April 28, 2015


What kind of supermarket lets you pose the pasta in with the
cheese for pictures? The unwitting kind.
I'm gonna say it. I know you're all thinking it, so I may as well come clean. I'm not Italian. Not even a little. I don't even pronounce pasta and cheese names douchily. Well, maybe on the weekends. The point is, just because I'm not Italian, it doesn't mean that I can't know how to make some kickass lasagna! Probably. I mean, I'm not rolling out my own pasta here, so vaguely offensive Italian grandmother stereotypes from pretty much every TV show would probably hit me with a rolling pin for even calling this lasagna. And then they'd feed me some cannoli. Because apparently that's all that TV knows about italian culture.


1 lb Lasagna (Normally I'm all for pasta substitutions, but it's not a good idea here. For incredibly obvious reasons)
8 oz Ricotta Cheese
8 oz Mozzarella Cheese
4 oz Parmesan Cheese
4 oz Mascarpone Cheese
1 bag Spinach
2 TBSP Olive Oil
3 Eggs (I'm seriously getting tired just writing all of these damned ingredients.)
1 large can Crushed Tomatoes
1 pint Crimini Mushrooms
1 standard-issue Onion
1/2 cup of fresh Basil
2 cloves Garlic
1 tsp dried Oregano (Seriously, when will it stop?)
1/2 tsp ground Thyme
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
An unspecified amount of Salt (And that's it! Hooray! I need a nap)

Woo! As parenthetical me may have pointed out, that there is an intimidatingly large butt-load of ingredients. But it's worth it! Still, for the more timid, and/or lazy, and/or busy of you out there, I'll say this: If you use a store-bought pasta sauce, you can ignore all the ingredients listed after the Eggs. Also, thanks, because now the fictional grandmothers hate you even more than me. I hope you like vaguely racist cannoli.

Now then, the first step is to bring a large pot of water to a boil, and then add in a somewhat large person's pinch of salt. Then add in your lasagna noodles, a couple at a time. You want the water to be boiling every time you add in more noodles. Depending on your pot, you may have to wait for part of the noodle to soften, so that you can bend it and submerge the whole noodle. Cook your noodles, drain them, and toss them in 1 TBSP of your oil to keep them from sticking together while you put everything else together.

I know it's a lot of tedious steps. But you'll end up with
this lava lamp of cheese and awesome. Hang in there. 
Assuming you're not wussing out, and are actually making the sauce, let me be the first to congratulate you on your can-do attitude. Everybody else can go ahead and skip this paragraph, because it's just for sauce-making winners. Not sauce-buying participation-award-winners. Alright winners, it's time to dice those onions! Heat up the rest of your oil, and then sauté your onion in it along with an average sized person's pinch of salt. Now wash your mushrooms, and slice them. Technically, you could have done this before you even started cooking your onions. But you get bonus masculinity-points for racing the clock, and constantly having to make sure that nothing's going to catch on fire, all while brandishing a knife. After about 3 minutes, add your mushrooms in with the onions along with another, equally average, pinch of salt. Sauté another 2 minutes before adding in the Thyme, Oregano, Pepper, Basil, and the Garlic (Which, by the way, you've minced, again laughing in the face of kitchen fires and severed fingers, thereby asserting your dominance). Stir for 1 minute, and then add in the Crushed Tomatoes, along with an NBA-sized pinch of salt. Simmer the sauce for about 5 minutes, and then turn the heat off.

Crack your eggs into a bowl and lightly beat them. Think more kinky funtime, and less that scene from Roots (That's a pretty depressing link. So take this to balance it out). Then add in your Mascarpone, Parmesan, and half of your Ricotta. Stir until it all blends into a creamy, cheesy goo. Roughly rip up your Spinach, possibly channeling all of the resentment you've been carrying against salads. Add your cathartic Spinach in with your cheesy goo, and stir to combine. In a separate bowl, mix the rest of your Ricotta along with about 1/3 of your Mozzarella. Now it's time to assemble all of the disparate elements you've got clogging up your kitchen!

If uncontrollable salivating lasts longer than 4 hours,
consult a medical professional.
Add a layer of sauce on to the bottom of a baking dish. Then cover with a layer of pasta (This takes about 4 noodles for me. Use common sense and spacial reasoning to figure out how many noodles YOU should use). Then add another layer of sauce, followed by half of your spinach mixture. Then another layer of noodles, followed by all of your Mozzarella/Ricotta mix. Then another layer of noodles, more sauce, and the rest of your spinach glop. Then another layer of noodles, sauce, and the rest of your Mozzarella. Was that confusing enough? It's sauce, noodles, sauce, spinach glop, noodles, cheese glop, noodles, sauce, spinach glop, noodles, sauce, Mozzarella. Got it? Good. Then bake the whole thing at 350 for about 35 minutes, until the cheese on top starts to get slightly browned and awesome. Let it settle for the most difficult 10 minutes of your life, and then dig in to the deliciousness. You didn't wait, did you? Well, at least you've got some awesome lasagna to offer the paramedics when they get to your place.

