#Quarantine Cooking

Anyone who likes to eat can soon learn to cook well.

While my usual foodie adventures around Houston are on pause for now, I’m turning my apartment into the latest spot for good food.

The past few weeks of stay-at-home orders, to-go alcohol, and restaurant closures have given me the chance to cook and try new recipes. This means finally using my cookbooks for more than just an aesthetically pleasing bookcase or a rudimentary standing desk (which has been very ergo-friendly, thank you).

It’s been pretty pleasant – flagging recipes to try, writing down my menu for the week, and heading to my local HEB or H-Mart with mask in hand. With few other things on my calendar, I have plenty of time to peruse the aisles and produce sections, picking up new spices on every visit.

My quarantine goals include cooking at least three new recipes every week. Beyond fantastic breakfast tacos, steaks and hamburgers, below are a few of this week’s new recipes:

Bò nuóng vi

This came from Chris Shepherd’s cook book Cook Like a Local. He calls it ‘Vietnamese fajitas’ – though he acknowledges this can be seen as white-washing the dish to make it something more recognizable to white restaurant-goers. But it doesn’t make it any less delicious.

Serve with homemade nuoc cham.

Bulgogi

This Korean beef dish is one of my favorites, but I had never made the sauce myself before quarantine. I used this recipe, marinating the beef in soy sauce, sesame oil, gochujang, pear, brown sugar, ginger and garlic.

Get the bulgogi cut rib eye at H-Mart for the perfect meat.

img_4284

Grilled lamb and scallion pancakes

This wasn’t one of our best meals. Meant to be Peking duck with a Northern Chinese spin (i.e. lamb), courtesy of NYT Cooking, it was just too heavy. Making the scallion pancakes was fun – resting the dough and brushing the pancakes with sesame oil – but the lamb was too tough and the five spice powder marinade tasted dusty.

Slow-roasted gochujang chicken

One to save, for sure. This Bon Appetit recipe is so easy – requiring only 15 minutes and five ingredients. A whole chicken and potatoes are painted with a mixture of ginger, garlic and gochujang (the fermented Korean chile paste that only comes in a tub), then slow roasted for three hours at 300 degree Fahrenheit. The result is a sweet and spicy melt-in-your mouth chicken.

What’s up next week?

Ambitious Rebecca says a mole. Realistic Rebecca says stick to simple marinated meats.

Resources:

  • NYT Cooking app
    • Requires an extra subscription from the normal NYT subscription, but so worth it
    • You can save recipes, and I really love the ‘suggested for you’ content on my home page based off of what I’m looking at
  • Bon Appetit
    • I love the magazine subscription
    • They have super easy recipes, as well as interesting recipes with what may be new-to-you ingredients
    • Lately, they have also been focusing a lot more on representation in food, highlighting Black, Thai, Nigerian and other chefs
  • Omnivore’s Cookbook (Instagram: omnivorescookbook)
    • Beautiful Chinese dishes
  • Harvest Queen (Instagram: helloharvestqueen)
    • Focused on fresh, in season produce
    • Useful tips for what to look for when visiting a farmers market
    • Step by step Instagram stories for certain recipes, like skillet cornbread and squash soup
  • Nothing Fancy: Unfussy food for having people over by Alison Roman
  • Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African-American Cooking by Toni Tipton-Martin
    • A stunning book that forces you to rethink where a dish originated. Alongside the recipes, Toni shows what the old, original recipes looked like in Black cookbooks from the past two centuries
    • Some of my favorites are sweet potato biscuits, maque choux and caribbean roast pork, caramelized on top with rum, brown sugar and lime juice
  • Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the elements of good cooking by Samin Nosrat
    • One of the quintessential resources for understanding how to cook and why you really can’t leave out that ingredient in a recipe
  • Cook Like a Local: Flavors that can change how you cook and see the world by Chris Shepherd
  • Sababa: Fresh, Sunny Flavors from My Israeli Kitchen by Adeena Sussman
    • A book with so many of my go-to recipes, from my daily tahini smoothie to roasted tomato and labaneh pappardelle pasta to caramelized pineapple with sumac over labaneh
    • My favorite hummus recipe is also in here – try the lachmajun spiced beef hummus with tamarind paste
  • A House with a Date Palm Will Never Starve: Cooking with date syrup by Michael Rakowitz
  • The Aleppo Cookbook: Celebrating the legendary cuisine of Syria by Marlene Matar

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