Justin & Meredith Winokur's Kitchen Cooking Notebook

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Caprese Salad and Tofu


This was a quick meal we prepped mostly ahead of time. I marinated tofu in Soyaki and grilled it last night when I cooked everything else. Meredith made caprese salad with the rest of the buratta.

Pretty easy and quick meal.

BLT Corn Lettuce Wraps


We made the same BLT wraps as we've done before. We followed the recipe pretty closely except that I grilled and cut the corn earlier in the week.

I actually kind of just eyeballed all of the spices. I also decided to interpet "chili" powder as "chile" powder and used a direct dried-chile powder. Of course, I decided to try to use Ghost Pepper flakes. Even opening in the bag and putting them in the grinder made me nearly choke to death from coughing and sneezing. So I went very light on it. Between the little bit of Ghost Pepper and the (extra) smoked paprika, it had a kick. Oh, and we also put some Franks Red Hot in there.

Halloumi and Peas


We had friends over but also wanted to make a quick and easy meal. We also wanted to do something that could either be grilled or done inside. I really wanted to grill it but it was raining just too hard.

We baked an eggplant and two zucchinis in the oven at about 400 for 2-30 minutes. I did the cheese (marinated for a while in Frank's Red Hot) on the cast iron on the stove. (a bit too long on one side).

Meredith made Spring Peas as before with mint and prosciutto. It was good and made ofr a nice compliment to everything else.

Grilled Sausage and Vegetables


Pretty simple meal but it worked well since we didn't want to spend a ton of time. We grilled 4 different types of sausage (listed below) with some broccolini (tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and crushed red pepper), and some Chinese eggplant (just salt and pepper)

The sausages were all from Whole Foods. Roughly in order of our favorite

We just grilled it all on medium and kind of winged it. I am sure I overcooked it a bit but they are fatty enough that it was fine. The broccolini was pretty good. Maybe a bit overcooked.

Sous Vide Brisket


I made brisket using the Serious Eats Recipe (Local 1) originally in the Food Lab post (a copy also linked on the local page). The gist of it is that you do a combined method where you sous-vide for a while (24-72 hours depending on temperature) and then finish in the oven, grill, or smoker. Unlike the chicken we've done in the past where it just touched the grill, this is supposed to be like 3 hours under smoke. The recipe also includes a way to do it with liquid smoke and in the oven.

I started with the smallest piece of brisket Costco had at about 2.6 pounds. It also had a nice amount of fat but less than I've read about before. (you can see the fat on the sliced finished version).

I opted for the oven since I was running around all day and didn't want to deal with it too much. I did the sous-vide at 155 for about 25 hours (covered and insulated well. Hooked it to the Kill-a-Watt and read less than 3 kWh for then entire thing). I then ice-bathed it so I could put it in the fridge. I then cooked it for 2 hours or so in the oven.

The top photo is it being sliced after all of the cooking. It felt dry and was slightly but it was also kind of the texture you expect out of brisket. I would consider doing it with the lower temp next time. Flavor wise, it was pretty good but not very smokey (even with the liquid smoke). I certainly liked it but it wasn't super amazing. I would keep playing with this method and recipe since I like the ease of sous-vide over all day on the smoker.

I also wish it made more. You can see in some of the photos the amount of liquid that came right off the meat and in the bag in some photos. I was planning on cooking it down but ended up not doing it (or at least not yet). The final thing was 1.57 pounds (about 1 pound of liquid lost!)

Still, I was pretty happy with it (after cutting off the fat). It may not have been the most amazing, but it was a good first attempt. I will try with a bigger piece next time too. This was relatively small.

Brisket from Costco Seasoned and ready to go in Out of the cooker. 25 hours! You can see the liquid Ready to go in the oven Out of the oven, ready to slice Slicing it

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

Grilled Shishitos and Leftover Brisket


This was a really easy and quick meal. We grilled shishitos for about 4-6 minutes on each side. I took the time to skewer them and that seemed to work really well. Some were hard to flip, but it felt like it was easier than the grill basket on 2016-07-24. I would do it that way again for sure.

