• 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!

    If you have anything you'd like me to consider (recipes to develop, shortcuts for recipes, great ingredients, or even blog formatting), shoot me an email and let me know!

    em570039@mycia.net

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Whole Wheat Pasta with Spicy Sundried Tomato and Basil Pesto and Shaved Parmesan

I have been super busy this week – baking things to send in a care package home and a very exciting interview (more on both of these later)! At any rate, last night I came home and had about 1/2 hour to squeeze in cooking and eating my dinner. A simple pasta with pesto from the garden and good parmesan was just the ticket – light, fresh, and super quick. And on to the next task!

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Glazed Beef Spare Ribs with Sweet and Spicy Cucumbers

So after eating massive quantities of pork due to my impulse purchase of a 6# shoulder, we figured we’d keep it light for the next few days. That is, until we saw an incredible rack of beef spare ribs at the market on a wicked special. Naturally, we couldn’t resist. Yes, I was aware as I walked out of the store that I probably didn’t need to eat more meat for dinner. Did I care? No.

While Matt was at work, I rubbed the ribs down with some spices. Then before I put them in the oven, I glazed them with a glaze of vinegar, tomatoes, sriracha, and more spices. After they were rubbed and glazed, I put the ribs in the oven for about 2 hours at a low temperature. You could also grill them (yum) or leave them in the oven for up to four hours, which will leave the meat melt-in-your mouth and falling off of the bone.

Panang Curry

I’m currently working on a vegetarian cookbook at work. I love eating vegetarian foods – I generally have vegetarian meals 3 or 4 times a week. It’s healthy and almost always faster, since I don’t have to wait for the protein to cook or rest. Don’t get me wrong – I am a total carnivore. But I eat meat so often that to break out of the mold occasionally just tastes good.

In another effort to shake things up, I made a new curry. If you’ve read my blog before, it may appear that I am a slave to red curry. What can I say? It’s delicious – my all time favorite. But this panang curry was silky, smooth, and delicious. I used peanut butter as the base, but grinding toasted cashews or almonds would make for an equally delicious curry. Also, you wouldn’t have to make this vegetarian – toss in some cubed pork or chicken if you like. Because I’m a spice fiend, I finished by curry with a little sriracha, but the chili paste makes it nice and warm without any additions.

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Butter Chicken with Cilantro-Garlic Naan

When I was a kid, my mom would occasionally take my brother and I to a restaurant called Valentino’s. It was a typical “Italian”-American buffet featuring plain pizzas, buttered pasta, a salad bar, and of course, the much necessary soft-serve, pudding, etc. at the end of the meal. It was a perfect kid-friendly restaurant, and one that my mom could also stand going to, so it was good when we were arguing where to go. My brother, Willie, five years my senior grew into teenage years and one day when my mother suggested Valentino’s, he announced that he no longer liked it.

I believe I audibly gasped. NOT LIKE VALENTINO’S? What was wrong with this boy? It seemed to me we had just been there recently, and how could he have possibly changed his mind so quickly? He told me, quite matter-of-factly that he had disliked it for awhile, but continued to go because the family liked it. He said his tastes were changing as he got older. Well, since it was not my mother’s favorite restaurant either, we quickly moved on to bigger, better, and theoretically tastier things.

A few years later, we were spending a lot of time in a neighboring city, which, among other things, was home to an excellent Indian restaurant. I tasted the food once and was not a fan. I would pout and roll my eyes when my mother and brother suggested we go to India Palace. But, being outnumbered, I often lost. I longed for the days of Valentino’s and my generic, bland buffet choices back.

Then, one day around the time I turned 13 or 14, some friends called to invite me to dinner. They were going to India Palace. Ugh. I went anyway, since I couldn’t pout or roll my eyes over the phone. At the dinner, my friends ordered and array of dishes, and I tried each one. The first thing I tasted was Butter Chicken, an Americanized creamy, mildly spicy chicken dish which was even more delicious when eaten with Naan, a fluffy flatbread. It became my food of choice when my mother and brother would suggest India Palace – an excellent beginner Indian food.

“How could you change your mind so quickly?” my brother teased.
“I guess my tastes are changing as I get older,” I said, and dipped my naan into my bowl, sopping up the delicious sauce.

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Spicy Chicken and Rice

Nothing beats a meal made in one pot. It’s almost as fast to make as it is to clean up. Great for a weekend – just get all the ingredients going and the more it simmers – the more flavor builds up. So this weekend I decided to make a delicious, healthy, spicy comfort food – chicken and rice with peas, peppers, and onions. Simple, basic, and tasty. Best of all, you can add your own creativity to it – add any other vegetables or meat or spices that you like. So spice up the weekend – but don’t take forever to do the dishes.

 

Spicy Turkey Burgers

Being from cow country, I happily admit that I have frequent urges for burgers and steaks. I often forget how great it is to make burgers at home, since they tend to be bar/diner/pub food. Making a burger yourself allows you to make it just the way you like it – “Have it Your Way” takes on an entirely different meaning. Best of all, they are super simple.

But as much as I love red meat, burgers can be delicious when made with other ground meats – bison, chicken, turkey, lamb. This burger is a spicy turkey burger, so it’s very lean, healthy, and inexpensive to make. Three words that I live by. 

Kung Pao Chicken

It snowed all day Sunday.  Even though we got plowed at noon, my housemate still had to shovel at 5, and Matt and I had to shovel this morning.  On a day that cold and snowy, nothing feels better than staying inside.  And to keep warm, we spiced up the afternoon with some Kung Pao chicken.  The perfect Sunday food – and the take-out drivers will thank you!



Kung Pao Chicken

Served 2.
Leftover Potential:  Just as good if not better than the Chinese food that comes in a box.  Made 2 meals after the initial dinner.

1 lb chicken, cut into bite size pieces
salt, as needed
pepper, as needed
flour, as needed

1 Tbsp oil
1 onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 cup mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp ginger, finely sliced
10 dried chilis, split, seeded, and cut in half
1/4 cup soy sauce
5 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 cup water, or as needed

1.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper.  Dip lightly in flour.  Set aside.
2.  In a large pan or a wok, heat the oil over medium heat.
3.  Add the onions, and cook until translucent.  Add the garlic.  Stir fry for about a minute.
4.  Add the mushrooms, bell pepper, scallions, ginger, and dried chilis and stir fry over medium heat.
5.  Add the soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil.  Stir fry to create an even sauce.  Add the chicken, and stir fry until the chicken is tender and cooked through.  Add water as needed to thin sauce so as to coat the chicken.
6.  Serve in warm bowls with rice.