What to do with eggplant, fennel and Swiss chard, a thread about the things in grocery stores that people for some reason, disdain. https://twitter.com/MARIADAHVANA/status/1239736513052565504
Eggplant: chop in half, put face down in your oven, roast it at 400 or so til very soft. Meanwhile: depending on provisions, make a garlic mint yogurt sauce & a tomato ginger onion sauce. Mash it all up. Feast. This is in the Bademjan Borani category, Persian wedding eggplant.
Here’s a more formal recipe for Borani Bademjan. You can use canned tomatoes. You can use dried spices & herbs. Whatever you’ve got provision-wise. Garlic yogurt is just a clove if garlic minced & mixed w/a bit of yogurt. http://persianmama.com/eggplant-yogurt-with-toasted-walnuts-borani-bademjan/
Fennel: slice it thinnish, like you’d slice an onion. Put it in a bowl with some olive oil, some vinegar or citrus juice, little salt, little pepper. Got any fruit in the apple, pear, citrus category? Drop that in too. Got a mild onion? A little of that in thin slices. Mix it up!
Or: do you have dairy that needs using? How about you caramelize that fennel in cream. Just cream, salt, sliced fennel. The cream acts like butter. Let it toast as you stir the fennel around. It will turn golden and separate. That’s good. You can cook an egg like this too.
Swiss chard. People hate it. No! Sauté Swiss chard with oil. Got an onion? Sauté it too. Add some vinegar. Boil some water & make any kind of pasta. When it’s almost done, put it in Swiss chard pan w/ 1/4 cup pasta water. Cook a little more, stirring. Top w/mild cheese, or nuts.
That Swiss chard item also works with grains, beans, whatever. The chard is sweet and adding vinegar too it while it caramelizes makes it deliciously sweet and sour.
Is bread going stale? crumble it up and sauté breadcrumbs til crispy, top your chard situation with those. There are a million easy things you can do to use a product - bread, dairy, cheese - from nose to tail.
For example. Got cheese ends in your fridge? Looking at them darkly? Chop them up & mash them together with butter, a clove of garlic, and that random white wine or last tablespoon of sherry, beer, whatever’s around. Voila. Fromage Fort. http://www.saveur.com/strong-cheese-fromage-fort-recipe/
For more on this note, see Tamar Adler’s An Everlasting Meal, or if you want to know how I got like this as a cook, MFK Fisher’s How to Cook a Wolf. Basically, it’s about using everything you have, and making delicious food. No downside. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11300085-an-everlasting-meal
More on the what to do with odds/ends/things you bought in a panic so you don’t waste food thread: my favorite vinaigrette for pasta, grains, protein, eggs whatever. Brown some butter. Add chopped tomatoes. Half a lemon. Garlic. Cook a tad more, til tomatoes give juice.
Note: you can make iterations of this vinaigrette w/many things. All you def need is butter to brown, & an acid, vinegar or citrus. But add, for ex, chopped dried apricots instead of tomatoes, & pour it over quinoa or white beans. You can pour this stuff over anything, frankly.
I’ve made it w/anchovy paste added - which makes it even better - w/shallot instead of garlic, w/sun dried tomatoes, w/all kinds of things. And poured it over everything from scrambled eggs to salads to grilled fish to risotto. It’s super flavorful & makes everything unboring.
And when you have greens you bought in a panic, but you don’t eat greens as quickly as you should. Pesto. Easy. Food processor. Olive oil. Greens. Nuts. Any nuts except peanuts, which I think would be gross, but maybe I’m wrong. Garlic. Salt. Blend ‘er up.
That can also be done w/carrots, any kind of carrot, especially withered ones you’re looking at with revulsion. Chop in food processor with nuts, olive oil, garlic, any sort of hard cheese, and turn them into a nutty spread for crackers, or a topping for beans, falafel, whatever.
Basically: a way to preserve fresh greens, herbs, carrots, beets, things like that? Is to chop them up in a food processor with garlic, nuts, a bit of hard cheese, and some olive oil. Almost any iteration of this is delicious, and can be frozen.
The beet version I’ve done with blue cheese, walnuts, a little vinegar or lemon & there is nothing better than this on crackers, a sandwich, pasta, beans, whatever. The thing to do is make a super flavorful item that can be spread on or poured into the basic beans, rice, grains.
What else did I see a lot of in the store? Acorn Squash. Also bc I’m in CA, avocados. Both items can be sliced, battered & fried to make killer tacos. Fried avo tacos are legit. Add cumin/garlic black beans. You don’t even need the taco shell. A version: https://www.howsweeteats.com/2017/07/beer-battered-avocado-tacos/
Tonight’s dinner: roasted eggplant with blue cheese bechamel sauce. There was a hunk of blue cheese at the back of my fridge, & I got a few eggplants the other day. Bechamel is easy: https://www.bigoven.com/recipe/blue-cheese-mornay-sauce/186902 - I’m gonna make it, pour it over the roasted eggplant, and then broil.
You can make a killer bechamel/mornay cheese sauce with pretty much any kind of cheese, or several ends and bits. Milk, cream, powdered milk, whatever. Pour it over any sort of roasted veg or over pasta.
In this case, I have walnuts and I’m gonna toast them up and chop them atop the broiled eggplant situation and I have some greens that want cooking with lemon and garlic. And some couscous. I have a lot of that. But also, do it with zucchini, & serve with white beans, or quinoa!