I also wrapped some leftover brisket in aluminum foil and grilled it on the top rack of the grill.

Lobster Tails, Crab Cakes, and Zucchini


Meredith was craving seafood and getting a bit stir-crazy in the dessert so we had a seafood night of lobster tail and crab cakes (the latter was purchased pre-made from Sprouts).

For the lobster tail, we tried baking it instead of grilling it. We read a bunch of different things and ended up with the instructions from LobsterGram (Local 1), Actually the video really helped so I also copied that to the local page.

It was pretty easy and I recall seeing it done this way at some restaurants. We baked it for about 10 minutes (it needed more than the video called for). We put some melted butter on the top before baking it and then again after with chives (from the garden).

We also made sautéed zucchini with a little bit of butter and more fresh herbs from the garden (marjoram,thyme, chives) and also some (roasted) garlic powder and salt.

The crab cakes were pre made from the grocery store.

Getting the raw lobster ready Fresh herbs

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

Grilled Buffalo Chicken


I had a friend over and we wanted to grill. We sometimes struggle to come up with different meal ideas but this sounded ok.

We made buffalo grilled chicken sandwiches. For the chicken, we marinated it for a while in Franks Red Hot. I then grilled the tenders as I normally would (and tried ot get a bit of a sear on them at the end). I then mixed some more Franks with some butter and tossed them at the end.

We also tried roasting some hatch green chiles. This was my first time trying to do anything with them. I know you usually roast them and peel them but I wanted to see if I could just cook them like I would a bell pepper. Unfortunately, the skin blistered and was also pretty tough. I had already cut them but it was kind of hard to peel them (but I did my best).

Finally, we also had some grilled eggplant because we like it and do it all the time.

Tossed chicken off the grill Everything laid out to make the sandwich

Lobster Tail with Broccolini and Cabbage


We weren't super hungry so lobster tail and vegetables made for a nice meal.

We based the Broccolini was based on last Saturday. The idea was pretty good, but I overcooked it. They were a bit charred.

We also had cabbage. It was leftover from lunch we were prepping. I put it in a foil packet and let it heat up on the grill. I then opened it up a bit. This worked ok. It was a bit of an experiment.

Finally, the lobster tail was just like last Thursday. I did it in the toaster oven which had a burner towards the top. Because of that, I think it looked more cooked than it was on the inside. I think it was fine, but next time I would let it go a bit more.

So in the end, the broccolini was overcooked and the lobster was undercooked. Oh well... Hopefully it would be better next time.

Indian Scrambled Eggs and Yuca Home Fries


We made a pretty simple though oddly eclectic meal. Meredith made Indian Scrambled Eggs (Egg Bhurji) like we did before on 2016-04-13. I think she followed the recipe pretty closely. We used 3 chile peppers instead of one and it still wasn't too spicy. We also threw some (full-fat) yogurt (bought for a later meal) into the eggs kind of like cream. We also skipped the cilantro and added cumin. Meredith said she also went heavy (~2x) on the turmeric.

I also made yuca home fries. I had to peel the wax and then cube it. I cooked it in the cast iron with some oil and then later butter. I also threw some salt and pepper in too. I liked the flavor a lot but it was also pretty and kind of dry. I think that it may just be that yuca is a bit dry. I would still do this again.

Making the yuca Working on the onions. Very yellow

Thai Beef Salad and Mushrooms


This was a mixed successes. I made the regular Thai Beef Salad but doubled the sauce (and used the normal additional fish sauce but no more than that). I also put in 3 diced Bird's Eye Chiles and still 1 tsp of cayenne (as opposed to 2 when doubled). It was a bit too acidic so I added extra sugar to balance it.

