Category Archives: Cooking

Sausage Kale and Lentil Soup

All it took was one nip of cold air and now all I want to do is make soup. This crowd pleaser is super simple and can be prepared several days in advance. 

6-8 servings, 90 minutes

  • 3 links or 1lb Italian sausage meat, spiced to preference
  • 1 cup of dry lentils (or one can prepared)
  • 1 medium to large onion
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic 
  • 1 large can of peeled whole tomatoes (splurge for San Marzano)
  • 4 cups (1 large box) chicken stock
  • Big handful of Italian parsley
  • 4 handfuls of kale (or chard, or spinach)
  • Loaf of crusty bread
  • Sharp Italian cheese like Parmesan (splurge for pecorino Romano)
  • Salt and cracked black pepper 
  • Red chili pepper flakes


Remove the sausage from its casing and toss in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat with a little oil. 

Dice the onion and add after the sausage has browned. Sweat the onions and stir a few times, then add chopped garlic. 

After a few minutes, pour in the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Pour in the chicken stock and stir. 

Turn the heat to high until the soup is boiling, then reduce to medium high and add the lentils. Season with more salt and pepper and let simmer for up to an hour, stirring occasionally. 

Remove the biggest ribs and tear the greens into smaller chunks. Chop the parsley. 

You want the liquid to reduce until it’s barely above the ingredients. Turn off the heat, add the greens in batches (it should feel like you’re adding way too much, greens reduce substantially after they’ve heated) and stir until absorbed. Taste and season until the flavors pop. Make sure the lentils are soft. Add chili pepper for a little more heat. 

Warm and butter the bread. Grate the hard cheese and serve. 

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How to Make a Burger Like a Man

Slightly misogynist title. Sorry. This is Mancookgood after all. Do I get extra credit for knowing what misogyny meant before the election?

This burger is inspired by a legend from Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. Apparently Dean was known for his burgers to the point of being asked to share his recipe. Frank, the old scamp, had to reply with his own recipe and hilarity ensued. 


So, I present an alternate to my mildly offensive title. 

“My Modern Take on Dean Martin’s Famous Burger”

Doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as well, does it? 

Well for most of the country grilling season is over. It’s time to heat up your cast iron skillet and make yourself a proper cheese burger. 


Makes: 4 burgers

Prep time: 15-20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cast iron or heavy skillet
  • 3/4 lb of 85% ground beef
  • 1/4 pound ground pork
  • Extra sharp cheddar cheese 
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 4 hamburger buns ranging anywhere from cheap to brioche. Do not use something too bready or dense. 

Optional

  • Tomato
  • Lettuce
  • Mayo, ketchup and mustard
  • 1 bottle of hoppy IPA, preferably one made locally and not recently purchased by InBev

Method:

First, open the beer and take a sip. 

Mix the meat just enough to combine the beef and pork. Do not over mix, it will make the meat tougher. 

Turn the stovetop to medium high. Let the pan heat up while you make patties, make them relatively thin and slightly larger than your bun. 

Assertively salt and pepper the patties on the up side. Place that side down into a sizzling hot skillet. Salt and pepper the up side of the patty. 

Take a sip of your beer. Clean up some of your mess. (3-4 minutes)

When the down side is charred, flip the patty, place an aggressive amount of extra sharp cheddar on top of each burger and turn off the heat. Cover the pan loosely in some aluminum foil and let the cheese melt. (4-5 minutes)

Place on a bun with your favorite condiments. 

If you use sliced tomato, please salt and pepper that tomato before eating.  

Eat your burger. Listen to Frank and Dean while drinking your beer. 

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White Chili with Ground Chicken

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It’s cold, it’s gray and you’re bringing something to a Super Bowl party. Not only do we all want to eat better than fried buffalo wings and 7 layer dip but there has to be something out there more compelling than stuffed potato skins, right? Look no farther. This healthy and interesting dish will check all the boxes and be the star of your Super Bowl Party spread.

 

Protip! Bring sturdy disposable bowls to the party!

White Chicken Chili 

Serves 8 Cook Time 60-90 minutes

  • 1 pound of ground chicken
  • 1 large white onion
  • 2 cans of cannellini beans
  • 2 small cans of mild green chiles
  • or for heat, 2 jalapenos
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 handfuls of baby spinach or kale
  • 1 large box (4 cups) of chicken or turkey broth

Spices

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • Cumin
  • Garlic Powder
  • all purpose flour (optional)

Garnish

  • Chopped Scallions
  • Cotija, Queso Fresco or Shredded Jack Cheese
  • 2 avocado

Dice your onion and saute in hot olive oil on medium high. Add the ground chicken and cook until onions are soft and chicken is starting to brown. Break the chicken into small pieces as it cooks. Add a layer of salt, pepper, cumin and garlic powder. Sprinkle a heavy pinch of flour over the mixture here. Make sure to break it up and mix it in thoroughly.