Last night’s dinner: batter-fried acorn squash (cumin, matzoh meal, cause it had it, water, egg white, salt, pepper) over canned black beans with garlic & cumin, with crumbled feta and homemade pico de gallo. (Chopped tomato, white onion, cilantro.)
Cooking is extremely satisfying to me, and I do it all the time. With this thread I’m hoping to help you feed yourselves and your families in this crazy time with what you’ve got in fridge, pantry and in grocery random stock. ❤️
Here’s a pic of roasted eggplant with blue cheese bechamel, caramelized walnuts, honey, lemon couscous, and on the side a lemony Garlicky greens situation. It’s a little bit Morocco, a little bit France.
I think I got the idea for this dinner from @MollieKatzen’s Still Life with Menu , which has crispy eggplant with blue cheese sauce in it. I haven’t made it in, like, 25 years, but I’m pretty sure that’s where the blue cheese/eggplant mix came from. ❤️
And I’m back with some more ideas for things to do with your pantry during this time! I just keep thinking of good things I’ve made while on writing deadline with random groceries in house. So, more:
Did you know that even though limes turn brown and shrivel up pretty swiftly, you can still use them? Cut a shrively lime and see - often they are still juicy inside. If not: put em on the windowsill & dry them up. Then throw em into beans & soup. For ex. http://www.bonappetit.com/people/chefs/article/yotam-ottolenghi-dried-limes
Most people don’t cook or eat beans as much as they might be right now. Did you know that you can make falafel out of canned beans? I’ve used this recipe a lot w/chickpeas. But use black beans, cumin, garlic, chili powder & make a Mexicanish version! https://www.thespruceeats.com/quick-and-easy-falafel-recipe-2355861
As well, preservation and deliciousness-wise, you should make some preserved lemons. They keep ages, are super easy, and basically you just need lemons, a jar, and salt. When they’re ready, you can use them in everything - couscous, beans, soups. https://www.farmdrop.com/blog/how-to-make-preserved-lemons/
Farinata is like, a savory tender pancake made of chickpeas. It’s magic. You could almost certainly make it with canned chickpeas too. And say you wanted a sweet version? That would also work! If it was me, I’d do it with honey and lemon, maybe some sautéed apples.
Onward. What if your fridge contains too many cherry tomatoes because the grocery store had them? It’s unlikely you wanna can them - unless you’ve been to a farmers market & gotten TONS - but how about slow-roasting? Like sundrying, & now they keep. http://smittenkitchen.com/2008/08/slow-roasted-tomatoes/
Also, I shouldn’t have even mentioned sundried tomatoes, because they’re objectively shrively little nopes, but maybe you have some lurking? Here’s what to do. Pesto. The sundried tomatoes. Olive oil. Garlic. Nuts. Parmesan. Food processor. Transforms them into something great.
And here, say you bought milk in jugs & you barely drink milk? Make ricotta. Yes, it’s better if you have higher fat milk, but you can make it with skim. (My store is all skim at present.) You don’t have to have cheesecloth. Clean dish towel. https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-homemade-ricotta-cheese-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-23326
I know, it’s rather a frightening hop from here’s what to do with eggplant to NOW WE’RE MAKING OUR OWN CHEESE! BUCKLE IN, but...look, I am that friend who makes a cheese cave in her basement while living in NYC because I cannot keep my Idaho witch temperament in check.
So once you have that ricotta, whee! Look, now you can drizzle it with honey and a little salt, and eat it for breakfast, or you can make a lasagna with all that eggplant and pesto previously mentioned!
And back! Tonight I found half a roll of chèvre in my fridge. Maybe you’ve some lurking too. Chèvre. It ain’t cream cheese. Roll it into balls. Put balls in a bowl w/olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice, chopped garlic, whatever dried herbs you see. S & P. Marinate it a minute.
Now, if you want, you can keep that marinated cheese in your fridge for a while, and serve it whenever for snacks. Or just eat it a ball at a time like I did. Yeah, you can do this with back of the fridge cream cheese too.
Or if you’re ambitious, remember that ricotta recipe from yesterday? You can squeeze ricotta into a cheese that’s more like chevre. You can also make yogurt cheese. It’s just a matter of straining out the whey by coffee filter, clean dish towel, cheesecloth, your bra, whatever.
Yesterday I made linguini with a sauce out of a shady onion, some shrively kale, tomato, some wine, some olives that had been hanging out in the fridge corner, & some garlic. Sautéed all that together, added the cooked pasta and some pasta water. Stir & cook another couple min.
What else have I been muttering about lately? Oh, how about some risotto made with something other than rice? My friends, I’ve made it with everything. Including oatmeal. If you slow stir a grain with butter, olive oil, and wine, it’s gonna be delicious.
That said I’ve done an oatmeal version of risotto with like, sweet desserty wine. Not stuff you wouldn’t drink. Godspeed to you if you use white zinfandel, because nothing makes that delicious. But I’ve done caramelized oatmeal risotto style with vin santo & butter, and yes. Yes.
The rule when you’re cooking with wine is, if you would not drink that wine, do not think you can hide it in rice and onion. It doesn’t have to be spectacular wine to cook with it. Just drinkable. Sweet wine risotto that is otherwise savory is not good. Don’t ask how I know.
