Today is Canadian Turkey Day. Is it ok to question its legitimacy? It was instated in 1957. That’s like yesterday. Why call it Thanksgiving and not celebrate it with the US the same day? No idea. In any case, people do observe it and it’s a national holiday and a great excuse to celebrate and eat a lot. But today I’m under the weather with the Canadian flu, and I don’t know anyone celebrating it so I will not be doing much cooking other than mixing water with some powdered vitamin C. It also happens to be the day the Americas were discovered by Mr. Columbus a few centuries ago. This guy, the story tells, was an Italian sailor who worked for the Spanish. Sketchy. Anyways, not that I planned it, but here it is, an Italian dish with some Spanish flare on Columbus Day. It also happens to be “Cookbook launch” Day and yesterday it apparently was “You go, girl” Day. Celebration mood up in here.
If you’re a bit OCD, you like chicken and you like to cook it yourself , this post might be of interest. I know I keep talking about chicken. I talk about chicken a LOT. Because I love chicken and I can recount the few times I have had a good chicken dish at a restaurant. In many cases is just a disaster. If at a BBQ, I will politely turn down grilled chicken breasts and stick to eating only the more heat resistant dark meat but even that has goes wrong very often. A grill isn’t exactly devised for precision cooking. A smoker… it’s a step up in the right direction and can render some amazing results but how many of us have a smoker sitting in their backyard. I don’t even have a backyard. If I had one and some money, I’d get a smoker. Guess where I’d put it. In the backyard.
Today’s post. Chicken nightmares. In honour to all my overcooked chicken dinners. My chicken cooking improved dramatically after learning a few things about proteins and the effect of heat. Understanding what heat does to food is essential in improving cooking in genera. I find that cooking chicken is a great, relatively cheap and delicious way to fine tune the skill of heat application. Chickens are very complicated creatures. I’m talking about their meat, I’m sure they have very complicated lives too. They can be cooked whole at the same temperature but this isn’t ideal (I love roasting whole chickens, don’t get me wrong, but when on my OCD mood kicks in hard, the notion of roasting a whole chicken just makes me super anxious). Each muscle requires a different temperature and cooking time (same goes for pretty much any animal tissue). We can average those temperatures and cook the whole bird that way for as long as the longest of the cooking times required… obviously there are compromises and the end result although pretty delicious won’t be “perfect”. Cooking chicken sous vide requires the extra step of browning the skin. This sounds easy. Pan sear the thing and done. Well. That’s ok, but I want better browning. I want even browning everywhere which means the chicken meat must be fully submerged in hot oil. Which means deep frying. If you know of a better way, I’m all ears.
Thomas Keller has something to do with this post. Actually, he has everything to do with this post. I didn’t follow his recipe for buttermilk fried chicken which I’ve made once before. I do follow him on twitter tho. I’m a horrible twitter user too. I don’t know how to use that thing or why anyone would find it useful but I post automatically from my WordPress and Instagram accounts to it and I’ve been getting better exposure for the site lately so yay. So many different social media platforms, it’s getting really really confusing but I shall continue to rig up the blogosphere to my advantage as much as I possibly can with the little knowledge I have. Ok, so the other day I get a twitter notification just like this one:
So… remember that octopus dish from like 20 minutes ago… leftovers went into a second dish which was basically a simplification of the former. I love squid ink. I know it looks terrifying but the flavor is quiet spectacular. I would expect nothing less from (let me get my reading glasses…) a highly developed bio-defence mechanism. And… mayo? yes please. Any day. Any amount. On anything. Love this stuff. If you want to make your own, maybe you wanna check this post. Takes about 2 minutes to make. And if you wanna learn about how to pasteurize it, then check this post. I finally have enough posts to link back to them and rewire my whole site! I’ve been making some progress.
Today has been one of the dullest Saturdays of the year. I have little to log. Will finish post and re-watch the ending of Whiplash like 20 more times before I go to bed to spice things up a bit. Best movie ending ever. Ah right, the octopus. Here we go.
That’s a lot of babies. Yikes! Oh well…. It’s done now and it was deeeelish. No regrets. Random question… do you ever not get on the bus just because there’s too much people on it already? Clear sign that overpopulation isn’t good, and certainly not good for the baby octopi out there. The octopus. Super smart creature…. not smart enough. Good for us, imagine a society in which humans have been enslaved by octopi. pretty horrifying. Anyways, dinner was excellent and I’m ready to write about it and forget about these nightmarish thoughts. This dish was inspired by … I don’t even know… the need to cook something different. Seafood is one of my many food jams. I love it. Seafood is simple. Needs little to no cooking. The flavours are bold and the result tends to be elegant. The catch (no pun intended): finding fresh ingredients. With seafood and fish, the concept of fresh needs to be taken SERIOUSLY. The delicate nature of seafood and fish. They start to spoil the moment … well, the moment they die just like anything else, but at a really fast pace. That’s because, they did not only died, they have also been taken out of their natural environment….This whole spiel is turning a bit graphic, apologies, but that’s just how it is. That’s why I think it is important to cook animals the best way I can and with respect. There was drama before they met my skillet, I know this. Moment of silence. Done.
