A Knife in the Kitchen

You’re finally ready to embrace the lifestyle changes that come with cooking your own food. It will be healthier, save you money in the long run, and who knows— maybe you’ll actually enjoy it. So you bring back a nice haul from the farmer’s market, dump all those ingredients on the counter… and realize you have no idea what you’re doing.

Looks like it’s another night for delivery.

For a lot of people, cooking is such a daunting task because they don’t really know where to start. But it’s a bit weird, because we can figure out how to turn on a stove or follow the directions on the back of the package. And once it’s in the oven, we’re generally in good enough shape to go about our business and retrieve it when finished. So in a way, it’s the prep of it all that frustrates us. It takes too long to chop, dice, and peel. If we’re clumsy, we’re prone to nicking our fingers. None of this sounds “fun” in any capacity. Lucky for those of us with an aversion to the culinary arts, The New York Times has released a guide for basic knife skills. It makes prep a breeze.

In the guide, you’ll learn to do everything from a basic rough chop to a brunoise. Techniques like chiffonade and julienne are also covered, giving even the most basic of our dishes a sense of elegance. I felt it was worth sharing because most can open up their computer or tablet and practice each of the techniques with fresh produce. Grabbing a few potatoes, stalks of celery, tomatoes, and some herbs like basil or parsley can be easily done for under ten bucks! Just cut along and practice often.

The guide does include some instruction how how to assemble the right assortment of knives. There are three to really keep on hand: a chef’s knife (for pretty much everything), a utility or paring knife (for coring and cutting smaller items like mushrooms), and a large serrated knife (for those thick slices of bread or tomato). It’s suggested that you find inexpensive yet reliable brands of the latter two. Since they can’t be sharpened, you should just replace them once they become dull. But chef’s knives? You want durability and longevity— something you can work with for ages when it is given the proper care. There are plenty of very good chef knives for the beginning cook out there. Get a feel for it, then treat yourself to an upgrade.

NYC Pasta

TimeOut New York food author, Christina Izzo recently told readers its a great time to eat Italian in New York. Thanks to big-name chefs, in-house flour mills and some good-looking plates of ‘roni, this blog post includes some of the top spots to find the best pasta dishes in NYC.

Momofuku Nishi

Eric Gaulin Cooking blogAt David Chang’s Italian-inspired, Korean-spiced Chelsea canteen, tables are dotted with bowls of culture-crossing myun, like Abruzzo chitarra tossed in Hong Kong-born XO sauce and the It dish ceci e pepe, a buttery Roman classic updated with chickpea hozon. 232 Eighth Ave. (646-518-1919)

Faro

Eric Gaulin Cooking blogAn on-site mill cranks out the organic, local-grain flour that chef Kevin Adey uses for his fresh house pastas, from rye spaccatelli with braised beef to squid-ink strozzapreti with pumpkin-seed pangrattato. 436 Jefferson St., Brooklyn (718-381-8201)

Pasquale Jones

TimeOut New York Pasquale Jones on Eric Gaulin Cooking blogPizza may be the supposed focus of this Charlie Bird follow-up from Ryan Hardy and Robert Bohr, but the trio of pastas is just as worthy of the spotlight – see the craveable rigatoni with sausage, nettles and over-smoked ricotta for proof. 187 Mulberry St.

Lilia

Malfadini-Pink-Peppercorns-Parmigiano-Reggiano-2 on Eric Gaulins Cooking BlogMissy Robbins puts her Michelin-starred A Voce tenure to great use at this solo spot, whipping up pasta dishes, like malfadini ribbons with pink peppercorns and saffron-zapped, sheep’s milk agnolotti, that are both smart and soulful.  55 Union Ave., Brooklyn (718-576-3095)

Cafe Altro Paradiso

Cafe Altro Paradiso dish on Eric Gaulin's Cooking blogIgnacio Matto’s unfussed Italian menu at this Estela sequel is packed with hand-cut pastas in decidedly simple arrangements: ragged-edge lasagnette folded with trumpet royale mushrooms and mint is a standout. 234 Spring St. (646-952-0828)

La Sirena.

