Vegetables Every Day

Vegetables Every Day
Carrot Tarator with Beets

Friday, October 30, 2020

Pressure Cooker: Black Bean and Chorizo Soup

It seems like fall is here all of the sudden.  Nights are cool, complaints coming from east coast relatives about it being cold and it's almost Halloween! The latest meal I have been making regularly is a Black Bean and Chorizo soup.  I might even be making it more often than Curried Lentils.  I make in it in a Breville Pressure cooker, which is similar to an Instapot.  From recipes I see on the web, I am guessing the Breville cooks at a slightly higher pressure, as most things will cook faster than called for in a Instapot.  In my opinion, this is the biggest challenges to using a pressure cooker is figuring out the cook time.  Soaked beans will cook much faster (5-6 minutes for soaked black beans vs 22 minutes for unsoaked), fresh beans cook faster than old beans, and different pressure for different cookers.  But you can always just cook some more if you need (and use the quick release, as the natural release is what takes the most time in this recipe). Also ... this is just a version of my Vegetable Bean and Sausage Stew, which is cooked on the stove... On the stove, I would recommend soaking the beans first, and it probably would cook in about the same total time (my guess is the soaked beans would need to cook for an hour or a bit more on the stove at a gentle simmer).  

I like a lot of greens in my soups... this is just one bunch from the Marcella's Farm stall at the Coronado Farmers Market.  You could use a lot less if you want.

When I made this batch, I found I only had a 1/2 pound of black beans in the panty, so I mixed in a 1/2 pound of pinto beans.  The soup is normally darker brown. 

Black Bean and Chorizo Soup

Makes 5-6 servings

1-2 tablespoons olive oil
6 ounces Mexican chorizo sausage
1 large onion, chopped
1 or 2 carrots, sliced
1 or 2 celery stalks, sliced (if you have them around)
2 cloves of garlic
1 jalapeno chili, or some chili flakes
1 pound black beans, rinsed   (pinto beans also work)
6 cups water
Salt (about ½ - 1 teaspoon) and  freshly ground pepper
1 bunch of greens (kale, mustard, chard), stalks removed, chopped (or baby spinach)

Garnish:  Sour cream or Greek yogurt, cilantro, avocado, chili slices, fresh corn, grated or crumbled cheese

 In the pressure cooker, heat the oil (using Sear setting).  Slice the chorizo if it is in a casing, or make little balls if not, and cook in the hot oil until brown.  Add onion, carrots, celery, garlic, chili.  When onions are translucent (5 minutes or so), add beans, water, salt and pepper.   Pressure cook using the “bean” function (high pressure) for 22 minutes (note – may be longer with an Instapot).  Let pressure reduce naturally.  When done, taste the beans and make sure they are cooked (if not, cook under pressure for a few more minutes, and OK to manually release the pressure).  Also taste for salt and add more if needed. Turn cooker to slow cook, high setting.  Add chopped greens.  Kale or mustard greens need to cook about 5 minutes; baby spinach is done as soon as you have stirred it in.   

 Serve with a garnish or two. Freezes well.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Pumpkin Muffins Rev. 2

I'm not one to really follow recipes, not even my own. Sometimes I just change things up for the variety. But I also evolve my recipes over time, some times to adjust for available ingredients, sometimes to make it more to my taste.  The pumpkin muffin recipe I published way back is one of those that evolved.  Butter instead of oil (for flavor), a whole can of pumpkin instead of 3/4 of a can (no dog around that loves the extra pumpkin), interchangeably use milk, yogurt, or buttermilk depending on what's on hand, and a little less to compensate for more pumpkin.  And I added some ginger.  And sometimes use more spice (like this time of year, when its pumpkin spice season) and sometimes less.  And sprinkle with sugar.   So I feel the Pumpkin Muffin recipe I published 10 years ago is not really the same as what I make today..  So here is Pumpkin Muffins Rev 2. 

These muffins come together very quickly, of the muffins I make most Sunday's, it is the easiest.

Like most muffins, the recipes are pretty tolerant... so adjust as you would like... fewer (or no) raisins, or put nuts into the batter.  Use slivered almonds instead of pumpkin seeds.  I have included a range on the spices.

