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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

1 day ago
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: http://www.fda.gov/Radiation-Emitting...

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
1

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 (http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2013/1...) 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
1

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.

Feb 25, 2014
Chi_Guy in General Topics
1

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.

Dec 17, 2013
Chi_Guy in Home Cooking
1

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 (http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/20...) 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.
http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.co...
http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2012/0...

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
1

Home made hummous just not as good as restaurants

I realize this is an ancient thread but I decided to resurrect it anyways.

Most people who attempt to make homemade hummus use canned chickpeas and that is the fatal flaw in their technique. You will never be able to attain the flavor of hummus from a good restaurant through bland canned chickpeas. Unfortunately many people have never tasted fresh chickpeas to be able to realize the difference in flavor between the two.

If you think about it, chickpeas are the main ingredient in hummus so it makes sense that you need tasty chickpeas in order to attain a good hummus. Traditional hummus bi tahini is made with only 4 ingredients: chickpeas, tahini, garlic, and lemon juice (with salt and water/liquid added as necessary). That's it. There is no olive oil, yogurt, sour cream, or other additions that people resort to in order to make their hummus taste good. Olive oil is usually drizzled over the top but doesn't go into the hummus itself.

In order to make good hummus, you need to start with dried chickpeas. Canned beans will never become transcendent. The flavor difference between fresh and canned chickpeas is night and day. The fresh ones are richer, fuller, and have better texture. And it doesn't take all day to cook them either. I soak mine overnight then cook them with water and salt in a pressure cooker and they are done in exactly 13 minutes. Make sure to use fresh beans, not old ones and use a little bit of the bean liquid instead of water to thin out the hummus.

Mar 06, 2013
Chi_Guy in Home Cooking

New Pressure Cooker

Great site! There seems to be a dearth of quality pressure cooker recipes on the Internet. Really good stuff on the site...thanks!

Feb 24, 2013
Chi_Guy in Home Cooking

New Pressure Cooker

Try making broth/stock in the pressure cooker. This is a great recipe for starting out with. Throws some bones and meat along with veggies, cover with water, and bring it to pressure. In 30 minutes you will have a flavorful broth that would otherwise take 2 hours to make on the stovetop.

As for beans, soaking them will cut down the cooking time significantly. Chickpeas soaked overnight cook in 12-13 minutes in the pressure cooker.

Feb 24, 2013
Chi_Guy in Home Cooking

Are Toaster Ovens Real?

I use my toaster oven to broil and bake all the time. It works as long as you aren't putting anything too big in there. I wouldn't recommend chicken thighs for the toaster oven unless you are baking just one.

Nov 18, 2012
Chi_Guy in Cookware

What fats and oils do you keep in stock?

Olive oil - two kinds, for cooking and sipping
Canola oil - for searing or when I need a neutral flavored oil
Toasted Sesame oil - Asian cooking
Butter - regular and Kerrygold
Some flavored oil

Nov 04, 2012
Chi_Guy in Home Cooking

How can you tell if a croissant uses real butter?

Asking would be the best way to know for sure. But in my experience, all-butter crossants have a distinctive buttery taste and a richer mouth feel. Crossants made from oil or trans fat don't have the same flavor and are lighter than the real thing. I can easily down a couple of them, but a real crossant makes you feel very full.

Oct 28, 2012
Chi_Guy in San Francisco Bay Area

my pizza dough fought back

NYC pizzas indeed are similar to those in Naples but they are not the same. In Naples they use all 00 flour which as you described creates a thin, delicate crust. You can't pick up a Neopolitan pizza in one hand like a NYC pizza. You have to eat it with a knife and fork. The crust on NYC pizzas by comparison though can be folded and eaten easily because of the higher gluten content. You can't get that using 00 flour alone. Most NYC pizzerias either use all high-gluten flour or a mix of of it and 00.

Oct 28, 2012
Chi_Guy in Home Cooking

my pizza dough fought back

redgirl, according to the gurus on the Pizzamaking.com site it's better to freeze it sooner than later: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/inde.... I take it to mean don't let it ferment in the fridge too long and put them in the freezer once you've kneaded the dough. I'm not sure how to compensate for the extra yeast though :-/

Now keep in mind that fermentation is key to achieving a flavorful crust. Many pizza places cold ferment their dough for several days for optimum flavor. So if you'll be sticking it your dough ball in the freezer right away and using it soon after it defrosts, your dough won't reap the benefit of long fermentation. If you plan to use your dough balls within a week, I recommend to skip freezing altogether and just pop them in the fridge. They'll have more flavor and you'll avoid the negative effects of the freezer.

Leaving it out at 2 hours is fine. I sometimes will leave it out for a bit longer if the dough hasn't quite warmed up. I find that it helps makes the dough more pliable, another way to keep it from fighting back.

Good luck!

Oct 28, 2012
Chi_Guy in Home Cooking

my pizza dough fought back

The type of flour shouldn't make a difference here. Most NYC pizzarias use a high gluten flour which is more like bread flour than 00 flour. The 00 flour is used mainly for Neopolitan type pies. Those have a different texture than the pizzas Americans eat with a very soft crust. Neither type of flour though will improve the elasticity of the dough. According to Jeff Varasano, the main difference is the Italian flour results in a product with lighter spring and bigger air bubbles. He himself mixes the two together as the bread flour will give it the gluten development it needs and some structure.

Oct 28, 2012
Chi_Guy in Home Cooking