Aleppo chili and sesame seeds from La Sirena New York on Eric Gaulin's Cooking blogHoused inside the Maritime Hotel, Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s plaza-level trattoria excels in pasta power plates, such as leek-stuffed panzotti, duck-filled mezzelune and casarecce tubers flecked with broccoli rabe, Aleppo chili and sesame seeds. 88 Ninth Ave. (212-977-6096)

Source: timeout.com / newyork / restaurants @christinalizzo

All About Sticky Rice

 

Image source: news.nationalgeographic.com

Image source: news.nationalgeographic.com

A couple years back, the Huffington Post published an article titled, So What Exactly is Sticky Rice, Anyway?. The piece began by posing a series of questions related to the culture and uses of a popular food called, “sticky rice”. The opening HuffPo paragraph said:  “Sticky rice is one of those great joys of Asian cuisine that people love across the globe, but may not fully understand. What makes it sticky? How does it differ from regular white rice? Where does it come from and is it supposed to be that sticky?”

When searching for answers, I learned that, throughout Asia, sticky rice– also called “sweet rice” or glutinous rice (despite being gluten free)– is used in dumplings, desserts and more.   In Thailand it is eaten as a staple starch – the main filler of a meal, it’s also eaten as a snack along with something salty like grilled meat, and it’s also an important ingredient in many Thai desserts.

In this post, I’m not only going to explain to you how to make Thai sticky rice, but I’m also going to offer a bit of information about the culture of eating sticky rice and how it’s eaten in Thailand.

Sticky rice comes in both short-grain and long-grain varieties. Thai people prefer the long-grain rice; the short-grain variety is more commonly used in Chinese and Japanese cooking. Among the long-grain varieties, some have a delicate, aromatic flavor, and these “high-grade” hybrids are distinguished as “jasmine” sweet or glutinous rice, much like their fragrant cousins in the non-glutinous family. The starchiness of sticky rice gives it a distinct opaque whiteness different from the more translucent appearance of regular rice grains, but the reverse is true after the rices are cooked. Soaked and steamed as described, sticky rice becomes translucent, while regular rice turns opaque white when cooked.

Wadded into little balls and eaten with fingers is the customary way to enjoy it, the better to dunk into spicy saucy dishes. Sticky rice can be easily grasped with chopsticks, too.

Sticky rice recipe (วิธีทำ ข้าวเหนียว)

Time: Overnight soaking (or for 4 – 5 hour minimum), about 15 minutes to steam
Recipe size: 5 cups of sticky rice, which is probably enough for 4 – 6 people for a meal
Cooking utensils: pot, sticky rice steamer basket
Flavors: Fluffy Thai sticky rice
Eat it with: Isaan and northern Thai cuisine

How to Make Thai Sticky Rice (วิธีทำ ข้าวเหนียว)
 
Prep time: 10 hours
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 10 hours 15 mins
 
This is a recipe for how to make Thai sticky rice (วิธีทำ ข้าวเหนียว). The best way to make it, is to soak raw sticky rice in water overnight, allow it to sit, then steam it for about 15 minutes. You’ll have beautiful fluffy and delicious sticky rice. Read the recipe below, and watch the video here.
Author: Mark Wiens (eatingthaifood.com)
Recipe type: How to make sticky rice (Thai style)
Cuisine: Thai, Laos
Serves: 4-6 people 
Ingredients:
  • water to soak rice
  • 5 cups sticky rice (or however much you want to make)
Instructions
  1. The night before you want to cook sticky rice, take your raw sticky rice, place it into a bowl or plastic tub, submerge in water, and allow to soak room temperature overnight. Alternatively, you can soak for at least 4 – 5 hours, but overnight is best.
  2. Take the sticky rice out of the water (and the grains should be softer and a little swollen), and place into a bamboo steamer, or any type of steamer. Cover the steamer with either a lid, or you can do what I did and cover the basket with a cloth, then a metal lid – just to keep all the steam within the rice.
  3. Add water to a pot with the steamer over the pot (just make sure the water doesn’t touch the sticky rice), and once the water comes to a boil, steam for 15 – 20 minutes (usually 15 minutes for me is perfect) on a medium heat.
  4. After 15 minutes take off the lid carefully, because it will be very hot, and just grab a taste test of the sticky rice to make sure it’s soft and fluffy. If it’s still a little crunchy, steam for a few more minutes, but if it’s good to go, turn off the heat and either eat immediately, or transfer to some sort of airtight container or basket to hold until you’re ready to eat.
  5. Enjoy Thai sticky rice while it’s hot and fresh.

