November 28, 2014

Pan-Fried Stuffing Fritters

Not all captions have to be funny. Shut up, you don't know.
Thanksgiving happens to be an awesome holiday. And before you start talking about the tragic eradication of an indigenous people, you should just shut up. Pretty much every holiday has a horrible story if you go back far enough. But I have exciting news! We live in the present! So quit the whining, and celebrate festivity, feasting, friends, family, and so on. This holiday is brought to you by the letter F. And if your F-filled holiday is anything like mine, you'll be have approximately twice as much food as you actually cooked in leftovers. I don't know how this works, but it does. So here's a fun idea for re-utilizing some of those leftovers. 


1 cup, Leftover Mashed Potatoes
2 TBSP Leftover Gravy
3 cups Leftover Stuffing
2 Eggs
A normal-sized person's pinch of salt
An unspecified amount of oil (either peanut, grapeseed, or avocado is what I'd use. Anything with a high smoke point that you can fry with)

The first thing you need to do is to lightly beat the eggs, just until the whites and the yolks start to come together. Socially acceptable utensils to use for this are a whisk, a fork, or leftover turkey bones. Unacceptable utensils are a finger (regardless of whose finger it is), or any other body part. Don't be gross. Stupid implements, not mentioned in the "unacceptable" category, because they're stupid, can include: spoons, funky hats, ennui, and holiday blues. 

Once your eggs know their place, stir in the gravy, mashed potatoes, and stuffing. It'll probably start getting pretty loose and making some weird gloppy sounds when you stir it, making you question whether you were hungry in the first place. This is normal.

Add oil to a frying pan until you've got about a 1/4 inch of it coating the bottom,  and then heat it up over medium-high heat. Once your oil is good and hot, take your disturbing glop, and pour it into 3 inch pancakes on your pan. Approximate. Don't break out a ruler. Well, you CAN, but just know that while you're carefully measuring the exact length of your fritters, your food is burning. Also, I hate you. 

I'm just happy that I'm not in this recipe. 
Let your fritters get nice and brown. Then flip them. You could use a spatula for this. Or you could do it by hand, like a man. Once you've proven your masculinity via hot-oil burns, brown the 2nd side, and remove the fritters from the pan.  Repeat this process until you're out of glop. You may have to add in more oil between batches. Now enjoy! Personally, I throw a little bit of leftover cranberry sauce on top of them when I eat them, but that's super optional. Unless you want to emulate me, in which case it's mandatory. Happy thanksgiving everybody!

November 25, 2014


Who are we? Ingredients! What do we want? To die for the
 greater good! What!? Screw that noise. I was thinking wifi.
Back when people were first discovering which dinosaurs were edible and which were jerks, they developed the "Mother Sauces," named after famed food pioneer Cornelius Mother, who stole most of his ideas from his crackpot father (Boldfaced lies. Probably.). The Bechamel is one of these mother sauces. It's sometimes called white sauce or cream sauce, but it's all the same. And it's awesome. It's rich and super adaptable, like Chamillionaire would be if the world was a more literal place.


2 TBSP Butter
2 TBSP Flour
2 cups Whole Milk
An unspecified amount of salt

This is a pretty simple recipe, actually. Just kidding! You need to use French words, like “Bechamel” (Pronounced “Surrender”) and “Roux” (Pronounced “Surrender”). But seriously, it’s not so bad. The first thing you’ve got to do is make a “Roux,” and the first part of THAT is melting your butter over medium heat. I prefer cutting mine into small chunks first, both because it helps it melt quickly and evenly, and because I feel like I’m dissecting the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. 

Once your butter is good and melted, add the flour SLOWLY, while stirring like a crazy person who thinks that the only way to express love or find happiness is to stir butter and flour. Constantly. Extra points if you really get into character, and take prescription meds that don’t belong to you. This will help ensure a smooth Roux, with no extraneous lumps or credit problems. Add in a pinch of salt (If you have abnormally sized fingers, try to envision how much salt would be in a normal person’s pinch. Then put that much salt in), and then let the butter/flour glop cook for a couple minutes. Stir occasionally, to prevent both the mixture from burning, and you from ever regaining feeling in your arm. The official party line is to cook it until "it smells nutty," which is actually pretty accurate, despite sounding like directions you'd get from a ridiculous hippy. For those not smelling their goop, keep it going until it darkens to a light brown color.

And there you have it! A Roux! Which is commonly used to thicken soups and sauces, which is fortunate, since this is ostensibly a recipe for a sauce. To complete the sauce, crank up your heat all the way to medium-high, and get your milk ready. Pour it in to your pan of Roux goo, SLOWLY, again channeling the spirit of your homeless Vietnam veteran with the hook for a hand who stirs like a beast. Yes, I gave the fictional construct I created in order to tell you to stir a backstory. What of it?

