BrokeAss Gourmet

BrokeAss Gourmet

Honey Whole Wheat Challah

  • Prep Time 2 1/2 hours
  • Cook Time 30 minutes
  • Estimated Cost $5.50
  • 1 Comment

This challah is incredible on its own, but my favorite way to serve it is sliced and toasted, and topped with a generous layer of ripe avocado, a drizzle of olive oil, sea salt and cracked pepper. 

The last 2 weeks have been insanely busy. As the premiere of Young & Hungry creeps closer (June 25 at 8/7 Central on ABC Family -- set your DVR!), there is so much to do to get ready. Most recently, that has included shooting a web series cooking with the cast.

Check it out: that's me cooking with Rex Lee, of Entourage fame

 

But all that excitement has also meant a lot of time spent away from my cozy little San Francisco kitchen, and whenever I've been away from home for an extended period of time, the first thing I want to do when I get back is make challah.

OK, that's not exactly true. The very first thing I want to do is see Evan. But after that, I want to make challah. Warm homemade challah for Shabbat dinner, to be repurposed the next day as French toast or panzanella. Making challah centers me. It takes some time, so it forces me to carve out at least a couple of hours to devote to this special task. As I mix the eggs and flour and oil, and knead the dough, my worries melt away and I shift my focus to the weekend ahead.

Tonight, I'm switching things up and, instead of my usual Olive Oil Challah, I'm making this heartier, healthier whole wheat challah, made with honey rather than sugar. I like to use dark amber honey to really emphasize that component of the flavor. The combination of the honey and nutty stone-ground whole wheat flour yields a rich brown dough.

Additionally, while most challah recipes call for canola or vegetable oil, I generally prefer the flavor of extra virgin olive oil. Not only is it a healthier fat, but the flavor survives the baking process and adds much depth to the finished product.

This challah is incredible on its own, but my favorite way to serve it is sliced and toasted, and topped with a generous layer of ripe avocado, a drizzle of olive oil, sea salt and cracked pepper. 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 packet instant yeast $1.50 for 3 packets
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoons honey Pantry
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for the bowl Pantry
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten, divided $1.50 for 6
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour $2.50 for 32 oz.
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour Pantry
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt Pantry
  • sesame seeds Optional

Recipe Serves 8-10

Directions

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or dust with flour, or grease with olive oil). Set aside.
  2. Combine the water, yeast and 1 tablespoon of the honey in a mixing bowl. Stir well to combine.
  3. Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel, and let rest for 5-7 minutes, until bubbles appear on the surface.
  4. Gently whisk in the remaining 1/4 cup of honey, olive oil, and 2 of the beaten eggs. 
  5. Stir in the flours and salt until you have a cohesive dough.
  6. Knead dough on a floured surface (or in a standing mixer) until it becomes somewhat elastic (2-3 minutes in the mixer, 5-6 minutes by hand). Please note: the dough will not be springy and soft like regular challah--it will be somewhat dense. This is okay.
  7. Gather the kneaded dough into a ball and put it back in the bowl you mixed it in with enough oil to coat it well. 
  8. Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel and let rise in a warm spot (like an oven that has been brought to temperature and then turned off so it's warm, not hot).
  9. Let the dough rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until doubled in size.
  10. Once risen, gently punch down the dough to deflate, and transfer it to a lightly floured surface.
  11. As I've stated before, there are a few ways to go about weaving the challah. You can do it the Deb (of SmittenKitchen) way, the Tori of The Shiksa in the Kitchen way, or you can do it the Gabi Moskowitz, 1989 Graduate of Beth Ami Hebrew School Sunday Challah-Making Class way, which is to sort of braid it like you would hair, and then tuck the messy bits under so no one can see them. You can find my step-by-step tutorial for this approach with photos here. You can make 1 large braid or 2 smaller ones. 
  12. Once the dough is braided, place it on the parchment-lined or floured/greased baking sheet. Cover the braid gently with lightly greased plastic wrap, and let rise in the turned-off oven for 1 hour.
  13. Take the dough out of the oven, and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  14. Once the braided dough has risen, use a pastry brush to coat the top with the one remaining beaten egg. Give it 2 or 3 coats.
  15. If desired, top the egg-washed dough with a sprinkle of sesame seeds.
  16. Bake the challah(s) for about 30 minutes, until deep golden brown. 
  17. Serve warm or at room temperature.

BrokeAss Vegetarian Noodles

  • Prep Time 20 minutes
  • Cook Time 20 minutes
  • Estimated Cost $9.50
  • 2 Comments

I really think that noodles may be the key to world peace...or, at least, dietary restriction peace. There is a pasta or noodle dish for everyone.

Big-time carnivore? You need this spaghetti and meatballs recipe. Vegan? Go for linguine with creamy avocado pesto. Low carb? Shirataki noodles for you. Oh, you're paleo? Better whip up up some zucchini noodles! Gluten-free but desperately missing wheat noodles? Try some brown rice pasta. I'm fond of this brand, which is almost indistinguishable from regular wheat pasta when cooked according to package directions.

