September 15

Making Mushrooms [Cooking]

So my partner has been on a mushroom kick lately. I think it started when she happened upon this YouTube channel. I was also pulled in after watching a few of their videos. I’ve always enjoyed mushrooms, incorporate them into a few of my dishes, but I really don’t know much about them.

White button, portobello, shiitake, oyster, and chanterelle. That’s the extent of my mushroom knowledge.

It blew my mind to learn just how many varieties there are, and that’s just the ones that are safe to eat. And the nutrition. That was another unexpected bit of information. I highly recommend the YouTube channel I linked above. After watching a few, I think you’ll have a better appreciation of our fungi friends.

Sidenote here: About ten, maybe fifteen years ago, I picked up a bed-full of mushroom compost in the back of my old pickup truck. A small town about twenty minutes east of here has a lot of mushroom farms, and occasionally they sell off the spent compost the mushrooms grow in. While it’s done as a growing medium, it makes for amazing lawn and garden fertilizer. White mushrooms in my yard

I scattered it across my backyard and all the plants and grass loved it. However, I now have a lot of mushrooms popping up here and there. I don’t know enough about them to dare harvesting, but they’re pretty to look at and photograph.

But I digress – The point of this post is to note that I purchased a mushroom kit from North Spore. I figured, if I’m going to try my hand at mushroom farming, I should start with something simple. The kit is for Blue Oyster Mushrooms, which sound both tasty and pretty. Mushroom grow kit box.

I started the kit the other night and it can take up to two weeks to sprout, so I’ll update when that happens. Of course, it’s trial and error and when it comes to growing things, there’s always the chance it doesn’t work out. I’m keeping my fingers crossed this works. I like oyster mushrooms.

Now I need to find recipes so I’m ready to cook when they’re ready to harvest!

RB

July 9

Sunday Roast Chicken [Cooking]

Cooking a chicken on Sunday is a tradition in my house. It’s part of my meal prep for the week. Once or twice a month I cook a whole chicken, then shred it and store it in smaller freezer bags so I can use it throughout the week. Some makes it into lunches, some ends up in our dinner. I think it’s a great way to prepare for easy meals and it saves time on workdays.

Sure, it would probably be easier to run down to the grocery store and pick up a rotisserie chicken from the deli, but there are two reasons I don’t. First, I like to mix up the seasonings and the cooking method so the chicken is a little different every time. And second, the grocery store rotisserie chickens are made from the expiring chickens in the meat department. Let’s just say I’ve had a bad experience there.

I switch between two different methods when I cook a whole chicken. One is to prepare it in the slow cooker. It takes a little longer (approximately four hours) and the skin doesn’t get crispy, but the meat is always tender and moist. I’ll share that method in an upcoming post.

This week, however, I used the other method – oven roasting. Prepping takes less than ten minutes and the bird is usually done in about ninety minutes. Plus, easy clean up because I only use one pan. Well, more like a cast iron skillet. I like simplicity.

So here’s how it’s done.

Move the oven rack down a notch from center (so you have room for the pan and bird) and preheat to 450F.

Oven temperature displaying 450.

Next, remove any giblets from the chicken and place the bird in a pan or cast iron skillet. This one is just under four pounds and apparently has a broken wing (I tried to tuck it under, but, well, you can see the sad result).

Whole uncooked chicken in skillet.

I also washed some small potatoes and grabbed a handful of basil from the patio. I love using fresh herbs when roasting a chicken. It imbues so much flavor without being as overpowering as spices.

A handful of small potatoes and fresh basil.

Speaking of spices, I used just a few. Some salt, pepper, a pinch of garlic powder, and a bit of turmeric.

Salt, pepper, garlic powder, turmeric in small bowl.

After I diced up the potatoes and added them to the pan with the chicken, I tossed some of the spices, along with the basil, inside the chicken, the dusted the rest over the outside of the bird and over the potatoes. Along with some olive oil. Almost forgot to mention that.

Raw chicken and potatoes in skillet.

Once it’s all ready, slide the chicken into the oven, then immediate drop the temperature to 375F. This will help to give the skin a little sizzle and get things off to a good start. Rule of thumb: cook chicken approximately 20 minutes per pound. My oven heats a little low, so I went for 90 minutes.

While waiting on the chicken, I tossed the giblets (a neck, two livers, two hearts, and a gizzard – because why not two of almost everything?) in a pan with a tiny pinch of salt, then covered it in water. I put it on high to boil, then cut the heat and put a lid on the pan. That allowed it to steep. About twenty minutes later I pulled them out, chopped them up, then used the meaty bits and broth to put on my dog’s food for the next few days. Yeah, I’m a spoiler.

Giblets in a pot.

After 90 minutes, the bird and potatoes were done and looking good!

Roasted chicken and potatoes in cast iron skillet.

The potatoes cook in all that tasty rendered chicken fat and turn out somewhere between crispy and gummy. So good! I ended up shredding the bird and splitting it up into several small storage bags for the freezer. It’s so easy to pull one out, defrost it, and toss the meat into everything – salads, stir-fries, soup – or mix up a quick chicken salad.

