LotR taters boulangère

Adapted from Middle-earth Recipes

Ingredients:

  • ~1.5 lbs of potatoes, sliced 1/4″ thick
  • a sliced onion
  • some rosemary
  • butter
  • 1 cup of chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup of milk

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 deg. F.
  2. Peel and slice the potatoes. Slice the onion. Mix the stock and milk (we used hot stock, so poured one then the other separately in step 5).
  3. Take an oven-proof dish and wipe it with butter, so nothing sticks. Put in a layer of potatoes, a layer of onion, sprinkle over some bruised rosemary. Repeat until ingredients used up.
  4. Top off with a layer of potato.
  5. Pour over the milk-stock mixture (may not need all of it) and then top off the dish with dots of butter and some rosemary sprigs (or other available herbs — we had marjoram, thyme, and fresh rosemary).
  6. Cook uncovered in the oven for 50-60 minutes until the potatoes are soft in the middle and brown/crisp on top.

For 3-4 people. We bought 3 big Yukon gold potatoes at the local farmer’s market to make this dish. “It will scale quite nicely for larger/smaller dinners… The original recipe suggested checking the dish and adding more liquid if it looked dry” but we found that draining off the liquid after the one hour of cooking, and then cooking it for another 10 more minutes, finished cooking through the thickest top potato slices that weren’t immersed in liquid!

~Jessica

Chicken broccoli Alfredo casserole

Adapted from Freezer Meals 101 and The Kitchn

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound dry fusilli pasta
  • 1 (14- to 16-oz) package frozen broccoli florets / 1 cup broccoli, steamed and coarsely chopped
  • 6-8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 5 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups finely grated young Parmesan cheese (about 6 ounces)

Directions:

  1. Bring a large Dutch oven or heavy-duty pot of heavily salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pasta and cook until almost tender (you want some bite left in the pasta, check it one minute before the time called for on the package).
  2. Turn off the heat, add the broccoli to the pot, stir to combine, and let sit for one minute (the broccoli will not be cooked all the way through). Drain well and set aside.
  3. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in the same pot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken in an even layer, season generously with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring every few minutes, until the chicken is browned and just cooked through, about 5 minutes total. Remove to a plate or bowl. Do not wash out the pot.
  4. Return the pot to medium heat and add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter. When the butter is melted, add the flour, scrape up the brown bits at the bottom of the pan, and stir constantly until the flour starts to smell toasty and darkens slightly in color, about 1 minute. While constantly whisking, add the milk until it is all incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Bring just to a boil, whisking constantly. Add the cheese and whisk until smooth. Turn off the heat.
  5. Add the chicken and any accumulated juices, pasta, and broccoli, and stir to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
  6. Divide the mixture between 2 (8- to 9-inch) baking dishes or disposable foil trays (try to get ones that are around 2 inches deep), or transfer all of the mixture into a 9×13-inch baking dish or disposable foil tray. Let cool completely, then wrap tightly in aluminum foil and freeze for up to 2 months.
  7. Bake frozen, still covered in the foil, on the middle rack of a preheated 350°F oven until heated through, about 1 1/2 hours. Alternatively, thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then bake for only 1 hour.

“Fettuccine Alfredo or fettuccine al burro is an Italian pasta dish of fresh fettuccine tossed with butter and Parmesan cheese (pasta al burro e parmigiano)… The dish is named after Alfredo di Lelio, who featured the dish at his restaurant in Rome in the early- to mid-20th century; the “ceremony” of preparing it table-side was an integral part of the dish.” Wiki I prefer this fresher, lighter version to the heavy cream American one. I also wished there were cut chicken pieces at the deli, because chicken thighs take way longer to cook, especially if you only brown them the first time. I have to say this was only “ok” as far as freezer meals go — I think I would have liked this far more freshly made. And it was a substantial amount of work, even for two people!

~Jessica

British macaroni cheese

Adapted from Great British Chefs and British Food History

Ingredients:

  • 30 g plain flour 
  • 30 g butter 
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 400 ml hot full-fat milk 
  • 6g of thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 200-250 g macaroni 
  • 1 slice stale bread 
  • ½ tsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves, or ¼ tsp fried rosemary (optional) 
  • 225 g Stilton cheese, grated 
  • 200 g Gruyere or Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 30g of Parmesan
  • Pinch of Cayenne pepper or 20g of Dijon mustard
  • Salt and freshly-milled black pepper
  • 15 basil leaves

Directions:

  1. Start by cooking some pasta of your choice in a pan of boiling water. Once cooked, strain the pasta and set aside
  2. Place 50 mL milk into a pan over a low-medium heat and add the thyme and bay. Bring up to a warm heat and leave to infuse for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, place a separate pan over a low heat and add the 4 tbsp. butter and 4 cloves of garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes then add the flour. Heat for for 2-3 minutes and stir constantly so the mixture comes together. –> Béchamel sauce
  4. Strain the milk, thyme and bay mixture so that you are just left with the infused milk. Gradually (over 5 minutes) add the infused milk to the other pan and stir with a wooden spoon. Bring to a simmer
  5. Take the pan off the heat and season with salt and pepper. Add the cheese, mustard, basil and pasta to the pan and then pour the contents of the pan into a casserole dish. Cover with some extra cheese and place in the oven at 180°C for 20 minutes (I prefer stovetop because I haven’t a baking dish currently).
  6. Remove the dish from the oven, divide the macaroni cheese into 4 portions and serve immediately.

My grandmother gave me a box of instant mac and cheese from her senior citizen community center (before the pandemic lockdown). Of course I didn’t want to eat that stuff straight, so I thought I would try to dress it up with some caramelized onions, garlic, herbs, and whatever else I might find in the pantry.

~Jessica

Starbucks-copy strawberry overnight grains

Adapted from Kitchen Treaty and Life Made Sweeter

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup red quinoa, rinsed
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 2 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 3 tablespoons honey or pure maple syrup + more to taste if desired
  • 1 cup strawberries, sliced
  • 1/2 cup sliced toasted almonds*
  • 1/4 cup coconut chips

Directions:

  1. Combine uncooked rolled / old-fashioned oats, milk / Greek yogurt and sweetener and spices if using.
  2. Scoop some of the oats into a bowl, mason jar or a resealable container.
  3. Slice or chop up some strawberries and layer over the oats.
  4. Spoon in the rest of the oats on top. Alternatively, you can just mix in the strawberries with the oats and just add everything into the jar or container all at once.
  5. Seal up the container and park it in the fridge overnight.
  6. The next morning, you can heat the glass jar up in the microwave for a hot breakfast or enjoy your overnight oats cold straight from the fridge. You can add more milk and any fun toppings of your choice.
  7. It should keep for 4-5 days.

To cook the quinoa or steel-cut oats:

  1. Add water to a large saucepan set over medium-low heat. Stir in the oats, quinoa, and salt. Cook on medium-low, uncovered, until the grains are just tender and the water has evaporated, 15-20 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat. Stir in the coconut milk, chia seeds, honey or maple syrup, and vanilla. Taste and add additional sweetener if desired. Allow to cool, then pour into eight separate containers (about 1 cup per container). I like to use mason jars because they have lids + they’re sturdy and portable.

I didn’t have quinoa or steel-cut oats this time, but I loved the texture in the Starbucks version (shaved coconut might be harder to acquire, or pricy). I didn’t have almonds or fresh fruit either, maybe when it’s in season… I used some cow’s whole milk, but will try coconut milk next, if I cook the oats and quinoa together.

~Jessica

Indian chai masala

Adapted from LMU München. This chai Serves 2.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup milk (I used ⅔ cup of half and half)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Black tea bags (looseleaf preferable)
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • Cloves (didn’t have, grated some cinnamon stick instead)
  • sugar, to taste

Directions:

In a saucepan, heat 1 cup milk and 1 cup water on low heat, together with 5 cardamom pods and a few cloves. Then, add a black tea (best looseleaf is Indian or African) and cook over medium heat until the color is a caramel-brown. Add sugar to taste, bring to a boil again, and enjoy on a rainy day with savory pastries!

Fun Fact: “In many Indo-Aryan languages, chai or cha is the word for tea. This comes from the Persian چای chay, which originated from the Chinese word for tea 茶 chá.” (Wikipedia) Hearing about masala chai in grad school, I always thought it peculiar how similar the word sounded to the Mandarin word. If I really wanted to up my game, masala chai is “traditionally prepared as a decoction of green cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, ground cloves, ground ginger, and black peppercorn together with black tea leaves” (Wiki).