And cans of pumpkin should start showing up at Trader Joes soon, its typically much better priced than regular grocery stores, but only available around Thanksgiving.

Pumpkin Muffins    Rev 2

2 cups flour (unbleached all-purpose, whole wheat, or a mix - I use 1 cup of each)
2 heaping tablespoons oat bran or oatmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ - 1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ - ½ teaspoon ginger
¼ (scant) teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

2 eggs
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup butter, melted
½ cup milk or yogurt
1 15 ounce can pumpkin 
½ cup raisins

¼ cup (+) pumpkin seeds or sliced almonds for topping
Raw sugar (turbano) for topping

Oven:  400F or 380F Convection Bake.

Put dry ingredients in a small bowl, and mix with whisk.

Combine eggs and brown sugar with a whisk, mix in butter, add the milk, pumpkin and raisins.  Mix well.  Fold in dry ingredients.  Place in greased muffin pan.  Sprinkle pumpkin seeds or almonds on top, making sure none stick out too much, then sprinkle with a bit of sugar.

Bake for 20 minutes or until browned and spring back when touched. Depending on your oven, you might need to rotate the pan halfway through baking.  Remove from pan, and cool on a rack.  Or eat immediately.   Store any extras in the refrigerator.  

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Lemony Pasta with Chickpeas

Pasta is on the rotation for dinner at our house about once a week.  Most the time its some variation of Pasta Whatever (looking back at this post, it's one that I should update!), tonight it's going to be Mac and Cheese, sometimes it's premade Tortoni's from Trader Joes. Another thing that has been on the weekly rotation is a batch of beans cooked in the pressure cooker.  Often its Beans and Greens with Sausage (pretty much follow this recipe, using unsoaked beans and cook for 20 - 22 minutes using the bean setting on the cooker), sometimes I just cook plain beans like black beans or chickpeas that go into other things, like tacos or queso's, salads, humous, etc.  Looking for a way to use up some freshly cooked chickpeas, I discovered a new recipe that is getting made at least once a month.   I found it on a google search (chickpea pasta) on a fun blog called It is 2020 and We Are Food Blogging, Baby, traced in back to a recipe on the New York times cooking app, and pretty much follow the recipe as far as ingredients, but change up a couple of things to make it easier.  


Here's what my workspace looks like.  I'm following the recipe on my iPad.  When making something for the first time, I usually get everything out before I start.  Since this is something that comes together quickly, its something I will continue to do (if there are gaps in the cooking, I generally will get things out as I need them).

Ok, maybe I staged this photo a little...

A couple of things make this pasta different that my normal.  One is adding chickpeas (which is an Italian tradition), but you also mash some of the chickpeas to thicken the sauce.  You are also using parsley as a green, a whole bunch is used.  Although I haven't tried it, I think this would be good with any green like spinach if you didn't have parsley on hand. The other things that give this pasta flavors that are different than my typical flavor palette is adding rosemary (which comes from one of the big bushes in my yard) and butter. Adding butter to make things better should not be a surprise, why have I never done this?

One change to the NYT's recipe is to use a potato masher to mash the beans in the skillet ... no need for another bowl!  The other is to transfer the pasta directly from the pasta pot to the skillet using a large slotted spoon.  This keeps from getting a colander dirty, plus I don't accidently forget to save some of the pasta water for the sauce at the end.  

Lemony Pasta With Chickpeas and Parsley

8 ounces penne other short, sturdy pasta
2 cups cooked chickpeas, home-cooked or canned
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
½ onion, diced
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
 Pinch of red pepper flakes, plus more as needed
1 ½ cups chickpea cooking liquid (if canned, just use water)
3 cups fresh parsley leaves (from 1 large bunch)
⅔ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
1 tablespoon butter
 Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
 Salt and Ground black pepper to taste

Put a large pot of water on to boil for the pasta, then immediately start the sauce. 

For the sauce, heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic until just starting to brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in onions, rosemary, red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft, about 5 minutes.

When the water boils add the pasta. 