April 21, 2015

Black Bean Dip

Everyone gives beans space when they chill with habanero
It's that magical time of year when, if you're lucky, you can watch baseball, basketball, and hockey in the same day. Ancient Greek philosophers referred to this as "sweet as hell." They also recommended that it be celebrated with the inviting over friends, and the eating a snack foods. Also togas. They were big into togas. But everybody knows that if you feed your friends sub-par snack foods, you will enrage the Sumerian god of pernicious sportsmanship, who will cause your teams to lose. Can you deal with that Pressure? Can you handle that responsibility? CAN YOU? I didn't think so. Fortunately, I'm here to help.


8 oz dried black beans (yes, the picture showed canned beans. I hadn't gone shopping yet. Sue me. Or don't. That would be better. Don't sue me.)
1 large onion
1.5 cups of...something. We'll get to that later (you might be wondering why I bothered to mention it if I'm not explaining it until later. I might be wondering the same thing. WE HAVE SO MUCH IN COMMON! We should totally open a bar together.)
1 TBSP and also 1 normal human's pinch of salt
2 tsp Olive Oil
1.5 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 smallish human's pinch of powdered habanero

The first step is to soak your beans for, approximately, ever. Seriously, cover them with 3 inches of water, and soak them for at least 12 hours. This is the "planning ahead" method of bean perpetration. Another option is the "oh crap, I was supposed to soak the beans" method of preparation, which I prefer. If that's more your style, cover your beans with the same amount of water, bring them to a hard boil over high heat, cover the pot, and turn the heat off. Let them sit for at least an hour.

Regardless of which method you subscribe to, drain and rinse your beans. Then cover them with water again, add in a tablespoon of salt, bring them to a boil, cover them, and turn the heat down to low. Simmer your beans for about 45 minutes. Why are we throwing out water and then adding in water? It builds character. I'll tell you when you're older. Because Santa's watching you. Shut up. (Some people say that the soaking process breaks down indigestible sugars present in the beans, some of which end up in the water used to soak them. But that sounds like primitive superstition, so I'm gonna say it's because of ghosts.) Once your ghost-infested beans are tender-ish, keep 1 and a half cups of the water you cooked them in, and strain the rest if it out. Set the beans, and the bean-water, aside (setting things aside is a common occurrence in recipes. Apparently recipe writers think that people have trouble knowing not to put every last ingredient directly in front of them at all times.)

Ok, now that the beans are finally subdued, let's deal with the rest of this recipe. Dice your onion and sauté it in your olive oil with a pinch of salt over medium heat. Let them cook for about 5 minutes, until they get some color, but aren't too cooked, like you on the first night of a caribbean vacation. Add in your cumin, garlic, pepper, habanero, and beans, and sauté another minute or two. Add in the bean-water, bring it to a boil, turn the heat down, and simmer those beans another 10-15 minutes.
Phalanx of tortilla chips not included

Now comes the fun part, and by "fun," I mean "dammit, I JUST got feeling back into my arm after that latke recipe from DECEMBER, and now I have to deal with THIS crap?" Take a spoon, and start smash smash smashing the beans against the side of the pot, occasionally stirring and scraping down the sides. Keep going until about 3/4 of the beans have been smushed (Yes, you could technically use a food processor. But the texture would be off. And also, it's a wimpy alternative. And also I still don't have one). And that's it! Black bean dip! Eat it hot, cold, or somewhere in between, with your friends, or sad and alone. It'll still taste awesome.

April 14, 2015

Grilled Cheese

Am I the only one who thinks it looks like the bread's chilling
with cheese arm candy, and a butter bodygaurd? Yes. I am.
Have you ever noticed that you suck? Seriously, think about it. Chances are that at some point in your life, your parents made you a grilled cheese sandwich. And it was fantastic. It was buttery, crunchy, melty, cheesy, and utterly delicious awesomeness. It made you feel like even though you ripped your pants in front of the whole class at recess and everybody was laughing and you and you could just DIE, somehow everything would be OK. And chances are that some time around college, possibly because you were risking acute ramen poisoning, you decided to make some cheese sandwiches for yourself. And chances are you took some cheese, put it on some bread, and put it in the microwave. Which is why you suck.


2 thick slices of Challah Bread (Challah is a traditional Jewish bread that is usually eaten on the Sabbath. It's also crazy good for making things like french toast or grilled cheese. It can be found in a surprisingly large number of stores, but not everywhere. If you can't get it, you can replace it with whatever inferior bread you like. Or you can look up a recipe on the internet and just make some. You know, like a man.)
1.5 TBSP Salted Butter 
2 oz Fontina Cheese
1 oz Pepper Jack Cheese

Before we get started, yes I know that as a kid you likely didn't use fancy breads or cheeses. But in my defense, shut up. First of all, just because you didn't have access to these ingredients as a kid, it doesn't mean that you wouldn't have loved a sandwich made from them. Secondly, we're not kids anymore (I assume. I don't know who reads this thing). The point is, we're making something awesome, that evokes all of the best memories of the childhood sandwiches we took for granted, but that's still satisfying to our vaguely adult selves.