Well, one time there was a bottle of a wine called “Sweet Bitch” given to me as a present by someone who was trying to make a point. I didn’t want to go shopping & it was there, so I tried to conceal it in risotto. It could not be concealed, fam.
So, yeah, all that is to say, you’re making a risotto, use wine that’s plausible, not fancy, just whatever sort of house white, and use a ton of butter & olive oil. It wants it. The more you use, the better your risotto will be. It’s easy. Fat. Grain. Wine. Salt. Cheese. Go.
Good morning whereever you are! A note about undelicious ground coffee. Say you bought the bitter dregs or the instant or the Folgers. You can make it delicious by shaking some cinnamon into it before you brew it. I also like cardamom coffee: https://beautyandthefoodie.com/turkish-cardamom-coffee/
Cinnamon in coffee that is otherwise meh really, really helps. A nostalgic story about me, working as a personal asst when I was 19. My fellow personal asst. was 28 and WAY COOL. I was smitten with her. The coffee in that joint was dire, but we needed it, bc the job was insanity.
Here’s to you, beautiful and extra cool Constance, who taught me to shake cinnamon into the filter of the Mr. Coffee, atop the dry and bitter grounds of woe. Cinnamon! Bam, we were transformed into personal assistants in a spice-perfumed heaven, rather than the Upper East Side.
The main thing about this is the eggs and the lemon. The thickening of the soup with egg yolks is key. As for the rest, you can do it with veggie broth, chicken broth, water you’ve worked on with some butter and celery and herbs? Any of the above.
Here’s what I made today. We have a lot of eggs in lair, and I had some celery and some wasabi mayonnaise. Wheeeeee! I used a variation on this egg salad recipe: https://www.101cookbooks.com/egg-salad/ 
Someone in my life just posted having acquired far too many lemons as a gift, not wanting to waste them and so I post this recipe. It’s a divine lemon/olive/shallot relish. The original is Meyer Lemon but I’ve done it w/normal ones & extra honey. https://www.marthastewart.com/255609/meyer-lemon-green-olive-salsa
And then, you know. Mix this lemon olive relish with tuna fish or pour it over beans and grains or fish if you have fish around, or pasta, or cheese. It’s a versatile relish.
From @SamSifton’s @NYTCooking newsletter today. I agree wholeheartedly.
And we’re back to the making the best of it list: I made marmalade last night w/a passel of citrus that would otherwise be going moldy. Mine’s blood orange, orange, lime, & lemon. It’s just citrus, chopped up, with peels, some juice squeezed in, sugar, & water. Cook it on down.
You can add vanilla to this as you go, if you want, or other things! Many things in a spice cupboard meld happily with citrus, among them lavender, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, little bit of salt, you get the idea.
Now, as for what to do with that Marmalade, well, anything. Did you make bread? It’s good on toast. It’s good in oatmeal, in yogurt, on top of ricotta (remember how I taught you to make ricotta a few days back?), and frankly, just with a spoon, or dropped into your gin cocktail.
Here’s a gin marmalade cocktail recipe for you. Marmalade is really good in cocktails as it happens. It’s good with scotch, too. https://www.bonnemaman.us/recipes/marmalade-gin-cocktail/
Here’s a recipe for marmalade that I can endorse. Not crazy fussy. Or you can just do what I say up above. But for guidance, here, and especially if you’ve got bitter, sour, otherwise not great for eating out-of-hand citrus. https://www.davidlebovitz.com/seville-orange/ 
Here, why not, some luxury. Random cream at your grocery store? Do this. Use leftover coffee, or boil the grounds from said leftover coffee into this cream and strain em out. https://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe/coffee-pots-de-creme.html
My man just came home with ingredients for homemade vegetarian tamales & I am in delight. Making tamales not only calms my soul, it means I can fill the freezer w/heaven, cheaply & easily. These will be tomatillo/tomato/onion/cilantro stem/kale & green chile & cheese.
Tamales are pretty easy, but you need some specialty things. That said, it’s likely you can find them. What you can’t find, according to our grocery shopper, is cereal & flour. I mean, people are hungry for cookies. I feel you. I’m hungry for tamales, though, so onward!
Specialty thing you need, most importantly, is husks to steam the tamales in. But! Can’t find them? Make a tamale casserole instead. It’s delicious. Same stuff, just not steamed. And you need masa harina, which is very fine ground cornmeal from corn marinated in lime water.
Here’s the veggie stew in progress for my tamales: a sautéed onion, some cumin, a few tomatoes, a few tomatillos, a bundle of cilantro stems, some kale, some lemon juice, some garlic.
So, once my vegetarian stew is done, I’m gonna stir together 3 cups cornmeal & 1.5 cups vegetable stock. Then finger smoosh vegetable shortening (not me) or butter (me) into this dough. Like 12 tbs. as you go, another 1/2 cup stock, ish. You want a soft dough, like cookie dough.
I mean, make that tamale dough fat-filled. It wants to be delicious. Each component of a tamale should be delicious of its own self. This is where errors are made. People often make dry AF crumbly tamales. No. They wanna be soft and luscious.
Forgive that gap. My kitchen assistant committed a crime and then had to be put down for a nap. He was reluctant. Now I can hear him spitting wrath from the bedroom, but onward, I’m making some damn tamales!