Just after starting the pasta to cook, add the chickpeas to the onions, and use a potato masher to lightly mash them; they should be about half-crushed.  Then add the cooking liquid or water. Bring to a simmer and cook gently until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes.  Turn the heat down or off if the pasta is not done yet.

When the pasta is slightly underdone, transfer the pasta to the sauce using a slotted spoon (alternately, save a cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta with a colander).  Add parsley, and cook (turn the heat back up to medium if you turned it down) until the pasta has finished cooking and is coated in the sauce, 1 to 2 minutes, adding pasta water to get a nice sauce (typically I will add a 1/2 cup or so).  Quickly toss in cheese, butter, lemon zest and black pepper.  Taste and add more salt if needed. Divide into bowls, and sprinkle with additional cheese to garnish.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Banana Muffins

Here we are, week (too many to count) of the pandemic, and I think we are all still doing a lot of cooking. We are doing most of our grocery shopping online. It's not perfect, but there is a convenience factor that might keep me from going to grocery stores for mundane stuff even when we don't have to mask up, sterilize our carts, disinfect our hands, and get mad at people who can't seem to properly where a mask. 

But one of the down sides of online shopping, just once a week is that you sometimes end up with overripe bananas.. especially if you are also buying groceries for someone that only wants green bananas (but that's another story).   Putting bananas in the fridge before they are overripe will slow down the process, the skins get ugly but inside they are still good.   Once they are overripe, you can make smoothies or chocolate milk (and you can peel and freeze chunks to keep even longer and get a more frozen result), or banana bread, but most of the ripe bananas at our house end up in banana muffins on Sunday mornings. I make muffins before coffee, so I'm pretty much making them in my sleep.  Fortunately muffins aren't too fussy, and while I do measure, I'm pretty cavalier about adding an extra banana if they are small, or a bit more liquid if I only have a two bananas, or a bit more flour if the batter seems thin.  I used to make the muffins in my Cuisinart, this eliminates the need to mash the bananas, but then you have to clean the Cuisinart.  I have started using my potato ricer, as this does an excellent job of mashing and goes into the dishwasher.  A bit messier is to just squish the bananas in you hand (a half or third at a time), but no dishes to wash! If the bananas are good and ripe, you can also just use a hand mixer instead of a whisk on the wet ingredients... slices of bananas will get mashed by the mixer.

One other detail: Many muffin recipes call for vegetable oil (as I'm sure this one did from where I sourced it from). This works fine, but I like the taste of butter in my muffins. So the order you put the wet ingredients together is important. I usually melt the butter first (even before I get the remaining ingredients out) so it has a chance to cool down. Then it should go in after whisking the eggs and sugar (which you do to help give some volume) but before adding the bananas and milk. The butter will disperse in the egg and sugar mixture, and not clump up when adding the the cold ingredients.

Oat bran has been a bit more difficult to find in the store, I think because its out of fashion more than a pandemic issue.  You can just use more flour, or substitute some oatmeal.  The texture changes but they are still good.  You can also do these with all whole wheat, all AP (white) flour, or what ever mixture you like (or have on hand).  They will get more fluffy with all white flour.  White whole wheat flour also works well. 

Notice... no paper liners. Not needed and who wants to peel them off?

Banana Bran Muffins

10 to 12 muffins

3/4 cup flour
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour 
½ cup oat bran
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
2 eggs
½ cup un-packed brown sugar
¼ cup melted butter or vegetable oil
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
¼ cup yogurt, milk, or buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
½ cup chopped walnuts or almonds, plus more for topping
Raw (coarse) sugar

OVEN: Preheat to 400F or 380F convection bake. Grease 12 muffin cups.

Whisk together flours, bran, baking powder, soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small bowl. 

Whisk eggs and sugar in a large bowl, then whisk in melted butter (or oil) and extract.  Add mashed bananas, yogurt, extract and mix well.  Bananas can be mashed in a separate bowl with a potato masher, with a potato ricer, or just squish them through your fingers into the bowl. 

Scoop batter into muffin cups.  If desired, place a nut halve on each muffin, and sprinkle with raw sugar. Fill any empty cups with 1/2" of water.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes (18 minutes convection), or until brown and springy to the touch in the center.  Turn out onto a rack to cool.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Pickled Beets

Here is the promised post on pickled beets! 