Dice the bell pepper and add at any time. drain the cans of chiles or dice the jalapenos and add them in. If you go the jalapeno route, know that more seeds = more heat.

Drain and rinse the beans in cold water using a colander or strainer. Add once the chicken is cooked and onions are soft. Layer in some more seasoning here. 

Pour the broth over the mixture and increase heat to high. Once boiling reduce heat to a simmer and cover. 

Set a timer for 45 minutes and stir occasionally. You want a little broth but not as much as a soup so when the 45 minutes are up it’s time to taste and tweak. Add the greens to the simmering chili. If there is too much liquid increase heat to high and boil off some of that water content. Taste again and again until the flavor of the cumin, beans and chicken balance each other. You want the broth to balance the starchiness of the beans with the sharpness of the chilis and richness of the spice. Keep tweaking it until it sings. For last minute heat try cayenne pepper here. Add a dash, stir and taste. Repeat until you have the spice level right where you want it.

Add diced green onions, 1/4 avocado per serving and crumbled cotija cheese to finish the bowl. Toast up some homemade tortilla chips to really bring it home.

Happy Super Bowl!

 

 

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Vegetarian Stuffed Pumpkin

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What an amazing time of year in the North American food calendar. The summer harvest has wound down but the fall harvest is still in full swing. The food is as good as it gets. This dish is supremely seasonal and perfect to tote along for a Friendsgiving potluck dinner. The herbs and lentils give it a savory and meaty flavor that can satisfy even your most enthusiastic carnivores.

Want it with meat? No problem. Just brown and add italian sausage and half the amount of fennel seed.

Vegetarian Stuffed Pumpkin

Serves 4-8 Prep Time 60 minutes

 

Ingredients

  • 1-2 pumpkins (Late in the season it’s easier to find the smaller ones for pie. If you make this in October you have the pick of the litter and can make it with some really big jack o lantern style pumpkins.)
  • 1 cup of brown or wild rice
  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 1 cup of corn kernels
  • One leek or large onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups of chicken stock/broth
  • ground sage
  • fennel seeds
  • dried thyme
  • kosher salt
  • cracked black pepper
  • olive oil

Method

Preheat to 375f / 190c

Slice off the top of the pumpkin and scoop out the guts. Set the seeds aside for roasting later.

Salt and pepper, then put the top back on the pumpkin, and place in the heated oven with a 30 minute timer set.

Get working on the rice, follow instructions based on which grain you use. Brown rice is just fine but the wild rice gives it a more distinct flavor and look.

Meanwhile, in a separate pot, saute your sliced leek with olive oil, salt and pepper. Keep the heat on medium / medium low if using a leek. They’re more sensitive to the high heat than a regular onion. Once it’s melted down a bit add chopped garlic, the chicken stock and the lentils. Salt and pepper again, add a layer of sage, thyme and fennel seeds and cover. Simmer the lentils 20-30 minutes to soften.

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Check on the pumpkins. You want the flesh to be soft inside but not quite separating from the skin yet. Poke with a fork, if it yields it’s done. Take out of the oven and set aside.

Once the rice is finished and the lentils are cooked, combine the two and mix in the grated parmesan. You really can’t add too much cheese. I put down a cup as a guide but the point is to add the cheese until the mixture is saturated. Taste throughout, the herbs and fennel seed should give the stuffing the flavor of sausage. If it’s bland add more cheese or salt. Not savory enough? Add more herbs. Feeling fancy? Toss in a thick pat of butter. It’s the holidays! Live a little!

Stuff the pumpkins with the mixture and cover the top with a layer of parmesan. Place back in the oven for 10-15 minutes.

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Serve with a large spoon for scooping or slice the pumpkin into wedges for plating.

This will keep warm for a long time. You can prep it at home, wrap it in foil and a towel and bring it to your party.

Email me pictures at mancookgood@gmail.com or mention me on instagram @mancookgood.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

 

 

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Asian Chicken Meatballs in Butter Lettuce Wraps

Asian Chicken Meatballs

This dish came out of nowhere. In an attempt to stave off high cholesterol medication I’ve been eating a lot of lean proteins and greens. For a couple weeks I found it fun to revisit the humble chicken breast. It brought me back to my early days of cooking, back when a bag of frozen chicken breasts was always in my freezer and I would dream up new ways to enjoy the staple item. Yesterday however, I was bored. I wanted something bright and light, something fun and new to make and eat. My mind wandered and landed on the classic flavor profile from Asia.

Soy sauce, ginger and green onion.

The game was afoot. The race was on. Off to the store.