I can't figure out why they call me white sauce. It's a mystery.
Let your milk, butter, and flour mixture heat up, stirring it occasionally until it thickens. You don't want it boiling, just well heated, thick, and creamy. Once you've got that going on, add "salt to taste." That's what recipes say when they have no clue how much goddamn salt you're gonna need, because  everybody's taste buds are different, and also maybe you suck at measuring. Here's what you do, taste the sauce, add a little less salt than you think it needs, stir it, taste it again, and repeat until it tastes good to you. Or Until you run out of salt. Or sauce.

November 21, 2014

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie is one of those things that just takes me back to my childhood. Well, the good parts anyway. I want to officially state for the record that Chicken Pot Pie doesn't make me think of when I got Mono in the 4th grade. Though it probably will now. I should have stopped writing a couple sentences back. But we press on! I've made this recipe with entirely homemade ingredients before. I've also made it with store bought pie crusts, and a bag of frozen assorted vegetables. The homemade way tastes awesome, but the lazy way is easy. And it still tastes pretty damn good. Personally, this is one of my favorite dishes, and I want as much of it to exist in the world as possible. So I'm throwing a bone to you lazy people out there. I won't be forcing you to make pie crust, and if you want to you can replace all the vegetables with a bag of assorted frozen veggies. Preferably defrosted, unless you like cold, crunchy pot pie and frequent trips to the dentist.

1 chicken breast
2 pie crusts
2-3 cups of stock (vegetable or chicken stock work equally well. If you feel weirdly sadistic, you can try and take pleasure in cooking a chicken inside the stock you got from another chicken. I won't judge you.)
3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
2 TBSP flour
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper (alright, I've been thinking about it, and I might judge you about that chicken stock thing after all. Weirdo.)
1 small onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 rib celery, diced (For a long, rambling treatise on the origins of the term "rib of celery," see my Vegetable Stock recipe)
1/4 cup chopped green beans
1/4 cup peas
1/4 cup lima beans

This one's mine. Go make your own
The first step is to bake your chicken breast in an oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. It doesn't matter if it's not cooked all the way through, but it should be well on its way. One you take it out, you're gonna let it cool down so that you can shred it later.

While you've got your chicken cooking, heat up your oil in a frying pan over medium heat, and toss in your onion. Saute` it for about 5 minutes, and then toss in the rest of your vegetation, salt, and pepper. Also toss the idea that you're going to share the pot pie, because at this point it's gonna start smelling pretty damned good. Cook it for another 5 minutes, then add in the flour and cook it for another minute or so. At this point there shouldn't be any moisture in the pan.

Now you're gonna take your stock and start praying the the gods of sauce thickness. Pour in the stock, while stirring CONSTANTLY. Imagine that you're a POW who loves stirring, but hasn't been able to for 10 long years. And one day, you're finally rescued and reunited with your beloved spoon. Channel that emotion here. You may have noticed that there wasn't an exact measure for the stock. That's because lots of factors can affect the thickness of your sauce, including how high above sea level you are. So keep it going until it's slightly looser than you think it should be (No way am I rising to that bait), stir in the thyme, and turn off the flame. 

By now your chicken should have come out of the oven, and cooled down somewhat. So it's time to shred that sucker into chunks (using forks is acceptable if you're squeamish and delicate. Otherwise use your hands), and add it in to your mixture. 

Now the time has come to "dock" the pie crusts. Some people might tell you that this means creating small holes in the dough so that steam can escape as is cooks. But that sounds like some voodoo mumbo jumbo to me, so I say you stab your pie crust over and over with a fork to soothe your inner demons, and prevent pastry uprisings. Once your crust is sufficiently cowed, pour your pot pie mixture into it. Cover it with the second crust, and press it down around the edges to form a seal. Stick it in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until it looks golden brown and ridiculously awesome (Protip: neurotically open your oven to check on the doneness of your pot pie every 2 minutes to ensure even cooking, and prevent scabies)

Peppermint Schnapps

If a friend ever tells you these things go
together, punch them in the throat.
A couple of years ago, a friend suggested that I crush a whole bunch of candy canes with my mortar and pestle, and dissolve them in vodka. I, on occasion, am a fool, and so I agreed. After countless hours of playing a weirdly literal version of Candy Crush, I was rewarded with a drink that was pink, strong, and kind of toothpasty. I was also rewarded with a numb feeling in my arm. And with some possibly permanent globs of crushed candy embedded in my mortar and pestle, in my counter, and in my hair. But still, it gave me a starting point from which to form something awesome. Something sweet. Something that could cause friends to worry that I was becoming an alcoholic.


