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Recipes from Smitten Kitchen blog.....what are your favorites??

My favorite recipes from Smitten Kitchen are her Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta, Brownies, Blueberry Galette, Madeleines, and Zucchini Cakes.

In my experience while her sweets turn out great, her savory recipes tend lack a little something. I usually have to tweak them slightly to get them to turn out right.

Nov 03, 2014
Chi_Guy in Home Cooking

Cooking hamburgers indoors

Actually, I find burgers cooked on a hot cast iron pan to have a better crust than most grilled burgers. Make sure the pan is screaming hot before you throw the patty in there. Lots of kosher salt on the surface and brush the surface with grapeseed or canola oil

Oct 30, 2014
Chi_Guy in Home Cooking

Beginner Recipes Using Garam Masala

Whenever I grind a fresh batch of garam masala, one of my favorite recipe to use it in is Bin Masala chicken (


It's basically a whole chicken marinated overnight in yogurt and garam masala and then baked. The result is a very moist chicken and delicious gravy.

Oct 30, 2014
Chi_Guy in Home Cooking

Shan Masala Tips

Completely agree with luckyfatima's last paragraph. The spices you listed, in their whole and ground forms, are all that's needed to cook most traditional Pakistani dishes.

Personally I avoid most Shan curry mixes due to the insane amount of salt and red chili powder in them plus the 50 or spices each has, which is unnecessary and makes everything taste basically the same.

Oct 30, 2014
Chi_Guy in Home Cooking

Why all the hate still for Dupont Teflon?

I use a ceramic non-stick pan for things like scrambled eggs and they cook just as well as they would in a teflon coated pan.

Apart from eggs, I don't really see the use for teflon cookware for other types of cooking. Foods don't brown properly and you can't use metal utensils without scratching the coating. Cast iron and carbon steel cookware work better most of the time when a nonstick surface is required. As for baking, parchment or silicone/glass bakeware do the trick.

Jul 31, 2014
Chi_Guy in Cookware

Kosher spaghetti carbonara?

Sorry it slipped my mind that meat & diary is a no-no. Thought the OP was just looking to avoid pork.

Jul 29, 2014
Chi_Guy in Kosher

Mac and Cheese

THIS. Sodium citrate has been a life changing ingredient. Roux based mac and cheese ruins the flavor of a good cheese and makes the dish heavy.

Jul 29, 2014
Chi_Guy in Home Cooking

Need New Pizza Topping Combos

I'm on a caramelized onion kick these days and one of my favorite topping combos is caramelized onion and blue cheese or chevre.

Rosemary and thinly sliced potato is another different but classic Italian pizza topping.

Also consider fresh ricotta, tuna, and gyros for topping your pizzas

Jul 29, 2014
Chi_Guy in General Topics

Kosher spaghetti carbonara?

I've made "halal" spaghetti carbonara before using Turkish spicy beef sujuck sausage. I'm sure you could find a kosher equivalent.

Jul 29, 2014
Chi_Guy in Kosher

Best quick meal you make with trader joes products

Broccoli Slaw - buy their packaged slaw and add dressing of your choice. I use their mayo with some ground toasted sesame seeds, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil to make a quick Asian dressing.

Lasagna - use TJ's lasagna noodles, frozen spinach, parmesan, mozzarella, and marinara sauce to make a quick lasagna. All you need to add is some fresh ricotta.

Pizza - their mozzarella (block cheese, not the shredded stuff) is one of the best brands out there and the refrigerated pizza dough works well in a pinch. Skip their pizza sauce which tastes like tomato paste and get a can of San Marzano tomatoes to use for hte sauce instead. Just puree and add salt and dried herbs.

Hummus wrap - Just combine TJ's tortillas, hummus, mixed greens, roasted peppers, marinated artichokes, feta, and dressing of choice. No cooking required.

Tuna Salad - canned tuna and TJ's tabbouleh

Smoked salmon wrap - combine TJ tortillas with garlic aioli mustard, smoked salmon, and bagged salad of your choice

Jul 21, 2014
Chi_Guy in Home Cooking

Your favorite way to cook fish ?

