I don’t really do reality TV. I watched The Real World when it started in the ‘90s because it was a new thing, something different from the norm. That said, I have a bit of an obsession with the original Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares that was broadcast in the UK starting in 2004.
If you’re unfamiliar, the show is hosted by chef Gordon Ramsay as he visits struggling restaurants in Britain and Europe. I find the UK version far superior to the US version (in the sense that the US version is unwatchable). Each episode of the original series is shot like a documentary and, while things get heated between presenter and restauranteur(s), the final product is much more reasonable than its American counterpart. The music is better, the filming is better, the editing is better. It feels like a thing that really happened, as opposed to an exploitative TV show.
Haven’t seen it? Almost every episode is on YouTube for free!
I’ve only cooked one recipe from chef Ramsay from another show of his, F Word, and it was years ago… sea bass with pepper sauce (see video below). I paired it with baked rice with star anise (I can’t find the recipe now). It stands as not on one of the best thing I’ve ever cooked, but maybe eaten, too!
We tried to order Chinese food the other night and failed. A friend mentioned that deliveries to area Chinese restaurants from their suppliers have stopped. That made me want Chinese food even more than usual. I made a version of this tonight, though I didn’t quite get the color/crisp in the picture on the recipe and it’s not the battered and fried version. I made my own dark soy sauce and cooked fresh green beans instead of doing the cabbage listed. While it wasn’t quite what I was expecting, it was still delicious! For sure more akin to chicken and green beans than any version of General Tso’s I’ve had in a restaurant. I blame Saoirse Ronan!
I used chili paste to get a little of the chili flavor where I didn’t have the correct chilis.
I cooked green beans in water in a separate pan and tossed them in after everything else was cooked.
I used corn starch instead of potato starch.
I didn’t have green onions, so I used white and caramelized them after the chicken was cooked, then tossed in grated garlic and ginger.
Now I know golden caster sugar is the same / similar to brown sugar!
To make the dark soy sauce, I found a recipe that was 1 cup soy sauce, 3/4 cup brown sugar, and corn starch dissolved in water. Stir over low heat in a pan until thickened. It probably would have been better a little thicker, so keep an eye out for a better recipe or, you know, buy dark soy sauce!
I served this with basmati rice cooked in a Ninja Foodi following the recipe in the Ninja cookbook.
Had I followed the directions in the recipe I could have maybe achieved the correct doneness, but I agree I couldn’t get the wok hot enough to do it with one pan.
This video helps fill in why it’s called Soirse Ronan’s General Tso’s chicken and also includes the video on how to make the dish. Having eaten Chinese food in the UK and Ireland, I agree it’s not the same!
Did you know there’s a documentary about General Tso’s?
I adapted this recipe from The Salted Pepper using some items I had around the kitchen. For example, rather than sirloin, as the original called for, I used leftover brisket I had in the freezer from Noble Barbeque in Portland (Maine). I omitted peppers and jalapeño, since I didn’t have any on hand and was serving to people who aren’t fans of either spice or peppers. The important part is that you use some sort of meat that will work like ground beef, ground turkey, sirloin, pulled pork, or brisket. I’ve included directions for thawing brisket quickly in the pressure cooker.
This is also probably a good time to mention that I love my Ninja Foodi and use it about 75% of the time I cook at this point. My one regret was not getting a larger model with a dehydrator.
Place leftover frozen meat in the pressure cooker along with one cup of beef broth.
Put on the pressure cooker lid and make sure the valve is to seal.
Set on high for 3 minutes* and press Start.
Once time has elapsed, quick release pressure valve.
Retain the liquid.
*I believe this was the time I used. Please be sure the meat reaches correct temperature (without overcooking). If you think you rushed it, you can always sauté longer in the steps below.
Making the chili
Dice onion and mince garlic.
Combine seasonings in a medium bowl.
Trim and cube the brisket into 1/2″ pieces. Add to the inner pot with onions and seasonings. Sauté for 3 minutes.
Add in the minced garlic and sauté for 2 minutes
Add in the Cholula, and cooking liquid from the brisket. Use a plastic scraper to scrape along the bottom of the pot to make sure nothing has stuck to it.
Add in the tomatoes and do not stir.
Place the tomato paste on top and do not stir.
Put on the pressure cooker lid and make sure the valve is to seal. Set the pressure to high for 10 minutes.
Allow to natural release for 3 minutes and then manually release the remaining pressure. Remove the lid and add in the kidney beans and corn. Stir to incorporate. Now is a good time to give it a little taste to see if you want to add any more spice or seasoning. Close the TenderCrisp lid and allow to sit for 5 minutes to thicken. If you are not serving it right away, you can turn on the keep warm button with the pressure lid on vent.
Serve with cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips, or other favorite toppings.
1. Spray a medium skillet with cooking spray and heat over high heat. Add mushrooms and cook and stir until mushrooms release all their liquid and begin to brown, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat and set aside.
2. While mushrooms cook, spray a large skillet with cooking spray and heat over high heat. Add pork, breaking it up as it cooks. Cook until pork begins to brown and is cooked all the way through, about 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer pork to a plate and loosely cover with foil.
3. While pork and mushrooms are cooking, in a small bowl whisk together soy sauce, sake, vinegar, brown sugar, sriracha, and sesame oil. Set aside.