Servings 4, Cook time 30 minutes 

Asian Chicken Meatballs in Butter Lettuce Wraps

  • 1 1/2 pounds of ground chicken. (white meat is fine, dark meat is better)
  • 1 bunch of green onions
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Soy Sauce (Low sodium if you have it)
  • 1 egg
  • Bread crumbs (I used panko)
  • 1 head of butter lettuce
  • sesame seeds (optional)
  • Fresh Ginger, a piece about half the size of a man’s thumb
  • 1 ripe Avocado

Dipping Sauce 

  • Soy Sauce
  • Rice Vinegar (Or White Wine Vinegar)
  • Sriracha (or Chili Oil)
  • Sugar (Or honey)
  • Sesame Oil (or Olive Oil)
  • Sliced green onion

Method

Preheat the oven to 400F / 200C. Finely slice and chop your garlic and onions, rinse off your lettuce and toss the chicken in a large mixing bowl. Add the onions, garlic, cracked egg and soy sauce to the bowl. Grate the ginger down using a zester or the fine side of cheese grater. Use enough soy sauce to create a puddle around the chicken. Don a pair of gloves or using your freshly washed hands, dig in and start to mix by hand. It will be very soupy. Mix just enough so that your ingredients are together and add a layer of breadcrumbs. This is when using the buddy system really helps, have them pour some in the bowl so you can keep your hands on the mix.

Asian Meatball Mix, pre Breadcrumbs

Mix in the bread crumbs a little at a time. You want the mixture to be able to stick to itself and form into balls without using so much that you dry it all out.

Find a baking sheet and start to make balls of the meat. Place the meatballs on the sheet with a little space between them. Pop in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and use a flat spatula to peel them off of the pan without losing the crusty bits. Take some tongs and turn them over, back in the oven for another ten minutes. It was too hot for me to turn on an oven in my house. I used a cast iron skillet outside on my propane grill. The principle remains the same. I’ll keep my instructions to the oven for word counts sake.

Asian Chicken Meatballs Post, Flip

While in the oven, mix the Soy Sauce, Oil and Vinegar in a 3:1:1 ratio in a bowl. Add as much Sriracha as you want and toss in a spoonful of sugar. Taste. If the soy sauce is to powerful add more vinegar. If it’s too vinegary add oil. Once happy add the green onion.

Sacrifice one meatball to check for doneness. You want the center to be a little moist but cooked through. Look for the textural difference between cooked meat and raw.

Serve in butter lettuce leafs with sauce spooned over the top. Garnish with avocado and sesame seeds. I seasoned and spun some leftover brown rice into balls using plastic wrap for a little extra heft.

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Texas Style Chili

I added Mango. Sacrilege I know. Sue me.

I added Mango. Sacrilege I know. Sue me.

Once you attach the words “Texas Style” to something you’re potentially stepping into a fight. Let’s get this out of the way. I define “Texas style Chili” as beef chili with lots of liquid and no beans. We could argue chunks versus ground and toppings all day but the bottom line is the same. Meat, tomatoes, onions and spice.

If I’m wrong I’m wrong. Hell, I grew up in Massachusetts. Massachusetts? Don’t you mean Taxachusetts?!?

Sorry. At least it’s not Newww York Cittyyy!!!! (Pace Picante Salsa was not used in the making of this chili)

I’m a traditionalist at heart, so here’s my Texas style chili with Mexican cheese and mango. (MEXICO!) (MANGO?!?) Easy and delicious, it will feed a room full of cowboys and city folk alike. Ok, maybe not a traditionalist. A thief. An artist. Who’s to say the difference anyway.

Mango… well mango is in season. The sweetness and texture really contrast the spice beautifully. Cotija cheese or queso fresco is crumbled and chewy and salty and delicious. They’re easy to find in Mexican supermarkets but if you’re not near any just toss in some sharp cheddar. Fresh green onions give a pop of freshness and avocado is… well avocado. It’s good on almost everything. Try it.

Texas Style Chili 

Serves 8 Cook time approximately 2-3 hours

  • 2 pounds of ground beef (or turkey, lamb, bison…)
  • 2 large onions
  • 4 jalapenos
  • 1 entire bulb of garlic
  • 2x large cans of whole tomatoes
  • 2x cans of pureed tomatoes
  • 2 large bottles of a fine American Pale Ale
  • Cumin
  • Chili Powder
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Salt

Toppings

  • Mango
  • Cotija Cheese
  • Green onions
  • Avocado
  • Lime juice
Serves 8.

Serves 8.

First things first. Open one of the bottles of beer and pour yourself a glass. Have a sip. Get a big cutting board out and a big soup pot on the stove. Splash some olive oil in the pot, enough to coat the bottom with a thin to medium layer. Get the heat on medium.

Chop up your onions and jalapenos. If you love the spice, add more seeds than not. If you want to manage the heat more on the back end keep most of the seeds out. Add it all into the pot.

