Succotash

I recently got back from a trip to Canada. I’ve been dreaming of going to Vancouver for a few years now, thanks to a cooking show I watched while in college. I think it was Giada De Laurentiis, checking out the restaurants and attractions.

Despite the drought, it was more beautiful than I expected (standards of beauty get lowered significantly after living in a rain-choked Texas for about 7 years), and it would have been beautiful even if I wasn’t snide.

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Other than the restaurant Giada went to, I didn’t have an idea of what the food scene would be like once we got up there. I knew I wanted poutine. I’d heard about good local breweries. My friends were mixed in their recommendations or warnings about Tim Horton’s, but other than that, I was a blank slate.

Most nights, we’d kind of wander into restaurants, getting what was convenient or close, or what seemed good enough to stop the bus for and get down. (On that note, if you’re interested in Tibetan food and are in Vancouver, you should check out the Yak & Yeti bistro.)

But one night, our Canadian friend got off work early and was able to prepare a tasty-ass dinner. Fresh salmon, grilled, and succotash. Of course I love salmon and it was wonderful, but what really stuck out to me was the succotash. Before that night, it’d never been real. “Succotash” is from the Loony Tunes universe–it was part of a catch phrase, not food! But it was real, and it was surprisingly tasty. We even had to make a new batch once we made it back to Texas, only three nights later.

Succotash

Looking online, there is absolutely no single definition of succotash. Our Vancouverite made no pretense of measuring ingredients, either making it from memory or winging it. So that’s how I learnt–just watching over his shoulder. Consequently, this recipe won’t have any objective measuring terms–you’ll have to decide what you like. I was told that corn and beans make a whole protein, and including the corn brings together the three sisters (at least symbolically) so they seem worth keeping together.

 

There are definite changes you can make to this. Add peppers, don’t use bacon, toss in some herbs or greens. Make it what you want.

1/5 or 1lb bacon
corn cut from 2 ears of corn
1 or 2 cans of beans
2-3 tomatoes
2-3 yellow squash
fresh thyme

1. Prep everything by cutting the corn off the cob and chopping the rest into smallish, bite-sized pieces (not the beans, they’re ok)
2. Fry the bacon until desired crispiness
3. Remove bacon from pan
4. Use desired amount of bacon fat (probably 1-2 tbs) to fry up everything else
5. Fry until veggies are desired tenderness (should’t take long at all). Add the bacon back in sometime before the end.

 

Although I didn’t remember at the time of making our Texas batch, the Canadian batch also included 1 large jalapeño chopped into thin strips (how did Texans forget a pepper?!), fresh thyme and basil, a yellow pepper, green and yellow zucchini, and some ground cumin.

Fungus Bacon, or, Mushroom Surprise, Part 1

I’ve been staying late at work a lot this week, so I’m going to pull that excuse and turn it into a fun advantage! Today’s article/recipe will be a bit of a teaser.

We were experimenting with mushrooms a little while back and got a sampler pack. In combining the different mushrooms in one dish, we tried out two different cooking methods. One is tried and true, tasty and vegan friendly–maybe even playfully deceptive if you’ve got a little Ferran in you.

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For this part of the dish, we used the shiitake, chanterelle, and king oyster mushrooms. We’ve done this with shiitake mushrooms, but the others were a bit of an experiment. We found out that they all work well, but the key is to make sure to cut them to the same consistency. Slight differences are magnified as the mushrooms cook down, so it’s definitely worth taking your time.

After cutting them, toss in olive oil, salt, and pepper. You want them to be covered, but not sopping, and as for the SnP, I say heavy on the P. Some salt is good to help out, but keep in mind that people add salt once it’s on the plate, so no need to overdo it here.

 

 

 

 

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Once they’re ready, spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes then flip. Bake another 15 minutes, then check and flip again. Moisture will evaporate more readily from the edges than the center, so try to re-disperse when flipping. Repeat this until the “bacon” is in a satisfactory zone of the crispy-gooey scale.

