Italian Bean Salad with ''Loadsa'' Herbs and Tuna

Cooking from Chicago's New Dose Market, Happening Again This Sunday

8th Jul 2011

The Italian bean salad has been with me a long time, and for good reason.  I've made some variation of beans, herbs, and olive oil dozens of times over the past few years and I never get tired of it.  When it comes to the relationship between deliciousness and effort, this one gets it exactly right. It's about as easy as mixing the ingredients together and letting the flavors develop, then it'...

The Trick to Better Refried Black Beans

Some pasilla chiles and avocado leaves make all the difference.

26th Jan 2011

If you happened to stumble across the recipe for “Seasoned Black Beans” in Diana Kennedy’s Oaxaca al Gusto there wouldn’t be much to immediately keep you from turning the page. Dont get me wrong, it is housed in a beautiful book, it is just that besides the boring name and lack of picture, this is all Kennedy says in the headnote: “This fried bean paste is used for filling tamales, for t...

The Homemade Hummus Challenge: Are Dried Chickpeas Better Than Canned?

A fool-proof method discovered.

3rd Nov 2010

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If you don’t want to go to all the bother of soaking and cooking them, canned chickpeas work extraordinarily well
- James Beard, Beard on Food

I wanted to go to all the bother of cooking dried chickpeas from scratch. Why? Well, because I never had cooked dried chickpeas before, and I really wanted to see whether taking the time to cook them from scratch would make for a more delicious...

Can You Make Homemade Tahini?

On a search for the lesser-known ingredient in hummus

13th Oct 2010

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Is store bought tahini best?

The goal is to make hummus at home with no shortcuts. I’m an apprehensive hummus fan at best, having dipped one carrot stick too many into something chalky and pasty, which claimed to be hummus but was purchased quickly from the grocery store. You could say that I’ve been ruined by the silky smooth texture of real hummus, the kind the comes with a sheen of ri...

Baked Bean Failures

Trying (and for now failing) to recreate British Heinz baked beans

23rd Apr 2010

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Baked beans should have been the easiest part. When I set off on this crazy Full English Breakfast challenge I figured I'd spend most of my time stuffing sausages , or learning how to cure a completely different kind of bacon . The beans should have required a few hours on lazy Saturday afternoon. The one problem -- the only problem -- was finding a recipe.

There are no recipes....

The Paupered Chef Gift Guide

16th Dec 2009

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Well, guess we better throw our hats in the ring: it's the time of year for gift guides and we're not afraid to participate. We've avoided it for 4 years, but our streak is about to come to an end: we hereby present the first annual Paupered Chef gift guide.

We've got kitchen gear to recommend, and some awesome food products, too. From what we have learned, cooks really just need a few basi...

A Weekend of Beans and Brats

Insight into perfecting 90 minute, no-soak beans and homemade bratwursts.

24th Jun 2009

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It's been a delicious week.  I've been doling out my homemade bratwurst to close friends and making batches of 90 Minute, No-Soak beans just because I can.  I know some people had some questions about both of these posts, and this week has given me a few more insights to both processes which hopefully will answer some of them.  Also, Michael Ruhlman wanted to see my amateurish sp...

90 Minute, No-Soak Beans

How to make great beans in less time.

9th Jun 2009

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It seems that in the past few years there have been a few monumental revelations of the "everything you thought you knew about cooking was wrong" variety.
- Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy", Executive Director, eGullet Society

When the timer sounded, I was caught off guard.  I reached for a kitchen towel, carefully folded it around the hot handles of my dutch oven, and transfered the...

Enchiladas Colorado: The Sauce That Can Do No Wrong

29th Aug 2008

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This whole site was started when we were fresh from college and cooking together recklessly.   Since our lives have changed--moving in with girlfriends, marriage , and new cities (and boroughs )--we don't always get to indulge in those old times.  But with Blake in Chicago visiting this past week, it was like we were back at York Avenue in that tiny little apartment .  From ab...

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

5th May 2008

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This weekend for brunch we made some huevos rancheros from start to finish.

