Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Bachelor Chow

 Well, it's been a while since I've posted HERE, hasn't it...? Thought I'd post an update to this old savory bread pudding recipe I shared here years ago.

This can be infinitely customized for your tastes.  Made heavier or healthier, meat-loaded or vegan. 

Note: a lot of these ingredients are about what you have on hand, what you like, and what you can find at your local market. One of the reasons I think it works as a meal you're going to eat for a while is the variety of ingredients. Also, when you reheat it, it's easy to adjust the seasoning in whatever way that suits you (hot sauce?), or add ingredients.


"The Essentials"
 olive oil
2 packages of frozen, chopped spinach, well-drained
1 lb of mushrooms (any kind), chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 cups fake eggs (or equivalent of 6 eggs)
1 quart milk (or milk substitute, if you want to go vegan)
1-2 huge loaves of good crusty bread (whole wheat/grain), torn up

"The Optionals"
 salt, black pepper, any seasonings you like
shredded/diced cheeses are good; whatever you like (Parmesan, mozzarella, swiss, jack, brie, any combination)
vegetables you like (chopped broccoli, frozen spinach, you can really load this veggies) meats or fake meats, chopped/shredded (I've used torn meat from a whole roasted chicken, sausage, bacon, really anything; you can make this a carnivore feast or a total vegan affair)
you could combine a bunch of different bits of old bread

 In a large pan, over a low heat, sauté chopped onions in a bit of olive oil until nicely carmelized. Add garlic, mushrooms, vegetables and any seasonings. Add meat/fake meat any veggies. Remove from heat and set aside.

 In a very large bowl, combine eggs, milk. Whisk well. Add your slightly-cooled sauté mixture, stirring. Start added your torn pieces of bread, folding them in as you go. Eventually, you'll need to use your hands to really get in there. 

Add all your cheeses. Incorporate well, with your hands. Depending on how much stuff you've got in there, you may need to let it soak up a bit. It oughtn't be too soupy. If it is and you don't think it'll all get soaked up by the bread, you might want to add some more bread. If your bread's particularly dry/crusty, you may want to let it soak a little longer. Theoretically, you could/should let this steep for a few hours, but it's not a big deal.

 Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, and grease a large baking dish (or several) with olive oil. Scoop your bread pudding concoction evenly to the pans. Sprinkle with any remaining cheese, drizzle with a little olive oil. Bake until firm in the center and golden brown -- "about 1 hour". Serve warm.


Heat pan.  Add some olive oil.  Brown and break up with a spatula: You can adjust the seasonings easily at this stage.  Add hot sauce.  Add any new ingredients you want to "liven up" this particular meal.  (You can easily make a week's worth of meals with this dish.)

It's essentially a stuffing dish.  Great as a side-dish at Thanksgiving.  And as a main dish the rest of the lonely year.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Best Peanut Butter Cookies Ever

Found this surprisingly simple peanut butter cookie recipe that uses NO FLOUR. I was amazed that it actually works.

I've altered it slightly. Halved the recipe for a smaller batch, included brown sugar and decreased the total amount of sugar just a bit.

I think this works best with an organic-type peanut butter, as opposed to one of the more homogeneous retail brands like JIF/Skippy. Something chunky to offer texture. Not a lot of added oil/sugar. (I used Brad's Organic Chunky Peanut Butter because it was the cheapest thing on the shelf: it was surprisingly/disconcertingly soupy—I poured it into a measuring cup without needing a knife/spoon—but it worked great in this recipe. Sole ingredient listed on the label: organic peanuts.)

The cookie it produces will melt in your mouth. Because of the lack of the flour, they'll crumble easier—so they may not be the best alternative for shipping long distances—but they're simply amazing and the recipe's dead easy. I think the taste of peanut butter is more intense because it's the dominant ingredient.

1 cup (good) chunky peanut butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix everything up.

Drop on parchment covered pan. Rounded balls, a good 2" apart. (The baking soda will make them spread.) Smash them flat, with your hand and/or a fork.

Bake 8-10 mins.

Let cool for about 5 minutes on a pan to let them set before removing them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

This makes a small batch. You can simply double the recipe to make more.

You MUST try these.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sandra Lee's Cream Lemon

Sandy Lee made the following cocktail on her Semi-Homemade programme:

Heavy Cream (!!!)

Somebody slowed down video of her drinking this and her wince is a startling poker-tell. (The animated gif above will save you the trouble of clicking through to the video.)

I haven't tried it myself but Sandra's infamous for some dangerously questionable concoctions. Caveat emptor.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Warm Sesame Noodles

This one goes back to the heart of the origins of this blog: budget improvised food.

I've adapted this one from this "lo mein" recipe. I tried it out of curiosity and it's more like "sesame noodles".

All the measurements are estimates. Customize at will.


1 (3 ounce) package ramen noodles (just toss the flavor packet)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons oil
sesame oil (1-2 shakes)
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
1 chopped scallion
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter

sliced baby carrots
bean sprouts that have been soaked
thinly sliced meat


Cook the ramen noodles (3 minutes in boiling water), then drain and set aside. Add your oils to that drained hot pot and start sauteing the scallions/veggies/meat. (You may want to do this longer if you're cooking raw meat.) Add everything else and stir quickly to establish a sauce.

Toss in the ramen noodles as the final step and incorporate everything really well. Add a bit more sesame oil if it's a little dry. You don't want to cook the ramen that much longer because they're already soft.

It works, really. You can totally improvise with the ingredients. (You may not need oyster sauce, but I had it on hand.) Cheap and quick and easy. Eat from a bowl using chopsticks to really sell the dish.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Deep Dish Pizza Project 2


This version was adapted from a few new sources including this recipe. So many of the recipes posted on the internet claim to have it "right", supported by high ratings of others who've tested them.


