Saturday, November 23, 2013

Turkey Mole

That's pronounced "moe-lay." It's not the small burrowing mammal.

I've got a fair number of new recipes to write up, but I've told myself I can't do any blog writing unless I finish my academic writing. I'm taking two classes right now in an attempt to finish my Master's degree in May. But I finished a paper this weekend and won't start on the next one until tomorrow, so this evening I can record this for posterity. It's going to become a standard for us.

It's incredible how cheap turkeys get this time of year. It's practically criminal not to take advantage of some of the Thanksgiving sales. But there's only so many turkeys you can roast before you get sick of turkey. I can't make turkey more than 2 or 3 times a year without getting tired of the taste. Solution? Cook turkey meat so it doesn't taste like turkey.

We thawed our frozen bird and this afternoon I broke it down. Legs, thighs, and wings come off, skin comes off, breasts come off, and the rest goes in the pot for stock.

I used the turkey skin and breasts to make Kenji's Turkey Porchetta. It's curing in the fridge; we'll know tomorrow night how it turned out. I think I'm going to braise the drumsticks and wings because braising helps break down the large amounts of connective tissue found in the legs of a large turkey. Right now I'm leaning towards Martha's recipe but we'll see how it plays out.

But my favorite part of the turkey is the thigh.  It's the best meat on the bird, and it's easy (especially before you cook it) to make it boneless. I'll have plenty of dark meat over the next week, though. Today's mission: find a way to cook the thighs that doesn't taste like turkey. Solution: Mexican food. This isn't a true mole sauce (the authentic ones are way too much work), but it's a good 80% solution in maybe 5% of the time.  Call it a faux-lay instead of a moe-lay. Faule? Fole?

We're going to quickly brown the turkey, then braise it in a simple sauce made from tomatoes and chicken stock. It'll cook covered for 30-45 minutes, then it's ready to serve. Bulletproof.

Bulletproof Turkey Mole


  • 2 turkey thighs
  • Oil to coat skillet
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (I spent 97 cents and bought Great Value Fire Roasted Salsa-Style Seasoned Diced Tomatoes)
  • Spices may vary based on your own preferences and what you have available, but I used (measurements approximate):
    • 1 chipotle pepper in adobe sauce, diced small
    • 1 T taco seasoning
    • 1 t cajun seasoning
    • 1 t cumin
    • 1/2 C brine from jar of pickled jalapenos
  • Taco fixings (tortillas, cheese, rice, black beans, sour cream, salsa, fresh chopped tomatoes, etc).
  1. Take the skin off the turkey thighs and remove the thighbone. Cut in half so there are four pieces.
  2. Rough chop the onion, smash and mince the garlic.
  3. Set large skillet on high heat and pour in enough oil to coat the bottom.
  4. Once oil is hot, place turkey in skillet for about a minute. Add onions and garlic. Flip turkey and let sit for about a minute.
  5. Remove turkey and add chicken broth to deglaze the pan. Use a metal spatula or spoon to get all the crusty bits off the pan and into the sauce you're creating. 
  6. Pour in diced tomatoes, stir, then add remaining ingredients.
  7. Add turkey back to skillet. Ladle some of the sauce over the turkey, then turn heat down to medium and let simmer for 30-45 minutes. It really could go for longer or shorter, depending on your own needs. The longer you have, the lower you should set the heat. Once time is up, pull the turkey apart with a pair of forks but leave the meat in the sauce until it's time to serve.
This made a really satisfying taco meal with plenty of leftovers to spare. Best part? It doesn't taste like turkey. Not even a little bit.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Freelance Cookies

I'm in the middle of a big push to pick up some new freelance clients. Tomorrow, I'm visiting eight local engineering shops and dropping off my business card along with a plateful of cookies. I'm giving them my favorite cookie recipe; I made over a hundred of these today.

Timid Salesmen Have Skinny Kids
It's everything I like in a cookie: some chocolate, some peanut butter, and some chewiness. I made four batches of these tonight; they're dead simple and delicious. I use a stand mixer, which is great, but you're welcome to use a hand-mixer or your bulging muscles if you like.

