Justin & Meredith Winokur's Kitchen Cooking Notebook

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Croque-Monsieur and Rustic Bread -- back to top

Well, this is becoming pretty standard: Croque-Monsieur with no-knead bread cooked like Rose's hearth bread.

No real notes on the bread other than I think I needed more time. It was around 190°F when I took it out but could have used more color. Oh well!

Meredith also sautéed broccolini and made tahini sauce. She sautéed it a bit too ling for her taste but I though it was perfect!

Potsticker Stir-Fry (w/ Mushrooms) -- back to top

Potsticker Stir-Fry [Womans Day] with no major changes to the sauce. We did add mushrooms which worked really well once you let enough of the water steam out (I was expecting it to not work well but I was happily wrong)

Buttermilk Pecan Pralines -- back to top

I made (or at least tried to make) buttermilk pralines from Southern Kitchen (LOCAL). I followed the recipe adjusting the final temp down to about 227°F. I also only used about 2 oz of corn syrup since it is all we had (and it said you can skip it).

I think I should have beat it longer. I don't think I incorporated enough air into it. The final result was good but super sticky. I ended up mushing half of them into rolls and rolling it like caramel. Those are easier to eat.

Still, they were good. Especially with the pecan bits. But I would try harder next time to get the right consistency

Gumbo -- back to top

Meredith made the basic idea of Chicken and Sausage Gumbo including the dry-roux which she did last Sunday. That actually made things a good bit easier since that was done and out of the way! It made it way less hectic and more approachable.

It took about 90 minutes to make.


We also used the mixer to shred the chicken. It required a higher speed than usual; probably because thighs are fattier so they slipped around more. Still, this was way easier than shredding by hand.

Overall, it was very good. I think I liked it even more than last time!

The dry roux

Pistachio Turkey Arugula Patties -- back to top

Lamb and pistachio patties with sumac yogurt sauce [Ottolenghi Simple] with our usual changes. I’m glad I added the salt amount to the ingredients as I almost forgot it

Chicken Pot Pie Hotdish-Style -- back to top

I made Rotisserie Chicken Pot Pie (Light) (the "less healthy version" with butter) and then topped it tater tots a la hot dish. I cooked it all at 400°F for about 25 minutes. The tots needed more! They were way less good than when on hot dish. I wonder if the chicken pot pie would have done okay being cooked longer? Probably.

Otherwise, it was pretty good. I used some fancy carrots that were a bit too earthy. I also added celery to use some of that up!

Halal Cart Chicken -- back to top

I made the Halal Cart Chicken from Serious Eats (LOCAL)

I didn't make too many changes. Notably for the chicken marinade, I used half extra virgin olive oil and half canola for “light olive oil”. I had read somewhere that it can make a big mess so I grilled it even though I still needed to clean the pans. I wish I had better char lines but this wasn't really bad. I also used about 1.5 lbs of chicken.

For the rice, I doubled the cumin and used 3 cups of water/broth. I also gave it a few extra minutes. Both changes to account for the altitude.

I didn't make any changes for the sauce but I wish I had. While the chicken was very good and flavorful, the sauce was way too sweet. It needed way less sugar. And maybe some other spices. I would definitely branch out and see what my other options are in the future.

Otherwise, it was pretty good. Lots of flavor and good all together.

For serving, we did it on spring greens with tortillas. Also, I had read the label as "harissa sauce", not "harissa salsa". That wasn't great on it.

Salmon Black Bean Salad -- back to top

Spicy Salmon Black Bean Salad [The Kitchn]

Corned Beef Brisket -- back to top

I made corned beef for St. Patty's Day. It was pre-brined brisket from the grocery store. I rinsed away the brine and dried it with towel. I then sous-vide cooked it for about 10 hours at 180°F.

When it was done, I was able to slice/scrape off a lot of the fat. I cut against the grain and then seared each slice to crisp them up a bit.

It wasn't the most amazing corned beef but still pretty good. Salty as you would expect. Even Caroline liked it (with yellow mustard)

Frijoles a la Charra -- back to top

Meredith made Frijoles a la Charra [Homesick Texan] with Jalapeño Pinto Beans [Homesick Texan]. She actually made a lot of the Frijoles stuff a while ago but she had overcooked the beans so froze it and used it this time. She followed the bean recipe just going by taste to know when they were done.

They were super delicious as always!

Pulled Pork -- back to top

With the scale zeroed

I prepped Sous Vide Pulled Pork with our normal changes, though I forgot the coriander in the crust.

I put liquid smoke in one bag but not the other (forgot). I did the oven for 2 hours to finish it since I didn't feel like baby sitting the grill.

One thing I did differently (and added to the recipe) was to let it cool before distributing into bags. Way easier since I didn't have fat getting into the sealer and making the seal less good. Tip: Put the whole bowl on the scale, zero it, and measure out with negative weights into bags.

It started as 14.54 lbs and I made 7.77 lbs (though I also had some nibbles along the way before it was weighed)

Asian Chicken Salad -- back to top

Asian Chicken Salad

Banana Bread -- back to top

Banana Bread [Joy The Baker]

Meredith covered it for the last 10 minutes of baking since it needed more time but was getting too browned

Peruvian Chicken -- back to top

I made Peruvian Chicken for our friends. I mostly following The Food Lab / Serious Eats (LOCAL) but I also read some others including America's Test Kitchen. Also, the Food Lab Website version is slightly different with the spices bumped up.

I finally settled on the following for one chicken. I decided to use two (4.74 lsb and 4.34 lbs) so I doubled the following:

All of the spices except the salt. Used all but one of the garlic cloves The paste.

