Monday, July 26, 2010

Stuffed Peppers with Andouille Sausage and Rice

Sometimes I plan a dish around using up a given leftover, only to defeat the point by buying $25 worth of ingredients (okay, granted, $10 of that is probably for a bottle of wine—but how else are you supposed to make leftovers palatable?). However, tonight—said leftover being a pint of white rice from last night’s Chinese food—I opted for stuffed peppers, a dish that absorbs cheap ingredients and random scraps of leftovers like Lindsay Lohan’s liver absorbs toxins.

The ingredients in stuffed peppers can easily be switched up depending on what’s in the fridge, as well as multiplied to feed an army. They’re quick and easy, and pretty healthy (well, I’ll give you options besides the sausagey version), and they require just one bowl and one pan.

There are many ways to make stuffed peppers. Since my mom used to make them regularly when I was a kid (with ground lamb), my method is derived from hers. Considering the present heat wave, I opted to be cheesy and use the toaster oven—just make sure your peppers have sufficient clearance from its ceiling, lest fire and brimstone ensue.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Burger Time

Summer is burger season! But please don’t show up at a cookout with those hockey-puck-shaped premade patties, which have no flavor. The best burgers are made with a big old package of ground beef that has been seasoned and molded into patties by hand. The burger pictured was made in my grill pan, but might’ve been even better on an outdoor grill, if I had one.

We will now walk through the two stages of making a good burger: prepping the meat, and grilling the patty. You could also do your burgers in a skillet with a lid on the stovetop, and the same cooking tips will apply.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Kitchen Tip: Chopping Cherry Tomatoes

Here is a tip for easily halving cherry or grape tomatoes, a staple for summer salads—and also awesome in omelets, sandwiches, pasta, et al. These small tomatoes can be squirmy and annoying, but I’ve figured out a trick for cutting them easily. Doing so is worth it, because no matter what you’re eating, biting into a whole cherry/grape tomato and having it splurt all over you is annoying; plus, the flavor integrates more easily when they’re chopped. (Food freak though I am, I stand by the priority order of these reasons; do I need a dry-cleaning bill? No.)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Chili Cheese Pie

Among the joyful signs that summer has arrived in Brooklyn are the appearance of Mr. Softee trucks, Red Hook taco vendors, and stoop sales. It is a triumph to score a $50 hardcover coffee-table cookbook that was hardly, if ever, even cracked open, for a few bucks.

A few weekends ago at a BK stoop sale, I acquired Alfred Portale’s Gotham Bar and Grill Cookbook ($5), plus a vintage original 1984 edition of Martha Stewart’s Hors d’Oeuvres ($1), both utterly pristine (except for a super-endearing inscription in the Portale, “Merry Christmas '97, Handsome”--which led to a whole discussion speculating about whether one of the guys I bought it from had written it to the other and they were just clearing house, or if the current boyfriend had demanded that the cookbook inscribed by the ex be put out at the stoop sale. Being a romantic, I assumed the former and was crestfallen when someone to whom I was eagerly showing my finds pointed out the possibility of the latter. But I digress).

Flipping through the Martha book, I instantly fixated on a recipe for Corn Cups Filled With Beef Chili, and decided to adapt it into a full-size entree pie.

This recipe can be done in under an hour -- you just add the hot filling to the baked pie crust (which is REALLY EASY TO MAKE, I SWEAR), so you can make your filling as the crust bakes. (Of course I felt the need to top the whole thing with cheese, requiring a few more minutes of oven time, but that’s your call.)

This would be a great meal for a family with kids; it looks like a cross between hamburger, pizza, and pie, and feeds plenty of people with one big dish. It can include a variety of veggies and could be done with ground turkey or chicken, or just beans if your fam is vegetarian.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


ok, so i like a lot of stuff in my salad. i swear there is lettuce in there somewhere.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Ah, There's the (Spice) Rub

A spice rub is a wonderful thing to have on hand -- especially during grilling season -- so you can instantly season things in one fell swoop. It keeps pretty much forever, and all you do is take five minutes to mix up some of your favorite dried and ground spices in an empty spice jar or Tupperware container. Now would be an excellent time to do so, as you can then use it on the chicken, burgers, ribs, and what have you at your Fourth of July cookout/barbecue.

This is a combo I frequently use on roasted chicken thighs or drumsticks, pork chops or ribs, roasted potato wedges tossed in olive oil...the possibilities are endless. Right now, this rub is on six pounds of pork shoulder in my fridge, waiting to be smoked and then shredded into soft tacos garnished with chipotle slaw.

The recipe is phrased in terms of ratios rather than exact measurements so you can make as much as you think you’ll use. Maybe start with a couple tablespoons of each ingredient on the list right after the jump.