Back to my rant: I had some tamales a while back that someone had made into diet food. They had omitted the fat in the masa. Kill me now. Don’t do this. You end up with a corn desert tragedy wrapped around your delicious tender tamale filling.
Oh and: your corn husks should be soaking in hot water by now. They should have been for a while, but hey, we’re all fallible. If you’re not using corn husks and you’re making a tamale casserole, you’re winning over me right now.
The part where I smoosh butter into my cornmeal. I’m about to indulge in some sensory fat smooshing delight.
During this break I drank some wine and poked my husks which were soaking in hot water. They’re nice and soft now. Alrighty. We’re back! I have some soft white cheese, like a queso fresco, a Casero, and I’m using that for these. Here we go! This is how you roll em.
So. I don’t do this the right way! I do this the way that works for me and keeps me from making a tamale frustration roar. Main points: use enough masa to cover an area, like peanut butter thickly spread. Now some cheese. And a little filling in the middle. Roll it like sushi.
Other main points. Those corn husks need to be soaked for real or they rip. Roll the tamales so the corn rolls all the way around the filling. You can use the husk like a sushi rolling mat, which yeah, culture clash, but I grab from everywhere when I cook.
My tamales look like this at present. They’re not all pretty. It’s fine. Some people tie them at the top. Some people don’t. Some people are supreme badasses who do not need to tie any part of the tamale at all to keep its bits in. That’s not me. And they are still delicious.
True things: I’ve eaten a lot of tamales over the years made by people who know how to make tamales like 🔥! If you’re making tamales - perhaps in non-pandemic moments - try to eat some tamales made by someone who really knows how to do this.
Or if in your area there’s a Mexican place making tamales and you can get delivery, do that. You should know what a tamale should be before you embark on tamale making.
But...if you’re at home and you have some ingredients, you can make tamales and they can be amazing. Just respect the badass inventing culture of tamales.
Once you have your tamales all rolled, you pack them into a pot and steam them. For a rather long damn time. Like hour and a half, two hours. You can also freeze them now and steam them later.
Oh! Say you’re making a tamale casserole bc you don’t have corn husks. Cool! Spread the fat-endowed cornmeal in the bottom of a casserole dish. Atop it: a layer of soft white cheese. Atop it: the vegetable stew. Atop it: a layer of meltable white cheese. Oven. 375. Like, 40 min?
My tamales are steaming away now. Ultimately I’m gonna make some pico - tomato, cilantro, mild white onion - & serve em up. But I’ve been known to microwave them right out of the freezer & eat them for breakfast with a fried egg. They’re versatile. My recipe made about a dozen.
Notes on tamales after making these: use less masa than you think you need. It expands as you steam it. That said, you want enough to wholeheartedly surround your filling, sealing it completely in a corn envelope. I used maybe 2.5 tbs masa for each tamale. Coulda used less!
Other note. They really do need to steam for an hour and a half to two hours. But if you happen to drag them out of the steam pot early, because you’re starving, it’s okay. You might wanna microwave them for a minute or so if you do that tho.
And here’s a (non vegetarian, but just to give you the idea) recipe for tamale pie, so you can see how some people do it. Corn on the top, corn on the bottom. http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Tamale-Pie/
Tonight’s pantry random is this: roasted eggplant, carrot, kale with garlic vinaigrette, crispy chickpeas in cumin, couscous, and yogurt.
And we’re back: tonight I’m making potato gnocchi, which are, okay fine, easy to fuck up, but are also very easy to have the ingredients for. And having the ingredients is the goal of this thread! Potatoes. A little flour. An egg. Some salt. And these ingredients can make magic.
The main way gnocchi get fucked up is that you put too much flour in them, thinking they’re not the right texture. They should be very, very soft. Don’t keep adding flour, or you will make leaden bullets. I’ve done some horrible things with gnocchi in the past.
As I was perusing gnocchi recipes today, I saw that in the Wikipedia article about gnocchi, someone casually mentions both cocoa and prunes. WTF. That said, there are some semi-plausible cocoa gnocchi recipes out there. Prune gnocchi, I don’t believe there can be.
Once you understand how gnocchi should feel in your hand, though, sky’s is the limit. Root vegetables can become gnocchi. Carrots! Sweet potatoes! Beets! You can also add ricotta (remember that ricotta I taught you to make, back a few dozen tweet ago!)
Gnocchi-to-be. I did not rice the potatoes. Please. I smashed them about and then I smashed them into this dough and now they’re going into a pot.
Tomato brown butter vinaigrette. Also. A very important step in my opinion is putting these gnocchi into the pan to crisp. Crispy gnocchi are way better than plain boiled gnocchi.
Crispy gnocchi vs boiled gnocchi, in case you are not convinced.
There you have it.
Three potatoes, an egg, 3/4 cup of flour and some oil can give you a pretty remarkable dinner.
Clarifications on gnocchi: 1) I used 3 fist-sized potatoes, 1 egg, 3/4 cup flour for these. That’s less flour than the linked recipe. I figured I could add more if I needed it. I didn’t. This was perfect. 2) for crispy gnocchi, you boil them, drain them, *then* panfry them.
