Recipe Shorthand

Occasionally, I will post recipes for what I cook, but to be honest, that’s not how I cook.  This post will contain shorthand that will allow me to quickly describe what I did, without having to write up a full recipe.  All numbers are WAGs and should not be taken too seriously.

Recipe #1: FDOO, saute.  Steam fresh spinach.  Mushrooms!  Sear pork tenderloin.  +Garlic.  Add 1/2 cup WW, combine everything but spinach.  BTB/RTS, braise to 150F internal.  Remove meat, reduce by 1/3, add 1 tbsp dijon mustard.  Slice meat, spoon sauce over meat, serve with spinach.

Recipe #2 (Sous Chef): Prepare al dente wheat penne pasta.  Slice and brown BSCB.  Chop asparagus into 1 inch segments.  Pour half jar alfredo sauce in pan, CEE pasta.  Simmer 8 minutes.  Add drained, diced canned tomatoes.  Serve over pasta; garnish with fresh basil chiffonade.

 And the definitions:

+Garlic – Add diced, fresh garlic to the saute.  Done at the end, with approximately 1 minute left before adding liquid.  Dice garlic as finely as possible.  Use jar of diced garlic if in a hurry.

nnnF – Temperature to remove meat from heat.  Never cook meat without an instant read, digital meat thermometer.  Wait 5-10 minutes before slicing or serving.  Temperature can and will change, but you’re really just letting the juices reabsorb.  Memorize your favorite meat temperatures, everyone is different.  Anything above 140 for 5 minutes is safe, if you haven’t done anything else unsafe.

CE – Combine everything mentioned so far.

CEE – Combine everything except…

Braise – Cover and simmer, which is easier said than done.  Use a glass cover.  If you can see the food, the heat isn’t high enough.  If there are lots of drops forming, it’s too high.  You’re going for “foggy glass”.  This keeps the meat moist, though most of the cooking happens via conduction from the underlying liquid.  For that reason, turn meat occasionally.

BSCB – Boneless, skinless chicken breast.

BTB/RTS – Bring to boil, reduce to simmer.

OO – Olive oil.  Use the cheap stuff unless the dish is delicate enough that you will be able to taste the difference, e.g. pasta salads.

FDOO – First, dice one onion.

Mushrooms! – Similar to sear, but use OO, control the temperature carefully (boiling< T <burning) and DON’T CROWD THE PAN!!!! Do two or three batches if you have to.

Reduce – Never take the volume numbers people say too seriously here.  It’s a trade-off between time and thickness of your sauce.  And there are various ways to cheat if you don’t have enough time (see: Thickeners).

Sear – Hot peanut oil, baking soda.  2/3 salt, 1/3 baking soda on meat.  Add a touch of worcestershire sauce.  Heat till browned (careful, it goes fast).

Steam – I use a vegetable steamer, which I highly recommend.  Keeping a list of steaming times you prefer nearby is a good idea, but I just have most of mine memorized.  Everyone is different.  My asparagus number is 15, for example, but I’ve seen numbers as low as 4.  Double boiler if you don’t have a vegetable steamer, but it’s tougher to get consistency as the amount of water and heat level both can and will vary.

Thickeners – cornstarch and water, flour, gelatin, any emulsified commercial product (mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup).  Tomato paste.  Egg, sometimes (though this is more for emulsification reasons).

WW – the cheapest dry white wine you can find, that isn’t sold in a box and has a cork.  It’ll keep for weeks in the fridge if corked.  The quality can’t really go down, after all, it probably started out under $10 …

WAG – Wild ass guess.  Use whatever amount floats your boat.  Great for cooking; for baking, not so much.  Which is why I don’t bake.

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