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Thai Basil with Beef

Friday, July 22, 2016, 08:00 PM (2016-07-22_200000)

We made Thai Basil with Beef from the Shutterbean Recipe (Local 1). We followed the general idea for the beef (didn't do the slaw) and also added snow-peans and chopped bell pepper. Also, one semi-major change in how we cooked it was that I stir-fried it. This meant that beef cooked in about 2 minutes rather than the 10 or so and everything else just happened faster. Also, we used 2/3 of a pound of beef since we only planned 2 servings.

Since we didn't do the slaw, we just added the dressing at the very end with the heat off. The idea being that it would mix more easily. And then we still topped it with extra thai basil and scallions (we also added some scallions to the stir-fry)

We both thought it was pretty good. However, it was super lacking in spice! Next time, we will do a bunch of thai chili peppers instead of a jalapeno. I thought the sauce was good but maybe could have been a bit more pungent (read: a bit more fish sauce). It was hard enough to get Meredith to make the sauce with the specified amount, let alone add more!

  1. U: guest, P: name of my dog, lower case 

Smore Quesadilla

Thursday, July 21, 2016, 12:00 AM (2016-07-21_000000)

Not much to this, but I decided to try to make a smore Quesadilla. All I did was heat the tortillas and then put on some marshmallow and chocolate. The marshmallow kind of expanded and made a mess. But for the 5 minutes it took to make this, it was pretty good.

Jerk Chicken Tacos (Sous Vide + Grilled)

Wednesday, July 20, 2016, 07:00 PM (2016-07-20_190000)

Meredith and I were having a friend over so ee decided to again try to replicate Torchy's Brushfile Taco (see 2016-04-07 but decided to use a different jerk chicken recipe (and method)

We decided to go (mostly) with the Serious Eats FoodLab (Local 1) recipe. Kenji, in typical fashion, goes overboard. We just used his original marinade.

I did make a few small changes to the marinade:

The marinade was really good. I was eating some of it with a spoon! I think we could try to thicken this (though it may then not be enough volume to blend) and make it into a sauce. Either way, we would certainly use the marinade again!

I marinated the chicken for 3 days (very long). I then followed 2016-06-28 and did the chicken at 145°F. I did it for about 2 hours with the chicken still in the marinade in the bags.

I then grilled it at the highest temp for 1 minute per side as the sear step.

Flavor wise, I like it a lot. I would certainly scale up using this recipe. Method wise, I was a bit torn. I love sous-vide but finishing on the grill was kind of a waste. It stuck some (since we intentionally not leaving it on long enough to cook) and there wasn't much benefit. Plus, it took a lot of time and propane to grill it. On the plus side, I could do it all at once, I didn't have to heat up the house, and I didn't set off smoke alarms.

I think next time, I will either sous-vide or grill, but not both. If I souse-vide, I will either just shred it or I will sear it and slice it.

Or, I will just grill it. Then you get the (appropriate for the meal) char, etc. And I may consider keeping the skin on, but we'll see.

Also, with the sous-vide, the chicken was almost too moist. It just didn't quite feel right for this. Kind of strange I guess.

Anyway, we just assembled with fat-free greek yogurt, chicken, marinade2,mango, Torchy's Diablo sauce, and cilantro. (I forgot to take a photo of mine. We used my friend's photo but we assembled hers differently and without Diablo sauce so it is missing in the above photo)

Additional Photos

Tortillas on the grill
Chicken after being grilled (some stuck) Sliced up

  1. U: guest, P: name of my dog, all lower case 

  2. Another advantage of sous-vide is that the marinade cooks too so you can recover it (plus extra liquid) and it is safe 

Grilled Salmon Burgers and Cauliflower

Tuesday, July 19, 2016, 08:05 PM (2016-07-19_200511)

We made grilled salmon burgers. There wasn't much to them except that I used too high of a heat and didn't get the inside cooked enough so I had to put it back on a bit longer. I also did onions in aluminum foil and this time for long enough (though a bit too hot) to caramelize it.

The bigger deal was the curry roasted cauliflower. I tossed it with olive oil, curry powder and salt. I then tried to do it in the grill basket as you can see in the photos below. I took the pieces that fell through the basket and also tried to do them in aluminum foil.

The basket worked ok. It meant I couldn't close the grill all the way which was a bit annoying. It also meant I had to take it off the grill in order to do the cauliflower. They were hard to cook well and it was hard to cook them all evenly. I may look into other ways in the future.

On the grill Flipped over

Grilled Pesto Chicken and Caprese

Sunday, July 17, 2016, 06:10 PM (2016-07-17_181051)

We again used the grill but went on the easy side. We bought the Trader Joe's Genovese Pesto Chicken:

Sure, this was a bit cheating, but it was also a nice compromise between time and prep work. We followed rough the Weber suggested timings and did about 5-6 minutes per side over direct medium heat. (Meredith wouldn't let me use the meat thermometer so we went by feel. Haven't gotten sick yet!... yet...)

We actually didn't love the sauce. It was too lemony and tangy. I do like the idea, but we will try a different one next time. It was easy though.