4. Add canola oil to pan used to cook the pork and heat over high heat. Add garlic, ginger, onion, and green beans. Stir well to coat with the seasonings. Cook until very fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add water and stir well. Cook until beans are crisp and tender, about 2 minutes. Add reserved pork, mushrooms, and soy sauce mixture. Stir well to combine. Cook until most of the liquid evaporates, about 1 minute. Transfer to a platter and serve.
Over the weekend I made this quick recipe. I paired this with boneless chicken thighs marinated in store-bought huli-huli sauce. There was enough sauce leftover that I marinated shrimp the next day and paired it with the remaining rice.
2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, grated*
4 cups rice (cooked, cooled, and separated)**
1 cup frozen corn
1–2 cups frozen peas
1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar
2–3 tablespoons soy sauce
fresh chives, fresh basil, baby spinach, any other add ins you want!
Heat one tablespoon oil in a large pan over medium heat.
Add the garlic cloves and ginger and stir fry for one minute.
Crack the eggs directly into the pan and gently push them around in the pan until barely cooked, 1-2 minutes.
Add the rice and stir fry for a few minutes, adding the other tablespoon of oil and turning the heat up to get it sizzlin. The eggs should sort of incorporate and stick to the rice.
Add the frozen corn, peas, rice vinegar, and soy sauce and stir fry for another 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in any additional add-ins.
You can use powdered ginger if in a pinch (1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger for every 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger).
I add a tablespoon or two of hoisin sauce for extra flavor.
For the version last week, I used a frozen vegetable mix of green beans, corn, peas, and carrots, frozen broccoli, and leftover shelled edamame.
I thought I’d share some recipes we cook regularly, especially as I see people struggling with cooking during the quarantine. Because I can’t eat dairy, I’ll put substitutions at the end on any recipe where needed.
I can’t find the source of this recipe, though I’ve seen some very similar versions made with fava beans.
1-1/2 cups shelled edamame
12 ounce box farfalle
4 T olive oil, divided
2 raw chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup fresh shiitake mushrooms, chopped (use full container)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2T dried oregano
1 cup chicken stock
1-1/2T kosher salt
8oz mascarpone cheese
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Cook and drain edamame according to package directions. Set aside.
Cook pasta according to package directions (al dente). Drain and set aside.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2T oil to pan, swirling to coat. Sauté chicken until just cooked, set aside. Add remaining 2T olive oil and onion to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until tender. Add mushrooms and garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Add stock, edamame, oregano, salt, and cooked chicken. Cook until liquid is reduced to approx. 1 cup (about 5 minutes). Add mascarpone to edamame mixture and stir to blend.
Add pasta; toss gently to coat. Pepper to taste.
For a dairy substitute, I suggest dairy free yogurt, cream cheese, or sour cream. I’ve also had success with making a dairy free cheese sauce from scratch. I’d also recommend cooking a slightly larger box of pasta, scooping out a portion, and adding the dairy free sauce if you want a mix of dairy/dairy free. Be sure to double check your chicken broth is dairy free! If you can’t find frozen edamame right now, you may have luck with fresh stuff in a container in the produce section.
Anyone who knows me knows that I love foods like milk, cheese, and chocolate. Unfortunately, it came to my attention a couple years ago that I could no longer consume dairy products of any kind. I’ve always had some sort of unexplained health issues and have tried a few things over the years – cutting out gluten (yeah, yeah), beer, peanuts, etc. I went so far as getting tested for celiac and a few other food allergies, but I had no luck finding the guilty party. A couple years ago I tried lactose-free products and lactose-inhibiting pills (e.g. Lactaid). I know they work for some people, but not me. My theory is that it isn’t lactose that’s the culprit, but casein – an ingredient in all milk products.
As a result of these discoveries, I’ve been avoiding cow’s milk for some time now. Despite being an inconvenience, the good news is that I feel a lot better! So what does a milk-aholic eat and drink when they can’t have milk products? I was using soy milk for cereal, chai, and other dishes and drinks, but I’ve switched to unsweetened almond milk. Trader Joe’s and Ben & Jerry’s have some excellent ice cream products, as does Tofutti, who also make a decent faux-cream cheese. Daiya make a cheese substitute that’s great for pizza and tacos/nachos. Are they as good as the real stuff? Absolutely not! They’ll do in a pinch though.
At restaurants, I try to figure out options before I order and not announce the allergy. I do get some curious looks when I request a pizza with bacon and chicken and vegan cheese.
In a lot of cases there are food where that contain dairy that you never would have thought of. Most fried chicken has buttermilk, a lot breads have it for no reason, and lunch meat uses it for filler, especially turkey and sausage.
Although it’s been an adjustment, it’s been worth feeling better on a day-to-day basis.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I blogged about restaurants in New Mexico, despite not having been there when I started. Phew, that feels like a weight off my shoulders.
I was asked by my employer several years ago to write about the New Mexico food scene either based on neighborhood, type of cuisine, or other linking factors. Luckily I’d already had some knowledge of Southwestern Cuisine, though New Mexico has some of it’s own distinct variations. Red and green chile is almost an obsession in the region and can be found in many restaurants. It’s essentially a stew that can be used as a sauce on everything from eggs to pizza. I’d had a version before on a trip to Colorado, though New Mexicans will tell you it’s not the same.