Everything Connie's Cooking in Quarantine
Mar 24, 2020 • Connie Matisse
Until March 10th my family and I had been eating a whole lot of takeout because we were "too busy" to cook. Here's what we've been eating since we've been hunkering down at home.
Hi! Marissa on the Customer Care team was feeling overwhelmed trying to answer everyone who was asking for recipes for the random foodstuffs I've been posting, so I dumped all these dishes and some words that kinda-sorta resemble recipes right here for your reference!
A few disclaimers:
- I've gone to the grocery store 2 times in 5 weeks. We've been trying to be very diligent about self-quarantine. The first two weeks I was still going to the office and then home. We've been 100% home/only in each other's company for 2.5 weeks now (minus the one trip to the grocery store and a stop at Crocodile Wine for curbside pick-up). There are a lot of folks who don't have the privilege of staying home right now, so all of us who do have that privilege need to take this really seriously.
- I spent $250 the first time and $150 the second. So about $400 total on 4.5 weeks of groceries, but I did have a pretty well-stocked pantry before then.
- 4 weeks into quarantine I snagged a CSA from our friend Evan Chender
- I also spent a good bit of money on wine and booze :(
Here's a little list of ingredients I purchased or have in my pantry already:
- Dairy: whole milk, Robusta cheese, cheddar cheese, farmers cheese, butter (lots), full-fat greek yogurt, pimento cheese, parmesan.
- Proteins: eggs, frozen salmon, short ribs, pork butt, beef top round, chicken sausages, bacon, chicken wings, chicken quarters, pâté, a big can of crab
- Vegetables: yukno gold potatoes, sweet potatoes, celery, fennel, cucumber, parsley (a LOT to make gremolata), cilantro, broccoli, cauliflower, red cabbage, green cabbage, spinach, carrots, so much garlic, so many onions, scallions, radicchio
- Fruit: oranges, apples, lemons, limes, blueberries (gone immediately—I do not recommend), bananas (froze half), a cantaloupe (ate second day)
- Shelf-stable stuff: olives (so many), pickled carrots, beans (duh), soy sauce, mirin, rice wine vinegar, olive oil, sesame oil, maldon salt, pepper, bay leaves, turmeric, garam masala, coconut milk, cavatappi, bucatini, orecchiette, farro, white rice, brown rice, flour, sugar, dashi packets, tinned mussels, tinned, sardines, anchovies, capers, mustard, sherry vinegar
Chicken wings are so delicious, there's just no denying it. I didn't have the ingredients I maybe would have reached for, but I made these anyway. First I mixed together black sesame past, tamari, miso, pineapple juice and rice wine vinegar. Then I let the wings soak in there for a few hours. I got a big pan super hot with burbling butter, shook the wings off, then fried them up—about 5 minutes on each side. While they were frying I got the marinade up to a steady boil and let it cook down for a bit (and kill off any potential bacteria from the raw chicken). I poured that marinade back over the butter-fried wings, threw some cilantro over it for fun, and served with lime wedges.
They were great for lunch and snacks the next day, too :)
Gonna write this recipe in a few minutes—gotta go wash my dirty children real quick.
Miso Braised Pork Shoulder
First up—miso braised pork shoulder. Shown here next day as machaca-inspired breakfast tacos.
Learning the fundamentals of braising a 3-5 lb pork shoulder gets you ready to get set loose on thousands of new dishes.
1. Get your hands on a bone-in or bone out—doesn't matter—pork shoulder or pork butt.
2. Salt and pepper the hell out of it. Cover it all up.
3. Get a big Dutch Oven or a Vermicular nice and hot
4. Add a few tablespoons of oily thing of your choice—think about the flavors you'll be adding to your dish later. Butter, olive oil, sesame oil, vegetable oil, corn oil, coconut oil—anything that has a high smoke point is suitable.
5. Brown your piece of meat on all sides. Don't move it around too much. Put it in the oil and then let it get good and crispy before rotating it to brown another side.
6. Once it's browned, take it out and stick it on a plate somewhere.
7. I like to soften onions (or other alliums) and aromatics in this new meaty-oil combination you've just made. For this I put a whole, sliced brown onion. Also would have been good with some chopped ginger, garlic, or scallion. Get whatever aromatics you're using nice and soft, on lower heat, then add the meat back in.