The day before, we cooked a pound of the inimitable Rancho Gordo midnight black bean according to the instructions given by Rick Bayless : in a dutch oven, cook them with about 8 cups of water, two tablespoons of lard (or bacon drippings, or vegetable oil) and a chopped onion--bring to a boil, th...

On Canned Salmon

12th Feb 2007

Img_1666 We all grew up on tuna fish sandwiches, whether we liked it or not.  Sally pulls out her bag of carrots and a PB & J, Frankie his bologna with Kraft slices, and I pull out a soggy, fishy, tuna sandwich, and everyone stares.  And holds their nose. But it turns out my mom was on the right track: James Beard famously said that tuna is the "only food better canned than fresh."  He was entirely w...

Cassoulet, Hooray!

25th Jan 2007

Cassoulet2_10 It was a terrifying moment: The bottom of my pan was lined with raw pig skin, on top of which were alternating layers of beans, the meat from pig knuckles, duck confit, sausages, a paste made of blended onions and more boiled pig skin--and I was rapidly reaching the top rim.  In fact, I'd already reached it.  I still had a bowl of beans, not to mention 4 cups of gelatinous bean and pork water...

Mexican Chopped Salad with Avocado Dressing

18th Dec 2006

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Ah, the avocado.  I'm not sure where it can't be used--sandwiches, tacos, burritos, soups, or salads.  The last, particularly, has been of interest lately, as it adds some healthy heftiness (is that a real thing?) to any otherwise wimpy salad.  But not content to merely place it in my salads, I wondered what it might be like on it.

But I was worried it might go too far.  When it comes...

Eating Tacos All Over San Antonio

If that means eating 5 lunches in one day, so be it.

11th Dec 2006

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Honestly, there's a real need for these signs.  When we were venturing around the mercado square in San Antonio, a land of slightly schlocky and catchpenny Mexican crafts, every third vendor warned against this practice, where gringo , giggling tourists pretended to experience Mexican culture by putting on outrageous hats and saying " Arriba, Arriba " like Speedy Gonzalez. How to a...

My Birthday Dinner

17th Nov 2006

Birthday_21 I (Blake) turned 24 yesterday and, in celebration, my girlfriend thought up and orchestrated a gorgeous meal of French provincial food.  From the surf to the turf, we ate, drank, and otherwise acted like shameless hedonists.  Since I'm groggy and barely awake this morning, and don't much feel like working very hard, I'll just put up some pictures and perhaps post the recipes some other time...

On Discovering Lentils

3rd Nov 2006

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Rice, beans, pasta.  These are the ways we make sure we haven't incidentally fallen into the Calorie Restriction Diet .  They keep us looking flush and healthy and let us concentrate our attention on careful preparation of everything else on the plate.  Just about every recipe we've cooked has one of these ingredients incorporated so that we don't leave the table hungry.

Yet I've never...

Refried Bean Tacos with Chorizo

27th Oct 2006

Refried_beans_8 First off, a language lesson: refried beans are not fried twice.  It's understandable that most people, myself included until I started writing this, assume a literal translation of the word "refried" and, employing razor-sharp detective skills, deduce that the beans are fried, let rest, and then fried again. But the word refried is actually an approximation of the Spanish word refrito , me...

White Bean Herb Salad with Tuna

13th Oct 2006

Tuna_bean_3 Lately I’ve been going to restaurants and leaving with ideas for what to cook at home.  A previous post , a salad of roasted squash and dandelion greens, was inspired by the restaurant 360 , an unpretentious little spot where you can eat for $25 and the wine list, which emphasises organic, is very reasonable.  My version of the squash salad wasn’t nearly as good--I didn’t have the...

Red Beans and Rice

9th Oct 2006

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After four days of intense bonding with my 10 pound ham , the meat stopped magically improving in the fridge, and started instead to develop what could best be described as a funk.  Not necessarily revolting, and I'm sure perfectly edible, the smell was offending enough.  And with something less than a pound left, I didn't feel too bad chucking the slimy, sour-smelling flesh into the...