Recipes from Joy of Cooking rewritten so they're possible in a small kitchen on a small budget. Enjoy.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Asparagus with Hazelnuts and Orange & Roast Beef with Mushroom Wine Sauce

So, Valentine’s Day is coming up in a little less than a month. This time of year is romantic for me, because a week after V-Day is my anniversary with my boyfriend.

So for a few weeks now, I’ll be posting the ‘romantic’ recipes—what’s indexed under Valentine’s Day, for example.

The first one on the list, sure I’ll cover that.

Oysters on the Half-Shell

Don’t do it.

I’m serious, don’t even try this one. Yeah, oysters are an aphrodisiac (according to urban legend) but raw oysters are a health risk. It’s possible to chemically cook them with enough acid, but this recipe is literally crack open oysters, serve on half-shell. I won’t help you get poisoned from raw oysters.

So I’ll give you a better recipe instead.

Asparagus with Hazelnut and Orange

Asparagus doesn’t sound too tasty, I’ll admit, but it is surprisingly good. And this recipe will be good to make for your significant other if they’re vegetarian or a health nut.


1 lb frozen asparagus
2 tbsp butter
¼ cup hazelnuts (a little hard to find in some stores, so walnuts or almonds will be an acceptable substitute)
1 orange
Salt and black pepper

Preheat oven to 325°. Cover a rack with tin foil and spread hazelnuts on it. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring every so often so they don’t burn.
At the same time, thaw the asparagus. You can use a microwave, or place the frozen sealed bag in a bowl of room-temperature water.
Put a large skillet over medium heat. Cut the orange in half and squeeze as much juice as you can out of it directly into the skillet. If you suck at squeezing, squeeze both halves. Add the butter and hazelnuts. Cook everything together until the butter is completely melted and slightly brown.
Add the asparagus, and cook it all together until the asparagus is heated through. Stir it or toss it to make sure everything’s warm.
Add salt and pepper to taste.

This can get cold pretty fast, so it’s best served right away.
Some frozen asparagus comes in steamer bags. For these, just follow the directions on the bag and it’ll turn out perfect.

Be warned: asparagus will make your pee so noxious, unless you’re one of those lucky people whose body’s a little different. If you’re part of one of those couples still embarrassed to even fart in front of each other, I’d skip this one.

Or, if asparagus just isn’t your taste, keep reading.

Yeah, this is a long one this week. I managed to get a lot done—don’t expect this every week.

Roasted Beef Tenderloin

There is not a cheap and easy way to roast beef. There is a cheap and easy way to have it, though.
Go to your local grocery store’s deli and buy some. There is no way that they don’t have some type of roast beef, trust me.
Get however much you can eat. You don’t have to use it all in one dish.
If you’re going to use the sauce I’m giving in the second recipe, try and buy the beef without any sort of marinade. The flavor may not mix well with the sauce.
If all they have is sliced, it’s fine. It’s not the best, but it’ll do. If you can buy it unsliced, that’ll be better.
When you bring this back to your dorm or apartment and heat it up, use the oven, set at about 200° for five to ten minutes. If you use the microwave to heat this, it will dry out and be tough and chewy. If you like your roast beef to turn into beef jerky, go for it.

Now, a sauce over the beef would be nice, wouldn’t it?

Mushroom Wine Sauce

This won’t be real wine in it. I’m 19. I can’t even buy cooking wine. I’ll note where you can add the wine if you’re legal to buy it.
Also, this is two recipes mixed into one because you’re supposed to add a sauce to this sauce, and this book is kind of confusing okay? Anyways, the other recipe that I’m using is Quick Brown Sauce.

4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 can (10.75 oz) beef consommé (beef stock is an appropriate substitute)
1 cup sliced mushrooms
¾ cup beef stock
¼ cup red wine vinegar (if you can get red wine, do ½ cup stock and ½ cup wine)
Salt and black pepper

Put a saucepan over medium heat. Add half of the butter and let it melt. Stir in the flour until completely blended, and cook for about seven minutes, or until lightly browned.
Stir in the can of consommé and bring to a boil.
Put this aside.
Put a skillet over medium heat and melt the butter in it. Add the mushrooms and stir for two minutes.
Add the stock and the vinegar (or wine) and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the sauce you previously put aside and simmer for another 20 minutes.
Add salt and pepper to taste.

Notes: The butter and flour will form a kind of paste that you’re basically frying before adding the consommé. It’ll stay lumpy when you add the consommé, so try to stir until all or most of the lumps are out.

Overall cost: about $20. I didn’t buy some of the staples (butter, flour, etc), but even so, I was surprised at how cheap the rest of the ingredients were. If you make this right, it’s easily worth $50 at a nice restaurant, so you’ve saving quite a bit here.

Next week, something special’s coming.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Buffalo Wings & Bleu Cheese Dressing

All right, let's start cooking. There’s some sections in the beginning of this book about nutrition and how to entertain people with food, but seriously, a quick trip to Wikipedia will tell you all you need to know. Do you really care about the proper table setting for a meal that includes a soup and a dessert? Hell no. If you’re throwing a party, you’re serving cheap snacks and cheap beer. Your guests won’t care, because it’s free.

Well, unless you’re charging your friends $5 a head, but if you are, you’re throwing terrible parties and you hate your friends.

So since we’re on the subject of parties, let’s do a classic party snack. Wings sound good?

Buffalo Chicken Wings

The original recipe is simple enough, but it calls for a deep fryer. Do you have a deep fryer in your dorm room? Well, if you do, just go find the original recipe, ‘cause I’m assuming you don’t.

To make this easier, I’m bolding all the pots and utensils you’ll need to make this, so if you have absolutely nothing, you know what to get.