Resources: http://www.eatingthaifood.com/2015/02/how-to-make-thai-sticky-rice/, http://www.thaifoodandtravel.com/ingredients/stickyr.html

Top 5 Destinations for Authentic Cuisine

Top Destinations for Authentic Cuisines Eric Gaulin cooking blogI’ve always had an open mind when it comes to cooking and trying new types of foods. I describe it as a “try anything once” mentality. This came, in part, during my youth while traveling to many different parts of the world with my family.  This experience gave me tremendous exposure to all different types of people, cultures, and foods.  It allowed me to see, learn about, and even try many different tastes and native cuisines. 

I am especially grateful for this opportunity because it allowed me to learn more about what my own foods interests.  Since then, I have taken it upon myself to learn more about cooking and the different types of cuisines that are unique to regions around the world.  Although I have my own thoughts on what types of native cuisines are the best and which are the worst, I’ll keep those to myself. Last year,  CNN asked readers to vote for their favorite culinary destination in an open Facebook poll. In June, the findings were published in an article listing the top 10 culinary hotspots according to the voters, along with a quick summary of recommended foods.

Based on the findings in the article, this blog post highlights the Top 5 Destinations Worth Traveling to for Delicious Cuisine:

#5 – Japan (445 votes ).

Best Locations for Authentic Cuisines Eric Gaulin Food BlogIt’s impossible to eat badly in Japan. Typically,  Japanese apply the same precision to their food as they do to their engineering, taking their love for food a step further than most nationalities.

You can get a lavish multi-course kaiseki meal that presents the seasons in a spread of visual and culinary poetry or grab a seat at a revolving sushi conveyor for a solo feast.

#4 – Thailand (470 votes).

Top Destinations for Authentic Cuisines Eric Gaulin Cooking BlogWith influences from China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar and a royal culinary tradition, Thai cuisine is the best of many worlds.  The combination of so many herbs and spices in each dish produces complex flavors that somehow come together like orchestral music.   For something really flavorful, check out the country’s northeastern — or Isaan — cuisine.

Popular Isaan dishes include som tom (papaya salad), larb moo (minced pork dressed with lime juice, fish sauce, mint leaves, onions, chilies) and ko moo yang (grilled pork neck), which comes with an incredible dipping sauce.

#3 – Italy (810 votes).

Top Destinations for Authentic Cuisines Eric Gaulin Cooking BlogItalian food has enslaved taste buds around the globe for centuries, with its zesty tomato sauces, those clever things they do with wheat flour and desserts that are basically vehicles for cream.  Whether you’ve hit up Sicily to gorge on arancini, made a special trip to Naples to sample the world’s best pizza or took a train to Modena to taste the world’s finest Parmigiano-Reggiano, no corner of Italy will leave your stomach disappointed.

 #2 – Philippines (1,528 votes).

Top Destinations for Authentic Cuisine Eric Gaulin Cooking BlogFilipino food isn’t as well known as the other cuisines on this list, but with more than 7,000 islands and a colorful history, this archipelago has some delicious dishes of its own.  Adobo, for instance, is an ubiquitous dish whipped up in every household in the Philippines. It’s Mexican in origin, but Filipinos found that cooking meat (often chicken and pork) in vinegar, salt, garlic, pepper, soy sauce and other spices, was a practical way to preserve meat without refrigeration.

Lechon, meanwhile, is the Philippines’ most popular party guest. An entire pig is spit-roasted over coals, with the crisp, golden-brown skin served with liver sauce, the most coveted part.