These days there are so many different dietary restrictions to be aware of when you're cooking for others, it can feel impossible to please everyone. But, I'll tell ya, this recipe comes pretty darn close. Inspired by San Francisco cult favorite Burma Superstar's outrageoulsy delicious Superstar Vegetarian Noodles, it's a toothsome noodle dish with a plethora of flavors that meld together in harmony, bound together by an ultra-simple sauce, made only from Asian chili sauce and a little oil. See how gorgeously it coats the noodles?

It's not low-carb (though it can be, if you use shirataki noodles and omit the potatoes), but it is vegan, gluten-free (if you use GF noodles), has no added sugar, and is loaded with tons of delicious, flavorful toppings. Meat lovers can feel free to add a bit of grilled chicken or shrimp (though it doesn't need it), and it's substantial enough to qualify as a main dish for vegetarians.

Even better, the flavors improve if the dish sits for a bit, so you can feel free to make it in advance. If I know I am going to have a busy couple of days, I'll make a batch and keep it in the fridge so I can grab a quick bowl when time allows.

I like to make it with the brown rice pasta above--the delicately nutty flavor it imparts to the dish is fantastic. But I've made it with rice vermicelli, Shirataki, wheat noodles, even soba, and it's always been addictively delicious.

If you're picnicking or BBQ-ing this holiday weekend, add this noodle dish in! It's delicious at room temperature, and will provide something for everyone.

 

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. dried fettucine (gluten-free pasta or rice noodles will also work) $2 for 16 oz.
  • 1 medium potato, peeled and diced $0.50
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable, coconut or olive oil, divided Pantry
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced Pantry
  • 12 oz. extra firm tofu, drained and cubed $1.50 
  • salt to taste Pantry
  • 1/8 cup Asian chili sauce $2.50 for 8 oz.
  • 1 cup thinly sliced green cabbage (about 1/4 medium cabbage) $1.50 for half of a cabbage
  • 1 carrot, shredded $0.50
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro, roughly chopped $1 for a bunch

Recipe Serves 4

Directions

  1. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to package directions. Drain, rinse, and set aside.
  2. In a small pot, bring some salted water to a light boil. Add the diced potato and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Rinse, drain and set aside.
  3. Heat 2 tablspoons of the oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add the sliced garlic and cook until very lightly golden brown and crisp (watch to ensure it doesn't burn). 
  4. Fish the garlic out of the hot oil and drain it on a paper towel.
  5. Add the cubed tofu to the hot oil, turn up the heat to medium-high, and cook until the tofu is lightly crisp, tossing in the pan a few times.
  6. Once the tofu has finished cooking, drain it on a paper towel and salt lightly.
  7. In a small bowl, combine the remaining tablespoon of oil with the Asian chili sauce (add more if you want it to be super-spicy).
  8. Return the cooked noodles to their cooking pot and toss thoroughly with the chili sauce-oil mixture.
  9. To the noodles, add the potatoes, garlic, tofu, carrot and cabbage. Toss gently a few times to incorporate.
  10. Serve the noodles topped with the cilantro and pass extra chili sauce at the table, for those who clamor for heat.

Health Freak Sushi

  • Prep Time 15 minutes
  • Cook Time 45 minutes
  • Estimated Cost $7.50
  • 0 Comments

My life has been pretty crazy these last few weeks.

In addition to the usual freelance writing, photo editing, and recipe testing and development, I've been back and forth between San Francisco and L.A. so much that my head is starting to spin!

But last weekend, we took a super fun trip to Seattle for Evan's cousin's Bar Mitzvah! 

Oh, and also, Young & Hungry is premiering in a month (June 25th at 8/7 Central on ABC Family, to be precise)! In a few days, we start taping the first half of a web series to go along with it, starring yours truly. The scariness awesomeness of this is overwhelming and, well, awesome. I'll be cooking with the cast, showing viewers the gloriousness of my city, San Francisco, and grinning like a complete idiot because I still can't believe this is all actually happening.

As things get more and more hectic, I'm finding myself gravitating more and more toward simple, fresh, healthy foods at the end of the day. These sushi rolls are made with nutty brown rice, which is better for you than white rice, but also better tasting, as far as I'm concerned. I used creamy avocado and cooked sweet potatoes, but you could certainly use some high-quality raw or seared fish, fresh or cooked tofu, and/or any other vegetables you like.