Meredith thought the sauce smelled too fishy. I agreed about the smelled but I actually thought it tasted very good! Spicy, but good. The problem was the beef. I marinated it overnight (and also with some chiles). I didn't use rib-eye since it looked fatty but I should have. This was so tough. Some pieces were edible but many were just too hard to chew. I'll do better next time!

I also grilled stuffed mushrooms but they were store made. I would do that again or, better yet, make them myself.

(In the pictures below, you can see I was also grilling chicken. That is for tomorrow)

Everything on the grill. Chicken is for tomorrow Nice lines on the steak The mushrooms

Grilled Sausage and Stuffed Pizza Mushrooms


We went for a meat-heavy (ish) meal when we had friends over. We decided to again go with a mix of sausage. We had (down the center, then the two sides) from Whole Foods.

I also made pizza-stuffed mushrooms. It was pretty straight-forward. We used a bit of Delallo Vodka Sauce, then some fresh mozzarella and then some Trader Joes sopressata. Really simple and not too much to it. They were also pretty good!


Pizza Mushrooms prep Grilling it all

House Flavor and Teriyaki Flavor Beef Jerky



I've done this before on 2014-12-30 so I used a similar recipe, but I made some changes. For instance, we used Teriyaki sauce from 2016-07-24 which was very sweet so I didn't add extra sugar.

Anyway, it was:

The beef was super (!!!) wet. 1/2 cup of liquid is really the absolute upper bound I think for how much goes into it!

House Jerky

This was just my usual house jerky with bison. The only difference is that I wanted to use regular salt so I used about 2 1/4 tsp Diamond Brand1 kosher salt aiming for about 2500mg. I think it was actually a bit too salty this time. Other than that, I kept to my usual recipe.

Timing and Log

I did both at 160°F.

Sure enough, the teriyaki did dry up pretty well. Still a bit more moist (and chewy) than I wanted but I think that is what should be expected

My Notes

Also noted is a buffalo jerky recipe I was going to do but ended up doing teriyaki instead.

  1. This one more coarse so this is still about 2500 mg sodium 

Grilled Chicken Saltimbocca, Sides, and Grilled Strawberry Shortcake


We had friends over and wanted to make a nice meal. They were bringing sides so we focused on dinner and dessert (and eggplant).

Dinner: Chicken and Sides

We made Chicken Saltimbocca. All of the chicken breasts at the store were too big so we went with chicken tenders. I pounded them out a bit and then made a marinade of:

I let it marinate for a few hours. I then dried them off and laid down a layer of prosciutto and some fresh sage. I closed it up in half, put a toothpick through (the long way from the front to the fold), and dredged it with some flour (with a bit of salt and pepper).

I grilled them for about 6 minuted per side. They worked out pretty well. I think I a toothpick of two1. But other than that, they were good. I do not know if I really got the wine though.

We also grilled some eggplant. Our friends brought a caprese salad and some cauliflower-broccoli salad. I really liked them both. We didn't make it, but they told us they reduced the balsamic first. I think I would try that in the future! It coated the stuff better and had a nice sweetness.

Dessert: Grilled Strawberry Shortcake

Meredith had seen this Joy The Baker recipe (Local 2). We made the pound cake but made High Altitude Changes. The altitude changes were:

We also added a bunch of chopped lemon thyme from Meredith's garden and the usual heavy on the vanilla.

We planned to reduce the time. I do not know if the oven wasn't hot enough or I forgot convection (really not sure). But it took a lot longer. I eventually had to cover the top to not burn it and let the rest cook through.

That did work well enough though.

After it was cool, I off four slices (8 total). I grilled them with the heat really low and coasted with melted butter (instead of oil). After I flipped them, I turned on the other burners on low and turn off the direct one while Meredith finished the strawberries. She macerated them with some additional lemon thyme and also lemon zest (and just a Tbsp of sugar). We did less sugar for the whipped cream (and a more soft-peak).