I like beets, but they are one vegetable that I find to be just a pain in the neck to prepare.  You need to either roast in the oven for an hour, or steam for a long time, or cut up and sous vide, or put in the pressure cooker.  And generally I don't want a whole bunch of beets at once, because most often they are going into a salad

So I was happy to find a recipe that you can do a whole bunch of beets at once, and then they keep for a long time (guessing 3-4 weeks), and use as desired.  The recipe is very similar to the Pickled Green Bean recipe, although it does have some orange juice added to the brine which sweetens it just a bit.  

Pickled Beets with Orange
2 pint jars (or 1 quart jar)

1 pound loose beets (about 4 medium)
1 teaspoon whole mustard seeds, divided
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, divided
2 large pieces of orange zest
2 (1/8-inch-thick) orange slices, divided
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup water
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from 1 to 2 oranges)
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F. Scrub the beets, but do not dry. Wrap individually in aluminum foil (or wrap a few small ones together in one sheet) and place the packets on a rimmed baking sheet.  Roast the beets for 50 to 60 minutes. Check the beets after 30 minutes, adding a tablespoon of water to the foil packets if they look dry or begin to burn. Remove from the oven once a fork or skewer slides easily into the center of the beets. Small beets may cook more quickly than large beets.  Alternatively, you can cook the beets any way you like – steaming in a pressure cooker takes about 20 minutes of cook time. Once the beets are done roasting, set aside until cool enough to handle.

Place 1/2 teaspoon each mustard seeds and coriander seeds and a piece of orange zest into each jar (if using pints, if using quart jars put everything in the 1 jar). Place an orange slice in each jar and press to stick to the side.  Working with one at a time, rub the beets with a paper towel to remove the skin and skinny root, if still attached. Cut the beets in half, then cut into 1-inch wedges. Pack the beets into the jars, leaving 1/2-inch of space at the top. 

Place the vinegar, water, orange juice, and salt in a large measuring cup.  Heat to boiling in the microwave.  Stir to dissolve the salt. Pour the pickling liquid over the beets, leaving 1/2-inch space at the top of the jar; it's OK if you don't use all of the liquid.  Gently tap the jars against the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Top off with additional pickling liquid if needed. Cover with the lids.  Let cool on the counter, then refrigerate at least 24 hours and preferably 48 hours before serving.    Beets will be good to 3-4 weeks.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Pickled Green Beans .. Pickled Kohlrabi ... Pickle Anything!

As we shelter at home, I have been doing my best to make sure we are eating healthy.  We do get take-out once a week or so for a break from cooking, and we do seem to have baked goods around but I try to offset that with lots of vegetables ... fortunately it's spring and the farmers market has some great product. At the Coronado Farmers Market where I go, most of the the farmers are there, but the organic farm that I buy my greens, root vegetables like radishes and carrots, and random other vegetables has just been offering boxes. From what I have been reading, many small farmers who typically supplied to restaurants are now offering CSA-type boxes.  The boxes I have been getting are wonderful ... 

A long, long time ago I wrote a post on what to do with all the greens from a CSA box, and I have been hitting those recipes and more, like spinach crusted quiche, beans and greens, curried lentils and salads.   I made some calzones with a mixture of greens that came out really nice and will post that at some point. Plus I share some of my greens with a neighbor when there is just too much (she was able the buy a 25 pound bag of flour, which she has shared both as flour and as baked into above mentioned treats).  My box has included lots of beets, last week I got some kohlrabi so I have been doing some quick pickles.  Quick pickles extend the life of vegetables, and are a quick side dish or appetizer.  Pickled kohlrabi goes great with sandwiches (a nice crunchy-salty bite that is not a chip) and pickled green beans are great for picnics and cookouts which hopefully we can get back to this summer!

After lots of experiments, my go-to quick pickle base is 1 cup of apple cider vinegar, 1 cup of water, and 1 tablespoon of salt plus spices. (note - if you are using fine grain sea salt, only use 2 teaspoons as if is more dense). There are lots of variations:  many pickle recipes call for sugar in addition to salt, all types of vinegar (personally I'm too cheap to use expensive wine vinegars, and white vinegar is sometimes a bit sharp), various ratios of vinegar, water, salt, and sugar.  What this means is that most anything works!  I generally add some red pepper flakes to give the pickles a little kick, but do whatever sounds good to you!

