Noah recently bought a cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen/Cook’s Illustrated, The New Best Recipe. It’s really cool – they test out all the factors that go into making each dish and share with you their process and results. For example when making chocolate chip cookies, they test how brown sugar vs white sugar affected the taste and texture, along with different ratios of ingredients, what type of baking sheets work best, etc. They even sometimes test out various brands of butter or some other ingredient.
Anyway, we’ve used a few of their recipes since, and last Friday Noah fried up some wonderfully crisp and light catfish using our new cookbook. It was really good, but we did think it was a bit wasteful. You end up using a lot of oil and flour, but maybe it was worth it?
The weekend before we had invited some friends over for a clambake (also using the cookbook, but we thought the recipe was just ok), and I used the leftover juices to make a soup.
Pan Fried Catfish
To minimize splatters and maximize safety, use a Dutch oven with sides at least 5 inches high (instead of a regular skillet) when frying the fish.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup fine cornmeal
- salt and ground black pepper
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 large eggs
- 2 1/2 cups vegetable oil for frying, or as needed
- 2 catfish fillets (about 12 oz each), skin and dark fatty flesh just below the skin removed, fillets cut in half lengthwise
- lemon wedges
1. Place 1/2 cup of the flour in a wide, shallow dish. In another wide, shallow dish, mix together the remaining 1/2 cup flour, cornmeal, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper and the cayenne. In a third shallow dish, whisk the eggs with 1 tbsp of the oil until combined.
2. Pat the fish fillets dry with paper towels and sprinkle each side with salt and pepper to taste. Drop the fish into the flour and shake the dish to coat. Shake the excess flour from each piece, then, using tongs, dip the fillets into the egg mixture, turning to coat well and allowing the excess to drip off. Coat the fillets with the cornmeal mixture, shake off the excess and set aside.
3. Heat 1/2 inch oil in a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over high heat until the oil reaches a temperature of 400 degrees. (The oil should not smoke, but it will come close.) Place 2 catfish fillets in the hot oil and fry, turning once, until golden brown, about 4 mins. Adjust the heat as necessary to keep the oil between 385-390 degrees. Remove the fillets from the oil with a slotted spoon and lay them on a plate lined with several layers of paper towels; blot to remove any excess oil. Set aside. Bring the oil back to 400 degrees and repeat the cooking process with the remaining fillets.
4. Serve the fried fish immediately with either lemon wedges or dipping sauce.
Ok, so this isn’t really a recipe, but it was my first time making soup from leftover broth. Basically, add whatever you want, but make sure there’s enough liquid to boil everything.
I had about a cup of clam broth leftover, so I added 1 cup of chicken broth and boiled some diced potatoes and leftover shredded carrots. Before serving, I topped it with sliced scallions. It was super good!
I loved Moroccan food when I was in college (still do, but just never have opportunities to eat it). And suddenly, last week I found myself longing for beautifully spiced, tender chicken and veggies over a bed of couscous. This recipe, did not disappoint!
- 1 cup couscous
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground dried turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 3 chicken legs
- 1 (16 ounce) can garbanzo beans
- 1 (16 ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 30 oz chicken broth
- 2 carrots, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 2 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 cup golden raisins
- salt to taste
- Prepare the couscous according to package directions.
- Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat, and cook onion and garlic until tender. Mix in bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon, turmeric, and cayenne pepper. Place chicken in the pot, and cook until well browned. Pour garbanzo beans, tomatoes, carrots and broth into the pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer 25 minutes.
- Mix zucchini into pot. Season with salt. Continue cooking 10 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Serve stew over cooked couscous.
I’ve always been terrible at making soup (unless it comes from a packet laden with MSG). The few times I have attempted a soup from scratch, it always ends up tasting like water with boiled vegetables. I had given up hope, but my friend Maggie (who I’ve mentioned before) brought over some delicious mushroom soup for us after we had our baby and I was inspired to try again.
I came across this recipe after searching for ways I could use our leftover dill and random grape tomatoes. Looking at the ingredients, I had no idea what the soup would taste like, but the reviews were so amazing, I decided it must be delectable! And the recipe seemed to have enough flavorful aspects to produce a tasty result. And thus, I achieved a yummy homemade soup – Hungarian Mushroom Soup!
This soup is actually amazingly good, super satisfying – even for a cool fall night.
Hungarian Mushroom Soup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups chopped onions
1 1/2 pounds fresh mushrooms, thickly sliced
1/2 bunch chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 ripe tomato (diced) or 1 can diced tomatoes
1 Hungarian wax or regular hot pepper
black pepper to taste
1/2 cup light sour cream, creme fraiche or Greek yogurt
Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Cook and stir the onions in the butter until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking until the mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes more. Stir the dill, paprika, soy sauce, and chicken broth into the mushroom mixture; reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 15 minutes.
