Justin & Meredith Winokur's Kitchen Cooking Notebook

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Thai Crab Cakes


Meredith made Thai Crab Cakes following that recipe except actually using (home-grown) thai chile peppers instead of jalapenos and some of a larger bell pepper instead of little ones.

Not much more to it. They held together pretty well.

Pumpkin Bread


Meredith made pumkin bread (local).

Her changes were:

It was pretty good but could be sweeter. And our baking soda may have been past its best by date. It didn't puff up very much, but it was still pretty fluffy.

Chicken Pot Pie


I premade the usual Chicken Pot Pie. I premade it last night and heated it up tonight. The basic notes were:

I think this was extremely good. I think it was the milk and the anchovy paste that really helped. I would hapily make this again with those changes!

Broccoli + Chicken Pasta with a Home Made Pesto Cream Sauce


I made pasta and chicken with a home-made pesto cream sauce.

The base of the sauce was béchamel sauce from The Kitchn (LOCAL). Followed their recipe for the base except, I used just 4 Tbsp butter (instead of 6). I also used 2% milk. I may have made the roux a bit too dark, but it is hard to tell. When I added the milk, it super bubbled up and boiled (nearly going over the pan). I feel like that is not supposed to happen, but it didn't curdle and eventually thickened.

To make it a pesto-cream sauce, I added a good bit of salt and some frozen pesto from Meredith's garden last year (same we used here). I also added a tiny bit of parmesean cheese. (I had to adjust the pesto and salt and I went)

Meanwhile, I cut up rotisserie chicken (it's what we had) and prepared the pasta. We used a Zucchette pasta from Trader Joes (pictured below). I had also already steamed a decent amount of broccolli.

At the end, even with the reduced amount of flour, it was still a bit thick so I added some of the water from the pasta.

I added the chicken and the pasta and served Meredith's seperatly. I then added the rest of the broccoli and combined it all (and made a lunch porition. I hadn't planned on it, but it made a ton of food).

We were really happy with it. The cream sauce was pretty easy, and given that it was 2% milk, it wasn't too unhealthy. And the massive amount of broccoli helped bulk it up! I would do this again when we are in the mood for pasta. It was also nice having the frozen pesto to just throw in

The pasta:

Sous Vide Carrots and Delicata Squash with Chicken Sausage


I made sous vide carrots from Serious Eats (LOCAL). I basically followed those directions exactly except I heated the bag in the microwave for about a minute to loosed to hardened sauce. (I premade them earlier in the week)

The sauce eventually thickened and acted as a glaze, but I was kind of dissapointed. They tasted like...carrots! I was hoping they would have a stronger flavor and be a bit sweeter. It may be because they are older (or it may just be because they are carrots).

I also roasted delicata squash. I just did the same as I do for Kabocha: 375°F for 30 minutes, flipped half way. And chicken sausage.

Not too hard, but not amazing.

Japanese Curry


We quickly threw together Japanese Curry. We used the same brand block from the first time but used "medium" since we got it at the supermarket and it's all they had.

We used:

We added the peppers to spicy it up but they didn't do much. Actually, in general, it needed more salt and some togarashi.

Also, I added about 1/3 cup of the water as sake. I don't think I really tasted it though.

Romesco Eggs Benedict and Roasted Potatoes


Meredith and I made Romesco Eggs Benedict for friends we were having over for brunch.

I made the same Hollandaise but added a big dollup of romesco sauce at the end. I also did with with about 3/5x times the eggs (basically, adjusted to 5 eggs).

Meredith poached the eggs (and also made the romesco) and I did the hollandaise. We also again did it with Boars Head Tavern Ham instead of thickly sliced canadian bacon.

I also made roasted potatoes from the canned poatoes. I did it with butter, garlic powder, and some salt. I started it at the 375°F but bumped it up to 450°F to crisp it up more (and faster).

It all came out reall good, except too much sauce. I liked these modification though. I wonder what else we coud try with the hollansaise.

Enchilada Lasagna


I made what is now becoming a standard enchilada lasagna. I sauteed onions, peppers (some of which were from the garden), and half a zucchini (also from the garden). I then added shredded chicken, lots of red sauce, and a bit of green chili.

To make the lasagna, I layered tortillas, chicken mixture, green chile, and cheese.

Not too bad, though it used a lot of pans (steam chicke, shred chicken, make filling, casserole dish). Made dinner and two lunches for both of us!

Caprese with homegrown tomatoes


Caprese made with homegrown tomatoes and burratta. Burratta is really good!

Pumpkin Protien Balls


Meredith made pumpkin protien balls from Paleo Grubs (LOCAL). We used that recipe as a base, but made a ton of changes

They were good, but pretty moist. Tasted like pumpkin pie!

We put them in the freezer to help harden them.

Brown Butter Shortbread


I made brown butter shortbread from Completely Delicious (LOCAL). I followed the basic recipe including using Kerrygold butter. The only thing I added was 2 tbsp of 2% milk (as per the comment on the local copy). I stuggled to brown the butter as it never really got to popping and then kind of bubbled. I though I burned it but I think it was fine. Though I should have added the milk when it was a bit cooler as it started to boil with it.

Other than that, the cookies were pretty easy. I pressed it onto a spring-form pan so I could still get a knife under it to separate it. I also only cooked them for about 40 minutes (they were fine but could have used a tiny bit more). I forgot to poke holes, but I think it didn't matter too much.

The flavor was really good. You could taste the brown butter but it wasn't super strong. I do not think I would call this a regular thing, but I still liked it!

Armadillo Eggs


Meredith has a "Firery Foods Potluck" at work so we made Armadillo Eggs. We used that recipe pretty closely and used the maple sausage.

The only real change is that we baked it at 300°F instead of 250°F which seemed to work well enough.