Pro tip... if using pint jars, trim the green beans to fit.  Use quart jars if you have long green beans. 

Pickled Green Beans

Makes: 1 quart-sized jar or 2 pint-sized jars
1 pound green string beans
2 cloves garlic
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon kosher salt or 2 teaspoons sea salt

Wash the green beans, and to fit into the jar.  Pack the beans into the jar(s).   Put the garlic, red pepper, mustard seeds and black peppercorns into the jar (if using 2 pint jars, put half into each jar). 
Put the vinegar, water, and salt into a large glass measuring cup, then heat in the microwave until boiling (about 3 ½ minutes or so).  

Pour the hot liquid into the filled jars.   Tap the jars to release bubbles, add more liquid if needed.  You want all of the beans covered.   Let cool on the counter, then refrigerate. 
They need a couple of days to “pickle” but are good for 2 – 3 weeks after that. 

Pickled Kohlrabi
Same as pickled Green Beans, except use 1 large kohlrabi peeled and cut into sticks (like big French fries) instead of green beans.  Omit the garlic and add ½ teaspoon coriander seeds.  


Pickled beet post coming soon!
Pickled Beet Recipe coming soon!

Monday, April 13, 2020

Quarantine Eating

So what have you been cooking for the pandemic?  It's clear that I gravitate to the kitchen and cooking for stress relief, but not sure that's it a net benefit considering how stressful grocery shopping has been.  Seeing empty shelves is kind of scary (on top of the risk of being out in public).  Plus we have been getting a good portion of our food delivered, mostly though Amazon Fresh, which is frustrating trying to find things in stock and getting delivery slots. But I have filled my freezer with plenty of soups and stews "just in case" and doing a better job that normal at using up all of the things in the corner of the pantry and bottom of the freezer. 

I am grateful for so many things ... so far my friends and family are all healthy, we have a nice house, live someplace where we can get out for walks and runs, great neighbors, technology that lets us get together virtually.    Now if it would just stop raining!

Some of what I have been cooking ... some new recipes and some old: 

 A new recipe, Pasta with Chickpeas  from Melissa Clark at the NYT cooking.

This one is destined to become a favorite.  I pretty much followed the recipe, although I only had a half bunch of parsley.  I did use fresh cooked chickpeas ... my neighbor had a couple of pounds in the back of her pantry that were "at least" a couple of years old and was unsure how to cook, so I volunteered to cook in my pressure cooker...  I soaked them for 12 hours and cooked for 12 minutes in the pressure cooker and they were great. I'm grateful for great neighbors! Of course I haven't seen dry chickpeas in the stores, but the local store here is starting to get canned ones again.

I also found a tart crust recipe I like. What's great about this is that you can just bake off one small tart and save the dough for later. I have not tried the filling in this recipe, the filling was a freezer discovery, some lemon curd that I made year, topped with some Greek yogurt and chocolate chips. I sometimes make things and put them into the freezer for a rainy day.  We had over 3 1/2 inches of rain last week, so that counts as a rainy day! 

I have been getting what are essentially CSA boxes from my favorite farmer at the Farmers market.. including lots of beets.   

My try at Pickled Beets was successful.
There have been lots of meals with green incorporated in them...

Like Curried Lentils (this is with beet greens). I was able to get lentils last week at the local store, and this recipe will work with green lentils too, its just not as pretty. And Spinach Swiss Chard Crusted Quiche with Fennel and Sausage.  In a stroke of genius, I oven roasted the fennel, onion, and sausage in the filling on a sheet pan (at the same time as cooking the crust) .. one less skillet to wash and less total time.  

And we have not had to sacrifice our lunch salads..   And in case you think every meal is all healthy and green like this, the salad is incorporating some left-over take-out fried chicken from a local restaurant (doing our part to support local business...).
There are also lots of meals with wheat and cheese ... 