The first thing to do is melt your butter in a pan, over medium heat. You don't want the pan too hot for this thing, otherwise the bread will burn before the cheese melts, and you'll lose face in front of your dojo. Once your butter is nice and heated, add in your bread, and let it cook for about a minute, until the face-down side gets crispy and delicious looking. If you're not salivating, you're doing it wrong. Scratch that. If you're not salivating, you have a medical issue and should call a doctor. If you're not salivating more than you usually do, you're making the sandwich wrong.

For best results, weep openly at the deliciousness while eating
Flip one piece of bread, and layer the cheese on top of it. Then take your second piece of bread, and put the crispy awesome delicious side down on top of the cheese. Let's be clear, because this is important. To me. Which means you have to read it whether you like it or not. You now have a sandwich, with cheese smushed between the cooked sides of two pieces of bread. After about 45 seconds, or when it's crispy and awesome, flip the entire honkin' sandwich over. Cook it another 45 seconds or so, until the previously mentioned awesomeness is evident on both sides. By this point the cheese in the middle should all be melted. If, for whatever reason (which is almost definitely not a nice way of saying that somewhere along the way you screwed something up) your cheese isn't fully melted, keep flipping your sandwich in the pan every couple seconds, to help heat it up without risking it burning. And that's all there is to it! Delicious, homemade, awesome grilled cheese, and hopefully the first step on your road of redemption. From sucking.

April 7, 2015

Fried Matzah (Matzah Brei)

It feels nice to be back in civilization, where I can get
Vidalia onions. When do I have to go back to LA again?
Passover. It's a magical time of year when Jews celebrate having been redeemed from bondage (not the fun kind), by severely limiting what they can do or eat for a week. Matzah abounds, as do jokes about how terrible and/or constipation-inducing matzah is. But matzah doesn't have to be so sad and nauseating. With a little bit of work and a whole lot of butter, we can make these flat tasteless crackers into something awesome. Hopefully.


12 standard sheets of Matzah
4 whole Eggs
1/2 of an Onion
3.5 TBSP Butter
1 tsp and one human pinch of Salt
1/4 tsp Black Pepper

The first step is to be either Jewish enough, or curious enough, for this awesome recipe to be relevant for you. Once you take care of that, it's time to crush some matzah. And when I say "crush," I mean "take it in your hands, place it over a colander, and squeeze until it (the matzah) is in smallish bits, and you have a deep feeling of satisfaction. Like you're a mighty hunter who just brought down a stag, and not some schlub caressing his matzah.

The next step is to beat your eggs until they lose all hope that this time will be different and you've changed. Once you see the joy for life go out of their little egg eyes, add in a teaspoon of the Salt and all of the Pepper, and stir to combine. Take half a tablespoon of Butter, and melt it over medium-high heat. Dice your onion and add it in to your hot butter. Add in an average human's pinch of salt, and sauté for about 6 minutes, until the onion starts to brown. Turn the heat off, and add your buttery onions in with your matzah. Combine with the salty peppery eggs, and mush it all into a kind of gross matzah glop.

Heat 1.5 tablespoons of your butter over medium-high heat in a 10-inch skillet. Or in a differently sized skillet, because maybe you either don't have a 10-inch one, or you're needlessly rebellious and like having an awkward number of batches for your fried matzah. Add in half of your glop, and press it down into a thick pancake. You should hear a nice sizzle when you do this. If you don't hear it, either your butter is too cool, you're suffering from Passover Deafness which is totally a thing I didn't just make up, or you put your glop in the wrong pan. Get your crap together, and make it happen. Let it cook on one side for about 5 minutes, until is gets crispy, brown, and awesome.

Not pictured: the hangover that this is curing
Now comes the flipping, which is more complicated than it seems. You've got a giant, dense, partially cooked glob of matzah gunk. You can try to just flip it like a pancake. Especially if you like ugly broken foodstuffs and grease burns. Or you can give up on being one of the cool kids, cut it into 4 sad surrender-bits, and flip each of them individually while weeping over your lost self-respect. I'm partial to sliding the entire thing out of the pan and on to a plate, and the flipping that plate over on to the pan. Ideally without breaking the plate and getting plate shards in your food, but you win some and you lose some. Regardless of the relative sadness or awesomeness of your flipping method, cook it another 5-ish minutes, until your b-side is equally awesome, crispy, and brown. Repeat the whole process with the rest of your butter and glop, and enjoy! For 8 days! 8. Long. Days.