#1 – Taiwan (8, 242 votes)

Top Destinations for Authentic Cuisines Eric Gaulin Cooking blog The island’s food is a mash-up of the cuisine of the Min Nan, Teochew and Hokkien Chinese communities, along with Japanese cooking.  The Taiwanese capital, Taipei, alone has around 20 streets dedicated to snacking. And then there’sTainan, Taiwan’s oldest city, which is often referred to as its food capital.

To read the original CNN article, click here

Cooking For Your Taste Buds

Taste Buds Eric Gaulin Cooking BlogSweetness. Saltiness. Sourness. Bitterness. Every delicious bite you’ve ever tasted has been a result of these four tastes coming together on your taste buds. We taste them as individual notes, and in concert. Each taste affects the other. For example, bitterness suppresses sweetness. In addition, different tastes affect us in different ways. Saltiness stimulates the appetite, while sweetness satiates it. Take the time to explore the four basic tastes included in this blog post.

1. Sweetness: 

Eric Gaulin Taste Buds Cooking BlogIt takes the greatest quantity of a substance that is sweet (versus salty, sour, or bitter) to register on our taste buds. However, we can appreciate the balance and “roundness” that even otherwise imperceptible sweetness adds to savory dishes. Sweetness can work with bitterness, sourness–even saltiness. Sweetness can also bring out the flavors of other ingredients, from fruits to mints.

2. Saltiness:

Eric Gaulin Taste Buds Cooking BlogWhen we banished more than thirty of America’s leading chefs to their own desert islands with only ten ingredients to cook with for the rest of their lives (Culinary Artistry, 1996), the number-one ingredient they chose was salt. Salt is nature’s flavor enhancer. It is the single most important taste for making savory food delicious. (Sweetness, by the way, plays the same role is desserts.)

3. Sourness: 

Eric Gaulin Taste Buds Cooking BlogSourness is second only to salt in savory food and sugar in sweet food in its importance as a flavor enhancer. Sour notes– whether a squeeze of lemon or a drizzle of vinegar– add sparkle and brightness to a dish. Balancing a dish’s acidity with its other tastes is critical to the dish’s ultimate success.

4. Bitterness: 

Eric Gaulin Taste Buds Cooking BlogHumans are most sensitive to bitterness, and our survival wiring allows us to recognize it in even relatively tiny amounts. Bitterness balances sweetness, and can also play a vital role in cutting richness in a dish. While bitterness is more important to certain people than to others, some chefs see it as an indispensable “cleansing” taste– one that makes you want to take the next bite, and the next.

Eric Gaulin Taste Buds Cooking BlogUmami (Savoriness): In addition to the four basic tastes, there is growing evidence of a fifth taste, umami. It is often described as the savory or meaty “mouth-filling” taste that is noticeable in such ingredients as anchovies, blue cheese, mushrooms, and green tea, and in such flavorings as monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is the primary component of branded seasonings such as Ac’cent.

Source: Page, K., & Dornenburg, A. (2008). The flavor bible: The essential guide to culinary creativity, based on the wisdom of America’s most imaginative chefs. New York: Little, Brown.

Top 5 Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes

Recently, the Food Network put out a list of 50+ Classic Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes from Food Network chefs.  This blog post narrows down the top 5 dishes included on that list.  It also provides the recipes to go along with each warm, delicious selection. If you’re looking to try something new this Thanksgiving dinner, try some of the recipes below. Enjoy reading. And Happy Thanksgiving!

Here are the Top 5 Classic Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes:

#5: Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Garlic and Mascarpone Cheese Eric Gaulin Cooking

Ingredients:
3 pounds Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into large dice
Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk
6 cloves roasted garlic cloves, pureed
1/2 stick unsalted butter
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
Directions
Place potatoes in a large saucepan, add cold water just to cover and 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until tender. Drain well and run through a food mill set over a large bowl.

While the potatoes are cooking, combine the milk, garlic puree and butter in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. Stir the milk mixture into the potatoes until combined. Fold in the mascarpone and season well with salt and pepper. Keep warm over in a bain marie or double boiler until serving.
Recipe courtesy of Bobby Flay

#4: Brussels Sprouts with BaconEric Gaulin Cooking

salty, crispy  bacon makes everything better, especially these brussels sprouts served warm as a holiday side dish.