  • 1 stick butter (room temperature or warmer, but not liquid)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1.5 C flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • .5 t salt
  • 1 C old-fashioned oats
  • 2/3 C chocolate chips
  • 1/3 C peanut butter chips
  1. Add butter and brown sugar to bowl. Beat.
  2. Add egg and vanilla. Beat.
  3. Add dry ingredients. Beat.
  4. Add oats. Mix.
  5. Add chocolate and peanut butter chips. Mix.
  6. Add to cookie sheet in a size that you like. Cook at 350 for 13 minutes.  I kept two cookie sheets going at all times, switching the top and bottom sheets at the 6:30 mark.
  7. Move to cooling rack immediately. Try not to eat the first batch by the time the second batch comes out of the oven.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Delicious Failure

"Success," said Winston Churchill, "consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm." By this metric, I am an incredibly successful man.

I'm an odd and contrary dude. I generally don't enjoy reading books by people I agree with, and I don't enjoy cooking foods I know how to make. This means I cook a lot of things for the first time. They're usually decent... it's harder than you'd think to really destroy a from-scratch dish if you follow the recipe. Of course, my favorite dishes don't have recipes that I've been able to find... that's why I want to start writing them down.
Normally I wouldn't write about something I made until I'd nailed it at least once, but my failure to make jelly has been delicious.  Backstory follows:
The stuff that makes jelly jel is called "pectin" and it's found in many natural foods, but apples are especially high in it. Specifically, apple peels and cores are high in it. That means if you use the flesh of an apple for cooking (these, for example), you could still use the skin and cores to make jelly. But isn't an apple jelly pretty bland? Of course it is. Solution: add jalapenos.
I threw all of my apple leftovers in a pot and added water until they were covered. Then I started boiling. I added a double handful of chopped jalapenos (we keep "nacho style" pickled jalapeno slices in the fridge) and cooked until the cooking liquid looked almost brown. I poured the liquid into a multi-cup measure (it was almost exactly 3 cups), got rid of the solids, poured the liquids back into the pot, and added 3/4 C of sugar and a shake of cinnamon for every cup of liquid.
Here's my mistake: I added extra water from the tap. I prefer jams to jellies because james are more spreadable, and I worried that I'd have too much pectin in the soup and that it would set up into a "hard" jelly that doesn't spread well out of the fridge. So I added one cup of water, cooked until the liquid was 220 degrees Fahrenheit, poured off into jars, and refrigerated.
That extra cup of water killed me. Instead of having a nice spicy jelly, I have something more the consistency of maple syrup. It drips everywhere. And it is delicious.

Seriously, it's incredible. It starts out tasting like apple honey, and then when you swallow it you get the bite from the peppers. It's awesome. I've had it by the spoon, over muffins, on peanut butter, and stirred into a glass of water. Next up: pancakes and pork chops (not at the same time).
I'll try making this again, and this time I'll leave out the extra water. I may go easier on the jalapenos, because it has enough kick that nobody else in the family will eat it. But I might leave the heat alone... that might be a valuable feature.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Bulletproof Condiments: Balsamic Syrup and Tonkatsu Sauce

Here are some condiments that we make at home. They're pretty straightforward. Some things (soy sauce, ketchup, chili paste, Franks, etc) just aren't worth making for yourself, but both of these have been solid additions to our inventory.  Last weekend I went on a tear and filled up a 6-pack of squeeze bottles with homemade condiments.  One bottle was my peanut sauce, three bottles were a tzatziki that's not yet ready for publication, one was the balsamic syrup, and one was the tonkatsu sauce.

Balsamic Syrup
This is perfect over fresh fruit. I couldn't stop eating it with a pineapple we had. But then I had just plain pineapple and it was still delicious. It's hard to mess up good fruit. But if you're serving company, this makes for an impressive-looking (and ridiculously easy) dessert.

Ingredients (double or triple as desired)
  • 1/2 cups balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T brown sugar
  1. Add vinegar and sugar to a small saucepan on medium-high heat.
  2. Leave on heat and stir occasionally for 20 minutes. Syrup will reduce by 1/2 to 1/3.
  3. Add to squeeze bottle and refrigerate.