Kale Pasta

On a quest to find cheap and healthy food, I ransacked the HEB and came away with a 98 cent bush of kale about 3 times the size of my head. It was a great find, but since leafy greens don’t do so well in my fridge, I knew I’d have to eat them fast. I did some experimenting, and this was one of my favorite recipes that came of it.

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I sorted the prep vegetables according to how cooked I wanted them to be.

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First, I sauteed the onion in olive oil, over medium heat until they started getting translucent. After that, I tossed in the rest, sauteing for a few minutes before adding the sauce. Together, I let it simmer on med-low for about 30 minutes (feel free to do it as long as you’re willing, just make sure it doesn’t dry out).

 

While that was going, I made bacon sprinkles. If you want to keep this recipe Vegan, skip that. It’s totally option and I did it on a whim, anyway, so not much will be lost if you skip it. Only bacon, which you don’t really care about anyway.

 

Bacon sprinkles are just tiny strips of bacon fried until they’re crispy. I’ve used them in a handful of dishes so far and I’ve found them to be a nice way to add a little bit of salty/crunchy to your food. Since they keep well, you can even cook up half a pack or so and just keep them in the fridge for whenever you need some on your pasta, fried rice, or grits.

 

As the pasta was nearing completion, I tossed the kale into the sauce. I waited till the end because I wanted it to still be crisp and fresh tasting. The diversity of texture alone is worth it, and if you’re down for an experiment, I recommend just adding some fresh. Also, if you’re a cheesy kind of person, I’d recommend a hard Spanish cheese for this. I tried it with some idiazabal and it worked really well.

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Here’s my attempt at a printer friendly recipe card:

Kale Pasta

Bacon sprinkles and cheese (optional)

1 med white onion

1 jalapeno

1 red bell pepper

4 cloves garlic (I eat it in everything, you might not want as much)

24 oz pasta sauce

whatever spices you like in pasta sauce: salt/pepper/garlic/oregano/etc

3 giant kale leaves

noodles

1. Make bacon sprinkles. Drain and set aside.

1 if you don’t want meat. Chop veggies, keep onion separate.

2. Warm a sauce pot with olive oil to medium. Saute onions for about 5 minutes.

3. Add jalapeno, bell pepper, and garlic and saute for about a minute.

4. Add sauce and stir. Lower the temperature to med-low, but keep an eye on it just in case.

5. Start boiling pasta water (waiting to do it until now is a great way to time the sauce and also gives you time to clean up some if you don’t want to save it all till you’re done) and cook the pasta as per the recommended instructions.

6. With about a minute left on the pasta, add the kale to the sauce.

7. Everything’s all a flurry now! Strain the pasta! Add a little olive oil so it doesn’t stick! Stir the sauce some more!

8. Serve. Top with bacon sprinkles and/or delicious Spanish cheese, as you desire.

Biscuit Pizza Trifecta

My friend’s mom showed me this idea the other day and it’s just so convenient and easy that I wanted to show everyone! Basically, instead of making pizza dough or buying a premade crust, you can use canned biscuit dough! The pizza’s don’t come out very big, but I’d say you could make three personal pizzas. An advantage of this is you don’t have to work with it a lot. Pretty much just mush the dough together and cut it into however many divisions you want, then cover it with a wet paper towel and a rag for 20 minutes to let it rise a little. It makes it softer and easier to work with. And because they’re so small, you don’t need a rolling pin to mold thing; a glass would work just fine (that’s actually what I’ve been using for most of my pizza making existence).

We took this opportunity to make some of our favorite pizzas.

Greek pizza, chicken mushroom pizza, and an imitation of the heart-attack breakfast pizza.

For those three we used:
1 can biscuit dough
Tomato sauce
Mozzarella
Spinach
Olives
Tater tots
Bacon
Sauteed mushrooms (video coming soon)
Parmesan (only because we some in the fridge)
Chicken (hoo-ray for leftovers!)

