Cooking class in absentia

As I mull over what dishes I ate on my recent Portugal vacation — and there were so many and such good food — that I can make in my Dutch oven, I thought I’d share a recipe from an exotic vacation that I didn’t get to go on. So we can be in the same boat for this week.

The best part about not getting to go on an international trip with my family is that they’ll bring back and share the recipes from their cooking class.

So, when my mom got back from her eastern European vacation last year, I got a PDF of the Hungarian dinner they had one night. Perfect since I’ve always wanted to make chicken paprikash.

Chicken paprikash ingredients.

I’d say it was almost like being there … but obviously not. Still, it was great to be able to try authentic food without leaving the house (other than to get groceries). Mom even was kind enough to buy extra paprika and send me some, so I had plenty on hand for the paprikash and an extra side dish (the Hungarian salsa!) I decided to make.

The paprikash was a delight. It was a little too saucy for me, but the chicken was slightly spicy and extra creamy, as I expected and hoped, and the really ugly dumplings I made based on the recipe to go with the chicken turned out good if incredibly ugly.

All in all, it was a good substitute for being there and a chance to enjoy some authentic Hungarian food without a lot of effort or the airfare. Now, you can too.

So much paprika (and sour cream). So good.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

For the paprikash

  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 4 T. oil
  • 4 t. salt (I probably used less!)
  • 1 t. ground pepper (I probably used more!)
  • 5 t. paprika powder (I split the mixture between smoky and spicy, but you do you)
  • ~10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (the recipe calls for 6 bone-in legs but I like boneless)
  • 12 oz. sour cream
  • 1 T. flour
  • Water

For the nokedli (dumplings)

(or use egg noodles or similar if feeling lazy)

  • ~1 c. flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 t. Salt
  • Water, as necessary (if mixture is dry)

Directions

Heat the oil in the Dutch oven over medium heat, add the onions, and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Take off heat and add salt, pepper, and paprika. Add about ½ c. water to keep the powder from burning. Place mixture back on heat, add the chicken, and pour water on top until just covered. Cover and cook on medium heat for about 1 hour until the chicken is cooked through (can probably check earlier if using boneless — I think I did about 35 minutes). Meanwhile, mix the flour and sour cream together.

Once the chicken is cooked through, stir in the sour cream mixture. Bring to a boil again.

Meanwhile, prepare the dumplings by bringing a separate pot of water to a boil. In a medium bowl, mix together the eggs, flour, and salt, and adding water if necessary until a hard dough forms. Tear dough pieces and place in the boiling water, removing pieces as they float and are cooked through. Serve the chicken (and the sauce) with the nokedli, and enjoy!

Be a doll and make this dal ASAP

Some years ago, my sweetie got this delightful cookbook called “Flavors of India” that includes a ton of delicious, simple, and vegetarian Indian dishes. It was a household staple for years, particularly because it made healthy *and* cheap food that lasted for days.

Then, it got destroyed.

Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, it wasn’t lost forever. My sweetie got another copy and we’ve continued to use that one (and keep it safe) for many more years now, and it’s still as much of a treasure.

Dal-dhokali ingredients.

One of my favorites — but one I hadn’t yet made myself — is dal-dhokali, or toor dal (lentils) with chick-pea flour dumplings. It’s also, dare I say, vegan, so it’s mostly healthy (there’s some oil in the dumplings) but still very flavorful.

It’s not necessarily a quick weeknight meal but it is a lot of passive time so put on a movie favorite or catch up on your podcasts while you make this simple dish.

It looks like sludge, it tastes like awesome.