In other news, I just ate a tamale from the freezer for lunch. A reason to make tamales is that now you always have something crazy delicious in your freezer. I heated it in the microwave, wrapped in wet paper towels.
You can use arugula for this. You can use that weird thing called “spring mix.” You can use romaine. You can just hack all the green things up and put them into the soup. Or how about a soup like this one! You know you need these vitamins. https://www.splendidtable.org/recipes/basic-green-soup
And if you have greens and you just hate their look, know this - the ones that have gone to slime have got to be picked out. Then wash the non slime ones. They’re fine. But the slimy ones are NOT USEFUL.
Now. With your picked thru non slimy greens, whatever they are, as follows: pan, olive oil, hot. Chopped onion or garlic. Sauté that for a minute, add your greens of any kind. I don’t care if they’re lettuce. It’s fine. Now add a bit of acid. Lemon, vinegar. A little. Salt. Eat.
Tonight I’m making risotto, bc I have a lot of Parmesan & because basically, I’m comforting this lair w/creamy winey cheesy rice, & radish & cucumber salad for crunch. Also we’re going to watch Portrait of a Lady on Fire. Bring me the lesbian historicals. It’s all I want.
As mentioned above, risotto is easy. When I make it, I put a great deal of cheese in it. Don’t have Arborio rice? Me neither. It’s fine. Just cream it up with other methods. Mine is cheese. Butter works too. Or even yogurt. I know. Sacrilege. But I have done it.
Here is the Parmesan caramelized onion risotto, with a salad of lemony cucumber radish cilantro situation: it’s an Italy and Mexico mash up.
On another note: here’s what to do w/ that bottle of sweet white or pink Zinfandel that slunk into your house unawares. Mine is zinfandel. Horror. I squeezed some lemon juice into it, chopped an orange, added a little honey & frozen raspberries, & bam. Sangria-Enough-To-Drink.
It’s actually totally good. Thing about sangria is, it’s forgiving. You can drop any random sweet wine & random fruit in it, and it will still be a plausible thing to drink.
I mean, fuck it, you can even add banana to your fixing up the sweet wine I happen to have sangria. I’m not gonna judge you. Add all the vitamin c ingredients you’ve got around too.
Over here, while I’m drinking my Barefoot Winery I Fixed It sangria, I’m making a tomato sauce involving a mostly charred onion, chopped tomato, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, capers, and olives.
Some people add sugar to their tomato sauce. Even worse, some people add Stevia to their tomato sauce. (Autocorrect said “add Steve” and I’m sure some people do that too). IMHO, tomato sauce should be savory as fuck. Don’t make it sweet. It wants salty things & lemon bits.
Here, you see the classic tomato sauce of my kitchen. It can be made from canned or fresh tomatoes, any onion, any briny items in the fridge, be they olives or capers or anchovies.
This sauce, once complete, which takes about 15 min, can go on pasta, polenta, white beans, tuna fish, non-tuna fish, whatever. Chicken! I assume. Or atop crispity leftover risotto patties, like I’m gonna do.
But really. Mix it with tuna fish and just eat it over pasta. It’s great that way. Or pour a can of chickpeas into it and drop some yogurt on top. Or make some garlic bread and dip it. If you’ve ever spent time at my house, you’ve eaten this sauce at some point.
Meanwhile, the sangria I made with the wine I didn’t like, has gotten more delicious with sitting around. So I recommend that too. Put the whole bottle of sweet wine in it and let it hang out with citrus for a while, and it’s going to be very good.
And more about that tomato sauce: omit the olives and capers and grate a knob of ginger into it instead, add some raisins (really!!), some cumin, a little cinnamon, keep the lemon stuff and add a little salt, and you get a fabulous situation to put with rice.
Or, add lime juice instead of lemon, cilantro, cumin, some chili powder or paste, and marry this tomato sauce to some black beans and tortillas. It’s a versatile tomato sauce.
Due to discussions w/my sister, who lives in Paris & has 2 small children, we turn to cocktails w/whatcha got: (I was, for a time, a bartender at the badass Threesome Tollbooth in BK, a bar for 2 customers & 1 bartender. If you’re in NY, they’re doing cocktail delivery bottles!)
The cocktails I helped my sister make today were made with random liquor cabinet and pantry items. 1) THE SOLITARY SHRUB & 2) THE NOT QUITE FRENCH NEGRONI. As follows.
The Solitary Shrub involves berries, vinegar and gin. Let’s do that first.
The Solitary Shrub requires 2 cups frozen berries (or fresh if you’ve got em) - in this case strawberries. 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar. Boil water & sugar together til the sugar’s dissolved, add berries. Cook for 15 or 20 min. Strain your strawberry syrup, squishing the berries.
Measure the strawberry syrup, then add 1/2 as much white or red wine vinegar as you have strawberry syrup. So, like, you have a cup of syrup? And 1/2 a cup of vinegar to it. Cool it. Obv this makes plenty of shrub. Good news! It’s non-alcoholic. It can be mixed with seltzer too!
But if you’re using this in a cocktail, shake together 2 oz rum, 1.5 oz shrub, with ice. Strain. Put it in a Goss and top it with ginger ale, or Prosecco, or Fresca, or whatever random clear soda is lurking in your lair. If Prosecco, you might wanna add a bit of simple syrup.