The Food Lab one has you dry-brine the bird and then add the spices right before cooking. The America's Test Kitchen has you make a saltier paste and apply that for at least 6 hours. So I kind of did both. I used salt (under and on top of the skin) to dry-brine for about 24+ hours. Then the next day, I made the spice mixture (again both under and on the skin) for another 5-6 hours.

I debated grilling or baking the chicken but eventually decided on the oven. I cooked it at 475°F with the thermometer set to 153°F (a bit of a compromise of a few different sources). Of course, at that point, my instant read showed everywhere was much hotter. Not sure what is going on with that...

After dry brining Rubbed with the paste under and on top of the skin Cooked. Maybe a bit too long

Note: It put out a ton of smoke while cooking! I wonder if turning off convection would help with that filling the kitchen so much?

For the sauce, I followed the recipe with no major changes. For the three jalapenos, I de-ribbed and de-seeded two of them. Also for the "salt to taste", I did about 1/2 tsp. Next time a little bit less salt. I also may have gone a tad high on the garlic. I used the little bits leftover from the microplane for the spices. I did not have ají Amarillo paste.

We also served it with roasted asparagus and our friends made sweet-potatoes

Red Bean, Walnut, and Pomegranate Pâté -- back to top

Meredith made Red Bean, Walnut, and Pomegranate Pâté [Cool Beans]. I do not think she made any notable or major changes. We liked it a lot. It reminded us of fesenjan

Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread -- back to top

I made the Whole Wheat variation of American Sandwich Bread [Bread Illustrated by America's Test Kitchen]. The biggest note is that I let the rise way too much in the pan. As you can see from the photos, it is way more than an inch above the pan. Also, I had some trouble shaping it because I didn't try to do it right out of rising like I was supposed to.

I think it came out ok. Maybe a bit dry. I did let it go to 199°F which is very high for this altitude. I should have taken it out a tiny bit sooner. But otherwise, I was pretty happy with it and I liked that it was "healthier" than the white-bread one.

Brioche -- back to top

Out of the oven

I made brioche from Bread Illustrated. Unlike last time, I measured out how much more flour I added and tried to be conservative about it. I ended up with adding 1.5 oz of additional bread flour.

This entire loaf was the story of letting it go too long. I started it on Saturday, 2021-03-20. I meant to cook it on Monday at the latest and kept forgetting until Tuesday (today). And then I formed it and forgot it for too long. Though, to be honest, it did not seem to have risen too much more than I would have wanted.

It did rise a ton in the oven. I do not know what happened?! When I took it out at 35 min, it was around 190°F, as I wanted for this kind of bread at altitude. It also kind of split which I think was from the roll tearing a bit (maybe from rising too much?).

The final loaf was around 1.375 lbs. It still tasted good even if it had more crumb than I would have liked.

Comparison to Commercial

We also had some Wenner Bread Products (which I think also made it for Trader Joes). See the photo below with the commercial on the right and mine on the left. I knew mine was over-proofed but even look at the last two (2021-02-13 and 2021-02-26), mine is clearly less dense. Also, the commercial one has a much smoother top

Taste and texture wise, the commercial is much fluffier, smaller/denser crumb, and also much sweeter. Mine is more savory and is reminiscent of croissant while the commercial is more like a cake. Mine is also more addicting! You just want to keep eating it.

I am glad I got to try them together. I think I actually like mine more but I would like the denser crumb of the commercial.

Matzo Ball Soup and Salmon Salad -- back to top

I made matzoh ball soup. Like last year, I simmered vegetables (whole onions with the root still attached, celery, carrots, and this time parsnips) for a really long time. I used Better Than Boullion vegetable base since Emily would be eating it. I have to say, I do not like that base as much as their other stuff. I ended up having to add a lot more and also add some soy sauce (not kosher for passover) and Worcestershire sauce. In the end, it wasn't too bad.

I also made Knaidlach (Matzo Balls). I read a few things and figured out that I could make my own matzo meal with about 2 sheets being 1/2 cup. I originally doubled it but I misread last time and used 2 tsp nutmeg already. So I decided to triple it.

I tried something different and (a) used the (2 oz) cookie scoop to make the initial shape and then I rolled them, and (b) I added them all at once. I do not think that was the cause, but they came out a bit dense and the inside was less colored, as you can see in the photo. Still very good though!

Meredith and I also made Fresh Dill Salmon Salad with about 3 lbs of salmon (so triple the recipe). I baked the salmon at 365 until it was 140° inside; about 20 minutes (checking more often). That worked well compared to doing it for less time at a higher temp. I stored it in a container for later which also make it easy to drain off more liquid and oil. It was a bit scant on the capers since it was all we had. Finally, we used shallots instead of red onion since we forgot to buy the latter.

The salmon salad was actually pretty good on matzoh!

Tofu Satay -- back to top

I made tofu satay. I used 4 blocks of the super-firm tofu so I doubled the marinade. I also tried something different. I sliced the tofu instead of cubing and skewering it. Much Easier! This is how I would do it in the future. Since there was so much, I had to do it in two batches.

It was very popular. We ate all of it!

Lamb Arugula Patties -- back to top

Since Meredith and Caroline are out of town, I decided to try to make the Lamb and pistachio patties with sumac yogurt sauce [Ottolenghi Simple] that we are always making with turkey but with lamb, as it actually calls for. I still did the other changes (more arugula and cooked in the oven) but I used 1 lbs of 80% lean lamb.

I liked them a lot. I thought they tastes better than with turkey but also more rich that got to be a little much. I am glad I tried them with lamb but I am also happy with turkey. They were also greasier as I expected since it was fattier meat.

I kind of "winged" it a bit more with the dressing. I used greek yogurt and apple cider vinegar since I didn't feel like getting a lemon. That was not as good by any means. I would not do that again. I also served it with some cashew dressing Emily left and crumbled feta. Those worked well!