Here’s what I did, following the recipe other than increasing the spice amounts:

Ingredients

For the dal

  • 1 c. toor dal (split pigeon peas), or any dried split pea or lentil if toor dal is hard to find in your area
  • 10 c. water (yes, it sounds like a lot, but it’s works)
  • 1 ½ t. salt
  • 1 t. turmeric
  • 1 t. coriander powder
  • 1 t. cumin
  • ½ T. grated ginger
  • 1 T. tamarind concentrate, or if it’s hard to find in your area, the cookbook suggests using a tablespoon of lemon juice and a teaspoon of sugar in its pace (which given its tart/sour flavor, it seems appropriate)
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 T. oil
  • 1 T. black mustard seeds
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2 dried hot peppers, I used chile de arbol
  • Cooked rice, for serving

For the dumplings

  • ¼ c. chick pea flour (besan)
  • ¼ c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 T. oil, plus more for mixing
  • ¼ t. salt
  • 2 pinches cayenne
  • 5 to 7 t. water, more as needed to make dough

Directions

Wash and rinse the dal, rubbing it in your hands to remove the oily coating, while bringing the Dutch oven full of the 10 c. water to a boil with the salt.

Once the water is boiling, add the dal and return to a boil over high heat. Reduce to medium-high, and cook the dal uncovered for 10 minutes. Then, reduce heat and cook, covered, for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, make the dumplings. Mix together the two flours with your hands; add the salt, cayenne, and vegetable oil. Crumble the mixture together in your hands. Add 5 t. of water and continue to mix with your hands or a fork until a dough begins to form, adding more water a teaspoon at a time as necessary. Imagine making a pie crust and get it to that consistency. Once ready, set aside.

After the 30 minutes has passed, add the spices, ginger, and tamarind (or substitute) to the dal mixture, and simmer another 10 minutes, uncovered, while you roll out the dumpling dough.

To ready the dough, use oil instead of flour to keep the mixture from sticking. Add a small amount to your hands and knead for a few minutes in your hands until smooth. Add small amounts of oil to the rolling surface and rolling pin, and begin to roll out the dough, again, like a pie crust. Roll until thin like a plate (how the cookbook describes it), about ¼ inch. Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut into 1 inch squares.

Add the dough a few at a time, to ensure they do not stick together, and stir to separate.

Add the tomato, and continue to simmer while preparing the final spice addition.

In a small saucepan or frying pan, heat a tablespoon of oil, and add the mustard seeds, whole cloves, and hot pepper (broken into pieces). As the oil heats, the mustard seeds will pop. Once they stop popping, about 1 to 2 minutes later, remove from heat, and dump the contents (with the oil) to the Dutch oven.

Stir the dal mixture together a few more times, and then cover the Dutch oven once more, and cook for another 20 minutes on low heat, stirring about every 5 minutes so that the dumplings do not stick. Once the dumplings are softened, serve with rice, and enjoy!

Chicken curry a perfect weeknight dinner

Like many of my recipes, this one was given to me by my mother, has been among my staples for years, and has been endlessly adapted until the original recipe is more of a suggestion than a specific direction.

So, I figured this year was the perfect time to write out what I actually do to make chicken curry versus what the recipe I use calls for.

Chicken (and vegetable) curry ingredients.

I started adapting this one from the start out of necessity. I was poor and prefer chicken breasts, but the original calls for 3 pounds of chicken meat. Maybe I could have afforded that if I bought a whole chicken but as it was, I wanted to make a meal that lasted for days, and I was more likely to eat a boneless dinner.

So, I halved the amount of meat and then substituted in vegetables.

Now that I can afford 3 pounds of meat, it still seems excessive. So, I still make it with a mix of meat and vegetables. My list of vegetables changes but I like cauliflower and carrots with curry, even though they’re not usually my favorites. Peas and peppers rounded out the list this time, but anything works.

I also probably end up adding more than 1 ½ lbs. of vegetables because I don’t quite measure what goes in. I just eyeball it, including in the suggested amounts below.

Otherwise, I tweak a few other things from “The Curry Book” recipe my mom Xeroxed many years ago for me to enjoy.