Hope this inspires you to try something new. Enjoy!

RB

 

 

 

 

June 15

Beet-Pickled Turnips! [Recipe]

Yeah, I know, you’re asking yourself “why did he do this?” It was an experiment. I was making a batch of roasted root vegetables and ended up with a few extra beets and turnips. I wasn’t sure what to do with them. I didn’t want to stick them back in the veggie drawer in the fridge because I knew I’d end up forgetting about them. So I decided to experiment.

Of course, I didn’t think to document every step. Regardless, I can give you a quick rundown of the recipe and the process.Beet-picked turnips in mason jar.

  • 1 pound of turnips, peeled and sliced into roughly ½ inch batons
  • 1 small beet (I used red), cut into ½ inch thick baton
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ cups of water
  • 3 TB of Kosher salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ cup of vinegar (I used white, but apple cider would be good, too)
  • 1 TSP of whole coriander seed
  • 1 TSP black peppercorn

After you’ve cut up the veggies, stuff them into a Mason or Ball jar. In a non-reactive pot, heat the water, vinegar, salt, bay leaf, and the other spices to boil, then remove from the heat and let cool for a few minutes. Once it’s not incredibly scalding, carefully pour the liquid into the jar (you can discard the bay leaf at this point).

Pop the top on and let it cool a bit more on the countertop. You can stick it in the refrigerator for five days or so, then it ready to eat.Close-up of beet pickled turnip slice.

And yes, these turned out amazing. They’re as tasty as they are beautiful. Hope you try it.

RB

May 25

Banana Bread Two Ways

If you’ve watched my cooking show, you’ll know that my partner loves her some banana bread. She buys a bunch of bananas every month and refuses to eat them in the hopes that they’ll turn brown and I’ll make a loaf. Or two. It’s become a bit of a game with us, with me reminder her about the bananas she bought and that she should eat them before they go bad, and her acknowledging my comment, but leaving them to hang, dejected, on the little hook in the kitchen.

overripe bananasAnd I’ll get ‘the look’ if I eat them. I can usually sneak a couple off the hook when she isn’t looking, but it’s a risky enterprise.

We played it again recently, and I (lucky me) ended up with enough over-ripe bananas to make two loaves. Unfortunately, I didn’t have quite enough all-purpose flour to make two full loaves, so I had to improvise.

And a quick side note here: I am not a fan of baking. There are a few things I’ll make, like bread, but for the most part I shy away from the baking/pastry/sweets aspect of the kitchen. Partly because I really don’t eat sweet stuff, and partly because it doesn’t allow for as much improvisation and creativity as regular cooking. But I digress…

I didn’t realize this at first and mixed up the first batch, poured it into the pan, popped it in the oven. When there was about fifteen minutes left on the timer, I started on the next loaf. And that’s when I realized I was short about a half of a cup of flour.

I cursed the heavens.

Well, not really, but I had to figure out what to do about the situation. I dug around in the pantry for a few minutes and discovered a small bag of coconut flour I had bought a few months ago for some other failed cooking experiment. Would it work? Could it be a fair substitute? I could have look online to see for sure, but at that point I figured I could risk it. At least I had one good loaf almost ready. That would keep her placated until she decided it was time for another round of Ignore the Bananas Until They Are Gross.

Two loaves of banana bread
Loaf with all-purpose and coconut flour (left), and all-purpose flour only (right)

I’ve added shredded, unsweetened coconut flakes in the past in my banana bread, but never flour. I had no idea what to expect. A flat loaf? A brick that could chip teeth? A biohazard?

Luckily, I hit it out of the park. The coconut flour did change the texture of the crust, made it a little crispier, gave it a bit more personality. The interior – the crumb – seemed a little bit denser. Overall, however, it turned out well.

So well, in fact, that I’ve been ordered…I mean, instructed, to use the coconut flour in the next batch.

Hooray for lucky guesses!

RB

March 23

Richard’s Kitchen – Chili Recipe!

Yep, I’m back in the kitchen after a long and unexpected hiatus. If it’s still kinda cold where you reside, seems like a perfect time to make chili. It’s incredibly easy, quick to make, stores well, and the ingredients won’t break the bank. In fact, you probably have most of them in your kitchen already.

Check out the latest episode and let me know what you think.

RB

November 4

Richard’s Kitchen – Butternut Squash Soup

Fall is in the air and butternut squash is on the menu. Check out my latest cooking video as I share one of my favorite recipes. Only a few ingredients – the aforementioned squash, onion, apple, and a few odds and ends. Perfect for a cozy night or a chilly morning.

Oh, and this version is also vegan.

Once you try it I guarantee you’ll be hooked.

October 9

Fall Food

I’m a seasonal cook. I like to try and use seasonal ingredients and shop local, so my menu has to change with the seasons. This means spicier and hardier dishes, lots of winter squash and legumes, and more oven and slow cooker recipes.