And as for putting it in a Goss, maybe read one of my friend @theodoragoss’s books while you drink this. But also, yeah, put it in a glass.
Okay, onward to the Not Quite French Negroni. My sister, because she’s married to a Frenchman, has a lot of cognac and also a lot of Pastis lurking in her lair. We’re not gonna use the Pastis, but we’ll use the cognac. Here’s a recipe: https://www.remymartin.com/us/cocktails/french-negroni-vsop/
She had cognac, lillet blanc, mandarin oranges, & ramazotti amaro in house. Note: these are not the usual ingredients in a French negroni, but fuck it! In this case, we used the prev. tweet’s recipe, subbed in lillet for the sweet vermouth, & Ramazotti for the Campari...
This made a pretty sweet cocktail, but with good flavors. Ramazotti is sweeter than Campari. So, she added ice to that mix, and a mandarin orange peel, lit on fire as she twisted it over the glass. Viable.
As I texted a friend earlier today, imagine making quarantine cocktails with four airport bottles of Bailey’s, some Fernet Menta, and some Scotch. My sister’s liquor cabinet looked like that, but the French version. Probably many people’s do. Random Jager? Check.
This evenings dinner is a pasta with grrrrrrrreeeens that I sautéed with onion, tons of garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, orange zest and toasted breadcrumbs from a stale loaf of bread. The greens were limp spring mix, so lettuce, spinach, kale, chard. Yes. You can sauté salad.
Here’s what it looks like with its linguini . It’s very delicious. The sautéed salad greens are tender and silky. The double zest and breadcrumbs make it luxurious.
Tonight’s quarantine witch dinner is a thing I make often, especially when the last time we went grocery storing was 2 weeks ago. (Actually fairly normal for writer life.) It’s a chickpea, onion, potato, fennel, ginger, canned tomato, cumin, coriander stew. With garlic yogurt.
I sautéed the potato, fennel, ginger and onion all up into a nice caramelized mess, then add the spices, plus the tomatoes and chickpeas. This recipe is adaptable af, satisfying af, and cheap af. Add greens if you’ve got em. And/or coconut milk.
Final product. The most satisfying. Garlic yogurt is the key to all things.
Just so you know I’m just as bad as anyone, I am cooking tons of vegetables, looking at their trimmings, their peels, their whatever’s, and muttering I KNOW I SHOULD MAKE VEGETABLE STOCK I KNOW, but I haven’t done it yet. Once I made a stock that was so gross I can’t recover.
The truth of vegetable stock is that you can’t use anything cruciferous in it or it’s gonna taste like pee. Has that stopped me in the past? No. I think, fine, cabbage, fine, broccoli stems, it’s all the same thing. No. It is not. You especially cannot use cauliflower.
Personally I don’t think tomato or eggplant belong in vegetable stock either. They just...don’t balance well. A stock can have odds and ends, but they should really be in the celery, carrot, onion, potato, herbal bits and bobs category.
The best vegetable broth I’ve ever made had dried mushrooms in it, and also wine and butter, but by the time I did that, the stock didn’t get saved, because I was halfway to mushroom risotto.
Apparently potato bits aren’t meant to go in stock either, which, fair. Potatoes are fussy, & can turn into glue if you look at them wrong. I’ve used their (clean) peels in stock before, though. When I make vegetable broth, I sauté everything for toasty flavor & then add liquid.
That said, I dunno. I pretty much just make vegetable broth as I go. Maybe this week I will be virtuous and save snippets in the freezer and make a real stock and be converted and also holier than I usually am. We’ll see.
This is a video about garlic yogurt and spiced chickpea stew.
This is an excellent article about regrowing vegetable greens from scraps, w/just water & sun. I mean, hello!!! Fennel is featured, as are garlic scapes and green onions. https://food52.com/blog/13057-use-regrow-repeat-4-vegetables-that-regrow-in-one-week
A couple things you can do with beets, because I’m thinking of them: this is a roasted beet and yogurt dip, and it bangs. https://www.cookinglight.com/recipes/beet-yogurt-dip
And this, mentioned briefly a few dozen tweets ago, is a raw beet and walnut muhammara, also insanely yummy: https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/beet-muhammara
Also, since I’m thinking about it, you know you can make your own yogurt, right? And it’s easy. And once you’ve done it, you have a whole new ingredient to use & it’s great, and, and, and? Also, if you’re me, you know all this, & still don’t do it, because you’ve got 1970’s PTSD.
My mom had at one point in the 80’s a little yogurt-making machine that sat on the counter heating milk to the right temp. But it never quite worked. Plus, when I was a kid I only wanted Yoplait or Yami, as in dessert yogurt. Plain yogurt? Gah. Homemade yogurt?! EXTRA GAH.
That said, pretty much every amazing home cook I know is a child of the 70’s, and we’ve all gone back to the cookbooks of our childhood over the years. Hippie cookbooks are pretty great, with the occasional horrific oh no stuffed in amongst the delicious stuff.
Thing to remember is that people have literally been making yogurt for centuries, in rural kitchens, without any panic. Without fancy devices. Without anything but some heat and some yogurt culture from the last batch. It’s not rocket science. It’s yogurt. You can do it!
After all those tweets about making your own yogurt, because I am mortal, friends, I just ate a brownie from a box, spread with peanut butter. And that was great. Nobody’s making their own yogurt and vegetable stock all the time.
