper
peanut oil
fish sauce
soy sauce

rice noodles, prepared according to package directions

Suggested accompaniments:
bean sprouts
chopped shallots
sliced green chilis
basil leaves
cilantro leaves
mint leaves
lime quarters
hoisin sauce
chili sauce

Brown roast in oil and set aside.
Sauté onions and ginger until onions are soft.
Add garlic and sauté until fragrant.
Add sugar and spices and sauté briefly.
Add a cup of water to pot and bring to boil. Stir and scrape any cooked-on bits off the bottom of the pot.
Return roast to pot and reduce heat to very slow simmer. Cover tightly.
Cook until roast is falling apart, around 3 1/2 hours. Add water as necessary.
Add fish sauce, soy sauce and msg, to taste.

Cut the roast into bite-size chunks and serve with the pan sauce over noodles, with accompaniments as you like.

Image CC-BY by benketaro

Bacon and Eggs

Two slices bacon, diced
Two scallions, diced
One egg
One tablespoon chili-garlic paste
One portion noodles, cooked per package directions
One tablespoon oyster sauce
Hot sauce

Fry bacon. Remove from pan and set aside.
Fry scallions in bacon fat. Remove from pan and set aside.
Fry egg in bacon fat. Remove from pan and set aside.
Fry chili-garlic paste in remaining bacon fat.
Add noodles to chili-garlic paste and toss.
Add bacon and scallions to noodles and toss.
Add oyster sauce to noodles and toss.
Serve noodles.
Top with egg.
Garnish with hot sauce.

Keema Kofta / Spicy Lamb Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

I ordinarily get the sauce simmering and then make the meatballs and drop them directly into the sauce.

Two tablespoons-ish vegetable oil
One small onion, finely chopped
One tablespoon-ish ginger, minced
One garlic clove, minced
One heaping teaspoon turmeric
One 28oz can tomatoes (whole, diced, pureed or sauce, as you like)

Saute the onions and ginger in the oil until onions are soft. (I use high heat and lots of stirring and aim to get the onions slightly golden, but that’s not critical.)
Add the garlic and saute until you can smell it (just a few seconds usually).
Add the turmeric.
Add the tomatoes.
Bring to a simmer.

One pound ground lamb
Two or three cloves garlic, minced
One teaspoon crushed hot pepper flakes, or to taste
One heaping teaspoon garam masala
One teaspoon salt or to taste
1/4 cup (or so) yogurt

Mix ingredients with your hands.
Form into small meatballs.
Drop into simmering sauce.
Simmer for fifteen minutes or so.
Stir in the yogurt before serving.

Lamb, Chickpea and Kale Tagine

The following quantities and timings are extremely flexible.

• One or two meaty lamb shanks or a pound or so of cut-up lamb (I tend to scrimp on the lamb.)
• 1 onion, chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, chopped
• 1 28oz can diced tomatoes (I used a can labeled “chunky tomato sauce.”)
• 1 tomato-canful of water, lamb stock or chicken stock (I used water.)
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• 1 tsp turmeric
• 1 tsp ground black pepper
• 1 bunch kale, sliced into ribbons.
• two stalks of celery, diced
• two big carrots, diced
• 1 can chickpeas
• 1 heaping teaspoon ras el hanout
• Salt to taste

1. Put the lamb, onion, garlic, tomatoes, water and spices in a big pot.
2. Bring everything to a boil, then turn it down to a simmer.
3. Simmer for 90 minutes.
4. Remove the lamb meat from the bones and shred into bite-size pieces. Put meat back into pot.
5. Add vegetables and simmer for an additional 45 minutes or until you’re happy with their doneness.
6. Add ras el hanout and salt to taste.

Serve over couscous or bulgur (bulgur is inauthentic but I like it better than couscous).
Garnish with chopped cilantro, harissa and yogurt.

Image CC-BY-NC by boo_licious

Pollo Asado

This recipe comes satisfactorily close to the flavor of a pollo asado al carbon Rachel and I once bought in Valladolid, Yucatán and ate with our fingers in a ferociously-hot Volkswagen.


(Makes enough for a 3 1/2 lb chicken in a pot that just fits. For a bigger bird or a bigger pot you’ll need to scale up.)

6c water
1/2c salt
small handful dried oregano
small handful powdered cumin
smaller handful cinnamon
powdered cloves – about half as much as cinnamon
around a tablespoon of liquid smoke (unless you’re going to roast over wood or charcoal)

Bring to a boil and simmer for five or ten minutes. Allow to cool.
Soak the chicken in the cooled brine in the refrigerator for around an hour per pound, then drain the chicken.


one dried ancho chile, seeds and all
half a dozen garlic cloves
small handful dried oregano
juice of a lime
glug of vegetable oil

Grind all that up in a blender. Smear it on the drained chicken.


Roast the chicken at around 450DegF for around twelve minutes per pound. Use an instant-read thermometer to test for 160DegF in the middle of the thickest part.

(This is a hacked-up version of this recipe from the Rocky Point Tides blog.)

Image CC-BY-NC-SA by vanherdehaage

Dandan Mian

It’s Huajiao Week around here, mostly because I bought a big sack the last time I was in Penzeys. If you haven’t tried huajiao, then you’re in a similar position to someone who has never tasted chili: there’s a whole color missing from your life. Huajiao doesn’t do the chili thing to your tongue; it does a whole other thing. Tingly.

I threw a handful of un-crushed huajiao into this dish the first time around. Eating it was an unpleasant experience in the same way that crunching up whole peppercorns is unpleasant. Wrong texture. Flavor too concentrated. Pound up the huajiao with the flat of a bottle or something first.

Dandan are the buckets in the picture, out of which Chengdu street-vendors evidently once sold these noodles. I haven’t ever been served street food out of a rig like that, although Wikipedia says taho vendors carry their taho this way. (I am now imagining Minnesota children running into the street when they hear the taho truck. Tahoooooô!)

Dandan Mian (enough for four moderate-sized servings?)

1/2 pound noodles
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 sloppy tablespoon chili-garlic
2 good glugs soy sauce
1 glug sesame oil
small handful crushed huajiao
crushed peanuts and/or sesame seeds and/or browned ground pork and/or green onions for garnish

Cook the noodles and stir them up with all the sauce ingredients. Dump or glug more of whatever to get the flavor balance the way you want it. If you make it too bland it will fail to concentrate the mind, and then what’s the point? Serve into bowls. Garnish with whatever. Eat some refrigerator pickles on the side to cut the mala if you need to.

Adapted by me from this most excellent page by @brucetindall

Image CC-BY-SA by Wouter Hagens who, from his vantage in the Netherlands, has as much right to eat this stuff as Bruce and I do.

Pâte sucrée

Back when Rachel’s brother Anders lived with us, I baked a Tarte Tatin every monday night. Here is the pâte sucrée recipe I use for a single tart. (I just measured the lovely Le Creuset Tarte Tatin pan Rachel bought me, and it’s 9 1/4 in. internal diameter.)

1 1/2 c flour

1/2 c salted butter

2 tbsp sugar

1 egg

5 tbsp water

Dump everything into a mixer bowl and mix with the paddle until everything draws up into a ball. Place ball in a Ziploc bag or some plastic wrap and chill for a couple of hours. (Chilling isn’t strictly necessary, but it makes the dough easier to work.)

That’s it!

If I were doing this without a mixer, I’d probably do it cookie-style: Soften the butter a little, cream it together with sugar, add the egg and water, stir in the flour a little at a time. The pre-chilling consistency turns out pretty much exactly like cookie dough (same ingredients minus the leavening.)