Saturday, September 23, 2017

Boerenkool met Wurst

Hopefully, some point soon it will actually be Fall weather here in Pennsylvania, which means it'll be time for hot food and steaming up kitchens. When that glorious day comes, I'll be making Boerenkool met Wurst, which is a great hot meal for a chilly night.

Boerenkool met Wurst, or kale with sausage, is a classic Dutch stamppot. A stamppot is a dish of potatoes mashed with another vegetable, and is a staple of traditional Dutch home cooking. I recommend serving with beef gravy, and if you'd like to make your own I've included a recipe for that too.

I don't remember exactly how I came across this dish, but my wife and I were looking at pictures of odd food and we ended up on one that looked like green mashed potatoes. I was really intrigued and figured I would give it a try. What came about has become one of my favorite one-pot meals that makes great leftovers.



3lbs of potatoes
1 qt chicken stock
1 lb kale, trimmed and cut into strips
1 smoked kielbasa
salt and pepper to taste

Beef gravy (optional):

1 qt beef stock
4 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 tsp dried sage
salt and pepper to taste


Peel the potatoes and cut into small pieces. Place in a large stock pot and cover with the chicken stock. Top with the kale and the kielbasa. Cover with a lid and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a boil. Boiled for 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender enough to be pierced easily by a fork.
If you'll be making gravy, while the potatoes are cooking, combine the beef stock and cornstarch in a medium saucepan and whisk until smooth. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the gravy thickens. Add the herbs and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside until ready to serve.

Remove the kielbasa and pour the excess water out of the pot, reserving at least 1 cup of cooking liquid. Use a potato masher to combine the kale with the potatoes, adding in some of the reserved cooking liquid as necessary to get a creamy texture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Slice the kielbasa into bite-size pieces. Serve a heaping scoop of kale and potatoes, topped with beef gravy, with a fan of sliced kielbasa.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Salted Caramel Sauce

We are almost to my second favorite season, fall, which means it is time for apples, apple cider, and by extension, caramel! Many people are a little intimidated by the thought of cooking sugar, but you shouldn't be. Real caramel is pretty easy to make and tastes way better than store bought.

There are two ways to make caramel: the slow way (wet method), which is a lot safer, and the quick way (dry method), which poses a few more challenges. I recommend trying the slow way until you know what you are looking before trying the quicker way. I'll go over both ways in this post.


1 c sugar
½ water (wet method only)
1 c heavy cream
1 tsp salt


Wet Method:

In a heavy-bottom saucepan with a lid, over low heat combine the sugar and water and stir until the sugar is totally dissolved. Put the lid on and bring to a boil. (Letting it boil with the lid on helps wash any stray sugar off the side of the pot that might lead to unwanted crystals that can make your caramel grainy.) Once the syrup has been boiling for a minute, remove the lid.

Now, leave it alone. At this point, before heat has changed the sugar into the delicious thing called caramel, if you agitate it too much, the sugar crystals can start to re-combine. This will create a chain reaction that would mean you have to start the whole thing over again. So be extra careful not to jostle the pot in any way.

Keep an eye on your boiling syrup, and when you see it start to turn amber, it is safe to give it a stir. At this point, the sugars are damaged to the point that they won't combine easily. Stir gently to even out any heat pockets.

Continue keeping sharp watch on the sugar syrup and watch the surface for any smoke. As soon as you see it smoking, remove it from the heat and pour in the heavy cream while stirring constantly. The cream is going to come to a rolling boil since the syrup is well over 300 degrees. Some of the sugar will harden instantly upon contact with the cool cream, but don't worry, if you keep stirring, all of that will work itself back in.

When the mixture is smooth and creamy, stir in the salt. You can store your caramel in the fridge for up to a month, but it tastes so good that I doubt it will last that long.

Dry Method:

Pour the sugar into a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat. Once the sugar starts to liquify and brown at the edges, you can use a spatula to gently pull the liquid bits toward the middle to even out the heat. If it burns, the caramel is ruined and you'll have to start over from scratch.