Here, a special recipe for those of us in Southern Ca right now feeling nauseous because of earthquake aftershocks: boiling water poured over chopped fresh ginger, half a lemon squeezed into that, honey or not. Mine is unsweetened. It’s helping.
Tonight’s dinner utilized the marmalade I made a few dozen tweets ago, as a glaze for salmon I had in the freezer. It’s a mash up of marmalade, stone ground mustard and soy sauce, spread on the salmon, then 450 for a few min, and finished in a pan. Also ginger spinach.
That was great. I suspect you could mix marmalade, soy and mustard together and get a great result for any sort of protein. Even tofu. Which, coming from me, is saying something. I’m not much for tofu.
I’m roasting 3 heads of garlic right now. My partner in crime is wise & bought me a large sack of garlic. This roasted garlic - which is in oven with some chopped potato & olive oil, is going to become a garlic soup. Garlic soup is fantastic, especially if there are vampires.
Now my roasted potatoes and 2 heads of roasted garlic gloves (I’ll just leave that autocorrect, as really, wouldn’t roasted garlic gloves be nice?) are simmering with onion, butter, white wine, and salt. Shortly they will acquire some more broth.
Garlic soup, is, in my opinion, total comfort food. I’ve got about five different versions of it. One involves soy sauce and garlic and another involves bread and garlic puréed together. It’s all good.
Here’s where we ended up. It is delicious.
I put a recipe sorta thing for this Italian Ramen Garlic Soup Invention up over at my Instagram. Which is @dahvana. But here it is too:
Clarification: i’m Dahvana on insta, not here! Here, I don’t know who Dahvana is. Someone not me.
Also, in my phone “Garlic” autocorrects to “darlin,” and that’s maybe all you really need to know to understand me.
Just by the by, an article about Aguafaba, or chickpea water, and it’s semi-magical properties as a vegan egg substitute. You’re already using vast quantities of canned chickpeas, no? Use the juice too! (Unsalted ones, please.) https://www.americastestkitchen.com/guides/vegan/what-is-aquafaba
Cheering myself up by making quick pickled onions, which perk up any boring dish as well as improving the mood of the pickle-maker: https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/quick-pickled-onions
Just had a discussion with my mom about mushrooms and this reminds me - do you have optimistically purchased mushrooms that are in danger of spoiling? Dry them in your oven! It’s easy! Then rehydrate into soup or risotto or whatever. https://www.thespruceeats.com/how-to-dry-mushrooms-oven-method-1327547
I know. It’s a lot to leap from let’s quickly pickle onions to & NOW WE’RE GROWING MUSHROOMS IN A NEST WE MADE FROM AN AMAZON BOX, but friends, that’s the kind of urban witch I am. It’s also possible to acquire spores by mail & inject them into logs, but that’s a lot of epic.
FWIW, my mom is herself a bit baffled that I am the family repository of survivalist and hippie farming techniques. I can only say that I spent my childhood reading anything that I could lay hands on, and a lot of it was apparently ancient issues of the Whole Earth catalogue.
After that, & some lentil loaf trauma as a teenage vegetarian, I became a fiend for delicious foods. Most of what’s in this thread is both vegetarian and exceedingly delicious. The whole farm to table thing taught me cooking skills, so yeah, it looks fancy, but it’s garden glam.
Elsewhere on Twitter, my friend @hollyblack is recreating a bean soup I made a couple years ago, and so I post for y'all here these, the grail beans of @annathomascooks, which I've been making for decades...
These (in link) are Anna Thomas' Tuscan White Beans with Garlic and Sage. They're magnificent. And easy. https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1996-06-02-tm-11217-story.html They're the basis for the soup, which is as follows..
So, now that you have made the beans in the recipe, with or without sage, but definitely with tons of garlic and olive oil, in a another pot, you cause some chopped fennel, onion and more garlic to caramelize. And then you add some smoked paprika and stir it all about.
Then, add that to your bean/garlic situation, along w/some parmesan rinds, which you've saved because NEVER NO NEVER SHOULD ONE TOSS PARMESAN RINDS. They are gold. They are especially gold when tossed into soup or beans. They fix all blandness. They umami even the dullest dulls.
You let that situation merge & simmer for while, possibly adding a couple lemon halves, which you may or may not have roasted. You taste the broth. What does it need? It's choose your own adventure! In most lives, the secret to soup is, make a good lemon vinaigrette & cook it.
So, when my (cooked) bean or vegetable soup tastes boring, I add as follows: Salt. Taste. Lemon zest. Taste. Raw garlic, chopped. Taste. Pepper. Taste. Olive oil. Taste. Cook a bit. Taste. It's usually a salt/acid problem when it's beans. Could be, though, an anchoring problem...
In which case, you can improve things with something meaty/umami. If you eat bacon, here's the time you drop some into your beans. If you have a can of oil-packed tuna, kabam, in it goes. Or, more parmagiano, buddy. More. Or make a pesto and put it on top.
But almost always, as I know from eating my weight in beans in Italy, white beans can happily be served with a drizzle of green olive oil and some good salt and pepper. If they've been cooked with garlic, they're even better.