While the dough was rising, we baked the tots and cooked the bacon. (The mushrooms are from something I made the day before.) By that time, the dough was ready and we started the chicken mushroom pizza.

It’s pretty simple, about two tablespoons sauce, cheese, pile on the mushrooms, then the chicken.

Next came the breakfast pizza.

Again, a little sauce, some cheese, then pile on the tots and bacon. Yes.

And finally the redemption pizza; the greek pizza.

This one’s a little bit different. There’s no sauce, just spinach, olives, chicken and cheese (I didn’t show the cheese picture because it’s not as pretty).

And they were all super tasty.

The dough came out nicely. It seemed fluffier and flakier than normal dough (more biscuit-y in other words). But it was a little weird reheated. Not bad, just really biscuit-y. But I’d definitely recommend it as a quick fix.

Bacon Cheddar Croissants

This one is really easy to make and not too hard either. And I can’t take the credit for it either; (it wasn’t my idea, you can thank トラ for this buttery deliciousness).

All you need is:
A pack of bacon (you might have leftovers, but who doesn’t love left over bacon?)
A pack of white cheddar (again, there’s a leftover possibility here)
2 tubes of croissants (or one, if you can’t handle all the deliciousness)

First start by cooking your bacon, but make sure you don’t over-crisp it because it’s going to be baked later.

Personally, I cooked mine in the microwave. It’s really easy and fast. All you need is a plate, a bunch of paper towels and a microwave. So that worked for me.

While that was going, I sliced the cheese and opened up the croissants. Also, I got the oven preheated to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Then, instead of rolling the croissants up like normal, I laid down the bacon strip, if it was too long, I folded it, then put in some cheese.

Then just roll it up like you normally would.

There was one that I set up differently.

And that one was easier to eat, but a little bit not as cool looking.

Now I baked them for about 10 minutes, took them out, and put more cheese on top.

After that, it took about three minutes in the oven, and they were done.

There were five of us there and we all had already eaten, but despite that, all of the croissants were gone before they had a chance to cool off.

Quiche

The basic quiche is an awesome thing to know how to make. You can do anything with it. Literally. Sausage, bacon, spinach, feta, tomatoes, broccoli, grilled chicken, cheese, anything.

Here’s what you need for the basic quiche base: eggs, heavy whipping cream, and flour.

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Depending on the size of you’re pan, you’ll need a different amount of filling, but for a 10 inch (estimate) round pan, I used 3 eggs, about a cup and a 1/4 of cream, and 2 tbsp flour. Combine the three in a bowl and whisk. The more air you incorporate into the mix, the fluffier you’re quiche will end up.

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Another basic is the crust. I didn’t make mine, I just used some of my leftover fillo dough. I cut it in half because it was easier to cover the whole pan with.

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Because fillo dough is so fragile and thin, it took many layers. Between each layer, spread a little butter, using either a food brush or a paper towel. You don’t need a whole lot, it just helps the end result stick together better when you’re cutting and eating it later.

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As you’re putting the layers down, make sure to push them against the edges of the pan. Otherwise, when you pour in the filling, it might tear and undo everything you just prepped. Also, make sure to cover the edges of the pan up to the top because the quiche will rise in the oven. Don’t worry too much about overlap; it is very hard to avoid, but it is a good idea to cut it off before you bake it.

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I cut it a little to close on the left, but you get the idea.

Now that you know the basics, here’s what I did. The one I made today closely resembled a quiche Lorraine. To the basic egg, cream mix I added bacon (cooked) and emmenthaler (shredded). At this point you would add any seasonings you feel like, but personally and uncharacteristically I didn’t here. I figured that the bacon would bring a good salty taste while the cheese would bring a slight sweetness.

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I mixed them in with the egg-cream-flour mixture, but there are other ways of doing this. Other recipes I know of recommend putting the cheese directly on the crust, then pouring on the egg-cream, then topping it off with the meat. This would ensure equal cheesiness all over, along the bottom of the crust, but one thing that really appeals to me in a quiche is the uncertainty of the next bite. If everything is mixed together, there isn’t 100% uniformity and therefore every bite is different.

