• erin

    Dumplings with my family
    A recent graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, I found myself with no money, no kitchen equipment, and an exceptionally huge appetite. Ideas, improvisations, and yummy meal solutions were discovered in the kitchen of my very first apartment.
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    I've been getting a lot of requests and suggestions for the apartment kitchen. I LOVE these suggestions, keep them coming!

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Meatball Sub

After a long day (ok, ok – roller skating and running errands), I just wanted something simple and comforting. Cheese is my biggest weakness, and this sandwich totally hit the spot for me. I used some meatballs and sauce I had already made for pasta, and sandwiched them with some cheese on a leftover baguette. It used up a lot of leftover food, but none of my roommates noticed that as they gobbled it down.

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Mushroom Stuffed Sausage Burgers with Peppadew Peppers

**(What’s that? Another dish with sausage and peppadew peppers? Well, yes. I made my cooking “to-do” list at the beginning of the week. I had been craving sausage, but I was cooking for one until tonight when Matt came over. Rather than get stuck with a whole pot of leftovers, I cooked my white beans with sausage on Tuesday night and saved the remaining ingredients for a completely different dish a few days later. So you hardly recognized it, right?)**

Matt loves burgers. I like them too, because I enjoy warm sandwiches. Burgers are easy (and easy to make healthy if you like with lean meats like turkey and chicken and meat substitutions like grated veggies, beans, or portobello mushrooms). I’ve made quite a few types of burgers, but this is one of my all time favorites. Instead of turning to any of my go-to meats or meatless standbys, I used another of Matt’s favorites: sausage. I removed the casings, seasoned the meat, and stuffed the patties with mushrooms and herbs. We finished it off with leftover peppadew peppers for an all-around tasty and Italian-esque burger. It would be great with other toppings, too: sauteed peppers and onions, spinach, mozzarella cheese – get creative! This is a good basic canvas to work with.

Bison Ribs, and the Many, Many Things We Did with Them

One of our other awesome purchases from the CIA this past weekend were buffalo ribs. They were unbelievably huge. My friend Terri leant us her smoker, and we lightly smoked the ribs before finishing them in the oven and with a vinagery Carolina style BBQ sauce.

We did all sorts of things with the ribs. I diced some and made an awesome, super meaty chili that I froze for cooler weather. I couldn’t resist posting this picture of Matt eating a rib whole – it gives a great idea of just how huge they were! Despite the fierce look on his face he’s so happy!

Then, on Matt’s request, I shredded some of the meat and put it inside my steamed buns. These buns take a little bit of effort, so they are great when you have a really good (really flavorful) cut of meat leftover and are looking for something different to do with them. Many Asian countries have their own version of these buns – mine sort of crosses the Chinese with the Indonesian – the result is fluffy and delicious. The dough also holds up well to freezing so you can make a big batch and save some balls of dough for future use. The longer they can rise, the fluffier they will be, and on this lazy Labor Day weekend I let them rise for over an hour in a bowl, then an hour rolled into balls, and another 30 minutes with the filling inside before steaming them. Matt and I dream of having a stand selling different flavors of these at the Farmer’s Market using only local products!

It was a delicious (and deliciously long) weekend.

Peanut Butter Ice Cream with Devil’s Food Cake Crumbs (without an Ice Cream Maker!!!)

This definitely goes on the “great success” list of the apartment kitchen, though I have to confess I discovered it long before this blog was started. This is for any sad cooks out there trying to stifle their desire to make homemade ice cream during the heat of summer whilst lamenting the fact that they have no ice cream maker. (I will admit that there are products out there that make it a worthy purchase – an old fashioned, hand cranked machine will only set you back $10-$15.) But never fear my foodie friends – your lack of a machine won’t stop you any more!

When I first found this recipe, it was labeled as a semifreddo. After a few tweaks, I’ve found that its texture is dense, smooth, and creamy – just like real ice cream! There are a few key tricks to making this a success. Use a large, shallow dish to freeze the ice cream base – it will freeze faster and more evenly. Don’t mix in any inclusions (cake crumbs, candy, coconut, chocolate chips, etc.) until the mixture is at soft-serve consistency, then they will stay suspended in the ice cream. Last but not least, be patient – this method is super simple, but it does take longer than a well-working machine. Try to avoid checking on your ice cream every few minutes, as it will only make it take longer to set up!

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Thai Chicken Burgers with Peanut Sauce and Pickled Veggies (and an Awesome Salad to Make with the Leftovers!)

Sometimes the reaction when I announce dinner plans isn’t too enthusiastic. “Ok” or even “That sounds good” are nothing compaired to the “Yesssssssss!” or “Mmmmmm” I often get when making some of the household favorites. So let me just say it’s difficult to overstate how big of a hit these Thai-inspired chicken burgers were. They were moist and juicy with lots of cilantro and mild chile flavor in the meat, topped with a deliciously creamy peanut sauce, and an amazing Asian veggie pickle mixture.

Crisp, delicious, easy, and cheap! Look at that picture. It’s seriously making me hungry again. Ignore the fact that there is almost no bun on the bottom (they’re homemade – but who really needs a lot of bun anyway?). It’s a great way to liven up burgers at your house – and healthy too!

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Some More Leftover Perspective…

Leftovers are a constant problem plaguing apartment (and home) kitchens everywhere. There are many solutions: eat the same thing over and over and over (and over) again, throw massive amounts of food away, or pretend it’s not sitting in the fridge until it’s spoiled rotten and is inedible. But I have a new solution: focus on the sides.

Make just the amount of protein or major component you need whenever possible: 1 steak, 2 pork chops, four loins, and so on. But don’t hesitate to make full recipes of the side dishes: potatoes, veggies, and/or grains. Even though they were made for a specific dish, they can be used in a myriad of other ways.

Think of things that store well: pasta, salads, marinated or pickled items, etc. Then think of new proteins that match it’s flavor profile: marinated mushrooms will go great with steak, chicken, or pork. Black beans will go with many different styles of cuisine. And salads can be served on the side of a dish, a component of a sandwich, or even combined with pasta.

To get you started, here’s a recipe, Apartment Kitchen style. Remember the Asian Slaw and Citrus Yogurt from a previous post? It’s fresh, citrus flavors don’t just match with salmon, but all kinds of seafood – including the amazingly fresh soft shell crabs I found at my market this morning. Grill yourself some pita, (homemade or otherwise) add the slaw, some yogurt, and some pan fried crab, and you have an amazing (and incredibly quick) sandwich. Dig in.

Steamed Pork Buns

This is one of my all-time favorite foods. It’s a perfect combination of meat and dough that is delicious enough to be a meal but casual enough to be eaten with your hands. I first fell in love with these at Momofuku in New York City. While the steamed bun is Chinese in origin, there are a variety of Asian influences in the modern bun.

Many restaurants buy their buns and only make the fillings fresh, as the process for the perfect steamed bun is a little complicated. But fresh buns are so delicious, as I discovered in my quest to make my own last year. Though they are traditionally made with Hong Kong flour, my version used cake flour, which is much easier to find.

These buns are easy and delicious with any kind of filling, and are the perfect answer to leftover meat in your fridge – shred a roasted chicken, dice up some steak, or, as I did, peel the tender meat off of some delicious pork ribs.