Ok. We’re back! Ready to go? ok! how do we cook this thing. It’s pretty easy. Pickling seafood is a no brainer. All is needed: acidic solution and seafood. I used vinegar today. I’ve used lime juice, lemon juice, and I’m pretty sure cranberry juice should work. Acid denatures proteins which is pretty much the same as what heat does. That’s amazing to me, even today. Pickling sea creatures and making ceviche is pretty much the same. The longer they stay in the pickling solution, the closer to fully getting pickled. There are several degrees of pickling. The longer they pickle for the more they will taste of the pickling liquid. Ceviche probably covers the entire range. From a quick flash curing period of 1 hour or less to a totally pickled state which takes about a couple of days. In this recipe today, I messed up. I over-pickled, not by choice but because there were other forces at work that prevented me from taking these little guys out of the vinegar in time. Important forces I gotta say. The recipe below accounts for that. So no worries, it’s gonna be ok, let’s get into it!
Somehow managed to escape the gruelling office hours just before I totally ran out of whatever positive emotional energy I had left in me. This will be a quick post. I have to go back into hiding before anyone finds me. So… Lamb shanks. Yeah! that’s exciting stuff right? The easiest thing in the world too. The catch is, it requires patience. Weather you are cooking it the traditional way or a using more modernist approach, the patience factor will be there because it takes a long time. Well, I don’t know.. I used to think of it that way. Patience… I’m actually gonna disagree with myself here. Patience has nothing to do with cooking things that takes hours to make. It’s just a simple matter of planning. It’s not like you can’t order a pizza while you wait. I don’t sit by my immersion circulator for 72 hours pacing up and down the kitchen starving to death. Life goes on as it normally does and 3 days later I somehow remember there was some plastic bag with something in it that required a long cooking time in a water bath. I switch the thing off and it’s done. No sweat. No Patience. By the way… spoiler alert: Medium rare and falling off the bone all at the same time. Just saying.
I’m officially kicking off fall cooking season with this super quick post. To your relieve it will be extremely short. Actually the recipe and the instructions are pretty much in the post title so if you choose to, you could stop reading here. If you’re still here, let me tell you that it doesn’t really get any easier than cooking with 3 ingredients, ok 4 if you count salt. Add an electronically super accurate immersion circulator to the equation and then it’s literally cheating. After it’s done I like to let this little guy rest in the fridge for a couple of days and then use it as cold roast beef in sandwiches… ok, that’s a lie… the sandwich part. I eat this thing straight and right away. No diversions. I know no other way.
Another recipe for the budget cooking series. I think it qualifies. Skip the saffron which can be a bit pricey specially if getting the good stuff. There’s even an ISO standard for it…that’s just crazy, although this spice is so unique and amazing I shouldn’t be this surprised. Saffron and Pimenton (Sweet paprika) define Spain’s flavour. I have a few chicken recipes on the blog but this one for some reason never made it in until now. This is something I used to cook when I was in high school and during my college years. It’s that easy and almost impossible to mess up. Sometimes I’d cook it with spaghetti and skip the potatoes (yep, heaven).
For this recipe I used chicken thighs for simplification and flavour. I could have used the whole chicken, but cooking chicken breasts require more control and the flavour doesn’t really shine as much as the flavour in darker and fattier thigh/leg meat does, at least in my opinion. Drumsticks also work really well here as do the wings, so try it if you want. Anyways, enough yapping, let’s get to it!
And… back to more budget cooking. Fall is here, which means… at least in my world… more exciting cooking. I’m all for quick summery meals, but the real fun begins when slow cooking kicks in. This recipe today might be one of my last summery meals of the year… with some exceptions of course because work is about to get crazy, and I mean real crazy, and a few quick meals might be the only way to get me by for the next 3 months, but can’t wait to get baking and roasting stuff.
I’ve been craving mushrooms crepes for a long time, and I’ve been craving writing about them for even longer. I’ve made them a few times but never really get to the documenting part of the evening, they’re just too good! Good ole mushroom crepes! May sound fancy but the ingredients are super cheap and this meal always delivers. When properly cooked at home, you won’t want to order them at a restaurant ever again, I mean, what’s the point when you can make a better one yourself. The whole adventure takes about 1 hour and the leftovers can be stored in the freezer. Need I say more? Let’s go!
This awesome recipe concludes my budget cooking repertoire for the weekend. I have meals to last me a couple of weeks now. If you missed my previous 2 recipes… here they are: Chicken Soup and Beet and Cole Slaw Salad. Garbanzos have been an obsession of mine since I can remember.I love them in cold salads, soups, in hummus… etc. They are so versatile and deserve a respectable place in my pantry. I only use dry garbanzos when I make them. They’re cheaper this way and last forever in case you aren’t ready to use them right away. They also have better texture than the canned stuff. Today, we’re making garbanzo and sausage soup. The total groceries cost about 30 bucks for about 8 servings. That’s super cheap and so delicious. And I can’t stress this enough… follow me on Instagram by clicking on that little Instagram thingy on the right! :) Let’s go!