Like pizza (I have been experimenting with a no-knead crust) and Macaroni and Cheese.

Also in the comfort food category was Meatloaf.    And the mini-loaf I froze came out great.  I thawed in a bowl of cold water (took about an hour), then it needed to bake for about 45 minutes. 

Plus some simple dinners, like a loaded baked sweet potato and the quesadillas  pictured with the beets. 

And the normal...Foil Grilled Fish, (using up some fish a neighbor gave us last fall)  Stir fry,  and "Whatever" Pasta
I've also been experimenting with no-knead bread ... but that's another post.   Stay well, and let me know how you are doing!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Meat Loaf

I don't know about everyone else, but I certainly am doing more cooking as we do our part to control the coronavirus by staying home, including pulling out some recipes I haven't  made in a long time.  And when I made this meatloaf, I didn't think to take pictures of it going together.  I just got the one picture I used in my last post.  And I was going to take a picture of the sandwich, but remembered when I was just down to crumbs on the plate.  But it was a good looking plate. 

Meatloaf is one of those foods I don't make often... in part because we don't eat that much meat, and when we do, we tend to do something quick (like grill some steaks or fish), or something that is more soupy, like stew or beans with ham or sausage.  The meatloaf I grew up with was the one on the back of the Quaker Oatmeal box.   It uses oats to stretch the meat instead of breadcrumbs (which i think is more common), which gives a nice bit of fiber.  Milk is added for moisture (and any kind of milk or unsweet alternate milk would work, also guess plain yogurt would work just fine too).  Something to enhance the unami gives a better depth of flavor ... I usually use fish sauce, but Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce would do the same thing.  The egg helps bind everything together.  You can use any kind of ground meat, although my husband commented that the one I made was better than he remembered, it might have been because I used good hamburger from our local store rather than ground turkey which I was I had used in the (long) past.  I also used some nice spicy Italian sausage (and if you don't want any spice, a sweet Italian or breakfast sausage will work too).  Catsup is used as a glaze (some recipes actually call for catsup in the loaf, which I think would be just awful sweet), and a bit of bacon makes for a nice touch.

And while I am hoping for the best, I am also trying to boost the reserves soups and stews in my freezer.  It seems that we are starting to get past the shortages in the grocery store, and the farmers markets are currently open in California. Plus, as least here, we have many take-out options available.  So this is not from fear of not being able to get food.  Its more about being prepared to actually get the virus. While we read about the dire situations in Italy, Spain, and New York and shortages of ICU beds, the majority of people who get this are able to stay at home and get through it. Having some things that are easy cook (thaw and heat easy) and comforting to eat seems smart.   So when I made this meatloaf, I doubled the recipe.  I cooked half, I split the other half into 2 loaves and put those in the freezer.  I put into the smaller loaves so they would thaw a freeze and cook faster... but now wondering if that was a mistake, because there won't be enough leftovers for sandwiches, which might be the best way to eat meatloaf.    And since I have no idea how long it will take to cook the smaller loaves, I will just use my trusty Thermapen to tell me when it's done

Meat Loaf

About 4 servings

2/3 cups oats
½ cup milk
½ onion, finely chopped
½ teaspoon garlic salt (or a ½ teaspoon of salt and minced clove of garlic)
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon parsley
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce or Fish Sauce or Soy Sauce
1 egg, beaten
1 pound ground meat – hamburger,  turkey, venison
¼ to ½ lb spicy bulk sausage – use the higher amount if ground meat is lean

bacon (2 slices or so)

Heat oven to 350F.  Use convection if you have it.

Add the first group of ingredients in order to a medium bowl (it’s good for the oats to soak a bit in the milk).  Mix together (hands work best for this). Pat mixture so it is level in the bowl, then turn into a baking dish (like a 9x9 inch pan).  Put catsup on top and rub some on the sides, and garnish with parsley and bacon.

Bake for about an hour or so (a little less if using convection), center should be at 160F.   Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Is It Done Yet?