2 cups Sugar
1.5 cups Water
2 tsp Peppermint Extract
Most of 1 bottle Vodka (cheap stuff)

Optional extras to make life less crappy:

1 empty bottle
1 Funnel
Love, Food, and Shelter 

The first step to this recipe is to make a "simple syrup." Chances are, if you look at any recipe for any cocktail that's more involved than booze and juice (or Coke. Or whatever. Shut up.) it's got simple syrup in it. And, despite the fact that it's got simple in the name, which says to my brain that it'll be super annoying to make, it's not hard. Just take your water, boil it, add in your sugar, turn the fire off, and stir until it's all dissolved. If you've got particularly fire-resistant sugar, stir it over low heat until it finally gives in and dissolves away. And that's it! Simple syrup! Which is pretty much the only part of this recipe that a hypothetical trained monkey named Drunky Kong wouldn't be able to do. I'm betting he'd have trouble with the burners.

See, vodka is clear. So I added a candy cane to
give you some visual stimulation. But vodka
is corrosive. So the candy cane is...bleeding? 
Now, unless you like your alcohol to have no alcohol in it, like a communist, you're gonna want to let your simple syrup cool completely before doing anything else with it. Because alcohol evaporates at a low temperature and yadda yadda gypsy curses, and just do it. Once it's cool, have your trained monkey combine the rest of the ingredients. Add in the vodka slowly, and taste it until it's to your liking. Stir it all together, bottle it if you swing that way, and then keep it in the freezer for at least 12 hours. Though beware: if you used very little vodka, this stuff WILL actually freeze. So if you're kind of an alcohol wuss (by which I mean, a complete alcohol wuss), keep it in the fridge. 

Now just sit back and wait for a suitable occasion, such as a holiday, a birthday, or a Monday. Then crack open your homemade schnapps, and listen to your friends rave about how good it is while at the same time silently judging you with their eyes!

Vegetable Stock

Vegetables, mingling before jumping in the pool
Over the course of my life, I’ve encountered my fair share of vegetarians. And the ones who I haven’t managed to fend off with a wooden spoon have since become my friends. As a result, I find myself cooking a whole lot more vegetarian food than I’m comfortable with, but one thing that helps make it less stressful is having a good base. Because, as anybody who’s ever been in any band ever can tell you, good bass is hard to find. (Get it? It’s a bad joke. Get used to it, because there are more coming) So here is the recipe for the vegetable stock that I use in….well, in most things. If it’s got the word vegetarian, or the name of any vegetable (or is the same color or shape as a vegetable, or made inappropriate jokes about somebody who had a horrible car crash and ended up as a vegetable [Oh, relax. It’s an inappropriate joke made at a fictional person’s expense]), chances are I use this stock in it. Did we all lose track of that last sentence? It was a doozy. I use this vegetable stock a lot. That was the gist. There, now we’re all caught up. Happy? Me neither.


1 pound of Carrots
4 Ribs of Celery (for those unfamiliar, a “rib” of celery is the exact same thing as a stalk of celery. According to the most reliable unsourced quotes on the internet, originally the word “stalk” referred to the entire bunch of celery, and “rib” was each individual piece. But not anymore because language degrades, and nothing’s as good as it used to be, and get off my lawn you kids)
1 large onion
1 Parsnip
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Dried Thyme
1 tsp Black Pepper
2 TBSP Salt
An unspecified amount of water

The first step is to prepare your vegetables. This is not complicated. It involves peeling the carrots, parsnip and onion, and also washing the celery. If you don’t know how to peel vegetables, here’s a handy guide:

1)Figure it out. It’s not rocket science

Chop the carrots, celery, parsnip and onion into large chunks. You’re going to be straining them out later, so you want easily identifiable bits. Especially if you don’t own a strainer, and you remove the vegetables by plunging your hands into the burning hot stock, and grabbing vegetable chunks. You know, like a man. 
Everything was going great at the veggie
hot tub until somebody invited a ladle

Place your chopped veggie carcasses into a pot along with all of the spices (that’s the garlic powder, thyme, pepper, and salt for those of you who just skimmed down to this paragraph for no reason). Put water in the pot until it’s about an inch higher than any of the vegetables. Place it on a high flame, uncovered, until it boils. Then lock that sucker down with a lid, and reduce the heat down to low. Let it sit for 45 minutes. Taste it, making sure the salt and pepper are to your liking. Adjust it because it’ll always be wrong. Then let it cool, and remove your dead veggies. And that’s it! Now, assuming you’ve been cooking along as you read this, you’ve got some quality vegetable stock! And that’s useful stuff. Honestly, just because it tastes good and is easier, I almost always replace chicken stock with this stuff. That’s the same reason I drink heavily instead of seeing a therapist. Also, it’s cheaper. In both cases!