I like to pan fry fish skin-on. Fish can be overdone very quickly if you're not careful and cooking it in a skillet lets me watch for doneness which isn't as easy to do when you bake or grill fish.

Jun 13, 2014
Chi_Guy in Home Cooking

Pasta Salad recipes

Lately I've been making Whole Foods Orzo w/ Spinach and Feta pasta salad. Super simple to make and really good. Here's the recipe:

Boil some orzo and toss it with chopped kalamata olives, diced red onion and celery, sliced green onions, rougly chopped baby spinach, pine nuts, feta, a tiny bit garlic, and toss everything with balsamic vinaigrette. I usually add the feta after dressing the salad so it doesn't disintegrate and let it sit for a few hours in the fridge to allow the flavors to meld.

May 22, 2014
Chi_Guy in Home Cooking

Do Microwaves Kill the Nutrients in Food?

This is true and is due to the danger of water exploding in the microwave when over-heated. People have gotten serious burns to their face and body from doing this. The FDA has even issued a warning about it:

With that said, I still boil water for tea in the microwave when I'm at work. The key is to turn it off right as it reaches a boil (usually between 2 to 2:15 minutes for me) and let it sit in the microwave for a few seconds till the bubbling stops and the water has cooled down a bit before removing it.

May 19, 2014
Chi_Guy in Features

Help...Need a good pizza sauce recipe

Proper pizza sauce is not supposed to be cooked. Most NYC pizzerias and high-end places that make Neopolitan style pizza use a sauce made from pureed canned tomatoes, salt, and a few light spices.

The reason your pizza sauce tasted bland is because you cooked it to death. Think about it. The tomatoes were cooked once during the canning process. Then you cooked them again for 2 hours on the stovetop, followed by a third cooking in the oven. By the time your pizza was done, all of the flavor had been cooked out of the tomatoes.

Cooked sauces almost always end up tasting like pasta sauces. That bright, fresh tomato flavor we're accustomed to at pizza joints is the result of using a raw sauce.

Making pizza sauce is actually the easiest part of homemade pizza. Here is the standard recipe I use for a 14" pie:

- about a cup of whole or crushed San Marzano tomatoes or passata (whole tomatoes preferred)
- big pinch of greek oregano
- big pinch of dried basil
- tiny pinch of granulated garlic (optional)
- pinch of kosher salt
- fresh cracked black pepper

Puree the tomatoes using a hand blender or food processor. Crush the herbs with your fingers as you add them to the sauce. Add in the rest of the ingredients, stir and let marinate for at least 1 hour at room temperature or overnight in the fridge.

That's all there is to it. I make the sauce at the beginning and leave it to marinate while the stone heats and I prep the rest of the ingredients. It's ready to go by the time I've rolled out the dough and start dressing the pizza.

May 19, 2014
Chi_Guy in Home Cooking

Cooking When You are Poor

In addition to beans as many people have recommended, work in some lentils into your diet. This is a staple of South Asian cusine. It's cheap source of protein and if you Google around, there are dozens of daal recipes using a variety of different lentils (red lentils, black lentils, channa daal, mung daal, etc).

Mar 31, 2014
Chi_Guy in General Topics

How do I make my sushi not stick to my containers?

A little oil on the bottom and sides of the box maybe?

Mar 31, 2014
Chi_Guy in Home Cooking

Current obsessions?

Orange Blossom - love adding this to just about everything..cookies, vinaigrettes, oatmeal, bread pudding, etc.

Shibazuke - Japanese pickles. Amazing in temaki hand rolls and home made sushi.

Dumplings - with wonton wrappers the possibilities are endless..

Mar 24, 2014
Chi_Guy in General Topics

Chicken broth - Pressure cooker

I've adapated the Uncluttered Chicken Stock recipe from Smitten Kitchen ( to the pressure cooker and it makes the best stock ever.