We ate one for [a small] dinner and they were really good as usual! It also wasn't as much work as we exptected! We did it is stages: cut all of them, stuffed all of them, and then wrapped all of them.

Butternut Squash Noodles with Turkey Meatballs


This was basically 2017-09-27 but with butternut squash and less meat.

I used the same meatball recipe except with 1 lbs of turkey (so basically, I just went heavy on everything). I actually used fresh parsely this time, but again used garlic powder.

I spiralized a butternut squash. We bought one that was large with a straight end section. I cut off the ends and peeled it. I also microwaved it for just 1 min and it spiralized really well. (unlike last time).

I roasted them for about 6 min or so at 375°F with the meatballs.

Overall, it was pretty easy and good. Nothing spectular, but I liked how spiralized butternut squash worked out. It was surprisingly easy!

Buffalo Chili


Meredith made Buffalo Chili using this How Sweet Eats Recipe (LOCAL). She used the recipe as the base, but didn't do it in the crock pot. Her changes were:

It was pretty good. Kind of spicy but flavorful. Meredith also made a ranch with Penzy's ranch powder, sour cream, milk, and greek yogurt.

I would make it again, though probably not a regular.

Peppers from the garden:

Chicken Satay


Meredith and I made chicken satay. We used the extra, frozen, satay sauce from last time. (which froze really well).

I made the marinade following the recipe except with the addition of garden-fresh thai chilis. I made it in the morning and marinated about 1 lbs of chicken tenders while at work.

I then grilled them while also grilling some leftover butternut squash.

Meredith made the same cucumber relish.

It was pretty good! And made a lunch (though not enough for two).

Halloween Cake


Meredith and I made a pumpkin-chocolate halloween layer cake for a party. We had grand aspirations, but struggled quite a bit along the way.

The Cakes

The pumpkin layers were this Vermont Spiced Pumpkin Cake from Food52 (LOCAL). We stayed very true to that recipe for the cake. It came together nicely, though was a much firmer batter than I expected.

They came out of the pans nicely and the cake was pretty good!

The chocolate cake was my Dad's Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake. We used avocado mayo but but other than that, the only real changes we made to this was butter and flour the cake pans (which may have been a mistake). As you can (kind of) see in the picture, they did not release well. And that caused some pretty major issues later as the inner layer kind of crumbled. The layer still tasted good (but you had to remember to not tell anyone that it was mayo-based!)


The original hope was to use activated charcoal to create a black icing like we did to make Hemingway's Black Cat Cocktail last year. Well, we started with 1.5 timesThe Kitchn's Buttercream (LOCAL). I do not know if the butter wasn't softened enough but I struggled to get it to come together. It eventually worked and we started to add the activated charcoal (see the carnage below). We used half-and-half for the "milk or cream".

I will note: using activated charcoal was a huge mistake. The icing came out super gritty!!! I figured it would dissolve but it didn't! Food coloring next time!


I sliced off the top of the chocolate cake to remove the broken parts. I also sliced off the top of the pumpkin to level it and because we would be too high for the cake carrier.

The icing was thick but I thought it was fine. I started to spread it on the bottom pumpkin layer and it was needed way too much!. I was not getting great coverage, but I was concerned about running out (and we didn't have more softened butter and opening all those carbon capsules was a PAIN). I put on the chocolate (and missed a bit. Nothing I could do) and started to top that. It was aweful. The cake was kind of dissintegrating beneath because the icing was too thick. (Oh, and by the way, I ended up getting it close enough and topping the pumpkin layer. For the top layer, I flipped it over to give me something stronger (the edge) to spread on.

But there was no way I was going to get the rest of this icing on. So I threw it back into the mixer and added more half-and-half. Of course, I added too much but I needed the icing thinned a lot.

I started to spread the outside and super, super struggled. Everything was a mess. I have the top as light of a coat as I could and started doing the sides. The chocolate cake immediately began to crumble more! I was trying to hold that in, while spreading the (now too thin) buttercream. And I had next to nothing to work with!

With lots of patience and a few really deep breaths. I did my best. It was not super smooth and the layer was really thin. There were cake crumbles in the icing and the whole thing tilted. But it was the best I could do!

By the way, at this point we were also running very late! So I was working as fast as I could. And making the butter cream turned into a huge mess! The disaster is pictured below along with the final cake. (A vacuum made cleaning up pretty easy actually)


Well, we were running late but we wanted to go through with our plans to make it a spider-web cake using the technique from The Cake Blog (LOCAL).

We purchased marshmallows from Sprouts which may have been the mistake. We needed cheap, junky ones. Because these from sprouts did not melt. I put them in the microwave for the prescribed 30 seconds...nothing. Another minute... they expanded but certainly didn't melt. One last desperate 45 seconds, still nothing. We just got this awful, chewy blob (that also smelled strange)

I think we needed to use regular (junky, chemical filled) marshmallows! We just gave up at this point and just used the fondant spider Meredith made.

Final Thoughts

The end result looked...acceptable. It tasted pretty good, though again, really gritty butter cream.

I would use this pumpkin cake recipe again in a heart-beat. I was really happy with that. Less so the mayo cake but I also wouldn't write it off. I think the buttercream, before adding the charcoal, was good (though thick). I would do that again too, but be more cognizant of its thickness.

Also, I would leave myself much more time!

Chicken Pot Pie


I made chicken pot pie. Like last time, we did it with 2% milk which worked really well. I also did it with some dried thyme and again used some anchovy paste. I also threw in some green chile, but not a signifigant amount. I did use half of a zucchini to bulk it up.

It was pretty good. A bit spicy. We managed to squeeze 6 servings (2 dinner, 4 lunch) out of it, but it was a stretch. I do like how easy this is!