Ingredients
3 pounds medium Brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 thick slices bacon (about 8 ounces), cut crosswise into 1/2-inch strips
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
Freshly ground black pepper
Directions
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it generously. Trim the bottom end of the Brussels sprouts, leaving the core intact, and pull off the outer dark leaves. Halve through the core. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook, uncovered, until tender, about 6 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water. (This can be done a day ahead.)

Meanwhile, put the oil and bacon in a very large skillet or stewpot, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the Brussels sprouts and cook, stirring occasionally, until they brown and the edges get crisp, about 10 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, salt, pepper, and bacon. Serve warm.

#3: Lemon-Maple Squash

Eric Gaulin Cooking

Photograph by Marcus Nilsson

Maple syrup and lemon juice add surprising, sweet flavor to roasted butternut squash.

Directions
Slice 4 pounds butternut or calabaza squash into thick wedges and remove the seeds. Place cut-side up in a baking dish. Combine 1/3 cup maple syrup, 1/3 cup water, the zest and juice of 1 lemon, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and a pinch each of salt and pepper; pour over the squash and dot with 4 tablespoons butter. Bake 20 minutes at 350, then flip the squash and bake until caramelized and tender, 25 more minutes, basting halfway through.

#2: Soul Sweet ‘Taters 

Ree Drummond makes sweet potatoes as much a part of her Thanksgiving as the turkey. Her secret weapon in this recipe: dark brown sugar.

Eric Gaulin Cooking

Photograph by Kang Kim

Ingredients
4 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 3/4 pounds)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
Directions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Put the sweet potatoes on the oven rack and bake until fork-tender, about 45 minutes. When the potatoes are finished cooking, let cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Slice them open lengthwise and scrape out the flesh with a fork into a large bowl. Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F.
Add the granulated sugar, milk, eggs, vanilla and salt to the bowl with the sweet potatoes. Mash the mixture with a potato masher until combined and slightly lumpy-you don’t want it to be perfectly smooth.
Now, in a separate bowl, mash the brown sugar, pecans, flour and butter with a pastry cutter or fork until thoroughly combined. The mixture should resemble a crumble.
Spread the sweet potato mixture in a 14-cup oval-shaped baking dish and sprinkle the crumb mixture all over the top. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes.
Recipe courtesy of Ree Drummond for Food Network Magazine

#1: Mushroom and Leek Bread Pudding

Eric Gaulin Cooking

Photograph by Steve Giralt

The best way to prepare your leeks for this bread pudding? After cutting them lengthwise and slicing crosswise, wash them in water and spin-dry in a salad spinner.

Ingredients
6 cups (1/2-inch-diced) bread cubes from a rustic country loaf, crusts removed
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 ounces pancetta, small-diced
4 cups sliced leeks, white and light green parts (4 leeks)
1 1/2 pounds cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed and 1/4-inch-sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1/4 cup medium or dry sherry
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 extra-large eggs
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 1/2 cups grated Gruyere cheese (6 ounces), divided
Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the bread cubes on a sheet pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the oil and butter in a large (12-inch) saute pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook for 5 minutes, until starting to brown. Stir in the leeks and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until the leeks are tender. Stir in the mushrooms, tarragon, sherry, 1 tablespoon salt and 11/2 teaspoons pepper and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until most of the liquid evaporates, stirring occasionally. Off the heat, stir in the parsley.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, chicken stock and 1 cup of the Gruyere. Add the bread cubes and mushroom mixture, stirring well to combine. Set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes to allow the bread to absorb the liquid. Stir well and pour into a 2 1/2-to-3-quart gratin dish (13 x 9 x 2 inches). Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup Gruyere and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the top is browned and the custard is set. Serve hot.  (Recipe courtesy of Ina Garten)