Next put it in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake. At 40 minutes I checked on mine. It looked really weird because of how much and how unevenly it had risen, but it smelled really good. I did the toothpick test and it needed another 5 minutes. Once it was done I let it sit about 5 minutes before cutting, and I used a spatula to cut it because the pan was nonstick.

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The crust was really fragile and kind of a mess. But if you start the cutting from the middle of the quiche, it’s not too hard to deal with.

UPDATE:
I tried this out with a few new ingredients this time:
The basic eggs and cream plus sundried tomatoes, spinach, garlic, cheese, sliced cooked bacon.

And I’ve gotten to the point with quiches that I can just eyeball it. So I didn’t measure anything. Don’t worry, you can too, they’re very forgiving.

Potatoes O’Brian

This is one of my favorite thing to do when I have an abundance of potatoes. It’s so easy and you can do whatever you want with it. I know my grandma really likes it with green bell peppers. It truly is one of those left over dishes, where you look at what you have in your fridge and make something awesome out of it.

What you want to start with is,
a couple potatoes,
butter or olive oil,
and whatever you want to cook it with (seasonings, meats, veggies, etc).

I made more than one batch because I cut up more potatoes than what could fit in the pan. One of them was with bacon and green onions. In the other batch I dropped an egg and some onions on top of the bacon. I like bacon for this because as the fat cooks out, it makes the pan a little more non stick. If you don’t use bacon, make sure to use something else, like olive oil, canola oil, or butter–whichever you’re more comfortable with.

For this method, they come out soft. If you want them to be crunchy, cook them on a higher heat at the end and in smaller batches.

To start, cut up your ingredients. Smaller potatoes cook faster, but the main thing to keep in mind is to try to keep them about the same size overall. Inconsistencies may lead to raw potatoes being overlooked, which don’t taste bad, just a little weird.

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I kept the skin on because it doesn’t bother me, but if it happens to be something that gets at you, feel free to peel it off. It’s also a good idea to cut up the bacon before you cook it. It will cook faster, and you won’t have to deal with hot bacon.

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When the bacon is done cooking–not to the crunchy stage, still a little soft and delicious, add the potatoes. They are going to take a little while, so you may need to hold off on the other ingredients. If you add any veggies now, they will get really soggy and soft by the end. If you want them to keep their crunch, then definitely wait. When I used onions, I threw them in with the potatoes, but I waited when I used green onions. It’s all personal preference.

Also, if you plan on egging it up, this is the stage to do it. Depending on how much bacon you used or if you didn’t use any at all, you may need to add some butter or olive oil.

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Try not to overload the skillet like I almost did; it will make it hard for all of the potatoes to cook thoroughly–the ones on bottom will be a lot more done than those on top, and you’ll have to stir them frequently enough to make sure nothing burns or turns to mashed potatoes. This is where you add whatever seasonings you plan on using. I find Greek Seasoning to be excellent for this, along with some black pepper and garlic powder. If you felt like grating up some garlic or food processor-ing it, that would be awesome too. (Those are some of the best ways of having garlic’s flavor spread all throughout your food.)

Making sure they’re sufficiently hydrated, with either butter, olive oil, or even water at this point, you can cover them and walk away. Leave it on a just-below-medium heat and come back every ten minutes to stir. When you stir you really want to make sure you’re bringing the top ones down and vice-versa.

Test their softness every time you stir. You want to be able to mush them with your spatula. And keep in mind, for this, it’s better to overcook it slightly, than to undercook it. Also, they tend to be a bit translucent when done. It may be hard to see in the pic though.

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My roommate really likes it with cheese. But that’s not something I’d recommend throwing in the skillet–unless you feel like doing painfully dirty dishes.

One thing that’s super great about this is that you can make a whole bunch, and have awesome leftovers. When microwaved, they come out exactly the same as just off the stove.