Our front windows are quite sunny – they face southwest – so I’d hoped to be able to grow some veggies. I planted lots of things, cilantro, peas (for pea shoots), various greens. Peas are the only thing that really took off, and (amazingly, considering they’re inside) actually made peas!
We got a handful of pods from the peas. Maybe I’ll save them to plant next year?
I also have a houseplant (Aglaonema) that I got for free! from work. It’s doing well. I might expand the houseplant collection. Ferns sound nice 🙂 It’s also possible to grow some tropical and more unusual foods indoors (see Growing Tasty Tropical Plants). I’m considering figs.
We use up chili oil really fast, so we thought it’d be more cost effective to make our own batch. Past chili oil attempts haven’t turned out particularly well (basically red oil that doesn’t taste like anything…), but I did more research this time 🙂
This recipe combines various online chili oil recipes plus everything on the ingredients list of the last commercial chili oil we bought (Blank Slate Kitchen has great chili oil). We get our Sichuan spices from Mala Market.
1/2 cup Sichuan chili flakes (spicy Korean chili flakes is an okay substitute)
1 tsp Chinese five spice powder (substitute with any or all of: whole star anise, a cinnamon stick, black peppercorns, cardamom, and cloves)
1/3 cup minced shallot (substitute with green or white onion)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups cooking oil (peanut, canola, avocado, etc)
1/4 cup sesame oil
Put chili flakes, five spice, peppercorn powder, and salt in a heat-proof jar.
Fry shallot, garlic, ginger, and any whole spices (cloves, etc) in cooking oil until crispy. Remove the ginger and any whole spices. Heat oil to 275°F. Pour into the jar of chili flakes – they should sizzle.
Cool to room temp. Add sesame oil. Store in fridge for maximum shelf life.
When the oil is gone, you can reuse the sediment (chili flakes, etc). Just pour more hot oil into the jar.
You can add other delicious things to your oil, like fermented black beans (douchi) or peanuts or sesame seeds.
This is our take on this recipe, which is the author’s take on a restaurant beef/tripe dish (apparently mushrooms have a similar texture). The final dish, with tofu included, is similar to mapo tofu.
1 lb mixed mushrooms
1 container soft tofu (optional; if using double all following amounts)
1/2 cup stock
1 tsp Chinese five spice powder (or 3/4 tsp fennel seeds and 1/2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns, toasted and ground into a powder + 1/4 tsp cinnamon)
1/4 cup shaoxing cooking wine (substitute with sake or sherry)
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tsp soy sauce
1/4 cup diced celery
2 Tbsp chili oil
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 handful peanuts, crushed
1 handful chopped cilantro
Cook mushrooms in oil. Salt lightly and add all ingredients tofu through soy sauce. Cook until sauce is reduced and thickened somewhat. Remove from heat and add garnishes (celery through cilantro). Eat hot or cold.
This is a popular Filipino dish. I’ve never had it before, but J has fond memories of it. We actually have a Filipino cookbook, The Filipino Cookbook by Miki Garcia, so we used that recipe.
2.5 lb chicken pieces (preferably skin-on)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 bay leaf
1 onion, sliced
1 cup cane, apple cider, or rice vinegar (or white vinegar diluted with water)
1 cup soy sauce
Sauté chicken and garlic in oil until browned. Add everything except the onion and simmer until chicken is done (about 30 min). Add the onion and cook 5 min more.
I would describe the original dish as “aggressively tart”, to quote Cook’s Illustrated, and the chicken overcooked and chalky, so this version makes some changes. Originally, you were supposed to marinate the chicken overnight, include lime juice, and cook the chicken longer.
I might even decrease the cooking time more. You’re supposed to braise the chicken to make it tender, but we don’t have much success at that in general. Maybe this is one for a slow cooker.
We’ve been expanding our dessert repertoire, and I wanted to use up a box of cake mix we got from the free shelf in our apartment building. J suggested cuatro leches cake! It’s like tres leches cake (cake soaked in a mixture of condensed, evaporated, and whole milk or heavy cream, often topped with dulce de leche), but the cake batter also includes powdered milk. I’m not sure that the powdered milk actually does anything for the cake, seems like it might just be for bragging rights on getting 53 different milk ingredients into the dish.
This isn’t really going to be a recipe so much as a guide, since I wouldn’t recommend purchasing a cake mix. The cake is supposed to be a sponge cake, and there are lots of versions online. We added 1/4 cup milk powder to the boxed mix, and whipped the egg whites and folded them in.
The cake turned out really well, much better than I was expecting! J had described the cake as being soooo sweet that you can only eat about a 1 square inch piece at a time. This version is more like cuatro leches cake lite.