Her recipe uses all wings, which have very little meat, so they can withstand long cooking times and doesn't feel like a waste when you toss the bones later. The recipe has minimal add-ins - just garlic and onion - and a dash of vinegar (my addition) helps draw out maximum flavor from the bones.

If you let the stock sit overnight in the fridge, the fat will solidify and rise to the top. After removing this you'll be left with a nice, clear broth.

I cook my stock at high pressure for 40-55 minutes. Though you only need 25 minutes, doubling the cooking time makes it that much more flavorful.

Mar 24, 2014
Chi_Guy in Home Cooking

Your house dressing

I find a simple sherry vinaigrette to be a versatile dressing for most greens. Sherry vinegar has just the right balance of sweetness and acidity without being too overpowering or sweet.

I use a 1 to 3 ratio of vinegar to olive oil with a little grated garlic or minced shallots (whichever I happen to have on hand).

Mar 10, 2014
Chi_Guy in Home Cooking

Halal food in NYC is disappointing

Halal carts are the Taco Bell of Middle Eastern food. It's silly to judge the quality of all Middle Eastern restaurants in the entire city based off cart food. I take it you haven't ventured out to the many fine NYC establishments that do serve authentic Middle Eastern food.

Mar 02, 2014
Chi_Guy in Manhattan

Do you always brown the meat?

Depends on what I'm making. Meat is typically not browned in South Asian curries or North African tajines for example and still turns out flavorful. Perhaps if you are making a simple braise with few ingredients then the flavor from the browned meat might be more noticeable but I find that the aromatics (garlic, ginger, tomatoes, etc), spices, and the natural juices that release from the meat lend plenty of flavor to the end product.

Feb 26, 2014
Chi_Guy in Home Cooking

Greatest Cuisines? French and...

This is a very subjective question and ultimately comes down to personal taste preferences. French cuisine is certainly amongst the top in the world, but I think people's perceptions about it are skewed. For one, people tend to conflate french food with haute cuisine. Everyday french food is different from multi-course meals served at fine dining restaurants.

While I do like french food, I never find myself craving it the way I do Chinese, Mexican, Italian, or South Asian food.

Does anyone "eat" the steeped green tea leaves?

I've been told that in Japan, steeped tea leaves are sometimes dipped in ponzu sauce and eaten. So obviously there is no harm in consuming them. If anything, you'll get even more of the health benefits of green tea that way. While sencha and gyokuro tea leaves smell wonderful after infusing, I don't really care for the taste or texture. Must be an acquired taste..

Dec 22, 2013
Chi_Guy in General Topics

Late Night Food Inventions

Spaghetti tossed with a few spoonfuls of olive muffalata and parmesan cheese

Wheat crackers with shibazuke (Japanese pickled vegetables), sriracha, and kewpie mayo

Fried rice made with leftover basmati, mixed veggies, leftover meat or tofu, vinegar, soy and/or fish sauce

Chickpea salad with chaat masala and tamarind.

What I do NOT want in a Cookbook

I do not want a cookbook filled with your personal anecdotes and lengthy stories. The focus should be on the recipes.

I do not want to see a rehash of the same tired recipes that have been circulating in cookbooks for ages and that can easily be found on the Internet (e.g., pizza dough, guacamole, etc). Instead offer a new approach to familiar dishes.

Don't want a cookbook with "simple" recipes that require expensive or difficult to find ingredients in order to taste good. I'm sure that the chicken from the organic farm across the street from your will taste great roasted with only salt+pepper and a sprig of rosemary but don't expect the average person to be able to reproduce your results. Or the caprese salad with 45-year aged balsamic. Anyone can make very high quality food taste good. The real challenge is creating the extraordinary out of the ordinary.