These make a great brown bag lunch, or a lovely simple dinner, especially when served with a kale salad and a cup of miso soup.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup short-grain brown rice (buy in the bulk section for the best price) $1.50
  • pinch of salt Pantry
  • 1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar $2 for 12 oz.
  • 1 medium garnet yam or other sweet potato, cooked until tender and cut into 3-inch by 1/2-inch pieces $1
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced $1.50
  • 4-5 sheets sushi nori, raw or toasted $1.50 for about 12
  • soy sauce, wasabi paste and lemon slices for serving Optional

Recipe Serves 2

Directions

  1. In a medium pot with a fitted lid, combine the rice with 2 cups of water and the salt.
  2. Stir, then cover and place over high heat to bring to a boil.
  3. Once the rice comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low, keep covered, and cook for 35-40 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed and the rice is somewhat sticky.
  4. Remove the rice from the heat and drizzle with the rice vinegar. 
  5. Stir gently, transfer to a bowl, and let cool for 20 minutes (I usually stick it in the fridge), until warm but not hot.
  6. To assemble the sushi rolls, lay a piece of nori on a clean, dry surface lengthwise and shiny side down. 
  7. Wet your hands with cool water and spread 1/4 of the rice over the bottom 1/2 of the nori sheet.
  8. Place  a few pieces of sweet potato and avocado on top of the rice. 
  9. Roll up tightly, starting at the bottom. 
  10. Use a finger dipped in water to seal the end of the nori to the rest of the roll. 
  11. Cut into 1-inch pieces (using a serrated knife helps). 
  12. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
  13. Serve the sushi rolls promptly, with soy sauce, wasabi paste and lemon slices if desired.

Of all reasons I've heard from people for why they don't cook, perhaps the the most common one is that they're a party of one.

"It's just me," they'll say. "Why should I bother when there's no one else eating with me? I can get takeout delivered to my door, and not have to do any prep or wash any dishes." Or worse, they'll make the case for a microwaved frozen dinner.

There is, of course, a litany of reasons why cooking for oneself is a good thing to do: it's healthier and more cost-effective than the aforementioned options; when you control what goes into your food, you control what goes into your body. Fresh ingredients are not only healthier, but also usually cheaper than take-out or frozen meals. Those are valid points. But they're not the main reason I do it.

For me, cooking for myself is one of the most deliciously indulgent, deeply satisfying pleasures available. It's "me time" in the best possible sense: I get to cook exactly what I feel like eating. I can season my food precisely to my liking. I get to take my time chopping, basting and roasting, not worrying about anyone else's schedule or level of hangry-ness. I can sip wine while I stir, and listen to whatever music I please. I can set a beautiful table and enjoy my dinner formally, or I can eat on the couch, while I watch Law & Order: SVU--it's totally up to me. After dinner, I can sit at the table and read for an hour, or, if I feel like it, I can abandon the dishes and go take a bath.

Don't get me wrong, I love cooking for others. Most nights, I cook dinner for Evan, and it's my favorite part of the day. But, on the nights we don't eat together, I relish my time in the kitchen alone. The importance of the quality of my dinner doesn't diminish because I'm the only one eating it.

I hope to have a family someday, and I hope to cook them incredible food every night. But I also hope that, occasionally, I'll find myself on my own for dinner. I'll pour myself a glass of Pinot, turn on some Smokey Robinson, and chop, stir, and nurture my body and soul with a special meal made just for me.

Why wouldn't I bother?

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White Cheddar Queso Dip

  • Prep Time 0:05
  • Cook Time 0:10
  • Estimated Cost $7.50
  • 10 Comments

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Let's explore a May Fifth classic, shall we?

See, I love the idea of queso dip (essentially melted cheese), save for the fact that it's typically made with uber-processed cheese (think Velveeta), which gives it its super-creamy texture. Well, I think uber-processed cheese tastes like melted plastic and I refuse to eat it.

So, I decided to make it better. I make a simple roux, and then stired in creamy, nutty, delicious white cheddar.

I also swirled in a little chili powder and salt. You could certainly customize yours by adding things like chopped chipotle chilies, cumin, or a little fresh jalapeño.

The resulting dip: thick, creamy, cheesy queso that totally beats the fake stuff. Try it on tortilla chips for ballpark-style nachos, drizzled over grilled beef and corn tortillas for Southwest-ified tacos, or even atop a bowl of hot chili. And the best part? It reheats like a dream.

Note: Feel free to use regular yellow cheddar if you prefer.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter $1 for a stick
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour Pantry
  • 1 cup whole milk or half-and-half $1.50 for a pint
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded white cheddar cheese 3.50 for 12 oz.
  • 1/2 teaspoon (or more to taste) chili powder $1.50 for 1 oz.
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (or more to taste) Pantry

Recipe Serves 6-8

Directions

  1. Melt butter in a medium pot over medium heat.
  2. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking throughout, for 1 minute.
  3. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly, until a thick sauce forms (this should take 6-7 minutes).
  4. Melt in the cheese, whisking constantly, for 1-2 minutes and season with the chili powder and salt.
  5. Let cool for 5 minutes, then serve warm, garnished with more chili powder if desired.