Meredith also made caprese salad. We used fresh tomatoes and also some she made into "tomato confit". They had been getting super old and shrived but tasted fine. She halved them, added some salt, (maybe pepper), some fresh oregano1 plus olive oul. She baked it for around 2.5-3 hours at 270F. They were more like oven dried tomatoes, though they were already pretty dry.

For the caprese, she mixed that plus mini mozzarella balls, salt, pepper, some balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. Finally, she topped it with some (garden) basil and more oregano.

  1. We think it is oregano. It may be marjoram 

Grilled Veggies, Tofu, Halloumi, and others

Saturday, July 16, 2016, 08:00 PM (2016-07-16_200000)

We finally got a grill and put it together. We had some friends over to break it in. We also decided to go with a vegetarian meal (just for kicks).

There were lots of food that required various levels of prep. We went with a mix of easy and hard.


Kabocha Squash

Nothing much too it. We just used salt and pepper on them. They were grilled for about 10-15 minutes on each side. As you can see, some got a bit burned, but they all came out okay. Actually, this was surprisingly not dry like most squash is usually. It may have been the grill or the 2 hours (ish) they sat with the salt and pepper. That may have had to do with it too

On the grill Flipped Over. Some got a bit overcooked

Other Vegetables


We just cut them put them in a pouch with a bit of salt, pepper, and oil. I cooked them for a long while but not really long enough. They could have been more caramelized a bit better. Next time, I will use some butter too and then I will also let it go for a good bit longer. Get some real caramelization on them.


Just salt and pepper. We went easy with these


This was the one marinade we really did by our selves. We used the miso-marinated carpaccio recipe. We followed the base marinade pretty closely except that we added a tablespoon of gochujang. We've done Sriracha before, but I figured that given that this was a miso-based marinade, we should use something else super fermented. It worked out well. A bit spicy. We did forget the rest of the recipe including the pistachios, but it still worked out well.

This also marinated for a few hours


Veggies on the grill Cooking
Onions being prepped

Main Meal


We've used this a few times before (see 2015-08-01,2016-05-16). We marinated it in Franks Red Hot. Pretty simple but it also worked well. As you can see in the photos, I burned it a bit. They were kind of dry, but still good. I should be careful next time and use a lower heat. It is still kind of crazy that they don't melt!


Another easy prep. We used the Trader Joes "Super Firm Organic Tofu". We cut it into medium-sized slices and marinated it with Soyaki Sauce. Again, marinated for a few hours and then grilled. I really like working with this tofu. Anything else would need to be pressed for a long time but this stuff just works fine. It also came out pretty good. Maybe a bit dry, but still pretty good.


The bread was the Trader Joes sour-dough rolls



We made a pretty simple dessert Meredith found on Serious Eats (Local). There wasn't much to it and we forgot to buy the peanut butter chips. But the rest was pretty easy and it was good. We had to use some a toothpick to hold some it together. It was a bit messy as a lot of it fell over on the grill. Lots of chocolate and marshmallows on the plates1.

I thought they were pretty good. Maybe a bit strange having the warm banana but I did like it. Ours was certainly not as pretty looking as the ones in the original recipe.

Grilled Banana Boats With Peanut Butter, Chocolate, and Marshmallows (from Serious Eats) Local Copy -- U: guest, P: name of my dog

  1. They carbonized nicely and came off easily after I blasted the heat at the end. 

Cuban Black Beans, Pickled Avocado, and Fajitas

Thursday, July 14, 2016, 08:55 PM (2016-07-14_205534)

We made a a ton of cuban black beans using the same idea as that time, but we used the pressure cooker. We based it on the pressure cooker using the guide from Fast Cooking (Local). We also aimed to adjust the times by 20% as suggested by HipPressureCooking (also on that local page).

The pressure cooking times are usually from when it starts to sizzle. And we let it naturally release. We split it into batches and the first batch was a bit overcooked (the natural release took like 15 or more minutes).

On the second batch, the seal must not have been as good since we heard the steam coming out for almost the entire time. And we timed it for less time. This worked a bit well, though neither were too bad.

The flavor of the beans after just the first stage was already really good. Then it got even better with the additional steps at the end. They came out really good!

We also made Avocado Pickles from The Kitchn (Local). Meredith followed the recipe really closely. One of the avocados was more firm than the other but both worked fine. The jalapeños were also very hot but it all worked well.

We also just made onions and peppers with some butter and salt. Not much to that either.

This was actually a pretty involved meal. We did the prep the night before, but it wasn't too bad. Maybe the kind of thing we could prep on the weekend.

Also, since we made 2 pounds, we have a ton of beans for other meals.

For all local recipes, U: guest, P: name of my dog, lower case

Getting the water ready Beans ready. A bit mushy but very good

Snow Pea Stir Fry

Wednesday, July 13, 2016, 09:40 PM (2016-07-13_214007)

We again made the stir-fry from 2016-01-18. Same basic recipe. We followed it pretty closely except again, we did it in batches of ginger, vegetales, and then the shrimp. I think I overcooked the snow-peas, but they weren't too bad. And we made a about double the amount of snow peas.

We didn't do any kind of "rice" since we did extra vegetables.

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