On the other hand, you have to be extremely careful to not over-stir, because if you do and it clumps up, you can ruin the whole batch. If it starts to form clumps, reduce the heat and keep stirring until it is all liquid, and when you're done you'll have to strain out the grainy bits.

If all goes well, keep stirring gently until you get a clear, deep amber before removing from the heat and stirring in the cream and salt and storing as described above.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Korean Spicy Pickles

When Evan and I went for bulgogi a few weeks ago, he introduced me to his favorite topping, spicy pickles. I used to not like pickles, and I still am not a fan of just eating pickles, but I love a good bread and butter pickle on a sandwich or a pit of relish on a good hot dog, and I especially love Korean spicy pickles on my bulgogi.


2 mini cucumbers or pickling cucumbers
1 tsp salt
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp gochugaru
1 clove of garlic


Slice the cucumbers as evenly and thinly as you can. Place in a bowl and sprinkle on the salt before tossing to make sure you have even coverage. Let the cucumber slices sit for 20 minutes to let the salt draw out excess water.

Pour off the water and then add the rest of the ingredients, stir well to combine. Cover and let sit in the fridge for at least 10 minutes and up to a week. The pickles will get less crisp but spicier the longer they are allowed to marinate.

Enjoy as a surprisingly refreshing snack or as a perfect compliment to some bulgogi.

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Saturday, September 9, 2017

Cajun Seasoning Blend

I generally discourage buying pre made spice mixes. They usually have way too much salt in them, and will generally lumb most of the ingredients together under spices or natural flavoring to protect proprietary blends. Making your own can be a less expensive, healthier, and you know what you're getting.

A cajun spice blend is a great thing to have on hand if you want to add some concentrated flavor to a dish, blacken some seafood, or make a phenomenal piece of chicken or steak.

Like I have done before, I did this recipe out in parts to make it easy to make as little or as much as you want.


1.5 of smoked paprika
1 of garlic powder
1 of onion powder
1 of thyme leaves
1 of white pepper
1 of dried basil
1 of dried oregano
1 of cayenne pepper
1 of chile powder


Combine all in a glass jar and seal. Sprinkle on steak, chicken, seafood, or anything that needs a good kick of Louisiana flavor.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Tenderloin with Pesto

I love steak. All kinds of steak. Tenderloin is a great cut, but, since it is so lean, it can dry out easily. It is my wife's favorite cut because it has so little connective tissue. But, steaks with more fat and tissue are more flavorful. Serving it with an herbed finishing butter or an oil based sauce, like pesto, helps keep this tender cut super moist and gives it great flavor.


2 ⅓lb tenderloin steaks
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp cashew pesto


About 1/2 and hour to an hour before you are cooking your steaks, remove them from the fridge and liberally season each side with salt. This will let the meat come to room temperature which helps ensure an even level of doneness since there won't be any really cold spots. The salt keeps any undesirables from growing on the surface and pulls protein laden moisture to the outside which helps form the great crust you are looking for on any well seared steak.

10 minutes before cook time, heat a heavy cast iron skillet over medium heat. You want enough heat to get a good sear, but you want to make sure you have even heat. Cast iron does a great job of evenly dispersing heat, but it works best when it's put on medium heat and let to heat up slowly.

Preheat your broiler on high. Add the olive oil to your skillet and sear your steaks for 2 min per side, around 12 minutes total. Everytime you flip your steak try to position it on an unused piece of the skillet so you get maximum heat for the best possible crust.

Once the steak is well seared on all sides, place your steaks in the skillet under the broiler for 3-5 minutes. I recommend checking the internal temp at 3 minutes and removing the steaks when they are 5-10 degrees from your target temp.

Remove from under the broiler and spoon 1 tbsp of the pesto on each steak. Let the steaks rest, uncovered, in the skillet, for 10 minutes before serving.

I recommend serving with crushed fingerling potatoes and a good merlot.

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