1 ½ pounds chicken wings (bone-in)
½ cup flour
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
Vegetable oil
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp red wine or apple cider vinegar (both are pricier than simple white vinegar, but trust me, the taste difference matters)
2 tbsp Tabasco (or other hot pepper sauce)

Preheat oven to 200°. (This is not completely necessary, but it does make the wings taste better.)
Remove the wing tips from the chicken—that’s just the final joint and the bone after it. Now you should have chicken wings with one joint each in them, so cut all the pieces in two at the joint.
By joint I mean where the bones connect. I shouldn’t have to say that, but if you’re from my college…
Mix the flour, salt, and pepper.
Coat the wings in the flour mixture, and set them aside.
Fill a saucepan with an inch of oil. Heat on the stove over medium heat. It’s hot enough when you drop in a wing and you hear a sizzle. Or, you could splash a little bit of water in and it will spit at you and go all crazy. I wouldn’t recommend that, as you’ll probably burn yourself.
Drop in all the wings and fry them till the coating is golden brown and the chicken is thoroughly cooked (180° if you have a thermometer, or if you cut a piece open, it should all be white, no pink).
Pull the chicken out of the oil (using tongs or a fork or something, not your bare hands!) and place them on a paper towel to drain. If you have a preheated oven, put them in there to keep them warm. If not, just put them aside.
Empty the saucepan, then wash and dry it. Put it back on the stove, over low heat. Drop the butter in it and let the butter melt.
Once the butter is melted, remove the saucepan from heat (just turn off the burner if you’re using a gas stove, but if you’re using electric you need to literally move it elsewhere). Mix the vinegar and Tabasco in with the butter.
Take your chicken out of the oven. If it was not in the oven, you may want to microwave it for a few seconds to get it warm again.
Put the wings in a bowl large enough to hold all of them. Pour the sauce onto the wings and toss until all the wings are coated.
Serve them now because cold wings suck. You might want some celery on the side.

Don’t worry if the flour on the wings comes off when you put them in the pan. It’ll do that. Just cook them like normal, and they’ll be crispy enough.
You may want to add more Tabasco than the recipe calls for. I thought it was good, but my boyfriend complained the sauce was too mild.
These wings will not look like buffalo wings that you get from a store. They certainly don’t look like the ones from my local wings place. But trust me, they taste the same.

And you probably want something to go with those wings, right?

Bleu Cheese Dressing

Yeah that’s right, you get two recipes. Now I’ll admit that it would be far cheaper to just buy some bottled dressing, but it wouldn’t taste as good. If you think people won’t really care, go for the bottled. If you want to really impress people—and why not? you've already got homemade wings—make this dressing too.

1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup chopped parsley or 1 tsp dried parsley flakes (I always buy dried herbs instead of fresh—they’re initially more expensive, but they’ll last longer)
1-2 tbsp red wine vinegar (use the same vinegar from the wings recipe)
1 tsp minced garlic or ¼ tsp garlic powder
6 dashes Worcestershire sauce (I have heard soy sauce or steak sauce is an appropriate substitute, but the taste will be different)
Salt and pepper
4 oz Roquefort or other blue cheese

Add all ingredients except for the salt, pepper, and cheese to a blender. Mix until it is one smooth consistency.
Add the cheese to the mixture, and again mix until smooth.
Taste and add salt and pepper as you think it’s needed.

And, my currently nonexistent readers, I must of course give credit for the original recipes on which these are based. If you want the original and more complicated version, read Joy of Cooking, by Irma Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, and Ethan Becker. Seriously, this classic and influential cookbook has a recipe for wings, you guys. It’s worth a look.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Hello world!

I started cooking because I couldn’t find a job.

The summer between high school and college, my parents decided to stop giving me an allowance. Fair enough, I was 18. I needed to find a job—but in this economy, no one would hire just for the summer. I was stuck jobless and penniless.

So, my parents agreed to let me work for them. I would be cleaning the house, doing some yardwork, and cooking, for $8/hour. (at least this was tax-free, so actually better than a real job!) Cooking dinners and desserts for my family, I learned something great. I love this. And then I realized something not so great.

Crap, I’m going to college in a month.

I knew that the dorms would have kitchens, but I’d gotten used to a nice kitchen with tons of counter space, a large oven and stove, a stand mixer. I would have none of that at school, but at the same time, I would not be giving up cooking.

I’ve had three semesters in the dorms now. The ovens are tiny and turn off automatically before the food’s done, the stoves are small, the microwaves need to be shared with other students who want to make popcorn and Ramen. But despite these, I’ve been cooking.

Food at college is important. People will pretty much do anything for free food, because seriously, food’s really expensive, especially if it’s good. So, if you can make good food, you’re going to get a lot of friends.

I’ve learned tricks to cooking in the dorm, and I’ve learned how to use cheap ingredients to make food good. I could simply tell you these tricks, but I don’t think that’s enough.

Any chef knows the book Joy of Cooking. It’s a classic. It’s got hundreds of recipes and techniques. But it’s not a great book for the college cook. After all, you can’t really make ‘Roast stuffed goose with giblet gravy’ in a dorm kitchen, right?


That’s what I’m going to do with this blog. I bought a copy of Joy of Cooking, and I will be altering every single recipe to something that you can do with that microwave and tiny stove. If you can boil water, you can cook.

If you can’t boil water, then I really can’t help you. Sorry.

I'd ideally like to be updating this blog weekly. But when I got to my dorm this semester, I realized that I don't even have a microwave this time, wow. So, I'll have to rely on my boyfriend for help with a lot of these recipes, and I'll be trying to update as close to a weekly schedule as possible.

I guess this is where I’d put some goodbye catchphrase, like Bon appétit! but I don’t have one yet. So, just have fun cooking, okay?