Tonkatsu Sauce
Think of this as a korean bbq sauce. It's probably not close to real tonkatsu sauce, which I've only had once. I'm sure if I tasted them next to each other I'd be able to tell the difference. But this tastes similar to my memory of tankatsu, and it's delicious. I tried making spring rolls today with very thin rolled pasta, and stuffed them with fried pork, onion, garlic, jalapenos, and a bit of this sauce. A big win.


  • 1 tsp. dry mustard powder
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire
  • 4 tsp. soy sauce

  1. Combine and refrigerate.

Late-Night Pasta

This is my favorite pasta dish ever. Think of it as a poor man's / lazy man's carbonara with a fried egg on top. It is delicious, and contains no measurements. If every a dish was bulletproof, it's this one. We had it tonight and both kids (normally skeptical of long noodles) cleaned their plates.

I'll admit that tonight's version wasn't particularly bulletproof, because I'm learning to make noodles and I had to scrap the batch and re-roll them all. Major pain. But don't worry about fresh noodles, just make this with whatever you have in the pantry. The entire point of this dish is that you can throw together an intensely satisfying comfort food in ten minutes. This started out as a Tracey Adaption of a Martha Stewart recipe, but believe me when I say that this is not a recipe that requires Martha-level precision.

I've included some basic measurements, just so the recipe won't be intimidating the first time you make it. Don't feel obliged to follow these numbers; I usually tweak this depending on how much of each ingredient I have. The only thing that could be intimidating about this recipe is the juggling: you'll have three active dishes on your cooktop: the nonstick where you're frying an egg, the stock pot where you're cooking the noodles, and the skillet where you're making the sauce and assembling the pasta.  I know the three dishes (and 11 steps) sounds like a lot, but trust me when I tell you this dish comes together quickly and easily and will absolutely satisfy whatever late-night craving you bring to the table.


  • One box of long noodles (Spaghetti is standard, linguine is our go-to dried pasta, and tonight I made fresh fettuccine.  Do whatever you want).
  • Salt (for pasta water and for eggs).
  • Bacon, cut into 3/4" pieces (3-4 long slices is plenty, add more or less as you see fit).
  • 1 onion, chopped (I love onions, feel free to use less if you like).
  • 1 large spoonful of minced garlic.
  • Butter (for sauce and for fried egg)
  • 1/2 cup (or more) of refrigerated Parmesan cheese
  • Eggs (1 or 2 per person).
  1. Add water to large pot and start boiling.
  2. Cut bacon into large skillet and begin browning.
  3. Once water is boiling, add salt and pasta.
  4. Once bacon is starting to get crisp, add chopped onion.
  5. Once onion gets tender, add minced garlic
  6. Fry an egg or two. No need to get fancy here: throw some butter in a non-stick pan and crack in an egg. Let it cook until it's done. If you like Over Easy or Sunny Side Up, go for it. I just go for a basic fried egg.
  7. By this time, the pasta should be close to done.  Take half a cup (or a large ladle, or whatever) of the pasta water and add it to the skillet. Stir as needed to get everything loose from the bottom of the pan.
  8. Once pasta is done, move it over to the skillet. You can drain with a colander first, but it's easier just to drain with a pasta spoon as you move it over.
  9. Add a large pat of butter (several tablespoons) to the pasta. Mix well to get butter distributed and the bacon/onion/garlic mixture coating everything.  Turn off heat.
  10. Add about a third of the cheese, then toss pasta to distribute. Repeat until you use all the cheese. Add pasta water if needed to even out the sauce.
  11. Add to plate, top with a fried egg.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Three Bulletproof Marinades

Over the past few years, I've tried dozens and dozens of marinades.  I rarely made the same one twice.  95% of the time, any marinade is better than no marinade.  But is any particular marinade worth the effort?  I've taken all of them out of my repertoire, except these three.