7 Of The Best Food Blogs For Eating On A Budget

Eating on a budget doesn’t have to leave you confined to mostly processed food, nor does it have to be a chore. If you stick to a few “commandments” of budget eating, you can build a foundation from which eating well and cheaply will follow easily. Luckily you’ve got a world of food bloggers to help you out.  Here is The Huffington Post’s list of the 7 best food blogs for eating on a budget:

#7: $5 Dinners

Cooking$5 Dinners brings you recipes and weekly meal plans for making dinners that cost $5 or less.  Bloggers share great breakfast recipes, like Blueberry Lemon Pancakes and Berry Quinoa Parfaits, and healthy desserts, like Black Bean Brownies With Shredded Coconut & Chocolate Chips. Users also offer cooking tutorials that explain techniques like how to shred cabbage, and how to choose and cut and avocado, making it a great resource for new cooks.

#6: The 99 Cent Chef

Cooking blogThe 99 Cent Chef may not look as pretty as some of the other blogs, but what it lacks in glossy photos it makes up for in useful GIFs and videos. Blogger Billy Vasquez has a great sense of humor — he says he “takes the haute out of cuisine” — and makes eating on a budget fun and entertaining. His recipes consist of ingredients that either cost 99 cents each or 99 cents per pound. They range from spruced up breakfasts like Fried Egg on Bread crumbs with Asparagus and classics like Patty Melts and Fish and Chips, to homemade versions of store-bought foods like Roasted Creamed Corn and even Egg McMuffins. He’s also a big fan of seasonal produce as a means of budgeting as well as adding flavor.

#5: Law Student’s Wife

cooking blogThe Law Student’s Wife offers budget-friendly, straightforward but exciting and often seasonal recipes like Balsamic Brussels Sprouts with Maple, Walnuts and Feta and Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Freekeh Salad With Kale. It’s a reliable spot for weeknight dinners, and blogger Erin also makes great desserts too, like Rhubarb Swirl Buttermilk Ice Cream and Brown Butter Churro Crispy Treats.

#4: Not Eating Out in New York

CookingCathy Erway started her blog Not Eating Out In New York after “going AWOL from eating restaurant, take-out, or street stand food throughout the five boroughs of New York City” from 2006 to 2008. Her blog, which turned into her book, “The Art of Eating In,” features recipes that she thinks are worth skipping the NYC restaurant scene and eating in for. Recipes like Grilled Steak “Shoulder Bites” with Chimichurri and Roasted Eggplant “Salsa” and Curried Carrot Soup with Red Lentils strike a good balance between sophisticated and homey. Erway lists the cost of all ingredients as well as the total price of the recipe. She also rates her recipes based on health and environmental costs. On top of offering all of these guidelines for her recipes, Erway also shares inspirational reasons for not eating out, beyond just budgeting. She knows her urban audience needs consistent reminders to stay in and cook when it’s too easy to just eat out.

#3: Stone Soup

Cooking blogStone Soup offers healthy, affordable recipes that won’t leave you feeling like you’re making any sacrifices. In addition to recipes like Green Curry Of Broccoli Soup and Kale Carbonara, Stone Soup offers wisdom, like the “three golden rules of do-it-ahead-meals” and the “dos and don’ts of keeping leftovers safe.” Even better? According to the woman behind Stone Soup, Jules Clancy, most of the recipes are made with five ingredients, and can be made in mere minutes.

#2: Broke Ass Gourmet

Cooking blogBroke Ass Gourmet’s been around since 2009, for good reason. The recipes are exciting but accessible, and they’re all under $20. It’s also another blog-turned-cookbook. With collections like “5 Cheap And Easy Ways To Cook Chicken Legs” and individual recipes like Sweet Potato Nachos, Homemade English Muffins and Bangkok Style Deviled Eggs, BrokeAss Gourmet’s recipes run the gamut. It also features a good amount of Jewish-inspired recipes, like Honey Whole-Wheat Challah and Salted Matzo Crack. If you’re looking for something special and want to keep it under $20, BrokeAss Gourmet is your one stop shop.