So much curry goodness.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 4 T. unsalted butter (or ghee, if you have on hand)
  • 1 medium onion, halved and sliced
  • 3 T. minced ginger
  • 1 T. minced garlic
  • 1 ½ lb. chicken breast, chopped into bite-size chunks
  • 2 c. cauliflower, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 c. sugar snap peas (or just frozen peas)
  • 3 T. curry powder
  • ½ T. ground cumin
  • 2 t. ground coriander
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • ⅔ c. plain yogurt
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • Scallions, optional for serving
  • Cilantro, optional for serving

Directions

Heat the Dutch oven on the stove over medium heat, and add the butter. Add the onion, cauliflower, carrot, and bell pepper, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes until just starting to soften. Add the chicken and cook until mostly cooked through. Add peas, ginger, and garlic and cook another minute.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the curry powder, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, yogurt, and lemon juice, and stir until well mixed. Scrape the yogurt mixture into the Dutch oven, and toss to combine.

Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook stirring occasionally, for about 30 to 35 minutes until chicken is cooked through and the flavor has combined. Serve on rice, with scallions or cilantro if desired, and enjoy!

 

Beer + bacon = bueno beans

We’ve had a bag of dried pinto beans sitting on a shelf for a few months, which neither of us now remembers why we bought it.

So, when I thought about making Mexican rice, I figured I may as well come up with a recipe for using those pinto beans.

Borracho beans recipe.

Homemade bean and rice burritos with some extra cotija we also had lying around sounded like a perfect dinner to me.

I just needed the beans recipe. Thankfully, Homesick Texan was right there with three ways to make pinto beans, each building on the recipe before it. Because I always do too much, I of course, opted for the third one that had all the flavors and ingredients, and took the most time.

These beans were not meant to be made for a casual weeknight dinner, but the leftovers definitely will, and have.

I mostly followed the recipe but I decided against buying two different kinds of pork and met in the middle with thick-cut bacon. I also reduced the jalapenos and replaced one with a poblano to keep the spiciness to medium (It probably would have been fine but my way was good for me). I also made an error in recipe-reading so an adequate substitute is provided.

Best beans ever.

Here’s what I did, based on the borracho beans recipe from Homesick Texan:

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. dry pinto beans, soaked overnight
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 lb. thick-cut bacon, divided (I used Beeler’s)
  • ¼ c. jalapeno pickle juice
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes, with the juices (I forgot this ingredient so substituted ½ pint cherry tomatoes and 1 c. vegetable broth)
  • 2 jalapenos, seeded, stemmed, and roughly chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded, stemmed, and roughly chopped
  • 2 chipotles in adobo, chopped
  • 1 c. cilantro
  • 1 (12 oz.) bottle Modelo Negro or similar dark beer

Directions

Chop up all but 4 strips of (uncooked) bacon and add to a Dutch oven on medium heat. Add onions, garlic, and salt, as desired. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Drain the beans and add them to the pot with water to cover by about 2 inches. Bring the pot to a boil.

Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for about an hour. (At about a half-hour, I covered partially as I had added too much water, so check water levels and adjust as necessary.)

Meanwhile, cook remaining 4 pieces of bacon. Add the cooked bacon pieces to a blender with tomatoes (or tomatoes and broth, as it were), jalapenos, poblano, chipotles, and cilantro. Blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Once beans are mostly cooked through, after an hour, add the blended mixture to the pot.

Cook another 20 minutes, covered or uncovered as appropriate to adjust liquid level to your choosing. Add beer about 10 minutes before ready; add jalapeno pickle juices, about 5 minutes before ready, and simmer uncovered.

Let cool slightly and enjoy with more beer, and perhaps some Mexican rice.

Making homemade bread even better

Like Oprah, I love bread.

I love it in all its forms, but one of my favorites is the one I made earlier this year, since it’s so simple and yet so tasty. I also love the store-bought jalapeno-cheddar bread, but I’d never thought to make it myself.

Then, I came across a recipe from 50 Campfires that pretty much combined the two. It basically took the recipe I used earlier this year, and then just added jalapenos and cheddar.

I forgot to snap a pic before I started, but picture the ingredients from my earlier bread recipe and then picture them mostly combined to look like this floury dough ball.

I decided to give it a shot.

My only concern as I was making it was the sheer amount of jalapenos. I like spicy but I have my limits, and this bread includes two in the dough (and rises for nearly 24 hours with them in it) and then one on top.