Let the onions soften and get to work on the garlic. Peel and chop all the cloves in the bulb and add them all at once to the onions and peppers. Give that a few minutes to work. Add your first *big* pinches of cumin, salt and chili powder. Seriously, don’t be shy. You’re feeding 8 people a dish known for it’s rich flavors. You’ll be spicing again though so don’t worry about guessing the perfect amount. Just get your onions coated in spice and salt for a nice base.

Now add the meat. Mix it every here and there until its browned. Open all your cans of tomatoes while it cooks. 

turkey works too!

turkey works too!

Once the meat is browned, add more spice. Big pinches.

Now pour in all the tomatoes and tomato sauce. 

Open your second bottle of beer and pour the whole thing in the pot. Continue to drink your other bottle.

pour yourself a glass

pour yourself a glass

Put the lid on, turn the heat to medium high and clean up a little. When it’s boiling, 10-20 minutes, turn the heat down to medium and get that cover back on.

Relax. The chili is working. It’s got a hard hat, a safety vest and a lunch pail. Let the chili do it’s job. All you have to do is stir every here and there. Go watch the game, spend time with your people. Nothing to see here. Watch the crowds start to smell the air and get hungry.

After two hours of this, take your first taste. It’s…All… Happening!!!!!

Add more spices. If you want heat that slowly warms you up add one dash of cayenne per person. Work on that formula if you want more or less.

As we approach the three hour mark keep tasting. Add salt, cumin and chili powder in batches until it’s right. Turn off the heat and let the flavors sit.

Now prep your toppings and put them in nice little bowls. Chopped mango, broken down cotija cheese. Slice the green onions and break down your avocado.

When the crowd is about to storm the gates, release them upon your feast. Make sure they add the mango too.

Then open a window. You’ll have to trust me on that one.

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Spicy Sriracha Shrimp Roll with Mango Salsa

Spicy Shrimp RollThere’s a delightful little restaurant near our apartment called Gravlax. It’s the love project of a husband and wife team who hail from Sweden and Turkey. The menu is small plates that are based on classics from their respective homelands… think smoked fish on one plate, hummus and dolma’s on another.

I love going there, the atmosphere is great, the wine and beer list is obtainably high end and the food is interesting and delicious.

Thing is, and you may not notice on your first run through, nothing on the menu is cooked (in a traditional sense). All the dishes, save for some toasted bread, are served cold. I never leave there hungry either. It got me thinking about ways I can prepare summer food that is bright and refreshing and served cold.

Enter the shrimp roll. I have to give thanks to an awesome blog I follow. Rachel’s interpretation of the shrimp roll got me thinking. Here’s my variation on her delicious idea.

Spicy Shrimp Rolls

Serves 4. Preparation, 20-30 minutes.

  • 1 pound of shrimp (buy peeled and deveined, it saves time and isn’t much more expensive.)
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 4 stalks of celery
  • 1/4 to 1/2 head of red cabbage
  • 4-6 grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 3-4 pinches of fresh dill
  • mayonaise
  • dijon mustard
  • Sriracha brand chili sauce
  • 1 lemon or 2 limes
  • 4 hot dog rolls (I used some really delicious pretzel rolls but any will do. The key is to get ones that aren’t too bready.*

Chop up your veggies first. The shrimp cook up quickly so you don’t want to be distracted. Get it all into little bite sized chunks.

Chop Chop Chop

Chop Chop Chop

Remove the tails from the shrimp and melt a little butter in frying pan on medium high. Chop up the shrimp and dice the shallot. Throw those two in the butter and let cook for a few minutes. Chop the garlic cloves and add them. Salt and pepper the mix.

All together with a few stirs this should take 5-6 minutes. The shrimp will be pink and no longer translucent when you’re finished.

Shrimp and Shallots

Now add the shrimp to your bowl full of chopped veggies. Add a few touches of dill, two dollops of mayo, two healthy squirts of dijon and a nice squeeze of Sriracha too. Squeeze out the lemon (watch for seeds) and add salt and pepper. If you want extra heat give it a few dashes of cayenne pepper. Mix it all up good and taste it. Too thick? More lemon juice. Kind of bland? More salt. More heat? Get some. Get it right and pop it in the fridge.

Mix Mix Mix

Mix Mix Mix

Now it’s on to the roll. If your have your grill going, I’d say get outside and char them up a little. Not actively trying to lose weight today? Smear a wee spot of butter on them first. I ran mine through the toaster oven for a minute just to warm and soften. The pretzel roll was great, it really added a nice flavor and didn’t dominate the meal with bread. Rachel’s version called for brioche. Can’t go wrong with that either. I grew up idolizing lobster rolls on cheap hot dog rolls so I don’t have a problem with that option either. The contrast of high end flavors in the mix and low end baked rolls can actually add to it.

Scoop the shrimp into the roll. I garnished mine with a home made Minty Mango Salsa and served along side some baked sweet potato wedges.

Perfect summer meal. Enjoy.

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