#1: Budget Bytes

CookingDidn’t we say eating on a budget doesn’t have to be boring? Budget Bytes is one of the great ones. It’s so great, in fact, it’s been turned into a cookbook, which, among many recipes, features a great guide for stocking your kitchen — perhaps the most crucial step of committing to cooking on a budget. Once you’re prepared, it’ll be easy to follow awesome recipes, like Budget Byte’s Parsley Salad With Almonds And Apricots or Easy Sesame Chicken. In addition to a “kitchen basics” guide, Budget Bytes also has a very comprehensive list of principles for eating well on a budget, which explains strategies like “shopping wisely” and the “freezer is your friend.” Users love this blog because it not only has excellent recipes with great photos, but it’s also very methodological. Every recipe includes the price of each ingredient, the price of the recipe as a whole and the price per serving. It’s hard to do much better than that.

 

When You’re Down and Out – Try These Foods

Comfort food is great at doing exactly that, comforting the person consuming the food. Comfort food often has its roots in tradition and nostalgia and tends to be delicious and fatty. Some studies that aim to further define comfort food have found that what people refer to as comfort actually does provide stress relief or comfort. This comfort can be dangerous if overdone, of course.

Here are some of Eric Gaulin’s best comfort foods:

Meatloaf-With-Sauce

Meatloaf

A loaf of meat. Excessive decadence at its best. Meatlof is made by adding butter, bread and eggs to meat.

Pecan_pie

Pecan Pie

Butter and Sugar are two key ingredients in comfort food desserts and Pecan Pie includes copious amounts of both. If done right, these pies can really relieve your stress.

Chocolate_Chip_Cookies_From_Oven

Chocolate-Chip Cookies

Fresh from the oven chocolate chip cookies are often all you need to get over your homesickness. Try adding some vanilla ice cream too.

Chicken_fried_steak

Chicken-fried Steak

If you’re not from the south, this may sound like a meal thats exclusively relegated to the fairgrounds but chicken fried steak is a staple of some households.

Pot-o-chili

Beef Chili

The chunkier the better for this dish. Make sure you get the fattiest cut of meet you can find and maybe even a few vegetables to make some hearty beef chili.

Fried-Chicken-Leg

Fried Chicken

Comfort food is often defined by easy to cook. Well nothing is easier or more delicious than going to your local store and picking up some fried chicken.

mashed_potatoes_&_gravy

Gravy and Mashed Potatoes

Take that extra gravy at Thanksgiving and pour it over some mashed potatoes and you have yourself a nice greasy treat to soothe your nerves and your stomach.

Jambalaya

Jambalaya

Chicken, Sausage and Shrimp are delicious on their own, why not add them all together? Well, that is exactly what they do in Louisiana, and the result is better than the sum of its parts.

 

 

The Benefits of Cooking

kitchen-cooking

Cooking is the type of practice that you either love or hate. Some people spend thousands of hours watching the Food Network and can’t wait to try that new recipe, while others would prefer to get take-out or try the newest “Uber for Food” app and watch the latest Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson movie.

Both know the joy of eating but only the former know the zen of preparing your own meal.

Taste is entirely subjective and as such one person’s street food is another’s Mario Batali. Cooking one’s own food allow them to perfect their meals. Every iteration improves on the last. Cooking your own food also gives you a level of control. You can only send back your steak twice before you’re never allowed back at a restaurant.

Cooking is a creative outlet. Obviously, the aesthetics of a strong presentation followed by a compulsory Instagram photo have a certain artistic element to them, but unique flavor combinations allow chefs to explore new possibilities and express themselves.

A recent study found that eating out at restaurants is no healthier than eating fast-food, so Seamless fans are often no healthier than your college frat guy ordering pizza every night. Cooking on the other hand is almost always healthier. Making tasty and healthy food is difficult but you don’t have to sacrifice one for the other. Challenging yourself to make tasty, healthy food will make you a better chef, a healthier chef and the enviable person at your next pot luck.

The one big advantage above all others is saving money. If you are the type of person that looks back at your spending each month you aren’t going out to eat often. Anyone that watches every penny knows the advantage of cooking or yourself. As soon as you start seeing how much you spend on food each month you will likely start cooking for yourself and skipping that morning Starbucks as well.