Dec 17, 2013
Chi_Guy in Home Cooking

Your best meals for $5.00 or less

Some of my favorites:

Pad Thai w/ Tofu - Packet of rice noodles from Asian market: ~$1.50. Fish sauce, tamarind, and tofu can all be had on the cheap

Black beans & rice - Ditch the canned stuff. Dry beans are cheaper and tastier. when soaked, takes only 15 minutes in the pressure cooker

Kabuli Pulao - Afghan chicken/lamb rice pilaf with glazed carrots, raisins, and nuts

Soba Noodle Salad - filling and a great way to use up leftover veggies and herbs lying around the fridge

Rigatoni alla Siciliana - eggplant, canned tomatoes, and pasta are all super cheap

Bhindi - sauteed, spiced okra with tomatoes and onion

Fried Rice or Chow Mein - quick and easy way to use up leftover meat, veggies, and rice

Pizza - no knead method for dough along with crushed tomatoes and dry mozz. bake in a jellyroll pan to make a thicker sicilian style pie that can withstand heavy toppings

Udon noodle soup - frozen udon, packet of dashi, soy, tofu, and inexpensive veggies. you can add an egg in there to boost the protein content and make it a full meal

Penang Curry - tub of Thai curry paste is $1.75 and you only need 1-2 tbls. can of coconut milk is $2. use any proteins or veggies you have on hand

Karahi Chicken - a few bone in chicken pieces, ginger, tomatoes, jalapenos, and cilantro make an absolutely amazing Pakistani stir fry

Tuna or Chicken Salad - oldie but goodie. super quick and so many variations that you can never tire of it

Pav Bhaji - Indian mashed vegetable sandwich.

Crepes - a little batter makes a ton and can cover both dinner and dessert

Daal and Rice - red lentils are cheap and delicious.

Gnocchi - just a few potatoes make a ton of pasta and sauce can be as simple as a little butter and herbs

Makoouda - spiced North African potato cakes. you can stuff a little ground meat inside to make them more filling

Channa Masala - spicy tomato based chickpea curry. again using fresh chickpeas will be cheaper and taste better

Pan Seared Tilapia w/ Charmoula - saw frozen tilapia for $2.79/lb recently. parsley and cilantro are usually the cheapest herbs at the grocery store, about a $1 for one bunch of each.

Ratatouille - classic poor man's meal. best in summer when produce is in season and prices low

Penne w/ Spicy Tomato Cream Sauce - box of penne, jarred marinara, sriracha, and a small 8 oz carton of heavy cream. add sauteed mushrooms, a tomato, and some protein to make it a complete meal

Nov 11, 2013
Chi_Guy in Home Cooking

Evaporated Milk - how do you use it?

I've used condensed milk occasionally in desserts and to make Vietnamese iced coffee.

Evaporated milk though I have little use for around the kitchen. I used to make nacho cheese sauce with it ( but have not needed it ever since I discovered sodium citrate.

Nov 11, 2013
Chi_Guy in Home Cooking

What Are You Cooking Today?

I plan to make saag tonight using some fresh spinach I picked up at the farmer's market last weekend. This is one of my favorite methods of cooking spinach and other greens.

To make saag, puree a little GOG paste (ginger-garlic-onion) with tomato, spices (cumin, coriander, a little turmeric), jalapeno, and salt/pepper. Heat olive oil in a skillet and add the puree until it starts to become dry and the oil separates from the sauce. Throw in finely chopped spinach and cook on low until wilted.

This served with a little feta and naan or pita bread is seriously good and super easy to make.

Oct 31, 2013
Chi_Guy in Home Cooking

World's best Brownies?

My favorite brownie recipe is also the simplest. Mark Bittman's version (a very similar version was also described on the smitten kitchen blog) is just unsweetened chocolate, butter, sugar, and eggs.

To doctor them up, I'll add either nuts, brush them with coffee, or top with salt.

Oct 21, 2013
Chi_Guy in Home Cooking

I Don't Know How to Apply Saffron

I take a pinch of saffron strands, grind them finely using a pestle and mortar, and then add a little hot liquid to dissolve and then add the saffron liquid to whatever I'm making.

If your saffron is fragrant but the flavor doesn't through in food, you're either not using enough, need to grind it finer, or are using it in combination with other strong flavors that may be masking it.

Oct 21, 2013
Chi_Guy in Home Cooking