I started writing this a while back... never imagining that we would all be doing a lot more cooking at home.  So it seems a good time to put out this post on a way to help make results of home cooking more predictable and safe!   Also ... if anyone has questions on cooking, don't hesitate to shoot me a question (call, text message, or FB messenger).   Based on what I see sold out at the grocery stores, I imagine that a lot of people have some strange combinations of food in their kitchens. I'm here if you have questions on cooking beans or anything else!  And now that I seem to have some time on my hands, I will try to get some more recipes posted (including above meatloaf).

The people that read my blog (I think its my mom and 2 friends) know that my background is engineering, and that I can geek out on the science of cooking.   The chemical changes that food undergoes as you heat it (otherwise known as cooking) fascinates me.   And there just so happens to be a useful metric to know when things are cooked... it's temperature!  The best way to tell if things are done on the inside (especially big dense things, like meatloaf, roasts or turkeys) is to take the temperature with a thermometer. I think the best thermometer available is the Thermopen (and no, they are not sponsoring me). The Thermopen's read much faster than others on the market, so you can move through something like a steak and find the coolest spot in the center.  Go directly to the Thermoworks website to get one,  not Amazon.

Temperature is widely used to determine doneness of meat ... rare, medium rare, well all correspond to a temperature range.  While you can determine doneness on thinner cuts of meat by pressing to see how firm it is, this is more challenging to do on thicker cuts of steak or roasts... Plus it takes a lot of practice and experience to be good at it.  You can also use temperature to know if a casserole is cooked (and hot enough to safe), to tell if bread is done, as well as jams or candy.   Temperature is also handy for fish like salmon or tuna that you don't want fully cooked to the "flakes easily" (and dried out) stage.   Here is a handy dandy table with all the temperatures I use ... it's in the latest update of my cookbook.    Here you go...


These are the final temperatures that you want; remove from heat 5°F lower than desired temperature as the temperature will come up as it rests. And if there is a tiny cold spot, it will warm up even more as the heat will continue to distribute. 

Beef / Lamb: Rare                 120 – 130 °F (49-54°C)
Roasts, steaks, Medium Rare   130 – 135 °F (54-57°C)
Chops Medium            135-145°F   (57-63°C)
                                Medium Well    145-155 oF (63-68°C)

Pork: Medium                        140 °F 
Roast, chops Medium Well (USDA)   145 °F   (63°C)
Pre-cooked ham Hot                               140 °F (60°C)
Raw ham                 Done                            160 °F (71°C)

Brisket, Ribs, Pork Butt Done                185 °F (85°C)

Ground meat:
Hamburger, sausage Done (USDA) 160 °F (71°C)

Chicken/Turkey: UDSA                165 °F (74°C)
White meat Done                 155 °F
Dark meat Done                 165 °F (74°C)
Stuffing in bird Done                 165 °F (74°C)

Dark meat Done 160°F +
Breast meat Medium - Rare    135°F
                                            Well                    150°F

Fish:                                       Fully cooked 140 °F
Halibut Medium 130 °F
Salmon                                 Medium Rare    125 °F
Tuna (rare) Rare 115°F (or less)

Casseroles: 165 °F (74°C) - 175°F

Egg Dishes:
Quiche 160°F (71°C) or higher depending on fillings
Hollandaise Sauce 145-150°F
Custards                              175-180°F

Yogurt:   Heat milk to 180°F for 2 minutes, cool to 110°F to add yogurt starter.

Bread and baked goods: Should also be appropriately brown on the outside
Rich Dough                         190-200°F (88-93°C)
Lean Dough  200-210°F (93-99°C)
Water temp to add yeast       105-115°F (41-46°C)
Cake                                   205-210°F
Molten Chocolate Cake         160°F
Fruit Pies                             175°F

Jam                     217-222°F (103-106°C)  Subtract 2°F for every 1000 feet of elevation
Thread 230-234°F (110-112°C) Syrup
Soft Ball               234-240°F (112-116°C) Fondant, Fudge & Pralines
Firm Ball              244-248°F (118-120°C) Caramels
Hard Ball 250-266°F (121-130°C) Divinity & Nougat
Soft Crack 270-290°F (132-143°C) Taffy
Hard Crack 300-310°F (149-154°C) Brittles, Lollipops & Hardtack
Caramel              320-350°F (160-177°C) Flan & Caramel Cages