Mercifully, if you follow the instructions to remove the seeds from the two that go in the dough and just keep them for the one on top, it’s not overly spicy. There’s a little kick from the top slices but otherwise, it’s pretty mild. I’m sure the yeast and cheese help.

It’s more effort than store-bought but even better, and considering how quickly this stuff disappeared, I’ll be making it again (and again).

The cutest and tastiest little ball of bread ever.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 t. active dry yeast
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 c. grated sharp cheddar, divided (I didn’t really measure but this is a good reference amount)
  • 3 jalapeno peppers, divided
  • 1 ½ c. warm water

Directions

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and yeast. Add in all but 4 T. of the grated cheddar cheese. Seed and chop two of the jalapenos, and add into the flour mix. Stir to combine all.

Add the water, and stir until a shaggy, sticky dough forms (a dough scraper works really well for this).

Cover the bowl, preferably with plastic wrap (grease it if you expect it to rise to touch the wrap). Let the dough rise in a cool, dry place (not the refrigerator) for 12 to 24 hours.

Heat oven to 450 degrees.

Place the Dutch oven in the oven, covered, for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, transfer the dough to a heavily floured surface and shape it into a rounded loaf, but don’t knead it.

When the Dutch oven is ready, carefully remove from oven and remove lid. Carefully place the dough inside, and cover again. Bake covered for 30 minutes.

Carefully remove from oven, and remove lid. Sprinkle the top of the loaf with the remaining cheddar, and the sliced jalapeno (with seeds, if desired) and set slices on top. Bake uncovered for another 10 to 15 minutes until the bread and cheese are golden brown.

Carefully remove loaf from the Dutch oven, place on a rack to cool (for at least an hour before slicing), and enjoy!

I made ghurma aloo and you can too

There’s nothing like traveling for a weekend to make me crave home-cooked, healthy fare. A weekend of eating fast food had me suddenly wishing for a big bowlful of vegetables.

But exhaustion from sleeping in unfamiliar environs and a late-night concert also meant I wanted something easy and stress-free.

Thankfully, I remembered the ghurma aloo recipe I came across sometime last year. Aloo is apparently Persian for potato, and ghurma is stew, so it’s definitely simple and easy with few ingredients.

Ghurma aloo ingredients.

However, I wanted a little more than potatoes — and tomatoes, onions, and spices. So, I added some peas and chickpeas, and skimped on a few of the potatoes. I served it over rice, and in all, it was ready in about the time it took to watch a “Psych” episode.

Aside from simple, it’s also just delicious.

If you cook Middle Eastern food at all, you’ll also have most of the spices on hand. The least likely is cumin seeds but we’ve kept those in our house for years. The others are turmeric, cayenne, and cilantro; plus, a little salt (and I threw in pepper).

It’s amazing what a handful of spices and time can do to vegetables.

So many wonderful veggies!

Here’s what I did, adapting a recipe on Epicurious:

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. potatoes, cut into ½ inch cubes (I used Yukon Gold but any will work)
  • 2 T. canola oil
  • 2 T. cumin seeds
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 t. ground turmeric
  • 1 t. salt
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Cayenne, to taste (I used about 2 t. and it was surprisingly spicy for my moderate palate)
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas
  • 1 to 1 ½ c. frozen peas
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped, to taste
  • Rice for serving, optional

Directions

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds and cook until they turn reddish brown, about 10 seconds. Add the potatoes, onion, and turmeric, and fry for about 5 minutes, until the onions and potatoes are lightly browned, stirring frequently.

Add the salt, pepper, and cayenne, and give it another quick stir to mix together. Add the water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Add the chickpeas, peas, and tomatoes, and cook covered for another 5 minutes until the peas are cooked through. Add the cilantro, and give the mixture another stir. Mash the potatoes slightly, if desired, and enjoy with rice!

Get full ahead of Fat Tuesday

Lent is coming. If you practice that sort of thing.

I don’t, but at this time of year, this relapsed Catholic still can’t help but think of the many holidays and sacrifices (that I’m not making) ahead. But mostly, I think of the Mardi Gras celebrations to come in New Orleans.