~Jessica

Royal milk tea

Adapted from Just One and Boba Tea Direct

Ingredients:

  • Three-quarter cups full (150 milliliter) of regular tap water
  • Two full teaspoons of golden milk tea/black tea leaves (I used one bag of Tetley Classic)
  • Half a cup (120 milliliter) of whole milk (I used fresh half and half from a glass bottle)
  • 25 milliliter of fresh honey (or 10 grams granulated sugar)

Directions:

  1. Pour the water into a small pot. Set the temperature to medium. Bring the water to the boil for one minute.
  2. Add the tea leaves into the boiling water and steep between thirty seconds to about one minute. Then, lower heat to a simmer for one minute and thirty seconds to about a full two minutes. **Do not let the tea simmer for more than two minutes, as it will become too bitter.
  3. Slowly pour in the milk into the pot. Allow the milk tea to come back to a full simmer. Do not go beyond boiling point as the milk will cook and curdle in high temperature, which will leave your milk tea lumpy. Turn the heat off.
  4. Warm your cup with hot water beforehand.
  5. Pour your tea into a cup, using a tea sieve to filter out tea leaves.
  6. Mix honey or sugar to your liking.

I was watching an episode of Meteor Garden when the hero changes his order from a cappuccino to Royal milk tea, to avoid drinking the same thing as his betrothed. It sounded delicious, so I looked it up, to find it was a Japanese drink: Roiyarumirukuti (ロイヤルミルクティー). Apparently “The Classic Blend is more of an “everyday” black tea” (FAQ), so next time I need to get the proper “British Blend is made from premium Kenyan and Assam teas” if I’m using Tetley tea bags.

~Jessica

You-tiao

A recipe from The Woks of Life or the YouTube from Magic Ingredients

“You-tiao, also known as Chinese fried churros, Chinese cruller, Chinese oil stick, Chinese doughnut, and fried breadstick” ~Wikipedia

Ingredients:

  • all purpose flour 2 1/4 cup / 350g
  • cold milk 1 cup / 250g
  • baking powder 1 tablespoon / 10g
  • baking soda 1/2 teaspoon / 3g
  • salt 1 teaspoon / 6g
  • oil 1 tablespoon / 12g

Chinese fried sticks did not come out as big as chefs made it; I need to practice more on kneading! A deep-fried strip of dough eaten in East Asia, my children grew up having it as 燒餅油條. You-tiao are normally eaten at breakfast, but as my children never grew to like soy milk, they would just have it with the sesame seed wrapper (shao-bing).
~Kai-ling

Steel-cut oats oatmeal

IMAG1097Adapted from Alton Brown

Ingredients:
1 tbsp butter
1 cup steel-cut oats
3 cups boiling water
1 cup almond milk
pinch of salt
toppings: ground cinnamon, honey, toasted chopped walnuts, extra milk

Directions:
Melt the butter in a saucepot. Add the oats and toast for a couple of minutes, stirring. Add the boiling water, then reduce heat to low and leave untouched for 25 minutes, simmering. Add the cup of milk and mix to combine, scraping up the bottom if need be. Leave for another 10 minutes. Add the salt; stir. Let rest 5 minutes to thicken. Serve with toppings of your choice. I like to add a little more milk at the end, like a warm porridge cereal.

My favorite packet of Quaker ® Instant Oatmeal is apples and cinnamon, since childhood. So I first started trying this type of oatmeal when I came across a rust-red box of it in the organic cereals section of my local ShopRite back in Jersey City, during my grad school days. Eating healthy and cheaply then was the priority. Now I think of steel-cut oats as being Irish, ever since visiting Ireland. This does take longer to cook than instant oatmeal, but I like the chewy texture and nutty flavor. It’s worth it. Plus, slow food!

~Jessica

Colcannon

imag0898Adapted from Simply Recipes

Ingredients:

  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • Salt
  • 30 g unsalted butter (with more butter for serving)
  • 180 g of chopped cabbage (or kale or other leafy green)
  • 3 green onions, minced
  • 120 mL milk or cream

Directions:

  1. Boil potatoes 15-20 minutes in salted water.
  2. Saute cabbage in butter until browning a bit.
  3. Add scallions and cook for a minute.
  4. Pour in the milk/cream, mix well, add potatoes and mash together.
  5. Add salt and butter to taste. Serve.

~Jessica

Pumpkin pie

img_0342Adapted from Simply Recipes

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
pinch of salt
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of ginger
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves (we ground with mortar & pestle)
pinch of ground cardamon (we didn’t have)
lemon zest from 1/2 a lemon
2 eggs plus the yolk of a third egg
2 cups of canned pumpkin purée
1 can of evaporated milk
1 good pie crust

Preheat your oven to 425°F. Mix dry ingredients (sugar & spice) and zest. Beat eggs. Mix wet ingredients (pumpkin and dairy). Pour filling into pie shell. Bake at 425°F for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, lower the temperature to 350°F. Bake for 45-55 minutes more, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for two hours. Serve.

~Jessica