The Good is stupid easy and works on everything.  It violates the spirit of this blog (everything from scratch) but once in a while I cheat. I used it this past weekend as we marinated meats and veggies for kebabs (Mom's birthday).  One container had beef and chicken, one container had shrimp, and one container had red potatoes/bell peppers/vidalia onion/cherry tomatoes/pineapple.  We marinated overnight, and it was incredible.  And this marinade went on everything and made everything taste fantastic.

The Better is almost as easy, although I've only ever used it on chicken.  It's more of a wet rub than a true marinade: it imparts flavor really quickly, and I've never left the meat in for more than an hour or so.  We used it tonight on grilled chicken fettuccine Alfredo (pasta makers are really fun).  We frequently buy a big pack of chicken legs / thighs from Meijer for cheap, give them a quick rub in this, and throw them in the oven on a drying rack/cookie sheet. I bet it would be good on beef, but we so rarely have beef that I’ve not tried it.

The Best is an Odor family legend. It tastes awesome, but I rarely make it because the Good and Better are pretty solid and they're easier. Less measuring, and cheaper ingredients. But if you want to spare no expense of time or budget, try this out.

Good Marinade (Beef, Chicken, Pork, Veggies, anything else)
  • Ingredients: Italian Dressing & A1 Steak Sauce
  • Steps: Put meat in large ziplock bag.  Add Italian Dressing to coat.  Add steak sauce.
  • Hint: I’d guess a 5-to-1 Italian-to-A1 ratio.  Try it a couple of times, you’ll figure it out quickly.
Better Marinade (Chicken and ???)
  • Ingredients: Olive oil, kosher salt, italian seasoning, minced garlic
  • Steps: Put a single piece of chicken in a bowl, coat in olive oil, then liberally cover one side with other three ingredients.  Rub to mix and cover, set aside, add next piece of chicken to bowl, and repeat.  Add more ingredients as needed.
  • Hints: Don't be stingy with the salt, garlic, or herbs.  We usually go pretty easy on salt, but this is a place to use it.  Most will cook off anyway (that's what I tell myself, at least). Hypothetically this should work well with a different spice mix if you don't have Italian, but why mess with perfection?
Best Marinade (Everything)
  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
    1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  1. Mix.
  2. Put meat in marinade.  For large amounts of meat, double or triple recipe.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Authentic Corn Tortillas

I always thought I liked flour tortillas and disliked corn tortillas.  I recently discovered that I LOVE corn tortillas, I'd just never had good ones until I made them at home.  If you buy them in a stack of fifty at the store, you're not getting good ones.

The ingredients are dead simple, but there is one special piece of equipment: the tortilla press.  You need one.  If you like Mexican food, you need one of these.  Seriously, just buy that one.  Cast aluminum, easy cleanup, works great, 12 bucks with free shipping.  Plus, if you buy that one, I get a kickback from Amazon.

You'll need two pans:  non-stick or (best option) cast iron.  It sounds like a lot of work, but after you do a couple you'll get the hang of it.  It's far easier, it helps keep a steady pattern, and if you do it right the tortillas will puff up beautifully on the right-hand pan.  After pressing a tortilla, put it on the left-hand pan, cook for 30 seconds, flip, cook for 30 seconds, move to right pan, cook for 30 seconds, flip, cook for 30 seconds, move to tortilla warmer (or plate covered with a towel).  So an ideal workflow is (moving from left to right) dough => press => low pan => high pan => warmer.  Like I said, it sounds complicated but it'll make sense once you try it.  It really does work well.  You can see my two pans (and lots of unwashed dishes) in the background, behind this child model we brought in for the photo shoot.

So easy a child can do it.
Finally, you'll need masa flour.  We're pretty big on not buying single-purpose ingredients: we make most meals from scratch and almost everything we buy is a "stock" ingredient with multiple purposes.  But to make corn tortillas you need corn flour. I buy Maseca masa harina at WalMart.  It works fine and will last you forever.

Enough talk, now to the cooking.

Ingredients: Makes 8 6-inch tortillas.  Feel free to double or triple.