8. A good rule of thumb for braising is to add liquid to the pot so that it covers at least half of the meat. Always leave at least 1/4 of the meat peaking out so a) it doesn't bubble over and b) so you don't end up with soup.
9. In a Soup Bowl, I mixed Brown Rice Miso from Miso Master, soy sauce, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, and a little beef stock since I had some leftover from soup I'd made a few days before. Also would have been good with some Mirin, but I left mine at the factory (weird).
10. Pour it on the meat! Close the lid. Cook on low until it's falling apart. Mine took 5 hours.
When the meat was done I made 4 meals from it:
1. On rice with togarashi, a fried egg, and steamed broccoli
2. On tortillas with egg, kimchi, and scallions
3. In dashi broth with ramen noodles
4. In a red cabbage and citrus salad (you'll find that one below!)
Radicchio Salad with a Lot of Parmesean
I love radicchio so much. But I have a really shitty habit of buying it and forgetting about it until it's kinda sad and floppy, so I usually end up cooking it with olive oil and balsamic and adding it to pastas. But I just really needed a fresh salad yesterday, so peeled off the floppy parts, soaked all the leaves in very cold water for about 10 minutes, drained it, dried it, and it was (almost) good as new.
I make a variation of this salad a lot in the fall and winter as a nice balance to heavy braised meats or pasta dishes.
Here's what's in this one:
- 1 head of Raddichio
- 1 huge handful parsley, coarse chopped
- Maldon salt
- Black Pepper
- Olive Oil
- Balsamic Vinegar
So first I made a dressing with Microplaned raw garlic, olive oil, balsamic, and pepper. Then I mixed the chopped radicchio with the very coarsely chopped raw parsley (don't bother removing the stems!). I salted the roughage with a big pinch of Maldon. Then I grated a boatload of parmesan onto the undressed greens. Toss it through with dressing. Done!
Cavatappi with Ragù & Gremolata
Where did Ragú pasta sauce get off on coopting the name of this delicious dish? Ragù (note accent grave, not accent acute) is a meat-based sauce for pasta invented in Italy in the 18th century. There are a million and one recipes out there. I didn't use one, but I'm pretty sure this is close to the "real" thing—whatever that means.
Here's what's in mine:
- 4 lbs bone-in Top Round (any beef stew meat will do)
- 1 brown onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 3 stalks of celery, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 4 bay leaves
- A wine glass full of red wine
- A wine glass full of beef stock
- Olive oil
- Salt and Pepper
- Tomato Paste
This is as easy as it gets. Season the meat and brown it like we browned the miso-braised pork shoulder. I use a combo of olive oil and butter. After it's crisped up, remove the meat to a plate and add the onions, garlic, celery, and carrots too the drippings and cook on medium-low til they're soft and the onions are translucent. Add a plop of tomato paste—about a tablespoon—and some canned anchovies, if you want to. Stir it around. Add the wine and get it up to a simmer. Put the meat back in, then the stock, cover and cook on low for several hours, until you know it's done. You'll know when you know.
I served mine on Cavatappi cuz it's a cute word for the kids to say. I pretty much always make gremolata when I make heavy, meaty dishes like this one. It really makes it special.
Gremolata is a great thing to always have in your fridge—basically just chop a bunch of parsley, a few heads of garlic, zest 2 lemons, squeeze the lemon juice into the parsley/garlic/zest mixture. Add salt, pepper, and a lot of olive oil. Use it on eggs, fish, chicken, steak, pasta—everything but sweets.
Red Cabbage Salad with Miso Braised Pork
Red Cabbage is another one of those things I let go bad in my fridge way too often. This one was really close, but I gave it that same ice water treatment that I gave the radicchio and it was so freaking delicious.
I supreme some navel oranges (I love oranges) and tossed it through the chopped cabbage with lots of green onions, toasted sesame seeds, and leftover braised pork that I crisped up. I dressed it with sesame oil, sweet potato vinegar, orange juice, salt, and pepper. It was so good. Alex even liked it, and he's got major beef with the concept of fruit in salads.
Cheesy Pommes Anna
This is kinda like scalloped potatoes, but if you call it Pommes Anna it sounds more elegant. Lol. Growing up my mom would make scalloped potatoes with 16 different types of little cheese nubbins wrapped in aluminum foil and stuck, forgotten, in the back of the cheese drawer. My cheesy pommes anna included parmesan, Manchego, Robusto, and Boursin.