1/4 C. corn meal
1/4 C. corn oil
1/4 C. butter-flavored CRISCO shortening
3/4 C. warm water
1 Tsp garlic powder

1 Tsp salt
1 Tsp sugar
3 C. all-purpose flour
1 packet yeast


Canned crushed tomatoes
Grated hard cheese


After the mix, REFRIGERATE OVERNIGHT. Everything else is pretty much standard. 450 degrees, 30 minutes or so.


I still haven't found what I'm looking for. This one produces a crust that is noticeably more "pastry-like", but it's not quite there.

The switch to "all-purpose" flour from bread flour arguably assists in producing a flakier (less "bready") crust. And the quality and brand of oils probably makes a difference in taste. (I used a regular Wesson Corn Oil, which was the only thing I could find nearby.)

It may be a game of percentages. I'm looking for a crust that is flaky, buttery, savory, without tasting inordinately *oily*. Some middle ground between a pie crust, a biscuit and a regular pizza crust. THIS RECIPE IS NOT THE ONE. It's not bad but it's not The One.

I no longer believe that eggs are part of the answer. I don't have a clear answer for my next move. If pushed to guess, I'd imagine a little less oil, a little more salt.

But this remains a mystery...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Deep Dish Pizza Project 1


I've been tinkering with this, off and on, FOR YEARS. Trying to recreate a proper Chicago-style "deep dish pizza", in the vein of Pizzeria Uno or Lou Malnati's.

You would think that in the information age, this would be a no-brainer, but I have not been able to properly replicate the crust...


1/4 C. corn meal
1/4 C. olive oil
2 3/4 C. bread flour
1 C. warm water
1 packet yeast


Canned crushed tomatoes
Grated hard cheese


The directions are pretty straight-forward. I use a legit cast-iron skillet, for whatever that's worth. Generously grease the pan. Mold in the dough, cheese before tomatoes. Sprinkle top with grated cheese.

425 degrees F. 30-40 mins.

This is the most common crust recipe out there and it produces a pretty good result but it does NOT match up with what I've gotten from restaurants... and I'm convinced that it is the crust recipe... the crust here was a little too dry and brittle...


1/4 C. corn meal
1/4 C. olive oil
2 Tbls butter
2 egg yolks
2 Tbls sugar
1 Tsp salt

2 3/4 C. bread flour
1 C. warm water
1 packet yeast


Same as above


Same drill in terms of prep and baking. I added egg yolks, butter and sugar to this recipe to make it more tender and savory. Slightly more like a brioche.

The result? I added a bit too much sugar which browned the crust a little much. Yolks produced a denser, richer crust but it still did not generate the rich, buttery crust that it needs to be.

Next time: less sugar, whole eggs.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Has it been over a year, dormant blog?

This is from a NY Times article a friend shared with me.

I wanna try it:

Adapted from Pichet Ong
Time: About 2 1/2 hours

For the filling:
1 medium kabocha squash, about 3 pounds
10 ounces (1 1/3 cups) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (about 1/4 of a nutmeg)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons brandy
2 eggs at room temperature

For the crust:
3/4 cup (2 ounces) walnuts
1/2 cup, packed, light brown sugar
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 7 crackers)
Grated zest of 1 lime
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
Crème fraîche, for serving (optional)
Ginger butterscotch sauce, for serving (see recipe).

1. For pie filling, bring an inch of water to a boil in a large covered pot fitted with a steamer basket or rack. Put in squash, cover and steam, replenishing water as needed, until fork tender, about 1 hour. Turn squash over halfway through steaming. Set squash aside until cool enough to handle.
2. Heat oven to 325 degrees. For crust, place walnuts on a baking tray, and toast in oven, stirring once or twice, until fragrant, about 15 minutes. Let cool. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.
3. In a food processor, combine walnuts with a few tablespoons brown sugar and pulse a few times, until nuts are coarsely ground. In a large bowl, whisk nuts with graham cracker crumbs, remaining brown sugar, lime zest, spices and salt. Pour melted butter over this mixture, and mix with your fingers until butter is distributed. Press evenly into a 10-inch glass pie plate. Bake crust until lightly browned, about 12 minutes, then set aside. Keep oven at 300 degrees.
4. When squash is cool, cut it in half and scoop out seeds and pulp. Scoop squash flesh into a measuring cup until you have 2 1/2 cups.
5. In a food processor, process cream cheese with sugar, spices and salt until light and smooth. Scrape down bowl, add squash and process until smooth. Mix in brandy and then eggs, one at a time. Finish mixing with a rubber spatula.
6. Place pie plate on a baking sheet and scrape filling into crust. Bake until just set in center, about 1 hour. Let cool before serving, topped with crème fraîche and drizzled with butterscotch sauce.
Yield: 8 servings.

Adapted from Pichet Ong
Time: 25 minutes plus 30 minutes' cooling

1 pound dark brown sugar
2 1/2 ounces (about 4 inches) fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced into coins
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, pulp scraped
10 tablespoons (5 ounces) unsalted butter, cubed
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon salt.

1. Place sugar, ginger and vanilla pod and pulp in a heavy pot set over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar is molten and fragrant with ginger and vanilla, about 8 minutes. (It won't melt entirely but will be somewhat crumbly.) Add butter (stand back, it will foam up), and stir until melted and smooth, about 2 minutes.
2. Pour cream and salt into pot, stirring, and bring to a simmer. Let sauce bubble until thickened, about 8 minutes. Let cool for at least 1/2 hour, then strain out ginger and vanilla pod. Warm sauce before serving. This sauce will keep for up to 2 weeks in refrigerator.
Yield: 3 1/2 cups.