On another note, if you happen to be ordering from a liquor store, & want something wonderful that doesn't keep you in a pandemic hungover place, you should get @StGeorgeSpirits NOLA Coffee, which is the most delicious coffee liqueur in existence: http://www.stgeorgespirits.com/spirits/st-george-nola-coffee-liqueur/
And @StGeorgeSpirits raspberry liqueur is also the most delicious raspberry liqueur in existence. I know. I taste everything raspberry and everything apricot I ever encounter, just to see, because those two fruits are the True Fruits. http://www.stgeorgespirits.com/spirits/st-george-fruit-liqueurs/
This evening’s meal is a potato/onion/tomato/yogurt curry involving some cumin/coriander/ginger & garlic. It’s easy. It’s going to have yogurt sauce.
The above dish is sort of in the realm of a dum aloo? My version is my own thing, always depending on what I’ve got around, (tonight’s also had turmeric and cinnamon) but yeah, it’s like this. Potatoes in yogurt gravy. https://www.indianhealthyrecipes.com/dum-aloo-recipe/
Now, because the house isn’t actually satisfied and/or because our baby is teething and we are so goddamn tired, I’m making cocoa oatmeal lace cookies. Do you know how much flour you need? 3tbs. I dropped a tb of cocoa powder into 1/2 this recipe. https://addapinch.com/oatmeal-lace-cookies-recipe/
Here’s the result. The chocolate ones are cooling. The vanilla ones have already been pounced upon. These are excellent quarantine cookies. 3 tbs flour. 1 egg. Extreme crispy glory.
Someone asked what to do with anchovies, and I have a million things to do with anchovies, because I love anchovies. But! Thing about anchovies is that they can be secret glory, making something taste RIGHT without tasting fish-like. Anchovy paste in pasta sauce is gold.
If you want to know the anchovies are there, though, and you’ve got anchovies about, this is the thing you should make, no question. Bagna cauda is one of the easiest & most delicious things on earth. It’s like sexy, cheese-less anchovy fondue: https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/bagna-cauda-2827/amp
And, that said? You wouldn’t really know this was an anchovy sauce. It doesn’t taste fishy so much as it tastes luxurious and correct. It’s butter, olive oil, garlic, and anchovies, and into it you dip vegetables & maybe grilled bread. It’s SO FUCKING GOOD.
Here’s another idea for that pot of bagna cauda you’re now making with that mysterious tin of anchovies a sybarite roommate left in the cupboard. Bless that hedonist now, for you can pour bagna cauda onto this genius Suzanne Goin salad. https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/winter-vegetable-salad-with-bagna-cauda-dressing
In truth, you can blanch and dip even vegetables you do not like in the least (for me, it’s the Dread Pirate Yellow Squash, and his sibling Captain Overcooked Cauliflower) into this sauce and make them recede into a blissful greasy lipsticked dreamland.
Bagna cauda is 16th-century Italian cooking at its finest. And it’s also perfect quarantine food. You’re in the house anyway. You’re not taking meetings. Anyone you’re kissing, you’ve been kissing for the duration, or already loathe. Make this with bodega tins of anchovy.
And here’s another which gives an idea of one of the glorious things about Italy - this is fall/winter festival food, and it’s meant to be a sauce that rolls on through an evening, leaving leftovers for scrambling into eggs in the morning. https://www.lifeinitaly.com/recipes/bagna-cauda
I actually made this once with salt cod from a Trinidadian bodega in Brooklyn, that was good too, why not, & I’ve done it with sardine, too, though if you happen into salt cod & have a potato or two, what you should really make are bacalao croquettes: https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/salt-cod-croquettes
Tonight’s quarantine witch feasting is fried avocado tacos - or really more burritos, because I only have flour tortillas around. Also pickled onions and a salad/pico of radishes onions tomatoes carrots. And some bonus guac I made!
Here’s a fried avocado taco recipe! I talked about them somewhere else in this thread too - but it’s miles back. https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/fried-avocado-tacos/amp
Regarding Easter: This spinach pie recipe is the best one, bar none. https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/spinach-in-puff-pastry-6601377 I’ve made it for years. It’s easily made of things that are currently available. Frozen spinach. And you can make it with pepperidge farm puff pastry, too! https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/spinach-pie-recipe-2107558
But then I thought, why shouldn’t I make homemade phyllo dough? Greek grandmothers have been doing this for ever. I mean, I know this is gonna be kind of a pain, but...whee, I’ve never done it before. It’s a dough adventure. https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/259481/homemade-phyllo-or-filo-dough/
I mean, I’m quarantined in an Airbnb without a rolling pin, but sure, this should be fine. I’m rolling dough with a tumbler. Hahahaha we shall see.
This is full of cotija cheese (didn’t have feta) caramelized onions, a head of chopped garlic, a bunch of chopped spinach, pine nuts, lemon zest. It’s not quite as glam as the usual, but...I made this fucking phyllo!!
Now she is in the oven, and we wait. I had extra phyllo, so I’m making cinnamon/honey/walnut/yogurt baklava too.
Newly out of the oven...
And spinach pie/hand pie/tart/spanakopita sort of thing is out and ready to feast upon! You can make this with any sort of greens and any sort of cheese. It’s always gonna be good. Should you make your own phyllo? No, but rolling it out for an hour was good for my stress.
This isn’t the end of the thread, if it looks like it is - continue here! https://twitter.com/mariadahvana/status/1250247957460340737
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