Then, I think of the the cajun food that I can enjoy.

Most years, when it’s still cold and miserable in Iowa, I make a hearty gumbo. But I wanted to try something different this year. So, I asked Mom for her popular jambalaya recipe.

Jambalaya ingredients

I can see why it’s so beloved amongst her friend group — it is literally full to the brim with meats and flavors. But like with the cassoulet I made earlier this year, I could not rationalize eating 6 pounds of meat, so I cut some back from her recipe (that seems to come from the USA Cookbook).

The ingredients I used were the same, but my amounts varied quite a bit, except in the rice to broth amounts so I could ensure I didn’t end up with jambalaya soup or dried rice.

It worked out perfectly, even though I made it on a weeknight. There was relatively little swearing, and I’m looking forward to the leftovers as it was still filled to the brim.

Hopefully, the Dutch oven will be empty before Fat Tuesday, which is March 5 this year. (Note: This is a joke. I would not keep food around that long.)

Brimful of jambalaya in the Dutch oven. Nom noms.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • ½ c. vegetable oil
  • 1 lb. andouille sausage, cut into ½ inch slices
  • 1 lb. chicken breast, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 3 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (I used more)
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped (I used one red and one green)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 t. dried basil (I used more)
  • ¼ t. cayenne (ha, I used way more, try 2 t.)
  • 2 c. long grain rice
  • 4 ½ c. chicken or vegetable broth, preferably homemade
  • 1 (14 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
  • 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • ¾ c. chopped fresh parsley, preferably flat-leaf
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium to medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook until browned, about 10 minutes. Use slotted spoon to remove and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate or bowl. Add the chicken pieces, and cook until just cooked through, about 5 to 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove and transfer to the same plate or bowl as the sausage.

Add the onions to the to the Dutch oven, and cook until softened and translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add in the garlic, celery, bell peppers, bay leaves, cayenne, and basil. Cook for another 5 minutes.

Add the (uncooked rice) and cook, stirring for about 5 minutes. Add the broth, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and add back in the meat. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and then cook covered for about 20 to 25 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Add in the shrimp, and parsley, and cook, covered, for another 5 or so minutes, until the shrimp is cooked through. Adjust the seasons, as necessary, and enjoy!

That’s a spicy meatball!

My family knows me well as among Christmas gifts were cooking equipment and utensils. My brother gifted me brand new sheet pans, for which he felt bad that it came at the end of my sheet pan year.

However, I plan to keep making sheet pan recipes even if I’m not blogging about them. And anyway, it turns out I can keep blogging about them as this week’s recipe utilizes both a sheet pan and a Dutch oven and both are vital to the meal coming together.

I have had this curried meatball recipe from Epicurious on my to-make list for a couple years but just hadn’t gotten around to it. As I was looking for recipes for this year, I was delighted to note that I finally had an excuse to get around to it.

Curried meatballs ingredients.

And now I’m kicking myself for waiting so long. It was a bit of a pain in the ass with all the steps, but honestly, worth it. The spicy meatballs complement the smoky curried sauce and make for a wonderful mix of flavors.

It also makes quite a bit so you can impress friends by sharing or sacrifice one night for several days of yummy leftovers.

That’s so spicy and saucy, and noms.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

For meatballs

  • Olive oil
  • 1 bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 jalapenos, halved and seeds removed if desired
  • 6 garlic cloves (I used more)
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped (I used a heaping T from a jar of minced ginger)
  • 1 T. lime juice (we were out of lemon)
  • 1 T. garam masala
  • 1 t. ground coriander
  • ½ t. ground cumin
  • ½ t. cayenne pepper
  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 3 T. plain yogurt
  • 2 t. salt

For sauce

  • ¼ c. olive oil
  • 4 medium onions, chopped
  • 10 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 ½-inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped (I used 1 ½ heaping T from my jar of ginger)
  • 3 dried chiles de arbol
  • 3 t. curry powder
  • 4 t. ground cumin
  • 4 t. ground turmeric
  • 3 t. ground coriander
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 1 (14.5 oz. can) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 T. lime juice
  • ½ t. Cayenne pepper
  • Cilantro for serving (optional) (I forgot it, sadly)
  • ¼ c. yogurt (optional) (I added just to get rid of the remaining amount in my small container)

Directions

For meatballs

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray rimmed sheet pan with oil, and set aside.