  • 1 C masa flour 
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 C liquid (water, corn stock, whey, etc)


  1. Measure out your dry ingredients into a mixing bowl.  Add your wet ingredients.  Mix.
  2. You'll end up with something the consistency of a very firm play-dough, or maybe high-quality plastic explosive.  Put this in the fridge for 15-30 minutes.  I should clarify for any NSA readers that I've never personally used C-4, I just watch people use it on Burn Notice.
  3. When you pull the dough out, you should be able to break off a piece of it in your hand.  Break off a golf-ball sized piece and roll into a ball.  Put dough-ball on a plate and repeat step 3 until there's no more dough.  If you did it right, you should have about 8 equally-sized pieces of dough.
  4. Get a quart ziplock bag and cut out the edges.  This will give you two 6x6 pieces of plastic.  Use these to keep your dough from sticking to your dough press.  Put 1 ball of dough between two sheets, put in press, and close press 95% of the way.  Open press, rotate tortilla 90%, and press the rest of the way.  You don't have to do it this way, but I find it gives me a slightly better shape and thickness than when I use a single press.  See the picture for the press, finished tortilla, and dough ready to press.
  5. Cook your tortillas as described above.  Press, 30 seconds, flip, 30 seconds, transfer, 30 seconds, flip, 30 seconds, and under the towel.  I don't use utensils for the flipping:  you should be able to do everything with bare hands.  You're only touching the tortilla, not the pan.
That's it.  I dare you to tell me that's not the best corn tortilla you've ever had.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Classic Omelette

Until about a year and a half ago, I'd never successfully made an omelette.  I could fry an egg, but the light and fluffy omelette seemed forever outside my reach.  Thanks to Alton Brown, however, this situation has reversed itself.  Let me tell you what I did wrong, then I'll walk you through the classic 2-egg omelette.
  1. You need to butter the pan.  So it's a beautiful, brand-new Teflon non-stick pan?  Doesn't matter.  Butter it.
  2. You need to use warm eggs.  The difference in temperature between the top and bottom of the omelette was ruining them.  Get eggs to room temperature before cooking.  You can do this by letting them sit out, or by putting them in a bowl with hot water for a couple of minutes.
  3. Don't whisk the eggs.  Whisking adds air to the mixture, which is (in this case) a bad thing.  Air is an insulator, and it gets you in trouble with that temperature differential again.  Mix with a fork using a round-and-round motion, but don't add extra air.
  • Bonus tip:  not from Mr Brown, but cool:  Never use salt when cooking eggs.  Creole seasoning is 90% salt, and adds a little bit of extra taste.
  • Bonus tip:  Get yourself a silicone spatula. It makes this (and many other cooking activities) SO MUCH easier.  They're not expensive.  Get one. Get rid of all other spatulas.  There's nothing a rubber spatula can do better than a silicone one.


  • 2 Warm Eggs
  • Pinch of Creole Seasoning (or salt, or some salty seasoning)
  • Butter
  1. Crack 2 eggs into a bowl and add a dash of salt, Creole seasoning, or similar.  Mix well.
  2. Add nonstick pan to stovetop on medium heat.  Add butter to pan and let melt.
  3. Pour eggs into buttered pan.  Use silicone spatula to scrape out bowl, then stir mixture until re-mixed. The time it takes to scrape the bowl is enough for the bottom layer of the eggs to start to firm up; re-mixing them ensures that everything will firm up about the same time. 
  4. Let it sit.  Don't do anything.  Seriously, don't touch it.  It'll cook bottom to top, don't touch it until it's cooked halfway up.
  5. Add what you're gonna add.  More on this later.
  6. Now, use your silicone spatula to loosen the edges of the omelette.  Work your way around, then underneath.  If you shake the pan, the omelette should move around.
  7. By this point, the eggs should be mostly firm.  Use the spatula to fold the right third of the omelette over towards the middle.  Shake the pan again to make sure everything is still moving well.  Get out a plate and hold it near the pan with your left hand.
  8. See what I did there?
  9. Pick up the omelette pan in your right and and tilt it so that the omelette starts to slide out onto the plate.  Once it gets halfway there, twist your right wrist to "fold" the omelette over onto itself.
  10. Triple-fold complete.
  11. Serve and eat.