I forgot to take the final picture, but it was pretty good. The cake had a bit of crisp. It wasn't as heavy as a normal pound cake but I liked it a lot still. And the lines looked really fancy (even though it didn't make much difference).

It was also nicely moist (a concern for Albuquerque) but pound cake is pretty forgiving.

  1. OOPS!!! 

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

Collard Greens Wraps


This is less about the actual wrap (though I describe it below) and more about the method. Meredith had originally heard of the idea from Inspiralized, though I also later read about it in The Kitchn (they may have gotten it from Inspiralized's instagram).

Essentially, you just use collard greens as a wrap. They are large and strong leaves that hold up well to being wrapped like a tortilla. I thought it worked out pretty well!

Anyway, this particular wrap was:

For other ideas are:

Anyway, this is a pretty cool idea and certainly something we will do again!

Frutti Di Mari with Zucchini (and regular) noodles


We made Frutti Di Mari (Fruit of the sea). As with just about every time before, we used the mixed seafood from Trader Joes.

Reading through some older posts (2010-09-23, 2010-11-01, 2011-05-09), I knew to expect problems with liquid from the seafood. I followed what I mentioned in the later of those posts and partially steamed them first. Just enough to get them fully defrosted and having shed all of the liquid.

For the rest, I started off by sautéing a finely diced onion in olive oil. I let that go for a while and then added a ton of heirloom grape tomatoes (They were really old and somewhat shriveled but they worked fine). All the while, I was adding salt, pepper, some garlic powder, and some crushed red pepper.

I put the garlic in and then the seafood to finish cooking. Followed by a huge handful of zucchini noodles and some lightly cooked al-dente pasta1. With the pasta, I had also reserved some liquid and added a splash of that.

I let it finish cooking down just enough to evaporate the liquid and thicken it. I topped mine with parm cheese though Meredith skipped it.

I think this was probably the better Frutti Di Mari we've had! I liked all of the flavors and the simplicity. I also liked the mix of real pasta and zucchini noodles. It helped bulk it up without being too many calories.

  1. Probably about 2-3 "servings" 

Jerk Chicken Bowls


A quick meal. We quickly defrosted (pan with some water) frozen jerk chicken from 2016-07-31. We made cauliflower rice and then sautéed peppers and onions with some butter. Finally, we topped it with Diablo Sauce.

Quick, simple, and pretty flavorful. The chicken was a bit tough (and cold for some pieces) so I should be more careful with that next time, but the rest was really good.

Frijoles a la Charra (and sausage)


The main thing of this meal was the beans. Meredith made Frijoles a la Charra using the Homesick Texan Recipe. The only changes were that we did the bean in the pressure cooker, skipped the bacon for one of the batches both batches (to make them vegetarian), and used fresh tomatoes.

For the pressure cooker, we followed the same guide. We did 2 minutes at high pressure with natural release. This sounds super fast, but the time doesn't start until it starts to escape steam (long time on the heat) and then with a natural release, you go until the pressure if fully back to atmospheric. So it takes a while. But it did work well.

The beans were awesome. Nicely cooked and flavorful

Bell Pepper (Turkey) Taco Skillet


Before cheese With Cheese

Meredith and I made the Bell Pepper Taco Skillet from Inspiralized (Local 1). This was our first time spiralizing the peppers. Despite what the video showed, we found it best to core it and then use enough pressure on the balde to get the edges through. This way, we got the strips but didn't have to go through the needlessly hard center.

Anyway, the only real change we made was to double it and use turkey. I think Meredith also replaced some paprika with chipotles and tumeric. And we just microwaved the corn.

I do not know if it was that we did a double batch so it was crowded or if it was the super-thin pepper, but there was a lot of liquid. We ended up separating the batches and trying to get some of the liquid off.

I think they were pretty good. There was certainly a nice kick but also flavorful. I do think I prefer peppers non-spiralized and slightly bigger but this was different. It also made a lot of food!

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