In fact, just this past weekend I made my first batch of October chili. I made a huge pot – six quarts – so there’s enough for a couple of dinners for my partner and I, then I can freeze the rest for those nights I don’t feel like making something from scratch. I’ve been making chili since I was a teenager and the recipe has evolved over the years.

Truth be told, it’s never really quite the same thing twice. If you’ve seen my cooking videos on YouTube or read previous cooking posts here on my blog, you know that I like to mix things up when I cook. So while the base of my chili remains the same, the add-ins are always different. And don’t worry, it’ll be sharing it on YouTube soon.

But I also like butternut squash soup. Oh my, it’s one of those recipes that I’ve been trying to fine tune for years….and I think I’ve finally gotten it just right. I like this recipe because it’s only a handful of ingredients and easy to make (like most of the things I cook).

There’s an amazing variety of winter squash. I roast it, make soup, mash it, even cook it on the grill outside. It’s versatile, incredibly healthy, and stores well. Sort of like a perfect veggie, in my opinion. The only thing that I can complain about is cleaning it. That can take some time and patience. But if you do it right you can also end up with a bunch of squash seeds, which you can then season and roast. That’s good eatin’!

I have a bunch of recipes I’ll be sharing soon on my cooking channel. Hope you stop by and check them out. You never know, you may find something you’ll love! Click the image below to view my cooking vids.

Richard's Kitchen Logo

RB

September 23

Baking Frustration

If you haven’t noticed, I enjoy cooking. I write about cooking here on my blog and I post cooking videos on my YouTube channel. To me, cooking is just another way to be creative. My favorite recipes are the ones that allow me to experiment with seasoning and switching out ingredients. It allows me to make it my own way. Usually, that’s a good thing. Usually.

Baking, on the other hand, is my Achilles Heel. The thorn in my side. My kitchen nemesis. Yes, it’s still cooking, mixing ingredients together, using heat or cold to meld them all together into something interesting. And believe me, I try to bake. Working from a box of mix is a no-brainer. Anyone can make brownies from a mix.

My trouble begins when I try to bake from scratch. For some reason, no matter how hard I try, I can never seem to get the recipes to come out right. There’s always something off about them. Too gummy, underdone, or maybe too dry, a little overdone on one end. Drives me up the wall.

However, this past week I tried to bake bread using the instructions in The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Basically, I make a large batch of bread dough to keep in the fridge and pull a handful out every couple of days to bake a small loaf. It’s simple and specific, and while I don’t deviate from the recipe, it’s been fun.

But the loafs…well, I may not be as precise as I need to be when mixing the dough. I’m switching between measuring by volume and measuring by weight. Using weight is supposed to be better, but for me using volume has worked better. I have no idea why.

So I made enough dough for three loafs. The first one turned out okay, but I needed to let it brown more. The second loaf browned nicely on top, but I forgot to pull the parchment paper out from underneath it midway through, so the bottom didn’t cook as well as it should.

But the third loaf…ah, that was were things came together. In fact, I was so pleased with it I took a few pics to share. Unfortunately, my partner got ahold of it before I could grab my phone, so a piece is missing. Not to worry, it was still warm and covered in fig jelly. And no, she didn’t share.

Loaf of bread loaf of bread

The only thing I forgot (because I ALWAYS forget something when baking) is to score the top. Other than that, it turned out almost perfect. Nice thin, crispy crust and a decent crumb.

Once I get this recipe under control, I’m going to try my hand at baguettes. And pretzels. And seeded bread…

I may have an addiction.

RB

September 16

Quick and Easy Shrimp

This isn’t a fancy recipe by any means, but it’s a quick and easy way to prepare shrimp. Plus, only a handful of ingredients!

All you need is:

  • 1 lb of shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 TB of butter
  • 1 TB of Worcestershire Sauce
  • black pepper
  • Juice from half a lemon

Cleaned Shrimp

cut lemon

First, melt the butter in a 10 inch pan over medium heat until it’s nice and foamy.

Butter melting  butter foaming in pan

Next, season the shrimp with the black pepper and add them, along with the Worcestershire Sauce and lemon juice.

shrimp sautéing in pan

This only takes a couple of minutes, so watch them so they don’t overcook.

And voila’!

shrimp cooked in butter

A couple of thoughts on this recipe: First, I thought using salted butter would be enough. I was wrong. I suggest you season the shrimp with a pinch of salt.

Also, while the flavor was nice – how could it not be since it was cooked in butter? – it could have used a little more…something. Next time I’m going to add maybe a bit of garlic powder (or cook the shrimp with some minced fresh garlic!), maybe a little cayenne pepper, or a bit of curry powder. It just needed a little extra something to make it kick.

Give it a shot. It’s quick and easy and you can customize the flavors. I think this goes well with some thick, crusty bread or over some rice or pasta. Let me know if you make this. I’m interested in what flavor combinations you tried.

RB