  • Whatever you want.  I had feta cheese and this pineapple-habanero salsa and it was epic.  Once you nail the basic technique, adding whatever you want will be a piece of cake.  I have a wife and daughter who thrive on protein, so a variety of omelettes in the morning makes for a happy house.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Grilled Corn on the Cob

If there was ever a food that was bulletproof, it's grilled corn on the cob.  I challenge you to mess this up.  Now, I have no doubt you can make grilled CotC more complicated.  Lots of people semi-shuck the corn, take out the silk, re-cover, soak, and grill.  But these people are just making work for themselves. Corn is easy.


  • Corn on the cob.
  • Butter, salt, and pepper.


  1. Put water in a pot.  Put the corn in it.  Don't open it in any way.  Put it in the little produce bag at the supermarket, then bring it home and put it in the water.  If you're feeling fancy, put something on top of the corn to push it all the way under the water.
  2. Get a hot grill.
  3. Pull the corn out of the water and put it on the grill, right over the heat.
  4. Rotate every few minutes; cook until the corn husks are all brown.
  5. Put on a plate and let sit until it's cool enough to handle.
  6. Pull the husks open.  They should split pretty much down the middle, and the silk should (due to the steam) slide right off.
  7. Immediately spread butter over corn, and sprinkle salt and pepper.
  8. Eat and be filled with delicious corn.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Bulletproof Bites: An Introduction

A conversation with a good friend this past week reminded me of something I already knew:  I need to get into the habit of writing.  I self-censor way too much on my "real" blog, so I need to get in the habit of writing and publishing.  Thus:  a cooking blog.  I'm not a real foodie blogger:  I don't have crazy good photography skills or a cookbook deal.  But I occasionally make tasty things and don't have a good way to share the recipes, so the blog serves a dual purpose.  To start things off, here's some cooking I did for a college roommate reunion this past week:  8 adults and 7 kids.
I don't think it's possible to mess these recipes up.  If it was, I would have!  Try them out and let me know if anything's unclear.  Enjoy!

Overnight Eclair Pie

It feels like cheating to write about eclair pie, because you can find this recipe all over the internet. But I made it this week and it's bulletproof, so it goes on the blog.


  • 2 small containers (~3.4oz) of instant french vanilla pudding
  • 4 C cold milk, plus another couple tablespoons for topping
  • 1 8oz container of whipped topping
  • 1 box graham crackers
  • 1/2 container of fudge or dark chocolate cake frosting. If you buy milk chocolate cake frosting, you are what's wrong with America.

  1. In a large mixing bowl, add both containers of pudding mix and four cups of milk. Whisk like crazy until pudding thickens. Add whipped topping and gently whisk together. Over-mixing will take all the air out of the whipped topping, so don't go overboard.
  2. In a baking dish, add a layer of the graham crackers and a thin layer of pudding mix. Repeat until you run out of graham crackers or pudding mix.
  3. In a smaller mixing dish, mix the cake frosting with milk to make a pour-able frosting. Cover top layer with frosting, then refrigerate for at least 8 hours. This dish will easily refrigerate overnight.
Because you're using half a container of frosting, this recipe doubles really well. I made it in two disposable tin baking containers (like you'd use for freezer lasagna or something). That sounds like a lot of eclair pie, but you'll be shocked at how quickly it disappears.

Grilled Peach Brulee

Technically it's brûlée, but who has time to add all of those squiggles? And if you want to get really technical, a brulee is made using a blowtorch, so this is just grilled peaches topped with caramelized brown sugar. It's still awesome.

  • Peaches
  • Brown Sugar
  • Vanilla Ice Cream

  1. Cut peaches in half & remove stone.
  2. Add peaches, cut side down, to hot grill.  Close grill cover and wait.  Flip before the cut side becomes charred.  Cook time will depend on your grill's heat; you'll have to gauge this for yourself.  It shouldn't take long.
  3. Flip peach on grill so skin side is down.  Sprinkle brown sugar generously over cut side, then close grill.  Go get your bowls and ice cream.
  4. Once sugar is caramelized, move to bowl, cover with ice cream, and top with a light sprinkling of brown sugar.  You don't need more sweetness, but it's a tiny bit of extra work for a ton of presentation points.