Puree the scallions, jalapenos, garlic, ginger, juice, and spices in a blender until smooth. Blend egg in a large bowl, and add the puree mix. Add the yogurt, beef, and salt. Mix with your hands until well blended. Roll into 24 balls, of about golf ball size, and place them on the oiled sheet pan about 1 inch apart. Spray with a little more oil. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until cooked through.

For the sauce

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the onions, garlic, ginger, and cook, stirring often, until the onions are starting to brown. Stir in the chiles, spices (except cayenne), and continue to cook for about another 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, and bring to a boil. Add the bay leaf and 2 c. water, and return to a boil. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes.

Let cool slightly, and then transfer the sauce to a blender, blending until smooth. Transfer the sauce mixture back into the pot. Stir in the remaining yogurt, lime juice, and cayenne, and taste, adding more seasoning if needed.

To finish

Add the meatballs into the sauce, and bring to a simmer. Cook the mixture until the meatballs are heated through, and flavors meld a little, about 10 to 15 minutes. Serve with rice and cilantro, if desired, and enjoy!

Happy birthday hot wings

It’s my birthday and I’ll make hot wings if I want to.

OK, my birthday was on Tuesday, and OK, I made the wings last weekend for a pre-planned get-together. BUT they were my little treat to myself, that something extra I would normally say is too much time and effort, but it’s my birthday, dammit, and I wanted to treat myself.

I made the sauces separately, so no ingredients photo this week.

Most people may not think of wings as their treat to themselves, but I’ve always had different birthday wishes. Growing up I remember two birthday foodie requests; we’d either go out for Chinese food, or I’d want Mom’s porcupine meatballs (they had rice in them, and weren’t actually spiky, but that was the name). So, hot wings suited me just fine.

Also, I had found two different recipes — one spicy, one mild — from Homesick Texan that I wanted to try, and figured this was as good of a time as any to try out her two recipes. Then, I realized that though they both used wingettes and drummettes, the recipes were vastly different.

So, I meshed them together. Look, it may have been my birthday, but I am not messing around with different oven temperatures and different cooking times, and methods.

And, whew, they both turned out perfectly. I was quite partial to the spicier ones that registered at about a 6 on my scale of spicy, but the milder creamy salsa verde ones also tasted just lovely, and worked well as a sauce to complement either variety.

These may be best served for a crowd if you make both, or pick your favorite.

Speaking of picking your favorite — segues are for amateurs, as my lovely father says — you still have time to VOTE. Please do so. Pick your favorite. Pick the one who’s not the one who you hate. Pick the person who will make it easier for you to vote (*nudge*). But mostly, just get out there and make your voice heard.

Finished, plated product. The spicy ones are in the back but this photo had me drooling for the milder ones.

And now, here’s what I did, adapting the cooking method but little else saucewise, from Homesick Texan’s recipe:

Ingredients

For the wings:

  • 2 lbs. wingettes and drummettes mix (AKA wings from here on out)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • One of the two sauce mixes, below, divided

Sauce 1 Spicy ingredients:

  • 10 chiles de arbol, stemmed and seeded (I didn’t seed much)
  • 6 guajillo chiles or other milder chiles (I used dried Hatch peppers we had on hand, but ancho are easy to find), seeded and stemmed (I didn’t seed much)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 t. ground cumin
  • 1 t. oregano
  • ¼ t. ground allspice
  • ¾ c. water, and more as needed
  • 1 T. vegetable oil
  • ½ c. white vinegar, plus more as needed
  • Salt, to taste

Sauce 2 Milder ingredients:

  • 2 jalapenos, cut in half lengthwise and seeded (I did seed these)
  • 4-5 tomatillos (I used 5 because they were smaller), husked and cut in half
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ½ to 1 c. cilantro
  • ½ c. sour cream
  • ¼ c. mayonnaise
  • 1 t. ground cumin
  • 1 t. cayenne

Directions

Sauce 1 Spicy:

Place both types of chiles in a large bowl of boiling water, and let sit for 30 minutes. Rinse the peppers well, and place in blender. Add the garlic, spices, and water. Blend for 5 minutes until smooth (it seems like a lot, but you want it to be thin, not chunky). Then, heat the oil in a skillet and add the sauce mixture. Cook for 5 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and add the vinegar. Add more vinegar or water until the sauce reaches desired thickness.

Sauce 2 Milder:

Place the jalapenos, tomatillos, and garlic in a medium saucepan. Cover with water, bring to a boil, and then simmer for 7 to 10 minutes until the tomatillos have darkened and softened. Use a slotted spoon to remove the items from the boiling water, and place them in a blender. Add the cilantro, and blend until smooth, adding water if necessary.

Scrape the mixture into a large bowl, and add the sour cream, mayonnaise, and spices. Stir until combined.

For the wings:

Salt and pepper the chicken wings to taste. Place wings in a gallon-sized plastic bag or other large Tupperware. Add ½ c. of the sauce, mix well, and marinate for 1 to 2 hours.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees, and line a large rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place the marinated wings on the sheet pan, and bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and brush with another ¼ c. of the sauce on both sides of the wings, and return to oven with them turned so that the formerly top side is now on the bottom. Bake for another 20 to 25 minutes until cooked through and the wings seem mostly dried.

Let cool slightly and serve with the remaining sauce on the side, and enjoy!

Spicy, saucy salmon

If there’s one thing that everyone knows goes with Buffalo sauce, it’s salmon.

OK, wait, that’s not right. And yet, oh my goodness, the combination deserves to be in the same realm as chicken wings. That’s a daring statement, and even I won’t pretend that Buffalo chicken wings can be replaced.

But if you like spicy sauce and something different, this is the recipe for you.

Buffalo salmon ingredients.

If you are skeptical, I understand. I was once among you. My sweetie suggested it several years ago, and I said only I was willing to try it. Salmon was one of the few fish I enjoyed (at the time), and I love Buffalo sauce so much I made it into a deviled egg recipe.

When I took my first bite, though, I was sold. It’s been a staple ever since, and even something I’ve made to impress my foodie family.

Besides tasting great, it’s a simple recipe: few ingredients, hard to mess up, and frankly, the veggies I added could have been anything that you have on hand or suits your tastes. I chose green beans — to ring out the summer season — and a bell pepper that was a leftover garden item from a friend. I didn’t even add anything to them, just the oil the covered the pan.

I served it alongside a pre-made mix of rice and grains to make it a fuller meal, but again, the salmon is the real star so serve it with what seems to fit and whatever makes you happy.

Flaky, spicy, yummy.

Here’s what I did, following a long ago Gourmet recipe:

Ingredients

  • 4 salmon fillets, preferably with skin on
  • 5 T. unsalted butter
  • ¼ c. hot sauce (I prefer Louisiana)
  • ⅓ c. panko crumbs
  • 1 T. vegetable oil, plus more for coating
  • 1 bell pepper, optional for adding vegetables (or pick what you prefer)
  • 12 to 16 oz. green beans, optional for adding vegetables (or pick what you prefer)

Directions

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Lightly oil a large sheet pan (large if adding vegetables, smaller will work if not). Melt butter in a small bowl (I just nuke it but you can do it in a small saucepan), and add hot sauce. Set aside ¼ c. of the mixture. In a separate small bowl, mix the panko with the 1 T. oil.

Place the salmon skin side down on the sheet pan, and brush on the remaining sauce. Pat on the panko evenly across the salmon fillets.

Add vegetables, if using.

Bake for 16 to 20 minutes until the panko is golden and the fish is cooked through. Serve with the set aside 1/4 c. sauce on the side and a grain mixture, as desired, and enjoy!