Slice potatoes on a mandolin (if you don't have one, get one for the next time you're shut in your house) or extra thin with a knife. Get a cast iron pan hot with butter and olive oil in the pan. Layer the potatoes in a sweet little circle. Cover in cheese. Add another layer of potatoes. Then more cheese. Maybe a little more olive oil this time. Maybe some pepper. Another layer of potatoes. You get the picture.
Cook at 400 F until potatoes are golden-brown around the edges and soft in the centers. Eat with fingers, straight from the pan.
Udon with Braised Short Rib & Cucumber
This might be the best thing I've ever thrown together in my life. Maybe it doesn't look it. I woke up thinking about this place in Los Angeles called Pine & Crane—I go every time I'm home visiting family. I don't really understand how that restaurant exists—the food is so good, so fresh, so affordable, and it comes out so quickly, no matter how long the line is. They make this Jasmine and Black iced tea with salted whipped cream that just makes me go wild, and this massive scallion and beef roll that I could eat every day. I actually woke up with my brain on Dan Dan noodles, but I had no peanuts or peanut butter in my pantry. What I ended up throwing together came close to the Zha Jiang noodles, at least in spirit—with rich braised meat, cold cucumber, and a ton of herbs and scallions.
Ingredients: short ribs, soy sauce, garlic, hoisin, honey, beef broth, udon noodles, cucumbers, cilantro, scallions, sweet potato vinegar.
- I had 6 short ribs that I marinated in soy sauce, garlic, honey, beef broth, and a little hoisin sauce for 24 hours. I stood them all up in my Crane Casserole, made sure they were 2/3s covered in liquid, stuck a lid on them and put them in the over at 250 for 6 hours.
- When they were falling off the bone I pulled apart the meat, strained the juice, cooked the juice down by 1/2, then tossed the juice through the meat.
- Cooked the udon, strained, set aside.
- Sliced cucumbers in matchsticks.
- Sliced scallions diagonally.
- Rough chopped a fistful of cilantro.
- Mixed cucumbers, scallions, cilantro, and saucy meat through the noodles.
- Topped with sweet potato vinegar.
The other day my two-year-old was so damn tired she forgot that she "hates vegetables" and ate pretty much a whole damn cabbage. It was weird. She even told me it was her "favorite food." Ok, sister.
It was pretty, tasty, though.
Ingredients: Sliced green cabbage, chicken stock, lemon, butter, salt.
Here's how I did it:
I tossed sea salt through the cut, raw cabbage. Then I got a pot with about 1/2 cup of chicken stock up to a simmer. I added the cabbage and simmered, covered, for about 8 minutes until the cabbage was softened but still vibrant and very unmushy. I grated lemon zest on top, added a tablespoon of butter, squeezed some lemon juice, and tossed it all together.
CASSOULET AVEC LEFTOVERS
I made WAY too much Flageolet & Celery salad the other day and oversalted the bejesus out of a Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder with Fennel & Coriander, so I put two mistakes together into something very, very, tasty.
For the Original Bean Salad:
I cooked flageolet beans in a big pot of water with bay leaves, a halved lemon, a halved head of garlic, and peppercorns. Then I drained them, and while they were warm, tossed through chopped celery, chopped parsley, pickled shallots, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. This was a rather tasty lunch for two days, but by day three the raw veg were in a sorry state and I was pretty bored.
For the Pork Shoulder:
I put coriander seeds and fennel seeds in my pepper grinder and really let loose on the pork shoulder, coating the whole thing well with coriander, fennel, and sea salt. I wrapped it and put it in my fridge overnight. Then I headed olive oil in the bottom of my Vermicular (honestly love this thing) and browned the pork well on all sides. I added 1/2 cup of Gamay, a few bay leaves, and a little chicken stock, then cooked it for 4 or so hours on low. I should have cooked it another hour but I got impatient. We at this with scrambled eggs, on roasted potatoes, and straight out of the pot before it got used in this Cassoulet.
Ok, so now i had this leftover bean salad and this leftover pork shoulder. I stuck them both in an iron sauté pan with a little chicken stock to broth it up, then cooked them together at 350 for about 20 minutes til they got good and stewy. I pulled the pan out, made two little dents, and cracked in two eggs. I cooked it again for about 10 minutes until the whites were cooked but the yolks were still quite runny. If I'd had bread I would have made bread crumbs and sprinkled them on top after adding the eggs, but I didn't, and so!