Whisk the milk and flour together in a small bowl. Stir the mixture into the soup. Add the tomato and the pepper. Return cover to the pot and simmer another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper. Mix the sour cream/creme fraiche/yogurt into the soup and continue cooking and stirring until the soup has thickened, 5 to 10 minutes more. Remove the pepper and discard before serving the soup.
We used the rest of our ingredients from the Irish stew to make Boeuf Bourguignon in our slow cooker. I was out that morning, and Noah stayed home sick again, so he was in charge of assembling the ingredients. Not to point any fingers, but someone mistook our corn starch for flour, so our stew had a lot of… gooey clumps on the bottom. I also don’t think the recipe was quite right – the wine didn’t quite infuse with the rest of the flavors and it tasted like beef stew with some wine dumped in. I am not a fan of this recipe. But, then again, we didn’t quite follow the recipe entirely. Beef and Guinness stew ingredients differ slightly from Boeuf Bourguignon, so that may have been the problem.
This was the pretty picture of the weird-tasting stew:
Noah got sick and had to stay home from work one day and for lunch he made his signature sandwich: Grilled Cheese with pepperoncinis. My very first pre-school would always serve grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup for those who forgot their lunches. I fell into that category quite often (not entirely sure if it was my or my mom’s fault) and as a result, whenever I eat a grilled cheese sandwich for a meal, I feel the need to accompany it with tomato soup. So, while Noah prepped the sandwiches, I made my first home-made tomato soup – all with ingredients we already had in our kitchen!
Homemade Tomato Soup
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 (28 ounce) can tomato puree
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic for 3 minutes. Stir in milk and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in tomato puree and sugar. Mix well, cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.
Add basil, salt and pepper and simmer, uncovered, for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Noah’s Grilled Sandwiches
TJ’s Soft 10-Grain sandwich bread
Extra Sharp White Cheddar
Arrange ingredients like this:
Place in frying pan like so (top with one more piece of bread):
You can also use a sandwich press (if you have one) to make this. Noah uses the press from our cast-iron griddle pan.
Finished Products – A Noah Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup!
The following Wednesday night, we brought out our slow cooker for the first time this year. I had found a recipe for “Beef and Guinness Stew” in The Gourmet Slow Cooker that my friend Jenn had given us as a wedding present. It instantly made me think of the Irish stew I had eaten on my first night in Ireland, sitting inside a slightly deserted Irish pub while I also had my first ever Harp and Guinness. All of which was so pleasing and satisfying on a cold, rainy night.
This concoction was not exactly what I had envisioned, but it was still good nonetheless. I did some research after the fact, and this “Beef and Guinness Stew” is not a true Irish stew. Apparently, in an Irish stew you never brown the meat. And, in this recipe the meat is browned. I’m not sure how much of a difference it makes, but next time, maybe I’ll see what happens without the browning of meat.
Since I was leaving the house extremely early at around 7:15 that morning, I pre-chopped all the veggies and also floured the beef the night before and stored it all in the fridge.
3/4 c all-purpose flour
2 1/2 lbs lean stewing beef, cut into cubes
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2-3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
2 large yellow onions, quartered
1-2 sprigs thyme (I used dried thyme from our spice rack)
2 cups Guinness or other dark, hearty beer (I actually used one of Noah’s home-brewed ales)
1 tsp salt
chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
1. Using a resealable plastic bag or bowl, coat beef pieces with flour.
2. Brown the meat with the oil until browned on all sides. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
3. Place beef, potatoes, carrots, onions and thyme in the slow cooker and pour the beer over the top. (If you prefer the veggies with more texture, let the stew cook for 1 hour before adding them.) Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or until meat is very tender. Season with salt. Remove and discard the thyme.
4. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with parsley.
I think the beef was a little overdone, and it definitely needs the addition of lots of salt, but still a great dish. Oh, and I also added some mushrooms during the last hour of cooking. We served this with some multi-grain baguette from Whole Foods and shared our meal with wonderful neighbors Grace & Elby.
Last weekend, after eating many very delicious but greasy meals, I was craving something simple, healthy and satisfying. I even searched google for recipes using those words, nothing really came up. So, I tried a new approach and tried to think of one ingredient that might satisfy these 3 adjectives. Somehow, I came up with leeks, which I actually have never cooked before.
Hence, I made a Leek, Spinach & White Bean Soup. It was good when it was fresh off the stove, but after heating some up for my lunch today… not so yummy. It was just really bland and gross. 😦 But, at least I know how to prepare leeks now!
The meal was not a complete bust, however. I also made the most delicious baked potatoes ever. The secret is that the skin is rubbed with olive oil and seasoned with salt. Most excellent!