This is one of those desserts that impresses far more than it deserves.  Very worth doing on a night where you've already got the grill hot.

Perfect Hummus

I love good hummus.  Prior to this recipe, I was never really content with my homemade stuff.  This recipe uses the same ingredients as every other recipe I ever tried.  So what's the difference between a grainy mess and creamy perfection?  The order you add the ingredients.  I kid you not.  I gained this piece of wisdom from Inspired Taste, and you should drop by over there to see their pictures, if nothing else.  My kitchen's too messy for photography.

Ingredients and Steps:

Add to a food processor or blender:
  • 1/2 C lemon juice
  • 1/2 C tahini

Blend until tahini is creamy.  Then add:

Blend until it looks blended.  Then add:
  • 2 rinsed and drained 15-ounce cans of chickpeas.   If you add the entire can with liquid, your hummus will be too wet.  You could go the colander route, but why get the colander dirty?  Do what I do:  pour off liquid into another container, fill can with water, shake the can, put the lid back on, and pour the water out into the sink.  Do this a couple of times.  If you see any skins, pull them out.  It will make the hummus smoother.  Don't stress too much, though.  Add one can of rinsed and drained beans, blend until smooth, then add second can.

Finally, add in the reserved bean juice, a little at a time, until the consistency is how you like it. You won't need it all. Remember that the blended beans will soak up a little bit of water over time, so it's ok to make it just slightly wet.  Don't go overboard, though.  Nobody will complain if the hummus is a little firm.  This is also a good time to add that extra dash of hot sauce or salt.

That's it!  Congrats, you've made perfect hummus.  Note that the flavors will meld well with a couple hours in the fridge, but it'll be just fine to go ahead and eat it.  Every hummus recipe in the world calls for the tahini to be in a colorful bowl, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with paprika.  I don't bother with that... spend your time chopping carrots or breaking open a bag of pretzels.

Kickin' Peanut Sauce

I got this peanut sauce recipe from The Chinese Takeout Cookbook, by Diana Kuan. Everything we've made so far has been fantastic, but the most useful recipe it's added to our repertoire is the peanut sauce. She uses it for "Cold Sesame Noodles" with spaghetti noodles, julienned carrot & cucumber, scallions, and sesame seeds. That's a great recipe, but the sauce works just fine on its own. I've had it on chicken, noodles, rice, or anything else that I could dip in it. We started out making the individual recipe contained in the book, but discovered that quadrupling it gives the perfect amount of sauce to fit in a Mason jar. It keeps very well in the fridge.

This jar was full five days ago.
All measurements are approximate.  Adjust heat by adding more chili sauce, Franks Hot Sauce, crushed red pepper, or whatever you want.  But don't add heat before trying it... it's pretty good as it is.

Ingredients for Single Batch:

Group 1:
  • 2 t minced garlic
  • 2 t grated fresh ginger
  • 1 T canola oil

Group 2:
  • 3 T tahini
  • 2 T peanut butter
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 T sesame oil (I used canola)
  • 2 T rice vinegar
  • 2 t chili sauce
  • 2 T sugar
  • 3 T water (as needed for proper consistency)

Ingredients for Quadruple Batch (Mason Jar):

Group 1:
  • 2 T, 2 t minced garlic
  • 2 T, 2 t grated fresh ginger
  • 3 T canola oil

Group 2:
  • 3/4 C tahini
  • 1/2 C peanut butter
  • 1/2 C soy sauce
  • 1/4 C sesame oil (I used canola)
  • 1/2 C rice vinegar
  • 2 T, 2 t chili sauce
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 3/4 C water (as needed for proper consistency)

  1. Add group 1 to saucepan and heat until fragrant (about a minute).  Remove from heat and let cool.
  2. Mix group 2 with a blender, food processor, or really excellent whisk.  Add water last.
  3. Add group 1 to group 2 and mix.
  4. Enjoy hot or cold as a marinade, sauce, or condiment.  Or eat it by itself... I'm not in a position to judge.